The Joker has been laughing his way into our nightmares for 80 years. Here’s our collective review of The Joker’s 80th Anniversary 100-Page Spectacular!
The Joker has always been the antithesis or nemesis to Batman and Gotham City and it has been what makes our hero worth reading month in and month out. Without the Joker to kill a Robin or infiltrate the Bat cave would we love our beloved caped crusader as much. So let’s celebrate the cornerstone of one of the most expansive rogues galleries to ever exist. Let’s celebrate The Joker!!
SCARS – Scott Snyder
Most scars are visible to the naked eye, usually, they heal over time and for some become a reminder of good times, a badge of honor to many of us. But sometimes there are scars that are hidden deep and don’t heal as quickly. To the victims of The Joker that are fortunate enough to survive his brutal onslaughts, he makes sure that you always remember the good times you shared.
Enter Dr. Reeder’s office, a kind man who is looking to help everyone affected by the Joker’s madness. Funded by Bruce Wayne’s grant he uses his free time to bring balance and cure his patients of their trauma. Easier said than done of course. Every victim feels the need not to heal with the growing fear that he will return to finish the job. But as the good doctor says it was a one in million chance they were collateral damage. For some of the patients this is a realization to becoming healthy again, and for others not so much.
Throughout the pages beginning with Dr. Reeder sharing a portion of his own trauma growing up, he goes on to explain the psyche of Joker. And for the most part, he sounds fascinated and impressed by him. Which many Doctors are when it comes to the Clown Prince. (Remember good old Harleen Quinzel haha) That every aspect of him has been meticulously chosen to make sure others remember him. He needs to hold a lasting impression. Joker is the wild card of the deck and anything he needs to do to hold that he will do.
With the doctor’s explanation, I can say that this story had me hooked from the first panels! Holy crap Scott Snyder knows his Joker, and with Jock illustrations its to die for lol. I thoroughly loved this tale! But seriously the short story brings one of the most fascinating aspects to the Joker to light. He is probably the most intelligent being in DC!
Yes, he’s psychotic but everything he does is done with all intent to impress and push the boundaries. Each victim he creates is just a stepping stone to show his art. Its the most creepy and poetic thing you can say about him. Going as far as to say his victims fear him even from a distance is an understatement.
But most of all the Joker does not like to be dismissed and forgotten like a second class stage act. No, he will go above and beyond to make sure everyone knows. This man holds grudges and is willing to play the long game. And we are reminded that with this story. One of the many reasons he has withstood the test of time and evolved to such great lengths as a character. – Ed
What Comes After A Joke? – James Tynion IV
Isn’t this the age-old question?… What does come after the joke?! And I will say I should have seen this coming lol. James Tynion IV has finally revealed to us a small origin to, you guessed it PUNCHLINE! The girl was all going crazy for has been shown to be a college student from SNYDER College (nice one Tynion). A young girl that is being reprimanded by her Dean at the moment.
Alexis’s school attire was taken very poorly from students and faculty. On dress like a hero day, she chose to wear a Joker t-shirt. The dean goes on about the issue, and Alexis is nowhere near remorseful. In fact, she goes on to make sure the dean knows exactly whats going on. While she shows how good she has gotten in chemistry.
Now we can take away a few things from this story. Young girl, outcast, infatuated with Joker and his brand of crime. Similar to the admiration that Harley once expressed for him, she doesn’t show signs of manipulation. Alexis agrees with what Joker is saying about the world and wants to prove she’s ready to hit the stage with him. Learning how to create the Joker Toxin she kills her dean and fully debuts her alter ego Punchline for Joker.
Punchline definitely has potential we have to see how she does against the likes of the Bat-Family before we can weigh judgment. Curious to see if she received training or if there’s more to her backstory to show that she is capable of holding her own. But funny enough I think the fact I went into this story with no knowledge it was her debut is why I enjoyed it even more. Let us see what Punchline has in store for us. – Ed
Kill The Batman – Gary Whitta & Greg Miller
There are not many Hero and Villain duos that hold up to the likes of Batman and Joker. One of the most thought of pairs in comics. As it was once said, “You COMPLETE ME!” (RIP H. Ledger) The two need each other to be the best they can be, for better or worse. But what happens when the other is gone?
Gary Whitta & Greg Miller give us their answer in this Elseworlds story. Joker finally did it, HE KILLED THE BAT! The Batman throughout this tale is being mourned by not only his family and closest friends but all of Gotham. Alfred took it upon himself to let the world know of Bruce’s mission and what he gave to make the city he loved a chance at peace.
Harvey Dent in this world did not become Two-Face was the first to speak at the memorial ceremonies. Even Mr. Freeze made an appearance to thank his efforts and drop in a dad joke for the crowd haha. And in the crowd where we can see the majority of Gotham there to honor the fallen hero, including the Joker himself.
