The Joker #5
DC Comics 2021
Written by Matthew Rosenberg & James Tynion IV
Illustrated by Francesco Francavilla
Lettered by Tom Napolitano
Written by Sam Jones & James Tynion IV
Illustrated by Sweeney Boo
Lettered by Ariana Maher
The never-before-seen tale of The Joker’s first night in Arkham Asylum is finally revealed!
When a lunatic in a clown suit tries to poison Gotham City’s reservoir and is placed in Arkham Asylum before his trial, Detective Jim Gordon realizes something’s different about this new inmate that could forever change the future of Gotham.
Backup: Rising-star artist Sweeney Boo joins the series as things get worse and worse for Punchline and Bluebird. Punchline’s prison war against the Queen of Spades escalates, and no prisoner at Blackgate Penitentiary will be exempt from choosing sides. And after barely escaping death at the hands of Punchline’s former accomplice, will Bluebird have the will to continue her investigation and find the mysterious woman from Punchline’s past who has the answers she’s looking for?
I found this to be one heck of an interesting issue. The Joker’s first night in Arkham Asylum before it became known for housing Gotham’s criminally insane element. I think it is pretty genius that we’re still keeping Jim and Joker together in a story that goes back that far. Their sordid and lengthy history really does come to life throughout the run of this series and while Bats may be his main adversary Jim is the one he’s dealt with more often.
I am loving the way that this is being told. The story & plot development that we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information is presented exceptionally well. The character development that we see through the dialogue, the character interaction as well as how they act and react to the situations and circumstances which they encounter is magnificently rendered. The pacing is superb and as it takes us through the pages it brings a lot of insight to their relationship.
I am enjoying the way that this is being structured and how the layers within the story continue to emerge, grow and evolve. The layers within the story that contain the twists & turns plus the characterisation that add this wondrous depth, dimension and complexity to the story is so well achieved. How we see everything working together to create the story’s ebb & flow as well as how it moves the story forward is beautifully done.
I was a tad surprised to see Francavilla’s art on the interiors here but I have to admit the man is a genius at what he does. The darker style he brings to this with those bright pops of colour really captures the mood, tone and feel of Gotham city and its denizens. I adore the fact that we see backgrounds utilised as we do and even if it’s nearly a blank there are still elements to it that show you where they are and that’s huge to me. How they work within the composition of the panels to bring out the depth perception, sense of scale and the overall sense of size and scope to the story. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a masterful eye for storytelling. The colour work is amazing and how we see the various hues and tones within the colours being utilised to create the shading, highlights and shadow work is utterly marvellous. Plus using linework to deepen colours as well is done amazingly well.
The main story is sublime and it goes a long way into defining their relationship even further. The backup with Harper is something that I found immensely interesting. I love her father telling her Punchline is ten steps ahead of her. This is a little more slow moving thanks to the smaller page count but it does build the intrigue and interest factors beautifully. This is extremely well written with sensational characterisation along with some astounding interiors make this still one of DC’s best books right now.