Article by John Hammond
I have no doubt that as comic book readers you will all be aware of the “Joker War” event, currently spanning the Bat-Family of titles. As we approach the ‘final battle’ we’re getting hints at how it may look – very exciting, right?
In a DC Fandome panel, which took place on 12th September, some of the writers involved in the story teased what’s still to come. One thing was more definitive than anything – the impact of this story on the future of Gotham will be massive, and we’re only just beginning to see it.
The Story So Far
Up until now we’ve seen Joker manipulate all events, to the extent where he’s now seen as not only the leader of the city of Gotham, but also of Wayne Enterprises. Batman has lost his wealth, his weapons, and many allies. It also appears that many of his Bat-Villains have gone underground, due to the carnage being caused. This has meant however, thanks to Joker’s new regime, that we’ve met a number of new characters too. The vigilante Clownhunter for one, and my particular favourite, Punchline (you know I’m gonna need a new Punchline tattoo).
James Tynion IV spoke to the moderator of the panel, Ben Abernathy about the newly created characters, saying that, although they emerge through the Joker War story, they will also outlast it in some form (good to hear). One example is that Punchline is to get her own one-shoot comic, that will dig in to her origins.
We’re going to start unpacking how Punchline became Punchline. We saw a brief hint of that in the Joker 80th anniversary special, but this story is not only going to unpack how that journey happened, but also unpack what her story’s going to be moving forward. The number one thing that I really want to say to everyone is these characters are built to stay and last in the DC Universe. We are now setting the groundwork for the stories that we are not only going to be telling through the end of this year, but all of next year.
Obviously, Punchline has been the star of the new characters we’ve seen, However, as the story continues, Clownhunter does seem to be gaining some momentum. This young vigilante, who’s going around and giving members of the Joker Gang a swift one with a baseball bat, is heading for a showcase of his own. This will appear in the Joker War Zone Anthology, which will appear in all good comic book shops this fall. Clownhunter is a character that Tynion and Jorge Jiminez are excited by.
I always love to design new characters, but this time I think is special. For example, with Clownhunter, this is my own style. Before comics, before I was a professional, I did a manga style with this aesthetic. James told me “You are free,” and it was amazing to me.
James Tynion IV:
Manga is, I think, a huge influence on Jorge, and a huge influence on myself, growing up. Being able to bring those influences together and really explore them in a Batman story – not only a Batman story; a Batman story that pits him against his top adversary, who’s a billionaire now – was just really exciting.
You will all know that the impact of “Joker War” is not just about the new characters. Through all the various tie-ins to the story, creators have had the chance to explore how other characters within the Bat-Family are being affected. Dan Jurgens discussed how the Joker’s ties to Ric Grayson will help the character to come back to being Batman’s “holy trusty ally”, Dick Grayson. There’s also Barbara Gordon, who we all know has quite the history with Joker, largely due to the events of “The Killing Joke“. She will be a getting a powerful, new exploration in her own title.
Batgirl writer Cecil Castellucci:
There’s still always that core wound that Batgirl received from The Joker. In my view it had never been fully addressed, where she kind of named her trauma, and confronted it full-on, and had the opportunity to confront her abuser, in a sense. I hope that we got to do that.
The “Joker War” event will finish in Batman #100. As with all stories, it doesn’t necessarily end there. Gotham City will feel the fallout of this for some time through future stories by James Tynion IV, and other creators. One of those will be John Ridley, Oscar winning writer of Twelve Years A Slave. He will be writing a new Batman miniseries, featuring a person of colour under the Bat-Cowl. This won’t be an alternate take on the Bat, but instead something that will come out of “Joker War”. Ridley will start his work on Batman with a short story about Lucius Fox and his family, as they deal with the events of the “Joker War” story.
This story in particular is really about the Fox family. For me, at my age right now, there are a lot of things that I really relate to in terms of Lucius. As a parent, as someone who’s concerned about his partner in life and his kids, and being a parent is so often about trying to engineer appropriate outcomes for your children.
He didn’t give much away beyond the Fox family story. However, when Abernathy told of his hopes that Ridley might right more about the Fox family, we did see a thoughtful stroke of the chin from him. Does this mean we are clearer on who will be under the cowl soon? We shall see.
“Joker War” continues with Batman #99 on September 15, and we’ll learn more about Clownhunter and the Fox family when Joker: War Zone arrives on September 29.
Have you been reading the Joker War story? Please let us know your thoughts.
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