Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials
Joker: Last Laugh #3Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 17, 2001
Cover date: December 2001
Writer: Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty
Penciller: Walter McDaniel
Inker: Walter McDaniel
Reviewed by: Michael Bailey (Earth1Superman@aol.com)
The JLA return from a mission on Ranagar to find the Monitor Womb of the Watchtower going crazy. They discover that Wonder Woman, who was supposed to be on Monitor Duty, is not there. The group also finds that there was a riot at the Slab followed by a gravity well that swallowed the entire island the prison was resting on. Green Lantern notices that Madagascar, along with other areas of the Earth, is on fire, which form an eerie smiley face across the globe.
Batman and Nightwing break into one of the Joker's Ha-Haciendas looking for the escaped madman. The two argue about the best way to catch and contain the Joker and his minions. Nightwing suggests that they should put their efforts into looking for the Joker at a less obvious place. Nightwing and his mentor leave with Batman asking where a person would go if they had only a short time to live. Nightwing replies some place warm.
On Easter Island the Joker chastises Solomon Grundy and other Jokerized villains for painting Joker faces on the giant statues. He tells them they should think bigger like other Jokerized villains such as Dr. Polaris who causes a volcano to erupt and Psycho Pirate who uses his emotion twisting powers to incite a riot by yelling fire in a crowded theater.
At the White House a scientist from S.T.A.R. Labs explains to President Luthor, Amanda Waller and other high-ranking officials that the Joker incident stems from when they took a genetic sample from the Joker when he was incarcerated at the Slab, as is the standard procedure. Because each of the inmates has different levels and varieties of metahuman abilities the inhibitor they designed has to work equally on each one. The Joker's DNA has been chemically altered and that alteration overrode the inhibitor's properties and replaced them with new variables. The results from the gas sprayed on the inmates at the beginning of the riot reversed the inhibitor when it was released which produced the army of super powered murderous clowns. Luthor tells the room that the Joker knew what he was doing and issues an order to go to "Def Con 0" when a military officials asks whether they should go to Def Con 1.
In Gotham City Detective Montoya watches television at Commissioner Gordon's apartment when someone begins to knock on the door. After telling who ever the visitor was that the tenant was not at home she answers the door and the sickly form of Jason Woodrue falls to the ground. He claims to have a package and Montoya takes it. Woodrue goes on to say that the package is from the Joker and that Gordon would understand the joke. Montoya agrees when she sees that the package is a bouquet of baby's breath.
Back at Easter Island the Joker says that since no one has died in over ten seconds he is bored. Rancor tries to assuage the Joker's listlessness by telling him that the new Chemo spilled nerve toxins in Lake Ontario. The Joker dismisses the feat because it affects only Canadians, who don't count apparently. Rancor says that of course they do and that all the hate is really cool. The Joker goes on to say that he feels that he's leaving nothing behind but a few gags and a lot of death. He wants something more.
The Joker wants an heir.
Meanwhile, Oracle instructs Batgirl and Spoiler that they are safer staying with her since they have zero experience dealing with the Joker. Suddenly a call comes in from Harley Quinn who needs help from the gang of villains, including Killer Frost and Phobia, the Joker sent to grab her so she can bear his child. Oracle sends the two young heroes after her but the battle is brief as the more powerful villains take Batgirl and Spoiler out with ease.
From the Oval Office President Luthor addresses the nation. He informs his constituents that the country is under a state of emergency and that he has ordered the use of deadly force against the cadre of meta-terrorists led by the Joker. He says there is a "shoot to kill" order until the capture or surrender of the Joker and his cronies. The Joker watches the address and scoffs at the thought that Luthor is declaring war. He tells his men that his old pal Baldy forgot whom he's dealing with.
As Nightwing arrives at Oracle's headquarters he sees that Spoiler and Batgirl are in trouble. Before he can react Power Girl appears on the scene and knocks out Carnivora with ease. Killer Frost quickly uses her ice powers to trap Power Girl. The success is short lived as Power Girl breaks free and takes both Frost and Phobia out. While Batgirl secures Harley, Oracle tells Power Girl to take her to S.T.A.R. Haven to assist Kirk Langstrom there with figuring out a way to develop an anti-serum to the Jozerizing juice. Harley is reticent at first but given the choice between helping them and being on her own against the Joker she gladly agrees to help.
At Oracle's headquarters she and Nightwing once again argue whether or not the Joker should be killed. Nightwing tells her that they are cops not warriors. Oracle wonders if the blood of those who have died since the Joker broke out of the Slab is on their hands because they didn't stop him when they could. She asks why they can't make this one exception. Nightwing counters that if they kill the Joker it will be that much easier to kill another villain. As the argument turns personal Robin shows up having had to fight several villains who were out of his weight class. Nightwing leaves and Robin notices that Oracle is crying. Robin hugs her for support.
As three Jokerized villains, including Metallo and Warp, continue the mayhem the Joker's feeling of restlessness grows to the point where he begins to question why things aren't going, as they should. He wonders where the red skies and antimatter auroras are that usually accompany a crisis. He decides then and there that it's time to pull out all the stops.
Story - 4: It's odd how much I am enjoying this series.
While the concept behind the series is kind of simplistic I think that's where half of the charm lies. In my opinion a good crossover has to have, among other things, something to bring the heroes together, in one form or another, in a manner that hasn't been done before. While I enjoyed "Our Worlds at War", DC has done the alien invasion thing before in the aptly named Invasion! Pitting the heroes of the DCU against a bunch of insane, jokerized villains, one on one in most cases, has a lot going for it and is certainly original.
The series is progressing nicely as well. My initial thought when I heard this series was going to be produced was how could you make the Joker turning other villains into insane mirrors of him interesting enough to last six issues. The pacing of the series and the escalation of the Joker's plan has been played out nicely.
