The clown prince of crime, THE JOKER! We cover what the creators said about his inception, some of the inspirations, and the first Joker story.
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Podcast Artwork by Sergio R. M. Duarte
Podcast Music by Renzo Calma
[00:00:00] Alex: That's awesome. We should start, uh, uh, a Teenage Mu Turtle podcast about the comic.
[00:00:05] Brian: Let's do it. We'll do it monthly. Oh God.
[00:00:17] Alex: Welcome to Bat Lessons, the Batman History podcast. I'm Alex Cash. I'm Brian
[00:00:21] Brian: Anders.
[00:00:22] Alex: Today we're talking about the Joker. I totally got, got Brian off guard. I wait. I didn't even, I didn't do it on purpose, but I waited for him to open his water and start taking drink, and then I let into his, his bit. It's all
[00:00:36] Brian: good.
I'm sorry. It's all good. I'll have to lay a trap for you at some point.
[00:00:39] Alex: Today we're talking all about the clown Prince of crime, the one and the only, the
[00:00:45] Brian: Joker. Awesome. I'm stoked for this. I'm, he is, uh, I mean, Batman and the Joker go together like PB and j, like it is just, a lot of people say that Batman is like the organized good or, or whatever, and Joker is like disorganized, bad or, or evil or whatever.
Right? Right, right, right. So they are polar opposites.
[00:01:08] Alex: Is that, I don't know where that is that a d and d thing where they, they talk about like lawful good, unlawful whatever. There's like a matrix really
[00:01:15] Brian: know. Okay. I, the first time I saw it, it had a bunch of pictures of Star Wars people in it, so pretty sure it wasn't the original.
Okay. Yeah, I don't
[00:01:24] Alex: know where that comes from either. Now I'm gonna have to go research that cuz I have a problem. Yeah. The Joker's kinda like the quintessential, it's, it's the, you know, the Batman villain. I think we talked a lot about on the episode where we reviewed the Batman movie, the 2022 moving picture film with Robert Pattinson, directed by Matt Reeves about how, like, I was kind of joked out, like I was like, God, I just hope they don't do more jokers.
We've had so many. Um, so you might get the, the sort of like impression that I, that I hate the Joker that I don't like him, but that is not the case. He's definitely one of the best villains I think that. Has ever graced, uh, you know, the silver screen ever graced comic books. Incredible character. So I'm excited to, to talk about 'em.
[00:02:04] Brian: Yeah. I mean, well, I guess, who's your favorite joker?
[00:02:07] Alex: Oh, like live action Joker. Oh, man. Brian, you're coming out with the, I'm not prepped for this. Come on. This isn't the notes. That's a good question. Probably Mark Hamill from the animated series, which I'm not even a huge animated series buff.
Like, I don't even think I've seen every episode. I own it on Blu-ray. I've seen a lot of them, but it's just a very quintessential, he came back and did the voices for the Arkham games, which I have played through all of those, and I thought he did fantastic in that. It's just, you know, when you read a comic book often, I will hear his voice.
[00:02:37] Brian: What about you? Yeah, similar. I, so I have seen all of that Man of the animated series. It's wonderful. Mm-hmm. But I'd say my favorite joker is Mark Haml in the Arcam Games.
[00:02:48] Alex: Okay. Wow. Yeah. I didn't realize you've,
[00:02:50] Brian: you've played them all. Uh, actually, I haven't played Aum Knight. Everyone says it's the best one and I own it, but I haven't played it yet.
I don't know if it's the best
[00:02:58] Alex: one, uh, but it's definitely good. Ham City is pretty hard to beat for me, but yeah. Cool. So, uh, I really liked the format we did last time where we went through different people's perspectives on who created the Joker. We had Bill Finger. Bob Kane, Shelley Muldoff and Jerry Robinson, uh, when we were talking about Robin here for the Joker, Shelley Muldoff, not on the record, but we do have quotes from the other three, and I figured we would save Jerry Robinson for last for reasons that will quickly become apparent, but I, I'll let you choose your own venture.
Do you wanna talk about Bob Kane or Bill? Finger first? Bill. Finger. Okay. So this is what Bill Finger has to say about the creation of the Joker. This comes from an interview that Tom Fagan did with, with Bill Finger, who, if you recall is, was the sort of Batman Super fan that was doing, um, the sort of magazine like newsletter format for Batman fans.
Batman, they called them in the seventies. Um, was the first person to sort of like raise the flag for Bill Finger and, and sort of sing his praises. So yeah, Tom Vagan asks how the Joker was created and Bill Finger says the Joker. I got a call from Bob Kane who asked me to come up. He had a new villain when I arrived.
He was holding a playing card, apparently Jerry Robinson or Bob, I don't recall, who looked at the card and they had an idea for a character, the Joker. Bob made a rough sketch of it. At first, it didn't look much like the Joker. It looked much more like a clown. But I remembered that Roett and Dunlap formerly issued very cheap additions of classics by Alexander Dumas and Victor Hugo.
These additions included photographs, movie steals from the old movies. So this is me Alexander interjecting for a second. Victor Hugo and Alexander Dumas are uh, authors. They wrote novels, um, and. In particular, Victor Hugo writes a book called The Man Who Laughs that was adapted into a movie. So this edition of the novel comes with pictures from the movie.
Is the subtext here that is not clear when you're, when you're reading this? Yeah. The volume I had was the man Who laughs his face had been permanently operated on so that he was always with a perpetual grin and it looked absolutely weird. I cut the picture outta the book and gave it to Bob, who drew the profile and gave it a little bit more sinister aspect.
Then he worked on the face, made him a little clown like which accounted for the white face, red lips and the green hair. And that
[00:05:06] Brian: was the Joker. Also interesting, the, the man who laughs, um, connection there. And, uh, I, I mean I'm not the like a total Batman buff, but like I know about the Man Who Falls or the man Yeah, the man Who Fell or whatever.
[00:05:21] Alex: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That was the, um, Chuck Dixon, right? I think, or no, it was, um,
[00:05:26] Brian: it was one of the 1989 ones, I think Dene
[00:05:28] Alex: O'Neil, sorry. Yeah. Um, yeah, that's the, the Denny O'Neil book that was coming out around the same time as the, as the Batman movie. I don't know if the Man Who Falls is like a veiled reference to the Man Who laughs.
Um, are you familiar with the Man Who laughs? Good cuz that we're gonna talk all about it. It's gonna be like half the show today. Okay, cool. Alright. So that's what Bill Finger had to say. Bob Kane. Bob says, we were looking for villains in the first year of Batman. Bill and I were kicking around ideas about a maniacal killer who had played perennial life and death jokes on Batman test his metal and ingenuity to outwit him.
Then about a week later, bill came in with a photograph of Conrad vi, a fine German actor who had played a movie called The Man Who Laughs. It was based on a famous novel by Victor Hugo about a young boy. A young gypsy boy, sorry, I'm just reading the quote verbatim here. Um, a young gypsy boy, uh, named Gwen Plain, who had his mouth cut into a ghastly grin by a rival gypsy gang out for revenge, and he grew up with a ghastly smile and funeral eyes.
I drew the joker straighter and more illustratively than my ghost artist. They made him grotesquely crown like clown, like longer and thinner and so exaggerated. He looked like a buffoon. So yeah, this is, um, a rare occurrence, right? We have two people agreeing about the origin of a character in relation to Batman.
Um, they both are saying that the look of the joker comes from Conrad Vi, the actor who played the Man Who laughs. Notably though, Bob says that the character, um, is his idea and Bill says that he doesn't remember whether it was Jerry or Bob, but that it could have been either question
[00:07:01] Brian: for you. Yes. So it says, uh, uh, a ghastly grand rival gypsy gang out for revenge.
He grew up with a ghastly smile and funeral eyes. Yes. What are his funeral
[00:07:11] Alex: eyes? I don't know. I think that just means that he looks like dead inside. I think that, I don't know if that's a common figure of speech. Do you wanna look it up? Yeah, I'm looking at him now I should say. We will, uh, in the section where we talk about the movie, we'll go into it, um, at much greater length.
It is worth noting that that gypsy is a racial slur. Um, and we'll talk about why that is. Um, that, but, um, We'll try to use it, um, sparingly and only in context of, of the way people were talking about it in the
[00:07:39] Brian: thirties. So Funeralized, lots of hits, but nothing that like defines it. I would assume that's
[00:07:45] Alex: just the adjective that he's using to describe his eyes.
It looks like he's dead inside. Yeah. Maybe that's a Bob Kane special. He's, he's coined the term
[00:07:54] Brian: Bob Kane special. Probably ripped it off of somebody
[00:07:58] Alex: probably. So I also have a quote from Jerry that we'll get to in a second. But first I wanna contextualize the creation of the Joker, cuz he, he sort of talks about this happening without contextualizing it or explaining why, um, in this quote, so Jerry talks about Batman number one.
So we're about a year in on Batman appearing in Detective comics. So if you, if you recall last episode, we were talking about the, the first appearance of Robin, which was, lemme scroll to the bottom of my notes. Yeah, so Detective Comics, number 38 is the first appearance of Robin that happens on March 6th, 1940, just over a month later.
And April 24th, 1940 is Batman number one. So this is happening like about the same time within a month of each other. Detective Comics is, um, reaching a, a, a high level of success. They're moving lots and lots of copies because of Batman big success as a character. So they wanna start branching out. And if you remember from our Halloween episode, world's Fair Comics, number two.
Is from 1940s. This is before they rename it, uh, world's Finest. It's still World's Fair Comics. It's the one that has Batman and Superman and Robin on the cover that's happening about this time. So they're adding, you know, sort of more books that have Batman in it. And they also want to make a book that's titled Just Batman.
And if you, if you, you recall that comic books are anthologies at this time. So you've got like 50 to 70 pages an issue that has like four or five stories per plus a bunch of like filler pages. And Detective Comics is still running all kinds of stories. Batman's only one part of that book every month.
They have all kinds of other, you know, Carson and stuff like that. So the Batman book is gonna be just Batman stories and it's gonna be quarterly. So instead of monthly, it's gonna happen four times a year. And it's gonna be four or five Batman stories on top of the detective comics, on top of World's Finance finest.
There's just gonna be a ton of Batman coming out, and we've still got the same group of creators. And Bill is notorious for being a slow writer. So, This isn't, doesn't not gonna really add up. Right? So that's the context for this quote. So Jerry volunteers, he says, maybe I could do one. Thinking that I could count on Bill for help if I needed it.
I was still taking writing courses at Columbia at the time. I had to do a paper for creative writing course, some original piece of writing with going to school at night and working for Bob during the day. I didn't have much time, so I thought of doing a story that would do a double duty that I could write for Batman and that would serve as a piece of creative writing, creative writing for the class.
That night, I went to work in my little room. My first thought was to create a villain, a strong villain to oppose Batman. This was before I even tried to write any plot ideas from my studies and literature and my own reading. I knew that all great heroes had an anti-hero, were stronger characters because they were pitted against strong antagonists.
There was Morty and Sherlock Holmes, David and Goliath in the Bible, king Arthur and Madrid. And in mythology there were strong villains. At that time, there were only minor hoods in Batman, none that I could would call exotic villains. We followed the pulps and popular crime fiction of the Roaring Twenties, basing our villains on gangsters like Dillinger, pretty Boy, Floyd and Al Capone.
They were bank robbers, hijackers hold up men. The criminal stereotype of the era they would be disposed of and not really worth worthy of a reprise. There was a difference of opinion in those days. By the way, it seems obvious in retrospect, but at the time it was arguable. There was a concern that if you made your villain too strong, it would overpower and detract from your hero.
I was not of this view. I thought the stronger the villain, the stronger the hero would be. I thought that someone with an internal contradiction would be intriguing. You don't usually think of a villain who does mean and nasty things as having a, a sense of humor. And I knew that I wanted someone who was bizarre and exotic, visually striking for some reason or or another.
I drew clowns in grammar school. They're one of the few things I enjoyed drawing. I like to draw pirates, cowboys, and clowns because they had colorful, colorful costumes and an exotic, bizarre look. So I think that also correlates. Also relates to my creation of the Joker Clowns are funny and sad contradictions like that are interesting.
The pathos had an appeal for me as a kid. I loved the circus.
[00:11:42] Brian: Uh, just kind of responding to this, he's like, yeah, hitting on some really, really big things, uh, that are like, that are, that are setting up the joker to be longstanding anti-hero. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Um, like, just like we were talking about earlier, peanut butter and jelly, they, they.
Was that the, help me out cuz you know, actually what it's called, the
[00:12:05] Alex: organized Oh, lawful good. Unlawful evil.
[00:12:09] Brian: Yeah. Yeah. Lawful good. Unlawful evil. And, and, yeah. Yeah. So he is hitting on this idea of like the anti-hero and it's, it's interesting to contextualize that a bit in the time. Mm-hmm. Say like, now in today's eyes, with retrospect it's obvious, but back then, before all this stuff was figured out, like people argued about all this stuff and whether having a really strong villain was going to detract from the hero.
And Totally. And it makes sense cuz like, you had me watch those 19 45, 19 40, I don't remember the
[00:12:42] Alex: cereals, the, the Batman cereals. Which we're gonna do an episode about some at some point, I promise. And
[00:12:48] Brian: we're, we're not there yet. No, it's, yeah, we're not there in time yet. But, um, that was like, the thing that I felt over and over again is that like, this is just some like rich dude who's really weak and just gets beat the crap out of a bunch of times.
And, uh, and, and I can see why at that time they would be afraid that their hero would be seen as weak if mm-hmm. The villain was too strong, you know? Whereas now the way we look at Batman, and especially with like how the, with the Origin stories episode we talked about, like how the issues around 1989 were really important and kind of reframing.
