The Infected: The Commissioner #1 is part of DC Comics’ “Year of the Villain” event. It also one of the six tie-in stories running parallel to the story unfolding in Batman/Superman. The issue is written by Paul Jenkins, with art by Jack Herbert, colors by Adriano Lucas, and letters by ALW’s Troy Peteri.
Similar to the other one-shots, The Batman Who Laughs has returned to infect another hero with a dark energy that brings to the surface pain and resentment that will cloud their judgment. This time, The Batman Who Laughs sets his sights on one of Gotham’s greatest heroes who happens to not wear a cape. Commissioner Gordon has dedicated his life in service to the city of Gotham but the job is fairly thankless. Now, in The Infected: The Commissioner #1, he’s finally decided he’s had enough.
The Infected: The Commissioner #1 opens with a bleak outlook on Gotham, comparing it to a sickness you can never wake from. As Commissioner Gordon continues to detail everything the city has killed, he mentions “That the sickness…ruined your daughter’s body and spirit” while the panel shows the famous moment from The Killing Joke where Barabara is shot after answering the door to the Joker – something I have taken issue with in DC Comics many times.
The worst part about this statement is the implication that the Joker somehow ruined her soul, and with it, her brain as well. While I understand the need to establish that Gotham is a hell on earth, it can be done without disrespecting Barbara’s history as Oracle and also continuing to imply that disabled people are ruined. It is also important to mention, Barbara is Batgirl in this comic, she is not currently using a wheelchair and as far we can tell, is perfectly healthy both mentally and physically, making the comment even more baffling.
The Infected: The Commissioner #1 is gritty and edgy for the sake of being gritty and edgy. Nothing is gained from its harsh and bleak outlook that Gordon presents. Gordon isn’t likable and his slip into madness at the hands of the Batman Who Laughs doesn’t even happen on the page. Because he is not written as a likable character and the infection happens off the page, it is hard to feel empathetic toward him regarding his depressive statements and later his concerning actions.
The only redeeming quality within the comic is Lucas’ colors. He is able to add depth to the stale backgrounds which would otherwise be empty. Herbert struggles with closeups and most of the shots of Batgirl just look rough. Barbara’s head is a strange shape and her feet are always flat-footed. One panel shows a closeup of Babs on a bike and it reminds me more of Cruella-DeVille’s famous car chase in 101 Dalmations than anything Barbara Gordon has ever done.
To say The Infected: The Commissioner #1 is a disappointment is an understatement. Infected or not, I am tired of DC characters, and subsequently, DC Comics writers, using ableist tropes and continuing the narrative that disabled people are broken and helpless. My recommendation to DC Comics is to hire some sensitivity readers.
The Infected: The Commissioner #1 is available in comic book stores everywhere and online.
The Infected: The Commissioner #1
To say The Infected: The Commissioner #1 is a disappointment is an understatement. Infected or not, I am tired of DC characters, and subsequently, DC Comics writers, using ableist tropes and continuing the narrative that disabled people are broken and helpless.