31 Days of Horror Presents Heroes & Villains – Basketful of Heads, Joker: Killer Smile

This week offers a STRONG finish to the Heroes & Villains 31 Days of Horror series of columns. There have been some ghoulishly wonderful books this month but, truly, the best has been saved for last. Now let’s get to it because I’ve got murder on the mind…well, the murder of a pizza…but murder nonetheless!

BofHBasketful of Heads #1
Joe Hill (W)
Leomacs (A)
DC Black Label/ Joe Hill Presents Hill House Comics

I had a hard time deciding which comic to lead off with this week. Honest to Zod, I flipped a coin…and it came up heads.

Basketful of Heads gives you exactly what it advertises in the first few pages. Yes, there is a BASKETFUL OF HEADS but how did that basket become full of heads and why do they appear to be talking? Thereby hangs a tale.

When I saw the news that Joe Hill was going to be getting his very own imprint through DC (or how it wound up, an imprint of an imprint) I was excited. I had been a fan of Hills work since the amazing Locke & Key series, which if you haven’t read that yet, what the hell is wrong with you? From there I fell into his novels and always hoped he’d find more time for comics.

The book itself is a cool opening chapter to what promises to be a great horror book. There’s a lot of character work that goes into this issue so the gorehounds out there will most likely have to wait for the next issue to get their fill. In brief, there are some escaped convicts (from a very particular penitentiary), an isolated house, and the mother of all tropical storms on the horizon. There’s also a magical Viking axe that’s sure to figure prominently.

I went into the book completely cold which I would encourage potential readers to do as well. The comic ended up hitting a lot of the right nostalgia buttons with regards to early 1980’s horror films and their opening half-hour. Hill provides a short letter about Hill House Comics at the end of the issue along with a short backup comic (Sea Dogs) that will continue in another one of the imprint’s books. Basketful of Heads is a must for your October 30th comics reading and is sure to be a great horror book in a long line of DC horror books going forward.

Joker Killer Smile.jpgJoker: Killer Smile Book One
Jeff Lemire (W)
Andrea Sorrentino (A)
Jordie Bellaire (C)
DC Black Label

Joker…so hot right now. Despite what I felt about the movie, I can’t deny that it’s the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time and that Joaquin Phoenix is certainly in it. I’m not here to vent my spleen over a movie though, I’m here to write about a great comic that will most certainly get a boost from that movie.

Joker: Killer Smile is the book I wanted that movie to be, I think. Another prestige format book from DC’s new Black Label line, the first book tells the story of an analyst sent to Ahkham Asylum to cure the Joker. I really love what DC is doing with this imprint, telling stories largely free of continuity and allowing artists room to play. Just don’t draw Batman nude…don’t even hint at it.

For the bulk of the issue the Joker is safely incarcerated, aside from a flashback, or is he? Lemire and Sorrtentino spin a Joker story that is the ultimate slow burn. Taking a page from Silence of the Lambs the Joker is locked in a cell, behind shatter-proof glass and it still may not be thick enough to protect you from him. Sorrentino’s art is some of the best to grace the comics page in this era of comics and his page layouts or legendary. If you like this you should check out the run that he and Lemire did on Green Arrow a few years back AND get caught up on Gideon Falls while you’re at it.

So, if you saw Joker and left the theater wanting more or if you saw Joker and left the theater wanting a GOOD Joker story, check this one out.

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