“Knight Terrors: The Joker” – Chapter One
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Stefano Raffaele
Color Artist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Review by Kendra Smart
We come into this story arc by taking a peek into Knight Terrors: The Joker #1.
With Insomnia on the loose looking for the Nightmare Stone, so that his foray into the real world can be more permanent, Deadman may be the key to helping everyone. However, our eyes, reader, are firmly focused on the Joker.
To give a small synopsis of what’s going on with this crossover event, just to get you where we begin our tale. A new villain named Insomnia has cast a Nightmare Wave putting almost all of Earth to sleep, trapped inside their worst nightmares. In our case we get to look into Joker’s darkest dreams… but before we dive in, we need to pause a moment and talk about these covers.
I’ve spoken at length about the quality of covers that readers have been treated to, just for the series I regularly review, but here we get not 3 or 4, but 6 variations that each leave a piece of themselves with the reader. A most welcome haunting indeed. We get a hilariously detailed main cover from Stefano Raffaele and variants covers from ground-breaking artists like Frances Mattina, Simone Bianchi, Alan Quah, Ryan Brown, and Dustin Nguyen.
Knight Terrors: The Joker #1 has a plethora of great covers, from Stefano, we get a shot of Joker working as a desk jockey for Wayne Enterprises. The little accoutrements littering his desk and cubicle are so cute.
Francesco Mattina gives readers the dual versions of Joker being displayed in such an impactful way. The normal average Joe looking Joker haunted by his crazed side, the color choices are instantly eye catching and gorgeous.
Simone Bianchi also uses color to enhance the impact of his cover, the green is so striking. The painted style feels fresh and so detailed, from the smile to the hair, to the snakes. There are so many wonderful moments on this cover to peruse. That and the Caduceus symbolism that came through for me, with Joker at the center, was so nice.
Alan Quah takes the color out almost completely, using only where ingeniously wanted. This cover is so raw in its artistry, but it’s the layers of detail and how the image comes together that are fascinating; that and where the color is placed. All of this make it so uncomfortable to look at, yet impossible to look away from.
Dustin Nguyen provides black, white, and red nightmare all his own, for his cover. A crazed figure, reminiscent of Poe and H.P. Lovecraft graces this piece and promises to stay in your mind for a while.
Remember I said all of these covers are wonderful in their own right, but Ryan Brown… my goodness sir. The Joker being pulled back into a coffin by decayed looking hands is not only haunting, because of the scene displayed, but the painted artwork is so lush and wonderful. The colors are so bright in light of such horror. Perfection.
So… Not Unconscious
Night time in Gotham City is where our journey starts. A quick catch up on story leads us to a familiar scene for fans, with Batman facing off against the Joker on a rooftop, with all the usual banter. As this conversation unfolds, it’s quickly and horrifically established just how much is wrong with the world we find ourselves in. Having easily won, Joker becomes manic losing both his mind and purpose all at once. Worse still, the vitals check has horrid results. Gaggy tries to cheer the Clown Prince of Crime up, but as B.B. King once crooned, the thrill is gone.
Fast forward to just a few days later, and Joker and his gang are looting a boat but are met with no challenge, no opposition. All of this leads to an unfulfilled and unsatisfied villain. So what does a bored Joker do? He quits being a baddie and joins the workforce. Posing as Johann Kaiser, becoming part of the Wayne Enterprises corporate team. All goes well at first, but soon the shine wears off, leading horrific moments settled into others of extreme calm. Are you ready for a cup of Joe?
Matthew Rosenburg, Stefano Raffaele, Romulo Fajardo Jr., and Tom Napolitano have delivered such a lovely gift. While the “Knight Terrors” story arc will likely deliver some fear inducing stories for our other players, Joker’s fear strikes a unique chord; the horror of what life without Batman being his opposite poses. Even in the mundane moments he finally snaps in one of my favorite scenes. Joker’s having a discussion about his performance in the office with his superior and it ends with a scene that will leave you looking at your kitchen appliances in a whole new way.
From the pacing to the artwork, the lettering to the story… such deep fear is hard to see as a side story, or only part of an arc. If Knight Terrors: The Joker #1 is any indication of what this story arc will become, I’m beyond excited to see all of the other pieces to this puzzle and to discover what hiring manager Insomnia has in store for the clown.
Knight Terrors: The Joker #1 provides a deep dive into the Joker’s inner fears. Where that terror will take him, and how he cleans out his closet, remains to be seen. I, for one will be at the ready to enjoy each bite of the comfort food provided by this incredibly talented creative team.
See you next time!
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment