As I peered over an over-sized bowl of Hamburger Helper, I thought to myself, “Damn, this is some delicious hamburger helper…” Then I wished I would have bought more Fanta to wash the hamburger pasta noodles down with. Then I wondered how much hamburger helper and Fanta I could consume before starting to feel really uncomfortable. (spoiler: it was only a few more spoonfuls)
Eventually, my attention would turn to the giant stack of unread comics across the table from my bowl of hamburgery goodness. I surveyed the books with a suspicious look in my eye and a small piece of pasta stuck in my beard, and asked, “Why do I buy so many comic books?” Attempting to answer that question would offer me no enjoyment, so I looked for another mystery to solve. How much hamburger helper can the dog eat without throwing up? That experiment was easy to initiate, but what to do until the answer revealed itself? The Joker’s Daughter… “Who exactly is the Joker’s Daughter?” I realized I was shamelessly unaware of the history of this frightening by joyous looking character.
The question seemed easy at first. She’s a villain… that much is pretty clear. Odds are she is linked to Batman, since it would be weird to use the “Joker’s Daughter” to pester and harass Wonder Woman. While her taste in fashion seems a little less refined than that of the Joker’s, they do seem to have the same affinity for the color purple, and appear to be sharing a face at present. I could think of no method to ascertain whether or not she is actually the offspring of the Joker, but I definitely wouldn’t put it past that old sly dog.
Mystery solved… And for some people I suppose that might be enough, but with a belly full of hamburger helper and an empty house, I decided to dig a little deeper.
In order to go into full sleuth mode, I had two courses of action to follow. I was going to need to do some reading, and I was going to need to visit Wikipedia. To save the strain on my old 14.4 modem, I decided to read some comics first, thereby reducing the stack of unread comics on the table, and giving me ample digestion time on the couch.
Batman: The Dark Knight 23.4.
As a part of “Villain’s Month” I believe this book marks the first appearance of the Joker’s Daughter after the “New 52” relaunch. I was curious about this book when I picked it up, but never got around to reading it until now. It’s a good thing I decided to buy all the 3D covers they put out that month or I might not be able to write this article now (Nickel 1 – Financial Advisor 0).
Let me start by saying that other than the 3D cover on this book, it definitely didn’t inspire any further curiosity after I read it. I wanted to like this book, but there is nothing particular memorable about it (except for a weird cameo by C3PO’s head in the first panel). While the story does give you a look into who this character is going to be in the new DC universe, the character doesn’t really inspire fear, sympathy or hatred. Something really felt off about this book. This isn’t a review, but I would try to borrow this comic from someone who might be willing to trade for a container of Pepto-Bismol after scarfing down too much hamburger helper.
[My dog has finished half a bowl of hamburger helper and is now asleep on the couch]
My insignificant opinion aside, the book does give us a quick glimpse into the formative years of our young super-villain. Some serious mental issues manifest in the forms of self-mutilation and delusional episodes. Batman historians will see the name “Duela” part way through the book, and start to piece everything together. I on the other hand, just thought “Duela” was a pretty crappy name to get stuck with.
By the end of the book, we know that Duela (The Joker’s Daughter) is vying for control of Gotham’s underground, and has control of at least one of the tribes. I refer to “underground” in the literal sense of the word as the story is set in the flooded caves and tunnels of the Nethers, a town allegedly flooded to create the Gotham resevoir.
In what should be a far more frightening ritual, she burns a joker-like smile onto the faces of all her male denizens… but she’s still not all that frightening.
I wanted to write a bunch of nice things about Ann Nocenti, but the story and the art just didn’t come together to leave any kind of an impact on me… I did however, learn a few things about the Joker’s Daughter, so lets keep this quest moving.
[Dog still sleeping silently, twitching occasionally, but looks peaceful enough]
Catwoman 23, 24, & 26
Our next journey takes us over to Nocenti’s Catwoman book, for issues 23, 24, and 26. I read them all, but have no intention on spending a lot of time typing here… These three books revolve around the battle to control the underground. I think it’s safe to say the books don’t completely resolve the confict that drives the plot, but by the end of the arc, but The Joker’s Daughter is certainly a larger part of the mythos than she was before.
Rafa Sandoval’s art in Catwoman #26 was the highlight of the three books for me, although Catwoman applying the tracker to Tinderbox in Catwoman #23 might be in contention, were I not a man of the highest moral fibre.
Sandoval provides us with a much more frightening, which leads into our final book of the quest to learn about the girl with the face on top of her own already unpleasant enough face.
Our next book in the quest to get to know Joker’s Daughter does make reference to these 3 Catwoman books, and I won’t offer up any spoilers, but I unless you’re going to get a little bit obsessive compulsive over your New 52 Gotham history, or you love Catwoman, you can piece together the essence of what happened without reading them.
[Dog omitting heinous gas, but appears to be smiling and sleeping soundly]
Batman: Joker’s Daughter
This is your must read book of month. If you’re going to read any of the New 52 books revolving around the Joker’s Daughter, make sure its this one. Marguerite Bennet and artist Meghan Hetrick create a haunting and disturbing origin story that begs to be read more than once. While the groundwork laid down in the Villain’s Month issue and the Catwoman arc remains consistent, this doesn’t even feel like the same character anymore. The Joker’s daughter than Bennet and Hetrick create is horrifying… and as a fan who wants his Batman served up dark and scary, I might have a new favorite villain.
Everything contributing to the madness that is the Joker’s Daughter is on perfect display in this book. The delusions, self-mutilation, and descent into homicidal insanity, are all presented in a manner where it’s deliberately impossible to determine the entire reality. The backstory of the Joker’s Daughter has no choice but to remain a mystery because the character has no perception of reality herself.
This book left me with the same feeling as the first time I watched Apocalypse Now. It stays with you. And while I was trying not to write reviews per say, let me finish up here by beaming about the art. Its amazing.
With Bennet and Hetrick’s definition of the Joker’s Daughter, I found myself a lot less interested in the Wikipedia information, but, I have a responsibility to anyone who kept reading this far.
The character of Duela (Duela Dent) is not new to the DC universe, even though I had never heard of her before now (which should come as a surprise to noone, given the fact that you are reading this on a site named “Graphic Novice”). Young Duela has claimed to be just about everyone’s daughter, and was the second incarnation of “harlequin”, but as we have not seen her claim the name Dent as of yet, we’ll all have to wait and see if that bit of continuity finds its way into the New 52. Her revolving lineage may be in question once again.
As my chubby little fingers now beg for a night free of typing, I feel confident that we have done an adequate job of defining a character that was previously a mystery to me. While I’m not going to recommend not reading comics, I will highly recommend “Batman: Joker’s Daughter” if I’ve managed to do anything to inspire your curiosity.
Where did we end up after all this? I’ve got a new favorite super-villain, a healthy but bloated and gassy dog, and GraphicNovice.com has another mediocre article to post, and a chance to promote future site sponsor, “Hamburger Helper”.
Feel free to send any and all hate mail to Nickel at graphicnovice.com.