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Cover date: December 2001
2001 Shield No. 49
Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Duncan Rouleau
Inker: Marlo Alquiza and Duncan Rouleau
"Whose Mind is it, Anyway?"
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Outside, all is chaos. Everyone is green and insane. Superman fears the worst... Emperor Joker has returned. He finds Batman hovering in the Batwing above his city. He asks how he can help. Superman sees something with his x-ray vision and tears off.
Green Lantern is the source of the trouble. He's been Jokerized, and he has the mind of a thirteen year old boy with a Lara Croft-On. He sends owls to attack the Batman, and Superman goes bonkers, remembering the Emperor Joker Batman treatment. Lantern teleports them into a cornfield, where Superman remembers Batman's treatment in Emperor Joker, remembers taking Batman's memories from him using the Spectre.
Lantern talks with an elderly gentleman he's conjured, getting suggestions as to what he should do next. Superman attacks frontally. Green Lantern pummels him with a Mighty Mouse, Superman pummels the Mighty Mouse.
Superman starts taunting the Green Lantern. He plays on his fears and insecurities. Green Lantern unleashes a wave of destruction, seemingly slaughtering the Batman. Superman points out that this is exactly why the JLA keeps him on such a short leash. Lantern tries hard to kill Superman, and suddenly drops. Batman has administered the anti-Joker serum. Crazy Lantern, a mental projection, slowly fades. It turns out the blast wave was mostly aimed at Superman, and the population is safe, for the most part.
They tell Kyle that they didn't really mean the JLA insults. Kyle takes off.
Later, Superman and Batman discuss the robbing of his memories. Superman apologizes, says that Batman can punch him if he wants, and Superman won't make him break his hand. "Pow", Batman replies, and Superman turns around, only to be slammed with a couple of cruise missiles. Batman reminds Superman that if he took the memories, he will have to eventually deal with them...
Story - 5: Finally, something in this accursed Joker mania that makes sense and revolves around a decent, thought out plot. Too bad that the plot isn't the Last Laugh one. I love seeing Batman and Superman together, but even more than that, I love when it's done well. And here it is. I also love seeing the good guys check and balance each other, something that we see far too little of. The Joker chaos was right on. In most of the other titles, Joker villains are just the regular villains with the same agenda, sporting a white face. I love that Green Lantern is just chaos manifest, rather than some slightly crazy version of himself. Very well done, guys.
The whole referencing of Emperor Joker thing was great. I never thought it would happen. I'm so glad we have a group of writers who care what has happened in the past. It may be focused on their current run, but at least they reference, often and well. This is the quintessential, best example I've seen so far, save the summation of the Brainiac storyline. And Batman blasting Supes with cruise missiles? Straight out what made Dark Knight great. Two forms of idealism colliding, and the cynical side wins, but has no effect on the pure idealism. I love that. Excellent issue. Great work. This is the one redeeming quality, thusfar, of Last Laugh.
Art - 5: Also top-notch. There is a very distinctive style to this team's work, and I love it. It sometimes works well, sometimes just works, but it always works. I'm amazed that something so dark and brooding, in a manner, can still be Superman for me, and not break my reading stride. Usually I complain when Supes is dark. But here it worked. And the splashes. Can't complain about them. Usually can. Good work here, as well. I think that these guys would do great work with the JLA. But that's just me. JLA has good artists now. Personally, I'd like these artists better. But then, they're doing the comics I love best, so I'll shut my mouth to keep them here. Don't want to give them any ideas. :)
Cover Art - 5: I originally was skeptical about the whole Last Laugh thing, for reasons that I've stated before, but when I saw this image, the whacked out Lantern, I though that I'd give it a fair chance. Stupid me, save for this issue, but go figure that the same image that made me give the series a chance is on the cover of what I consider the best issue of the series, thus far. Maybe the ending of Last Laugh will redeem it, and I'll look like an idiot. But for now, great cover, save that annoying Last Laugh tag that I'd rip off of the comic if it wouldn't destroy the thing's value. Great all around.
And another special mention I make every now and again, to the colorists. Amazing work here. It's more than likely why I could stand such a dark issue of such an idealistic super-hero. Great job.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2001.