The Joker is my favorite comic book villain. For a couple years now I have been trying to buy up recent issues featuring him. Many of these issues suck; a choice few are very good. There are many reasons for this. Some authors clearly do not understand the Joker's character, and these stories do a great disservice to the character. Other authors clearly do get the Joker, and it is these tales that are highly sought after. One highly regarded tale is my recent acquisition, Devil's Advocate
This comic is fairly unique. It is part of a very select group of Joker stories that were originally published in the graphic novel format. The only other ones that come to mind are The Killing Joke
and Arkham Asylum
, both published in the late 1980s. Devil's Advocate
stands out even more because its first printing was in hardcover. Although this was quickly followed by a paperback reprinting, it was this black hardcover version I bought.
You Kinky Bastard...
Much like my previous attempt at purchasing Weird War III
, I could not find this comic at any comic book store. Neither Mile High Comics nor several other Internet comic book stores had the item in stock, or even had it listed as existing. Once again I ventured into the great void of online bookstores. A couple months prior to this I did actually see the book available at alibris for 30 dollars. I hesitated too long, however, and by the time I went back to the site, credit card in hand, it had already been sold. Other copies of this comic, including several of the paperback reprints, were available but were selling for upwards of 100 dollars. I was not about to spend that much on a comic published in 1996. A couple weeks ago, acting on a hunch, I decided to check Alibris one more time. And there it was: the hardcover edition for only 30 dollars. This time I only hesitated long enough to pull my card out of my wallet to order.
Why was I so quick to get this issue? As I wrote earlier, this is one of the few Joker stories that don't suck. At the heart of the story is a moral quandry: if the Joker dies for a crime he didn't commit, does it matter?
While there may be excellent characterization, this comic is not perfect. I was first introduced to the comic by reading disjointed snippets of it on comic community websites such as Scans_Daily. I was a little suprised to discover, after buying the book, that those disjointed snippets were actually the entire story. This comic simply jumps from scene to scene with absolutely no transitions or explanations. After reading through it twice, I still do not know just how much time passed in the comic. Parts of it read less like one continous storyline than a series of unconnected Joker vignettes. But that's okay.
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