Joker: Killer Smile #3 – Jeff Lemire, Writer; Andrea Sorrentino, Artist; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: Joker: Killer Smile #3, the finale of Joker: Killer Smile turns up the scares, as Lemire and Sorrentino once again prove themselves the best horror creative team on the stands. This issue picks up immediately after Dr. Ben Arnell discovered the horrific truth behind his quest to cure the Joker – the weeks and months he had thought he had spent on the case had turned into more than a year. He had lost his family and his sanity without ever knowing it, and that sends him back to the Joker’s cell.
What starts as a violent confrontation descends into him freeing Joker from his cell as they break out of the asylum. Arnell is pushed to his limit, in a bizarre story that parallels the twisted storybook of Mr. Smiles the clown. Sorrentino’s art is at its best this issue, shifting from surreal cartooning to a detailed red-tinged shot that features the most horrific Killer Croc I’ve ever seen. And Joker keeps Arnell under his thumb with a twisted bargain – he offers Arnell the address of his lost family, surely to send him after them like a weapon.
This is a disturbing horror story, but not in the way you’d expect. There’s relatively little gore, and while Arnell is sent against his family, Joker: Killer Smile #3 doesn’t end in carnage. Rather, it gets its scares from just how far Joker’s influence is creeping. A reveal of how the monster has infiltrated his home is the best visual of the final issue, but the series surprisingly ends on a tone of hope as a life that was destroyed by the Joker’s influence tries to crawl out of the depths.
It doesn’t exactly answer all the questions of the series, but I don’t think that’s a problem. Lemire is building off what Scott Snyder did with Joker – making him less a serial killer than a seemingly unstoppable force of insanity that is impossible to resist and impossible to keep down. This is probably the most effective Joker story since Endgame, and it’s not quite over yet. Lemire and Sorrentino are back for a one-issue prequel focusing on a young Bruce Wayne and his ties to the Joker’s storybook counterpart. I’m already scared.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.