Last issue Jim Gordon once again came face to face with Joker, and learned a little more about what’s been going on behind the scenes namely how everyone in this book seems to be tied together more and more. It all culminated in quite the cliffhanger as Jim was left for dead, and Joker abducted by the Sampson family! Will this issue have some answers for us?

The answer to that is no. No it doesn’t. Instead of utilizing the excellent cliffhanger we got, the momentum of the narrative slams to a halt for an issue set in the past. It’s not helped by the fact that the Annual was also one long story taking place in the past. These two essentially give us two tales of Jim’s history in a row, and a whole month of waiting on the resolution to the cliffhanger. Instead of keeping things moving and sweeping readers up into the story, this issue long break kills the tension completely for me.

So just what does the issue focus on? Well that would be the history between Jim Gordon and his son, James Gordon Jr. It’s main point is to introduce readers to the relationship between Jim and his son, and give us some insight into who James is. And honestly? I’m not sure we even needed this issue. Anyone familiar with Jim’s history really doesn’t need this introduction to the both of them, and for those unfamiliar Joker as a whole has given them enough context and information in past issues already through Jim’s internal monologue and flashbacks. It feels like a whole issue of padding just to get us to the next month and to legitimize the fact that James is an important character here since he got a whole issue devoted to him.

Issue #10 picks up shortly after the events of The Killing Joke with Jim still on leave from the force and Barbara struggling with the fact that she’s now paralyzed. Both are having trouble finding a new normal, and Jim is in a rush to dive back into work. Their equilibrium is further thrown into further chaos as James Jr. is dropped off unexpectedly to stay with them for a little while.

There’s really not a lot of meat to the story here. It’s focused mostly on interpersonal relationships, which I don’t think is a bad way to do it. There is some excitement and tension when James goes missing and the possible person behind it seems to be the Joker, but even that is less about concern for his safety and more used as a tool to show his own growing obsession with Joker. The whole push of this issue seems to be designed to connect James Jr. with Joker so that in future issues that can be further explored.

Aside from him, I think the issue does do a good job showing the issues facing the Gordon family. While not the center of the story, we get some good moments with Babs featuring her own personal struggles and how she views James Jr during this time. And Tynion does a really good job showing just how torn Jim is about–well everything. He’s still clearly struggling and traumatized and trying to find his own way. And on top of all that now has to deal with his own son who has a whole host of other problems possibly being mixed up with the same man who hurt Jim himself and Babs. Emotionally it hits a lot of good notes, and if this were just a standalone story outside of The Joker I think I’d like it a lot more.

Francesco Francavilla is once again on art and colors. I like him better here than I did in the Annual. Perhaps that’s because the story is more locked in on fewer characters so he can really focus on Jim, Babs, and James Jr. His character’s expressions and body language really visualize the stress and anxiety the characters are feeling. Additionally, he utilizes colors in panels to help with this by selecting some to have just one or two colors in them, highlighting the emotions of the characters at play.

I want to focus in on the colors a bit more. His palette here is very unique, and feels a little like the back of a CD. He’s selected a limited number of colors to focus on, once again reds, oranges, and yellows, but there are some panels where he adds in purples, pinks, and blues to make scenes look really magical.

As a whole this issue is a standalone story from start to finish. And as it is, it’s not too bad. I can also see how it’s working to justify James Jr’s general inclusion into the greater narrative by creating a connection between them in the past. However, I think this issue would have probably done a lot better as the Annual instead of being shoved into the main series. Where it stands now, it breaks the tension and momentum of what’s been done, and doesn’t really add to or take away from the main story in a significant way.

Score: 6/10


Punchline Backup

This backup reads pretty quickly. It’s a continuation of Kelly’s tale of how she met Punchline and got to the place she is now. It also continues the story of Cullen and his boyfriend who was revealed to be in the Royal Flush game previously. Since it’s already a backup, both tales feel very short but they’re not bad as a continuation of everything that’s been going on.

Belen Ortega’s art Alejandro Sanchez’s colors look good here as well. The colors are darker and fit the tone of the story better, while Ortega’s art has a softness to it that I really like. Character’s feel a little more round and welcoming, while also giving us some really cool moments like when Kelly feels like Punchline is everywhere watching her in the city.

All in all it’s not bad for a backup, though it’s hard to really decide how to feel about it, since it feels less like it’s own tale and more like just a piece of what could have been one or two issues at this point.

Score: 5/10

Recommended If

  • Francesco Francavilla is your man
  • You enjoy stories exploring Jim’s past, particularly post TKJ
  • You don’t mind backstory interrupting the main action

Overall

I’m still not a big fan of the placement of this story. I think it would have worked better as the Annual or set somewhere else in Joker’s narrative. However, as a standalone tale, it’s a solid story that could be enjoyed by anyone who picks it up and wants something focused more on the Gordan’s history than their present. So if you’re looking for a glimpse into history, this is a good one to pick up, but if you’re waiting on the main narrative to start moving again this isn’t the book for you.

Overall Score: 6/10


DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.