DCAU #145: Joker's Last Laugh!

IN THIS ONE... After Batman becomes the subject of several billboards, Harley tries to cheer the Joker up.

Written by Ty Templeton; art by Brandon Kruse and Terry Beatty.

REVIEW: Shades of Mad Love, in which Harley also tries to appeal to Mr. J by doing something funny and lethal to Batman and gets the same rebuff that only HE's allowed to do things to the Bat, Joker's Last Laugh feels a little redundant at times, and entirely too violent besides. There's an early scene, for example, where Harley drops a bucket of napalm on a henchman's head, which at first looks terrifyingly sadistic, and then turns out to have Looney Toon levels of consequence. It's an ill-judged and extended moment that turns this into a mean-spirited comic, and I know that's not Templeton's objective. So when we're reminded later on that the Joker enjoys hitting women (Harley specifically), it feels really toxic.

That's not to say there aren't some good gags here. The Joker may not think much of Haley's suggestions, like the giant seltzer trap or the giant pie/wrecking ball combo, but they're classic shticks. He sells her short, as usual. The musical montage, complete with musical notation at the top of each panel, is a valiant try at something televisual (or teleaudible). The final pie throw should have worked on the Joker, because it's a pretty clever incident, but what ends up working is as good if more subtle. Lovely that it still came from Harley, but he doesn't need to know that.

I'm ambivalent about Terry Beatty as a new inker on the series. I don't know what it is exactly, but where Kruse's pencils looked expressionistic and old-fashioned under Burchett, here they jump from cartoon to doll-like verisimilitude, especially where Harley is concerned. She and the Joker look off-model. Is it Beatty's thick line, or is he just not as adept at hiding Kruse's weaknesses? I don't know.
REREADABILITY: Medium - Some nice gags, but there's a tonal issue with the violence, and I've seen better art from the series.


speedball said...

I'd love to hear what the music actually sounds like. Seems like it would be simple enough to type it into a program and turn it into a MIDI file or the like. Can't find any evidence of anyone having done so yet.


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