DCAU #58: Joker's Late-Night Lunacy

IN THIS ONE... The Joker sets up J TV and tortures Gordon, Dent and Batman on its air.

CREDITS: Written by Kelley Puckett; art by Ty Templeton and Rick Burchett.

I hadn't really checked the timeline before, but it's helpful to remember that we're talking about comics that came out concurrently with the TV series. The first episode of BTAS came out September 5th, 1992, and the first issue of the tie-in book on September 8th. The creators obviously access to advance episodes, but that does explain Catwoman's broken continuity from last issue. They would have caught up pretty quickly, as that first season aired week days, not weekly, but we have to keep the schedule in mind. This issue may seem to repeat elements from the series - namely the Joker kidnapping law enforcement folks and torturing them on TV (it repeats the Christmas episode, which hadn't aired yet) - but actually anticipates them and actually explains how the Joker got the ability to break into TV transmissions. It's the origin of Joker TV! (And as far as the time line goes, this is early enough for that, as Harvey Dent hasn't yet become Two-Face; the Bat-signal IS a bit of an anachronism however.) But I can't make believe I didn't already see all that on the show, so it's all a little repetitive.

So where it really sings for me is where it goes off that map. Harvey doing a pretty good impression of Batman in the staircase, Bruce getting out of exposing his secret identity, and that dynamic boat chase in which Batman harpoons the Joker's speedboat and gets dragged until the thing crashes into a rocky outcrop. Templeton does some great stuff with the comic's action beats, including the teaser with the gun thug menacing his own girlfriend "for show". You just knew Batman wouldn't leave that one alone.

The Joker, for his part, is in line with his portrayal on the show, but perhaps a little more dangerous and violent. The way he seems to be hitting Gordon with a baseball bat, it should be lethal, and close-ups of his face, sweating profusely, have an intensity that's scarier than what's allowed on the show. But the unpredictable mood swings and changes of tack? They've got that down pat.
REREADABILITY: Medium - Still suffering from growing pains, the issue retreads (or anticipates) elements from the show, and needs to distinguish itself a little more.


Craig Oxbrow said...

"That's it, be a man, Gordon. Arms heal fast."

This was a good sign right away that this wasn't a regular kids' TV comic book...


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