Comic Vine Review


Batman #23.1 - Time to Monkey Shine Review


The Joker gets the spotlight and we (maybe) get a look into his past. Is it a look we want or need to see?

The Good

You can't have a month focused on DC villains and not have the Joker around. We may not know the current status of the Joker in the New 52 but this issue gives us a chance to journey back to an earlier time in his career.

Andy Kubert makes a bold decision (assuming it his and not editorial's) and shows us some scenes from Joker's childhood. If these books are supposed to focus on the villains, seeing their story makes sense. It's interesting, but being it's about the Joker, is it something we can fully believe?

Andy Clarke is on hand for the art. It's been great seeing Clarke doing some of the backups in this series and we finally get to see him do a full issue. Everyone seems to have a different take on Joker and it's fascinating to see how he approaches the character. Whereas the Joker can sometimes be a two-dimensional character, Clarke actually manages to give us some expressions other than the usual borderline insanity we always see. That almost makes his depiction scarier than others we've seen.

The Bad

Joker wants to start a family. We see a flashback story where he takes a baby gorilla from the zoo and "raises" him to be a partner in crime. It is a pretty wacky thing, something Joker would be capable of.

What it comes down to is we don't need to see Joker's origin. It's possible this is just a fractured memory, similar to the possibility in THE KILLING JOKE. I don't want or need to be sympathetic with Joker. He's a pure villain, that's all I need from him. Am I supposed to feel bad that he might have had a torturous childhood? No thanks.

This story doesn't really add much to Joker's mythos either. When all the Villains Month issues are raised in price due to the special covers. Even at the regular price, it's an okay story with some good art.

The Verdict

This is going to be a tricky month when it comes to the Villains Month titles. Many of the titles feature origins or flashback stories. It makes perfect sense the first BATMAN villains book would focus on Joker. The problem is, you don't really feel this story adds a lot to his character. We don't need or want to see Joker's childhood, if the flashback scenes can even be trusted. Joker with a gorilla is a fascinating idea but it just didn't feel crucial in any way. What bumped up my enjoyment for this issue was seeing Andy Clarke's art for an entire issue rather than just a backup story.

It's possible the wacky and...odd nature of the story was intentional because we're talking about the Joker. Maybe I'm missing the point. With so many Villains Month titles fighting for our dollars this month, this was a little disappointing.

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Edited by Saren

And yeah, I don't understand where the current fascination writers have regarding a definite origin for the Joker comes from. This wasn't even a good origin, it was just a generic I'm-evil-because-of-my-hard-knock-childhood story.

Posted by butters911

Hey! Since when does DC do .1 issues?

Posted by ajshadowhawk

Read it. Hated it really. I have no idea what's going on.

Edited by kennybaese

@butters911 said:

Hey! Since when does DC do .1 issues?

Just this month. They're doing four issues instead of one for villains month.

Posted by Battle_Forum_Junkie
Posted by dreamfall31

Super bummed to hear that this issue tries to make an "origin" for Joker. I definately think he should just be who he is and that the comics shouldn't delve into his past. I think it's one of the reasons I don't care too much for The Killing Joke's backstory stuff. The Joker is the Joker, nothing more.

Posted by G-Man
Edited by The Mast

I'm just not gonna read it.

Posted by anthonygiu

That's pretty disappointing. I'm going to check it out but it's kind of a bummer that it didn't get a good review.

Posted by darknightspideyfanboy

@g_man: isnt the monkey from 666 universe ?

Posted by cobra88king8

I really wish this issue had somehow teased at his return or shown what he did during his year long absence or where he went after the end of Death of the Family. This just felt like a oneshot they told because they needed something for a Joker villains month book because you can't not have one

Posted by EnigmaLantern

I think the special cover gives it a +1 on the rating, but that would apply to almost any other comic book so..meh. I fully agree though, the Joker shouldn't have a so called "backstory" or "origin".

For me, the fact that we know almost nothing about Joker's past and that he's such a messed up freak who constantly challenges Batman is the reason why I LOVE him. Doing a backstory/origin just messes that up for me, personally.

Posted by MadeinBangladesh

Well My shop didnt have Joker 23.1 so it's a good thing I didnt waste $ on this.