Who Bruce Wayne became. Mm-hmm. Or the work that he did to become Batman and now he's just like chiseled detective. Mm-hmm. It's like massively intelligent, all like all this stuff and, uh, which may be like the pendulum swinging a bit to respond to how the villains got stronger and stronger to Sure. I guess connect into what he's saying here is the stronger the villain and the stronger the hero has to be.
Mm-hmm. So I don't know this, this well, yeah, it's, it's a long quote, but like there, it's really firing on all cylinders in a way.
[00:13:57] Alex: Yeah, for sure. I think also pointing out Joker in himself is a contradiction. He is someone who is sort of villainous and scary, but also funny. Uh, you know, and that that is something that inherently doesn't make sense.
That, you know, someone who's a jokester isn't what you associate with that. And that works in making him a counterpoint to Batman himself. Like if Batman is sort of this, um, serious hero that you wanna make someone who's totally the opposite,
[00:14:22] Brian: right? And, uh, yeah, like the, that idea that his personality is lighthearted, yet he deals such with such heavy things as like murder, you know?
Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And, and it also is reminding me of like the killing joke. And some of the theories around the, the ending of that of Oh, sure. The comparisons. How they were the same person that just like looked at things just a little bit differently.
[00:14:47] Alex: Yeah. There's, um, a comic book series that, um, I think is just wrapped up.
Uh, I'm not sure. I I'm not as, uh, to date with the monthly comic books as I was before I moved across the country. Think everything has fallen to the wayside. But, um, there was a, um, a comic book series called Batman One Bad Day, and it was 12 issues and it went through every single villain. And the idea is that all it takes is, is sort of one bad day to turn someone into like a super villain.
And in a lot of the books it, and that's the point is that like each, each one is supposed to be the bad day. That's the thing that like turned them into, you know, the Joker turned them into, you know, um, two-face or turned them into whatever. Yeah. But I think a lot of the authors kind of did this parallel.
It's where it's like the only difference between. The villain in Batman is that they had one bad day and uh,
[00:15:33] Brian: yeah, dunno, I'd say, I'd say Batman exists cuz he had one bad day. It's, I'd say a lot of heroes only exist because of one bad day.
[00:15:40] Alex: It rhymes all good. Yeah. All good movies rhyme. George Lucas, Alex Cash.
When I began to toss around ideas to deliberately make some associations, somehow I thought, well, he's got to have a sense of humor, a joker. I immediately made an association with the classic joker playing card with that marvelous grinning face. I was fascinated by the idea of a sinister clown. That was the contradiction I was looking for, although I didn't know it then.
The historic background of the joker on the playing card is a symbol that goes back for centuries. In many societies they had jokers and gestures, so it had a built-in meeting. This is now 12 or 1:00 AM in the morning, and they made a frantic search for a deck of playing cards. I felt I couldn't continue with the script until I could actually see him and get his visual appearance set.
Earlier in high school I had played contract bridge, so I found a deck and lo and behold, it was one with a classic joker. I knew as soon as I saw it. That was it. This is how he should look. Everything crystallized then his name was the Joker, and he would give out the Joker playing card as his calling card.
Then I made my first concept drawing of the Joker, a playing card with a joker's face on it. I wanted an image that was bizarre and memorable. Memorable. And that was it. And here I've got, um, what, and for the record, what Jerry Robinson claims is this 1940, um, drawing that in was his first sketch of the Joker.
It is worth noting that Jerry is the only person that says that this drawing existed. Like Bob doesn't talk about it. Bill doesn't talk about it, and this drawing doesn't show up until many years later when he's pointing back to it. Kinda like the, the 1934. Man bat drawing that, that Bob showed up with and everyone thinks is not real.
I tend to think Jerry Robinson is a more believable person, but it it, the circumstances under which the image appears is very similar. So worth noting. Do you
[00:17:21] Brian: wanna describe Oh yeah, but I mean, it's also worth noting that Jerry Robinson was, was mentored by Bob Kane, so, sure. Yeah, it's true. Uh, so this is a playing card.
It is, yeah. It's like a pencil sketch. It's got Joker in the, it says Joker in the corners. It, I would say looks like a traditional jester with like the, the hat with the, the bobbles or whatever you call those. They look like they have little bells on the ends of 'em. Yeah,
[00:17:48] Alex: they call those a tails
[00:17:49] Brian: and bells.
Tails and bells. There you go. Um, and then he's got that quintessential like clown neck piece. It's kind of like the Victorian era collar that they used to wear, except this one looks like. I mean, everyone knows what this looks like. Uh, it's just hard to describe, but it's like, looks like a clown. Yeah. It looks like cheese melting almost.
Like it's just, I don't know how else to describe that. But again, it's, it's tails and, and bells, but like hanging around his neck essentially. Mm-hmm. The face is pretty interesting. So it's kind of like a heart-shaped face. Big red lipstick, smile and toothy grin. He's got, is that like a hooked nose? Is that what you'd call that?
[00:18:29] Alex: I guess I'm, I'm not sure. It's very pointy and downward. Yeah,
[00:18:33] Brian: pointy nose and then, uh, the eyes. So like, the eyes are not smiling eyes, no. Usually when you see someone smiling, you can tell just like from their eyes alone. If it's like a real smile. This is, this is like a sinister smile. It because, because the way that the eyes look really like dead pan and like almost unhappy.
And then there's that big toothy grin. Um mm-hmm. So this, this joker looks like, um, he's smiling cuz he's about to eat You
[00:19:00] Alex: alive. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Ver very high cheekbones that kind of go all the way to the right side of his, of it's like a large jowl that goes broad away from his eyes. It, it's almost, it's not, um, not realistic.
Very caricature in, in sort
[00:19:16] Brian: of style. Yes. Yeah, I totally
[00:19:17] Alex: agree. Um, so Jerry goes on. I can't tell you how excited I was. I couldn't wait to rush over to Bob's with the idea. The next morning I told him about the story I wanted to write. The idea seemed just right for Batman. The Joker served as a marvelous counterpoint to the sinister, shadowy figure of the Batman.
I always saw Batman as a surreal character, and Joker fitted this mood. Bob loved the idea immediately. Bill came over shortly afterwards and also loved it. Then came the, would you call it Denu Ma? Bob said it was so great an idea. They wanted to use it for the first Batman Quarterly, which was then in production.
This would've been my first story, and I anticipated taking my time and developing the character. I never expected a discussion about anyone else doing it. As they persuaded me, my heart was sinking by the minute. I could still feel it to this day. It was only 18 then. This would've been my first story, and I was still going to college at the time, and it would've taken me too long to write Batman number one.
I was heartbroken, but for the sake of the feature, I had to admit that Bill was far better equipped to write it. I never attempted to write another Batman story. I guess my experience with the Joker turned me
[00:20:18] Brian: off. Wow, that's really interesting. So essentially what he's saying is at 18, About storytelling and stuff to come up with this like, incredible character.
But, um, he didn't, he handed over the actual writing effort to Bill
[00:20:34] Alex: Finger to Bill Right. That he came in with. And, you know, he doesn't have a ton, but he knows that it's a gesture kind of joker character. He brings in the playing card, he shows it to Bob, he says, I wanna write this story. And, and Bob says, great idea.
Bill's gonna write it. I feel like that would be really, uh, heartbreaking.
[00:20:51] Brian: Yeah. That, that sounds like a pretty tough situation. Yeah.
[00:20:56] Alex: Um, I tend to really believe Jerry because he has so much context. He has so much that makes sense and aligns with what was occurring at the time. The, the story of why Batman, number one is a thing that he tells aligns with what was actually happening.
The fact that Bill is a really slow writer and so they were looking for other people to write stories. Makes sense. The fact that he might write one also makes sense. There's a lot that lines up. And Jerry also goes on to have like a long storied career, not known for being a, you know, crazy self-promoter in that way and not known for being a liar.
So I tend to believe this. However, if you recall, bill not a very vocal person. He didn't really fight for himself. He didn't really fight for his credit. Jerry does, right? So Jerry does, goes on record and does dozens and dozens and dozens of, of interviews about this long after Bob is dead, by the way. But, but including before that, I will let you take a guess at how that makes Bob feel.
[00:21:55] Brian: Uh, I'm, I'm guessing Bob is not very happy about it, cuz Bob, no. Bob, all, everything about Batman was Bob's idea.
[00:22:03] Alex: Yes. And there's this other guy out there saying, it was me, joker was my idea. This makes Bob super salty and I, I could read you the quote, but I think it's better to let him speak in his own words.
And I think it's a pretty safe, um, to use this as, as fair, useful. I'll edit it into the show. So I've left a YouTube video for you, Brian. It's, um, Bob being interviewed by Stanley Lee, which is an incredible occurrence, by the way. Yeah. And, and, and the topic of the Joker comes up. A lot of people may not know this, right.
I have a, I had a ghost artist, which I'd like to refute. Now. His claim to fame is that he created the Joker Jerry Robinson and Jerry Robinson created the Joker playing card, which I'll let you look at in a moment. It's over here. I created Bill Finger. My writer came to me at the beginning with a picture of Conrad Vi, who, who, who is the actor in a, in a Victor Hugo movie called The Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo.
Yeah. And as you can all see, it's an exact replica of the comic I drove way back in 19 39 30, 19 40. And, and, and that was my creation of the Joker Jerry Robinson to his dying day will say he created and, and look, here's my answer to him, had Jerry come to me first with a Joker playing card, the Batman, the Joker would've looked like this and not like this.
So apparently I was first and he came second. Well, since this isn't the court of law, I, I might add one thing though. I didn't prove my case, right? No, you didn't just prove my lip ground. No, it's, it's not that, but. Jerry also is a very dear friend of mine and a fine artist, as you know, as a friend of yours.
And we'll probably do an interview with Jerry too. No friend of yours is a friend of mine that goes automatically, particularly Jerry Robinson, but whoever created it. The point is no, no. I just proved my case that Bill Finger came to me with the photograph. Not whoever Bob came and Bill Finger created the Joker.
Now, what I mean is we have definite proof, conclusive proof. In my book, what I'm trying to say is, you're cupping out, Stan. You're protecting Jerry now. No, I'm not protecting anybody. I don't mind that. I'm protecting myself. He's a nice guy despite himself. No, the only thing is I thought it was very interesting to see that picture of Conrad and the way the Joker looks.
I was, I had never heard about that playing card or anything. That's new to me. Well, Jerry said he created, and that was his claim, the playing card. In other words, had he came to me first mm-hmm. With the playing card, the jokers, you know him today would look like the jester of the playing card. But he didn't.
He came to me after the fact and we used it as a jokers calling card after I created with Bill Finger, the picture of Congregate Light and, and the man who left, see, I can I rest my case? I can see because of this interview, the two of us with Jerry, we'll be on 60 minutes one day. Who knows where this I'd love, love that.
I'd love to get him on 2020 or 10 and 10 with two midgets, whatever.
[00:24:55] Brian: Ooh, that ending too. Yeah. Oh man.
[00:24:59] Alex: What? Yeah. So, um, I, what I find so fascinating about this is that he's, so to throw Jerry under the bus that he credits, I think on accident, he credits Bill. He says, I create co-created with Bill Finger, who by the way, at this point is dead.
Uh, the Joker, um, And he's mad, right?
[00:25:23] Brian: He just wouldn't let it go. Like, right. Like, and he brought it up. Um, it's Stan Lee. Is this like, well, I mean, yeah, there's two sides to every story. It's kind of like reading between the lines. Stan Lee is like, yeah, so who, who created it? This is like, he's just trying to move on.
And Bob's like, no, no, no, no. I just told you I created it and I gave you proof. And Stan Lee's like, yeah, yeah, yeah, no, I get that. But like, we we to, to moving on, you know, like, we can't move on.
[00:25:53] Alex: Yeah. And this is like, he's doing a promotional tour for his book, uh, Batman and Me, and, and he's got this massive platform where he is talking with Stanley Lee about his book that's coming out at the same time as the movie.
Right. That's got his name all over it in the credits, you know, and he's like, Stan doesn't bring it up. Bob brings it up. He's like, I'm gonna take this opportunity to Jerry. So, um, there is one sort of point of contention here, right? Which is Bill is saying, I had a picture of Conrad Vite and I brought it in, right?
And Bob is agreeing. He says, bill brought me a picture of Conrad Vite and then we decided to use it. So they're agreeing on this point. So what does Jerry say? Tom Andre asks, didn't Bill suggest modeling the Joker after a photo of Conrad Vte with the film, the Man Who Laughs and Jerry says, in a way, this was typical of what Bill would do, he thought visually and my drawing of the Joker reminded him of Conrad Vte.
As I said before, he would often attach photos to his scripts, and he brought in a photo of V in that role. A few days later, the VTE photo reinforced the validity of the idea, so it helped flash the flesh. The concept out that first story was a gym Bill perfectly captured the bizarreness of the Joker using an idea.
Mystery writers were awesome, FA fond of the locked room plot, which we'll talk about in a bit. So yeah, Jerry doesn't refute that. Bill did bring in the Conrad VI photo, but he says it happened after and that. It was common. And this is something that I, um, have actually seen when I'm reading these interviews and things like that.
People corroborate that Bill Wood often when he wrote his scripts include clippings. So he'd hand his script off to an artist and there'd be a couple photos and things as reference of like, this is the thing I'm talking about. And so it was, it wasn't an unusual thing for him to do after the script is
[00:27:29] Brian: written.
