Joker: Killer Smile #1 Review

by Wes Greer on October 30, 2019

Joker Killer Smile #1

Writer – Jeff Lemire
Art – Andrea Sorrentino
Publisher – DC Comics Black Label
Release Date – 10/30/19
Cover Price - $5.99

With the huge success Joker is having in theaters right now, there is no better time for DC to put out a bunch of new Joker stories. Sometimes for me though, when they pump out these side stories and one shots, it can be hit or miss and with Joker Killer Smile, it is a big HIT! Having read John Carpenters Year of the Villain Joker issue and Joker / Harley, I had no idea what to expect going into this new story. When you have a guy come in like Jeff Lemire who has done a slew of books over at Marvel and Image, it’s easy to worry about how their story will effect a beloved character like The Joker, but Lemire stays true to the Clown Prince of Crime and takes us on a new journey into his madness that stays true to the character while adding a new twist to him.

Joker Killer Smile #1 has our favorite villain locked away in Arkham where Dr. Ben Apnell has come in to work with him because he believes under his care, he can cure the Joker of his mental ailment and set a new standard for mental healthcare. Dr. Apnell is warned of the lure the Joker has for getting into the heads of those who try to work with him, but Dr. Apnell swears he has what it takes to build a wall between himself and the Joker. As the story goes on, we learn just how dark and how deep the Jokers reach really is. The way this story is written really takes us on a deep dive into just how many resources the Joker has, even as an inmate at a locked down facility like Arkham. It also really shows us how twisted his mind is and all through the whims of a children’s book.

The story of this book really grabbed me and kept me involved. Something that has been missing in recent Joker stories. Lemire’s approach is truly brilliant. Giving us an inside look into how the Joker views himself and how he rationalizes all his cruel actions. Usually we get a firsthand view of Joker commuting these acts, but here he really breaks down the Joker and his though process and this really helps set this series apart from others to be published as of late. This issue felt like a quick read, but there was a lot there to take in with only a small number of events. When I was finished with this one, I immediately started pondering what was to come in the next one.

The art style of this book really threw me off as well. A lot of simple art and very bright coloring made it feel as if though I was reading a children’s book and not a book based on the Joker. Once you get into the story, you understand why the art was done this way and then it really feels right and fits into the story. The character art is top notch and very clean and smooth. There is also some really cool panel outlines that become some of the artwork. One of the only things I did not like was the design chosen for the Joker. I know when a character is drawn by so many different artists, they all have to add their own spin on them so they don’t all look alike, but I did not feel like this character looked at all like the Joker. He was a very simple design and looked like an average Joe just colored to look like the Joker. The colors chosen for him also did not feel organic. For his skin tone, he looks almost blue with a light green tone. Luckily the story is good enough that it makes up for this weird choice of character design.

Overall, I would have to say this is one of the best stories to come out in awhile based on the Joker alone. The story is something fresh and keeps us hooked and the art stays true to the over all theme of the book. If you are a fan of the Clown Prince of Crime and want to get a real up close look into the psyche of him, this is the one to pick up. Joker Killer Smile #1 is available today and will be released with a variant cover as well. Pick it up and see for yourself just how deep the madness runs!

-Wes Greer

Our Score:


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