Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials
Joker: Last Laugh #4Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 24, 2001
Cover date: December 2001
Writer: Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty
Penciller: Andy Kuhn
Inker: Andy Kuhn
"Everyone Knows This is Nowhere"
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Shilo and Dina find themselves in another plane of reality, driven by a black hole created by Black Mass to the seeming end of existence. First on their list of priorities is obviously to find Black Mass and get the heck outta that popsicle stand. They note that the prisoners from the underwater holding area are gone before attempting to get to the top of the cliff they're stranded on.
Joker teams up Stormfront and Mister 104 and promotes them to higher ranking lunatics in the government of Joker: The Official Special Effects Gurus.
Elsewhere, Batman pounds a Jokerized villain into mush, then watches as the goon is eaten up from the inside by the Jokerizing agent. He is powerless to help the villain.
Meanwhile, Harley is working with the scientist types on an anti-venom. She's got the chemical knowledge because one day, under pressure because the Joker's two dogs had accidentally contracted the Jokerizing agent via some Joker fish, and she'd had to save the dogs in order to save herself.
In the White House, Lex Luthor is appraised of the situation, and the apparent situation is under control, by their estimations. Still, in Atlanta, Killgore is able to produce a few blood stained servicemen in battle. Lady B. and Mace, otherwise known (I believe) as Deathstroke do battle with the ruffians and manage to take a few of them down.
The Joker, now in his military garb, regards the president's attempt to have him killed as unjust. In retaliation, he launches a thick green cloud of Joker gas from his ground zero into a nearby area.
Black Canary visits Doctor Clyde at his residence. The doctor, Joker's doctor, is upset. He has fudged the brain tumor on Joker's scan in an attempt to make the maniac calm down. He feels responsible for what is happening.
Shilo and Dina, chased by Jokerized villains, attempt to find refuge, and succeed, temporarily. A bug whispers into their ears that he can control Black Mass. Dubiously, they accept its help.
Harley's anti-Joker chemical works on a guinea pig, and the cure is found.
Multi-Man, attempting to gain a new form by dying, is crushed by a falling goon shot through the head by Shilo and Dina.
Joker spurs his forces on, and the cloud heads out over the world, along with Joker's people.
Story - 2: The plot is getting a bit better, but it's still so mired in contrivances and idiocy and plot holes that it feels like a manufactured plot. There are too many characters to keep track of, and they're not named often or well. The villains mostly look the same, thanks to the Jokerizing agent, so even if you research who they are, as I did from time to time, they can't be told apart, oft times. The action is very predictable, and not in character, half the time. This is too organized for the Joker's work. This is too calculated for a madman. And now, that I've weighed these judgments in without reasons... here are mine:
First off, the situation we're in would never happen in the first place. Joker is out in the open. All of the other villains out in the open, some less noisy, are being caught. Joker puts a big deadly cloud into the air, and not even Superman can find him? Where is the JLA?
This plot with Shilo and Dina would work, if the characters weren't so foreign and benign. They're essentially two police goons with guns. Why do we care about them? Because one was once Mr. Miracle? I don't remember Mr. Miracle. Chances are, a lot of people will be in that boat with me. I made the mistake with the secret files of assuming that these characters hadn't existed before this story, so I won't make that mistake again, but I will say that these characters, capacity of past experience regardless, aren't interesting in this story. They are boring and useless save for the eventual obvious function of their character, to somehow bring the slab back.
Harley Quinn, an essentially less intelligent character who happens to have an association with the Joker (not that I don't like the character...I love her...I'm saying this to prove a character point) is able to succeed where the most brilliant minds of her time are failing...to mix an anti-Joker venom. Big problems here. First, she did it off the cuff with the dogs? Second, she's forgotten such a complex equation, but is somehow able to remember it offhand? Wrong. Bad. Cheese.
The Prez. Isn't Luthor incapacitated? Guess not. Who needs continuity, eh?
This story reeks of crossover, and not in the cool way. In the "every character in all creation, even the crappy ones" get a splash page or a reference kind of way. There isn't even a long term ramification anymore, now that Joker isn't dying. Which brings me to my last point.
JOKER IS NOT DYING. This usurps the whole point of the story, and leads me to believe that this was indeed one big excuse to have guest stars. There are two possible endings...Joker gets thrown back in jail and everyone has a bit more of a Joker complex, or someone steps forward and kills the Joker, which is ridiculous. The guy's been blown to hell so many times, any potential death without a body would be a mockery. And you know, I get the sneaking suspicion Joker's gonna make it out of this in one piece. Like DC is going to kill one of their two best, staple villains. I didn't but it when I read the advance solicitations, and I don't buy it now.
Art - 3: Decent. The action is well conveyed, and not too out of the story's style in any sense. What knocked it down for me is the excess of splashes and the inability to distinguish one character from another in a lot of senses, thanks to the whiteness of the characters and the lack of knowledge, admittedly on my part, to the identities and motivations of the villains. Also involved is the colorist, who deserves some share of the blame, but I'll hold on that, because most colorists never really have much to critique, and in this case the failure can be largely blames on the alabaster nature of almost every single character in the story.
Cover Art - 4: This cover appealed to me more than the previous four, including the secret files. At least it makes a little sense with regard to the story. Joker is observing the chaos he's causing across the world. The aesthetic is also very appealing. I love the layout. Still, the logo is disturbingly small and attention catching, the background is pure white with no detail whatsoever, and the Joker looks a bit...off. Not Jokerish. If that makes any sense. He looks like a real human being instead of a cartoon-ish criminally insane murderer. That kind of thing disturbs me. It's what got me about the flashback scene in the Secret Files issue. It's just...off.
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.