By Will Barber – Taylor
Following on from the previous edition’s look at the power of identity and how the mantle of Robin is not something to be taken likely, this time we step into the world of the occult and meet the demon Etrigan in Major Arcana (Batman 454 – 456).
Unlike the previous story, Major Arcana has much more of a basic plot and set up but still manages to be fun. The central attraction in the story is its set up. The core idea of The Joker attempting to summon the Devil to wreak havoc on Gotham but instead summoning the demon Etrigan and the fallout from that is interesting enough to just about keep the whole thing together for the reader.
Major Arcana isn’t a particularly deep story; it doesn’t delve intricately into the murky world of occultism or the moral implications of such activities, it just takes the fun idea of The Joker attempting to summon Satan up and run with it.
The story’s approach to the subject of demonology is flippant; this is mainly due to the fact that we spend most of the story with The Joker. This does aide the story’s enjoyability. Writer has great fun playing up the comedic possibilities of The Joker when confronting Satan and also with his ultimate disappointment when he only manages to meet the demon Etrigan.
Moench’s Joker is much more in tone with the Mark Hamill interpretation, still a violent psychopath but also able to make insane jokes and continue to grin madly throughout the whole thing. The Joker’s interaction with Etrigan and the dialogue that comes from that is the main aspect of interest to audiences as the side plot of Batman moping around the Bat-cave isn’t that compelling or interesting. The Joker’s quip upon meeting Etrigan that he isn’t one of the “famous demons” and Etrigan’s embittered reaction to this comment is one of the comic’s finest moments.
In fact, Moench’s Batman is a dull character, who doesn’t have the same amount of charisma that other comic versions have. This is backed up by the fact that Kelley Jones’ artwork for Batman is grim and dull which echoes how our central hero is portrayed. Batman’s similarly moping countenance as Bruce Wayne doesn’t help either in our attempt to try to find our main character appealing.
Overall, Major Aracana is a short and fun story that manages to produces some great lines and reactions from The Joker and Etrigan but isn’t particularly deep or compelling. It is perfect reading if you have an hour to spare and not much to do, but not something that can or should be overanalysed.
In the next Dark Tales of The Dark Knight we look at A Gotham Tale.