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Graphic Novel Review

Book Cover

The Man Who Laughs (Harback)


Author: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Doug Mahnke and Patrick Zircher
Titan Books
RRP: £16.99, US $19.99, Cdn $23.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84576 724 2
ISBN-10: 1 84576 724 1
Available 21 March 2008

Even at the very beginning of his crime-fighting career, the Batman has already seen plenty of humanity's dark side - but it's nothing compared to what is about to emerge, giggling, from the shadows: a grinning, chalk-faced figure whose madness threatens to overwhelm everything that stands in its way. For Gotham City's new defender, this first encounter with the creature called the Joker will be the ultimate trial by fire - a battle that will define his long struggle against the forces of chaos and insanity...

The Man Who Laughs begins with the origins of the Joker's murderous antics. Captain James Gordon arrives at the scene of a vicious crime - where the corpses have strange grins on their faces - only to be met by the Batman. Some of the bodies have been dead for a month and appear to be the victims of some twisted experiment.

The Joker soon turns up to issue a threat to the rich and famous of Gotham. Each night, at the stroke of midnight, Joker claims he will kill a prominent figure. True to form, his threats come to pass. Can Batman stop him before he himself, as Bruce Wayne, is targetted?

As the Joker's crimes escalate, it soon becomes apparent that he is merely trying to distract everyone from his real goal - one that will spell doom for thousands of innocents. The race is on to stop the crazed madman from carrying out his deadly plans.

Years later, those same forces will erupt again from a wholly unexpected direction - and ghosts of the past, both good and evil, will have to face the harsh light of inquiry before they can finally rest. Bodies are turning up with the words "Made of Wood" cut into their chests. The only link that Batman has to follow is that this is obviously a threat aimed at the Green Lantern. The two join forces to stop the killer, but what hopes have they got when they've no real clue where to start looking?

This collection is certainly one that Joker fans will lap up. First rate writing and beautifully illustrated... what more could you ask for?


Darren Rea

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