Years in the making since being announced, Marc Silvestri’s Batman & The Joker: The Deadly Duo #1 is out today, featuring iconic pencils in an out-of-current continuity story. Centering on Harley Quinn being kidnapped, Batman is facing off against a Joker-looking monster far more powerful than it has any right to be.
From the very start, it’s obvious that the art is the main attraction of the series. No disrespect to the story — it’s actually quite robust — but the pencils by Silvestri are the most impressive thing about this story. It’s crazy to think about how Silvestri, Jim Lee, and all the rest that started Image left the Big Two only to now return to tell one more epic Batman tale. Silvestri’s pencils are unmistakable and deliver nostalgic quality that fans of his work from the ’80s and ’90s will appreciate.
Closing out the first issue is a few extra uncolored pages, further cementing this is all about soaking in the hand-drawn details. Arif Prianto colors the book well, of course, but Silvestri’s legendary status as an incredible artist gets warrants extra attention.
Batman looks great in this book, along with Catwoman and Joker, but Gotham’s the real star. There’s so much to take in, from impossibly tall skyscrapers to gothic looking towards regular city buildings. This first issue also shows off a cool new Batmobile and Silvestri’s take on the Batcave. These elements will have your imagination run wild as you picture Silvestri’s take on it.
As far as the story, this issue involves Batman doing detective work that leads him to a monsterous-looking Joker. He’s not a quiet, brooding type here either, but he interacts with others, like detective Bullock or an overly angry policeman. At one point, Batman purposefully knocks a toupee off a cop’s head who was talking smack about him, while in another scene, he’s demanding a few cops get control of a crowd forming around a very dangerous villain. I wouldn’t say this story is complex — it’s mostly Batman reacting to situations — but there’s enough here so that it’s not an art-only experience.
We’ve seen a lot of these ideas before, but the unique element of this book is how Silvestri writes Batman. You get the sense Batman is a force imposing himself into situations or on others. In a critical scene with Joker, for instance, he spits in Joker’s face. While not a very common thing to see him do in most Batman books, Silvestri makes Batman more of an authoritarian than a peaceful protector.
In regards to Harley Quinn, this depiction feels dated. No longer Joker’s girl in the main continuity, Joker literally calls her his property at one point. Their twisted relationship has undergone some major developments in recent years, correcting the unhealthy nature of their dynamic. While what we see here was once how these two interacted, it feels like a step back in their evolution.
An art showpiece, Batman & The Joker: The Deadly Duo #1 brings an authoritarian vibe to Batman, giving it a unique take on the character worth checking out. If you’re interested in a macabre depiction of Gotham with a monster suited for the city, you’ll likely enjoy this miniseries.
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