The Joker #12 – James Tynion IV, Sam Johns, Writers; Giuseppe Camuncoli/Cam Smith, Belen Ortega, Artists; Arif Prianto, Romulo Fajardo Jr, Alex Guimaraes, Colorists
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: We’re in the last arc now, and James Tynion IV wisely pulls back on the action a little for an intimately, brilliantly tense issue as we head for the final showdown. Barbara Gordon and Julia Pennyworth were on their way to finish Jim’s business—but their plane was infiltrated by a mysterious Talon who has captured them both. Jim has looped Harvey Bullock in for one final case together, a potential suicide mission that will take them deep into enemy territory. Guest artist Giuseppe Camuncoli brilliantly captures the facial expressions as Harvey realizes just how deep he’s in, but a surprise guest star courtesy of Babs’ backup plan gives them a fighting chance—and provides some of the issue’s best comedic moments.
The real set piece of the issue comes when they land in Texas and face off against Cressida and her mysterious cloaked giant henchman. Jim only cares about getting his daughter free and settling accounts, so he quickly removes several pieces from the chessboard—and then, like the master detective he is, lays out the truth about the plan and reveals a shocking master villain behind the whole thing. I’m not sure how this fits with one particular other book at the moment, but I’m guessing Tynion has had this master plan for quite a while. It’s a perfect setup for a packed final two issues, and probably the best Joker story in a long time—even though the killer clown appears in all of one panel this issue.
Then there’s the Punchline backup, which continues to be a fascinating look at how cults form. With Alexis Kaye about to go on trial, Harper Row desperately fights to tie up loose ends and track down her chief cultist. But the top witness has gone missing, her brother is getting in deeper and deeper with every chapter, and Punchline is treating the opening of her trial like the red carpet. It’s a great spotlight for Harper, but with only two issues to go, this story has a lot of ground to cover before it mic-drops.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.