Comic Reviews: Joker: Killer Smile and The Last God!
Joker: Killer Smile #1 (DC Comics)
DC’s Black Label continues to churn out new titles, and this week we get not one, but TWO new titles. One I’ll be covering below, but right now we’re gonna focus on another title starring the Clown Prince of Crime (at this point they could just have him star in his own Black Label line), and the creative team is one that wouldn’t be the first team to put on a book starring the Joker: Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino. That’s right, the creative team behind Green Arrow, Gideon Falls, and Old Man Logan are now turning their sights on the Joker, and the man who wants to try and cure him.
For reasons unknown to him, Dr. Ben Arnell is fixated on The Joker. Meeting one on one with the infamous villain each day for the past few weeks, Arnell believes that if he can cure the madman that it will have widespread benefits for the psychology field. But the deeper he probes the Clown Prince of Crime, the more the Joker toys with him, and Arnell’s wife and child is finding that he’s definitely taking the work home with him, in more ways than one.
Jeff Lemire is one of the strongest writers today, and Killer Smile is an easy example of this. Lemire can easily jump around from indie comics to titles from the “Big Two”, and even when he’s doing the big two stuff he doesn’t seem to be phoning it in at all. His Joker is a great mix of all types you’ve seen before, but given an even more sense of menace from behind his glass cell. While we don’t get a lot of background info on Dr. Arnell, what we do get is enough to really start to turn up the heat and tension on this story.
Andrea Sorrentino’s art can be a little hit or miss lately, but he’s definitely in the “hit” column with Killer Smile. The peanut butter to Lemire’s chocolate, Sorrentino nails the little nuances that Lemire adds to the script, and his depiction of the Joker is pretty neat too. It’s just of kilter enough to unsettle you, but not so strange that it becomes a full on horror book.
While the market may be getting a bit oversaturated with Black Label titles, there’s enough that makes Killer Smile stand out form the other books on the shelf. If you’re looking for a more character-focused book on the Joker, this is the one to pick up, and it looks to be another fantastic addition to Lemire and Sorrentino’s body of work.
The Last God #1 (DC Comics)
The second new Black Label title this week, The Last God is decidedly different from the other Black Label titles on the shelf. For one, it doesn’t feature The Joker or any other DC heroes, and for two, it’s an original dark fantasy series. One would argue that this is the first real test for the Black Label line, where if Last God can succeed as a book without the help of established DC properties, then the title could really flourish. And after reading the first issue from Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Riccardo Federicci, I see no reason to think that the book and the line as a whole won’t be a big success.
The kingdom of Cain Anuun has known peace for decades, thanks in part to the defeat of the Last God by their king, Tyr. Flourishing under the new rule, King Tyr has grown pretty weary, watching over gladiator matches that depict his great defeat of the evil he and his allies fought against. Eyvindr, the crowd favorite of the gladiators, is on his final match to win his freedom. But that chance at a free life is cut short when the fabled Last God arrives once more, creating a host of gruesome creatures to do his bidding.
It’s always hard to start up a brand new fantasy story, but Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s on the right track with Last God. While it does get a little info dumpy, Johnson uses his script to pepper in some revelations about the story of Tyr’s rise to power that already cast a lot of doubt on the validity of his story, which makes for a pretty intriguing narrative. There’s not quite as much character development as I would have liked, but it all makes for a pretty engaging story regardless.
Riccardo Federrici’s art really pulls you into this world, and his dark colors highlight some truly unique and original fantasy creature designs. I was pretty stunned by some of the art in this book, and it really makes for a comic that looks like nothing else on the stands. It’s really a sight to behold, and should this title make an impact, I expect Federrici to be in high demand for future projects.
The Last God has a lot riding on it for the future of original Black Label content, but it’s off to a pretty strong start, and only shows signs of improving from there. As much as I’ve enjoyed a lot of the Black Label line, it’s refreshing to see a title from the imprint that isn’t just another out of continuity Batman or Joker tale. If anything, Last God shows off the potential of the Black Label line, and could be an indication of where the line will go from here.
Posted on October 30, 2019, in Comic reviews and tagged Andrea Sorrentino, Black Label, DC Comics, Jeff Lemire, Joker, Joker Killer Smile, Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Riccardo Federicci, The Last God. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.