granitesoldier's Batman #23.1 - Time to Monkey Shine review

Monkey Business

Just like we all have our favorite heroes, we have our favorite villains. Usually, what attracts us in a hero is what they stand for. What they do that goes above and beyond, the example they set. They make us want to not only be them, but they makes us want to be better people in our day to day lives. Villains, good villains, have the opposite effect. A good villain, you despise them. You enjoy seeing your hero overcome the tremendous obstacles that the villain puts in front of them, and you like seeing them get beat. But, in the back of your mind, you can't wait for them to return because of how well they challenge the hero, and make them go beyond what they thought they were capable of.

So kicks of DC's "Villains Month", and the first of the villains titles I've picked up in Batman 23.1: The Joker. Joker is one of my all-time favorite villains. Why? Because I despise him so much. He is the opposite of everything a hero stands for. He is self-centered, apathetic, and disturbing. So when I opened up this issue, I wasn't sure what to expect. My anticipation of villains month was to get us to feel for these villains, for us to generate some sympathy for them. Much like what the current "Superior Spider-Man" is trying to do for Otto Octavius. Well, call me cold, but if that's what they were going for it completely did not work on me. Well, not entirely. And that means, in my book, The Joker's one shot was a huge success. I hate him more as a villain, and that's saying something.

It's hard to talk about this book without spoiling it, so I'm going to be very vague. We see flashbacks to Joker's childhood, and in these panels, I truly feel for him. Seeing the harshness and depravity he went through, I feel awful that a child, real or fiction, should ever have to go through such a thing. Cut to his modern day panels, I would expect someone who grew up tormented as he had would not want others to experience similar pain, but he doesn't care. In fact, we see he wants everyone to suffer as badly as he has. Nothing new to Joker fans, but it is executed very well. He creates a bond between himself and another character (not trying to spoil anything) and even then in the end you find his bond was self serving. The bond was purely for his own gratification.

We do, however, find he has someone in his life who means so very much to him. Again, if you're a Joker fan, you should know who this is and should not be surprised.

The art is great, Joker looks creepy and manic. Exactly how he should. I have nothing bad to say about it.

This is a great way to kick off villains month, I can only hope the other fan-favorite Bat-baddies (Bane, Riddler, Two-Face, etc) are done as well. Like I said, you don't really learn anything new about Joker here, but in that, it reinforces something we'd always believed. This is ALL he has, it is his ENTIRE life, and he couldn't live without it. It's sad, really, but you hate him for what he does regardless. A rousing success of a villain tale.

7 Comments Refresh
Edited by DecoyElite

Couldn't disagree with you more but a very good review none the less.
If that makes any kind of sense.

Edited by GraniteSoldier


Haha, do you mean about what the issue revealed about the Joker? Or how good it was?

Posted by DecoyElite

@granitesoldier: Yeah, I found the past stuff to be too over the top to really have an effect and I kinda saw the ending coming myself(it's the Joker after all).

Posted by GraniteSoldier


It was predictable, oh yeah. I hope I didn't make it seem like I expected anything less. But I thought it'd be nice to see if there was another side of the Joker, and there isn't. He's face value. And that's something I liked, as strange as that is. Comic characters are always attempted to be shown as multi-dimensional, multi-motivational, be they hero or villain. I kind of like Joker's singular purpose, and really, his singular love.

I totally get why so many people don't like this issue. I really do. I read it twice before writing this. The first time, I hated it. Second time, loved it. It is absolutely a love/hate thing.

Posted by DecoyElite

@granitesoldier: Hmm, maybe the fact that I read it once is why I was so harsh on it. I'll need to think about re-reading issues before I give them a final verdict.
Still I don't dislike the simpleness of the character, but more of just how this issue tries to both play up a terrible childhood(which has become a thing in a lot of Villain month issues) and play Joker off as, well the Joker. The two ideas don't mesh and both are played so over the top that I can't really enjoy them. Maybe if Joker's end goal had been more silly I would felt the issue was more comedic in nature but it really wasn't.

Edited by GraniteSoldier


It's all perspective, I'm not trying to make you agree with me on Joker's one-sidedness. Your perspective and opinion is your own, and I am in no way trying to change that. I find it refreshing in the world of comics for someone to not be layers on layers.

And good GOD you're right about the childhood angle. I would have preferred a Cletus Cassidy angle with Joker. I think it would have been better. He came from a perfectly NORMAL family, but is still f*cked in the head. Instead of the "bad childhood never had a chance" angle.

Posted by DecoyElite

@granitesoldier: Personally my origin of choice for Joker is the One Bad Day angle. Where he was normal and then just everything went wrong at once, causing him to snap like no other. Ironic given it's from the same story that introduced the idea that Joker has no real origin.

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