Among the newest entries on the latest NYTimes graphic books best seller list is the newest collection of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America stories, which I am eager to get my hands on. Also back for yet another week is Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo’s Joker. No surprise here. It’s an original graphic novel meaning it was never previously printed as a mini-series that was later collected into a book.
Joker is probably one of the most disgusting and violent comics I’ve read in a long time. And I mean that in the best way possible. I was suffering from a particularly nasty intestinal bug while reading this one, and I couldn’t help thinking how apt that this is the book I selected to see me through that rough time. I was able to truly appreciate the equating of Joker with a disease plaguing Gotham city (is it terminal?). But seriously, this book is fantastic. The characterization of Joker as a deeply damaged individual with Harley as his muse is inspired. The entire book is solid, but my favourite scenes are probably those introducing Harley and Croc. Azzarello’s dialogue and Bermejo’s art/staging really nail Heath Ledger’s Joker performance. This book was either released in conjunction with the most recent film or aimed to capitalize on its popularity.
Back to the list, I find it interesting that NYT writer George Gene Gustines describes the Green Lantern series as switching between genres (sci-fi and spy). I have a difficult time with that because it’s really just superhero stuff, and superheroes is a genre. Do I like superheroes with a brain? Yes. Do I like superheroes that tap into genres stories? Absolutely. (Identity Crisis is one of my favourite stories.) But if it wears a cape and flies through the air…
The number one spot for hardcovers goes to Final Crisis. I have mixed feelings about this. I find it unfortunate that, with so many good books on the store shelves, the list is dominated by the superhero genre. But it speaks to the fact that the hero books probably sell faster than non-genre. All one needs to do is look at the Vertigo monthly sales charts and compare against the DC Universe. That said, I’ll be disappointed if The Nobody doesn’t make the list next week.