Joker: Killer Smile by Jeff Lemire

Title: Joker: Killer Smile.
Writer(s): Jeff Lemire.
Artist(s): Andrea Sorrentino.
Colourist(s): Jordie Bellaire.
Letterer(s): Steve Wands.
Publisher: DC Comics – DC Black Label.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: September 15th, 2020.
Pages: 144.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781779502698.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.


It is only human to believe that the criminally-insane can be cured of their affliction. Deep inside, it is this belief that there’s always hope, always a way to turn a bad apple into a good one, that keeps us going, whether it’s out of a genuine desire to rid the world of evil behaviours or one less righteous anchored in personal gain. Leave it to the Eisner Award-winning creative team of Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino (Green Arrow, Gideon Falls, Wolverine: Old Man Logan) to explore this idea through the uncanny relationship between a patient and a doctor within Gotham City. Collecting the three issues of Joker: Killer Smile as well as the one-shot coda, Batman: The Smile Killer, this latest DC Black Label graphic novel offers fans the chance to revisit the madness of the most complex villain of all time through a devastating tale of obsession and insanity.

What is Joker: Killer Smile about? In the psychiatric hospital known as Arkham Asylum lies the deadliest foes apprehended by Batman. Among them is one that extends his reach beyond its walls and continues to be a thorn in the Dark Knight’s side, captive or not: the Joker. Throughout the years he’s known the inside of Arkham Asylum, there is not one psychologist or psychotherapist who was able to crack open his mind and uncover the secret to his insanity. Dr. Ben Arnell, however, believes that he might be the one who can find a model through the Clown Prince of Crime, one that will answer many questions among patients with Joker’s level of psychosis. As confident as ever that his mind is impenetrable, he gets to work through interviews with the Joker. But he’s not ready for what’s to come.

The idea behind this graphic novel will be quite familiar to well-versed DC Comics readers. And anyone in their right mind should know by now that you simply don’t “cure” the Joker of anything he doesn’t want to in the first place. But dear old Dr. Ben Arnell is convinced that he has what it takes to show the psychopath who has terrorized Gotham for years the way towards the light. Writer Jeff Lemire clearly knows this and assumes it from the beginning, dipping both feet deep into these waters and exploring the toxic and complex mind of the Joker through Dr. Arnell by exposing the thin layer that separates sanity from insanity within all of us. It is in the concept of reality that most of the narrative evolves, forcing the protagonist and the reader to both ask the same question: what is real?

As short as this graphic novel was, it did feel like writer Jeff Lemire wanted a good chunk of his story’s originality to come from the work achieved by artist Andrea Sorrentino. And with good reason. He achieves some truly stunning work, amplified by the space provided from the prestige label’s format. At times harrowing and others peaceful, there’s a stylistic approach utilized to capture both worlds explored in this story, that of the sane and insane. The interspersed addition of a perverted children’s tale invites more goosebumps among readers but their idea shone best within the included one-shot issue featuring Batman as it offered a darker twist to his own perception of reality.

Joker: Killer Smile is a derivative yet refreshing cautionary tale about the madness of reality manipulated by the Clown Prince of Crime.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!



35 thoughts on “Joker: Killer Smile by Jeff Lemire

    1. I have read these studies of violence being found in genes but they’re not completely true and can he modulated by the environment, so at least that gives us hope that change is still possible in many! ☺️ Thanks, Shalini hahah they can indeed be much more insightful and complex than what Archie used to be! 😂


  1. Now reading your thoughts about this it makes me think that we are very arrogant if we think we can cure all mind. After all, not killing people etc is only a norm accepted by the majority. We could have lived in a world where the jungle law was the norm and crushing your opponent by killing him was encouraged! I think the best you can do is educate and hope that the individual will see the interest in mostly conforming to the norm. Sure certain pathologies resulting from a chemical unbalance of the brain can be treated but I doubt every single one can. See what you did with your review Lashaan? Made me think at 7 am on a Saturday morning lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahahaah you made me laugh with this one, Sophie! 😛 What can I say, these are questions we have to ask ourselves especially when we’re a key actor in that field! And yes, it is far often than not a question of “greater good” and “common interest” that lead us to stop crimes from happening and judging those who do commit them! There will always be a debate between capital punishment (e.g. death) and rehabilitation on this subject though and it’s up to us as an individual and as society to decide how we want to view criminals, no matter the origin of their problems. 😀


