Writer: Jeff Lemire / Artist: Jordie Bellaire / DC Comics
I’ve never actually seen Shutter Island, but if I can put a plotline together from the bits and pieces I’ve gathered over the years, it’s a lot like this.
Batman: The Smile Killer is a wild ride that’s going to leave you discombobulated and disturbed but in a satisfying way. I highly recommend having something lighthearted and funny to enjoy shortly after reading it.
There’s a commonly-held belief that Bruce Wayne’s heroics could be viewed as the actions of someone who’s deeply disturbed with a couple of minor perspective changes. This is made clear time and time again when he’s compared to his own greatest villains.
The Smile Killer takes that notion and turns the dial up to 10.
The story takes place in a universe where Bruce Wayne isn’t actually Batman, but a man whose being held captive in Arkham Asylum after committing a heinous act in his youth after being driven to madness. Among the many plot twists to the world, Jim Gordon is the psychiatrist on duty and Bruce’s mother Martha is alive and well.
Personally, I’m all for stories playing with the worlds they exist in as long as it’s not too much. While The Smile Killer #1 tests its limits, it pulls up from its chaotic nosedive just in time to allow the reader to catch their breath and gain their footing again.
Batman side stories are fun because the canon universe is rooted in so much history and structure that it can be a treat to see things flipped upside down. The Smile Killer looks like it’ll give us plenty of that throughout its run.
9 Creepy Grins out of 10