WRITER: JAMES TYNION IV
ARTIST: GILLEM MARCH
PUBLISHER: DC COMICS
RELEASE DATE: JUNE 8th, 2021
REVIEWER: ROLLO TOMASI
An army led by a “She-Bane” (as the Joker calls her) attacks the Joker’s hideout. As he is wanted for the recent Arkham massacre. But did the Joker do the deed? And how does Jim Gordon play in all this? This issue provides some answers while even during all the action finds the time to do some interesting character studies.
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Since the start of the series Jim Gordon has been hunting the Joker. Hired by a mysterious woman to find and kill the Joker for his part in the recent Arkham massacre. Last issue ended with Gordon getting captured by the Joker. Now we have an army lead by a woman wearing a Bane. As Bane was one of the victim’s at Arkham it appears she and her followers want revenge.
Full disclosure. I had no interest in trying this series out. While I agree the Joker is one of Batman’s biggest villains, I don’t think it’s incorrect to say he’s overexposed. As well do I really need to read a series that would focus on a mass murderer with no redeeming qualities? But Tynion pulled a quick one on the readers. Because even though the Joker’s name is on the cover, this opening story is really a Jim Gordon story. It focuses on how the Joker has impacted Jim’s life. Now that Gordon is no longer the Commissioner he has time to reflect on his life. One might say a sort of mid life crisis.
Gordon’s narration drives this book. It gives the reader an insight into the life of Jim Gordon we have rarely gotten before. Yes we know about what happened to Barbara, his son, and both his wives. But we rarely have seem the emotional toll fighting crime along side Batman has had on him. This issue in particular shows a new side of Gordon. While we readers might see Jim as a rare honest cop in Gotham that never lets anyone down, Gordon through his narration doesn’t see himself that way. He goes into detail about what he’s actually done wrong with his life. And to be honest he’s not entirely wrong. It’s a fascinating point of view for a long time character.
All this introspection doesn’t only apply to Jim Gordon though. The series is called the Joker after all. So far in the series the Joker has been used sparingly. Like a boogeyman who the thought of is worse than the reality. In this issue we get more Joker then the first three issues. Once again Tynion gives the reader another side of a long time character we might not expect. The Joker here is not the “Clown Prince of Crime” or an “agent of chaos”. He actually comes across as not insane. He might be evil but the Joker here feels like he is in total control of the situation. As he says here he has plans. His argument against being accused of the attack on Arkham is so logical and makes sense that I wonder why Gordon or even Batman didn’t think of it before. I know I said before I didn’t want a Joker focused story. But I could definitely read more of this version.
I haven’t always been the biggest fan of March’s art. yet here he employs a style that almost feels like early Frank Miller mixed in with a tad Eduardo Risso of 100 Bullets fame. There is a rawness to it that I enjoyed. The action sequences as well done.
There is a back up story focusing on the new character Punchline. I did not read the back up as to be honest Punchline holds no interest to me.
The Joker issue 4 provides some interesting insights into two longtime Bat characters. Not what I expected. The characters are engaging and come across as more than their usual stereotypes. Well worth checking out.