So this locked room plot, I've never heard of this. Um, yes, you said we'll talk about it later, but I'm curious to know more when, whenever we get there. Yeah.
[00:27:38] Alex: So it, it is, um, one of the story elements in the, the book that we're gonna read, Batman number one is this trope. And I think it'll be better to do it in context rather than me try to explain it now.
Um, but we will, I promise. So that's everything I have that, um, the creator sort of said about the, the creation of Joker. How do you, how do you feel about that?
[00:27:59] Brian: Pretty interesting, uh, unsurprising that some of these very, very early origin story, uh, the origin of the creation rather mm-hmm. Would be. Uh, conflicting or.
There'd be friction there between the, the creators. It's like kind of everything else we've talked about. There's been different versions of the story and they, they don't all line up. So it's been pretty interesting. But yeah, this is a really big character. Yeah. And, and then like to have it laid out that even from the very beginning it was gonna line up with a lot of the elements that we see today.
Mm-hmm. It's also very interesting to me. Yeah.
[00:28:36] Alex: We'll see in the minute when we read the story that he kind of comes fully formed. Like the Joker character is pretty solid from the get go. Much like the Robin character, which is interesting because, you know, we spent a year. Both on the podcast and in the comic book, um, kind of in the wilderness a little bit.
A lot of the Batman stuff didn't come fully formed. He kind of experimented with different things. He was shooting guns. He was, you know, going to Romania. He was, you know, had a fiance. They kind of did some weird stuff and then all of a sudden we're firing on all cylinders. We're creating new characters and they're kind of the way you expect.
We're telling stories that are kind of like the ones you'd expect. And yeah, it's, it's really, um, really interesting to hear them talk about it because the reasoning that they give is very aware. Like they didn't do this on accident, you know, and I do think it's interesting because you're right, they do disagree to some degree.
But they actually, in their, um, strident disagreement, they're, they're the most vocal about the disagreements they have. They actually have the most alignment in certain terms of elements. They're all talking about specific things that happened. Like they all agree that, like Bill brought in this photo, they all agree that Bob did the first sketch.
They all agree that Jerry had a playing card, right? They're just disagreeing on like whose idea it was at first. And so that's really interesting to me. All right, so I wanna talk a little bit about some of those inspirations and we have a choose your own adventure between two. Brian. Um, I have a lot of notes prepared on the man who laughs the movie.
Um, and I have a lot of notes prepared on the jester. And, um, the Joker playing card, the concept of a jester and, and the joker playing card. Which one do you wanna do first? Card first. Okay. So let's start with the concept of a court jester before and we'll, we'll get to the card. Those kind of go hand in hand, so, yeah, do, do you, do you have a sense of like what a jester was?
[00:30:23] Brian: mean, this my, I guess layman's, um, take on it is a random dude who was appointed by the king to be funny and to make him and his court
[00:30:37] Alex: laugh. Nailed it. This is something that I think is, is in the ether, like popular culture. For whatever reason, we just kind of intrinsically understand what this thing is.
Record of professional entertainers. Go back as far as we have written record. There are, you know, um, bards and, um, you know, people who do poetry and actors and, you know, all that sort of thing. Egypt, China, Rome, Greece, everywhere. People get bored. The solution to that before, you know, the internet, before film, before radio, before even books in some cases, right?
Is that you've got a person that is talented and that might be making people laugh. It might be, you know, Any sort of intellectual or, um, novel sort of trait or skill that they can use to keep you interested? When we think about a joker, we're thinking about medieval, we're thinking about Renaissance.
It's worth noting that we call them gestures now. Um, but at the time they would've been called a fool. Or a buffoon. There are multiple different kinds of gestures at this time. There's like a court gesture like you described, which is like the king appoints someone, right? You also have the notion of a traveling gesture, which is that someone is making a living by going and, and doing these things.
You also have what you might call a natural fool versus an artificial fool. And this is, um, terminology that is like not great, um, super, not pc, but like we're talking about it because it's a thing that is true and that happened, you know, 500 years ago, which is the sort of idea that like someone is interesting because they have grown a skill and they, artificial doesn't mean like fake like you might think of today.
Like it comes from, you know, a factory, but more like they worked for it. And then a natural fool is kind of what it sounds like. This is someone that is interesting because they have some sort of deformity or mental illness or um, you know, for whatever reason they're considered to be novel. By people.
And you can imagine when you can't go to the internet to get memes and crazy things and you want to have novelty be entertained, then you would find that in people kind of not great, but that's how it was. They might do all kinds of things like telling jokes, re setting poetry, singing songs, juggling, dancing a aromatic and more.
And the picture that you might see, um, you know, on, on the playing card or if you Google like image search for, for jester or joker is pretty accurate. They would wear patchwork clothes. Sometimes they would wear, um, a donkey tail and ears, which is actually what involves, really evolves into the, the te tails and bells hat.
Yeah. So the reason you've got the three points is because that's kinda like the main and the ears. Mm-hmm. Right. It's made to look like a donkey, but it doesn't have to be two or three points. It could be four, it could be five. You know, it kind of evolves into that and. If you, if you kinda get into like etymology and like go to Wikipedia and try to learn conceptually about these things, um, people will say that it is conceptually distinct from a clown because like a circus clown is a very specific thing that you think of.
Like a carnival comes to a town and they might do a caravan to a different town and they set up a tent and they, you know, a clown is a very specific thing, right. Just trying to make people laugh. Part of maybe, you know, probably a stage show, um, kind of evolving more from like mime and pantomime Right.
But whereas, whereas adjuster, you associate more with a court, court jester. But it's, it's worth noting that like these words, the distinction more has to do with modern English than it has to do with how things were historically. Like Shakespeare would use the terms interchangeably when he's writing books in the 16 hundreds.
So that's what a gesture is. Okay. Let's leave the groundwork for the playing card. Mm-hmm. Got it. The playing card comes from er, are you familiar with er, Brian? I've
[00:34:06] Brian: heard the word before.
[00:34:08] Alex: Okay. I'm kind of surprised you're a Midwest boy. You grew up in the Midwest and it's kind of a Midwest thing. Okay. Um, uh, do you remember the Tyler?
Yeah. And Chelsea and mm-hmm. All them, they were from, um, Maryland and they were super into er, they always wanted to play Euchre. Um, didn't, no, that's interesting. Yeah. I don't know. I don't know why, but, um, it's a trick ticking game. So like, if you've ever played Harts or a Spades or Rook is my favorite, um, trick ticking game.
Um, still very popular in the we Midwest and it dates back to, was early as the 1810s. Um, it actually comes from like Germany. There's a different bunch of different ways to play ure and the deck's vary in size, but it's not a full 52 card deck that you would think of today. Usually 24 to 32 cards. And so like if you play URE today, you'd take other cards out to like make a smaller deck.
And early on it was the case that Jack would be the highest value card. So like, um, and, and in German, Jack is a, a bower or farmer. Right? Um, and for whatever reason that that was the high card. So like, the way a trick taking game works is like you play, if I played like a five and you played a 10, The 10 would be higher.
And so you would take it, take the trick. And, and so that means you take all of the cards that go out in that round and, and score points accordingly. In 1850s in America, some deck manufacturers started inventing new cards just for ure. So the, the, the sort of set of cards that we have today is what, what you call a French suited card.
Um, I guess they started making them royalty and stuff in France. And at this time there is no joker, right? So it's only Jack, queen King, 10 to two, right? But in the 1850s they invented a card just for you girl called the Best Bower, which means Best Jack, or like Super Jack, right? And um, it's what it sounds like.
It's just like a card that's like, The same as all the, uh, same values as Jack, except it's better than all the other Jacks, right? Best Bauer. And by the 1860s, so about 10 years later, decks had started calling the best Bauer, the Joker, and the Joker you might think of as the, the jester, right? But at the time, supposedly, there's not that association.
Joker is sort of the verb version of joke, right? So if someone makes a joke, you would call them a joker, right? But a joker being a jester, not an association. Association, that is then made. But you remember the best Bower card. All it is is a white card, and it says in text, best Bower. Right? So they start calling it the Joker.
Why do they start calling it the, the Joker and not the jester? Right. And the reason is, is because it's a, it's a bastardization of the word Euchre. So in English it's spelled e u c h r e er. But in German, where the game comes from, it's spelled j u c k e R. So if you're, you know, in the Midwest and you're an English speaker, not a German speaker, right?
You might think that uecker means joker, like someone who makes a joke. And so they start calling the best Bower card, the Joker card, because that's the name of the game, right? And then they align it with, The French suited cards, right. That have Jack queen, king on it. And they say, okay, what would've been part of the court?
Well, that's a gesture. And so how, that's how the association of the gesture and the word joker come together.
[00:37:17] Brian: Wow, okay. Yeah. It's like so much of human history and like etymology and stuff just comes from like, people being
[00:37:25] Alex: confused. Yes. It is worth noting that some of that is like contested cuz people are like, really?
Come on, it means joker and adjuster's a joker. So of course those, those go together. But I'm fairly convinced by this argument that th this is how this came from. And if you like, go to the Eur Wiki then like they say, this is how it happened. For sure.
[00:37:44] Brian: So I mean, I, I I believe it's true cuz you told me.
[00:37:48] Alex: Good. Uh, that's how I like it. So. That's, that's how we got the Joker playing card. Okay. Do you wanna hear about the man who laughs?
[00:37:57] Brian: No, let's just skip to the next part. Okay. I'm just kidding. Yeah, let's hear about the man who laughs. I've seen this picture before. Uh mm-hmm. I, I mean, I've seen it always in terms of like, this is the
[00:38:11] Alex: Joker.
Right? So the, that's something that's really interesting about this is that like, um, I think the reason that this has sort of persisted in sort of popular culture and memory is specifically because it is an inspiration for the Joker. Yeah. Many of the other inspirations we've talked about in other episodes have been as popular or more popular or at least stood on their own.
As having significant cultural experience, um, significance. And it is not the case that people don't think that this has, um, cultural significance, but I think the sort of like level of notoriety almost entirely comes from its association with the Joker. So what is the Man Who Laughs? It is a 1928 movie and it's often included in the list of universal monster movies.
It's not really a horror movie, it's more of a mellow drama. And if, if you slot it in with universal movies, this is, um, after the silent Hunchback of Notre Dame, before the talky version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. It's after a fan of the opera, but it's before Dracula. Okay, it's silent. So all the dialogue is shown in, uh, inter what they call intertitles, which are those black screens in between video where you cut back and forth.
However, it did get what they called a movie tone release for theaters. And a movie Tone is a soundtrack for the movie that is not necessarily synchronized with the video. And it, it's kind of this stop gapp technology that was invented, I think primarily for the purpose of competing with talkies. So this is coming out about the same time as talkies are ticking off.
And this, this happened a lot where, like this movie, right? They had a million dollar budget, it was a big deal and they had been working on it for like four years. So when they started working on it, silent films are the thing. By the time it comes out, talks are the thing, right? Which is a big problem financially for the movie, right?
They, they struggled because of it. It was not a success. So movie tone is a way to like, sort of like sweeten the pot a little bit and. So it's got the musical score on the movie tone, but it also has sound effects. It's a little weird. You can hear like gunshots or bells ringing, things like that. No dialogue.
There was a, a DVD release, which we'll talk about in a second, and that's the version that's on the DVD is the movie tone. So, um, when I watched it, I heard I had the movie tone sounds and all that kind of stuff, and I, I can say it was, it was really weird. So, yeah, like I said, million dollar budget, people didn't wanna go see it because it was a silent movie.
Um, it got a pretty poor critical reception, uh, uh, reception. People didn't like the movie and it was a financial player, didn't make its money back. And the movie was essentially lost for a very long time. After the theatrical release in 1928, it did not see any re-release this at all, the library. Um, Or did not see any re-releases for a long time, I should say the Library of Congress did get a copy of the film in the sixties, and there is record of a few showings of the film after that.
Right after, um, the Library of Congress has sort of like taken it and preserved it, I assume made copies. I don't know what they do with films, but it didn't receive a home video release, um, until it got a DV release back in 2007. And that's the one that I watched inc. Included the movie tone soundtrack.
Yeah. And it did receive a Blu-ray release in 2019. And that is, from what I understand, I I didn't have the, the privilege of watching this one, a very high quality release. They went back and did a 4K transfer of the film, although the Blu-rays only 10 80 p and they rerecorded the score with a full orchestra.
So it's not the movie tone release. They, they did the original score, so it doesn't have the sound effects or anything like that, but it's supposed to be just immaculate for a movie from this time period. It's like one of the best. Sort of digital transfers of, of one of the, uh, an old film that we have.
So if you're interested in watching the film, which I don't recommend, that's the one to try to find. It's, which I don't recommend. I don't, it was, it was not great. We'll get there. It, it is hard to find this movie apparently.
[00:41:49] Brian: I mean, though what you're giving me here is really crazy. Like, they made this movie, it didn't go well and then essentially evaporated for like 80 years.
Right. You couldn't watch it like it. There was no vhs. Nope. There was no laser disc. Nope. There was no real to reel. Nope. Didn't exist until they did a DVD release there. There's absolutely no way before the year 2007 to watch this
[00:42:14] Alex: movie. Yeah. So when Bob is yelling at Stan Lee in 1980 and calling it a Victor Hugo movie, which is a little funny cause Victor Hugo wrote the novel, didn't make the movie Right.
People have no idea what they're talking about. They're talking about movie that came out in 1928. And no one's seen since.
[00:42:29] Brian: Yeah. Essentially no one alive has watched this movie.
[00:42:32] Alex: That's right. Bob. Kane did. Yeah. Instead of Bill Finger, apparently, because, especially because it, it flops. So people who are alive, who are alive in the twenties probably didn't see it because no one once saw the movie.
