Joker: Killer Smile Tries to Diagnose the Clown Prince of Crime

Andrea Sorrentino was already incredible, but he brings it to a new level on Joker: Killer Smile with Jeff Lemire.

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I feel like everyone has a Jack Kirby. Every artist working at a consistent, Big 2-level in comics, when asked to contribute something that looks like Jack Kirby art, can submit a piece that looks similar to what the King did, even if only two or three people can make something that could plausibly pass as Kirby art (for the record: Walt Simonson and Keith Giffen OMAC does the trick). Andrea Sorrentino, the artist on Joker: Killer Smile, did it himself on Legion of Super-Heroes: Millenium.His Kamandi story was up to his typical high standards for art, but it was also really surprising in how much Kirby there was in it. And while it’s not especially surprising that he can do a great Kirby impression, it is absolutely shocking that he can do a great Frank Quitely.

The art on Joker: Killer Smile is both completely predictable in that it is amazing, and absolutely stunning in a completely unexpected way. Sorrentino and Lemire have been working together for years now, dating back to their work on New 52 Green Arrow, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen this from him before. Sorrentino’s art generally feels kind of loose. It’s not actually loose – his panel layouts are dynamic and meticulous, and the flow of information in his stories is impeccably clear even when his layouts move differently from typical comics – but he’s got this sketchy, impressionistic quality to his figures and backgrounds that he uses to set really strong moods in his books. His inking and coloring effects are like a cross between a Michael Lark and a Frazier Irving. Quitely, by contrast, is almost detrimentally exact: his layouts are so innovative that they are almost too far beyond what everyone working now can conceive of (look at the Peacemaker sequences in The Multiversity: Pax Americanaagain), and every stray fleck of ink on every page is agonized over. Every line is deliberately and delicately placed. Even when there are heavy blocks of black, they’re measured and measured again before they’re placed. 

So to see Sorrentino change gears into Quitely is surprising, but the best part about it is he nails it. And he goes back and forth between styles depending on the part of the story! We’ve got an exclusive preview of the first issue of Killer Smile, the new Black Label Joker collaboration between Lemire and Sorrentino, and you can see the Quitely part of the story in the first several pages, but when the story jumps inside Arkham for the last page, you see Sorrentino go back to his normal style (just a little cleaner and brighter than his art normally is). This is amazing work from a guy who’s so consistently good that I’m used to taking his talent for granted, and I’m really glad to see it. Here’s what DC has to say about the book.

THE JOKER: KILLER SMILE #1 written by JEFF LEMIRE art and cover by ANDREA SORRENTINO variant cover by KAARE ANDREWS Everyone knows The Joker doesn’t have the most promising history with psychotherapists. In fact, no one’s even been able to diagnose him. But that doesn’t matter to the confident, world-beating Dr. Ben Arnell; he’s going to be the one to unravel this unknowable mind. There’s no way The Joker could ever get through the therapeutic walls Ben has built around himself. Right? There’s no way The Joker’s been entering his house at night…right? There’s no way The Joker has stood over his son’s bed, and put that book in his hands, the one with the, the, the… The Eisner-nominated creative team of Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino (GREEN ARROW, Gideon Falls) reunite for a psychological horror story where nothing is as it seems, your eyes can’t be trusted and Mr. Smiles is waiting behind the basement door. Wait, who’s Mr. Smiles?

And here are these awesome promo pages. Look upon them and gawp as I did!

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