Reviews | Written by Joel Harley 11/06/2020

THE JOKER 80TH ANNIVERSARY 100-PAGE SUPER SPECTACULAR

FORMAT: SINGLE ISSUE, DIGITAL (REVIEWED) | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

The Joker is the greatest of Batman’s enemies. The most iconic, the most twisted, most beloved and most overused of Batman’s enemies. 80 years since his debut, the Joker now stands almost independent from his nemesis – the most iconic comic book villain of all time. For the Clown Prince of Crime’s birthday, we get this collection of stories – love letters from such luminaries as Scott Snyder, Brian Azzarello, Dennis O’ Neil, and Paul Dini. Joker fans are in for a treat, but specifically those who enjoy his nastier, darker modern antics. Opening with a grisly horror story by Scott Snyder and Jock, the tone is set early.

Things don’t lighten up much from there, and nor do they get better. It’s the same punchline, over and over again, with little variation or insight into the character himself. With eight decades-worth of history, Joker has had almost as many (if not more) personalities and reinventions than Batman himself - it’s a shame this should be so focused on his modern iteration as a terrifying, unstoppable monster, and genius. What, no love for the Laughing Fish guy? The sole exception is Denny O’ Neil and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez’s Introducing the Dove Corps, which is lighter in tone and a bit sillier. It’s a fun return to a more old-school Joker, but sadly not one of O’ Neil’s better works. Better this than What Comes After a Joke? though, which introduces Mr. J’s new sidekick, Punchline. Mad Love it ain’t.

This collection looks good and does contain a handful of gems (particularly Tom Taylor and Eduardo Risso’s Birthday Bugs), but it’s a repetitive and forgettable book with little to say beyond cheap shocks and scares. Super-Spectacular is so edgy readers should be careful not to cut themselves on its (100) pages. Why so serious?