DCAU #121: Second Banana

IN THIS ONE... The Joker is incensed when a psychologist says the Riddler is more clever than he is.

CREDITS: Written by Ty Templeton; art by Tim Harkins and Rick Burchett.

REVIEW: Playing on the rivalry between Batman's rogues can be fun, and on a meta-textual level, it makes sense for the Joker to think of the Riddler as an impostor given his clownish portrayal in Batman Forever, for example. However, I feel like this story only proves the psychologist who pronounced the Riddler as the cleverer right, and that's irksome. Take this story and issue #3's in evidence. The Riddler and the Joker are both outguessed and outplayed by Batman - he's always the most clever - but in Christmas Riddle, it feels like the Bat has to work at it. The Riddle almost gets away with it, and his contingencies are very smart indeed. Now the Joker is unpredictable; that's his strength. He doesn't follow guessable patterns the way Riddler does. But Batman is ahead of the curve all the way through, and the repeated meme about following one's own rules doesn't really work. The Joker should be following NO RULES AT ALL. But since he does, he's rather easily caught, and his victims escape his would-be lethal attention.

I might still have given the story a pass, but Tim Harkins' art is problematic. His cartoony caricatures remind me of Roger Langridge's work, which isn't a bad thing at all. However, it sucks the thrill out of action scenes, which look ridiculous. So when Batman must once more fight Lock-Up, a formidable physical foe, it just looks silly. Characters kind of fly around grimacing. Everyone is a cartoon parody of their actual character.
REREADABILITY: Medium-Low - Despite some good gags (like the one above), Second Banana disappoints with its off-model art and a story that doesn't do justice to its criminal lead.



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