The Joker has once more returned. He has turned a temple into a mass grave, and he is waiting for one man, the one man for whom he always waits. He wants the Batman, and, from the Batman, he wants an invitation to the coming wedding.
As is often the case in more recent comics, the Joker is manic, pining, and vicious, all in the name of drawing out the Dark Knight. He earns many uncomfortably laughs, but there is an underlying sincerity to his need for Batman's attention. It makes his actions even more discomforting.
In the same manner, there is a bizarre understanding in Batman's approach to the Clown Prince. He knows what must be done, and there is even a hint of sympathy despite the absolute atrocity that the Joker has committed in this issue.
The issue is simultaneously enjoyable and off-putting. It is entirely made up of this confrontation between the Caped Crusader and the Harlequin of Hate. The Joker, as always, knows how to play the Batman.
This results in moments where one could conceivably be taken out of the story by Batman's hesitation to act against the Joker. Your mileage may vary, but, for me, I was able to stay solidly engaged in this intense showdown.
Mikel Janin renders this with his well-documented skill. A lot of the subtler moments are made possible by the small expressions he draws out of the characters. His style adds a coldness and texture to the world that fits this comic excellently. June Chung's color art doubles down on the uncomfortable atmosphere with a pale color palette of white contrasting against black.
Batman #48 finds the book back on track with a shocking confrontation between the Dark Knight and his most fearsome and hated nemesis. There is a lot added to the margins of this story, made possible by the writing of Tom King and the art of Mikel Janin and June Chung. This book is outright awesome and earns a strong recommendation. Give it a read.
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