Yeah. So what are, what are the details? So that's the sort of technical and sort of financial, what's the movie about? The Man Who Laughed is based on a novel by Victor Hugo. The, the book had the same name, although it was a French book. Um, so got translated to English Victor Hugo, you probably know other stuff that he did.
He wrote Le Miserable, he wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Um, bunch of famous books. And Universal had made an adaptation of Hunchback that was incredibly popular for them. Um, kind of kicked off the Monster movie sort of franchise and that's why they wanted to make The Man Who Laughs. It's another Victor Hugo novel.
It's about a dis disfigured protagonist. You know, they wanted to repeat the success. The problem with that is that the Man who laughs is a fairly lengthy critique and rebuke of the English monarchy that doesn't translate well into being a movie. So they took significant liberties with the story to change it to being a.
Melodrama. So kind of being a love story and a human interest story. And because of that, it doesn't really work as a narrative and the movie is hard to follow. I'll be honest with you, I watched the whole thing and I've done a little bit of research after the fact, and I still don't know that I fully, fully, fully understand the story.
Um, I definitely understand more after having done research, but I didn't at the time when I watched it. There's probably additional sort of context of the social and political landscape, um, that I don't understand and that you probably don't either if you weren't paying attention to like 19 uh, or 16 hundreds English history.
But I'll give you the gist. So it takes place in England in the 16 hundreds. There's an a noble man named Lord Clin Charlie. And he's been exiled by King, king James ii. We don't know why he's been exiled. We don't know where he's been exiled to. We don't know for how long. But Lord Clan Charlie shows up to the king and he's like, where's my son?
I wanna see my son. We, and this is, they, they haven't explained who his son is. They don't, haven't explained why they're separated. They just, no, we know that he's been exiled. He comes back, he says, where's my son? And the King's like, he's alive and well. But then the King's jeer, this guy named Bar Bark Feld.
Bark Feld, I can't pronounce
[00:44:47] Brian: it like, uh, let me spell this out. B A R K I P H E L D R O. Yes. What a ridiculous
[00:44:56] Alex: name. It's a, a French guy wrote the story. It's, they made up a person in
[00:45:00] Brian: England in the 16 hundreds. Yeah. I mean, I really hope that there is no, like a living person, especially a listener who has the name Barker Feld Ro I hope not to, but it's a pretty wild
[00:45:09] Alex: name.
Um, he's supposed to kind of be the, the villain of the story, although it doesn't do a great job of being that. But he reminds the king that they gave Lord Clan, Charlie's son to a group of people called the Camp Chicos. Okay. And we're gonna do an aside camp. Chicos got it. Um, it's gonna be a fairly lengthy aside and I apologize, but I, we have to.
This is like a, I feel a social obligation. Okay. It literally translates to child buyer in Spanish. Oh my God. Yeah. It's a fiction group of people. Wow. Um, who would buy or abduct children and then mutilate them as oddities things like binding body parts so that they would grow in deformed ways, dislocating joints, cutting body parts.
The way that Victor Cuo would describe it is as, as Bonai, which I don't know if you're familiar with that, but that's a Japanese practice of like, yeah. Bon bonai trees, es of trees and stuff. Make them grow funny. Yeah. Basically turns them into side show, uh, uh, side show sideshow at attractions. So they would like beg for alms or they would do stage shows.
They, you know, Buy kids and turn them into a way of profit Vi Hugo created the term com chicos for this novel. The concept predates him, but he made the word. It's a recurring piece of folklore that goes back as far as Shakespeare, and it is a racist trope. Just so we're super clear, this is super racist com.
Chicos are described by Hugo as being gypsies. I apologize for using that slur again. So, um, Romani people, I don't know if you're familiar with the Romani, Brian? No. The r Romani are an ethnic minority that live in Europe and they've been there for over a thousand years. And basically Right, it's, it's brown people and we don't know why they're there.
It's Oh, okay. Or they didn't know why they're there. Um, we now know that they fled India a thousand years ago and are largely nomadic, not by choice, but because they're runoff from every country in Europe as being unwanted. Right. This is where the stereotype of a gypsy comes from, of being these travelers who can't settle down right and are like sters and like swindlers and thieves.
And this is just one of those things that they've ascribed to the Roman peoples that they buy kids and turn them into side shows did not happen. Not a real thing. Gypsy. The reason that's a slur is because it's, it's short for, for Egyptian. Which they are not. So sorry for that Dower note, if you recall seeing the hundred back of Notre Dame.
Um, yeah. Also super racist and xenophobic of Romani people. The, the Disney adaptation goes out of its way to try to make the movie anti-racist, but it struggles for a couple reasons. One, because the source material is super racist and two, because it was the nineties and people still weren't very good at that sort of thing yet.
So there's some blind spots. I like that movie. Music's super good. Um, yeah, music's super good. Yeah. Uh, maybe one of the best soundtracks of any Disney movie. It has a lot of redeeming qualities, but, but probably if you're not familiar with the history of the modern people, as most people in the United States are not because it's not part of our history, um, uh, or, or present day.
Maybe worth doing a little bit of reading and recontextualizing that movie for yourself and like maybe for your kids before you show it to 'em. So, yep. Only saying that because this is a really important part of the story and we gotta know it. Yeah. So, anyway. After Baer fro reminds King James that no, no, no, his kid's not alive and well, we sold the child of Lord Clan Charlie to the Comp Chicos, uh, king James tells that to Lord Clan Charlie.
He's very sad, he's very upset. They lead him to an iron made and kill him. So that's the opening scene of the movie.
[00:48:44] Brian: Wait, what they, so they tell him this terrible news and then they kill him? Yep. And
[00:48:49] Alex: an Iron Maiden. Which I don't. Do you wanna describe what an Iron Maiden is to people? Oh, so
[00:48:53] Brian: if I've got this right, it's kind of like what you'd imagine a Egyptian sarcophagus to look like, except there's a bunch of spikes on the inside, like big spikes.
And when they close it on you, it just kind of juicy. Like an orange.
[00:49:07] Alex: Yep, that's right. And that's the first scene of this movie?
[00:49:11] Brian: Yeah. Okay. That's insane. Also, like, why did they do that to him? Because they told him bad news.
[00:49:17] Alex: So he's been exiled from England by King James. They don't tell us why. Yeah. And he comes back, so
[00:49:22] Brian: he's evading and so they kill him because he, I assume, broke his
[00:49:26] Alex: exile.
Okay. And he presumably he's exiled because he did something bad that the king doesn't like, I dunno. Sure. But again, reminder. Victor, Hugo, his big thing, um, was being anti monarchist. So a lot of his books are about, if, I don't know if you know the story of Le miserable, it's also just anti king, right? So that, that that's takes place.
Um, I believe in France, maybe Spain, I don't know. Yeah, it's France. Okay. It is about someone who's like hosed by the king. And this is the similar thing except it's in England. It's about this kid that's hosed by the king cuz he got sold, however you pronounce it,
[00:50:01] Brian: by the way. Yeah. It's so sad to think about how awful and brutal life used to be.
Sure, yeah. Oh my gosh. Like they,
[00:50:11] Alex: for the imagine this is fictional, this did not happen. Things like this happened though. But things like this absolutely happened, right? Yeah. It's. It's interesting because Victor Hugo is writing social commentary that is, um, super progressive for his time, right? He's like doing a takedown of like super awful people doing super awful things.
And one of the reasons that it's his works are so well liked is because it was prescient and important social commentary, but also it it's this, this paradox of like, you know, people who were, were contextually great people who did very important things. We're also products of their time.
[00:50:46] Brian: Now. Now I ask the listener.
Yes. And you saw this, this episode was the, the Joker. Yeah. Did you think we were gonna talk about Victor Hugo and the cop Chicos and the, the history of, of racist tropes and, and slurs like the word gypsy? N Uh, probably not. I'm guessing not.
[00:51:05] Alex: Probably not. Anyway, back to the story. So some indeterminate time later after they killed Lord clan Charlie King James banishes all com Chicos from England.
Again, conference goes fictional people. So this didn't happen. There was no, there was no vanishing. Everyone from England. But we have the scene where all of these, um, you know, Romani people are rushing to get on boats and they're trying to leave, and somehow Clint, Charlie's son is lost in the shuffle, right?
So it's a blizzard outside. Um, everyone's running for their lives. They're scared. They think they're gonna get, you know me. So they're trying to get on the boats and he's alone in the hills. It's snowing. He's wandering around outside in the blizzard. He's gotta be like, I don't know, eight years old, maybe 10.
And we see him for the first time. He's got a permanent smile. So that's the thing that the Chicos do to him, is they cut his mouth, they turn it into a smile. He, they've named him Gwen Plain. Um, the comfort Chicos have, and he's the protagonist of the story, so we're gonna follow him for the rest of the time.
So he's wandering around the blizzard. He finds a woman who's sitting in, in the snow and she's frozen to death, but she's holding a baby. The baby's crying. So this eight year old kid picks up the baby, baby's alive, and he keeps wandering through the blizzard until he finds a house. He knocks on the door and this old man named Ursus comes to the door and takes them in and raises them.
This guy is a carnival vendor and Yeah, takes the kids as his own. Both the baby and Gwen Plain jump, jump ahead again. This is a really short scene, right? We, and now they're adults. The little girl, the baby grows up to be a woman named Dia, and she's blind, she can't see. And Gwen Plaine grows up and has this permanent smile, and Dia is like desperately in love with Gwen Plaine.
Like that's how they start the scene is like, she's super in love with him. Gwen Plaine loves her too. But thinks he's unworthy, worthy of her love because she's blind and she can't see how ugly he is. So he's real self-conscious. Right. And he's covering his face all the time. She wants to feel it, he won't let her.
Right. And I have a picture in this, of this scene, in the script. I dunno if you wanna describe it to people, this is the first time we see them as adults.
[00:53:03] Brian: So, uh, what do I say? So you've got Dia who has, um, yeah, she's, she's beautiful. She's got the, I don't know, long, curly blonde hair. Um, she's wearing like a white, white blouse and she's just got like that, I don't know that common movie, 1920s, traditional.
I don't know how you describe a person's face when they look like totally normal. Mm-hmm. But I don't know. She, she looks like the, the lady that King Kong picks up, that, that's what comes to mind for me. Just like a totally normal mm-hmm. Five foot, four blonde, beautiful woman. Mm-hmm. Lipstick, smiling eyes, small nose, you know, all, all the normal stuff.
And then next to her, DIA is holding onto Gwen Plain. Gwen Plain. Yes. Gwen Plain. Uh, he's got, what do you call those, like widow's peaks. He's got his hair, his, uh, like kind of a dark brown. It's all pulled straight back, almost like if he's got a ponytail in the back mm-hmm. Or something like that. And yeah, his, he's, he's just got this like unusually big smile.
Mm-hmm. He's got smile creases and, and wrinkles like that. And his face is very, very, very white, like pasty white. Mm-hmm. Um, compared to even this pale, uh, dia who's, who's standing next to him. Yeah. Um,
[00:54:34] Alex: Yeah. So that, that's, that's the man who laughs, right? That's, that's, um, Gwen Plain. And this is the sort of picture that, that inspires the joker.
They would, when they were promoting this movie, they would tell people that there was no makeup and that there was, um, he had no costume really for him. That he did it all natural. That's not true. He definitely wore white makeup on his face to make his skin tone lighter and he also wore dentures. Um, and those dentures had hooks at the tops of his mouth that pulled his cheeks back.
It was incredibly painful. Um, and he wears it for the whole movie. It. But what's really interesting about it right, is that it keeps his mouth kind of in this permanent smile, but the rest of his face doesn't do smile like things. So you can see like in this picture, right, that he has this kind of pained look on his face.
[00:55:23] Brian: Yes. I was having a really hard time trying to figure out how to describe what his face was doing. Yeah. But yeah, when you, when you describe it that way, yes. His mouth is stuck and if I cover up his mouth, the whole rest of his face just looks like really unhappy and like maybe a little embarrassed.
[00:55:40] Alex: Yes. Yeah. That, that's him back to the story. So now that Ursa has taken them in and he's a, a carnival vendor, they run a side, a side show. A side show for big crowds. They make lots of money. They put up signs that says the man Who laughs. Right. And the movie takes place when they've come to, they, they do the caravan thing where they go from town to town.
They do their show when the movie takes place, they've come to the South Work Fair. Which means they're performing in London. Right? Um, and at this point, king j King James is dead. Queen Ann is running the show, and there's this duchess, whose name is Josanna. In the book, they explained that Josanna is the illegitimate, illegitimate child of King James.
They don't bother to do that in the, in the movie, but she's betrothed to this noble man that she doesn't like. Um, she loves to sneak away and cavort and like drink and be with the common people. And we see her at the South work, south work fair, um, enjoying herself. And, um, people are super judgy of her because she's this noble lady and she's like acting like a floozy.
She goes to one of Gwen Plains shows and it makes her feel some kind of way she might be a little aroused also happening at the Southward Fair. The CompCo surgeon who mutilated Gwen LaPlaine in the first place sees him and is like, oh shit. This is Lord Clin Charlie's son. And it turns out that Duchess Josanna is living in Lord Clin Charlie's estate.
Right. So the dude that they murdered, who's Gwin Plain's dad, right. Owned the house that Justice Josanna is living in. He has claim to it. Gwen Plaine has claimed to it should have inherited it, and the
[00:57:07] Brian: surgeon knows it. It's like a weird small world kinda thing. Yeah, I
[00:57:11] Alex: guess. Yeah. Um, but they're adults, right?
