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All Together Now by Hope Larson
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Batman: The Smile Killer: 10/20/20

Batman: The Smile Killer

Batman: The Smile Killer by Jeff Lemire is a back of book additional comic included in the hardcover release of Joker: Killer Smile (2020). This one is a reimagining of the Batman origin story that draws on themes from Batman the Animated Series.

Smile Killer tries to be the inversion of Killer Smile. The basic Batman origin story is that young Bruce Wayne watched in horror as his parents were murdered by a gangster. In Batman the Animated Series, the shooter is the man who would later become the Joker. Lemire's version also points a finger at the Joker but again using the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari twist.

In my favorite versions of Batman, the other concession is that the Joker can't get into Bruce's head because he's already living in his own alternate reality fueled by a lifetime of trauma and depression.

Here, though, Lemire suggests an alternate timeline, one where the Waynes weren't part of the one percent. The origin story begins instead in a walkup brownstone with young Bruce watching the Joker on television. The big question then is, what if Batman created himself because he can't accept responsibility for killing his father?

I like this set up enough to wonder what happens next. I don't know if a next is planned. As is, it has a Twilight Zone feel to it.

In terms of the road narrative spectrum, it has the same placement as Joker: Killer Smile. Take that as further evidence that Lemire is showing how similar the two are, or perhaps, how in control of Gotham the Joker actually is.

Four stars

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