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4.4 out of 5 stars104
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 31 July 2011
Abandoning the usual clown-like gimmicks and superhero storytelling, Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo take us on a nightmarish journey into the Joker's life outside Arkham Asylum.

The Joker isn't a supervillain who toys with Batman here, he is a very violent and disturbed man who lives on sex, drugs and murder. He is really just a coked up gangster but his unpredictable actions and unreliability are still classic Joker, but just a lot darker.

About 130 pages long, it is a reasonably quick read as the story flows well and the artwork is just outstanding. My only qualm is that it could of been longer. But I'm not too bothered with that as the novel is gripping from start to finish.

Another great thing is the addition of noir blended in with these "super" villains. We have a dirty private eye, a realistic looking Gotham City, troubled characters, detailed violence and an overall very dark atmosphere. It's like James Ellroy mixed with superhero fiction.

It's one of the greatest graphic novels I've ever read but its' strictly an adults only comic. Containing disturbing bloody violence, plenty of bad language, sex, drug use and just darkness, this certainly isn't a kids read. This is the way the Joker is meant to be. A disgusting human being with his morbid look on life. Life is about death to him, and darkness all over.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 9 November 2012
In this one-off non-canon book, writer Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Bermejo, both extraordinary artists, imagine a more realistic take on Joker partly in the style of Chris Nolan's "Dark Knight" film. The story is told through the eyes of Jonny Frost, a low-level thug sent to pick up a newly-released Joker from Arkham Asylum. Joker sets about reclaiming his criminal empire against Two-Face with the help of Killer Croc.

Re-reading this 4 years after I first picked it up, the book still retains its power and brilliance. Azzarello creates a Joker with newly revealed sides to his character than just the insane murderer he's usually portrayed as. In a brilliant one panel aside, Joker is seen in private on his knees, arms wrapped around Harley Quinn, sobbing, as we really see his relationship with her - she is the only one he can truly be himself with. Azzarello's Joker is a pill-popping junkie, snorting lines and chugging brown liquor, fuelling his rampages to explain his extreme behaviour than simply writing off his actions as those of a crazy man.

Azzarello and Bermejo utilise comics' unique format of the spaces between the panels to intimate some truly heinous actions by Joker. In one scene Joker randomly wanders into an apartment and murders an elderly couple in their beds with a razor blade, but the reader sees only the break-in and a murky aftermath as Joker lies on the bed atop contorted and bloodied human forms, the blade glinting off to the side. Later, Jonny's wife is saved from Two-Face and it's hinted that Joker then raped her before setting her free. Azzarello's vision of Joker in this book is far more human and far more scary in moments like this than has been seen before in other comics. This makes Joker even scarier as he seems almost charming and likeable in moments of (seemingly) sober contemplation, as both the narrator and the reader find themselves warming to him despite his horrible deeds.

Lee Bermejo draws the book beautifully. His Joker takes his cue from Heath Ledger's visual portrayal with the cut-open mouth making up a grotesque clown's smile but otherwise it's the familiar Joker of old minus the stark white face and a more cut figure. I thought his depiction of Croc as less a mutant-lookalike and more a thug with a real-life skin disease was an inspired choice though his depiction of Batman's outfit (he appears briefly at the end) was a bit too S&M, there were too many straps. You won't find a more brilliant artist drawing Batman comics today - I highly recommend checking out his own Batman scripted and drawn book "Batman: Noel" for another example of his fantastic art as well as an excellent Batman book.

"Joker" is an incredible book, maybe the best one about Joker ever written - yes I'm including "Killing Joke". Azzarello captures Joker's voice and character perfectly, making all the right artistic choices with the other characters. While the book's plot doesn't really resolve itself, hinging on a "Pulp Fiction"-type literary device, the book is less about plot and story and more about giving the reader a fully realised character study of the Joker. In that, the book succeeds completely, complimented perfectly with Bermejo's gorgeous art. "Joker" is a powerful vision of one of the best literary villains ever created and a must-read for all Batman fans. If you enjoyed this, definitely look up Azzarello and Bermejo's previous book on another DC villain, "Lex Luthor".
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on 22 June 2009
I liked this book, I thought the artwork was dazzling, especially the painted pictures, never before has The Joker looked so striking or so cool. The re imaging of Gotham was cool and interesting.