For the Clown Prince of Crime, it goes without saying he plans to leave this memorial in a BANG! Strapped with a bomb vest he is just waiting for the perfect set up to give his big finale to a moment where the city should be mourning their beloved Batman. But instead of crying faces, he sees smiles. Confused, he keeps watching the memorial as it’s an event of celebration.
To all Batman and Bruce Wayne, both gave the city what they really needed, hope. Every one, though saddened by the loss, couldn’t help but be proud of the sacrifice. Joker finally beating his archenemy made him a martyr for change and it left him unfulfilled and in guilt.
Joker realized that he chose wrong as satisfying as killing Batman; it was a fleeting moment. What will he do now? There’s no one worthy of his talents. The respect he had for Bruce was unparalleled. It wasn’t fun anymore just thinking about his next plot. The Joker in truth defeated himself. This is what it means to the grander scheme, the two are a part of the same coin, the joke, and punchline, the never-ending dance.
You can’t have one without the other. And as is so happens my favorite moment of this story had to be the end. Where does Joker go from here, what place could his talents truly be recognized? well the Gotham DMV of course the most horrible place in all earth lmao. – Ed
Introducing The Dove Corps – Denny O’Neil
When it comes to crime only so many can do it better than our Clown Prince. Each heist is meticulous to every minute detail. But it’s tough to always keep the passion flowing forever, some days you just need to recharge. Our Joker is feeling the funk in this story Introducing the Dove Corps. A team of highly trained soldiers who have taken a No-Kill vow like our own Batman to help de-escalate highly sensitive situations and prevent unnecessary deaths. And Joker wants to join them!
There’s always a catch to everything Joker does and this tale is a classic homage to his nature. He does what he wants when he wants and only he knows why it’s being done. In this case, it’s to test a weapon he created that is his first non-lethal piece of equipment he owns. So the best place to test it is with the Dove’s on a mission in Guatemala to save some hostages. (Something has to go wrong… right?)
The plan goes off without a hitch. Joker’s newest invention the Itch Master, the terrorists were incapacitated in moments. Joker helps the Dove Corps save the day as well as give them the most effective weapon they could have imagined in their efforts of No Killing. The team was so impressed they quickly offered him a spot on the team. And with a flip of a switch, our clown prince showed his true colors and murdered the Dove Corps members because as exciting as not killing was, killing is just too fun!
Joker has had many moments in DC history where he joined the side of the heroes to further his means to continue the joke as he would say. As deranged as this character can be he continues to reinvent himself and continue to surprise us though expected still surprising. Cheers to 80 years of the Clown Prince of Crime. – Ed
The War Within – Peter J Tomasi
The Joker has been Batman’s greatest foe for quite some time but I don’t think we’ve seen him in this kind of “Greek Tragedy” type of story. Peter Tomasi, along with Simone Bianchi, has crafted a Joker and Batman “Through the years” retrospective complete with the different personalities of the Joker throughout their 80-year history.
Here are some of those easter eggs….We have Batman 89 Joker, Jared Leto (inspired) Joker, Devil Joker, Death of the Family Joker, The Killing Joke (aka Beach Joker), and Dreadlock Joker (from the Animated show: The Batman 2004)… There is one final form but we’ll get into that soon. 😇
The story kicks off with Batman tracking down the Joker who is trying to spread his Joker toxin to all of Gotham via a mechanical “Laughing Whale”… Yup, that’s right a Laughing Whale! While Batman jumps into the belly of the Whale, Jonah style, he comes face to face with many of the different jokers I mentioned above. The question is then posed…. Is Batman a Madman or a Marty?
And that is one Hell of a question. Batman continues to fight his way through this whale “Arkham Asylum” style as he battles from room to room all the while Joker is narrating the story for us. It’s only at the end of the story though that we see the horrifying truth, “The more I walk in your skin the more I learn to beat you” and we get a good look at Joker in a Batman costume as we assume the real Caped Crusader is no more.
This is definitely a great take on a historic rivalry between two polar opposites, yin and yang if you will. The light and the dark, the sane and the insane, order and chaos trying to instill their values on a city. It makes me want to ask the question…. Was Batman right in “The Dark Knight” when he said, “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain”? Is this how the story of Batman and the Joker will end? Probably not but it’s fun to think about. 😉
The Last Smile – Paul Dini
We arrive at Paul Dini’s ‘The Last Smile’ a story in which Joker finds himself waking up again yet again from the same nightmare he has a daily basis. As Harley is consoling Joker, Joker recaps his nightmare. The Joker is in Blackgate Prison, on death row and it is the day of his execution.
As Joker’s final meal is brought to him and as he is making his way to his execution room, Joker does what Joker does best. Make everything a joke while creating chaos and anarchy in the midst of his personal comical relief. But it’s all fun and games until Batman arrives to watch Joker’s execution. While shocked Joker is relieved and in a sense grateful that Batsy shows up.
