My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Um, before I start, Kat, Anne and everyone else…I’m sorry about the rating, but it didn’t work as well as I thought it would.
*ducks flying bulldozer*
I knew you guys might say that. So I’ve come armed with good reasons. They’re right here! *pats pockets* Huh? I put them in here…somewhere…
*gets roundhoused by flying elephant*
I had ’em, I swear! *rubbing sore skull*
NO PLEASE! NOT THE SCISSOR CUT!
Anyway, painful jokes aside, I can see why this would be considered a classic. It’s a psychological mind bender and Batman is at his human best here. Not that it stops him from pulling a classic Batman Gambit though.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t rate this much higher, it’s because I was somehow a little detached from the story. It’s like the uncanny valley; The Joker was so far beyond normalcy, even for a villain, that it became hard to consider him human and by extension, hard to understand the scope of the threat he posed. I kind of felt like I was watching someone else’s nightmare.
Of course, that is part of the idea. Bruce is continuously trying to convince himself that Joker is human, so he doesn’t run screaming for cover. While I found some scenes pretty scary – the Harley incident and the burning horse, urgh – in general the gruesome stuff was so outlandish it was difficult to forget that this is fiction.
The main conflict is indeed pretty interesting, but the way it ended made me feel like I watched a gory version of the Persona 4 anime. It was a tad too easily solved, don’t you think?
The art didn’t click that well with me either. I understand why it was done the way it was, all gritty and noir-like, but Bruce looks way too young. He’s a father and a crime fighter for goodness sakes. He shouldn’t look like Liam Hemsworth crossed with Clark Gable. He shouldn’t look 25.
I do, however, appreciate the presentation of the volume. I thought the opening and closing pages, with a series of half-profiles of Batman and the Joker, was extremely well done. And beautifully symbolic.
Grudgingly, I also give credit to that ending, which is creepily fitting considering everything. It’s not satisfying, or cathartic, but it feels like it belongs.
So, I would say, for this one, your mileage may vary.