Ledger's Joker on the new Empire cover

The big reveal is complete, and here’s the new photo of Heath Ledger as The Joker, from next summer’s Batman Begins sequel, The Dark Knight, on the cover of the new issue of Empire.

Click for high-res 

How awesome and creepy and disturbing is that?

On all counts, very.

I do wish that Empire hadn’t inserted their logo behind his head, because they’ve unintentionally made the entire top of the picture look a little off.

Oh, well.

What matters is that The Joker looks very, very scary, and I’m still pleasantly surprised that director Christopher Nolan have the guts to go as far as they have with his look.

The skin on his face is a mess, and it looks like he’s got chemical burns on his right hand.

And don’t forget these recent comments from Michael Caine:

“And when you see the make-up – he looks like he’s mentally gone. He puts the make-up on to disguise himself and then goes and never takes it off again, or washes, so gradually it looks like leprosy. I’m a great fan of Christopher Nolan. I thought ‘Batman Begins’ was the best Batman I’d ever seen. And I think this one will be better than that.”

It looks like he’s got more scars and burns on his face, and that they’re caked with clown makeup. We already know that he smears clown makeup over the nasty, blistery scars on his face from this photo:

Scary, wicked and evil. Just like The Joker should be.

The Dark Knight opens on July 18, 2008, but we’ll get to see Ledger’s Joker in action in a short film debuting before IMAX prints of Will Smith’s I Am Legend on December 14.