Joker: Killer Smile Book Three continues DC’s exploration of the character of the Clown Prince of Crime, and I’m not certain even this great creative team has solved the mystery that is the Joker.

Joker: Killer Smile Book Three of Three

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Steve Wands
Editor: Chris Conroy
Publisher: DC Black Label
Cover price: $5.99
Release date: February 19, 2020

SOLICITATION: Everything Dr. Ben Arnell knew is wrong. Who can he turn to? The Joker waits with open arms…and all he needs from Ben is open cell doors! The unbelievable psychological thriller from the creators of Gideon Falls hits a fever pitch and crashes to its decisive finale…or does it?


I truly believe that not even the people who first brought the Joker to life understood just what they had created. To this day, he’s eluded definition by the best exploring minds DC has had and brought to bear to solve the mystery that remains the Joker.

I recently saw a meme on Facebook that showed the many faces of the Joker. He has been The Maniac, The Comedian, The Psychopath, The Anarchist, The Gangster, and The Clown, and I’m convinced we still haven’t plumbed the depths of this character.

DC’s latest exploration of the Joker is under their Black Label imprint called Joker: Killer Smile, a three-part tale of yet another psychoanalyst who thinks that he’s finally the one to solve this puzzle.

Not even close. Instead, Ben Arnell is yet another fly drawn into the spider’s web spun by the Joker. I felt badly for his family in particular.

It’s like watching an auto accident in slow motion. We know what the result will be, but we cannot take our eyes off it! Drama of the highest order! It does conclude interestingly, albeit as I expected it would.

As Ben keeps taking yet another step into the darkness, I find myself wanting to yell, “No, man! Don’t do it!” As if that would help this guy!

Of course, if Ben did solve this, I imagine I’d be royally disappointed! I’m beginning to think it’s truly impossible! But they have to try, don’t they? And that’s what the Joker is counting on!

One element of this series that has fascinated me is the use of elements from children’s books, something I’m sure the Joker would love. Corrupting innocence is great fun for him, and you can’t get purer than kid’s literature! That’s one big reason this book is under DC’s Black Label imprint, I’m sure. This story is NOT for the kiddies, for sure! Interesting 3-D looking cover, too!


I remember how the Batman show on ABC used to show bad guys on a tilted camera angle to indicate they were not “on the straight and narrow,” as it were. This artwork makes me think of that, showing reality from the Joker’s point of view, mixed up and not nearly as nice and neat as many of us would like it to be. The sketchier, the better for him!

This book is mostly drama, and some action along the way. The facial expressions are key, and they are superbly done! The action sequences work well, too, but the suspense is palpable, as they say, and it’s chilling!

BOTTOM LINE: No End in Sight for This Joker!

This creative team sparkled on Green Arrow and Gideon Falls, and they shine again in this dark story. The best we can hope for is for Ben to break free from the Joker’s entanglements. Mercy from the Joker? Yeahsure!

Jeff Lemire has been writing a lot lately, including another Black Label book based on The Question. At the end of this book, we discover that the Joker will be back in Batman: The Smile Killer, coming soon!

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Joker: Killer Smile Book Three of Three

Dark and Dreary

One element of this series that has fascinated me is the use of elements from children’s books, something I’m sure the Joker would love. Corrupting innocence is great fun for him, and you can’t get purer than kid’s literature!

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About Author

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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