Wedding Crashers: Gotham Edition.
Though he’s written 50-ish issues of Batman so far (including annuals and spinoffs), Tom King has yet to deliver a dedicated Joker story. The most we’ve seen was “The War of Jokes and Riddles,” but even that story took place in the past and positioned Joker as one villain among many. As the series nears the long-awaited wedding of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, finally the Clown Prince of Crime is stepping out of the shadows and back into the spotlight. And unsurprisingly, he steals the show in issue #48.
In this case, “stealing the show” is hardly an exaggeration. Joker is responsible for roughly 90% of the dialogue in this issue, with the majority of the rest coming in the form of a prayer recited by a priest unfortunate enough to cross paths with Joker. It definitely reads like King is trying to make up for lost time with this character. It’s also notable just how different this take is relative to the one in “The War of Jokes and Riddles.” Beforehand, King was writing a Joker experiencing a sort of midlife crisis. He had lost his sense of humor and his confidence as a villain. This Joker, by comparison, is at the height of his mischievous prowess.
King’s take on Joker proves very well-rounded and satisfying. He’s eloquent and intelligent, yet prone to tangents and losing his train of thought. He’s sadistic yet whimsical. And he has a great dynamic with Batman, despite the fact that the Caped Crusader barely utters more than a few words over the course of the issue. That said, King and artist Mikel Janin do tend to portray Batman as a weirdly passive participant in the story. He seems surprisingly nonplussed by the carnage unfolding before him, and a little too prone to falling for the Joker’s obvious tricks.
Otherwise, Janin’s art is on-point, as usual. He delivers a nice variety in terms of page structure this time around, with some opting for the intricate grid layouts Janin is known for, while others take a more loose and free-form approach. Janin makes the most of the church setting, paying as much attention to the imposing architecture as he does the characters themselves. But much as Joker hogs the spotlight in King’s script, he’s very much the focal point on each and every page. Janin renders him in all his dynamic, bloodthirsty glory. He captures that delicate balance between Joker’s inhuman nature and the sad, jilted man beneath who’s just jealous he didn’t receive a wedding invite.