This story keeps getting better and better with every issue. My main critique last month was that the villains need a bit more development to really justify their appearances and their actions, but so far I’ve been loving the fantastic artwork and the great character interactions. The previous issue ended with David being captured by Joker and The Key—can Batman and Superman get to him in time and save him? Let’s have a look!
I didn’t think much of The Key before. Now I’m still not super interested in the character, but at least Waid spends more time developing him. We learn about his origin and his motivations, so the character is more defined now, but even so I don’t know if I will really remember this character long after this story has concluded. For all the new development that this character gets, he still kind of stands in Joker’s shadow. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if that’s just the role that this character is supposed to play, but despite it all I’m still not 100% sold on him as a villain.
Joker, on the other hand, is very cool here. I don’t think that Joker has been written well at all over the past several years. For example, I didn’t enjoy him in Tynion’s run, where he was just a regular murdering psycho that in my opinion had very little to do with the actual character. In this issue, he reads more like the Joker that I grew up with. He’s flamboyant; he’s unpredictable; he’s hyper-violent; and he’s even a little bit funny at times, but not any less threatening.
Zooming out, this issue as a whole is even darker than the previous chapters in this arc. Sure, the colors pop and the characters look fun and sometimes even somewhat endearing, but Joker is very sadistic and David gets beat up pretty badly over the course of the issue. I’d say that, in general, this arc so far has been much darker than the first arc, but I feel like this issue in particular pushes things even further. By the time you reach the cliffhanger it turns out that all the dark stuff has been entirely functional, because we’re seeing how David is being pushed to his breaking point. That said, there are still moments of levity sprinkled throughout, which work as a neat counterbalance to the dark stuff.
The artwork by Mora and Bonvillain is, of course, very good. This month, however, it’s perhaps even more creative than before. Most of the backgrounds are pretty detailed; the rendition of characters is super consistent from panel to panel; the body language and facial expressions are as great as ever, allowing us to tell at a glance how a certain character is feeling; all the characters move and behave in their own unique ways so it’s not just their designs that make them stand out; and it’s quite impressive how Mora manages to get all the characters onto the page and give all of them a moment to shine.
But what makes this issue so creative is the fact that Waid writes a very playful and fantastical script for Mora. We see Joker’s Funhouse, which is a house in the shape of Joker’s head; we enter a void where we see lots of floating doors that lead to alternate dimensions; we get very dynamic page layouts and smooth transitions from one scene to the next; and Bonvillain uses beautiful psychedelic colors to enhance one particular, psychedelic scene. In short, this comic is a visual feast and I can’t wait to experience this wonderful art all over again.
- You’ve been waiting for someone to finally write Joker well!
- Psychedelic visuals in superhero comics are your favorite.
- David’s story intrigues you; this chapter raises the stakes!
Overall: This is a good, action-packed issue. It feels like it’s the culmination of David’s ordeal, where the drama is genuine and not just silly melodrama. The writing is on point, the cliffhanger is very exciting, and the art is excellent. What more could you ask for in a superhero comic? Recommended!
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.