According to The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing #1, there may be an overabundance of Jokers. Two, to be exact, which is no good for anybody, including both Jokers. How can you run a crime dynasty when another guy is pretending to be you? That is if neither are actually The Joker, which is one of the main draws to this series as we try to unpack which Joker is real and, if they both are, why there are two running around.
The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing #2 opens with a pretty good joke about a homeless man, a politician, and a policeman. It’s a good beginning that plays against the first issue, defining why a joke works and how the same formula works in horror. Much of this issue follows The Joker, who got shot in the head in the last issue and is very much living a horror story.
Barely alive at the start, this Joker is trying to himself back together. He heads back to his old headquarters, finds an old henchman, and eventually turns up at Harley Quinn’s door. All the while, folks remind him he’s not the real Joker since the real Joker was on the news.
Along the way, Jason Todd is trying to find this broken-down Joker. That adds a bit of tension and intensity to the narrative since you’ll root for the broken Joker to pull things together or die by Red Hood. The Harley scenes steal the show, though, as Rosenberg plays around with dialogue in a complex and realistic way. These characters have a back-and-forth that reveals to Harley maybe this isn’t Joker. And yet, he likes the same things. Something is up, and Harley knows it. There’s a solid mystery unfolding here worth unpacking.
Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico will make you feel for this Joker, even though he still shows signs of being as dangerous as ever. He’s quite beaten up but is smiling all the same. Red Hood looks badass in all his scenes, adding effective action to the most dialogue-heavy narrative.
The backup may steal the show, however. Drawn by Francesco Francavilla, we see Joker attend his own eulogy. It’s a hilarious sequence that’s up there with some of the best Joker moments ever. It’s that good. Francavilla plays up each character’s different take on Joker, from sorrowful, to happy, to angry. The use of bright colors gives it a neon-soaked feel, yet it revels in the dark spaces too.
I liked the first issue, but The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing #2 makes a case for saying something important about Joker. There’s a mystery worth exploring while Rosenberg plays with dialogue in entertaining and invigorating ways. Add in a backup with one of the funniest eulogies you’ll read in comics, and you have a must-read issue.
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