Batman/Joker: the Deadly Duo, is written and drawn by Marc Silvestri with colors by Arif Prianto. The conceit of the story is that Batman and the Joker must work together to save Harley Quinn. Sound’s interesting in concept but does it work out in practice? Let’s see!
Joker fatigue is real and many people have been experiencing it in the past few years, myself included. Too much of a good thing, right? Now, that doesn’t mean when something good comes along I won’t enjoy it. If someone wants to tell a story about Joker, they just need to bring something special to the table. I’m happy to say, Marc Silvestri has succeeded in that. I thoroughly enjoyed this comic!
If you’re on the fence about this book I can say it’s worth reading issue one for the art alone. When I interviewed Marc Silvestri, he talked about the reinvention of his art style for this comic and it was certainly successful. I’ve been a fan of his work for a while but this is another level. It is an unfortunate reality in the comic book industry that most popular artists find a style and never deviate from it. I have huge respect for Silvestri taking a risk like this, especially when it pays off so well.
The art is simply beautiful. To me what works so well about it is the combination between style and clarity. The art is gritty and stylized but never sacrifices the reader’s capacity to understand what they’re seeing.
Being one of the founders of Image comics, Silvestri’s action is expected to be kinetic and he certainly delivers on that here.
As you can see above, characters literally fly off the ground to evoke movement. This is a technique that can easily go wrong for a lesser artist. To prevent this, Silvestri gives the characters weight and keeps their stylization consistent with the backgrounds.
I can’t neglect to mention the colorist either. Arif Prianto contributes a lot to this book. I’m not sure there could be a better person for the job, in fact. I say that because Prianto’s coloring is a perfect stylistic match for the pencils and inks. They have the same highly textured, angular features as well as a subtle palette which helps blend the elements together. Despite that subtlety, the colors chosen are still lively and add depth. Everything is awash with blues and greens which perfectly capture the dark, wet, grit of Gotham.
This isn’t just a pretty book, however. There is something to this idea that I can buy. If Joker needs help, who would he go to? We’ve certainly seen him team up with other villains before, but I don’t really buy that. I just can’t see Joker trusting them or respecting them enough to enlist their help. He knows, on the other hand, that Batman can be manipulated and it’s been shown time and time again that he does hold a great respect for him. The characters are also written well as far as I can tell with one issue to go on. Additionally, there are some choices made that evoke specific time periods. Harley and Joker are a couple in this story so if you are a fan of that version of the characters this may be up your alley. We’ll have to see how the characterization side of things fares as the story builds, but for now I’m happy.
- The art! The art! The art!
- You’d like more of the classic interpretation of Harley and Joker
- Seeing an industry legend’s take on Batman interests you
I didn’t want to get too deep into the story for this first issue because it seems more focused on the basic setup and building atmosphere. It is well done but the art is definitely the star so far. I think it’s worth picking up just for that. I’ll have to reserve judgment until the next issue to gauge the true quality of the writing. At this point? Big recommend!
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.