This new DC title starts off a bit misleading, but it sets up an amazing story to come. This new title may be called Joker, but Joker 1 is all about Jim Gordon. This entire issue boils down to one thing. If you had the chance to murder the devil, would you do it? Would you hunt him down and kill him in cold blood? Jim Gordon needs to decide which wins out, integrity or vengeance against the man who destroyed his family.

Two things need to be set up for anyone reading this without back context. One is the state of Arkham Asylum and the second is the state of Jim Gordon. This issue does a solid job trying to sum up the tragedies of both.

First off, Arkham Asylum is essentially in ruins. The building is half destroyed and a great many of the inmates are dead, most notably Bane. When the Joker was incarcerated there about a year ago, investigators theorize he planted gas bombs with modified Joker Serum. Instead of making victims laugh themselves to death, the gas gave them the Joker-smile and then kills them silently. No one knew what hit them. If you’d like more detail check out Infinite Frontier 0.

Secondly, Jim Gordon’s life has been turned upside down repeatedly by Joker. The issue does a good job explaining this, too. Joker shot Barbara and paralyzed her for some time. He also corrupted and had a hand in the death of Gordon’s son, James Jr. Jim’s son had mental issues of his own, but Joker knew exactly how to play those issues, which led to his death. Joker also assaulted Gordon time and again. Why would Jim Gordon not want Joker dead?

Joker 1 – Honor or Vengeance

This issue opens with Jim contemplating his retirement since he is no longer Commissioner. He does not want to continue with Bullock as a private investigator, but he finds himself unable to escape the Joker’s laugh in the stillness. He visits his son’s grave only to be approached by a stunningly beautiful female in a limo…with goons. Everything wreaks of trouble, yet Gordon gets in and goes to her mansion when she name drops Joker’s name.

Cressida wreaks of crime money which only amplifies when she continues to dodge Gordon’s personal questions. She and her ‘associates’ fear Joker has crossed too many lines and now represents a threat to their work. She knows Gordon barely scrapes by on his pension, so Cressida offers him an unlimited credit card for the length of the mission and $25 million upon completion; However, this contract is for the Joker – dead!

Gordon balks but Cressida did her research. She brings up all the harm Joker caused him and his family, and she doubles down hard by using the same line we hear in the beginning of the issue – “Do you believe in evil Jim?” He says no, but she gives him until the end of the week. Given this is issue 1 we know something has to change.

Joker 1 – Belize

Cressida knows where Joker is and tells Gordon he’s in Belize. The end of the issue gives us a tour of a typical Joker mansion. Dead bodies of the previous staff and owners litter the grounds. Joker holds the Gotham Gazette and says things are about to get interesting. With Joker that’s never a good thing.

I’m excited to see where this title takes us. Joker sits at the top of almost every vigilante’s list for capture/kill, but this title sets up a Gordon/Joker battle, and Gordon no longer needs to answer to anyone, except Batman…

Joker 1 – The Other Side of the Coin

Naturally if you get Joker, you get his partner. That used to be Harley, but she’s moved on to better things. Punchline was to be Joker’s new girl, but the events of Joker War landed her in prison. Despite everything she did for Joker, Alexis Kaye pleads innocent and then plays up the victim card for all to see. Gotham seems to fall for it as kids and the public start wearing clown make-up and riot for her release.

While in prison, the Queen of Spades attempts to strongarm Kaye into servitude and submission. Just one problem though. Kaye may play the innocent card, but with the cameras off, she shows her true colors. Punchline marches into the Queen’s cell and beats the tar out of her.

This second story promises to be an interesting one. Everyone knows what Punchline did during the Joker War, but by playing on the public’s sympathies, Alexis Kaye now has the public on her side hard-core. The prosecution knows it too.

This title promises to be a good one going forward. What did you think of Joker 1? Head on over to DC Fanatics on Facebook and let us know.