Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Batman #23.1 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN No. 23.1, November 2013
Sporting a “supervillains of the DCU” commemorative cover this particular edition of “The New 52” “Batman” is an honest to goodness thrill-a-minute read, whose script is as engagingly enthralling and dynamic as the comic’s Jason Fabok 3-D Motion Cover. For whilst this book is disappointingly devoid of the actual Dark Knight himself, Andy Kubert’s narrative instead provides the reader with a disturbingly endearing tale of the Caped Crusader’s greatest nemesis trying to start a family of his very own.

Disconcertingly however, any of this magazine’s 107,680 buyers foolish enough to think that “Time To Monkey Shine” would therefore be little more than a whimsical tale of the Clown Prince of Crime’s domestic bliss were in for something of a surprise, as the American author not only shows a chillingly caring side to the Joker that is rarely seen. But also offers plenty of harrowing flashbacks to a time when the white-skinned psychopath was naught but an abused infant, desperate to escape the bleach and scrubbing brush of his deranged Aunt Eunice; “I’m surprised I still have all my fingers and toes.”

Indeed Jerry Robinson’s co-creation is stunningly sentimental towards the start of this story, momentarily even appearing “a wee bit shaken”, or at the very least distracted, by the sight of a zoo-keeper being rather gratuitously eaten alive by a giant snake. Unsurprisingly though the supervillain quickly regains his maniacal momentum and having suddenly acquired the urge to become a parent, decides to embark upon the fraught journey into fatherhood as only the homicidal mastermind can… by abducting a baby gorilla whom he laughing names Jackanapes.

What follows is nothing short of a hilarious, though increasingly ghoulish, montage as the Joker ensures his “young pup” experiences “the childhood I wish I had” by teaching him how to bully children at school, rob girl scouts of their sweets and spend ‘quality time together’ watching graphically violent horror movies. Rather impressively the tone of the orphaned gorilla’s upbringing becomes increasingly dark the older the primate gets and this gradual shift from zany antics to callous cold-blooded murder, such as pulling a hapless man’s arms off or trapping people within a burning building, must have caught many an unsuspecting bibliophile off-guard.

Just as interesting is the Quill Award-winner’s transformation of Jackanapes from a naughty, possibly playful, young ape to a seemingly regretful adult primate who clearly no longer wishes to be his father’s colourfully costumed killer. Teary-eyed the animal knowingly chooses a grim-death as a result of a fall from a high-flying aeroplane rather than remain at the Joker’s side and in doing so creates a genuinely sad ending to an otherwise wonderfully humorous comic.

Equally as impressive as The Kubert School graduate’s script is the sensationally detailed artwork by Andy Clarke. Mesmerizingly energetic and vibrantly coloured by digital professional Blond, the British penciller’s illustrations of both the Clown Prince of Crime and his ‘ward’ are incredibly well drawn and really help bring out the character’s differing emotions as they increasingly ‘dish out pain and suffering'.
Writer: Andy Kubert, Art: Andy Clarke, and Colors: Blond

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