Though it wasn't a particularly deep tale and certainly not the definitive take on The Joker, he lacked a lot of style a finesse that makes him such a popular villain. The plots basic enough and a lot of the themes that run through the book are spelt out. Unlike Alan Moore's brilliant tale "The Killing Joke" this book won't leave you thinking about it once its done.

I'd say its worth a read through, but certainly not a classic or something worth obsessing over. Make sure not to engage your brain while reading this and its fun enough to warrant purchasing.
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on 31 December 2013
This novel delves deep into the criminal mind of The Joker. Not only does it introduce a narration from a unknown character called Johnny Frost but it gives you a dark and scarce perspective of The Jokers sadistic nature through the eyes of the character . This makes of a interesting and intriguing read that you just won't want to put down. Although it is a short novel it will make you want to read it again and again to appreciate how well Brian Azzarello has put together a interesting story. I am happy I have added this to my collection and is worth five stars.
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This really is a graphic novel and not just a comic-book story or collection. There are no super-powered characters on view, just characters with strange behaviours, affectations or afflictions. There is a Batman, but we don’t see much of him, and when we do, he shows no particularly heightened abilities. What we do see is a lot of unpleasant human behaviour, though admittedly very entertaining unpleasant human behaviour, as we follow the Joker on his campaign to reclaim his crime empire, having spent some time in Arkham. Hmm… it could almost be a sequel of sorts to the Dark Knight film (though I don’t know how the dates match up). The story is narrated by one of the Joker’s henchmen, who has his own part to play in the proceedings, and who gives us a ‘normal’ viewpoint of the goings-on. There is a Killer Croc, Penguin and Two-Face on display, as well as hordes of regular gangsters, criminals and crooked cops. The only ‘normal’ people we see are one or two of the Joker’s victims.

This is an entertaining story with superb artwork and dialogue - and the more I think about it, it really does feel like a sequel to the film, as the artist has obviously based this Joker on the film version.
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on 6 January 2013
I'm a big fan of barman and the joker, it's a fantastic and complex dynamic that I simply can't get enough of. So naturally The Joker found its way on to my reading list. However I can't help but feel let down after finishing the read, it never quite goes the whole hog with its dark and gritty storyline. Half measures of realism lead to a disappointment.
Also batman comes in late to a story that would have drawn his attention very quickly. And before you know it, it's over with very Little between batman and the joker.
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on 15 March 2013
This is a story all about the joker, the artwork is where it's at it's so amazing i can't get my head around the details.
It's nice to see more story's base on the bad guys. If you like the style of the joker in the dark knight then you will love this.
The funny thing is I can hear Heath Ledger joker voice when reading the dialogue in the book.
This story pulls off the voice evil/funny style aswell.

I would also get the killing joke that one is also amazing.
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on 30 January 2014
A must buy for joker fans, absolutely brilliant read and amazing art work. Bought this for my boyfriend but i couldn't resist, i had to read it myself.
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on 5 December 2011
This is one of the best comic narratives I've ever read. The ending is abrupt and initially I thought "is that it?" Then I started to think back and realised what the story was all about. Or at least what I though the story was all about. What really struck a cord was the fact was that I had figured it out as I was reading it the first time but hadn't realised it until the final panel... what really makes this comic stand out is the subtle use of art and prose to tell the story... make sure you read the newspapers.

I could be wrong but by the end of the novel I can't help but think that Azzarello is say that The Joker isn't a physical psychopath but a metaphysical concept that will never die.

The second rule of The Joker is.....
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on 9 December 2012
A great standalone story told from the viewpoint of a hired goon working for the jokers crew.,
Wasn't sure if id like the book (not a massive batman fan, also didnt want to get tied into a never ending story with loads of crossover issues to read)
But i really loved this story & the artwork is some of the best ive seen in a modern graphic novel also a great bonus for me it wasn't a batman heavy book either.
So in conclusion a great story with a great artwork, its a book that has now got me looking out for more by both author & illustrator so on the whole a pretty much perfect graphic novel to me 5/5
& i hope you give it a try & feel the same!
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