Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Jarvis Poker the British Joker
Knight and Squire: 'For Six', written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Jimmy Broxton (2010-2011): DC Comics' Knight and Squire first appeared in an adventure with Batman and Robin in the early 1950's as the "English Batman and Robin," again a couple of more times over the next ten years, and then not at all until writer Grant Morrison excavated them from DC's mine of unused characters first for a cameo in JLA in the late 1990's and then more fully in other, later projects.
They're now "legacy" heroes -- the Knight (Cyril) was once the Squire, while the Squire (Beryl), a young woman, is a family friend. They played fairly pivotal roles in several Batman storylines of the last four years; here, though, they get their first extended solo adventure in, well, ever.
And it's a pretty jolly adventure at that, rife with jokes about, and references to, British pop culture on all fronts. Cornell and Broxton create about 130 new supervillains and superheroes to populate DC's British landscape, and put a fairly benign British spin on the whole superheroing enterprise, with villains and heroes meeting once a week in a magical pub where violence is impossible.
Most of the heroes and villains are peculiar to Great Britain but there are "cover versions" of American heroes and villains as well. Most notably, there is Jarvis Poker the British Joker, a non-homicidal villain whose imminent death from cancer drives the plot of the final two issues of the miniseries.
Cornell and Broxton make a nice team, and the book ably walks a line between the purely satirical and the (relatively) straight-faced. Another miniseries with this superhero universe-within-a-universe would be nice. Is there a British Lex Luthor too? Recommended.