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Preview: The Joker #11

The Joker #11

Written by: Sam Johns, James Tynion IV
Art by: Belén Ortega, Giuseppe Camuncoli

The Joker is about to learn the harsh reality of the motto “Don’t Mess with Texas” as the Sampsons bring him back home to their ranch…for dinner! PUNCHLINE BACKUP: While Harper Row has been making sure that Punchline stays behind bars, her brother, Cullen, has been getting closer to Punchline’s fans. His new boyfriend, Bluff, is hiding a wicked secret that promises to change the shape of organized crime in Gotham, and Punchline’s role, for years to come.

The Joker #11

Preview: The Joker #10

The Joker #10

Written by: Sam Johns, Matthew Rosenberg
Art by: Belén Ortega, Francesco Francavilla

Following the harrowing events of Batman: The Killing Joke, the course of James Gordon’s life-and that of his family’s-was forever changed! But what happened when Gordon’s path again crossed with The Joker’s… PUNCHLINE BACKUP: Harper Row has successfully gotten Punchline’s former friend, Kelly Ness, out of Blackgate. What Kelly reveals about Punchline’s past and true nature will change her criminal case forever, but will Harper and Leslie Thompkins be able to protect her from Punchline’s loyalists?

The Joker #10

Review: The Joker Annual 2021

The Joker Annual 2021

Although the character is overexposed in both comics and other media, The Joker is one of DC’s most underrated current comics. It’s a multi-layered crime saga starring Jim Gordon, who has left the police force and is grappling with his need to take revenge on Joker while juggling a million other plates and forces, including clones in the last issue that came out. Arguably, the best installment of the comic was The Joker #5 with Matthew Rosenberg and Francesco Francavilla collaborating with series writer James Tynion that’s a worthy companion to Batman Year One thanks to its noir-like visuals and deep insight into the character of Gordon. The Joker Annual 2021 is the sequel to Joker #5 and is set during a, well, interesting time when organized crime is on the decline thanks to folks like Carmine Falcone being behind bars. However, there is still crime, but it’s mostly harmless pranks like the Joker robbing a Mexican candy factory with the help of a pre-Secret Six glow up Catman. But this seeming lull in the action doesn’t snuff out Gordon’s crusade to clean up Gotham, especially the dirty members of the police force, and these overt actions come back to bite him and only stoke the flames of his vendetta against the Joker any more.

The Joker Annual 2021 feels like if The Dark Knight and the 1960s Batman TV show had a beautiful baby, and this is definitely meant as a compliment. The comic’s tone is gritty police procedural meets pop art. With The Joker doing candy-centered crimes, Francesco Francavilla uses a fittingly garish color palette while going back to reds and blacks when Gordon is raiding warehouses or firing cops. His approach to storytelling is powerful and enhances Tynion and Rosenberg’s characterization like when Batgirl drops Catman from the sky onto a squad car while two cops argue if they should call her Batgirl or Batlady. Francavilla also shows the homicidal maniac hiding behind the clown when the Joker actually gets “serious” any time someone questions his methods adding a bit of shadow to his teeth and lipstick. His crimes might seem ridiculous compared to his modern appearances, but Joker does some real damage throughout the story and worst of all, shows Jim Gordon that he can’t have law and order in this city.

James Tynion and Matthew Rosenberg’s dialogue is a real treat in The Joker Annual 2021 with Harvey Bullock using blurred out expletives like a lethal weapon to Jim Gordon using pointed questions and contradictions to find out one of his men who is still corrupt. Bullock doesn’t have an arc like Gordon or especially Gotham City, but he and Barbara Gordon act as the voices of pragmatism and reality as fired police officers make great villainous henchmen. He’s portrayed as a high functioning alcoholic, and it’s presented as a personal flaw instead of a systemic flaw like the corrupt police officers. Tynion, Rosenberg, and Francesco Francavilla don’t go full “ACAB” in The Joker Annual 2021, but they do show how freed of their badge and uniform that police officers will do even worst things.