When Batman smiles and laughs with pleasure, Joker is brought down to his knees. His greatest fear comes to life. It begs to question other than Batman being too much fun for the Joker, and how Batman completes him. At the end of the day, does all Joker want is Batman’s salvation? Is that truly his biggest wish? Or does he fear of leaving behind a legacy or a world in which Batman does not care nor need the Joker? More especially pulling off the greatest performance of all time without his fellow villains as an audience?
As grandiose as Batman’s rogue’s gallery is. We all know Batman is nothing without The Clown Prince of Crime. But is he nothing without Batman as well? And if Harley left due to not being part of his nightmare? Who in this story really got the last smile?
Birthday Bugs – Tom Taylor
Birthday Bugs by Tom Taylor has Joker doing some good?! What?! Or at least in Joker’s eyes. This story right here is genius and just shows how deep of a writer Tom Taylor is and that is only garnished by the massive fandom he’s amassed with his amazing stories. Joker showing up to his henchman’s house, the same exact day his kid’s party was happening, and the kid thinking he was a hired clown was just great.
Ironically enough, Joker gaining a new perspective on his insects from the kid was also great and a great way of twisting the story around and making it all come full circle. There’s not much else to really recap or review outside of the art which I feel only added to the story and added that little extra creepy feel and look to The Clown Prince of Crime we all come to love and enjoy.
Overall a solid story and entry in this massive lineup of short stories.
No Heroes – Eduardo Medeiros & Rafael Albuquerque
The story begins with Ronald already captured by a thug wearing a clown mask clearly this symbolizes the Joker theme. We then move to a flashback as Ronald realizes the bank is being robbed and makes his move to disable the capture and starts freeing hostages he is then met by the Joker himself who questions Ronald’s motive.
In this story the Joker isn’t his usual brand of insane, instead, he asks logical questions as to why Ronald would risk his life for a job…. Joker would understand, even admire, if this was his family that Ronald was protecting but a job…. Why? When the joker finally gets his answer he is moved to the point of sparing young Ronald, only Ronald. Joker leaves a slew of bodies, hostages, and criminals all dead with the exception of Ronald whom Joker promises to check up on to make sure he’s taking full advantage of his second chance at life.
This story felt very tense as it walks us through the actions and consequences of a regular guy, Ronald Ferguson, attempting to stop a robbery at his job. The Bank of Gotham. Rafael Albuquerque’s artwork is amazing as always and makes the story that much better especially as it switches from the present time to flashback. Albuquerque and Medeiros did a fantastic job of co-writing such a Solid story.
If I had 1 slight complaint it would be that this story sometimes felt a little disjointed when it pertains to who the Joker is but that being said it was a fun take on what it would be like as a regular guy facing off against the Joker.
Penance – Tony S. Daniel
Another story with Amazing Artwork, not that I’m surprised… this is Tony Daniels after all. This particular story centers around what looks like a mob family, new to Gotham but they were up and coming. This family made the mistake of killing the wrong clown and as a result, they put themselves right in Joker’s crosshairs. Joker came after them hard, proving once again that he is more than just a functioning sociopath.
He’s also a gifted psychopath. The Joker gets into the head of the mob family leader, Mr. Braccio, who is now having nightmares of being killed dressed as Batman by the Joker. The Joker, however, posing as a priest confidant of Braccio gets the jump on him during confessional and ends up killing the surviving 2 members of the mob family.
More than anything this story was used to highlight just how dangerous the Joker is. Most people see him as just a clown but in all honesty, he is much more than that, the Joker is Chaos incarnate he is the thing that goes bump in the night and he will get you from anywhere, even those places you should feel most comfortable. Your own mind. Definitely a fun story and I’m glad it made it into this celebration.
Two Fell Into The Hornets’s Nest – Brian Azzarello
Out of my trio of reviews, this has to be my favorite one! Anytime I see Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo as the writer/artist duo on any DC project, I know I am in for a massive treat. And this story does not disappoint. While we are caught in Joker’s loopy and scattered brain. We get some really cool scenes and panels. Most importantly, how precious Batman is to The Joker.
But also you get Joker’s viewpoint of why he and Batsy are always at odds. They compliment each other so well that at this point its just fate and this is what these two are destined to do forever….you know the reference!
As visually and atheistically pleasing as this specific story is, it does leave you with a sense of confusion but that’s clarified when you realize that Joker’s brain is scrambled throughout and that’s just the after-effects. Now using Superman’s statue as a way of showing if someone is somebody or a nobody played out perfectly.
Seeing as how Joker is only hallucinating Batman, seeing how he wasn’t able to lift Superman’s statue was a clear indication that no one was ever truly there, physically. But it does prompt Joker to try it out himself thus successfully lifting it and breaking himself out of Arkham Asylum.
This story was crafted so well and the artwork by Lee Bermejo just compliments Azzarello so well that it’s always a pleasure to read and see.
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