Review: Batman: The Smile Killer #1

by Carl Bryan
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Review: Batman:  The Smile Killer #1  


[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Writer:Jeff Lemire

Artist: Andrea Sorrentino

Letters:  Steve Wands

Colors:  Jordie Bellaire


Reviewed by: Carl Bryan



” Bad boys need to learn their lessons…” – Mr. Smiles.

It wouldn’t be a Joker story without a surprise…and right on cue, here’s an unexpected one-shot epilogue to Joker: Killer Smile!

Young Bruce Wayne grew up watching The Mr. Smiles Show—and the show might have been watching him back! And not only was young Bruce watching, he was listening…listening as Mr. Smiles spoke across the airwaves only to him…

The Eisner Award-winning creative team of writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino land one last gut-punch, turning the mythos of the Batman on its head in the most devastating trick The Joker has ever devised!


This is a dark, dark story.  And as a DC Black Label, there is probably no more perfect venue for Joker stories to be told.

Honestly, the psychological attack of the Joker in the aforementioned Joker: Killer Smile was dark as well.  While you have a chance to pick up the previous issues and the the special trade paperback slated for release in September, Smile Killer reads really well on its own.

Jeff Lemire really hits home going for Bruce when he was a youngster.  He has peeled back into an alternate universe a Batman story that calls a lot into question.  The reader comes away with the question as to what is real in the Batman universe?  

Have we all been on some sort of mass psychotic ride since 1939.  I thought Frank Miller had taken Bruce on a dark ride, but it turns out Lemire is on a dirt road riding in the Batmobile with no lights on at all!

There are shades of Dr. Hugo Strange or the Scarecrow at work here.  Or is it pure Joker.  We never see him in this issue, but we know his handiwork from stories past.

If you are into your Batman stories being dark, then this one is for you.  There are layers upon layers, and questions upon questions.  This is just the beginning too.  


Positives 2.0

Andrea Sorrentino and Jordie Bellaire provide an artist/colorist tag team on this that paints a real gritty Gotham and a glimpse into Bruce’s world as both Batman and as a child.

Mr. Smiles’ environment could not be more attractive and bright.  But the prison that Bruce is in is as claustrophobic as it can be.  That takes talent to create that feeling on the page.  Kudos to both!


This story line has been done.  Unless it has another ending?  But the concept is there in another Black Label comic created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo – Batman: Last Knight on Earth

One could say that the books are independent of each other given no connection to both authors.  But there is a distinct similarity in the beginning of each book.

And if you watched the recent Joker movie…then you are left with a resounding question of whether this really happened or is this all made up in the Joker’s mind while sitting in a cell.

Either way, this book has some recent echoes of works already done, and I trust it will go in another direction to give a reader a surprise or two.


I’m in despite the parallel story lines of the movie and Snyder’s recent work.  The darkness of any Joker tale is too good to not read.  But my guard is up as I am not a fan of reruns on already explored ideas.  


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