The Joker #3 – James Tynion IV, Sam Johns, Writer; Guillem March, Mirka Andolfo, Artists; Arif Prianto, Romulo Fajardo Jr, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: It may not be the primary Bat-book, but this is quickly becoming the crown jewel of James Tynion IV’s DC output right now. Starting with the brilliant art work from Guillem March—easily the best of his career, as he evokes the legendary Brian Bolland in places. As Jim Gordon heads out on his mission to Belize, there’s a surprising amount of humor—Jim’s one-sided banter with the mysterious silent henchman working for Cressida, and a great little cameo by the two newest Batgirls. But as he flies to Central America, darkness is lurking, with a mysterious band of killers stalking him and the ruthless new Bane heading in the same direction. It’s bright and light at first after the brutal flashback segment to Jim’s part in The Killing Joke, but that just emphasizes that Jim is heading into the darkest battle he’s ever fought as soon as he hits the ground.
This title has done an excellent job of showing off Gordon’s detective skills, and once he’s on the ground in Belize, he’s on the case. He quickly identifies the working people of the resorts as his best source for information, and uses his decades of tracking the Joker to lay out how to profile the maniac. There’s some great backmatter here about how Joker operates differently from other serial killers, and the tension builds through the issue—until the last few pages when it blows open with one shocking gut punch of a cliffhanger after another. By the end of this issue, the main conflict looks completely different from what it started out as, and the chaos of Joker War might have only been act one.
In the Punchline backup, Alexis is still trying to find her footing in prison, with her new enemies sending the brutal Orca after her. But the meat of this story focuses on Harper Row, as she investigates Punchline’s past through the stories of her ex-boyfriend. This is more a look at Punchline’s past obsession with serial killers including the Joker, and it has compelling ties to the real true crime podcast boom. But while Punchline’s early partner in crime may seem like a guy in over his head, the end of the issue proves he’s anything but with a twisted turn of events that leaves Harper in a terrifying fix. Both the main story and backup are delivering some of the best tension in any book on the stands.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.