Review: The Joker 2021 Annual #1

by Carl Bryan
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Review: The Joker 2021 Annual #1

[ Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Writers: Matthew Rosenberg  James Tynion IV

Artist:  Francesco Francavilla

Letters: Tom Napolitano

Colors: Francesco Francavilla

Reviewed by: Carl Bryan


“Dear Jim…Thanks for cleaning up the city for people like me.  You inspired me to do my part XOXO .  ” – The Joker

His first year of being GCPD police commissioner was an intense challenge for James Gordon. He battled corruption in the ranks, his marriage was in shambles, and the vigilante Batman was clearly welcoming new recruits with the appearance of Batgirl. it was at that time The Joker picked his moment to unleash hell!


“El mal duerme bien”….translated “evil sleeps well”  Matthew Rosenberg and James Tynion IV pour a pretty intense script out to conclude the year for The Joker. In a flashback from the current story line, we find Jim Gordon in his first year as commissioner dealing with the fallout from his cleaning up the mob crime, but also exorcising all the demon bad cops that are on the force. 

Compound that with the knowledge that his daughter is Batgirl…(great line behind this name as one cop gets the fatherly wrath out of Gordon for this one) and the wide berth he feels he needs to give Batman, you have quite the pressure cooker.

You want villains.,.. Catman, Black Mask, Joker, Penguin, and Killer Croc.  Arguably at the time, a new Rogues Gallery that is both in competition with each other, but also failing to see how serious the Joker can be.    

Spread thin both in police force personnel and in his own life, Gordon is seen in the beginning stages of how much the Joker has tortured him through the years. 

I have a feeling that this is quite a grand set up morally for Jim Gordon by Matthew Rosenberg and James Tynion IV.

Script wise you could not ask more for a Joker story and the first installment of whatever fresh purgatory we are in line for from the Joker.  But……    


Okay…we keep getting a lot of flashbacks in entire issues which can take a reader’s eye off the mark.  I’m still reeling from Alfred’s daughter being introduced, and I haven’t gotten a true dose of how this all came to be. 

Given all we know in Nightwing with Alfred’s fortune being provided to Dick Grayson, is this going to be a “thing”?

More importantly, the art…Mirka Andolfo and  Guillem March are the Joker artists I am clamoring for as their pens and colors are on fire.  They are akin to a Todd McFarlane style where muscle tissue is celebrated and blood flows like a river.

In certain comics,  Francesco Francavilla’s style works.  But there are frames that appear to be rushed and the Joker literally looks different through some of the panels.  Arguably the only thing recognizable is the purple fedora and suit.


I get that it is a flashback story, but the art doesn’t have to be.  I can still have my attention to detail from Andolfo and March, but that is not the case in this book. 

The script for this issue is flawless and real scary…I won’t be busting open a pinata anytime soon. 

However, keep your reading glasses on and not your artistic endeavors.  Again Francavilla is not a bad artist.  It is just that DC set the readers up with having Andolfo and March at the helm!

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