Overview: In The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing #6, the Joker decides that a return to Gotham is in order, but not before teaching the people of L.A. a lesson in respect.
Editor’s Note: Due to the anthology nature of this collection, we will feature a synopsis and analysis for each story rather than breaking up the synopsis and analysis. Spoilers are sure to be revealed.
Story #1: “The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing ” Part 6 by writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Carmine Di Giandomenico
Synopsis: The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing #6 begins at a comedy club in L.A. as the stand-up comedian is shocked to find one of his guests to be non-other than the Joker. Despite the comedian’s strong hesitation, the Joker demands that he roasts him, which the comedian does successfully up until he mentions Batman.
At that point, the Joker kills the man by burning his face off with acid, and as the horrified guests flee in panic, the Joker’s henchmen arrive, informing their boss that it’s about time for them to get a move on; their flight for Gotham leaves shortly.
At Griffith Park, twenty minutes later, the Joker informs his goon, Mr. Waffles, that they must make a quick pitstop. Their objective is to see a tree, which upon pulling up to their location, the Joker releases a pack of mountain lions from the back of the truck, freeing them into the wild within the city limits of L.A.
At the observatory, twenty minutes later, the Joker watches in glee as explosions rock throughout the city; several police stations have just been blown up, and the whole city will be shut down. The people of L.A. never truly feared him or gave the Joker the respect he feels he deserved. As such, they needed to be taught a harsh lesson.
In Gotham, detained behind bars, Jason Todd asks an officer what’s going on– something is keeping the police very busy. The office informs him that it’s his lucky day; the clown Jason confessed to killing isn’t quite so dead…but he will be when the LAPD finds him.
In Melrose Hill, chaos runs rampant everywhere. The Joker and his henchmen, on their way to LAX, are stopped by the beginning of a riot in the street, which only escalates to catastrophic in moments. The police, with orders to shoot on sight, are gunning for the Joker, and they aren’t playing games.
Under the streets of Gotham, Solomon Grundy cares for the Joker (the non-Clay Face one) in a morbidly caring way, ensuring he doesn’t die.
In Hollywood, yet another twenty minutes later, the Joker desperately tries to wave down a taxi to take him to the airport, with no success as he has no money. Fear and bribery tactics don’t work on the people of L.A. Just when all hope seems lost, a man cosplaying as Batman finds him, and they strike a deal: seventy/thirty, twenty bucks a picture with visitors to L.A. for the both of them. The busking technique works surprisingly well, as the tourists in L.A. find the opportunity to take a picture with Batman and the Joker extremely entertaining.
All good things must come to a swift end, however, when the Joker’s involved. The thought of splitting the proceeds didn’t sit too well with him, and a bullet to the head later, the Joker is set to go with all the cash the cosplaying Batman had accumulated that day.
Just as the man is about to actually hail a taxi, a staff smashes him on the head, knocking him to the ground. The Joker should never have come to L.A., as Manhunter is not at all pleased with his actions.
Analysis: Written by Matthew Rosenberg with art by Carmine Di Giandomenico, The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing #6 sees the Joker wreak havoc throughout the streets of L.A. through his usual methods of chaos, explosions, and carnage. The result earns him a (what looks like) broken nose and a staff smashed firmly on his head by the vigilante Manhunter, who isn’t impressed or appreciative of the Joker’s actions and lunacy.
Beyond a rather comedic, yet somewhat accurate, depiction of the city life in L.A. and the expressed sentiment that LAX is a rather difficult airport to travel from, the issue doesn’t provide much information for moving the plot forward or thickening the storyline. We do see, and now know, that Solomon Grundy is slowly but surely nursing the other Joker back to health below the streets of Gotham. Jason Todd, now imprisoned (in what looks like a regular jail, which, wouldn’t he be sent to some other, much more secure, top-of-the-line, max-security prison?), now knows that the “man” he killed, presumed to be the Joker, is very much still alive and parading around in L.A.
Where Batman (and the rest of the family) is in all this, and why no one is addressing the issue in L.A. (at least that we can see), is an interesting question that I believe might come to almost any reader’s mind. Furthermore, it’s most likely safe to assume that Jason isn’t happy with the recent word on the street and will try again. Perhaps that will be the series of events that draws in the rest of the Gotham heroes.
Story #2: “The Joker” by writer Ryan Cady and Matthew Rosenberg and artist Will Robson
Synopsis: Ralph, a veteran employee of Haley’s Circus, spends his days bringing joy and entertaining children, and being a true family man. After work one day, Ralph is informed that his twin brother, Edward (who last Ralph saw was calling himself the Joker in Gotham City), is now dead. He tried to ride Man-Bat like a horse and ended up being eaten.
Thus, a trip to Gotham is in order, and shortly after the service, Ralph prepares for the reading of the will, where he finds that his dying brother’s wish is for Ralph to conclude his unfished business. This happens to be a list of dozens of planned and yet-to-be-executed sinister schemes, each more ludicrous than the last.
Ralph, determined to fulfill his late brother’s last wish, gets to work and finds that fulfilling each sinister scheme isn’t as terrible as he thought it would be. Potentially, Edwards’s posthumous plan was not to complete his legacy but to ensure it lives on. Ralph decides that he won’t return to his oversimplified suburban life but will stick around in Gotham a while longer, and those that meet him can call him…the Joker.
Analysis: This secondary story provides one line of thinking of how the Joker might have come to be. Twin brothers who live very different lives as very different people, until death takes one and the other must fulfill their dying wish…to become, long story short, a criminal.
This short story isn’t as weird as some of the past ones (um, the Joker being pregnant and that whole severely uncomfortable tale is still in the first place) but most definitely remains quirky enough to fit alongside the others.
The art in this story, by Will Robson, has a somewhat shiny, cartoon-like feel, which only adds to the overall strangeness of the tale. Again, as a full disclaimer, these sorts of stories are most definitely not my cup of tea but do get points for being bizarre–and most definitely–different.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.