By Alexander Webb
Knowing what to expect in certain situations, such as the advent of a snowstorm or training an unruly client, can mean the difference between success and failure. Preparedness has always been key for anyone looking to come out on top. In this month's one-shot, The Joker's Daughter, our titular character is well aware of the values of being prepared. I just wish someone would have given readers a heads-up.
After first appearing in Villains Month in September and slicing through the scores of Gotham's gangs known as the Gotham Underground, The Joker's Daughter is back and searching for her 'father,' the Clown Prince of Crime himself.
Let's start by clearing up one thing for the uninitiated. This is not the Joker's actual daughter. We think. This unnamed kook is a teenage girl who, bored with her average life, wrapped herself in layer after layer of lies to make her life more interesting. Was she a spoiled rich valley girl? Or was she a raven-haired bulimic who cut herself? Neither? Both? She is a purposeful enigma, trying to find meaning in a meaningless life. After coming across the recently-fallen Joker's recently detached face, she figures the best way for her to do this is to become his heir.
After baiting Batman with an explosive school bus and a Joker-ish note, she follows our hero to where she believes Joker was last seen. In her mind, finding her idol and making it known she is his to command is paramount to her life's goals. Batman, of course, outwits her, leading to the Joker's Daughter being taken to Arkham Asylum, the superjail where only the worst of the worst end up.
The Joker's Daughter is ready for anything though, and she takes out guards, meets up with a certain face-removal expert, and finally becomes 'one' with the crown of the devil, Joker's face. This is where reader-readiness is pertinent. Get ready for graphic violence and severe psychological issues not seen since last year's epic storyline, Death of the Family. We see a damaged youth in the Joker's Daughter. We see someone so desperate for meaning, completeness and relevancy that she turns to idolatry and devil worship. It was never enough for her to be liked or to have friends; she wanted undying devotion and followers.
We get a feel for what kind of character we will be contending with in the coming year(s?). As writer Marguerite Bennett told Comicosity back in November:
I think, beyond the Joker's Daughter herself, there is a terrible suggestion of what would happen to reader's if one day, some piece of the Joker came into their lives?..He hasn't come to kill you, hasn't come in person, but his face (which is his crown) is now in your hands, to treasure or to spurn or to secret away or to keep or to destroy or to don. You now possess a relic of death, the living proof of the existence of the Devil. Would you feel chosen or doomed?
Speaking of our writer, Bennett does an incredible job highlighting how deranged this character truly is. Run-on sentences and stream of consciousness speech bubbles are abound, but it keeps the focus on the Joker's Daughter's lack of sanity, while not taking away from the artwork. I love good art, and Meghan Hetrick delivers. The sewers are dark and grimy, the faces range from the true concern of the Gotham police to the sadistic giddiness of insanity in the Joker's Daughter.
The story itself answers old questions while raising plenty of new ones. Who is this madwoman? What is driving her? Why worship the embodiment of evil? Only time will tell, and tell it will; readers were told late last year by Bennett that we would be seeing plenty of this new character in 2014. After reading The Joker's Daughter, I can't wait to see what's in store.
Alex Webb is a fitness trainer by day, Batman-enthusiast by night. Ask him about fitness, comics, RPGs, and answering life's mysteries via Twitter and Instagram @officiallywebb