I'm a big fan of Batman, but not a regular reader, I tend to go for things on the periphery of the Bat-Mythos, like Gotham Central so when DC put out The Joker's Asylum One-Shots the other year, I was totally the target market. I picked them up, and unsurprisingly they were a mixed bag, but on the whole they were pretty good reads. In 2008 they put out single issues for The Joker (odd), The Penguin (good), The Scare Crow (intriguing), Two Face (experimental) and Poison Ivy (shite). And here I am happy to see they've come back again this year with another five stories, this time focusing on a different five villains. Looking at the list you can see that they used up the A-List on the last go round unfortunately, but I still figured I'd give it a try so I roped in my trusty Co-Bad Guy to assist in this endeavour. Here’s our twopenneth:
The Riddler - The Riddler has always been one of my least favourite members of Batman‘s rogues gallery, so it was with very little enthusiasm that I picked up this issue. I’m glad I did though, because it’s quite an interesting concept for a story. The entire book is a riddle, which like last year’s Two Face story leaves the ending up to the reader. I imagine this can be quite frustrating, but it’s also fun. This does have the unfortunate side effect of making the reader feel like a right thicko if they don’t guess the mystery man in the story. My guess is Two-Face by the way. VH
Harley Quinn - Harley is a fun, enjoyable and amusing character, but she's also a psycho killer. That seems to be what people forget. That's exactly what this story does. It concentrates on her wacky side with a pointless, kind of fun, little adventure and ignores the more interesting, darker side of the character. It's a shame because it could have been nice to see her as something other than the comic relief sidekick of the Joker. It was fun, but ultimately pointless. AA
The Mad Hatter - This book, like the Riddler and last year’s Penguin stories show the character falling in love. This is the sweet tale of one man’s all-consuming obsessive and potentially murderous obsession with an innocently oblivious stranger. This is The Hatter at his absolute creepiest, with suitably demented art from the partnership of Keith Giffen and Billl Sienkovicz (though I would’ve liked to see Seinkovicz on his own). VH
Clayface - Clayface is another character I've never had any real fondness for; I like Batman's villains to be mobsters, crooks and serial killers; shape-shifting mud-men? No thanks, take 'em to Metropolis. Too Sci-Fi by half. If it weren't for a sense of completion and the promise of Kelley Jones Art I probably wouldn't buy it. So I didn't. VH
I, on the other hand, like the idea of Clayface. I like the way Batman's rogue gallery ranges from drug dealing mobsters to crazy Sci-Fi shape-shifting mudmen and violent cannibalistc reptile men (which I will discuss next). Afterall, he does live in a world that revolves around superheroes. The story is a good and interesting one and the ending is surprising because *Highlight for Spoilers* Clayface actually wins, in a manner of speaking, and manages to escape.
Kelley Jones is the man! His art in this book is fantastic as usual. AA
Killer Croc - Is another character I like the idea of but know little about. This tale was good. Not amazing, not shit, but good. It just feels like I will of forgotten about it in a few days. It's not terribly original in execution with the cliche ending ("They're the monsters not me"), however it does keep your interest, even though you can see the twist (if you can call it that) coming. Visuals are pleasing and work well with the story. I think they could have done something more interesting with the character and story, they way they did with The Riddler and Two Face. AA