Joker: Killer Smile: Book One - Review
Can this doctor succeed where others have failed?
The tale that Jeff Lemire sets up starts off with a trope that is familiar in the annals of Joker stories: a doctor/psychiatrist/analyst is positive they will be the one who will finally cure the Joker of the mental illness or madness that is plaguing him. This usually ends in some sort of tragedy where that person ends up being dead. Not so, at least not yet, in this story. The analyst, in particular, Dr. Ben Arnell, believes he can build a mental wall between him and the Joker to prevent anything from happening to him. From his conversations with the Joker, it would appear that the Joker may be infecting Arnell mentally in some manner through the telling of a murderous children’s storybook tale of Mr. Smiles. Arnell finds himself potentially hallucinating grizzly scenes and we are left wondering where exactly his mental state lies and what is the Joker’s plan.
I am a big fan of Jordie Bellaire’s work on just about any book. Her distinctive style in colors is that there is no style. As with pencillers, colorists tend to have their own styles, mostly identifiable through the color palette that they prefer. Thus, you can tell their work apart easily from others. Bellaire isn’t as defined. She excels at adapting to the penciller/artist she is working with, and that makes the projects she touches even more exciting. Within this issue, she alternates coloring styles multiple times: gritty reality, parts of the story told from the Joker’s POV, and a third set involving Mr. Smiles.
This issue is well-paced and a quick read. Lemire has a good balance with the artist, Andrea Sorrentino, in allowing him to show the story rather than rely on too much exposition. Definitely pick this up if you are looking for a good, gritty, psychological Joker story.