Let’s be real. If you think too hard about it, just about any show aimed at young children can seem kind of creepy. But none of them hold a candle to “Mr. Smiles’ Playhouse,” the very disturbing kids show at the heart of this week’s Batman: The Smile Killer. Written by Jeff Lemire, drawn by Andrea Sorrentino and serving as a surprise epilogue to their three-chapter DC Black Label series, Joker: Killer Smile, this new one-shot immerses us once again into their surreal take on the Batman/Joker rivalry.
Mr. Smiles was first introduced in Killer Smile through a bizarre children’s book called “Happyville” that played a crucial role in that earlier series. In The Smile Killer, sections of which are set well before Killer Smile, it seems as if Mr. Smiles has somehow graduated to television…and that young Bruce Wayne is a fan. Will this change everything we think we know about the end of Killer Smile? Will we once again find ourselves questioning what is real and what is just a figment of a seriously damaged mind? Don’t kid yourselves, Batman is hardly what we’d call a shining example of sanity as it is. Is it really all that much of a stretch to imagine he’s a tragic product of the Joker just like Killer Smile’s poor Dr. Ben Arnell?
We’ll have to wait until tomorrow until we know anything for sure—and if the past chapters of this saga are any indication, even then we might not know. But we invite you to sample a small slice of the madness today by checking out this exclusive first look.
Batman: The Smiler Killer #1 by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino and Jordie Bellaire is in stores and available digitally on Tuesday, June 23.