Page 45 Review by Stephen
Batman: "You're free. You're all free."
The Joker: "Oh, we know that already. But what about you?"
The new, new POST-25th Anniversary edition comes packed with even more extras than last time. Still here: Morrison's complete script and original notes, annotated by both himself and Karen Berger, many of Morrison's original thumb-nail breakdowns (like Bendis and Moore, he's not a bad artist, either), and lots of other behind-the-scenes tomfoolery. But now: all the different covers over the years including the Japanese hardcover, an illustration for The Face, another for UKCAC '88, the clay mask used as the base for McKean's photo-painterly jiggery-pokery and convention painted "sketches" in a completely different style. Good golly!
I loved this dark, sexually charged Bat tale in which The Joker taunts Batman into Arkham Asylum (where both of them belong) through sadism and psychology, then pinches his bottom.
"Loosen up, tight ass!"
McKean was still in his BLACK ORCHID post-Sienkiewicz stage, using both pencil and paint but little photography, and his exploded, expressionist artwork brings the Joker to cackling life, Day-Glo green hair flowing like sea-grass, his speeches slashed freely across the page in bright red ink, unconstrained by speech bubbles. And all the other regular inmates are on hand to scare what passes for the daylight out of Batman including the Scarecrow, Two-Face and, here, the Hatter:
"I'm so glad you could make it. I have so many things to tell you. You must be feeling quite fragile by now, I expect. This house... does things to your mind.
"Now, where was I? Where am I? Where will I be?
"Ah yes, the apparent disorder of the universe is simply a higher order, an implicate order beyond comprehension. This why children... interest me. They're all mad, you see. But in each of them is an implicate adult. Order out of chaos. Or is it the other way around? To know them is to know myself.
"Little girls especially. Little blonde girls. Little shameless bitches! Oh god. Gold help us all!
"Sometimes... sometimes I think the Asylum is a head. We're inside a huge head that dreams us all into being. Perhaps it's your head, Batman.
"Arkham is a looking glass. And we are you."