Year of the Villain: The Joker #1 Review

by Olivier Roth on October 09, 2019

Written by: John Carpenter & Anthony Burch

Pencils by: Philip Tan

Inks by: Marc Deering, Danny Miki, Jonathan Glapion & Philip Tan

Colors by: Jay David Ramos

Published by: DC


Legendary film director/composer John Carpenter lends his talents, with Anthony Burch and Philip Tan, to a pretty interesting look at the Joker within the Year of the Villain event. Though its link to the event is tenuous at best, the execution of this issue is really well done. 


This issue may be title as The Joker, but the protagonist that we follow throughout the issue is another patient at Arkham Asylum who gets roped into the Joker’s insanity during the latest “jailbreak”. I mentioned that the issue is moderately linked to Year of the Villain as the jailbreak seems to happen during the storyline over in Batman called City of Bane.


Now that we’ve established when this issue takes place, our protagonist is “Six of Hearts” whom the Joker, after leaving Arkham, leads around Gotham as the Joker commits crime after crime. However, as this is the City of Bane, Joker isn’t getting the reaction he normally does, leading him to adopt another guise with Six of Hearts as his sidekick. 


Throughout the issue, we get a first person narration from Six of Hearts which acts both as an explanation of his own life and how he came to be in Arkham, as well as character descriptor of the Joker as seen from his point of view. Without spoiling the issue, Six of Hearts, in a way, analyzes the Joker's motivations in comparison to his own. It’s not a new concept, looking into the Joker’s motivations, but it is still a nice, surface analysis that we get as the reader. There’s a line towards the end that sums up Six of Hearts’ viewpoint that ties up his narration in the issue. 


The art duties for this issue are handled by PHilip Tan, a litany of inkers, and colors by Jay David Ramos. Tan’s use, throughout the issue, of Joker’s laugh (HAHAHAHA) as panel borders is my favorite part of this issue visually. He doesn’t use it for all panels, which is good, and reserves it strictly for the times that the Joker, on panel, starts using his maniacal laugh. It’s always nice to see an artist incorporate the script in an interesting way. 


The one thing that I’m never a fan of, but understand it happens from time to time, is when a penciller is inked by a large group (in this case, three different people including Tan himself to make four) makes for a somewhat disjointed presentation within the issue itself. There’s a lack of consistency apparent in this issue as some pages, Tan’s pencils pop, whereas others his pencils are much less defined. 


Ramos’ colors though, I can find no fault. He makes the most of his coloring, especially in flashback sequences that overly yellow and bright, when the rest of the book stays with a more general color palette. I also appreciate when a colorist will make a substance that should be oozing, look like it’s oozing and bright. 


All around, this was a very fun issue that combined great storytelling with fun visuals. Joker may be a little overplayed currently in DC comics (we can thank the movie for that), but this entry makes for a strong argument to exist.

Our Score:


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