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The Joker, chained, straightjacketed, and muzzled like Hannibal Lector, ominously stares with one eye at the viewer on the cover of The Joker #5 (2021). Image: Guillem March/DC Comics

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Congrats to Commissioner Gordon for never killing the Joker

The Dark Knight isn’t the only person the villain’s ever wronged

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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.)

The Joker #5

The Joker laughs inside his cell, and James Gordon asks him “Did I miss what’s funny here?” “I really am in your head, aren’t I?” Joker says, peering creepily through the viewing slit in the door. “I was kidding but it’s true. And you can’t figure out why. Want me to tell you, Jimmy Boy?” in The Joker #5 (2021). Image: Matthew Rosenberg, James Tynion IV, Francesco Francavilla/DC Comics

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.

Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton #2

A sports car comes to a halt with a SCRREEEEE. The passengers yell at the driver for stopping at a red light. “They stopped at THEIR red light!” he points, though frightened, “THERE ARE RULES TO AN ENGAGEMENT!” “What’s going to happen when they catch up to us, Komodo?” asks one of the passengers. “What happens in any war?” says Komodo, “They’re going to kill us.” “Not in a thumb war.” counters another passenger in Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton #2 (2021). Image: Kyle Starks, Chris Schweizer/Skybound Entertainment

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 #2

A whiteboard contains Jamie Madrox/Multiple man’s extensive rules for creating many duplicates on Monday, assigning them to scientific studies all week, and then having margaritas on Friday before he reabsorbs them and their knowledge before the weekend in X-Corp #3 (2021). Image: Tini Howard, Valentine de Landro/Marvel Comics

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).

Beyond the Breach #1

A terrible insectoid monster is devouring a screaming man alive. “...the actual FUCK is going on around here?” yells a woman. The “fuck” in her word bubble is twice as high as the other letters, in Beyond the Breach #1 (2021). Image: Ed Brisson, Damian Couceiro/Aftershock Comics

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.


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