With James Tynion IV jumping ship, the future of The Joker series might be up in the air — but one thing is quickly becoming an absolute certainty: my rapidly expanding disdain of this run.
So. Art. Yeah. Where to begin. I’ve run the spectrum of lukewarm to occasionally positive regarding Guillem March’s art thus far. Joker #7 is the straw. I am the camel. I don’t know what noises camels make. Do they moo? Whinny? Bleat? Well bleat bleat motherf@$%er, this art is atrocious.
Here’s a gallery of the weird panels of glassy-eyed women in Joker #7. I believe they speak for themselves.
This fight though. Cassandra Cain v. Talon. Boy oh boy. This fight could have been the best fight of this entire series. It could have been a wondrous, brutal, role reversal of the first fight between Talon and Batman in The Court of Owls.
Instead, we get, uh, Dragon Ball Z and comedic reaction panels.
I wish that were all. But the backgrounds in Joker #7 are truly something special. Just take a look. What the hell is this? Are they having a dinner date in cyberspace?
The story of Joker #7 is actually three separate parts. Minisodes, if you will. The issue opens with the most interesting minisode of the bunch, even if it is the most out of left field. Julia f-ing Pennyworth, secret f-ing agent has entered the comic. You see, she’s caught a whiff of some funny business going down on Santa Prisca. Namely, they’re trying to make the island into a tourist trap. “[A] theme park meets Alcatraz.” We find Julia investigating Peña Duro in disguise shortly before her cover is blown by a call from Barbera Gordon, who wants… Julia to do the thing she’s already doing? Alright.
This first minisode feels like a B-plot, but honestly, at this point I’d be fine if they made it the A-plot. Why? Because for six whole glorious pages we see neither hide nor hair of crappy exposition or monologue. Unfortunately, once Julia exits we’re dragged back down into more of Tynion’s (signature?) pseudo-noir boilerplate muck and mire.
“This is all theater … And it’s the kind of theater where I’ve played all of the parts before,” Gordon thinks to himself, for some reason, while waiting — alone in a room — for his interrogation to begin. Any potential tension built by Gordon being picked up by French authorities is immediately tossed out the window. The Commish’s French counterpart, chief detective Isabella Hallows a.k.a. Madame Halloween already knows he’s innocent and was just waiting for her people to get exonerating footage. That doesn’t stop them from expositing at each other for the next. four. pages.
This is… why bring him in? Why have the Joker pull a frame job in the first place? Why not just have the Joker attack the same lab and the good Madame find Jim and ask him for help? Was it because they wanted a cliffhanger for issue #6? It was, wasn’t it.
Meanwhile — back in Gotham! — creepy dead-eyed Barbera (see art section) and her equally doll-like pals continue their surveillance of the femme fatale Owl Court operative. But! Twist! It turns out she was watching them watch her watch them! Hijinks ensue. It’s fun watching Cassandra beat the stuffing out of a Talon, but, as elaborated above, the actual art of the fight isn’t great.
This backup is still going on. That’s the real punchline.
- You like dead-eyed characters…
- And endless exposition…
- And clichéd monologue…
- And lazy cliffhangers that go nowhere…
- And tired faux-deconstruction…
Joker #7 caps off with a tired conversation between Madame Halloween and the Ex-Commish. The rest of the world isn’t like Gotham, our criminals don’t wear bright colored spandex, etc. Somehow these conversations always somehow sneak in one or two jabs about how Gotham isn’t special. Which is it? Is Gotham a bizarro town full of weirdos or do they “dress [their] social woes up in ways that make them seem flashier and more novel than the rest of the world’s”? Putting aside the fact that I am beyond over this type of low-hanging bad-faith faux-deconstruction… the problems contained in this conversation are a microcosm of the problems with the series as a whole: tired and recycled material that thinks it’s more interesting than it really is…
…and then there’s yet another cliffhanger.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.