2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Not as good as it should have been,
This review is from: Batman: Going Sane (Paperback)
`Going Sane' isn't an especially well known Batman story, but it's generally held in high regard among the people who do know about it. As such, at the time of writing, this book tends to go for a pretty high price on Amazon and eBay. The premise behind the story is great. Veteran comics writer, J.M. DeMatteis, known for putting the twisted psyches' of superheroes and super villains under the microscope, puts Batman and the Joker through the psychological wringer, in a way that only J.M. DeMatteis can, by asking the question, "What would the Joker do if he actually were to kill Batman?" After believing himself to have finally succeeded in that very task, the Joker, having achieved his dream, decides it's finally time to "go sane" (as the title suggests). It doesn't take too long for the Joker, under his new guise of everyman, Joe Kerr, to get a job, fall in love, and lead a seemingly normal life. Meanwhile, DeMatteis turns the microscope onto Batman, who spends the ensuing half year recuperating, exploring the idea of how he can live without the Joker (and, indeed, without any kind of crime to fight whatsoever).
It's not a spoiler to say that we then spend the rest of the story waiting for the inevitable, knowing that Batman will eventually return, find the Joker and ruin his last chance at happiness (and, in the process of returning to the chaos of Gotham City, ruining his own chance at happiness too). Our knowledge that this inevitability will occur is what drives the story forwards and keeps us at the edge of our seats. And I was on the edge of my seat for quite a bit of it, which made it ultimately all the more disappointing. The final confrontation was, in my opinion, underwhelming, and DeMatteis skipped a lot of interesting opportunities during the lead-up. For instance, it's suggested that the Joker finds a job, but we never see it. How he goes about his day-to-day life is never touched on. Instead, the entire focus of the Joker story is on his new relationship, which in itself comes out of nowhere and is shallow and unconvincing. Likewise, the Batman story through these six months is equally unbelievable. Furthermore, if you've ever read J.M. DeMatteis' character defining Spider-Man thriller, `Kraven's Last Hunt', you'll feel like you've read some of Batman's internal monologues somewhere else before.
My final problem with `Going Sane' is that, while Joe Staton is undoubtedly a good artist, his cartoony drawings seem ill-suited for a story like this. Even if the story itself were more fleshed out, I don't think `Going Sane' could have ever been a truly "great" comic with such a poor choice of artist attached to it.
Despite my grievances, `Going Sane' is still a good book, and definitely the most poignant Joker story I've read since `The Killing Joke'. If you've read that book and want to go deeper into the Batman/Joker relationship, then `Going Sane' would be a good follow-up, but only if you can find it cheap. Also included is a self-contained story from a few years later, about Batman taking a comatose Joker to the hospital. Normally, I'm against including unrelated stories at the back of trades to pad them out. However, despite not being a part of the main story, I felt that this was a good addition, which serves to expand on the Batman/Joker mythos.