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Batman #23.1 - Time to Monkey Shine Review

3

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 AWeekInGeekdom

This wasn't really an "origin", more of a fractured memory of something that MAY or MAY NOT have happened. At least I thought it was a pretty nice self-contained story, i liked the ending though. It wasn't the best compared to other things.

Posted by Cyborg6971

So does anyone know how this will work for Batman subscriptions? Do I get this one, which sounds pathetic. Or will I get nothing this month?

Posted by deadpool25mm

The Cover: 5/5 (Awesome Cover)
Story: To be honest... didnt feel the Joker at all. felt like reading about a clown and gorilla. But its nice to see Andy Kubert writeing a comic, and I wish him luck :) !
Art:5/5 (Realy nice)

Posted by Herx

Last Wednesday I picked up 5 dc villains month titles (not including forever evil), and as I read them in alphabetical order this was on the top of my pile. It really left me with a bad taste, making me wonder if my other 4 villain month titles were going to be this, for a lack of a better word, Bad. Luckily they were not (Twoface, Dessad, Darkseid and deadshot). But it makes me wonder why do this with joker?

Posted by nappystr8

I finally read this issue and I can't believe all the hate it's getting. I thought it was a brilliant black comedy that is everything I was wanting and expecting out of these villains month issues. Easily my favorite. When I first started reading I thought I was reading a tragic origin story, but by the second or third page when his aunt started bleaching his face and talking about Colombian neckties, I thought it was hilariously and abundantly clear that this was just a complete Joker delusion brought about by his own warped mind interpreting the sight of mother and son apes. I doubt he ever experienced abuse or even had an aunt, it's just something his head thought up to absolve him of his behavior. Similar to how he claimed that he loved Jackanapes like a son, when clearly at the end of the issue, he was completely unmoved by his death.