Batman #143 Review

Batman #143 Review – “The Joker: Year One”

The first chapter in the Joker: Year One storyline didn’t get off to the best start. Technically it was well told. Unfortunately Chip Zdarsky is working against the fact this is all old territory he is revisiting with the Joker. To make this Joker: Year One story successful Zdarsky will need to find a hook that is unique to this narrative he is telling. That is easier said than done with how many Joker stories we’ve gotten. Can Zdarsky find a way to make Joker: Year One memorable? Let’s find out with Batman #143.


Writer: Chip Zdarsky

Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli and Andrea Sorrentino

Inker: Stefano Nesi and Andrea Sorrentino

Colorist: Alejandro Sánchez and Dave Stewart

Letterer: Clayton Cowles


“THE JOKER YEAR ONE, PART TWO! The terrifying tale of “The Joker Year One” continues as a mysterious figure from Batman’s past has come into Joker’s orbit, changing the Clown Prince of Crime forever! And what secrets does the re-formed Red Hood Gang have for Batman’s future?” – DC Comics


The Joker: Year One story is a tough, inescapable spot of feeling like a filler story. From a technical standpoint Chip Zdarsky does work his magic to condense all the iconic Joker storylines to tell a modern retelling of Joker’s “definitive origin.” Unfortunately, Zdarsky is trying to do this at a time where every creator that’s been working on Batman has been telling their own Joker story. That makes it tough to say anything being done in Batman #143, or its previous chapter, is special.

The most interesting thing that Zdarsky does in Batman #143 is answer the question around the whole Three Jokers concept introduced during New 52 and DC Rebirth. Simplifying the answer by having the three definitive versions of Joker all being the same person is the right call. Working in Joker utilizing how Bruce created his Batman of Zur-En-Arrh personality to create the Three Jokers connects things to Zdarsky’s greater narrative.

Joker taking things further than Bruce by having personalities he can unlock whenever he wants adds to why he is such a terrifying villain. This also spotlights how we see Joker form of chaos be reflected of where Batman is at in any era. Joker comes across as a Demon Lord, something Daniel Captio even becomes afraid of.

For all the good about the Three Jokers angle the over story being told in The Joker: Year One still comes across as filler. There is even more of a feeling in Batman #143 than the first chapter of this is a “been there, done that” story. We’ve specifically seen Batman battle the Red Hood Gang during the Zero Year storyline.

Jokerized Batman Family - Batman #143
The Batman Family all become Jokerized in the dark unknown future Joker creates in Batman #143. Credit: DC Comics

That’s where this story falls apart. Zdarsky misses the opportunity to further develop Gotham City during Batman’s early years. The Red Hood Gang come across as generic villains. That bleeds into the drama at the GCPD that Jim Gordon is dealing with. We are just going around in circles with nothing new being brought to the table. As a reader that is not how we should feel. Zdarsky should’ve utilized Black Mask or another villain to show how Joker’s rise could also be connected to how other Gotham City villains evolve to match Batman.

Adding to how weak The Joker: Year One story is the fact that there is a need for an unknown future to be shown. More than anything these future segments come across as page filler because The Joker: Year One angle isn’t strong enough to carry a three-part story. At the same time, this Jokerized future has this feeling of being inconsequential. Maybe if it was its own one-shot this story would be able to come across better as a Batman vs Joker Elseworld story.

It doesn’t help that every single story beat in this unknown future has a predictability to every development. There is a lack of surprises when we’ve already been told everyone has been Jokerized. Even trying to use the Bat-Cat angle with how Selina Kyle is used in this future story has that predictability. Ultimately it comes down to Batman vs Joker. Lacking unpredictability hurts this future story just like the repetitive nature hurts The Joker: Year One story.

Giuseppe Camuncoli and Andrea Sorrentino work as well as possible with their respective part in Batman #143. Sorrentino’s art style fits the dark future tone Zdarsky is going with. It does at least have a horror vibe even if the story itself isn’t hitting. Meanwhile, Camuncoli art is solid to capture the look Greg Capullo established for this period in Gotham City. Though there clash in styles does make it tough to get used to the shifts between the two stories. Which hurts the pacing of Batman #143 as there are all these starts and stops with both stories.


Batma #143 is unable to fix the filler vibe The Joker: Year One story has. The story here is just a reminder that this is all a distraction to buy time before the next chapter in the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh narrative. Even when there are connections made to Batman of Zur-En-Arrh they just leave you wondering if it was necessary for Joker to be involved. Luckily this story will be don before this month is over.

Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10