Review: Batman #143

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

Batman #143 continues the “Joker: Year One” tale with an intriguing issue that jumps between the past and the future with aplomb.

Shifting between the cataclysmic future of a Gotham City infected with an epidemic-level dose of Joker toxin and a past that illustrates the Joker’s formative years could be a tough thing to pull off, but Zdarsky manages to get it just right, pending just the right amount of time in each period, he manages to keep his narrative under control, despite the chaotic nature of events unfolding in the plot.

The intense training methods employed by a mentor from Batman’s past, but focused on the Joker, are highlighted here in greater detail. Seeing the method behind the madness gives a really interesting insight into how this A-list villain has been able to operate all these years in such a distinct manner.

Learning to ignore physical pain, eradicate all fear, and crucially, create an alternative persona to be buried deep within the subconscious. All these are key attributes of not just Joker, but our titular hero too. Learning where they acquired these skills adds a nice layer to the mythology and is a great way of illustrating just how symbiotic their relationship is.

The future-set events are equally as engrossing too as a certain Selina Kyle is added to the mix. As an aged version of the character, but no less deadly, bringing her in adds to the already high stakes of the situation. With his adopted Bat-Family already in a Jokerized state, bringing in his one true love, makes it hurt just that little bit more.

The weight of all the years bears a heavy load, and showing our heroes and villains as older amplifies that. Depicting them as being nearer to the end of their story than the start shows the eternal struggle might just have an end date after all. Nothing truly lasts forever, even in this heightened reality.

The artwork used for the future setting is something very special indeed. There are certain panels, depicting Joker rising like a mythical creature from water, that are almost photo-realistic in their execution. This is an art style that certainly speaks to me. It’s all relative to personal taste of course, as others might prefer a more avant-garde style, or a more cartoonish interpretation, but the fare on offer here is, in my opinion, as good as it gets.


Batman #143 gives readers an effective middle section of the 3 part arc. Whilst the overall plot doesn’t move forward to its inevitably bloody conclusion, it certainly does position the pieces on the board to create a platform for something very special in next week’s climax.

As an allegory for the Frankenstein’s Monster fable, it works so well. Whilst any story set in the past is inevitably framed by our knowledge of the present, we still get a genuine sense of danger from this book.

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment

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