After a one month break The Joker is back to wrap up the series with its final issue. We left off last time with Batman staring down Jim Gordon asking the same question most readers probably were: What happened to the Joker? This issue promises to tell us that, and more.
The final issue of The Joker wraps up just about everything you as a reader might really need to know about this series. It does it in three big ways: It essentially summarizes the entire series in one go, it answers all the questions from who was really behind all those deaths at Arkham to actually telling us what happened to the Joker, and finally, it gives Jim an appropriate wrap up to his arc through this whole series.
When I say it summarizes the series in one go, I mean it. You could skip every other issue and pick this one up and know every important story beat that happened. The book mostly does it by giving us three solid pages of Jim retelling the events of the series. For someone who read this whole story, it makes for a rough three pages because we know all of this. It’s nice to see it laid out in case you did need elements clarified, but at the same time it feels repetitive. It also slows the book down to a crawl. I didn’t realize how little movement had happened until pages in Jim suggests they shift up to the roof. It felt very much like a specific move to keep the narrative from stalling completely.
The recap continues as the story moves to the elements in Texas, but gains some life as we’re not just being re-shown scenes with narration over them, we get to see what happened with Barbara, Bullock, Cassandra, and the Talon after they took back off towards Gotham. The James Jr. is a Talon story is wrapped up fairly quickly, but in a way that leaves the story open to bring him back eventually.
A lot of the elements wrapped up in this issue feel the same way, wrapped up neat and tidy but almost hollow. Jim’s interactions with the Interpol agent, and Cressida’s story, even the Sampsons all kind of feel like afterthoughts. Elements that were introduced, but over the course of 15 issues got lost in the mix and had to be tied up as the series ended. Because of that we’re told a lot. We’re told Cressida’s motivations, told how Jim and Isabella dealt with both the Sampsons and how they plan to deal with the Network. Even Bane and Vengeance feel like they’re shrugged off as a way of just letting Joker go with The Network as the reliable scapegoat for everyone’s motivations.
That’s a weakness of endings in general, needing to wrap up plot points. However, I wanted a little more from each of these moments. With all the elements in The Joker there just really isn’t time here in the last issue to properly send off each character. The only character whose ending feels full and well done is Jim’s.
Before I get to talking about him, and the wrap up of the series in general I want to chat about the art really quickly. Giuseppe Camuncoli’s art is solid throughout, with a couple really cool moments both in the art and of paneling I wanted to point out here in the last issue. My favorite out of all of them is the transition into Jim’s tale as he’s talking to Batman. Jim is seated, drink in hand, with Batman a literal specter behind him as we fade from the now into the past. I will always love Batman drawn as any amorphous bat blob, and here it’s done really really well. So much so you can almost miss his cowl and eyes in the smoke.
The second section is just a fun bit of paneling with Joker. Joker’s trying to decide who he wants to shoot: Jim or Cressida, and so the art is split evenly between two panels giving the moment a very one or the other feeling to it.
While a lot of this issue is focused on recapping and doing a quick wrap on various plot points, it does take time to slow down and often focus on Jim himself. He spends a lot of time reminiscing on the city, his job, and his adventure in a way that takes readers towards the end of his journey. These moments are spread through the whole issue, from the first page to the last. And since The Joker has always been more about Jim Gordan than the Joker or any of the other characters explored in it, I think it’s an appropriate topic to wrap up the final review of this issue on.
This focus on Jim feels right for the series. And while I wanted a little more from the other character’s exits, I’m really glad that Tynion took the time to properly wrap up Jim’s story. He’s changed by this adventure, but in a way that has settled him. Instead of being aimless like he was at the start, willing to jump on a job to kill Joker, he seems to have more of a plan now. And while he still hasn’t fully fixed all his problems, I can see him moving forward with his plans to go into private practice or do whatever he wants moving forward. Out of everything, I can end this series happy with the personal journey Jim himself got to take.
As with Joker ending here, Punchline also has its final entry as a backup. There’s really not much to say here since she already won her trial, but the story pitches Bluebird and Punchline against each other one final time, out in the open. Johns and Tynion use this to wrap up Cullen’s involvement with the story, and give Punchline one more opportunity to come out on top of Harper in their battle of brains vs brawn. The backup also ends with a promise of more Punchline to come in the fall with Punchline: The Gotham Game.
My final thoughts on this backup can be summarized in simple relief that it’s over. Neither this, nor the upcoming series can do anything to make this character appeal to me, and I’m just happy to be done with it.
- You’re here for Jim’s journey
- Joker’s fate interests you
- You made it all the way to the end of this series, might as well finish it out
As a wrap up for this series, the issue has some highs and lows. What I liked most about it is the treatment of Jim Gordon. His character arc feels like it finally reaches its conclusion here as he has the final opportunity to choose not only what to do with Joker, but what to do after. The rest of the threads of the plot are tied up neatly, if a little quickly. I’m honestly not sure if I’ll ever return to this series now that it’s over, but it was certainly a roller coaster while it lasted.
Overall Score: 6/10
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.