This is the first issue in a limited series with no ties to the current Batman storylines. As such, it’s an excellent starting point for a casual reader, and a fun take on the Batman/Joker relationship.
Matt Hollingsworth does both the cover and the interior art. The cover juxtaposes the straight-laced, no longer insane Joker a.k.a. Jack Napier on the top half, with his insane super-villain self on the lower part of the cover with Batman caught between them. The cover looks good, though the reason it jumped out at me was how subdued it looked. It doesn’t jump right out at you, but rather catches your peripheral and worms its way into your brain. How different it was from everything else on the shelves led me to pick it up.
This book is gritty and dark. All the colour is subdued, and even the story itself is dark. Not Metal dark, but more of a gritty cop drama kind of dark. I liked the look of the characters, nothing overly out of proportion or over-exaggerated, just classic and gritty. I liked how insane Joker looks at the beginning of the book, as well as how composed and in control he looked towards the end in the Jack Napier persona. You could tell they were the same character, but with fundamental differences.
This story was written by Sean Murphy, and he puts together a compelling premise. The Joker has become sane, and the relationship between him and Batman flips. The Joker, as Jack Napier, becomes the hero, and Batman becomes the villain. You know there is a swerve coming at some point, but it’s something with these two I haven’t seen before, so I’m going to enjoy it while I can. I really enjoyed the changes in how he wrote Joker at the beginning of the book as the insane super-villain, and the end as the sane Jack Napier. There are seven more issues to come, so it’ll be interesting to see how it comes along.