icon_uk: (TheBlackCat gagged Robin)
[personal profile] icon_uk posting in [community profile] scans_daily

As a final Christmas gift before heading off home for Christmas I thought I'd post this.

According to the man himself, THIS is the story that Paul Dini used to get the gig writing Detective Comics, which is pretty remarkable as Batman is in it for exactly four panels. The trimming has not been easy, but I think I have this down to about a third of the issue.

We start with Robin chasing down a gun-bust gone wrong. He'd been targeting a bunch of lowlifes selling guns to gang kids, but on the day he decides to break the ring, a rival gang shows up to "rumble" and Robin's caught in the middle, and neither side like him. He's on his motorbike trying to get some breathing space when he has to sacrifice it to stay alive... it was a nice bike too... though as Tim wasn't wearing a helmet, he has no one to blame but himself if he gets hurt...

Landing, Tim is pinned down by enemy fire, when a passing car brakes suddenly and the door pops open with a shout of "Robin! Robin! Over here!" a Good Samaritan is born... not having much choice, Robin takes the offer only to find...

Oh yeah, this is going to end well!

I know he has his detractors, but I love Kramers art in this issue, a LOT. And that last image of the Joker there is awesome, the fading colour as Tim passes out adding definite shades of Conrad Veidt as Gwimplaine in "The Man who Laughs". (IMHO at any rate)

Being a good little Bat-boy, Tim doesn't dream, he flashbacks significantly... to a discussion from their time on a boat during the OYL trip that the three Batboys are taking. While Bruce is out on deck, casually demolishing solid wooden beams for practice, Dick is playing darts (clearly unaware that the top score on a dart board isn't a bullseye, which is worth 50 points, but the treble 20, which is worth 60, but then, Americans...) and Tim is watching an old Marx Brothers movie on video... Dick mentions he prefers the Three Stooges (Which, given his love of puns and wordplay as a kid strikes me as not right. Dick would surely much prefer Groucho and Chico's shenanigans to the more pratfall comedy of the Stooges... a question for the ages perhaps)

At any rate, Tim asks Dick if he ever thinks about him... Dick thinks he might mean Groucho, but Tim has more serious things on his mind, "No, the clown... the Joker..."

It's a bit of a leap to get from Groucho to the Joker, but hey... just because they're hot little Batboys doesn't mean they always make sense.

Tim ponders what his past might be, and asks for the info that isn't on the Batcomputers... Dick comments that there's not much to know. He's heard rumours of him being a failed comedian, as often as he had always been a monster.

The following is one of THE best summations of the sort of Joker who used to give me nightmares as a kid.

"His grin widens... he moves forward like a comic going into a routine, and god help the poor soul he chooses"

FAB! just FAB!

And as Tim starts to come around after his little lungful of sleeping gas, we realise that the Joker's got a new favourite captive audience. And Joker in a Santa hat and scarf? Comedy gold right there. (oh, and as someone pointed out last time this was posted on LJ, bear in mind throughout this that kidnapping Robin was not on his "To Do" list for the night (Well, no more than any other night), so what we see here from start to finish, is the Joker IMPROVISING.

Now do what I do, and hear Mark Hamill reading the part of the Joker, and Loren Lester as Robin (I know he didn't play Tim's Robin, that was mostly Matt Valencia, but Loren sounded closer in age)

And, need I add, as an afficionado, that the tying and gagging is as close to Joker perfection as it's possible to imagine. Who the hell else would dream of giving their Robin bondage such a whimsical seasonal theme?! He's a deranged monster, but the Joker has STYLE! (Harley using leather jingle-bell-gags on the Bat-clan as seen in my icon is perhaps the only thing I've seen to match it)

The Joker being menacing is scary, the Joker being friendly is like "Go straight to bed-wetting terror. Do not pass fear. Do not collect minor panic". His trying to get a reaction out of Tim is creepy, his putting his arm around him is just... "Brrrrrr!"

Tim guesses he's even cranked the heat up in the car just to make him uncomfortable.

This is why I love this story so much, the Joker isn't engaged in some mass murder scheme, some overlarge scheme, he's applying all his talent and skill to making a single captive uncomfortable, and he's loving every minute of it, and it's all in the little details.

He tells Robin that he'll let him go in a little while, just let him jump out and phone Batdad, everyone's happy... As Tim would put it if he didn't have a Christmas tree bauble taped into his mouth; "Yeah right...."

