Current Reviews


Batman Confidential #8

Posted: Monday, August 13, 2007
By: Bryant Frattalone

Writer: Michael Green
Artists: Denys Cowan, John Floyd

Publisher: DC Comics

Plot: The Jack who will be Joker goes on a pretty generic killing spree. Alfred expounds and expounds on the merits and de-merits of new and old skills alike. Batman peeps, and Bruce Wayne scores. And oh yeah, the man who would be Joker puts in an appearance here and there. Batman figures out the next target when we saw it coming a mile away.

Commentary: This is just written and drawn badly. For a definitive origin story of the Joker, there’s a lot that seems indefinite about this story. From the cover where you have to look real hard at the crosshatching on the wall in the background to pick out Jack/Joker’s silhouette to the question of who’s story is this anyways? Bruce’s? Alfred’s? Lorna’s? Jacks? It’s a boring mess. Does DC feel they have to get this origin story out before the next Batman film which will delve into the origins on the Joker yet again? If so, I hope this is just DC comic’s misfire and not a foreshadowing of what we have to look forward to in the film. Alan Moore’s single issue Killing Joke was much more satisfying in all ways than the two issues we’ve seen of this story thus far. I never liked the idea of giving the Joker a name. For all its merits I think that was one of the worst things about Samm Hamm’s screenplay for Tim Burton’s first Batman movie. The question of, “Who the hell is this guy and what made him the way that he is?” is indeed compelling, and Moore played off of that artfully but Hamm and Burton gave him a name was just something that never sat well with me as a fan and reader. It looks as if DC in an effort to meld the comic’s Joker with the movie versions has decided to adopt the “Jack” moniker officially.

The other thing about this Joker origin revamp is that the man who would be Joker could be any penny ante thug and could just as well have wound up being Deadshot since he’s now a sharp shooter apparently or The Riddler since he’s leaving subtle clues behind him. Batman tells Gordon that the pattern with Jack’s crimes is “Cruelty.” Um, correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t everything criminals do cruel? This version of the pre-Joker’s motivation is simply to get Batman’s attention and have fun while he’s doing it. Outside of that we really don’t see the pressures that drove him into his psychosis to begin with. He’s just a garden variety thug out to have his own brand of “fun.” Ho-hum.

We get pages and pages of other uninteresting characters. Yes, Green has made Alfred uninteresting and annoying where other writers have made him wry and endearing. He goes on for frame after frame complaining/bragging to Bruce about his development of computer skills and throws out a lot of technical jargon. Wow, how exciting for a comic book. Snore. The character of Lorna is the generic female in distress. About the only tension she brings to the story is whether or not Bruce should sleep with her or not and he does. Is this supposed to be some shocker or revelatory about the inner workings of Bruce/Batman? If so, it’s not. It’s just gratuitous and not even drawn well. Denys Cowan’s art is not the best it’s ever been here. It looks like a rush job. His Batman isn’t exciting to watch. They also do this thing with making Bruce look dark and monstrous when removing his cowl or at least I guess he’s supposed to. His face just looks dirty to me. So the art doesn’t turn in a good show on this story either.

About the only interesting thing to me was when Batman confronts Maletesta’s men. If you look closely, this gang of thugs is made to resemble younger versions of Batman’s rouges gallery out of costume. One could be Oswald Cobblepot and another with a stocking over his face chuckling in the background could be the future scarecrow. What’s Green proposing here? That Oswald and Jonathan Crane were just henchmen in someone else’s gang before embarking on their criminal careers like Jack? This is not interesting in a thrilling way but rather in a how could you even think of that and think it would make a good story element kind of way? I may not pick up the next issue. DC’s just lost me with this story and uncaring art. It’s been that way since this title started. I picked up the first few issues but was bored then too and the art work was sloppy and I don’t see it getting any better. This replacement of Legends of the Dark Knight is nowhere near the caliber of that title's run and is starting out as a clunker.

Final Word: Stick with Moore’s Killing Joke. This is turning out to be a most regrettable and forgettable origin story.

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