Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Color Artist: Arif Prianto
Inks: Cam Smith & Lorenzo Ruggiero
Cover Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith & Arif Prianto
Publisher: DC Comics
Jim Gordon has retired from being the Police Commissioner of Gotham City, but there was still one case left to handle: The Joker. After being hired by a mysterious group and led down the rabbit hole of the world’s wider evils, Jim Gordon’s tale of cat and mouse with the Joker finally reaches its end in The Joker #15!
Getting my thoughts on The Joker #15 was a little tough, so I reread the entire series from the first issue to this one to gather my thoughts on everything. This review will contain slight SPOILERS here and there when needed to cover the comic. It will also contain a small section covering a brief review of the entire series with slight SPOILERS there as well. For now, this half covers the newest issue only.
I would call this issue a slow finale that borders on being an epilogue. It starts where it left off in the last issue with Batman questioning Jim Gordon about what he did with the Joker, and readers will definitely get their answer. Here’s the biggest spoiler you’ll get in this review: Gordon didn’t kill the Joker. To no one’s surprise, Gordon doesn’t kill the Joker, but there is an interesting development between them that happens in this comic. It won’t be the most satisfying conclusion nor the most dramatic and gimmicky idea either. Like the rest of the comic, the ending is just fine.
The comic, through Jim Gordon, catches everyone including Batman up to speed on what happens by literally recapping the events of the series leading to the Sampson Family incident. There are big reveals made in the comic other than Gordon not killing the Joker, some that will leave people confused, and others that will leave some fans a little more hopeful about what might come in future stories. The art team with Giuseppe Camuncoli on art and Arif Prianto back on colors helps make this comic a blend of grand and gritty elements. The morose tone of the comic is conveyed well with the facial close-ups of Jim Gordon contrasted with the dark and moody backgrounds of him in the comic. However, the art also knows how to balance that out with the more vibrant and energetic action and encounters that take place in the story.
Overall, readers get answers to some of the big questions put forth in the comic, there’s a conclusion between Gordon and the Joker, and things keep spinning in Gotham City. There is an epilogue to everything that happens from the Network to Bullock and the others to Cressida, and of course Bane and Vengeance, who essentially team up by the end. The comic isn’t the best but it is a fine send off for this series and its protagonist in Jim Gordon who seems ready to move into a new phase of his life as a private detective with Harvey Bullock, which leaves plenty of new stories to tell with these old dogs.
Review of the Series:
Now, onto the series as a whole. If there was one word to describe this comic, it would be underwhelming. From the get-go, the comic was presented as Jim Gordon choosing to take one final case before retiring and chasing down the Joker one last time. One of the series’ biggest strengths of this series was James Tynion IV’s ability to capitalize on the long history between Jim Gordon and The Joker. He uses their long history to lay this foundation of utter contempt that Jim Gordon has for the Joker and even Gotham City itself at times, and successfully pulls off this sense of exhaustion in the character.
This is helped by how he doesn’t write Gordon like an emotional rookie who’s gone off the rails on a suicide mission, but instead like a matured and disciplined investigator who’s grappling with his own personal demon in the Joker. But Tynion’s big conspiracy plot is also this series’ worst enemy by derailing the straightforward premise with all of the extra worldbuilding, retcons here and there, and constantly introducing new characters and ideas that go nowhere and lack any staying power in the wider DC universe. For example, the existence of “The Network”, the “truth” behind Bane’s origin, and the designer supervillains plot that The Network had cooking up.
As a result, this comic is pretty self-contained, disposable, and insignificant in the grander scheme of things at DC Comics other than revealing Bane has a new partner in his female clone-daughter Vengeance and Gordon’s going into the private sector with Bullock as private detectives. Another big flaw was the noticeable art change from Guillem March on covers and interiors to Giuseppe Camuncoli. Mind you, Camuncoli isn’t terrible illustrating these characters or events, it’s just that Guillem was better in making things more surreal, eerie, exaggerated with body designs & expressions, and certainly more dynamic with the action. Again, the series had a strong straightforward premise that got too mixed up in other things, but it at least found a way to bring it all back to Jim Gordon and the Joker somehow.
The Joker #15 finally concludes the globetrotting game of cat and mouse between Jim Gordon and The Joker. The resolutions in the comic are quick & predictable as it wraps up as much as it can while leaving a few doors open for a few characters. Jim gets his conclusion, which may prove dissatisfying to some fans of the character, but it at least puts him in a better place than where he began when the series started.