Can you guess what happens next?

The look on Robin's face in that last panel is because he's just realised where the putrid smell was coming from. He can't see the poor soul that's just been run over, but he can see the unfortunate couple lying dead on the back seat, hideously agonising grins on their faces, with dried tears running down their dead faces. And that's when we're reminded again just how evil the Joker is. He killed this innocent couple, probably out Christmas shopping, simply because they had a car he liked.

(Harming random innocents is something that the BTAS couldn't do. In the original draft of the BTAS episode "Christmas with the Joker", it wasn't Gordon, Bullock and Summer Gleason that were planned to be the hostages, it was a random family, but it was felt that would be too creepy for the kids. And in another Dini scripted BTAS comic focussing on the Joker, his last line is "Time to head for home... I wonder whose it will be today!") But I digress....

Again, that is just a glorious little exchange. Pure Joker... pure Robin...

I like that Tim can think past the problem to find a solution, Bat-dad would be proud.

And now, fast food hell takes on a whole new dimension, and again; hear in Hamill voice

Something tells me a tip is out of the question....

Sadly, the page count forbids me from showing how the Joker deals with poor customer service, but it's a classic, and doesn't suggest that the fast food industry is a safe career in Gotham.

I like Robin's reaction in this next panel...

And here we see why he's such a successful baddie. He thinks of EVERYTHING, even giving his captive something to do to stop him getting bored. He removes Tim's gag (spoilsport) to allow him to beg for his life... Or if not that, then maybe someone elses (This as Joker aims the car towards a sidewalk Santa and a crowd of kids.. Seriously, all they need to be doing is carrying kittens to make this a perfect Joker moment...

The Joker is genuinely delighted that someone Robin's age knows about the Marx Brothers and spares the innocents.

Robin comments that he always loved "The Big Store", Joker vehemently protests that the "Sanity Clause" routine is from "A Night at the Opera" (He's right BTW). And out little bird boy goes on to prove that as with comedy, dealing with the Joker is all in the timing of the punchline.


I love Tim's "Just go Batman on his ass" as the definition of extreme badassery. And Tim's creative use of the poor drivers corpse is winceworthy, but commendable. Uncle Joker isn't too happy about that though... (and try not to imagine what the bulge in the Joker's coat might otherwise be.

And the thing is, you actually believe that this Joker doesn't mind (at some level) this ending, since it really IS his own joke.

There's a rather unnecessary Batman scene at the end, I suppose they felt he had to be in it somewhere, which is almost a shame, but we don't need to see it.

So there we are... Detective 826, a perfectly formed little jewel of a story, with a truly malevolent Joker, a brave and resourceful little Robin and a novel, original plot. Marvellous!

Date: 2009-12-20 10:39 pm (UTC)
deepspaceartist: Iron Man mark 43 (Default)
From: [personal profile] deepspaceartist
Sadly, the page count forbids me from showing how the Joker deals with poor customer service, but it's a classic, and doesn't suggest that the fast food industry is a safe career in Gotham.

It's Gotham. There is no 'safe career'. Only varying probablities of a visit from the Joker.

Date: 2009-12-20 11:03 pm (UTC)
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
From: [personal profile] hatman
Whoa. That was really good. Great job with the commentary, too, and I pretty much completely agree. Thanks for posting this! :)

Date: 2009-12-20 11:20 pm (UTC)
rdfox: Joker asking Tim Drake, "'Sup?" from Paul Dini's "Slay Ride" (Default)
From: [personal profile] rdfox
The only thing you missed--due, presumably, to the pagecount, is the *first* thing Robin saw upon jumping in the car. Fortunately, it's one of my icons, so just look to the left there...

Date: 2009-12-21 12:10 am (UTC)
box_in_the_box: (Default)
From: [personal profile] box_in_the_box
Yeah, pretty much every part of this is awesome, including the DVD commentary. ;)

Date: 2009-12-21 12:12 am (UTC)
aulayan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aulayan
This is the story that made me a fan of Dini writing comics.

So it's this story's fault that I started reading Countdown...

Date: 2009-12-21 12:24 am (UTC)
thehefner: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thehefner
I'm of the opinion that this is one of the all-time great Joker stories, and a perfect example of how he can be funny and yet be subversively terrifying because of it. That, I find far, far more effective and complex than the one-note ghoul of Morrison's Joker.

