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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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on 24 April 2016
This is a stand alone story as far as I am aware, and it should stay that way. Not the best Joker comic, the story seems like it was taken from the plot of a gangster film and it is just not that interesting. Harley Quinn, Killer croc, Two face and the penguin make guest appearances, although the penguin is given a different name for some reason and only Killer croc really does anything. The Jokers look is partially taken from The Dark Night movie. I would only recommend this comic if you have bought a lot of Joker comics before and this is the only one left that you want to buy, but if you are buying your first joker comic, then I recommend The killing joke or The man who laughs. There are other great Joker comics as well. 5/10
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VINE VOICEon 24 April 2015
A great short story covering the Joker's release from Arkham Asylum.... Suitably creepy artwork and sinister overtones throughout. I particularly liked the Joker's insanity and detachment from reality and how this was shown through the excellent artwork. I was gripped, horrified, unsettled and recommend this to all fans of the Joker.... Twisted brilliance!

The writing / script is easy to follow and the panel work is effective. Do I put this on a level with the Killing Joke or Arkham Asylum.... Not quite, but still, this a good read and all fans of the genre will enjoy.
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on 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 28 December 2008
Yeah, kind of a grim, deranged book this one. There's no doubting the quality of the writing, I think the Joker is fairly well pegged. The biggest problem is that he comes across as just a psychotic thug. In the Dark Knight, Nolan had the sense to write the Joker as making a point about humanity's relative worth (or lack of). Here he is just a nutter...Nice art though.
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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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on 5 August 2015
I really loved this graphic novel, it's very similar to the dark knight being very realistic. The jokers appearance looks very similar to heath ledgers joker, there is very little batman, what makes him seem less threatening since joker can rob banks and shoot people and over all cause chaos with batman never showing up. The art is 10/10 it's worth buying just for the art alone. the joker is not very crazy in this comic, he is very calm compared to a story like death in the family.
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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 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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A hardcover graphic novel, telling a complete story in one hundred and thirty pages. All about Batman's arch enemy.

The clown prince of crime himself. The Joker.

The story is narrated by, and seen through the eyes of, Jonny Frost. A low level Gotham mobster who volunteers to go and pick the Joker up when he is released from Arkham Asylum. When nobody else wants to do it.

Whilst Joker was locked away, all the organised crime that he controlled in the city fell into the hands of others. Joker wants things back. And goes about getting them his way.

With Jonny along for the ride. Because he likes what he sees and wants to do things the way Joker does.

He's about to learn a few things...

The artwork by Lee Bermejo is distinctive and eye catching. It looks pretty realistic and does stand out. Thanks also to some excellent colouring.

This is a very dark tale, and although it's not labelled as such, it's really only suitable for mature readers. There are some rather graphic moments.

It does present Gotham and it's denizens in a way that tries to be realistic [this was released in 2008, the same year when The Dark Knight hit the cinema screen. Something that tried to do the same] and it does make the look of one regular villain a little more realistic as a result.

It's a compelling read, as you're along with Jonny for the ride. Always wondering something that he doesn't. How will it all end out?

The resolution isn't anything major or something that really packs a punch, but it does fit the story the writer is trying to tell.

All in all a different take on familiar things that will stick in the mind for a while. And it's worth a look.
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