The antics of two Jokers continue in The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing #5, and the one that has been shot, drowned, or worse is on the prowl to find the clean-cut Joker and take him down. This series has been an excellent mystery with plenty of Joker weirdness as we try to figure out how there could be multiple Jokers. At the same time, writer Matthew Rosenberg and Francesco Francavilla are playing with Joker clones in a series of backup one-shots that are not to be missed. In the latest issue, action, conflict, and more await!
This is a solid issue in the series, opening with a surprise Batman supervillain appearance and Joker done up like Batman. It’s a fun sequence in its own right, but that leads to the banged-up Joker finding out another Joker is in town.
Meanwhile, Red Hood continues to be on the prowl for Joker. He seems primed to kill Joker, no matter what it takes, even if he’s in Gotham on Batman’s turf. The second scene in this issue is entertaining in its own right thanks to Carmine Di Giandomenico excellently showing how fast and dangerous Jason Todd is with knives.
This issue also delivers a major clash of the Jokers we’ve all been waiting for. I won’t spoil a thing, but it’s fun to see two types of crazy at work. Even if this conflict ends in a bit of a dead end, it’s interesting to see how Rosenberg can come up with ways to confuse and misdirect readers as far as who any of these Jokers are. Sure, we’re dying for answers, but it also allows Red Hood to come to a conclusion of his own while preserving his heroic track record.
There’s also a solid Batgirl scene to be had here. Rosenberg writes great dialogue in this scene (and all the scenes, really), and it’s fun to see the relationship between Red Hood and Batgirl on display.
The backup is yet another kooky take on Joker making more Jokers. This one involves Giganta and Joker insisting on making her love him. It takes some interesting turns, involves the occult, and continues to play around with body horror.
Francavilla’s art is a shock to the system in the best of ways. The body horror will make your skin crawl, the silly nature of Joker is captured well in his calmer average Joe look, and there are some fun visual gags too. There aren’t comics like this today, and it’s a delight to see it rendered by a master like Francavilla.
The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing #5 is entertaining from beginning to end, even if it’s not progressing the plot as you might expect. Rosenberg proves he’s got a lot of great ideas while entertaining through dialogue, twists, and the overall mystery. The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing reminds us that comics can do anything, be it silly, violent, or mysterious, while also being adult and deeply real.
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