Review: Batman #142

“The Joker: Year One” – Part One
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli & Andrea Sorrentino
Color Artists: Alejandro Sanchez & Dave Stewart
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Review by Max Byrne

Batman #142 delves deep into the shared history of Batman and The Joker, with a tantalizing glimpse into the future too.

With intriguing callbacks to the events of The Killing Joke, Three Jokers, and Zero Year, this is an issue that Batman aficionados are going to enjoy very much indeed, as Zdarsky brings together threads from all of those arcs and sprinkles his unique brand of fairy dust onto them.

Following on from the previous issue, the reader is treated here to Joker finally explaining certain elements of his past, more specifically how his formative years as the Clown Prince of Crime are strongly linked to Batman’s own years of training and discovery.

Drawing from a similar form of mentorship, Joker’s lunacy is revealed to have been refined and honed by one of Batman’s tutors. This is an interesting development, as it serves to amplify the notion that Batman and Joker have always been opposite sides of the same diabolical coin. The motivation for this offer of training will no doubt be revealed in the issues yet to come, I can’t wait to see how that particular tale unfolds.

Running parallel to this tale of the past is another story set in the future, a few decades from now. Some things never change, and the Gotham of tomorrow is depicted as a city in even greater turmoil than ever, as the entire urban population has seemingly been infected with a heady dose of Joker’s toxin, turning them into gruesome versions of the evil clown.

The slow burn to this reveal is a nasty one indeed, with an incarcerated Joker more lethal than ever. Pulling the strings for a chaotic dystopia, even when seemingly taken off the board by the future Commissioner (Barbara) Gordon, the sense of deadly inevitability feels very real.

The art in this issue is first-rate. Using two different talents to depict the different time settings was a great decision as it helps the reader to instantly know when the time jumps occur. Andrea Sorrentino and Giuseppe Camuncoli bring a lot to the table, each with a style different from the other.

The reader gets to absorb panels that are sometimes cartoonish, sometimes showing elements of horror, yet both equally vivid and memorable. This method of dual artists in the same book is an effective one that I hope continues throughout this mini-arc.

Conclusion

Batman #142 acts as a highly effective setup for the next few weeks. We’re given a new status quo for a dismal future whilst filling in some blanks from the past. Dubbed The Joker: Year One, it’s certainly a bold entry into the main DC canon and continuity.

Some may find the events of the past divisive and maybe even a touch contrived, but I applaud Zdarsky’s vision. His run on this title has, to date, been a successful one, so I have faith that his endgame here will be worth this journey.

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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