Author: Bill Ramey
Saturday, February 17, 2007

FROM DC COMICS: "Writer Grant Morrison continues his acclaimed run on BATMAN with fan-favorite artist Andy Kubert! After the shocking events of BATMAN #655, in which the Joker was shot point-blank in the face, the Clown Prince of Crime makes his triumphant return to Gotham to wreak havoc on the city and take his revenge on Batman! And as citizens of Gotham City will soon discover, the Joker's reappearance is no laughing matter."

Wow, talk about something different.

BATMAN #663 is more novel, or short story, than comic book. Written by series regular Grant Morrison with art by John Van Fleet, we finally find out what happened to The Joker after he was shot by that cop dressed as The Batman several issues back.

We find out he didn’t die -- like DC would kill off The Joker (You wouldn’t do that, right DC?) -- and has been in Arkham recuperating and “rehabilitating” since the incident.

Taking a page out of the 1970s classic Joker story “The Joker’s Five Way Revenge,” it seems that The Joker is taking out members of his former gang one by one. Of course that’s impossible as The Joker is locked up in Arkham recuperating and “rehabilitating” you see.

On the whole, the story is pretty good -- especially if you want to find out what happens to The Joker after being shot in the face and what’s in store in the future for the Harlequin of Hate. With that said, you are going to have to have a great deal of patience and a strong desire to read your comic book like a novel with little supporting artwork as regular artist Andy Kubert doesn’t work on this issue except for the cover.

So what’s the deal with the art you ask? Well as stated, there is very little. And the stuff that is there is, um, sort of underwhelming -- unless you like GGI-looking stuff that seems to belong in a video game. Hell, The Joker even looks like a damn Dr. Seuss “Who” at times!

So what IS good about BATMAN #663? Above all else, the story by Grant Morrison. I don’t know if I’ve ever encountered a Joker story so damn creepy. I’m mean, dude is simply nuts, and Morrison captures that aspect of the character quite well.

Perhaps it’s because “The Clown at Midnight” is written like a short story, GM is able to smoothly deliver the story via his writing. Even without Kubert’s art, I found myself picturing the events of the story quite easily in my head. In fact, I found it a bit more gripping at times than your standard story/art/paneled comic book.

This issue is definitely NOT a “classic comic book." However, if you are looking for something different comic book-wise and a pretty darn good Batman/Joker story, then I’d recommend that you definitely check this one out.

"Jett" is the founder and editor-in-chief of BATMAN ON FILM.

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