Posted by Jacobin_Wisdom

I don't view this as an "origin". Truth be told, I'm glad they didn't tell us where Joker is or what he's plotting to be wasted on a one-shot month theme.

Edited by Mucklefluga

I was also quite disappointed when i got home and read this, the art is still great tho.

Edited by saoakden

Hmm interesting.

Edited by Blackdog2009

Great art. Terrible story.

Posted by longbowhunter

I was gonna pick this up because I'm an Andy Clarke fan, but this sounds stupid. Oh well there's $4 I can put towards something else.

Edited by Booster_Bronze

I'm usually a details-oriented type person, and whenever I see a character, I almost NEED to see their origin. The ONLY exception I have to this rule is The Joker. I accept his "multiple choice" origin because it fits so well with his insanity. I kind of get some of Kubert's throwbacks to the past and how it affects who Joker becomes (such as the bleached skin and the lipstick around his Aunt's mouth), but I prefer the origin-less Joker model myself.

I also found the story ridiculous, but not in a good Joker kind of way. Seeing a Gorilla dressed up as a commando was just stupid.

Posted by G_Money_Christmas

Why wasn't this up until after I bought comics today?!?!?! Now I bought a crap comic apparently! I should have gotten the Justice League or JLA one

Edited by Wilbertus

I was really excited about this one, as Joker is one of my favourite villains. I am disappointed to read this review, but happy to read it before I went to my comics shop.

I find it interesting how everyone does away with the idea of a Joker origin so easily. Nearly every villain (at least Batman villains, I may not know too much about others) has an interesting origin story that fits the character and that makes the character that much more interesting.

I, for one, really like origin stories and their retelling. For example, I really enjoyed Scott Snyder's version of Mr Freeze. To me, origin stories are never definite (like nothing really is in comics) so I don't mind if writers tweak them or even completely reinvent them. It is just an interpretation and better to try and come up with something fresh and interesting with the possibility of creating a masterpiece or producing absolute garbage, than to stick with one idea for decades.

Thus, I don't mind if they write an origin story for the Joker. I enjoy Joker's origin stories, also because they are so diverse and because people seem to emphasize the fact that an origin story is only a certain interpretation much more for the Joker than for many other characters. As Joker once said himself: "If I am going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice."

Hence, I am fine with them doing a Joker origin story and I won't throw it out just because it is that. However, the story itself needs to be solid, creative and entertaining. So the fact that it is an origin story also doesn't mean that I automatically approve of it.

What I get from the review is that the main flaw is the fact that they attempted to create a new origin for the Joker, not that the story itself is bad. Is the story really that bad?

Maybe I should just read it and judge for myself.

Posted by manwithoutshame

I thought it was funny.

Posted by Bloxxeh

Did Snyder write this?

Posted by darknightspideyfanboy
Posted by Bloxxeh
Posted by darknightspideyfanboy

@bloxxeh: im right now wondering if this is batman 666 universe where Damian become batman cause this writer will be doing mini series about it also the gorilla is from that universe as well

Posted by Mulder15

I really wonder why you thought that the flashback was a definite origin.......any Joker flashback is just a symptom of Joker's psychosis. TKJ was composed of Joker flashbacks. Does that make it a definite origin?

Posted by fabo_puertorican

This issue was just plain boring. For some reason I knew it was going to be, but I ignored my instinct and bought it just because it was The Joker. Boy, what a waste of 3.99. Hopefully, Kubert does a better job in Damian's story.

Posted by RulerOfThisUniverse

That's disappointing. I'm still buying it, though...cause it's The Joker.

Edited by lifeofvibe
Edited by Vaccine

The origins of the villains that I have read so far have been really....meh. Joker's story was kinda disappointing. I expected something more. Maybe it was just me and my ridiculous high expectations for Villain's month.

Posted by ILLO_29

This was not the best comic book written, it was pretty bad actually. Andy Kubert needs to stick to pencils and leave the writing up to someone else.

Posted by TheMantisShrimp

I thought it was a fairly good issue. The flash backs didn't come off to much like an origin rather a day or two of jokers past. Plus the wackiness is great.

