Joker 80th Anniversary 100 Page Super Spectacular is published by DC Comics, written by Scott Snyder, Paul Dini, James Tynion IV, Tom Taylor, Gary Whitta, Greg Miller, Eduardo Medeiros, Rafael Albuquerque, Denny O’Neil, Tony S. Daniel, Peter J. Tomasi, and Brian Azzarello; with art by Jock, Riley Rossmo, Mikel Janin, Eduardo Risso, Dan Mora, Rafael Albuquerque, José Luis Garcia-López, Tony S. Daniel, Simone Bianchi, and Lee Bermejo; colors by David Baron, Ivan Plascencia, Jordie Bellaire, Marcelo Maiolo, and Tomeu Morey; and letters by Tom Napolitano, Deron Bennett, Clayton Cowles, Clem Robbins, Troy Peteri, Steve Wands, Carlos M. Mangual, Rob Leigh, and Jared K. Fletcher. In celebration of the character’s 80 years in print, DC Comics has spit together this anthology book. Collecting all-new short stories highlighting both the Joker, those whose lives he has impacted.
When it comes to the Joker, things can get pretty hit or miss. While I’ve had the pleasure to read some really great stories he’s been a part of, he has also been utilized in some less than stellar ways. Often times billed as a manifestation of chaos, the Joker is frequently implemented as nothing more than an excuse to rack up a body count. While Joker 80th Anniversary 100 Page Super Spectacular tends to lean more toward the former with its collection of tales, it isn’t without its shallow points.
The opening story is perhaps its biggest highlight. Written by Snyder, this tale looks at the Joker’s effect on one of his countless victims. It delves into the psychology of what gives the Joker his power over those he has tortured. It is a heavy read, and Snyder’s writing, along with Jock’s artwork delivers the tale superbly.
Joker 80th Anniversary 100 Page Super Spectacular also delivers a bit of an origin story for his newest partner in crime, Punchline. I found the rationale the character gives for why she has chosen to follow in the Joker’s footsteps interesting. Of particular note, there is no implication that the character has any sort of mental illness. This pleased me as all too often writers have used mental illness as a way to explain characters acting in a wildly violent way. It’s a terrible stereotype and I’m glad it wasn’t utilized here.
And as one would expect, there are a couple of stories that take deep looks into the relationship between Joker and Batman. The sort of yin and yang existence these two are often portrayed as having is looked into in some depth. While these stories handle this concept well, they still feel like they struggle a little. This is largely because this area of the character has already been so thoroughly explored its quite difficult to really do something new with it.
One of the weaker moments in Joker 80th Anniversary 100 Page Super Spectacular comes when the Joker opts to join a non-lethal military force called the Dove Corps. This story goes pretty much where you would expect. Saying nothing noteworthy, and simply giving the Joker an excuse to be his violent self.
The artistic presentation of Joker 80th Anniversary 100 Page Super Spectacular delivers a solid performance. The art is varied, with style doing well to fit its story. The multitude of variations on the title character is impressive. While there is an iconic look the character is known for I never fully appreciated how many different ways the character can be presented while still being definitively him.
Further adding to the visual presentation in this book is a collection of iconic covers from the many decades of the Joker’s past. These further highlight the many ways the Joker has been presented over the years. These glances into the character’s past were a treat to enjoy. Well, all except one.
While it didn’t surprise me, I was disappointed to see The Killing Joke’s cover included in this volume. Perhaps one of the worst examples of the Joker used for pure shock value, the story wasn’t great back in the day, and it’s only gotten worse with time. And no, what later creatives did with Barbara Gordon, by empowering her character through the identity of Oracle, doesn’t help save this story to me at all.
When all is said and done I think Joker 80th Anniversary 100 Page Super Spectacular delivers a collection of stories fans of the iconic villain will enjoy. While there are a couple of weak spots in the book, overall, it delivers some interesting stories that highlight the Clown Prince of Crime.
Joker 80th Anniversary 100 Page Super Spectacular is available June 9th wherever comics are sold.