Part 3 of “Joker War” is here, from writer James Tynion IV and artist Jorge Jimenez. Let’s take a look at the official DC synopsis, then get right into an overview.
The Joker’s army is growing hour by hour, with weapons beyond anything the Clown Prince of Crime has ever used before. Batman must hold his mind together so he can strike the final blow and take back his city-but how can he heal the rifts he’s created in his life to get the help he needs?
The issue opens right with Punchline and her clown minions as they are at the shipping docks receiving a chemical shipment. The best part of this scene is Punchline realizing the power of money — the way Jorge Jimenez draws the smile and eyes is brilliant and the color palette shifts from the dark, moody atmosphere to show the light in her joy with this realization.
Chemicals and Joker are never a good mix, so just what is James Tynion IV planning? Before we can get to that, we are told the chemicals need to go to good ol’ Ace Chemical, yet the clown minions are scared to go there directly because of Clownhunter. In that moment, Punchline gets so tired of waiting on the henchmen clown to explain that she grabs him and threatens his life. As he explains, we go to a flashback.
I love the use of reds and yellows in the flashback — it separates this scene from the rest of the book with its usual darker tones and colors. I really appreciate the lettering trick that letter Clayton Cowles does with Clownhunter’s speech, as well; the use of lowercase letters just adds to the fact he is a kid taken along with his physical appearance. I have to say when I first saw previews of Clownhunter I didn’t much care about him but as I get to see his appearances I cannot wait to learn his secret origin. Plus, even the Joker recognizes that the Bats and Birds of Gotham don’t kill, so this kid is changing the game. I can’t wait for those meetings with Batman and Joker.
We go back to the movies for an intense battle with Batman vs. Joker Tech Zombies from last issue, and it is nicely choreographed by Jorge Jimenez, but it leads to Batman’s escape and his reunion with Harley Quinn. She totally recognizes that Bats is drugged and takes him to a hideout that Poison Ivy built for her to heal, and then gives him a special tea to drink. I appreciate the manner of Quinn’s speech as she tells Bats that he will “trip balls,” but it will help to flush out the nasties. We then go on Batman’s special trip, which leads him to a confrontation and conversation with a sorely missed character. Could their appearance lead to something more?
This issue builds up the story, but the hype energy just doesn’t feel like it’s there. It feels more like the breather issue; the slower part on a roller coaster that lets you compose yourself before the big drop.
That said, though, this is a great issue overall. I am stunned by that cliffhanger of a last page, and can’t wait for the next issue.