Story: Scott Snyder/ Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Art: Greg Capullo/ Jock
That was... Wow. It's been a year since the Joker last appeared, and had his face removed by the Dollmaker, and his return is everything I could expect from the beginning of a great Joker story. The Joker is a character as malleable as Batman, changing with the times and the need of the story, something Grant Morrison played to great effect in "The Clown at Midnight." But Snyder's Joker is not Morrison's changing man, nor is he Chuck Dixon's manic supervillain. No, Snyder's Joker is a figure of terror, the perfect compliment to the Dark Knight. The Joker spends the issue slowly moving the game pieces, Batman's ally, into position, so he can begin his campaign against them. Snyder pays homage to classic Joker stories, with nods to the first Joker story, but is telling a tale of his own. The use of Harley Quinn, both in the main story and in the back-up focusing on her, establishes her relationship with the Joker, which is very different than the frustration and seeming affection he showed her in the animated series. Harley is just a pawn to the Joker, someone to be used and disposed of, just like everyone else, in his campaign against Batman. The issue is filled with scenes that make the skin crawl, especially Joker's assault on Gotham Central. He murders the police officers around Jim Gordon while taunting him, leaving him frozen in fear. The art, both by series regular Greg Capullo and the backup by Jock, is stellar. The faceless Joker is both revolting and frightening, a shock despite the image being leaked, when under the pens of these two talented artists. "Death of the Family" begins with this issue, and I haven't been this excited for a Batman story in a long time, and that's saying something. Welcome back, Mr. J.
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #13
Story: Matt Kindt
Art: Alberto Ponticelli
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. has been a fun, horror tinged book since its debut as part of the New 52, and has been loosely attached to the excellent Swamp Thing and Animal Man series, but now with "Rotworld" the book is tying more into the worlds of the Red, Green. and Rot, the forces that govern nature. The zero issue of Frankenstein established the relationship between the creature and his mad maker, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, but this issue sees Dr. Frankenstein's return, this time as a servant of the Rot. Frankenstein received a garbled message from S.H.A.D.E. as the Rot begins conquering the world, and then is contacted by the Red and sent to Metropolis to retrieve the Soul Grinder, Dr. Frankenstein's device thet created the monster. The issue is full of awesome action, of Frankenstein fighting horrible monsters, and I have seen very few artists who can draw a creature as creepy as series artists Alberto Ponticelli. If you haven't tried Frankenstein yet, this is a good jumping on point, and the perfect time of year to see a monster who is a hero fight even bigger monsters.
Art: Amy Reeder
I love Halloween comics; ok, in all fairness, I love everything Halloween. So I was curious to check out this Halloween themed one-shot from Image. The story is a simple enough one: Eve works at a costume shop, and she doesn't like Halloween. As a matter of fact, she doesn't seem to like much of anything or anyone. But when she's left alone at the shop after hours on the night before Halloween, she gets sucked into Halloween Land, where it's always Halloween. She comes back with a new perspective on life. It's pretty much The Wizard of Oz with a Halloween twist, which is intentional and made even more clear when Eve winds up dressed as Dorothy at the end of the story. The story lives on how it is told, not so much the story itself, and the creators hit a home run with that. Writer Brandon Montclare makes Eve tough without making her unlikable, and surrounds her with an oddball cast. But artist Amy Reeder is the star. Her style has grown from even her time on Madame Xanadu and her far too brief stint on Batwoman, mixing the ability to draw expressive faces and body language with beautiful and detailed backgrounds. It's a fun comic that sets a great tone for a good Halloween.
Point of Impact #1
Story: Jay Faerber
Art: Koray Kuranel
While I'm still missing Near Death, it's good to see Jay Faerber getting right back up on the metaphoric horse with this new crime mini-series from Image. Point of Impact looks to be a traditional murder mystery, with the story starting with the body of a woman being thrown off the top floor of a building. Over the course of the issue, we meet the people who filled her world: Mitchell Rafferty, her reporter husband; Patrick Boone, her lover; and Abby Warren, an acquaintance of hers who happens to be the detective in charge of the murder investigation. Mitch comes home to another mystery, as someone ransacks his house and steals his dead wife's laptop. The story is already laying out clues, and I'm hoping that by the end the mystery will have played fair, meaning you can see all the clues and actually figure out the mystery. Koray Kuranel does a great job with the art,with clean lines that work really well in the black and white of the series. On a side note, this was a great week for crime comics in general with the second issue of the new Stumptown series, which was just as excellent as the first issue.
So, that's the end of this week's reviews. But have no fear, ladies and gents, your loyal host has a surprise in store for you. I'm on vacation this week, and so I intend to update quite a bit; if all goes well once a day for the week. Stay tuned for talk about this past week's comics on TV, some advance reviews of previews I picked up at NYCC, the first of a new feature about uncollected or underrated series and runs, and your usual recommended reading on Friday. It's gonna be fun.