From Publishers Weekly
Building on Heath Ledgers performance in The Dark Knight
(although long before the movies debut), Azzarello creates a memorably cringe-worthy story. Rather than a natty Clown Prince of Crime, this Joker looks like a glam rocker gone to toxic seed. Newly released from Arkham Asylum, he begins disorganizing the criminal establishment of Gotham City. Although he claims to want power and money when he confronts Two Face and his peers, he really seems just to enjoy playing with people—shooting them, setting them on fire or skinning them alive. Accompanying him is Jonny Frost, a young thug who takes a long time to recognize the drawbacks of seeing a vicious sociopath as a role model. Like Jonny, however, readers may find that, horrifying as the Joker is, they cant take their eyes off him. Even Batman, when he inevitably enters the action, functions largely as the Jokers partner in a dance of death. Azzarello has learned how to create a menacing, morally ambivalent atmosphere in his years of scripting 100 Bullets
, and Bermejos jagged, shadow-saturated art sustains the mood. The result is fascinating but extremely dark. (Nov.)
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Batman’s preeminent foe comes to the fore, and the Caped Crusader makes only a fleeting appearance at the end in this graphic novel scripted by hard-boiled crime-comics author Azzarello that sees the Crime Clown, newly released from Arkham Asylum, attempting to take Gotham City back from the underworld figures who have carved it up in his absence. The story is told from the perspective of a small-time hood who stumbles into being the Joker’s henchman. Azzarello’s Joker hews closely to Heath Ledger’s portrayal in the film The Dark Knight. He’s a genuine psychopath, whose unpredictability is his strongest weapon. Chillingly cruel and criminally insane, he still isn’t so outré that he couldn’t conceivably exist in a non-comic-book world. Two-Face, the Penguin, and the Riddler are here, too, similarly muted compared to their usual comic-book personae and active in the most squalid version of Gotham City ever put on paper or celluloid, a sleazy milieu that Lee Bermejo’s deliberately ugly artwork, aided by a muddily muted color scheme, well realizes. --Gordon Flagg