Overview

Joker's Asylum: The Joker #1

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Joker's Asylum: The Joker #1

Credits

  • Words: Arvid Nelson
  • Art: Alex Sanchez
  • Inks: Alex Sanchez
  • Colors: Jose Villarubia
  • Story Title: The Joker's Mild
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jul 2, 2008

Joker's Asylum: The Joker #1 presents the Joker as creepy narrator and the star of his own tale wherein he takes over a game show.

With Batmania about to grip the movie world, DC Comics tries to capitalize with a weekly series of one-shots with the Joker acting as the Crypt-Keeper of sorts in opening and closing sequences. The idea is that the movie will bring the throngs. Not content with shelling out the mere $10 to take in the theatrical version, the throngs will invade the comic store and consume anything with Batman or the Joker on the cover. Not a bad plan, worthy of the genius of Bruce Wayne himself, so why is it that these superfluous comics are so horrendous that no casual non-comic reader will pick up a comic until the next big franchise hits the big screen?

The Joker works as a narrator, cleverly introducing the tale in a crazy font from his cell at Arkham Asylum. He recounts a tale from his past, in this case, one reminiscent of the 1970s. I've always found the "out of time" quality of the Batman titles to be very strong, so that Gotham City could easily be 21st century New York in some tales, and 1930s Chicago in others. There is nothing explicit telling us we are in the 1970s except for the grand prize in the game show, a 1977 Chevy Chevette! The Joker and his gang take over the broadcast of the game show and proceed to terrorize the host and the show's contestants, a human potential actualization coach, and a yoga instructor and astrologist. The sleazy television stars have such uninspired and unfunny names as Flip Felchensteiner and Condoleeza Jellyhole. Not so subtle stabs are made at humor and satire, but the entire adventure falls flat, with a twist ending so predictable and overdone that no new reader would dream of becoming a regular comic reader.

Behind a beautiful cover by Andy Kubert, with the Joker rendered in the classic comic style, Alex Sanchez is out of his element being asked to render the Joker as the Heath Ledger version from The Dark Knight. While I can see Sanchez perfectly at home in a Vertigo title, or working in the horror genre, his line work and crosshatching do not fit the story. In some places, his Joker looks like Heath Ledger, in other places he wears the face of a hundred year old man. Instead of the terrifying energy of a smiling, laughing mad clown, we get a messy green haired buffoon with a row of rotting teeth and gum disease.

Arvid Nelson and Alex Sanchez are talented creators, but this is not a good comic. The Joker's characterization only holds true in the framing sequences and the plot is entirely forgettable. There is some hope for the remaining one-shots as the villains featured are not in the film, so they may be more faithful to the comic universe. As for this Joker issue, save your three dollars for half a bowl of popcorn at the Dark Knight release and leave this one on the rack.

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