(Received from Netgalley for review.)
Well, this isn’t what I’d been hoping for. But actually, I’m not really sure what I’d been hoping for. Seeing that we were having yet another Joker story was making me apprehensive to begin with. Turns out I had good reason to be. The book starts with a half-baked Justice League face off. Joker has somehow managed to dose the entire League with Joker toxin, which was given a half-baked, cursory explanation. Which describes the entire subplot, actually. There have been much more interesting stories in the Batman vs. Justice League subgenre, and this won’t even rise to the level of paling in comparison with those stories.
But that’s over really, really fast, so ok. The rest is Joker. And ugh. I really have no idea why Snyder is going with this immortal Joker thing. It just doesn’t feel right for the character to me. If you can get past that (good luck) a lot of the details of the story are, sad to say, derivative. There’s yet another revisit of the boy with the murdered parents, because we couldn’t have possibly gotten sick of that yet. But more to the point, there’s a parade scene that feels largely lifted from Tim Burton’s first Batman movie. And flooding Gotham with Joker venom reads so incredibly like a major plot point from Arkham Knight that I was kind of uncomfortable with it.
Overall, I felt like this whole storyline was a victim of the comics industry’s warring impulses for radical, sudden changes and status quo. This is why we couldn’t let a perfectly good Joker story that seemed to end with his death stay put for even a few years, and instead had to bring him back in such a way that indicates he’ll never really go again. That’s why the Court of Owls is back, in the most ineffective cameo ever. That’s why the changes in this book won’t stick, either. (view spoiler) It’s disappointing, but that’s the industry.
But I can’t criticize Capullo’s art. He’s consistently spot on, and he contributes some really striking and creepy visuals. The best work in this volume is, without a doubt, his.