DETECTIVE COMICS #1008 / Writer: Peter J. Tomasi / Artist: Doug Mahnke / Inker: Jaime Mendoza / Colorist: Dave Baron / Letterer: Rob Leigh / Cover: Mahnke, Mendoza, Baron / Publisher: DC Comics / Published July 24th, 2019
Joker is holding everyone at a carnival hostage with rigged lanyards, giving him control over who lives and who dies. Batman is forced to play along with the Joker long enough to save everyone.
Detective Comics #1008 doesn’t waste any time explaining how or why Joker took over the park, and we never see any ransom demands. The Joker simply has control over the park and everyone inside. No henchmen, no Harley, just Joker and hundreds of innocent lives. Reasons for everything would’ve been nice, but the issue works without them.
Batman shows up and quickly realizes that he can’t save the day by punching. Instead, Joker forces him to go on the rides and play the carnival games. It’s fun to watch Batman’s grim face on the Ferris wheel, bumper cars, and eventually the tunnel of love with Joker’s manic smile sitting next to him the whole time. Batman plays along long enough to get Joker’s trigger device and save the day, but the Joker gets away. The final pages are a clue to the Year of the Villain event connecting this title to so many others.
Peter J. Tomasi’s Joker is top-notch. I could almost hear Mark Hamill delivering the lines. Much of Detective Comics #1008 feels right out of Batman: The Animated Series. However, some of the dialogue doesn’t work. It’s stiff with no rhythm or flow. Joker takes much of the spotlight here and it’s a great time following him around the park. I would have liked more to the story. We don’t know why anything is happening, just that it is. I wonder if it would have worked better focusing on a character outside of Batman and the Joker and seeing the events through their eyes.
Doug Mahnke’s art is really good. The Joker is creepy and disturbing in the best possible way. Mahnke’s layouts are good. It feels like a whirlwind night at the carnival, you can almost smell the popcorn. Jaime Mendoza’s inks give definition to every line in the Joker’s face, making him truly terrifying and difficult to look at. But, this is exactly how we want our Joker. Dave Baron’s colors give us a bright and colorful palette that feels like a perfect summer evening. Any other night, this carnival would be a wonderful place to be. I especially liked how Baron added some color back to Batman’s costume with the blue cape and cowl. I grow tired of always seeing him in black and gray.
Detective Comics #1008 is an enjoyable Batman and Joker tale. The carnival setting reminds me of classic tales like The Killing Joke. Unfortunately, the story here is lacking any serious depth or weight. This is a fun romp with the Joker, but nothing more. I would’ve liked a bit more meat and less cotton candy.
VERDICT 3.5 out of 5