Batman's very first encounter with the Joker ends by bringing the criminal to the door step of the Gotham City Police Department handcuffed. Very little is known about him, but the police department and Batman learns what he's capable of doing with just one phone call. Later, the Joker is forced to stand trial, and he's not only able to make an escape, but after being caught, he still manages to kill people during his trial. What kind of monster is Batman up against? -summary
The Joker has been a thorn in Batman's side since the beginning, literally. It's even been said that one cannot survive without the other, and Joker himself has even stated, "You complete me!". It's impossible to imagine one without the other as they are different sides of the same coin. Batman: Dead to Rights chronicles the outcome of their very first meeting, and it's a trade paperback that reprints the story Do You Understand These Rights?, which took place in Batman Confidential issues 22-25, and is written by Andrew Kreisburg.
The Batman Confidential titles no doubt got off to a slow start, but later showed promise with the Wrath Child storyline, which took place in issues 13 - 16 and is also in paperback form under the title Batman: The Wrath. Unfortunately, this story seems to be somewhat on the fair side and that's about it. Now don't get me wrong, the Joker is still as sick and twisted as normal, but that's both a good thing and a bad thing here. He was examined much better in other stories such as the Killing Joke and The Man Who Laughs. Outside of one murder everything felt like standard fare. Unless you're very new to the Batman universe, you won't see anything that will truly blow you away. I especially didn't like the depiction of Batman here. He came off looking way too weak on many occasions, and could have been killed easily. The deus ex machina factor played too heavy a role here for my taste.
The plot follows the Joker's trail of madness for the first half or so, and he gets to kill people in some sick ways. There are some interesting moments here, and others that had me questioning them slightly. In any case, he's basically the reason to check out this story anyway, since he's the only one who is handled well for the most part. The second half of the story introduces a new villain, and it just really didn't make a lot of sense on why he chose the Batman as a target. I did enjoy a majority of the interactions, because there was some good chemistry between Batman and Joker, but I really got into the discussions between Batman and Gordon. It actaully raised my eyebrow when Gordon mentions the possibility that Batman is just as lost with the Joker as they are, and for the first time Batman could actually be afraid of something. Overall, the story moves at a very good pace and there was rarely a boring moment.
The biggest problem I have with this story is Scott McDaniel's bad artwork. Visually, there was nothing I liked about this. Character designs were drawn poorly with very little details, and some heads were just too blocky. Joker looked way too comical, and Batman just looked bland. On the positive side at least, the dialogue bubbles were very easy to follow and read.
Batman: Dead to Rights is still something that I recommend though. Joker stories are rarely terrible, and despite the flaws it's still a good read. For those serious Batman fans who are well rounded in the Batman vs. Joker feud. I think it's best to come into this with low expectations, because it's lacking that thriller aspect and feels too much like a comic book.