It’s a bit of a running joke that I’m kind of clueless as to how long the series and mini-series I review end up being. This terrible issue not being the last of its kind like I thought means that it’s become a joke I stopped laughing at. So buckle up for the big confrontation between the two Jokers and the chaos they cause in Gotham.
I’ve already complained about so many things in the previous review that haven’t changed here like the way the opening notebook joke trickles through the panels in an incredibly frustrating way for you to have to follow. I’m mostly gonna focus on the main thing that hasn’t changed and that’s the way the stories always end up just blowing up without an ounce of understanding as to how stories should or could ramp up to the chaos.
We already saw in LA how Joker just blew a bunch of the city up and the aftermath had no consequence and now we’re in Gotham where once again chaos just breaks loose and these armies break out into a brawl that flashes by with no impact at all. I really dislike this balls to the wall style of story delivery because if you’re going to make the comic as action-packed as possible don’t throw in this mystery of the two Jokers, don’t throw in this weird convoluted army buildup and two sides of a war, don’t have the characters constantly split up into a multitude of settings that makes it constantly more difficult to follow. The buildup of every previous issue just melts away as the city bursts in flames and nothing really seems to matter apart from the handful of jokes Matthew Rosenberg can think of.
On the flipside we have the least interesting subplot involving the ragtag team Redhood cobbled together and we get the disservice of a completely dry planning phase as they attempt to capture the Joker. You can tell the planning is meaningless because it leads to the typical savior moment that is both expected and lazy.
The story being so aggravatingly futile is such a shame because the art by Carmine Di Giandomenico is absolutely incredible. We really get guerilla warfare gravitas glorified by the endless barrage of panels chock full of devilishly detailed characters and energizing compositions. I love the twisted expressions of the Joker, the pawns have their unique features that make them fun to look at and the props are used to great effect. The only problem is that it’s all completely meaningless. The art is just at the beck and call of a horrible story and even if it makes it look incredible there’s no sense in looking at it.
But just for my own sake let’s take a closer look at some of the decisions made in the beginning anyways to see why the art is so great. We start off with the janitor, minding his own business and in focus to hide the characters in the back. When we get a close up of his face the light accentuates his eyes because the next panel wants to have us understand it’s from his point of view. The full face of the Joker is what follows, smack dab in the center and leaning in to take a good look. The lighting of the next panel shines over Joker’s mouth and shadows the janitor’s face. When the panel after that has the Joker forcing a smile on the janitor, suddenly the focus is on the janitor’s mouth and the artistic connection is made clear. This entire buildup was made to foreshadow something we have yet to see but can start piecing together as the character’s traits are subtly put in focus to be compared. Ending with a bag over the janitor’s head. A visual metaphor of what about him is so important as well as the fact that his identity is pointless, that he will be replaced with something that we are excited to see.
Or pay attention to the way the umbrella in the following scene is used to showcase Joker’s attitude towards his servants. During the scene where he asks multiple questions, handing out orders and distancing himself from the action the rain does not fall on him because a pawn of his carries the umbrella over his head. It’s a symbol of his power over others, the fact that he demands their subservience and it also distnaces him from the rain that falls onto the rest of his crew meaning he wants them to do his dirty work. But when Joker puts a gun to one of his pawns’ head the umbrella is no longer over his head. He reminds them that he doesn’t need their protection and that he can absolutely get his hands dirty. He doesn’t mind a bit of rain if he has to.
I just wanted to showcase the beginning a bit more because it can really allow you to see that the artists are bringing their A-game in this failure of a comic and that the rest of the issue is literally littered with subtle choices like that. Small details that say so much about the story and the characters. The lightwork I was talking about is also the result of the excellent coloring by Romulo Fajardo Jr. whose shadows add so much depth to the comic. He’s also a colorist who plays with fire in many panels without ever getting burnt, consuming the beautiful backgrounds and letting my eyes devour the aftermath and smoke.
Of course the lettering by Tom Napolitano is at it’s A-game too. The amount of variety in the letters is impressive because each style serves its purpose and creates a visual shorthand for who is talking and what’s going on. I especially love the bold “THOOOM” whose colors and position match the explosion perfectly.
- The character designs are worth cutting out into collages
- Each lettering decision inspires you
- You love the shadow work present in the comic
What a stunning issue. I’m both paralyzed by the snail pacing of the previous issues leading up to another chaotic mess of characters running around blowing things up for no reason as well as stuck on each page as my eyes focus on the smallest artistic choices made. The big picture is beautiful and a complete headache to think about. So don’t! Stop thinking about the story because, no spoilers, the ending just explains the mystery anyways! Love how there were so many moments where the truth was hidden for no reason other than to build suspense and then the writer just tells you point blank what’s going on. If you have the misfortune of owning this issue just cut it into pieces and use the art in fun ways, guaranteed whatever mess you end up with will make more sense than this series!
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman-News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.
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