I do like how this comic shows that Gotham is truly a rotten system with the power vacuum of the mob leading to supervillains like Joker, Black Mask, Penguin, and Killer Croc taking over as well as firing all the bad cops at once having consequences like funding issues or them becoming Joker’s foot soldiers. In a highly stylized way, The Joker Annual 2021 shows that corrupt systems can’t truly be fixed from within, which is where vigilantes like Batgirl and Batman come in. However, despite helping against Catman, they spend most of the issue causing property damage and complicating Gordon’s police deployment strategy as he’s torn between 100% taking their side and following the usual protocol.

Francavilla draws Gordon with a look of consternation for much of the issue, and he really is over his head for most of the book struggling to balance cleaning up Gotham with being a father. Until she shows up with a bruise and isn’t in her bed at 2:30 AM, Gordon barely pays attention to Barbara and makes his favorite meal instead of hers while also demonstrating workaholic tendency. This workaholism completely obliterates his relationship with his off-panel son, Jim Jr., who is with his ex-wife in Chicago as Gordon won’t visit him although he has a lot more vacation time as a police commissioner versus a detective. Gordon’s decision in this matter ends up having real ramifications in future storylines, including The Joker. He tries to have it all and ends up broken with final pages acting as a grim punchline to his attempts to end mob corruption once and for all in Gotham. That stuff never ends, or why would we still have Batman and Batman-adjacent stories.

The Joker Annual 2021 is a masterpiece of day-glo crime storytelling from Francesco Francavilla, who can create tension from a flashlight or a cigarette butt as well as James Tynion and Matthew Rosenberg, who continue to flesh out Jim Gordon and his relationship with his daughter Barbara and the clown prince of crime. Like Joker #5, this comic easily stands on its own, but also adds context (Aka emotional scarring) to Gordon’s actions as he haphazardly tries to create his own system for taking out the Joker while keeping his soul intact.

Story: James Tynion IV, Matthew Rosenberg 
Art/Colors: Francesco Francavilla Letters: Tom Napolitano
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.3 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: The Joker Annual 2021 #1

The Joker Annual 2021 #1

(W) James Tynion IV, Matthew Rosenberg (A) Francesco Francavilla
In Shops: Nov 30, 2021
SRP: $5.99

His first year of being GCPD police commissioner was an intense challenge for James Gordon. He battled corruption in the ranks, his marriage was in shambles, and the vigilante Batman was clearly welcoming new recruits with the appearance of Batgirl. And The Joker picked his moment to unleash hell!

Joker Annual 2021 #1

DC Debuts a Trailer for The Joker Vol. 1 Collected Edition

The Joker’s alleged attack on Arkham Asylum in DC’s Infinite Frontier #0 resulted in untold carnage and destruction, and the rise of The Magistrate and the Peacekeepers in Gotham City! As a result of the events that came to be known as “A-Day,” a mysterious benefactor hires former Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon to go on a global manhunt to catch, and potentially kill the Clown Prince of Crime.

The Joker Volume One collects the first five issues of the series, written by award-winning writer James Tynion IV with art by Guillem March. This volume also includes a special Year One flashback issue co-written by Tynion and Matthew Rosenberg and artist Francesco Francavilla.

Though the world is after him for the destruction of Arkham Asylum, nothing involving the Joker is ever as easy as it seems. What Gordon finds and what the Joker wants him to see…will change his perspective on the world forever. And he’s not the only one who wants the Joker found; the mysterious Sampson family are on his tail as well as Vengeance, daughter of Bane!

Review: The Joker #9

The Joker #9

James Gordon has been in pursuit of the Joker, funded by mysterious individuals who want the Clown Prince of Crime brought in and killed. Gordon has also had to deal with numerous other interested parties with the same interests and with a far higher likelihood to resort to violence to do that. The Joker #9 has Gordon teaming up with Vengeance, the clone daughter of Bane, to go after the Joker in the next location they think he might be.

