The Joker Is The Scariest Comic James Tynion IV Has Written For DC

Here's the solicitation for The Joker #1 in March, following on from Infinite Frontier.

The Joker #1
Written by James Tynion IV, Sam Johns
Art by Guillem March, Mirka Andolfo
Covers by Guillem March, Frank Quitely, Francesco Mattina, Riccardo Federici and Mark Brooks.

After an unthinkable attack on Gotham City, the Clown Prince of Crime has become the most wanted man in the world! The Joker is doing his best to stay several steps ahead of law enforcement overseas, but Jim Gordon, facing retirement, realizes this is the last manhunt of his life and vows to track down Gotham's worst nemesis, completing his storied career. But there are some mysterious and deadly forces that are also on the hunt for The Joker, and they're not going to let Gordon slow them down or get in the way. Alexis Kaye, a.k.a. Punchline becomes the newest resident of Blackgate Penitentiary, while on the outside Harper Row resumes her role as Bluebird to prevent her brother from falling under the influence of Punchline and her beguiling brand of anarchy and chaos. $4.99. On sale March 9, 2021.

The Joker Is The Scariest Comic James Tynion IV Has Written For DC
Credit: DC Comics Joker #1

In his newsletter, The Empire Of The Tiny Onion, James Tynion IV let's folk know that rather than the Joker being the comic's protagonist, the comic will be from Jim Gordon's perspective, hunting down the Joker. And it will also follow on from that final scene in Batman #100 with the Joker making plans for Bane, as Bleeding Cool reported back in September.

JOKER is going to bring you a very different kind of story. This is a horror noir book with art by Guillem March. I'm tapping into more of the voice I bring to my creator-owned work with this one… And honestly, the script to the first issue is maybe my favorite I've written in the last year, and I think one of the scariest. The twist to the title is that the protagonist of the series isn't the Joker. The protagonist is Jim Gordon, and the story is going to send him chasing a mystery about the Joker that will take him all around the world, and put him directly in the crosshairs of all the people out in the world who want the Joker dead… This is a story about the nature of evil, and the different ways evil tempts and breaks good men… and we'll have Jim Gordon, one of the best specimens of humanity out there in the world walking through this world of evil trying to keep his soul intact.

This is the story that picks up the threads from Guillem and my Joker War Zone story, and our coda to Batman #100… Which also means that this is the place we're going to be tapping into the character and the mythology around Bane in a big, big way. I have big plans for Bane and expanding the world around Bane, and Venom, and Santa Prisca. I was re-reading the Denny O'Neil Question issues where Santa Prisca first appeared over the last weekend, along with the original Venom storyline from Legends of the Dark Knight, and the original Vengeance of Bane one-shot that lead into Knightfall… All of that reading started mingling up in my brain with my recent re-read of Elektra: Assassin and I'm very excited to tap into some of those influences as we build things out. There's a new character we're introducing in that corner of the title's mythology, who I think has real Punchline break-out potential.

Beyond that, my influence for this story have been Noir and Spy stories. I've been watching a lot of classics of the genre to just fill my brain with the aesthetic. So much in both genres leans into exotic locales and strange characters with mysterious motives, and we have strange characters with mysterious motives in spades… Some of my favorites are a villainous group called the Sampson Family who are a bit of a nod to one of my favorite horror movies of all time, and I think they'll create some exciting and frightening new villains. And there's a another bit of Gotham Mythology I have been dying to get back to for a very long time, and they are a huge part of my plans with the series moving forward.

With the first issue in front of me, I can tell you that I think this is career best work from Guillem March, and Arif Prianto is knocking the colors out of the park. I hope this book surprises you and scares you. And I'm going to hang a lampshade on something. I know there are a lot of folks who are going to have a knee-jerk reaction to there being a Joker book. If I weren't writing it, I'd probably be one of them. Hell, back when it was first pitched to me, I said flat out that I wasn't really sure how to make that work… And then I sat with it for a few weeks and said "okay, I know how to make it work, but it's only going to work if we come at it from an unexpected angle." And thankfully everyone in the Bat-Offices, and the DC offices bought into my angle. It is the scariest book I have written for DC Comics so far. And maybe the most human. I love writing Jim Gordon so fucking much. He's been one of my favorite characters in all of comics for my entire life.

And then there's The Joker. The Clown Prince of Crime, himself. The devil of the DC Universe… Where does he lurk in between his bouts with Batman… What is he planning, and what does he want. The Joker bends and changes like a dark reflection of his true adversary, so what happens to him as a character when you take that adversary away. I've always been fascinated about the Joker, and I've always loved writing the Joker interacting with and against the villains of the DC Universe, going back to when I wrote the back-up stories to Death of the Family storyline in the New 52 Batman run. I'm already having so much twisted fun writing him here, and I am so excited for you all to see it.

I haven't ever been given the leeway to write a title like this in continuity at DC, and I am so freaking excited to have that chance here.

And there's more besides the Joker…

The Joker title is going to have PUNCHLINE backup features starting in March, co-written by Sam Johns with art by the incredible Mirka Andolfo. This story is going to continue what we started in the Punchline one-shot, continuing the story of the growing Joker Gang conspiracy in Gotham, Punchline's trial, and the efforts of Leslie Thompkins and Harper Row to ensure Punchline stays behind bars for good.

The Joker Is The Scariest Comic James Tynion IV Has Written For DC
Joker #1 Credit: DC Comics

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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