Written By: Frank Miller
Art By: Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Lynn Varley
Release Date: May 1986
*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*
Last time we left the Dark Knight, he had decided to finish off the Mutant Gang by challenging the Mutant Leader in a one on one fight. After a brutal first round, Bruce is saved by Carrie Kelly and is recruited to be his new Robin. Batman steps back into the ring, now in the form of a mud pit and plays surgeon.
With the Mutant Gang broken, new gangs are forming, but one tries to follow Batman's codes as the Sons of Batman. However a few are now following a certain villain...a villain that haunts Batman's past...That's right...The Joker has returned to Gotham.
Does this issue hold up like the previous two? Lets dive in and find out...
We open up to Nazi Boobs robbing a store with some Ex-Mutants...no you didn't read that wrong. I said it. Nazi Boobs. A woman with Nazi Swastikas on her boobs named Bruno...WHAT IS THAT SYMBOLISM SUPPOSED TO MEAN?! Anyway, an Old Woman(who looks like an acid victim) comes from the shadows and begins to beat on the criminals, revealing it's Batman in disguise. He chases Bruno down into the sewers to get the details of the Joker's plans, but all of a sudden a blue blur speeds through the city, stopping accidents, before finally blocking bullets for Bruce...Bruce agrees to meet with the blur tomorrow morning, and as the blur leaves, Carrie asks if that was "him"... and it is indeed Superman, and this was probably the best introduction to the character in this series. Yes we get a glimpse of the shield in the previous issue, but this made it seem as if Superman was just a legend. It really set the tone for what kind of Superman we were dealing with.
Clark and Bruce meet up the next morning with Clark trying to convince him to go back into retirement, as it was stirring the white house staff in a very bad way. Bruce refuses and Clark heads off to fight the Soviets in Corto Maltese, because the government needs the next best thing to God to help fight the war. This continues the political satire I mentioned in the last review. I get that this was made 20 years ago, but the satire is much too blunt, at least for my tastes.
Batman soon takes off with Robin on route to a television studio, where Joker will be brought onto the Dave Endochrine Show(an obvious parody of Late Night with David Letterman). Unfortunately this is where the first act of the new Police Commissioner comes into play: Arrest the Batman. She places herself and entire platoon of cops on the roof ready to take him down as the Joker stepped out and began his interview. I look at the art in these scenes and while some are quite creepy(like the other guest and Joker's first victim) or cool(such as Batman fighting the cops) there are bits that just aren't drawn well, specifically the robot that helps Joker kill the entire audience. Despite it supposed to look like a child, it looks like its suffering from the acid burns that Batman's Disguise had earlier.
Unfortunately thanks to the police, Joker gets away and Batman begins searching the city. Soon after, Joker finds his way to Selina Kyle(though unlike any version I've seen before) and through a mind controlling lipstick orders her to give it to an escort to a politician...who proceeds to drape himself in the American flag and demands that America fires nukes on Soviet forces...That message wasn't even hidden, that was clear as day. The satire was just thrown out the window at that point.
Bruce goes to find Selina, who informs him that Joker is on the way to the fairgrounds to continue the devastation by unleashing violence on innocent children. Its at this point that reminds me how much I miss THIS kind of Joker. Not some kind of all knowing clown god who is able to jokerize the Justice League, just a psychopath who is uses others to get to higher power and cause mass hysteria.
The new dynamic duo arrive a bit to late as we see dozens of children already dead from poisoning with dark yet emotional art as we see Carrie's first look at death. Batman drops down and faces the Joker, while Carrie drops down on a roller coaster to disarm a doll shaped bomb.
Batman in the meantime chases Joker through the grounds, all the while him shooting civilians, until we reach one of my favorite segments: the house of Mirrors. It's drawn so uniquely and builds the tension between the two, with a wise cracking kid as the hostage, reminding Joker Batman is gonna kick his ass. Batman is able to get the kid out of Joker's grasp, but ends up getting shot in the stomach by him. As Joker runs off the kid reminds Batman he's gotta kick joker's ass, which leads to the an actual funny panel in this dark book.
In the end, Batman follows the bodies towards the tunnel of love, symbolic for this dark, twisted-like romance between these two legendary characters. The pair fight and it makes me realize how realistic this fight actually is. Most comics nowadays have the heroes and villains battle it out across buildings. They are colorful, wide, almost movie like. This fight however...its brutal, dark, you can feel every stab and every punch. It isn't a show for us to enjoy, it's a realistic fight between two enemies. The comic ends with Batman breaking Joker's neck, paralyzing him from the neck down. However, just to frame Batman for murder, Joker laughs as he snaps his neck the rest of the way...leaving one dead clown, and a bleeding out Knight.