Batman · TPB

Batman: Lovers & Madmen

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My wife has been urging me to read this one for MONTHS and so I finally decided it was time to do so. This collects a run of early issues of the Batman Confidential series from 2008 or so and (re)tells the story of Batman first encountering The Joker.

There’s some good stuff here, even as Michael Green (“the writer of TV’s Heroes”) rewrites history. In this version The Joker is a very good criminal with a bored death wish named Jack; Harley Quinn is a sympathetic bar waitress who’s in med school studying psychology; and so on. This isn’t cannon, but it’s still a very intriguing take on a familiar story.

The script is handled with a care for the characters – or rather their psyches. Batman may well be just as screwed up and broken on the inside as The Joker is. And as such this book examines closely their symbiotic relationship – something I’ve always appreciated (as in The Killing Joke or Long Halloween, or hell… The Lego Batman Movie).

The story is truly dark. There’s some rather haunting scenes: Bruce’s new girlfriend Lorna being stabbed by The Joker; Batman actually hiring a gang to kill The Joker; or maybe the cringiest – The Joker dressed as a clown, asking a young girl at the circus who to spray in the face (with what is unbeknownst to her, his toxin) – her, or her father.

I was on the fence with the art. It is fittingly dark and works well. Though there’s a bit over overdone line detail for my taste. And things are bit too… angular (?) for me. But the coloring was well done. I will say that some of the layouts confused me. One two-page spread had me baffled as I reread it numerous times before figuring out it was drawn clockwise.

Those few nitpicks aside, I thought this was basically pretty great.

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