Reviews | Written by Joel Harley 01/04/2021



With the ink barely dry on his Joker War, the Clown Prince of Crime gets his own spin-off book in James Tynion IV’s The Joker. After apparently murdering everyone in Arkham Asylum with a horrifying gas attack, Joker is on the run. This first issue mostly follows retired Commissioner Gordon as he attempts to pick up on his trail. It shouldn’t be too hard – just follow the trail of bodies.

The Joker finds the Joker in full-on murderclown mode, following his semi-recent (as of, say, Snyder’s Death of the Family) reinvention as ludicrous horror villain. This first issue thankfully skews more towards film noir than slasher story, but the Joker’s few appearances set him up as more of a Freddy Krueger type than comic book supervillain. With Gordon hired by a mysterious femme fatale to kill Joker, the stage is set for a brutal reckoning between the ex-cop and the monster. Until, inevitably, we learn that there’s more to learn about Joker’s attack on Arkham than meets the eye.

As a James Tynion IV Joker book, this delivers exactly what readers might expect; try-hard violence, the Joker as an impossibly horrible horror demon, and profoundly disturbing character work by artist Guillem March. And, of course, a Punchline back-up story. Fans of Tynion and this particular take on the character should be satisfied – and good Jim Gordon stories are few and far between, too – but it’s unlikely to win over detractors. Doubling down on what made Joker War almost unreadable, it’s yet another story about the Joker as an unstoppable killing machine. Between this, that, Three Jokers and his po-faced appearance in the Snyder Cut, it’s about time the Joker got some new material.

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