Batman: The Smile Killer Review

Writer – Jeff Lemire

Artist – Andrea Sorrentino, Jordie Bellaire

DC Black Label

I recently submitted my first review for Earth-9, which was the DC Black label series of Joker – Killer Smile, a series which I found myself really enjoying, so it seems only fitting that I follow that up with the one shot epilogue to that series.

First, it’s worth stating that although this is a one shot issue, this issue does not stand well on it’s own, if you haven’t read the Joker Killer Smile miniseries, it’s safe to say this book may not make a whole lot of sense.

I’d also like to say this will be a quite short review, as I don’t want to give away too much around the details from the story.

What Killer Smile did well was focus on the question of what is real and what isn’t. It focused on Ben Arnell and his descent into madness while questioning what is real and what is not.

In this book, the same question is asked of Bruce Wayne. We alternate between Bruce as a child and Bruce as an adult, while he is locked in a cell in Arkham, seemingly with Ben Arnell.

It starts us off with Bruce watching kids TV, and he’s watching Mr Smiles, which we saw in the previous series in the children’s book interludes. This is followed by Batman chasing down and fighting the Joker, before cutting to Bruce in Arkham, and at one pint even questioning what happened to Bruce’s parents.

We see scenes of Bruce with “doctor” James Gordon as both a child and adult, and we also see scenes of Batman and Joker, although these are mostly drawn to reflect clouds of gas.

The book does a good job of never really confirming what is or isn’t real leaving the reader to decide on what they are seeing. Are the gas cloud Batman / Joker scenes some kind of Joker toxin, or are they dream sequences? It is all left open for people to decide for themselves.

Overall this is a very enjoyable read and fits with the Killer Smile series very well, however, as stated at the beginning, it will only make any sense if you have read the Killer Smile series. The book follows perfectly with the themes presented in Killer Smile, and uses them in a very slightly different way. It allows the reader to decided exactly what they are seeing by making everything ambiguous and questionable, right down to it’s ending which is even presented at the end of the book as THE END ?

Definitely worth a read, and a worthy follow to the Killer Smile series.