So like, it's been, who knows, 20 years or whatever, right. And they're just, they're doing their sideshow across the country, right? They just happen to come to London. Right. The surgeon recognizes it, knows this connection, knows that he was a old woman's son. And so he's like, I'm gonna take this as an opportunity.
He writes a letter to Josanna Duchess, who's living in the house to ex order for money. Says like, Hey, if you don't pay me, I'm gonna let them know that you're living in this house. This dude's alive, sir Barker Feld, the guy who was the gesture in the beginning. He's now a high member of the court working for Queen Anne.
Intercepts the letter and shows it to the Queen instead of Joa. Meanwhile, Jo Sianna, who sees the show is aroused, right? Jo Sianna summons. Gwen Plaine sends a dude with a letter and says like, Hey, come to my place. And so they put him in a carriage. He comes across town, shows up in her bedroom, she tries to seduce him.
She's like, let's hook up. It's midnight. And Gwen Plaine sneaks out and he's into it. Um, because Ana can see him unlike Dia, and she doesn't think he's ugly. So, um, but he's conflicted cuz he does love Dia. Meanwhile, DIA notices that Gwen Plain is gone in the middle of the night. She gets really, really sad.
She goes outside and she like falls asleep outside, waiting for Gwen Plain to come back. I have this picture of, of Lady Josanna. And, and Gwen Plain, do you wanna describe it?
[00:58:31] Brian: Yeah, it's, it's pretty funny. Um, so essentially you've got this woman who has, who is like throwing herself on top of this guy, essentially.
Yeah. She's really into it. She's got the, her eyes are like almost closed, like she's trying to go in for a kiss. Very, very like erotic body language from her side. And she's
[00:58:51] Alex: like in a nightgown, which like the whole movie does that with her very male gaze, the whole thing. Like, there's a scene earlier in the movie where she's like, taking a
[00:58:57] Brian: bath.
Right? Oh wow. Okay. And then you've got Gwen Plain who just looks so confused and like he's smiling, which I know the smile is forced. It's like it's required or whatever. It's, it's built into his face now, but, but it's almost like this awkward, like, do you really want to kiss me? Kind of a look? Yeah. Like he's his eyebrows, his eyes look so confused.
Mm-hmm. Like, what is going on with this lady? Uh, it's, it's a pretty funny picture with all this background as well.
[00:59:30] Alex: Yeah. The, do you remember the, the want to getaway commercials?
[00:59:36] Brian: I, I see where you're going with this. Yeah. The Southwest commercials. Yeah. They'd
[00:59:40] Alex: have this thing where like, you were over at someone's house and like, you go into their bathroom in the morning and like you decide to go through their, their, you know, drug, um, the, the drug shelf behind the mirror. Right.
And you're looking at all their stuff and then the shelves like come crashing down and there's like pills everywhere. And the look on their face is just like horrified of like, how am I'm gonna explain this thing? Like, I gotta get figure
[01:00:00] Brian: here. Yeah. Wanna get away. Yeah.
[01:00:03] Alex: That's how Klan Charlie looks, right?
He's like, how did I get into this situation? What is happening? But right before Jo and Gwen Plain are able to hook up, she gets a letter from the Queen. There's this like thing that rings a bell, and then there's a thing in her wall that like turns around and there's a letter inside. Assume Servant has brought her the letter, right?
And the letter says it's from the Queen and it says, Gwyn Plaine is Charlie Clan Charlie's son, and you gotta get married to him Now. Because you need to inherit his estate. Um, otherwise he's gonna take it from you. So suddenly she's really upset, which I don't really understand cause she's gonna hook up with this guy.
But now it's like, you gotta marry him. And she's, she's like, get away from me. She swims, sends Gwen Plaine away, Gwen Plaine goes back to the caravan, caravan finds Dia sleep outside, waiting for him, feels really guilty, starts crying, wakes her up, lets her touch his face, his smile, you know, says, which was a big deal.
Cause he didn't let her do it that earlier. He's like, I love you. You know, so he's, he's had a, like, you know, the guilts overcome him. Then a bunch of guards show up to take Gwen Plaine away. They hold him into prison for a while and then they take him to the House of Lords and grant him a ridge. Right? So he can be nobility so that he can marry the duchess.
My understanding that in the book, he gives a soaring anti monarchy speech at this time and the Lords laugh at him because of his speech. Challenge him to duels and stuff, and then he does duels, right? But this is a two hour movie where half of the movie's text, right? Um, so they caught all that. He shows up, ain't nobody got time.
Um, he's granted a period and they laugh at him because of his face. And he's like, I, you know, f this noise. I don't have to take this. And he leaves. Meanwhile, D Dia thinks that Gwen Plaine has been killed by the guards because Ursus and, and Gwen Plaine both think that, that he's been taken away and now he's dead.
Then guards show up and they're like, Hey, you gotta leave England. You're being banished. Right? So I assume the queen's like trying to tie up loose ends here. So they go to the docks, they get outta a boat, they start to leave England. And Gwen Plain, who's fled the House of Lords is running and trying to find them.
And there's this like climactic scene where like, there's people with fish forks and guards and Gwin Plain's trying to get away. And like he shows up to the sideshow and they're not there. And one of the, the people who was in the show with him says, oh, they're leaving England. They've been banished. And so he chases them to the docks and he's like, wait, wait, wait.
And he finds like a little dingy, like a rowboat rose out to them. And like the guards are like coming after Gwen Plaine. And the dog, who's I kid you not the dog's name is Homo. Um, yeah. Jumps off the boat and like, cuz he hears Gwen Plaine and like, he's very loyal to the Plaine and like bites one of the guards to like, let him get away.
He catches up to the boat, he climbs on board, they all hug and, you know, Gwin Plaine and, and Dia kiss and happily ever after. My understanding of the book is that, um, Gwen Plain dies like she faints. When, when Gwen Plain shows up and he die, she dies of like a, of a broken heart cuz she thought he was dead and she can't take it.
And when Gwen Plain realizes that she's dead, he jumps off the boat and nurses is on the boat alone. Um, but they decided to end it happy for for the movie and that's the end. Wow. That's the movie. Wow. Yeah. Doesn't make a lot of sense. Kind of a melodrama. Yes. Do you have any questions? Wow. Before
[01:03:15] Brian: I questions?
Yes. No, I don't have any questions. I have a lot of thoughts. I have a lot of observations. Please. So, so comparing this back to the Joker Yes. And stuff, um, it's, it's interesting to see the kind of strange comparisons to like the 1989 joker. Mm. And how, like his face is, is stuck in a permanent smile mm-hmm.
Is a, uh, result of a accident. Yeah. Sorts, you know, and then how he kind of proceeds from there. And the Joker, one of his tropes, uh, from the very beginning is some kind of a poison or gas or something that, uh, when people die, They die with these massive grains on their face mm-hmm. To look like him.
Mm-hmm. Also, the connections to, I dunno, I guess this would be like body dysmorphia mm-hmm. Of, of being ashamed of the way that you look. And, and so like the Joker, even in the 1989 movie, he kind of surrounds himself, his, uh, with other people that have gone through some sort of deformity. Mm-hmm. Um, some physical deformity.
So that's all really interesting. This does also remind me of the Phantom of the Opera. Yes. Right. This idea that, that a dude is, has some sort of a defect on his face and he tries to hide it, but he's in love with this woman and there's all this like strange like romantic story around it. Yes. And it's made strange by the, the situations.
[01:04:47] Alex: Yes. And you gotta remember that Universal had made an adaptation of fan of the opera that was incredibly successful for them before they make the man who laughs. And so it is definitely the case that they're trying to replicate success and turning this more into a romance, even though that wasn't really the p purpose of the novel.
[01:05:03] Brian: Oh, I see. I had a lot of thoughts throughout, throughout this cuz there were so many things that just kind of kept bringing me back to this is all a set up for who the joker's gonna become. Sure. And it's, to me it's more than just that one picture. There's a, there's some background that they ripped as well.
[01:05:22] Alex: It's interesting because I think, um, for me it's not as immediately obvious, like having done all of this research. It's not the case that it came away from, from it. Thinking that there's actually a ton that's in common, but having you pointed out a little bit of like, well, they're dealing with shame, they're dealing with am I worthy of being loved?
Uh, they're dealing with sort of people who have some sort of deformity, right. Um, that makes them different and, and what that does to them. Right. I could see it for sure, especially when you're talking about the 1989 Batman movie. So, Yeah.
[01:05:54] Brian: And then, well the last thing is the lack of an origin story as well.
So like this GW Plain, he was sold as a child, presumably has no memory of who his, his father was. Mm-hmm. Probably doesn't remember why he has this massive smile. Right. Has no origin story. Just like the Joker has no origin story because it's, it's, well, I mean the, the Joker now does, but like sure. What, what Jerry was saying about the Joker not needing an origin story and making you wonder is this dude's lived experience is, he doesn't know where he came from or, or who he is.
Yeah. That's also kind of an interesting, uh, comparison.
[01:06:34] Alex: Yeah, for sure. A couple more thoughts from me before we move on. I, I said that this was a critically panned at the time and not a financial success. Um, I said that I didn't like it and that it was hard to follow. It is worth noting that the film is now often praised by, uh, movie buffs and critics.
People will call it, as, you know, part of what they call the German expressionist genre. So there are lots of movies that are being made at this time that are sort of prestigious, right? It is very much about the sort of mood, the emotion. It's supposed to be very visceral, right? The acting and the performances and the sort of the, the visual style is everything, uh, in terms of how people take this in.
And so when they're thinking about it as like part of cinema history, right? They're thinking about it in that context. Roger Ebert. Is on the record as being in love with this movie, one of his favorite movies ever. Really? Yes. And I'll put a link in the show notes. There's a video that was made by a channel called Dark Corner Previews, and he also just gushes about how great the, the film is and it's well worth the watch.
I'll say, I'll go as far and say it's better to watch the video than it is to watch the movie cuz he spends a lot of time contextualizing it and why people might. Care
[01:07:49] Brian: for it. This, so this is the nerd, nerd in me speaking. Yeah. Is if I ever watched the movie, I would want to watch this video clip first.
Yeah. Based on just kind of the, the title of it is The Forgotten Universal Classic. And, uh, I know that. And maybe this is me kind of revealing too much about myself, but like everyone says, citizen Kane is this incredible film. Oh no, don't say it. Cha Change change cinema history, stuff like that. Wait, wait, wait.
Stop. Wait. The first time I watched it I was like, this is boring. Yeah. I was very, it's very sleepy. And then I watched some stuff about the background. I, I learned about it and like what Rosebud means. Mm-hmm. And, and how there's like this recurring reference to that kinda stuff throughout the film. And then I also learned the trivia about why it was such a, um, impactful film and, and history mm-hmm.
And how it changed cinema. Now when I watch it, it's a great movie with all of that in context, I like it a lot. And I'm able to pick up on all this texture extra stuff and I nerd out. On the movie, and this is, this is what I would need to do, I think, to watch this movie and like it is to have a lot of interesting trivia Yeah.
In my head. So I could go, oh, there's this, oh, there's that. Oh, there, you
[01:09:06] Alex: know, I wish I had done it in that order because I could, you know, I can't, I can't, um, ab that experiment. Um, sure, maybe I could go watch it again now. But I could see that like if you, if you're not trying to make sense of it, if you're not trying to form a narrative and instead you're sort of paying attention to performances and you're paying attention to tone and you're paying attention to sort of the human element.
That you might really like it because it is pretty incredible to see Conrad VITs in performance, what he's able to do with his face, to be able to convey someone who's in pain, convey someone who's embarrassed, convey someone who's sad, convey someone who's happy, someone who's defiant, right? While, while he has his, his face and sort of this permanent smile and to see sort of the love triangle, right?
There is intrigue there that you might be able to let yourself be interested in if you're not as worried about it making sense. Right? And so, you know, I, I understand why there could be merit. One last thing I'll say. I have a picture here, um, in the, in the doc, and it's probably the one I'll use for the chapter artwork.
This is the one that most people think is the photo that Bill Finger brought. If you, if you read any book, if you read any article about Conrad V, inspiring the Joker, it's gonna be this picture. Yeah. And it's worth noting that this is a promotional picture. It is not one that appears in the film, and he looks very sinister and he looks, um, like he's gonna, you know, kill you.
Yeah. And it, it does look like, like the joker, but he doesn't look like this for most of the movie. Right, right.
[01:10:35] Brian: The, there's, I mean, for all these other stills you've shown me.
[01:10:38] Alex: Yeah. He, he looks more in pain, more like a monster, more ashamed, more whatever. This he's, he's got smiling cheeks and he's got smiling eyes.
His eyebrows are arched. He's got the wrinkles on the top of his face. He looks like he's smiling. Right. He doesn't look like he's smiling in a lot of photos. So if all you've seen is this photo, I would encourage you to do a Google image search man who laughs or watch the movie or watch that YouTube video I linked and, and do yourself a favor and give yourself just that little bit more context, because I think it's worthwhile when you understand like how they're inspired by this movie that it's not quite the picture that everyone talks about.
Cool. So that, those are the inspirations. Do you wanna read the book? Let's do it. So again, Batman number one, it's a, it's a quarterly book. This is the first one. It happens in spring of 1940 and. This has, I think, five Batman stories in it. We're only gonna read one, so that's, that's the context for that. We got the cover.
Do you wanna tell the readers all about it?
[01:11:32] Brian: Sure. So the, the night sky is kind of a bright, sunny yellow. It says Batman issue number one spring issue. We've got kind of silhouette behind the, the big Batman title is Bat Wings and Batman's head placed where the, the bat's head would be. Mm-hmm.