James Tynion IV delivers an interesting issue with The Joker #9, one that opens up a massive world of possibilities. We learn there’s a bigger conspiracy going on, one involving cloning and doppelganger bodies. It’s a concept that seems somewhat farfetched, and that’s impressive for the world of Batman. While there’s a lot to like about where this issue could take not just this story but the DC Universe as a whole, there’s also something that feels a little rushed and out of leftfield. What was once a simple manhunt has turned into something greater. While that might explain some of the conspiracies and strange happenings in the DC world, it shifts the focus of the story quite a bit. It’s not longer one about a falsely accused Joker. And due to that, the issue and the series falters a bit. There’s an interesting aspect about a crime the Joker hadn’t committed yet everyone thinks he did. Some grand conspiracy involving DC’s criminals is something entirely different.

The issue does give a lot of history on Vengeance. So, if you want to get the details on the cloned daughter of Bane, this issue is for you.

Things aren’t helped by Stefano Raffaele‘s art which feels a little inconsistent in the comic. There’s moments the panels and pages look great and others where it feels a bit rushed. Characters don’t always hold up against themselves and the general look and feel of the comic can vary from one panel to the next. The look and style feels like a bunch of different creators all mashed into one. The color by Romulo Fajardo Jr. is solid giving a sickly green hue to the panels and pages at times, really nailing the tone of it all. Tom Napolitano‘s lettering also is good, especially that of the Joker whose style varies just enough to give it a unique feel that enhances the character.

Sam Johns, James Tynion IV, Rosi Kämpe, Marissa Louise, and Ariana Maher continues Punchline’s story. Leslie, Harper, and the newly protected Kelly dive deeper into Punchline’s history as we learn the fate of many of her past acquaintances. The story is interesting in that it shows Punchline’s dive into madness happened far earlier than has been depicted before but overall, it’s a piece of the very larger puzzle that’s being crafted as far as those characters. Not a lot of excitement with it but a lot of history that could become key.

The Joker #9 isn’t a bad issue but it just feels like it shifts the story far too much from the initial launch. Having various groups all trying to capture the same person could drive the series for quite a while and feels like it was just being touched as far as potential. This one issue shifts all of that in a major way. This is an issue to read because of its possible impact on the DC Universe, not necessarily because it does its story any justice.

Story: James Tynion, Sam Johns IV Art: Stefano Raffaele, Rosi Kämpe
Color: Romulo Fajardo, Jr., Marissa Louise Letterer: Tom Napolitano, Ariana Maher
Story: 6.75 Art: 6.75 Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Preview: The Joker #9

The Joker #9

Written by: Sam Johns, James Tynion IV
Art by: Rosi Kämpe, Stefano Raffaele

The terrifying Sampson family is ready to exact their revenge on the Clown Prince of Crime for the murder of one of their own during A-Day! Will Gordon risk his life to save…The Joker? The shocking series continues with the most horrifying issue yet! Backup: Punchline and Harper Row go head-to-head for the life and safety of Kelly Ness! If Harper loses, the radicalization of young people in Gotham City will know no limits!

The Joker #9

Preview: The Joker #8

The Joker #8

Written by: Sam Johns, James Tynion IV
Art by: Rosi Kämpe, Guillem March

Jim Gordon was warned, to “head back to the light while you still can,” but his quest to apprehend The Joker is taking him deeper into darkness. Could The Joker actually be innocent of the attack on Arkham Asylum? Punchline Back-Up: It’s a jailbreak as Bluebird must escape from Blackgate before Punchline and her gang can murder her!

The Joker #8

Preview: The Joker #7

The Joker #7

Written by: Sam Johns, James Tynion IV
Art by: Sweeney Boo, Guillem March

Très bien-the Joker visits Paris! Gordon must get to Joker ahead of the Sampsons, but has the Clown Prince set an ambush for his pursuers? Plus, Barbara fights for her life after her introduction to the new Talon! Punchline backup: The search for Kelly Ness-Punchline’s former friend who is also in Blackgate Penitentiary-begins.

The Joker #7

Around the Tubes

Detective Comics #1041

It was new comic book day yesterday. What’d you all get? What’d you like? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

The Mary Sue – Tim Drake, the Best Robin AS Robin, Is the Newest LGBTQ Mainstream Comic Book Character – If you missed the news.

Reviews

The Beat – Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms

That Hashtag Show – Detective Comics #1041

Screenrant – The Heart Hunter

That Hashtag Show – The Joker #6

But Why Tho Podcast – Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven

Almost American
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