Shit, I really need to dust off this place. A thousand apologies for those waiting for a review. Blame it on Real Life and the fact that comics as of late has been pretty blah. The new 52 promised me some dash and pizzazz but all I got was a stale performance. I actually had to cut back on my comicbook shopping/buy other titles (*cough* Marvel *cough*). That was until last week when I decided to return to the Detective title. In case you have been living under a rock, DC has been promoting the new crossover storyline "Death in the Family" which will affect the batbooks: Joker has returned after a one year hiatus.
I must say that the covers are really cool. It takes a lot to impress me, much less, compell me to go to the shop these days. What with bills, rent, food, gas and bunnies, you would have to try very hard to convince me why I should buy this title. I am not kidding when I say that I actually sold some trades and issues awhile back. I divided the piles between Must Keep and 'Blah'.
I can tell you right now that Detective #13 is NOT going to be in the 'Maybe' pile. Scott Snyder packed a combination of intrigue, mystery and horror into one issue. The best part is that he did it with one of the most iconic (and as some argue, overexposed/overused) supervillains.
Snyder's history as a horror writer lends itself well to the Batman mythos. He is one of the few writers who IMHO 'gets' the characters and does not compromise them just to fill in some panels or worse, pander to readers. One of my major pet peeves about certain writers tackling a Joker story is that they don't take risks. It's like trying to reinvent a cheeseburger. Sure, some may write him this way and others may write him that way but they all lack that one ingredient that makes the burger/character unforgettable. They would rather play it safe by reusing old tricks instead of trying something new. I am not saying I want to see donning pink frills everytime I see him, but stranger things have happened.
We start out with something funny in the water in Gotham. Gordon and Bullock are talking about the strange things that have been occuring, i.e the water running backwards and the two headed lion cub. These examples of foreshadowing really resonated and stood out to me possibly far more than Azzarello's story where he compared Joker to a 'disease'. What I liked about Snyder's comparison was that it had a religious overtone to it and if you were raised Catholic like I was, you would have seen this as a parallel to the Book of Revelations and Joker being personified as the Antichrist.
I thought this was a very unique comparison and a very compelling one I may add. One of the reasons why Joker stands out as an iconic villain is because he is always reinventing himself. Like the pop singer Madonna, she has used various images and 'roles' throughout her years and she doesn't look like she is planning to stop soon. She is also the media's consumate supervillain. The Joker has been the trickster, the sociopath, the charmer, the game player, the challenger, the yang to Batman's yin. The host to the Feast of Fools. What's one more role? Better yet, how about one that has a 'supernatural'/religious' context?
Like a true artist, Joker changes with themes and in this case, Snyder does it so effectively. Another example of religion is pointed out by the blogger aristoclown as they explains here. She points out Harley Quinn as the Whore of Babylon. Check it out!
I was cautiously optimistic about this but in the end, I can say that I was truly rewarded. It is going to look like my wallet is going to hate my guts.
Joker revisiting his old schemes was a very interesting read. It felt like I was reading Batman #1/The Man Who Laughs but with a twist. Snyder made thos stories his own and updated them for the new 52. In the original story, he goes after the Diamond Magnate Henry Claridge. In this story, he goes after the son. In the old version, he manages to kill Claridge, (his first kill, mind you) by releasing a time sensitive toxin. Snyder revisited this story by giving it his own touch. Instead of redoing what he did with Claridge Sr., he goes after the son and while everyone is worried about him getting exposed to the toxin, it is actually the squad that is supposed to be defending him that gets poisoned. Very clever, Mr. Snyder.
Finally, I want to touch upon Harley Quinn. After what happened last year with Gotham City Sirens, I was worried that Joker was going to be pussified. I understand that the JHQ relationship is very popular and marketable but I draw the line at storytelling and characterization. If the Joker is going to be around Harley, I do not want to see him become compromised. I see him as an apex predator, a narcissist if you will. Snyder managed to get the best of both worlds and he did it beautifully.
I personally have gotten numb to Harley's new look. I actually kind of like it. I noticed the coldness and distance the two clowns had. I found it quite unusual given the passion I saw last year under the ill fated GCS title. In this comic, Joker was being his natural self. There was no warmth, no concern. He was barking orders at her. He was manipulating her like a puppet master. Harley's vague resistance to his orders stood out to me. I do think her fears were genuine. In this case, Harley kind of reminds me of the trainer who once believed that she had the lion under control. But now she sees that the lion had 'tricked' her. She tries to remain calm and in control.
She is both pawn and an integral player to the game. While I do think her fears of the Joker were true, I am not completely sure if she is being true to Batman. I have always believed that you can reinvent a character so long as you remain true to who they are. This Harley was very serious and it did not feel out of character or different. Usually when she is up to her tricks, I prefer her as silly and sweet. Right here, she is not. I do believe that Snyder added another layer to our favorite clown girl and I cannot wait to see what he has to offer.
I plan to start reviewing again. Catwoman #13 will be out soon. I hope those of you who waited are still around. RL can be a pain.