[01:11:53] Alex: This is the bat, the Batman logo that Jerry Robinson
[01:11:56] Brian: made.
Oh, okay. And so then you've got Batman and Robin swinging on ropes through the scene. They're looking at each other and they're smiling, like, life is good and things are awesome. And that's, that's essentially the cover page. Yep.
[01:12:13] Alex: I think this is a great cover. This is one of my favorites so far. It's all brand new Adventures of the Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder Reprinted.
Here is the two page origin story that Bill Finger wrote for an earlier issue of Detective comics. We've already read it, but they, they sort of put that at the, at the front of the issue before they start the first
[01:12:29] Brian: story. Bruce Wayne sees his parents die. He cries, he vows to war on all, uh, all criminals, and then he becomes a scientist, a bodybuilder.
All this stuff bat breaks into his window while he is, um, in the study, and that inspires him to become. The Batman. Okay,
[01:12:52] Alex: so we've got the title page of the story we're gonna read. It says Batman with Robin, the Boy Wonder
[01:12:56] Brian: once again, a master criminal stalks the city streets a criminal weaving, a web of death about him leaving Stricken victims behind wearing a ghastly clowns grin the sign of death from the Joker.
Only two dare to oppose him, Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder two, to battle the grim. JE called the Joker a battle of wits with swift death. The only compromise we've got,
[01:13:26] Alex: the very first illustration of the Joker ever. He's in a purple jacket. He's got a white face, red lips. It's in a sort of sinister smile.
Um, and he's got those dead eyes that Bob Kane was talking about, looking over your shoulder. Green hair. He's holding in his left hand a deck of cards, and on the right hand he's holding a hand of cards. Three of them in the center. We've got the Joker that looks a lot like that. Jerry Robinson drawing.
[01:13:49] Brian: Just like, yeah, just like, yeah. Yeah. And then he's
[01:13:53] Alex: got a Batman card and a Robin card. Which I thought was pretty cool.
[01:13:57] Brian: That is pretty cool. And so then, uh, down on the corner, we've got a couple of old folks. It says it is night in most homes, people listen to their radios. So presumably it's a couple of old, old folks, white hair, chilling and listening to their radio.
[01:14:14] Alex: Yep. The lady says, Mai, isn't it peaceful sitting at home like this? Nothing
[01:14:18] Brian: like it
[01:14:19] Alex: static. And the radio's making a sound. It goes, oc crackle, ak. Suddenly the music is cut off a voice, a tone less voice. Drones.
[01:14:26] Brian: Tonight at precisely 12 o'clock midnight, I will kill Henry Claridge and steal the Claridge diamond.
Do not try to stop me. The joker has spoken. Yes. So we
[01:14:38] Alex: have a broadcast signal intrusion here are, uh, have you ever heard of something like this,
[01:14:43] Brian: Brian? Yeah. Um, there's, there's some pretty famous ones like, um, max Headroom. Max Headroom. That's I had in my head. A strange example. That's the most famous one.
[01:14:53] Alex: Yeah. Maybe that'll be a subject for, for a different, uh, a different episode. But yeah, basically they're listening to the radio and someone takes over. They hijack the signal. And, um, didn't that happen in, and then, now that I'm thinking about it, didn't that happen in, uh, the dark Night? No, I don't know.
The Joker had a ransom note. I don't know if he delivered it to the news station and they aired it or if he cut in over the tv. But it's a thing that happens in TV and movies and stuff.
[01:15:15] Brian: But yeah, he might have cut in. Yeah, I remember that. Now also, the Joker has spoken, is kind of funny. It's like que from the Mandalorian hopping in.
I have spoken.
[01:15:26] Alex: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I forgot about that. I have spoken. Yes. Then once again, music Henry, did you hear Henry Claridge The Millionaire to be killed? The famous Diamond stolen.
[01:15:36] Brian: Ha, that's just a gag. Like that fellow who scared everybody with that story about the the Mars the last time, haha. Pay no attention to a deer.
So that's obviously a reference to the War of the Worlds, right? Yes. What happened with the War of the Worlds Alex? Oh, you want
[01:15:53] Alex: me to, oh, um, ORs and Wells. Yeah. Uh, it was a radio production, fictional radio production, um, that was a dramatization of the book War the Worlds, which I believe is an Isaac Asimov book.
[01:16:08] Brian: I don't know. I'll find out.
[01:16:09] Alex: No HD Wells. Sorry. There you go. Different wells. Yeah, fictionalized dramatization played it on the radio. Oh, man. How deep do you want to go on this, Brian?
[01:16:19] Brian: Oh, it's super shallow. Okay. I mean, I would just say, go ahead. The,
[01:16:23] Alex: the popular version of the story is that, um, it fooled a bunch of people and they thought aliens were actually invading the earth if you want.
Oh God, I can't, I can't help myself. Um, it's, that's not true. So even like in textbooks and like e Everyti everywhere, you hear this, everywhere you read this, they will say that that's the case due for the reading. I, I implore you. Um, that's, uh, was anti radio propaganda, um, that the newspapers did because they didn't want to be, um, they did not want to be replaced by, they
[01:16:54] Brian: didn't now want to have their lunch eaten.
[01:16:56] Alex: Yes. And so they said that there was this awful thing that they did and it scared everyone to death and cost us a bunch of money because people were calling the police. Not true. Didn't happen. Yeah. And anyway, that's what this guy is referencing. He's like, oh, don't worry about it dear. That thing. That person just said it's fiction.
It was made up. Remember what happened that other time.
[01:17:12] Brian: Yeah, that was
[01:17:13] Alex: fiction too. Yeah. And this pop, pop, pop culture at this point, like that's, that's probably a very recent event.
[01:17:18] Brian: Um, probably, yeah. Yeah.
[01:17:20] Alex: And then we have a radio announcer sitting in front of his microphone, kind of in profile, uh, half in silhouette.
It says Radio stations are swamped with calls officials declare strange messages that declare the strange messages is not part of the program. The gag has become a reality
[01:17:34] Brian: uhoh. So then Henry Claridge frantic with fear calls the police,
[01:17:40] Alex: you've gotta protect me. I'm gonna be killed,
[01:17:41] Brian: robbed. You don't have to keep the the high voice.
You were just the old lady. You just used the old lady voice. But I'm just, I'm a
[01:17:48] Alex: distressed man. I don't know. Oh, okay, let's go. I've started to do this. I read books to my son, like, I don't know, five or six times a day. He's like really into books. My three year old and Oh yeah. Uh, and now just like force of habit.
Like I'm choosing a different voice for every person so that he can follow along. And like, I don't have that many voices. I've got like high pitch voice and I've got low voice and I've got like, you know, I'm a squirrel voice, you know? And so, They don't even fit half the time.
[01:18:14] Brian: I'm just choosing one. Yeah.
I, I use different voices when I read to, to my child as well. He's, um, he's an avid reader as well. And yeah, it's funny how like, as an adult you just start to learn about these new voices you have. You're trying to like read to kids and stuff. Okay, so we've got these claridge here. He says Claridge here.
Sounds like an old lady. Yep. No, he doesn't sound. I'm gonna
[01:18:36] Alex: redo it. You gotta protect me. I'm gonna be killed, robbed.
[01:18:39] Brian: And then we've got, uh, police, seemingly chief of police. He's got a lot of, uh, triangles on his arm. He says, don't worry, Mr. C Claridge, you and that diamond of yours will be safe enough.
We'll all stay in the same room where the diamonds kept and watch you. 11 o'clock, one hour to go bong and inflexible cord is formed about the doomed man. So we've got, I don't know, like a dozen police officers pretty much holding hands in a circle. Literally. Yeah. Holding hands around Gordon and Claridge.
I mean, it looks like they're going to bless them or do a sentence or something like they're
[01:19:16] Alex: saying a prayer before doing something. Yeah, they're, yeah. Time drags on, seconds, minutes. Then the fateful hour, 12 o'clock, and we see
[01:19:24] Brian: a grandfather clock. Then Cler says, I'm still
[01:19:27] Alex: alive. I'm not dead. I'm safe.
Then without warning. I'm so,
[01:19:32] Brian: and he's grabbing outta his throat. He falls to the ground and a police officer reached on, grabs his wrist, goes dead. It isn't possible. And yet, chief look his mouth Slowly, the facial muscles pull the dead man's mouth into a repellent ghastly grin. The sign of death from Joker horrible.
[01:19:53] Alex: the Joker brings death to his victims with a smile. You asked, so I'm gonna interject this. Brian is the locked room plot trope.
[01:20:02] Brian: Oh, I
[01:20:02] Alex: see. This is the idea that someone who couldn't possibly have been killed is killed. The first person who is often cited to have done a locked room plot is Edgar Allen Poe, but it's incredibly popular.
Sherlock Holmes. Um, the, the, the shadow. Everyone under the sun, we see these, we've had locked room plots in Batman movies. The Dark Knight has them, if you recall. Yeah. It doesn't necessarily have to be something where there's people present. Yeah, I
[01:20:30] Brian: get it now. Like they, they died inside of a locked room.
That's right. Or a door, a room that was locked from the inside. Mm-hmm.
[01:20:37] Alex: It do. Doesn't necessarily have to be that police are present there, although in the Batman stories, they often do that. Um, but the idea is that like, how could he possibly have been killed? The bat whispers the talkie that inspired, um, Batman.
That movie starts with a locked room plot. Um, that's how they introduced the bat as the villain. He pulls a heist. Okay, what now, chief,
[01:20:56] Brian: the claridge diamond. If the joker killed Claridge, he must have the diamond,
[01:21:01] Alex: but how could he? We were in the room the
[01:21:03] Brian: whole time and they open a safe, pull it out. Ah, the diamond, the joker didn't get it after all.
He did get
[01:21:10] Alex: it. This is a phony, it's glass
[01:21:13] Brian: chief. I found something in here. It was underneath the case. So the police officers pulling something out of the safe that was sitting underneath the, uh, the diamond, the, the, I don't know what you call the ring box, I guess that had a diamond in it, the sign of the Joker.
And it is a joker playing card that looks exactly like Jerry Robinson's.
[01:21:38] Alex: Yeah. It, and it's worth noting. Jerry probably drew this, right? Yeah. Not far away. It's a man. A man with a changeless mask like face, but for the eyes burning, hate-filled eyes.
[01:21:49] Brian: The Claridge Diamond mine, those bungling police, how they would like to know how I managed it and how I should like to shout the answer into their stupid faces.
A solution injected into sleeping Claridge at 12 last night. A solution that kills in exactly 24 hours so that he's dead at 12. Tonight they find the glass diamond tonight that I exchanged for the real one last night, a prediction on the radio of a crime that has already been done. So what we've got here is obviously the joker.
He's sitting in his, I don't know, big, big office looking room. Mm-hmm. Uh, he's got like a, like a, what do you call those? A tiger skin Rug. Mm-hmm. He's got this massive mask, like a, the smiling, you know, the, the famous like smiling and, and crying face masks. Oh, the drama masks? Yes, the drama masks. He's got like the smiling one up on his wall, it looks like.
Mm-hmm. And then I'm guessing like a bunch of random machines or computers or something like that? I have, I have no idea. Evil lair stuff. Uh, yeah, evil lair stuff. Good. Good call. And then strangely, a, and I might be reading this wrong, but in the bottom right corner, kind of in the foreground, it looks like a bust of Batman to me.
[01:23:10] Alex: Yeah, it could be. It's definitely a bust. Um, like a head and shoulders on top of a pedestal, and it's got ears coming up the top that kinda look like Batman. I'd never noticed this until you pointed it out.
[01:23:20] Brian: Could be. And, and, and so then what I read there was three cells, panels panels, three panels. Um, and it's just different angles of, of the joker He is.
He's sitting in this big chair that's much taller than he is and uh, and then he's looking at the diamond over his desk kind of excitedly. Strangely though, in both of those pictures, he doesn't have the forced smile. He's, he's,
[01:23:47] Alex: yeah. So that was something I was gonna point out is that Bob, Kane has drawn this very much like.
Conrad V in his hair, right? He's got the widow's peak. Just like you said, it's pulled all the way back, just like you said. And we didn't see pictures of it in the dock, but this is how his picture ends. It doesn't kind of go into a ponytail, it just kind of is blown, sort of like jet blown out the back and kind of just like ends in these like weird strands.
Looks exactly the same, but he doesn't have the permanent smile. So he's got a very, um, sort of straight face in one. Then he's sort of smiling quietly to himself with like his teeth without upturned, you know, corners of his mouth. Yeah, sitting in his like throne like chair kind of thing. Looking very evil, looking very schemey purple suit purple gloves.
A man smiles a smile without mirth, rather a smile of death. The awesome ghastly grin of the joker.
[01:24:37] Brian: If the police expect to play against the joker, they had best be prepared to be dealt the bottom of the deck. Haha. Card jokes. And now
[01:24:47] Alex: he does don
[01:24:47] Brian: that. That ghastly smile. So newspapers and, uh, radios all scream the story of the ruthless, cunning criminal, the joker at home.
Bruce Wayne, the Batman speaks with his young, his young aide, Dick Grayson, known as Robin The Boy Wonder. I do think it's funny that it's not just Robin. It's always Robin the Boy Wonder. Yes. And
[01:25:10] Alex: remember the first issue with Robin, detective Thomas, 38 was last month instantly permanent
[01:25:16] Brian: fixture.
Especially when they, when we were talking about that episode, it sounded like they were trying to decide if they were gonna keep him or not, and gonna see if like it played well, but like instantly the, like the next story here, like he's always been here. Yeah, yeah.
