Author: Bill Ramey
Monday, July 16, 2007
FROM DC COMICS: "What kind of person becomes a Joker? Writer Michael Green (Heroes writer/producer) and classic Batman artist Denys Cowan shed light on who the Joker was before he became the Joker…and how he and Batman crossed paths even before the day he was created."
So I go down to my comic shop (BEDROCK CITY COMICS) and find the latest issue of BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL in my box. To be honest, I didn’t shout “YES!” when it was handed to me. Hey, that last story arc -- the inaugural one by the way -- was well below average at best. And that's being kind.
Despite the fact that BC started out, well, sucking, I’m on the record saying that I was willing to give this title another chance. And I’m glad I did because issue #7, titled “BEFORE THERE WAS A JOKER!,” was pretty darn good.
As the title suggests, this story arc is about both Batman and The Joker before he was “The Joker.” Clearly, this issue sets up the remainder of this 6-part storyline with both The Batman and The Joker (or “Jack” according to the guy himself) early in their “careers.”
In the case of the young Batman, we find him going over what has worked and what hasn’t (like the Bat-Suit with the Bat-Symbol within the yellow oval) since Batman, ahem, began. In the 42 weeks since The Bat first appeared in Gotham, The Dark Knight is finally seeing results. “Yes…it is working,” he says, “Crime has learned my name and it has recoiled.”
With the pre-Joker Joker, we find him sitting in a bar drinking (ginger ale) his sorrows away. Seems that is “job” isn’t giving him any joy and longer. He’s at a crossroads in his life. “I’m in possession of a less manageable pain,” he says, “A phantom limb with an intolerable itch.” So, pre-Joker Joker doesn’t know exactly what his “true calling” is and he’s ready to give up.
In the meantime, The Batman comes upon a murder scene in Gotham where two brothers have been whacked for no apparent reason whatsoever. “A crime with no motive. It seems an impossible puzzle,” says The Bat. So who would murder just for the sake of murdering?
Part 1 of our story ends with the first “meeting” between The Batman and The Joker -- well actually, he’s still pre-Joker Joker. So where do we go from here? That is what the next 5 issues are all about.
With this new story arc, we are treated to the work of a new creative team. Writer Michael Green appears to have a pretty good grasp on The Batman’s characterization based on this issue. I’m interested in seeing what he does over the course of the next 5 issues -- in particular the “Jack to Joker” matter and what is the relationship between Batman and pre-Joker Joker?
I wasn’t familiar with the work of artist Denys Cowan before reading this comic. I’ve got to say that I quite enjoyed his stuff as it’s got a rough, sort of “sketchy” feel to it. And thankfully, Mr. Cowan doesn’t surfer from “Every Person Looks The Same” syndrome that quite prevalent of late.
A couple of cool things worth mentioning is that there is a very obvious nod to BATMAN BEGINS in the story, as well as an extended cameo by one of The Joker’s future “associates,” if you will. The latter is kind of forced and a little too convenient, but still cool nonetheless.
So what’s the deal with this storyline? Is it a “Joker Origin” story? Or is it simply a story about pre-Joker Joker’s and The Batman’s first encounters? If it is the former, how does “The Red Hood” story play into all of this…if at all?
Overall, BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #7 did for me what it’s supposed to do: it got me interested in the story and I want to read the next issue. Of course, I said the same thing about the last story arc after I read issue #1. Here’s hoping things turn out different this time
BATMAN IN COMICS, and ON-FILM.NET.