Everybody wants to know why Batman has never killed the Joker but nobody asks the same thing about Commissioner Gordon — except James Tynion in his The Joker series.
Batman and his nemesis have a legendary rivalry, one positioned to call the Caped Crusader’s One Rule into question every time the Clown Prince of Crime appears and turns Gotham City into the Purge or whatever. And sure, it’s gotten personal over the years, with the Joker murdering Robin. But consider former police commissioner James Gordon.
Gordon takes his responsibility to keep Gotham safe as seriously as Batman does. He doesn’t hook a pattern of obsessive behavior around a simple rule separating him from the “bad” vigilantes who show up in Gotham. He doesn’t have a taboo against using guns.
I’m not saying I support the idea that police officers should favor a gun over due process — I’m just saying, canonically, the Joker killed Batman’s son one time. And just as canonically, the Joker also murdered James Gordon’s wife, maimed his daughter, and drove his son to suicide. There’s a lot of emotional grist there, and it’s very satisfying to see Tynion and his collaborators unpack it, as in this week’s stand-alone issue, The Joker #5.
What else is happening in the pages of our favorite comics? We’ll tell you. Welcome to Monday Funnies, Polygon’s weekly list of the books that our comics editor enjoyed this past week. It’s part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” There may be some spoilers. There may not be enough context. But there will be great comics. (And if you missed the last edition, read this.)
With guest artist Francesco Francavilla, The Joker #5 takes us back in time to the Joker’s first night in Arkham Asylum, with a stretched-too-thin Captain James Gordon unable to convince orderlies that the Joker isn’t really a mental patient.
Kyle Starks and Chris Schweizer’s Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton is both incredibly funny and — in the rest of this scene — a fabulous example of how to keep pen and paper action sequences just as dynamic as they are on a moving screen.
X-Corp still feels like its struggling to live up to its promise but I will say that this whiteboard message from Multiple Man to all of his duplicates on how to do scientific research is delightful. I want to get margaritas with Multiple Man(s).
Shout out to Beyond the Breach’s Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. I can’t remember the last time that lettering sold me on a comic — that “FUCK” enlarged to twice the size of the words around it. Incredible communication.