Comicsphere: Batman – The Man Who Laughs by Ed Brubaker & Doug Mahnke
I’m not sure if the release of a new Batman film will have a knock on effect as far as comic books goes — it may bring Batman to the forefront of people’s minds as they are in their local comic shop whereas it wouldn’t have been there before. All this to say that if it were to make you consider spending your hard-earned cash on a pictographical representation of the dark knight you would be doing yourself a massive favour if you picked up this book. This book’s whole setting seems designed to be a realistic backdrop against which the insanity of the joker sparkles and glitters and it does. It is a deceptively simple technique, one that it takes real skill to pull off. I love Brubaker’s writing. I came to him through Deadenders, which I have written about here and he is one of those writers who truly seems able to write to match the characteristics of his protagonists. In Deadenders Beezer was petulant, confused, angry and disillusioned and that really seeped into the fabric of the book. Here you have three players who shape the feel of the story: Gordon, Batman and The Joker and a certain amount of tension is derived just from the sense of difference that arises out of the shifting perspectives that these three very different personas allow. To make something your own, in the space of one book, with such robust archetypes as those Brubaker is writing with here is a real testament to a writer’s skills. It’s funny — I have read a few different threads on comic review sites now where writer-for-hire work is looked down on as somehow being lesser than creator owned work where in truth I think it is a hell of a lot harder to work within the confines that an established franchise comes with. To be creative whilst being faithful to the idea you are servicing is no easy task. If you are working on your own creation you have one hell of a lot more freedom to take liberties with them. Anyway — go buy this: it hits all the right notes.