Book: Batman: Joker’s Asylum
Writers: Arvid Nelson, Jason Aaron, JT Krul, Joe Harris, and David Hine
Artists: Alex Sanchez, Jason Pearson, Guillem March, Juan Doe, and Andy Clarke
Published: 2008 (DC)
From my limited first-hand (first-eyes?) experience with comics, I know that I like the Batman universe. I also know that the Joker is my favorite villain and Arkham Asylum is my favorite setting because they’re both so damn gleefully creepy. Therefore, I thought this slim volume of Joker-narrated, one-off villain-led tales would be a good start as my own venture into the gi-fucking-normous continuity, the first superhero comic I have not read by trading off on my boyfriend’s assurance that it’s awesome. (Although I still love those recommendations because 1. he’s always right about them and 2. they mean I get to make him read lit fic novels that he will end up enjoying too.)
I was right! Although such choosing logic doesn’t allow for the unexpected emotional left hook I’m always looking for, I did get several expected taps to the chin from this. Each story is drawn and written by different people, so the weak morality tale of the first story (everybody fears the Joker but he’s not the monster this time! It’s YOU PEOPLE and all he’s doing is exposing your own bloodlust through reality TV!) and the Lady or the Tiger? ending of the last (the reader flips a coin to see how deeply Two-Face has affected a guy with his same burn condition!) are isolated incidents. The Penguin’s story is my favorite, drawn rounded with parallels that visually connect his past and present in an obvious psychological path without getting him monologing. Oh, except for these couple of panels where he’s talking about this girl he’s fallen in love with while his henchmen get thrown around in front of him, and then Batman drops down and says he’ll be watching him and the Penguin goes, all day-dreamy distracted, “Yes, yes, see you next week.”
But then he discovers that he can’t, in fact, overcome his past after all, and he returns to form by taking out his anger on the one thing that was starting to rebuild his humanity. It was pretty sweet.
Poison Ivy’s is basically an origin story with naked leafy ass, and the Scarecrow gets some neat deco art but a disappointingly thin connection between his talk about harnessing fear and the actual action. All enjoyable, and I believe there is a Volume II on the shelves.