Overview: The Joker attempts to make his way to Gotham, accompanied by yet another criminal, united by their common goal to kill the Red Hood in The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing #8.
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 8 by writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Carmine Di Giandomenico
Synopsis: The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing #8 begins below the streets of Gotham, where the last issue left off, as the Joker manages to drag an unconscious Solomon Grundy from the murky sewage water. The un-dead monster slowly comes to and reveals to the Joker that his attacker, an alligator, is trying to hunt down the supposed Prince of Crime and got mad at Grundy when he withheld the Joker’s location.
Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles River, the Joker struggles to claw his way toward the air, prevented from doing so by Manhunter. According to her, this is something Batman should have done years ago.
The arrival of some civilians momentarily distracts her, however, which provides the Joker with just enough opportunity to stab her in the neck with a broken beer bottle. He takes off down the streets of L.A., trying to hail down someone to give him a ride to the airport so he can finally leave this awful city. Manhunter, however, isn’t done with him, and the pursuit leads to the Joker getting his head bashed into a car windshield multiple times until it breaks (the windshield, not his head). Manhunter’s plans to repeat the motion a few more times are brought to a halt when she’s knocked aside by someone flying down from the sky. Killer Moth has arrived to join the party.
Back in Gotham, Killer Croc hunts through the sewers, stalking down his prey. His keen sense of smell leads him to discover a man–an inspector for Gotham Light and Power– tied to a pole. He came down to work on the gas lines and was taken captive and forced to wear the Joker’s rags as a way to lure Killer Croc in. Too little too late does Killer Croc put the pieces together, and before either one of them can move, a lighter is tossed into the air.
The entire place goes up in a massive explosion, and seconds after, Killer Croc is restrained in barbed wire. Even this, however, doesn’t manage to fully prevent Killer Croc from biting the man’s arm, and the Joker takes off running, yet his escape patters off to an end as he collapses into the cloudy sewage.
In LA, the streets are once again full of chaos as Killer Moth and Manhunter go at it while the Joker goads them both on. The fight finally ends with Manhunter falling off a bridge and Killer Moth and the Joker striking yet another deal. It was Killer Moth who was hired by the Joker to tell the Red Hood where to find the other Joker, but that led to Killer Moth getting shot, which, as one would predict, he was not happy with. Now, however, the Joker and Killer Moth are working together once again for a new goal; head back to Gotham first to kill the Red Hood and then go and kill the Joker’s imposter. The two of them, and the corps of Joker’s favorite henchman, Mr. Waffles, steal a car and head out, making their way toward Gotham.
In Gotham, the transport of Jason Todd from Gotham to Blackgate is in progress. As they begin moving Jason into an armored truck, a blond woman approaches the officers asking for directions to the Blowout Lounge, where she’s supposed to meet a friend in ten minutes. After getting scolded by the officers for being where she shouldn’t be, the lady walks away and, once out of sight, removes the blond wig from her head. Barbara Gordon relays to someone on her cellphone the details about the prison transportation; be ready to go in eight minutes. The voice on the other end thanks her and ends the call with a final comment about getting their boy back.
Analysis: It’s safe to say that pretty much no one stays dead these days. Manhunter’s attempts to stop the Joker from razing the streets of LA end somewhat explosively and with the clown in question getting away with the help of Killer Moth. The two criminals manage to begin the trek to Gotham, united by their common goal of…killing more people.
Meanwhile, Solomon Grundy and the ‘other’ Joker manage to successfully deal with a rather put-out Killer Croc, who’s definitely not having the best day. It’s contagious because shortly after, the Joker collapses before he can fully escape, most likely due to the fact that he was nursed back to health with sewage water and is probably still not back to full health. Up above the nasty Gotham sewers, Jason Todd’s impending captivity and predicted death (shanked in jail, never gets old) might just be avoided by the aid of his family members. The appearance of Batgirl in this issue and the concern for their estranged sibling was a nice element to see in this issue and probably the most interesting moment in The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing #8 to me.
Overall, it doesn’t feel like there’s a ton to comment on in this issue; the Joker once again is able to walk away from what should have been several life-ending injuries–a rabid car chase, near death by drowning, breaking a windshield with his face, getting impaled in the shoulder, just to name a few. The Red Hood is once again being hunted by the man he’s hunting (some people just really can’t let go of a grudge), and beyond this, the story’s plot hasn’t progressed much. We’re giving Manhunter’s endeavors at stopping the Joker and possibly killing him, although (seemingly) ineffective, an ‘A’ for effort.
Story #2: “No More Mr. Nice Guys!” by writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Francesco Francavilla
Synopsis: The backup in The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing #8 sees the Joker’s attempt at entrepreneurship and his business, ‘arson-on–demand’ doesn’t go over too well with Hawkgirl, who calls him a pathetic loser. Several sleepless nights later, the Joker knows something needs to change and that he can’t sustain a constant war between good and evil, right and wrong. It does nothing but hurt people. And so that night, he completes his work on his latest invention; a machine that can read brain wave patterns and detect whether someone is a good or bad person. The perfect invention to change the whole world as the Joker will use it to kill all the good people.
The next day, at a nuclear weapons site, the Joker is stopped by Hal Jordan, a Green Lanterns officer, but the interaction is short-lived when his head explodes. The Joker’s device really does work. Over the course of the next few weeks, Justice League members everywhere are killed and left headless after the Joker’s invention does its work. Weeks later, the Joker’s invention completes its work and leaves the world full of bad people, who begin turning on and killing each other. Now, no one can rob any banks because everyone is robbing banks. Realizing the drawbacks of his invention, the Joker decides to try and do something different and make all the people–his people–happy. Even deranged creeps need to be entertained, right?
The next day at Haly’s circus, the Joker realizes how wrong he was as the crowd continues to jeer at him, calling him, once again, a pathetic loser.
Analysis: Yet another of the Jokre’s nefarious plans is sabotaged by…the Joker himself, this time when his plan of ridding the world of all the good people only leaves all the bad people. As one can imagine, this plan doesn’t work out too well when chaos reigns free and survival of the fittest rules the world. Hawkgirl calling him a sorry loser clearly struck a chord, and yet the story comes full circle as the Joker ends up right where he started; a sorry excuse of a comedian and getting booed off the stage by his unimpressed audience.
This might be the first issue that doesn’t leave me grimacing in distaste at the weirdness of the story, however, so that’s a nice departure from the norm. Let’s hope for extra side stories like this one going forward!
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.