by Henry Gilroy, Ronnie
del Carmen, Ramon F. Bach
(DC/Dark Horse, 2001)
Face it. The appearance of one successful comic-book character in the title of another popular icon is seldom a gamble for publishers. But crossover titles do not guarantee a winning hand for readers -- unless there is a Joker in the deck.
Batman's Joker is easily the most popular and recognized villain in comic book history. The Mask is easily the most successful superhero rifle in Dark Horse Comics' history. So, how can you lose?
You could lose yourself in the story.
While vandalizing a museum exhibit, Joker dons an infamous mask that unleashes a person's suppressed desires and morphs them into a super-powered, invincible Tasmanian Devil on acid. Since Joker is already madness incarnate, it enables him to finally accomplish his ultimate goal, to beat Batman within an inch of that superhero's life. With "Bats" out of the picture, the Joker's unstoppable crime wave quickly leads the Clown Prince of Crime to boredom and ... television!
You could lose yourself in the art.
Those pictures in Joker/Mask are drawn in the simple but dynamic style of the current TV animated series featuring the Caped Crusader. Dark but cartoonish, the straightforward visual storytelling is flawless and exciting. Harley Quinn could not be sexier, the Batman more grim, the Joker more menacing.
Those words in Joker/Mask do an amazing job of capturing the essence of both characters without lessening either. The subtle fear that always underlies the Joker's ghastly face (when done right) is only heightened by the maniacal hyper-energy that is the trademark of The Mask and many classic cartoons.
So, how could you lose, reader? You could buy Oprah's new magazine instead of Joker/Mask. But, then, the joke would be on you. Joker/Mask is highly recommended for all ages.
[ by Michael Vance ]