Edited by CaptainHoopla

I'm happy to see I'm not the only one disappointed with this. The art is solid but that's about it, 2/5 for me. When I finished this, the only thing I could think of was, wow, what a waisted opportunity to write a good Joker one-shot.

Posted by tomtomiii

Wow, I am really bummed to hear this sucked. I even had my shop pull a 3D cover for me. Maybe I should have them put it back :/

Posted by PeppeyHare

Picked it up just for cover. Wasn't very good

Posted by Angelo2113
@mulder15 said:

I really wonder why you thought that the flashback was a definite origin.......any Joker flashback is just a symptom of Joker's psychosis. TKJ was composed of Joker flashbacks. Does that make it a definite origin?

That's exactly how I saw it. The "flashbacks" reminded me of The Joker's "origins" in The Dark Knight when he asked people "Do you want to know how I get these scars?" and gave completely different stories. This was pretty much similar to that and he created his own flashbacks to fit his insanity and the inspiration for his next crime spree.

Edited by Angelo2113

I'm surprised many are taking The Joker's "origin story" seriously, especially when it's coming from him. He's the freaking Joker. I think the only concrete evidence that we have of his origin in the New 52 is when he falls into the A.C.E. chemicals.

Posted by G-Man

@mulder15: Not sure if this question was to me/the review or in general. I did mention twice that whether or not there was any validity to the "memories" was in question. Bottom line, for me, it wasn't an interesting story. Not worth $3.99 or even the $2.99. It's a wacky enough scenario. Just not something I needed to read when there are so many other better comics out this week. I just really liked Clarke's art.

Posted by weenman1

terrible origin for Jackanapes

Posted by detective38

This issue sucked if I want an origin story for joker id reread killing joke not this garbage 1/5 stars

Edited by Mulder15

@g_man: For a Joker story it works. It's nice to see Joker as how he should be rather then how he was in Death of the Family.

Edited by Wilbertus

Ok, so I went out to buy and read it today. I don't know if it is because everyone is so negative on here and my expectations dropped substantially, but I actually really liked this comic.

I feel like it entirely depends on what you are expecting. If you are looking for a dark and realistic Joker, then you will be very disappointed. If you are looking for a whacky Joker story that is fun, quick and easy, then this is a great comic!

Read my review for a more elaborated version.

Posted by theTimeStreamer

garbage. waste of good paper.

Posted by KingSciarrillo

This issue was interesting, to say the least. The art was amazing though.

Posted by V_Scarlotte_Rose

I was quite surprised with this issue, as with The Joker being generally regarded as Batmans main villain, I would have expected his villain issue to be something brilliant, but for me, it's not.

The story seemed a little too "wacky" even for The Joker, came across as kind of pointless, and in contrast to what some other peoples opinions, I wasn't really that impressed with the art. I've read a couple of issues with Andy Clarkes art that looked better than this to me, though I can't say I'm a fan of them either.

Realistically, I'd probably have to give it 2/5.

Posted by The_Titan_Lord

Just read this issue last night. Not that much interesting. I did a little bit bored reading it.

Posted by JaelBaez

I didn't like this issue, but I hardly think this re-writes anything, so I don't think people should be freaking out. This doesn't actually replace Joker's origin, it just adds unnecessary details. So yeah, he lived in a super abusive could just be one of many things that happened before he fell into the vat of chemicals (actual origin) and became the Clown Prince of Crime we all know and love. I thought the thing about his aunt scrubbing his face with bleach was more foreshadowing and allusion than anything else. But let's say this is actually the entirety of his new origin (which I see NO reason for believing this), let's remember that this is the Joker narrating all of it, and we all know he is arguably comic's most unreliable narrator. So to all my fellow comic book lovers afraid that this is 100% of the new origin...fear not, the issue never made it clear that this DIRECTLY turned him into the Joker. I think the point was just to offer us a glimpse at his childhood (a badly written glimpse IMHO). I didn't like this issue because of how unnecessary it was. I mainly found it unnecessary because the issue juxtaposed this glimpse into his past with that ridiculous (IMHO) Jackanapes story set in the present day. I just didn't care.

Posted by kaiklown

The only good part was turning the comic over to see an Arkham Origins ad in 3d so thats cool.

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