[01:25:31] Alex: But Bruce, why don't we take a shot at this joker
[01:25:33] Brian: guy?
Not yet, Dick. The time isn't ripe, but when we do.
[01:25:39] Alex: And then we cut to another, uh, old couple sitting in their living room listening to the radio. It says another night, another break. Again, the same dog, deadly mocking voice.
[01:25:48] Brian: Uh, so this is from the radio. Ah, tonight in exactly one hour, I will kill Jay Wild and steal the roers.
Ruby, the Joker has spoken. It's, it's him again, the Joker. It's nine o'clock now. At 10 o'clock, that friend, that fiend will kill Jay Wild
[01:26:08] Alex: again. A wall of humans in circle. A doomed man.
[01:26:11] Brian: So yeah, we've got a bunch of, uh, police officers this time. Not holding hands, but like no ki kind of surrounding this dude while he looks around.
Yep. Um, this student in. I guess one of those like old style, like plaid, almost Paisley. Paisley. Okay. Paisley suit. It's like a orange. Yep. Uh, and he's looking at the clock on his wall, obviously in his own house. He's saying out loud, I'm going to die in five minutes. I'm going to die, die, die. The toll
[01:26:44] Alex: of the time, the fatal hour bong
[01:26:47] Brian: 10, it's going to happen.
Now the clock is ticking my
[01:26:50] Alex: life away. A strangled scream.
[01:26:52] Brian: Death. And the dude, yeah, it's grabbing at his throat and it looks like he's gonna fall down. He's obviously, he's got all the shake lines
[01:27:03] Alex: and then it says it followed by a strange gas.
[01:27:05] Brian: And so then we've got a bunch of police officers who are, who are also choking and gasping.
They're holding up their throats and their hats are falling off. That's how you know, it's really intense. Yeah, and it's, it's in the same room. You can tell that because there's a night night armor in, in both, both, um, panels. I love
[01:27:27] Alex: that by the way, like, This is, this is, they're like, what does a rich person have in their house?
I don't know. Books. A fireplace and a knight's armor.
[01:27:34] Brian: Yeah. Well it's, if you look into it a little bit more, there's, it's also kind of funny to me cuz it's not like a regular fireplace, it's like kind of a special fireplace. It's made out of like stone and stuff. And like on his mantle, it's not like pictures of his family.
It's like little figurines. Like of like an elephant or something. Elephant, yeah. And yeah, books, they've got a. Basically what they're saying is like, rich people live like citizen Kane with a bunch of like, really strange and like Gotti. Mm-hmm. Um, design elements just thrown
[01:28:05] Alex: about. I cannot wait for us to get to Batman 66 because this is what Wayne Manor looks like on the inside.
[01:28:12] Brian: Okay.
[01:28:13] Alex: From the joker, from the Armor, the Joker.
[01:28:16] Brian: Oh, he came outta the armor. I missed this when I read it before. Oh, okay. Uh, lucky for the police that the venom spray only paralyzes for, for the wild else, they would've perished like wild. He had no spray but a blown dart. You had the concentrated venom on the Dart A wild, didn't you?
A Are you so happy that you smile for joy? A I'm glad I have brought you a, uh, so much cheer. And so the Joker is like leaning over, holding, like gr kind of grabbing it wild to while he's saying all this stuff in a wildes dead there with this huge grin.
[01:28:55] Alex: I, I get the vibe that he's like doing that thing where you, you, you punch a chin, like of
[01:29:00] Brian: a, a kid or something.
Oh yeah, yeah. Like, oh, you're being funny aren't you? Sock? Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[01:29:05] Alex: The diabolical, the diabolical joker removes the armor, steals the roers
[01:29:10] Brian: Ruby. Thank you all gentlemen. You have me happy to, we shall meet again.
[01:29:17] Alex: And he's like taking off his hat and like taking a bow, like saying goodbye. Very flamboyant.
[01:29:22] Brian: And what like, oh, the police officers are dead, right? They've all got the No, no. They just paralyzed. Yes. But they all have the big smile on. They do. And they're
[01:29:30] Alex: on the ground. Okay. The police search everywhere for the joker, but to no avail. But another group is also interested in the criminal hangout noted for criminal element.
Dot dot. And so we're inside what looks like, you know, uh, speakeasy, right? And there's tons of smoke. There's a bunch of men in like suits and bowler cats and there's sitting around tables.
[01:29:48] Brian: I tell you boys, we gotta get this guy the Joker.
[01:29:51] Alex: You're right, brute. He's cutting in on a bracket.
[01:29:53] Brian: We get the claridge diamond lined up for an easy job and he pulls the job.
[01:29:59] Alex: forget, we were gonna try the roers. Ruby, what are we
[01:30:02] Brian: gonna do? Take it lying down. I got
[01:30:05] Alex: no idea. You guys go out and pass the word around that brute Nelson gonna get the joker that he thinks the joker is a yeller rat. The sensational news that brute Nelson is gunning for. The joker travels the criminal grapevine.
The Batman is ready to get
[01:30:18] Brian: into action. So we've got Batman putting his mask on, he's suiting up and he says, I'm going to the home of brute Nelson. I heard some news today over the grapevine grapevine, in quotes that makes me think the time is ripe grape. I think it's funny they put that in quotes like people were gonna think grape.
It was a literal grapevine grape that he heard it over. It is night
[01:30:39] Alex: brute Nelson sits in his private house in the suburbs,
[01:30:42] Brian: the Joker A, when I get through with him, he'll be a joke. All right.
[01:30:47] Alex: Suddenly a drowning, dreary voice, a funeral face with eyes radiating hate talking
[01:30:52] Brian: about me, the joker. Suddenly doors burst open, trapped.
[01:30:58] Alex: Very neat. That ugly head of yours does
[01:31:00] Brian: have a brain. Sure. I knew if you got sore enough, you'd come for me.
[01:31:05] Alex: Suddenly the scrape of a foot is heard up on the stair, the mighty Batman.
[01:31:09] Brian: So we've got Batman at the, just at the top of some stairs. It doesn't look like he's really doing anything in this panel.
And, uh, he says, oh, he thinks I'm afraid I wasn't as silent as I'd hoped to be. The Batman, how did he get in here? The Joker is momentarily forgotten as the Batman leaps down the stairs and we've got the Batman midair, it's co completely splayed out. Yeah. And jump, you know, Cape Ferling out behind him.
It's, it's actually pretty funny looking.
[01:31:40] Alex: Yeah, he's, it looks like he's doing a jumping jack. He's like one of those like flying squirrels or like, oh,
[01:31:45] Brian: flying squirrel. Exactly like that. Yeah. Yeah.
[01:31:47] Alex: A lucid door, like jumping off the top, the top of the corner or whatever. Look out, shoot him
[01:31:52] Brian: a human avalanche strikes the gunman.
[01:31:55] Alex: And then that meant, I don't know how he's 180, cuz in the other picture he was like flying squirrel, but now he's like head down and he's like, fist firsts
[01:32:03] Brian: like a bullet. Yeah. Yeah. And yeah, it's spread out and he's taking down three guys all at the same time. Yeah. And you know that, that he's having a good effect cuz they've got like chins back, hats falling off, guns flying through the air.
Um, but he has visibly only hit one of them. Yes. That's a little weird.
[01:32:22] Alex: Yeah. Um, his shockwave is sitting, the other two guys flying
[01:32:25] Brian: lots of speed waves. Yeah. And then, and as he's doing this, he's also equipping rather unsteady on your feet, aren't you? A massive
[01:32:33] Alex: fist crashes against
[01:32:34] Brian: a gunman's jaw. Have a seat, boys.
There's enough room on this chair for two. He says, as he bashes these guys over the head breaks a chair over them.
[01:32:46] Alex: And then we've got Joker looks like he's like climbing out a window and he says, I won't even waste the usual joker, veno on you. Brute give you something you can understand. Led. And he's shooting a gun.
And, um, bru, brute is like head back. He's dropping a gun to clearly been hit.
[01:33:01] Brian: Uh, and then like a joker, not the Batman leaps after the ruthless joker. So they,
[01:33:05] Alex: they both jumped
[01:33:06] Brian: out the window now. Mm-hmm. You can see them in silhouette. It's, it's dark at night and they're running across this, it looks like they're running down the driveway.
Really? Yep. That guy isn't getting away if I can help it. And then I guess the Joker hops in his car and speeds off and it's, the panel says, um, even as the car starts, the Batman is upon it like an avenging black cloud. Hasn't
[01:33:31] Alex: this boy heard its leap year? Only the Batman could have made the leap successfully.
[01:33:36] Brian: And the joker says you prepare to die made it. And now that's also funny that like his, he is self narrating. Like he's jumped, he gets on, he goes, ah, made it. Yep. And, and so yeah, the car, it's this, I don't know, red convertible, but like 1930s convertible, a big boat, boat car. Speeding along. We've got Joker in the driver's seat and Batman is hanging off of the driver's side, kind of the driver's side door.
But the car looks really, really big compared to these people. So in this next panel we've got, uh, them, I guess, grappling over the gun cuz joker's gonna try and shoot Batman. Batman's got a hold of the joker's wrist and, uh, joker fires into the air. A panel says, uh, but with the speed of light, the Batman grabs the joker's hand.
I'd rather live, if you don't mind, as the car corrine's madly off of the bridge. A bridge I guess is really what it should say. Um, the door swings open. The Batman's tumbling form takes the joker with it. So what we see here is a, a like, kind of like a cobblestone bridge with the car flying off of it just blowing through the side and Batman has jumped off and is holding onto the Joker.
So essentially it's saving the joker's life from whatever this car crash was gonna be.
[01:35:01] Alex: The struggling men fall to the bridge. As they rise, the Joker explodes, haymaker off the Batman's jaw. I'm going to
[01:35:07] Brian: kill you. A wicked kick. Rakes the Batman's head. So what we've got here is Batman just saved the joker's life, uh, on keeping the, they're pulling him outta the car.
Also, strangely, pulled him out of the passenger side door. Cause the passenger side door is what's open. Anyway, um, so they're on this bridge, and now the Joker is punching him, presumably beating the tar out of Batman, who has, as we've seen in, in other, um, issues, pretty sufficient fighter himself. So he's punched him, gave him a haymaker, and now he's kicked him in the face.
And the joker says, blast you fall.
[01:35:48] Alex: The murderous joker pushed the helpless Batman off the bridge.
[01:35:51] Brian: Fight the joker. Will you let that be a lesson to you? A permanent lesson? Ha ha ha ha ha. The shock
[01:35:58] Alex: of cold water quickly, ru. Uh, revives the
[01:36:01] Brian: dark night. Wow. My head feels as if it were going to burst any moment.
So, yeah, I mean, the Joker just kind of beat the crap out of him, threw him off of the bridge, and, uh, he's shocked by a bunch of cold water. I can't imagine that his body's very happy with him at the moment. So then the Batman's climbing out of the, the river and, uh, he says it seems also talking to himself.
Um, it seems I have at last met a foe that can give me a good fight. However, I'm not quite licked yet. Not quite. So this is a good callback to Jerry Robinson's thing where he's saying that, Like, uh, the, they were afraid of a foe being too strong or the villain being too strong, cuz it shows the weaknesses or, or could, uh, detract from the strength of the hero.
And here he is in the issue saying, I've at last met a foe that can gimme a good fight. Like, calling out the joker as the anti-hero that, yeah, Jerry Robinson. But it
[01:37:00] Alex: workeded him to be. But I think if you want to build someone up as like being particularly, especially if they're gonna recur. You know, you want them to be someone that is a match, you know, for Batman.
[01:37:11] Brian: for sure. Yeah. I've been, um, I've been listening to a podcast and one of the things that they talk about is, um, to be a good police officer, you have to think like a criminal. And to be a good criminal, you have to think like a police officer. So kind of in a way, the only difference between the way that they think is that like one has a badge and is trying to do good things and the other does not have a badge and is trying to do bad things.
But they have like, they have the same thoughts, just different motivations. Um, yeah. And it's kind of seeing that here as well.
[01:37:42] Alex: Once more, the Joker delivers his message of doom. We've got Bruce and Dick and Wayne Manor together.
[01:37:48] Brian: Judge Drake, you once sent me to prison for that you will die. Death will come at 10.
The Joker has spoken. It's
[01:37:57] Alex: now eight o'clock. We cut to J. Judge Drake's home. Nine o'clock. One
[01:38:01] Brian: more hour to live. Listen, judge, I've got men posted outside every door. No one can get in. Relax. Let's play some cards. The minutes fly by. It's your bet, judge. You win. I need the ace of Spades to make the game.
Jur appears. Apparently. Apparently the joker was Gordon. I don't, I don't see how this happened.
[01:38:21] Alex: Yeah, so they didn't say that this was Gordon this time. But it's, it's just a police officer with white hair. And then yeah, we cut to him and he's got the sinister smile. So I think the, the idea is that it's been the joker the whole time.
But you didn't notice because he didn't have the smile and he's not wearing the makeup. Got it. He pulls out the joker card. You can't win. Anyway, you see I hold the winning
[01:38:41] Brian: card, the joker. He's holding up that, that Jerry Robinson card. And so the panel says, uh, the judge is against, or the judge is aghast as he looks at the supposed police chief.
[01:38:55] Alex: You, the police chief, the
[01:38:56] Brian: joker, yes, but not quite The police chief, the real chief is trust up in the seller skies is also one of my many accomplishments. Aside. Yes. Batman is also yes. Uh, quite accomplished at disguises. It's true.
[01:39:12] Alex: The clock tolls the death Dell for another victim of the Joker. 10
[01:39:16] Brian: o'clock the Venom works.
