The Joker #1 – James Tynion IV, Sam Johns, Writers; Guillem March, Mirka Andolfo, Artists; Arif Prianto, Romulo Fajardo Jr, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: James Tynion IV has been one of the core architects of DC for a year now, but for his latest solo series, he delves into something very different. The Joker #1 puts the clown prince of crime in the title, but he’s barely in this issue. This is actually a Jim Gordon spotlight story, and it’s one of the darkest and most compelling things Tynion has put out in quite some time. When we catch up with Jim, he’s a broken-down, unemployed man on the verge of retirement that sounds a lot like unemployment. At loose ends, he flashes back to the night he left Chicago for Gotham decades ago, and the strange words a veteran detective told him about what evil truly is and what to do when you encounter it. Artist Guillem March, a long-time DC artist, has evolved from a style that could be called “Cheesecake” to an ideal choice for this noir-accented story with some truly disturbing scenes.
After rejecting the chance to rejoin the GCPD in the aftermath of A-Day, Jim explores a Gotham that seems to be slipping further into insanity. There’s an interesting look at how the death of Bane is impacting Gotham, and some fallout from the events of Batgirl, but this issue really gets moving once Jim is contacted by a mysterious woman (and her seemingly scarred, silent aide) who want to hire him for a secret mission—to travel down to Belize and hunt the Joker, and finally finish the clown off. The only problem with this setup is that we know he’s not going to succeed—no one is ever going to succeed—but Jim’s character is compelling enough here that it doesn’t matter. This is shaping up to be the best Jim Gordon story since Snyder and Capullo’s Superheavy, and the first to put him at the forefront since he was turned by the Batman Who Laughs. It’s a pitch-black accent to the more action-packed main series.
And we can’t ignore the excellent Punchline backup, written by Tynion and Sam Johns and drawn by Mirka Andolfo. This story splits the action between Punchline, as she survives in Blackgate by taking the fight to fellow criminals, and Harper Row, as she searches for evidence and struggles to keep her brother Cullen from falling further into the cult of Punchline. While parceling this story out in only eight-page segments means it could drag, the writing is strong enough that I’m excited to see how it plays out. Harper and the cult are more interesting than Punchline herself right now, but Andolfo’s art is always something special and this is a great look at the psychology of supervillains.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.