Batman The Smile Killer #1

by Wes Greer on June 23, 2020

Writer – Jeff Lemire
Art – Andrea Sorrentino
Colors – Jordie Bellaire
Letters – Steve Wands
Publisher – DC Black Label 

This book is one I have been the most excited for and now after a bit of a delay, Batman The Smile Killer #1 is here. The issue is a follow up / Tie-in issue to Lemire and Sorrentino’s Joker Killer Smile story that gave us 3 issues of some of the greatest Joker material we have ever seen. In the original series we got little sneak peaks of Batman but the story was based on Joker on just how powerful his reach and power is using a new psychiatric doctor at Arkham as his latest victim and puppet. The team now gives us a Batman story of the same caliber and it’s everything I dreamed of and more.

Batman The Smile Killer #1 begins in true Batman fashion with the Dark Knight working on a case involving the Joker with Jim Gordon. Lemire opens the story up by showing is Batman as we love him in full detective mode trying to piece together clues of one of the Jokers latest crime sprees when all of a sudden Lenore takes all of that and flips the story on its head and takes us down a psychological rabbit hole. The writing takes Batman to a place we have never seen full of terror and mayhem but leaves us asking questions the entire time as we don’t know if the story exist in reality or not. Staying true to Killer Snile, Lemire explores the original concept of Dr. Arnell but now throws Batman / Bruce Wayne into the mix having him suffer the same mental breakdown and not knowing what’s real anymore. We always know Bruce to be one of the smartest guys and he always is able to stay two steps ahead of the Jokers plan but Lemire gives us something fresh with Bruce questioning his own sanity in this story and makes the reader question everything right along with him. This issue is an emotional rollercoaster of fear and wonder and this is the Batman story I didn’t know that I needed as it left me in pure wonder and shock at the same time.

The art of the issue is really the icing on the cake for this issue. Andrea Sorrentino delivers some of the most breathtaking character designs in this issue giving us more of his Batman that was teased in Killer Smile as well as the return of characters from the original story. Staying true to the previously established visual looks, Sorrentino goes a step further with this issue issue taking everything a step further and really delivering some of the best work we have seen from him so far. The visual designs of this book are beautiful and dark at the same with a look of that of a nightmare one might have while delivering realistic character designs that are highlighted by kind of a dream effect blur. The panel work in this issue is also some of the coolest I have ever seen as certain pages don’t use traditional panel lines but rather swirling lines with twists and turns that help sell that nightmarish feel of the art and take it a step further. Jordie Bellaire then steps in and finalized that feel with an incredible yet dark color scheme. Adding to Sorrentino’s already dark designs, Bellaire is able to add tones and shadows that really help make the art pop off the pages even more but keeps the tones dark and dreary at the same time. The work of the two in this issue really just works and the team is able to deliver one of possibly my all time favorite visual themes in any Batman story I have read in the last decade and they really sell the tones and emotions of the story bringing this issue full circle. The lettering of the issue is all clean and clear and very easily read with no hesitation. Overall just a beautiful looking story. 

The way this story ends also is another interesting part because it seems like it may be the final part of this story but it appears it may also be the beginning of another and I really hope at some point in the near future we see this creative team come together once more to deliver even more stories. There is not one thing I could find to complain about with this issue and it is a huge payoff that was well worth the wait. Batman The Smile Killer #1 is available now so head to your local shop and make sure you pick it up! This issue is also available via digital download. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts on this issue and what stood out to you the most down below in the comments section!

-Wes Greer 


Our Score:


A Look Inside