Well add you Judge. Our little game is finished. The
[01:39:22] Alex: police chief in scare quotes, gives orders.
[01:39:26] Brian: Judge Drake is dead. The Joker has won again. Watch the body. I'm going to headquarters. Dead. Okay,
[01:39:33] Alex: chief, but as he exits, he spied by Robin. The boy Wonder
[01:39:37] Brian: Batman told me to follow anyone that comes out of the judge's house.
So here goes Robin
[01:39:42] Alex: Trails, the man to an old, deserted house.
[01:39:44] Brian: So, so what's happening here to describe it a little bit is that Robin is, is outside of the house behind a tree and he's following whoever comes out. So he's as assuming that that must be the Joker and That's correct. Yes. Um, that is, it's not the chief, it is the Joker in his disguise.
And then he's hiding behind another tree as he watches the Joker, um, go into this old house and he says, ah, he's going into that house.
[01:40:12] Alex: The bold young d daredevil enters the sinister dwelling,
[01:40:15] Brian: cheerful place, I don't think. And
[01:40:17] Alex: then he goes inside and he's holding up a candle or a match, I think to be a light dark.
[01:40:22] Brian: Says it's quiet, almost too quiet. And then a crushing
[01:40:26] Alex: blow from behind Snooper. Hey, it's the Joker. He's got the laugh and he hits him on the back of the head. But what of the Batman, the Batman outside of the judge's house inspects the scene of the joker's latest murder
[01:40:37] Brian: props for reading that I struggled to follow that.
The words on top of words like that. Yeah.
[01:40:45] Alex: Woo. It's a very narrow caption box. And so it's like one word column vertically.
[01:40:50] Brian: Yeah. It's terrible. Uh, but yeah, I'm really impressed that you read that so well. Also, this quiet, almost too quiet always reminds me of, uh, the live action Teenage me Ninja Turtles.
And. Yeah. Where they're sneaking through and like, ah. Quiet too. Oh no, it's not the, it's the secret of the ooze. It's the second one. Okay. And there's like quiet, too quiet. And then Raphael is like tied up and they're like, Hey, it's Raf and Michelangelo's like a little too Raf.
[01:41:21] Alex: I
[01:41:21] Brian: love it. Yeah. I also love that you have that movie Memorized.
I've seen it, uh, a fair few times. It's a great movie. I love those movies. That's awesome. We
[01:41:30] Alex: should start, uh, uh, a Teenage Mu Ninja Turtle podcast about the comics.
[01:41:35] Brian: Let's do it. We'll do it monthly. Oh God. Uh, so, so anyway, after Alex read this incredible line about, uh, the Joker catching Robin, um, Batman shows up and he goes, Robin gone must have followed a lead.
Al used the infrared lamp.
[01:41:55] Alex: A red light flashes over the ground. Miraculously, Robin's footsteps
[01:41:59] Brian: glow in the dark. This invention of mine will come in handy. So, so essentially they don't know how infrared works and, um, he's got a flashlight with, with an infrared bulb that allows him to see footprints on the sidewalk.
[01:42:14] Alex: Yeah. The next caption says the soles of both Robin and the Batman's boots are treated with a luminous chemical that glows only in the light of an infrared ray.
[01:42:22] Brian: Now we'll see where Robin went. Police
[01:42:25] Alex: disguise removed. Once again, the joker prepares to have his little joke when, so we've got, um, Robin sitting there in a chair and jokers hunched over him and he's got a hypodermic needle and it looks like he's gonna inject
[01:42:36] Brian: the joker.
The joker says, and now the venom into ya. What not So fast
[01:42:43] Alex: friend drop it. He slaps the hypodermic needle out. Drop
[01:42:46] Brian: it. That's right. And then a clubbing blow. So this is actually a really good angle, but it's, uh, Batman punching the joker in the face pretty intensely. Mm-hmm. It's just this very good form in this, uh, uh, illustration here.
And, and the joker is falling back and he says, um, you or no, Batman says, uh, you may be the joker, but I'm the king of clubs. Oh, that's why it says like a clubbing blow. Oh, that
[01:43:15] Alex: is, yeah, that's pretty good. Since the joker crashing into the chemical table, a flash of electric flame ignites these chemicals a blast.
[01:43:23] Brian: the joker's hand stealthily reaches for a spray gun that had fallen to the floor, the
[01:43:29] Alex: harmless, but paralyzing gas spews
[01:43:31] Brian: forth. Injections of an antidote make me immune Batman, but not you. The
[01:43:38] Alex: Batman's jaw tightens into the ghastly joker's
[01:43:40] Brian: grin. I leave you here paralyzed to perish in the flames.
Ed, you Batman. So what I'm getting from this is the joker is French. He's got French origin. Cause he said Ed twice. Now the,
[01:43:53] Alex: well if la in the last issue, Batman kept saying that he would, he was showing up at all of the, um, crime havens. Like he showed up at the, at the casino. He showed up where and he was knocking it all down and banging it up.
And he would, he would say, you know, du and or VO
[01:44:08] Brian: and or voir. That's right. Or, or Reir. I think it's a Bill Finger thing. Yeah, maybe Bill Finger French, but the Joker has
[01:44:15] Alex: not reckoned with the amazing recuperative powers of the mighty Batman.
[01:44:19] Brian: Yeah. So Batman breaks free of the paralysis quickly, apparently.
And they're, they're in this room that's on fire and Batman goes, Robin tied, got to get outta here. He grabs Robin still tied up. They have an escape from a fiery death.
[01:44:38] Alex: Yeah, this is really stupid. Like literally, they introduced the concept of him being sprayed with a joker gas two panels ago. And then he's over it.
And the, the only thing that they explain is like, he's strong Yale. So yeah, they get out of the fiery building and it says a few moments later, Batman says the Joker is gone. I'd give anything to nowhere. He,
[01:44:56] Brian: uh, he boasted inside that he was going to get the Cleopatra necklace next,
[01:45:01] Alex: the Cleopatra necklace that's owned by Otto Drexel.
Come on. There's not a moment to lose with a maniac on the loose. And then we have another really great shot. A lot of the art in this issue is really good. And we got Batman and Robin running towards the camera, uh, away from the moon. You know, behind them in silhouette, capes are blowing in the
[01:45:18] Brian: wind, breaking the panel lines.
Yeah, it's really good. Uh, in like a nice way. Yeah. Otto Drexel lives on the penthouse in that building across the street if this after running for a while, but mm-hmm.
[01:45:31] Alex: He says, if, uh, Robin says if we can only get up the there before the Joker does.
[01:45:34] Brian: So now we, uh, switch to the joker up at the penthouse.
Presumably he's up, up high opening a couple of glass, I guess French. French doors. Sure. Any French references here. Um, and it says on the penthouse, the Joker prepares to enter. But leaping
[01:45:54] Alex: from the scaffold, the cowled Batman still
[01:45:56] Brian: at it. Hey, and so we've got Batman's just jumped down onto the balcony, I guess, and the joker here is his head's whipped around and he's already pulling a gun from his jacket.
[01:46:08] Alex: The crazed killer wildly throws bullets. After bullet into the oncoming figure,
[01:46:12] Brian: die blessed you die. Why don't you die? And
[01:46:16] Alex: then Batman's thinking to himself, hasn't the joker ever heard of a bulletproof vest?
[01:46:20] Brian: And then the guns click, click, click clicking. The joker looks kind of frustrated at it, and he
[01:46:25] Alex: goes empty.
The Batman hurles his ju gun at the Batman.
[01:46:28] Brian: I'll kill you.
[01:46:30] Alex: And then Batman says, it seems to me you've said that before. And now Mr. Joker, let's see if you can really fight. He's got his fists up. So
[01:46:37] Brian: then it says the maniac leaps for the a adjoining construction. So this is, they've done a good job here, to be honest, in a lot of these penthouse scenes, uh, panels in the background, you can see like H beams and I-beams and stuff of, of a building that's being constructed.
And so, and it, they've used it as part of the story. So, um, the Joker jumps over to that construction and this is also like pretty good, uh, illustration, in my opinion. The moon in the background and stuff. Yeah, he says, uh, you'll never take me Batman,
[01:47:11] Alex: but they're waiting. Robin, the boy wonder. Right. Joker.
I'm the ace in the hole. You too. As Joker climbs on the riveting platform, he leaps at Robin who drops
[01:47:21] Brian: and uh, so Robin's on his back and he's kicking up with his foot and he's, he's basically uppercutted the Joker, but with the heel of his foot. And he goes, that's for the sock on the head. And the joker's falling
[01:47:35] Alex: off the building head first.
The smash and kicks since Joker flying off the scaffolding,
[01:47:39] Brian: as the frantic man falls past the penthouse, balustrade, a hand reaches out and the joker goes, ah, I'm falling. That's so funny.
[01:47:49] Alex: Is the panel that he's been caught, he's then saying, I'm falling after. He was that stupid. Oh no, you're not. Says
[01:47:56] Brian: Batman.
Yeah. Well it's, it's the way that these comics like, describe what's happening in the text rather than letting you figure it out by the, the illustration itself. Yeah. So he has to say, I'm falling just in case. Like it wasn't obvious. In the last panel, the
[01:48:11] Alex: strong arm of the Batman hauls him back to safety.
You're too valuable, apprised to lose.
[01:48:17] Brian: Hmm. That's kind of weird. It also, I do think it's interesting as like more comparisons to the 1989 film that like he's, he's gonna fall and they save him. Mm-hmm. Right? He, he ends up falling on his own because of his, his Tom Foolery. But then in, uh, the Dark Night, there's also a point where the Joker is trying.
Yes. He jumps off and he is gonna try and die and, and Batman saves him by catching him in a very similar way. And it's issue number one. They're, they're riffing off of that. So then in, in this next panel we've got, it's kind of funny. Batman's just pulled him up saying he's too valuable, app prize to lose, and then immediately punches him again, very hard and says You played your last hand, joker
[01:49:03] Alex: a final blow with all the strength of the Batman behind it.
[01:49:07] Brian: So then the next day on in this is a newspaper, the Daily Star. The headline is Batman Captures, joker, leaves Joker in front of the police station, drives away.
[01:49:18] Alex: Then we've cut to, uh, Bruce and Dick and Wayne Manor and Dick says, but what I'd like to know is how his victim's mouth turned up in that terrible grin.
[01:49:28] Brian: Some sort of drug that pulled the muscles of the face. The Joker was a clever but diabolical killer. Two clever and two deadly to be free.
[01:49:37] Alex: But even as Bruce speaks at the state prison, the Joker is planning, plotting for his
[01:49:41] Brian: escape. They can't keep me here. I know of a way out. The Joker will yet have the last laugh.
[01:49:49] Alex: got Bob Kane signature at the in the corner showing that it's the end of a little ad in the corner. It says The Amazing Batman America's Most Famous Adventure Strip character With that sensational new discovery, that laughing daredevil Robin, the Boy Wonder, will it thrill you every month?
Astounding exploits and detective comics. That's the end of the first Joker story.
[01:50:08] Brian: It's good. It's good. I, so there's a couple of interesting things here right at the end. So it's in the state prison cuz Arkham doesn't exist yet. They don't have the asylum. Yep. He's just in a prison. Also interesting to me, kind of grab, like, taking the context from what you've taught me in the, the history here is that like, these weren't big, these were kind of small production issues.
Like there's not many copies of this cuz it was a long time ago. Yeah. Wasn't super, super popular. Um, yet they have no problem saying America's most famous adventure script, which, which like you can take two ways, is one is they're just absolutely lying. And this is like marketing hype. Yes. Which it probably is.
Or, um, that's a really low bar to meet because not very many people are reading comics here. They're
[01:50:54] Alex: absolutely lying because it's the, the Superman is the most popular character. Right. And that's their character and they know it. Yeah. So they're just being sensational because it sounds good for the kids.
Yep. But it, it, it is the case that we're now year in and we're adding a second book and we're doing it because it's popular. So this is, this is Batman is starting to take off everything. Up until now, he's not really been a big deal. He's starting to get that way, but, but is, is second fiddle to Superman.
[01:51:19] Brian: I, I mean, after reading this, I'm, I'm happy that they set it up well. I, I was totally expecting, uh, that they were going to kill the Joker and then have to figure out some kinda way to Red Con or resurrect him or something. But they seems to have set it up in a, a good way where he just went to prison and he'll be back.
Well, which, which makes me think that this also goes back to what Jerry Robinson was saying as like a recurring, um, villain.
[01:51:46] Alex: I will, um, I'll say that I love this, this train of conversation, um, and I love that you've brought it up and, and we will leave. Folks on a cliffhanger, but I will say you might be surprised about what comes next because if you remember Batman number one has five Batman stories in it, and there's another Joker story, read it the next episode of Bat Lessons.
[01:52:13] Brian: If you like the show, then please leave a five star review for us on Apple Podcasts. If you write us a review, we will read it on the show. We've been growing an audience, which is awesome, and the more people who listen, the more we'll be able to put out episodes. Uh, what do we get wrong? What do you want us to talk about?
You can send us a voice recording or write us an email and we'll reply on the show. Just head on over to bat listens.com. You can contact us there. That's also where to find details about episodes, like transcripts and show notes. All of our social media like Instagram, Macedon, Twitter, and TikTok, and our video content from YouTube is posted on bat lessons.com too.
Until next time. I'm Brian Anders. And I'm Alex Cash.
[01:52:58] Alex: Thanks for listening.
[01:53:41] Brian: What's funny in my head, I go,
[01:53:48] Alex: um, man, two and a half hours.