By Landry Quinn Walker (writer), Keith Giffen and Bill Sienkiewicz (art), David Baron (colors), Patrick Brosseau (letters)
The Story: The Joker spins another tale from Arkham for our benefit. This one is about Jervis Tetch, and gives us a poignant little peak into the Mad Hatter’s unique brand of psychosis.
What’s Good: Quite a lot, I’m happy to report. Although the Joker-as-narrator worked pretty well for the first issue of this series, I’m glad that it isn’t a reoccurring device. It’s a lot more fun to see the events of the book through the eyes of the character it’s actually about (or at least how Joker imagines they might see it, I suppose.) This works especially well for a villain like Hatter, who is a bit less popular and less frequently used, and therefore more enigmatic.
Giffen and Sienkiewicz do an awesome job on art here, and are backed up beautifully by Baron’s colors. This is one of the best marriages of pencils and color I’ve seen in a long time, and it’s a real joy to look at. Just browsing through the book and looking at the pictures is worth the cover price. As good as the script is (and it is good), much of the story and character comes from these illustrations. In addition to just being pretty, the panel layouts are just fantastic—pictures within pictures, scrapbook like touches and childlike side drawings that give us insight into how the Hatter sees the world are inspired, and really elevate proceedings.
Walker does an excellent job as wordsmith as well. Hatter’s delusions and struggles are deliciously creepy, and his frustration at his inability to find “his Alice” is chilling, and not a little poignant. (Not that such heinous acts can be understood or forgiven, but it’s sadly pathetic to see someone so hopelessly confused and not in control of themselves.)
What’s Not So Good: No real complaints at all, really. If anything, I could have done without the page-long quote of The Jabberwocky. I love me some English lit, believe me, but quoting that much of a poem—especially a nonsense poem—is excessive. It interrupts the flow by going on too long. That’s a minor quibble though; as a whole the book is still excellent.
Conclusion: A great story, well told, and beautifully illustrated. Very good buy.