If you enjoyed The Dark Knight, you should be reading Bedlam. Not to say that it’s for Batman fans, but it’s more for those who loved Heath Ledger’s Joker. Hell, even if you just like the actual Joker character in Batman comics: this one is for you. It’s certainly a more rewarding so far than Death Of The Family, the current Batman arc that just ended.
Bedlam is a horror comic written by Nick Spencer and art by Riley Rossmo. The story follows Madder Red; he was a mentally ill psychopath that went on several killings sprees (the last straw involved murdering children), but he got better. Imagine the Joker actually taking to his treatments at Arkham; that’s Madder Red, named after the Yeasayer song. He’s finally being released to the public as the comic starts. The first thing he does is get involved with a current homicide case that’s ongoing because death is what he knows.
Rossmo’s artwork makes the comic’s intention clear: it’s horror. Otherwise, it could be a black comedy. Having been reformed through several therapy techniques, Madder Red is a pacifist and he isn’t believed at first. The facial structures are off-putting, as are the colors by Jean-Paul Csuka. The city of Bedlam is painted with a juxtaposition of sharp angles and watercolors. It’s mean to be as off-putting as Madder Red is himself.
While it hasn’t been announced yet, the first trade paperback should be out this Summer. The single issues shouldn’t be too hard to find either; Nick Spencer’s name doesn’t have quite the weight that Robert Kirkman’s does. If you prefer the villain in most cape comics, want something different, or even just an entertaining read: pick it up and try it. It is definitely not for any one squeamish though, and given the news the past few months it could touch a few sore spots.