Review – The Joker #2
Review – The Joker #2
Writer(s): James Tynion IV, Sam Johns
Artist: Guillem March, Mirka Andolfo
Colors: Arif Prianto
Letters: Tom Napolitano, Ariana Maher
The Joker issue #2 continues the story of Jim Gordon being hired by a mysterious woman to kill the Joker. But as Jim weighs options to determine whether or not to take this case, he realizes that he may need the help of a familiar bat-face that would not at all agree with him becoming a hitman seeking to kill the clown prince of crime! Also in this issue, we see Punchline’s schemes as she intends to break out of jail and recruit inmates to help her great escape.
Joker #2 contains a lot of setup as Jim Gordon makes preparations to hunt down the Joker and multiple villains are being created and revealed behind the scenes. We find out that the Joker is staying at one of many safehouse/resort getaways that villains go to in order to relax and is enjoying his stay. Meanwhile, commissioner Gordon thinks back on all the horrible things that Joker has done including the trauma he inflicted on Jim’s own life when he decides that he needs help from Batman. He decides to meet with the Bat without telling his plan to kill the Joker and instead just say that he was hired to go capture him. Batman gives Jim access to his bat-computer with some exceptions as well as Batman’s number to call whenever he needs to. Batman agrees to let him stay in contact with Oracle without knowing the truth as Oracle is suspicious of Gordon and his unusual reliance on Batman. But, in order to keep Batman distracted, Jim reveals that he knows that the Oracle is none other than his own daughter, Barbara Gordon!
After this revelation, Barbara wants to meet with Jim to talk about his upcoming journey and the bombshell Jim dropped on her. They talk about the horrible things that Joker has done and talking about how much this horrible man completely changed their family forever, Jim decides to tell Barbara that the people that hired him want him to kill Joker and that he was planning on doing so. With the weight of the conversation they just had, Barbara is careful with what she says next, but she doesn’t want him to go through with it, and knows that Batman would not be very pleased. She remembers the events of the Killing Joke and that Jim was the one person that told Batman to bring him in by the books, trying to reassure him that he doesn’t have to kill Joker to bring him in. Jim makes a deal with Barbara though that he would only go through with it if he was able to convince her that it’s the right thing to do.
Barbara decides to work with him as she gives him a phone that meets his needs that he wanted from the Batman and shares with him that he is not the only one that is going to be going after the Joker after all he’s done. These people that are going after the Joker are much more ruthless and will kill anyone that gets in their way. The issue proceeds to show who these people are as not only does the lady that hired Jim have reasons for killing the Joker, but a crazy hillbilly family from Texas and a venom-filled female seemingly taking on the Bane mantle.
As this issue’s story with Jim Gordon wraps up, we pick up Punchline’s story as she continues to plot through her next steps while she is locked up in Blackgate penitentiary. We see that her actions leading her to be put there have also made quite an impact on the world as people are coming out on social media sharing all about the times that they knew her in high school or used to be her friend as she quickly trends more and more in the public eye. The issue also introduces an old friend of Punchline from “Snyder” college that may be in just as much danger from her as any of her enemies due to the knowledge he may have of her past. Overall, this issue is mostly Punchline preparing for something, but we will see in future issues how this pays off.
March’s artwork on Jim Gordon’s story has been very fitting for the story it is telling. With a visual style that is reminiscent of the darker tones of past Batman stories, March sets the tone of the book as one that fits in well with the Batman Pathos. The art within particularly portrays faces excellently. All of the details included make them feel like real people without becoming hyper realistic and makes it easier to resonate with the characters as you see them realistically express their emotions. The landscape of Gotham city is also drawn well as it is reminiscent of the open, busy feel that makes the town feel more alive like we’ve seen in other interpretations such as the Arkham series of video games.
Artwork included within the Punchline backup story is drastically different and gives the story a more animated, bubbly style. Andolfo’s work on this story gives a similar vibe to the art included in DC’s young adult novels and contrasts its’ bright, colorful style with the main story of the issue.
Being two issues in, this Joker series has contained a very small amount of its’ title character and much more of an emphasis on the man hunting him down. While this is an unexpected path the book has taken, it makes sense to make Joker more of a McGuffin plot point that everyone is going after. As someone that is more on Jason Todd’s side when it comes to whether Joker should live or die, this series sets itself up for some really fascinating and big topics that could prove to pay off very well, or could prove to leave something to be desired. But so far, this series has done a great job at establishing where Jim Gordon is at and how this task has shaken up his life.The interactions Gordon has with Batman and Barbara are very good. The series does well at grounding itself in the story of the Killing Joke as it stands as one of the most definitive stories for the development of Batman and the characters of Gotham city, especially the Gordon family.
The Punchline backup story seems to be a bit out of place being put in the end of this issue, and leaves some to be desired. While the issue is mostly setup (so was the main story), there isn’t much here worthwhile that makes this story really good. The style feels completely different from the main story in a way that makes it hard to get into after reading the main contents of the issue. The events taking place outside of the prison are more interesting than anything that takes place on the inside, but only by comparison as the only thing revealed is that Punchline had a friend in college.
I would definitely recommend Joker #2 to Batman fans as this is a worthwhile development for Jim Gordon that follows up the events of multiple great past stories. I wouldn’t say that the Punchline backup story is worthwhile, which is sad to see after I found the character quite interesting in James Tynion IV’s previous run. But overall I think the title story makes the issue worthwhile enough for fans to pick it up and enjoy it.
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