I enjoyed President Luthor in this issue. It was amusing seeing his reaction to the Joker's plans. He was calm, cool and collective and acted if this type of thing happened every day. This makes sense when you consider that not only has Luthor just come off of an alien invasion that threatened time and space but he has also dealt with the Joker on several occasions in the past. He may not know everything about the Joker, but he knows enough that he should expect the unexpected. The "Def-Con 1" joke was a nice touch too.
Seeing the Jokerized Dominator ruin the sand castle fun of Psimon while Joker and Rancor talk was a hoot. Real subtle and funny.
Babs continues to be an intriguing character. The depth of her hatred of the Joker is carried over from the previous issues and her arguments are becoming more persuasive. Nightwing provides a good counterpoint as the voice of "the Bat" so to speak. Her "mother hen" routine with Spoiler and Batgirl was also nice and developed her relationship with the younger charges. My only problem here was one minute she tells the two that they can't go out and help and then she sends the two non-powered heroes against three heavy hitters. It didn't work for me.
Power Girl was a delight. I really like the way Chuck Dixon handles her both here and in Birds of Prey. This has to be the first time I have seen her call anyone a skank, though the phrase would have worked quite well in her Justice League International days.
While I enjoyed this issue I had some problems with it. The absence of the Justice League was a little too convenient and their entrance, while dramatic, was a case of too little too late for me. The other problem with the JLA is while we see them in the issue they really don't do that much but stand around and stare at the "burning earth". It's not that I think they should have come in during issue one, it's just now that they are here I wanted to see more of their reactions to the crisis.
The biggest problem I had with this issue, and with the mini-series thus far, is that we see all of these villains and hardly any one of them are named. While part of me likes the guessing game and dislikes it when a writer has each and every character refer to him or herself or another by name I still want to know who these people are. A simple box with the name in it would have worked just fine.
Art - 3: I really didn't care for the art in this issue. Walter McDaniel has a distinctive style; just not one I care for. I really didn't like his Joker. I've always preferred a subtle use of the clown "make-up" that is the Joker's face. Here we get a very silly looking Joker who has no sense of evil or insanity. It looks as though the Joker just went hog wild with the lipstick and it's very distracting.
Not that everything was drawn badly. I enjoyed McDaniel's Batman and Power Girl and there can be no denying the page layouts are eye catching. It's just that overall I felt the art was poor when compared to the other issues of the series.
Cover Art - 3: I really felt that the cover was quite weak. I thought it was funny to see the villains desecrate the Easter Island heads, each in their own way. I also liked the fact that the Joker was frowning which suggested that something big was going to happen in the book. This issue's cover was far superior to the previous issue, but the cover still did very little for me.
Mild Mannered Reviews
2001Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic was on sale.
-  Superman #164
-  Lex 2000
-  Adventures of Superman #586
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #108
-  Action Comics #773
- JLA #49
- JLA: A League of One
- JLA: Act of God #1
-  Superman #165
-  Adventures of Superman #587
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #109
-  Action Comics #774
- JLA #50
- JLA: Seven Caskets
- JLA versus Predator
- Justice Leagues: JL? #1
- JLA: Act of God #2
-  Superman #166
-  Adventures of Superman #588
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #110
-  Action Comics #775
- President Luthor: Secret Files and Origins #1
- JLA: Act of God #3
- Justice Leagues: Justice League of Aliens #1
- Justice Leagues: JLA #1
-  Superman #167
-  Adventures of Superman #589
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #111
-  Action Comics #776
- JLA #51
- Legends of the DC Universe #39
- Superboy's Legion #1
-  Superman #168
-  Adventures of Superman #590
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #112
-  Action Comics #777
- Superman Adventures #55
- JLA #52
- Superboy's Legion #2
- JLA: Black Baptism #1
- Batman: Gotham Adventures #36
-  Superman #169
-  Adventures of Superman #591
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #113
-  Action Comics #778
- Superman Adventures #56
- JLA #53
-  Superman #170
-  Adventures of Superman #592
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #114
-  Action Comics #779
- Superman Adventures #57
- JLA #54
- JLA: Incarnations #1
- Super Friends! Trade Paperback
- Superman: Where Is Thy Sting?
-  Superman #171
- Green Lantern: Our Worlds At War #1
-  Adventures of Superman #593
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #115
-  Action Comics #780
- Superman: Our Worlds At War: Secret Files and Origins #1
- Superman Adventures #58
- JLA #55
- JLA: Incarnations #2
-  Superman #172
-  Adventures of Superman #594
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #116
-  Action Comics #781
- JLA: Our Worlds At War #1
- JSA: Our Worlds At War #1
- Superman Adventures #59
- JLA #56
- JLA: Incarnations #3
-  Superman #173
-  Adventures of Superman #595
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #117
-  Action Comics #782
- World's Finest: Our Worlds At War #1
- Superman Adventures #60
- JLA #57
- Superman & Batman: Generations II #1
- JLA: Incarnations #4
-  Superman #174
-  Adventures of Superman #596
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #118
-  Action Comics #783
- Superman Adventures #61
- JLA #58
- Superman & Batman: Generations II #2
- JLA: Incarnations #5
- Joker: Last Laugh #1
- Joker: Last Laugh (Secret Files & Origins) #1
- Joker: Last Laugh #2
-  Superman #175
- Joker: Last Laugh #3
-  Adventures of Superman #597
- Joker: Last Laugh #4
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #119
- Joker: Last Laugh #5
-  Action Comics #784
- Superman Adventures #62
- JLA #59
- JLA: Gatekeeper #1
- Superman & Batman: Generations II #3
- JLA: Incarnations #6
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Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2001.