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Dissent: Volume 6 of the Helter Skelter Anthology of New Writing


Three years of walking down dark alleys, with his coat pulled up high and hat pulled down far enough to hide his face… Three years of…

Okay, wait. That is a lame way to begin this article. Incredibly lame. So here I am, trying to put two and two together, to come up with a groundbreaking article to commemorate Heath Ledger’s death anniversary. I am already four days behind schedule—and it’s a holiday. A dry day to commemorate yet another step taken towards Indian independence…

During a conversation with the editor, I came up with several brilliant ideas for this article, including a first-person account of the Joker, rambling away. I admit, it would have been pretty cool if I’d been able to pull it off. But that idea fell flat on its face, quite unlike our antagonist’s misdeameanours in the novel…

Helter Skelter: Joker
From a joke-spewing man of wits to a drain-rat, thirsty for power and vengeance, and ruled by insanity.

I chanced upon Brian Azzarello’s Joker a week ago, in a bookstore. With just one copy up for grabs and almost no money left in my bank account, I spent a good few hours in the store devouring the book from cover to cover. And it was then that my heart broke into several tiny bits as realisation dawned upon me. It was yet another instance where the Dark Knight was overshadowed by a man dressed in a flamboyant purple coat; a man with a painted face, who sickeningly and unabashedly laughed at horrifying criminal acts.

Helter Skelter: Joker
Brian Azzarello’s Joker.

Reintroduced to us in a whole new form, the Joker is no longer the anarchist who sends shivers down our spines. Appearing rather vulnerable at times, the laughing maniac has now traded in his wits and jokes for torture and gore, acts far more vile than his previous chaotic insanity. Modelled after Ledger’s performance in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, readers are catapulted into this story narrated by young Johnny Frost with almost no introduction.

How or why the Joker is released from Arkham Asylum is a question that remains unanswered throughout the novel. Brian Azzarello’s conception of Joker and the acts of violence and terror in the story succeed in keeping the question away from our minds, as we are hurled headfirst into the happenings in Gotham. Harvey Dent’s sudden fear of the madcap’s laughter is soon justified, as the Joker, with Harley Quinn firmly by his side, makes his way back into the circle of villains in Gotham, who naturally step away from the throne that rightfully belongs to him.

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Undoubtedly, the avatar created by Nolan adds that dash of charisma that Mr. Smiley Face lacked so far, but even that fails to disguise his true bloodlust as he completely transforms from a joke-spewing man of wits to a drain-rat, thirsty for power and vengeance, and ruled by insanity.

The man who inspired D.C. to come out with this novel in 2008, the man who redefined the Joker in otherworldly proportions, the man who, perhaps, will not allow anyone else to don the purple coat and that mad smile again, will forever be limited to the 152 minutes that introduce us to a world of madness and anarchy. A world so grim and crazy that perhaps entering it will cost us more than just our sanity…

Sol’s Graphic Vein is a whirlwind, torrid introduction to exactly what your mother would not want to catch you reading. Not for the weak-hearted. Not for the judgemental. Not for moralistic hypocrites. Definitely meant for those who appreciate art. Fun, coloured, and sexed out.
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