Batman has lost his memory temporarily and wakes up in an ambulance, wounded. During his memory lapse, the body of the Joker was found dead. Someone murdered the villain. It could be Batman. John Constantine and other mystical figures assist Batman in his quest for the truth. Is this the end of the Joker?
I have been asking myself how to review this comic and to address the silly controversy that had DC Comics decide to censor parts of it for the digital release and future print editions. If you have the original do treasure your copy. It will be rare in a few years. Part of this controversy seems staged to promote more sales of this comic as when I first read the book, I barely noticed the nudity and was not even captivated by the story.
The strong visuals are what were more interesting but even there, the blood seen in various shot is pained in a flat two-dimensional manner that jars with the rest of the painted works. It’s the same problem with the lettering and the panel borders. They are all flat - two-dimensional when dialogue is involved. There is narration by someone I believe is John Constantine and while the integration in the whole work is better, it is still white on paints and is less readable at times. As much as everyone will hype this comic, the production design is not the best as Jared K. Fletcher’s lettering does not support the artwork by Lee Bermejo.
The flatness of the lettering when compared with Bermejo’s artwork can be translated to the plot as well. Batman is used in ways that characterize him as a traditional pulp characters faced with mystical forces that jar with who he is. The many flashbacks and alternate reality sequences do not mesh well with the world of Batman. Except for Constantine, other well-known characters such as Zatanna and Deadman feel like odd versions of themselves in this comic.
I was bored by this comic whose only reason to be special is the artwork and the pedigree of the writer Brian Azzarello. If it weren’t for these, the comic would not fare well with critics.