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.