  2. Sets off Joke laugh: HAHAHAHAHAHA: Curing the Joker’s mind. Wow…that’s even more insane then the Joker himself😂 I have to admit though, this really does sound like a very interesting storyline and one that gives you a lot of food for thought. I love the cover of this graphic novel by the way, and the art looks absolutely phenomenal. I’m about to get into some DC comics myself next week (finally😂). As always I really enjoyed reading your review, and you can be sure I’m adding this one to my to read list😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One can only hope that something can be done about him, right? 😀 Although, for the time being, most people who did (e.g. Harley Quinn), didn’t exactly succeed hahah

      It’s a pretty interesting cover, huh? The interior cover refers to the children’s tale within the story that I mention in my review too.

      Hell yes! I’m glad to hear that you’re finally diving into something DC-related soon! Looking forward to finding out what it is and I hope you enjoyed or will enjoy it!

      Thanks for reading, my friend! I appreciate it a lot! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol….yeah, one would think someone at some point would succeed…but…well…don’t see that happening anytime soon. If ever lol😂
        Yeah that cover really is awesome! It’s definitely a book that’s going to be on my list to read that’s for sure😊
        As for the DC stuff, yep I have something planned, and it’s actually something which you have read before as well. I’m curious how I’m going to experience that one for myself, so we’ll see😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought for sure this was going to be another Harley Quinn reimagined origin story. Stories like this really make me think that in Kingdom Come that Magog made the right choice to kill the Joker.

    That cover is WEIRD!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not a fan of the cover art but I really like the interior work. It has an almost softer look to it, and maybe a little less busy than some. This sounds like the sort of storyline that might be retold each generation, giving newer readers a chance to explore the topics without having to explore back issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brilliantly said! It is softer, and at times, much, much, rougher! It’s also much more spacier throughout each page, giving you time to indulge the story and tone.

      I totally agree. I think newer readers can enjoy this a lot more than those who read comic books religiously. 😉

      Thanks for reading, Todd! Always happy to hear your thoughts on my posts! 😀


  5. All right, so… unoriginal but pretty 😉 I’m actually tempted, having been forewarned that it’s derivative – I’m a sucker for pretty comics and this one looks promising indeed 😀
    Great review, Lashaan! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. It’s what often makes me pick up some stories even if I know there’s a good chance that it won’t blow my mind away hahaha 😀 Glad to hear that you’re still interested in this one though! Hope you have a good time with when you get the chance, Ola! Thanks for reading! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Damn, another one I was looking forward to (because: 1) Joker…and 2) JOKER!) but luckily it doesn’t sound like a disaster and lacking some originality in the concept. I’m a big fan of Sorrentino’s work (although I still have to get on with Gideon Falls) so I’ll likely wait for a digital sale on this one.

    By the way, are all of these Black Label titles oversized, i.e. larger than the regular comic book trim size? If so, it’s strange and a little disappointing that Three Jokers is just the regular trim size – at least the individual issues anyway. With Jason Fabok on the art it really cries out for the larger page sizing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahah I totally understand. It’s not a bad one in the end though, it’s really just the fact that it doesn’t break new grounds nor did they do enough within three issues (especially when it feels like a lighter read).

      Most of the Black Label stuff is oversized but not all. Like White Knight, for example. I am curious though how they decide what size they want. Like Frank Miller’s Superman: Year One had an obnoxious size, very square’ish, and it almost seemed like it was a representation of his ego or something hahaha Maybe Fabok wanted a traditional format, especially with the grid structure of his artwork? 😮

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was thinking that with Three Jokers it may have been the case that it was originally going to be a regular DCU mini-series and was bumped over to Black Label after work had already begun, so that would explain the regular trim size. Shame as I was looking forward to oversized Fabok visuals!

        Also my print copy of Three Jokers #1 still hasn’t arrived, itching to read it!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh snap, I didn’t even realize Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino teamed up to write a joker story. That must be a great team. I just finished reading their work in Gideon Falls. I’m definitely a fan now!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s