Date: 2009-12-21 12:29 am (UTC)
jelly_ace: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jelly_ace
I didn't know Dini wrote this! It's a pretty good story.

Most of his run on Detective Comics were one-shots, right? Maybe I'll look for them later...

Date: 2009-12-21 12:31 am (UTC)
fungo_squiggly: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fungo_squiggly
I've always thought that the Joker's affection for classic comedy was one of his few genuinely endearing qualities. You can just picture him sparing someone's life (at least the once) if they were able to project enough enthusiasm for Laurel and Hardy, and so on.

Date: 2009-12-21 12:42 am (UTC)
sistermagpie: Classic magpie (Default)
From: [personal profile] sistermagpie
This is the best Joker Christmas story. Never gets old. I like this Joker so much better than the one in RIP, who just wouldn't get this guy. (Actually, I can imagine this Joker driving that one crazy.)

It's unfortunate it always does send me thinking about how I don't think Dick would like the Stooges. Especially since clearly the only reason he says that is to get the conversation moving and make the Marx Brothers a Tim thing.

But then, I was always an Abbot & Costello person myself.

Date: 2009-12-21 12:52 am (UTC)
deepspaceartist: Iron Man mark 43 (Default)
From: [personal profile] deepspaceartist
I've been thinking about why Dick might prefer the Stooges. Perhaps there was slapstick-oriented clowns at the circus the Graysons were at, and he's had a soft spot for slapstick ever since?

Date: 2009-12-21 12:56 am (UTC)
rhythmbandit: he flies through the air with the greatest of ease... (Bats * Robin flying)
From: [personal profile] rhythmbandit
What a great Joker story. Is it explained how Tim got his hands free?

Date: 2009-12-21 01:17 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] stars_n_stripes
This is why Joker is my favorite villain ever. What a sadistic bastard.

Date: 2009-12-21 01:26 am (UTC)
retro_nouveau: AARP Bruce (24)
From: [personal profile] retro_nouveau
As soon as I saw the first image, I thought "never gets old". Motto to [personal profile] sistermagpie.

Heh! Hearing Mark Hamill is de rigueur! Can't unhear it.

Love Tim's feral grin while he's putting the smackdown on him with the mirror.

I really miss those fake pie thingees with the boiling hot juice inside that scalds the roof of your mouth. Dini tops the list of retro's favorite writers.

Date: 2009-12-21 01:40 am (UTC)
endless_aegis: (Default)
From: [personal profile] endless_aegis
Ahh, I forgot about this. Thanks for sharing :3

Date: 2009-12-21 02:04 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
This is among the best Joker stories ever, and I think this is the one that established--overtly--the rationale behind the Joker's killing.

Date: 2009-12-21 02:16 am (UTC)
kingrockwell: he's a sexy (Hank McCoy)
From: [personal profile] kingrockwell
This was the first comic that S_D ever inspired me to buy. It is soooo good.

Date: 2009-12-21 02:55 am (UTC)
elf: Petalwing, singing (Petalwing Singing)
From: [personal profile] elf
Wow. Just... wow.

I'd been wanting to see nifty Joker stories, and this is perfect. Thank you.

Date: 2009-12-21 03:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dimwit90.livejournal.com
So I just bought Batman: Detective like 3 minutes after reading this thing... thanks lol

One of my favorite Joker stories.

Date: 2009-12-21 04:01 am (UTC)
proteus_lives: (Default)
From: [personal profile] proteus_lives
Always going to be a classic and it should be "How to write the Joker" manuals and handed out to everyone at DC.

I believe that Joker was just driving around and saw Robin and was like, "Well hello, hello!"

Date: 2009-12-21 04:51 am (UTC)
katok: The Swat Katz (Default)
From: [personal profile] katok
Well now I know what to get myself for Christmas :D

Date: 2009-12-21 06:20 am (UTC)
mad: Jason Todd says a lot of things (Jason Todd)
From: [personal profile] mad
Marx Bros FTW.

I like that Tim can think past the problem to find a solution, Bat-dad would be proud.

It's also something that Bat-dad might not think of, really. Toys under the seat, I mean.

But yeah, this is a great story. Yay Tim!

Date: 2009-12-21 05:12 pm (UTC)
grazzt: (Default)
From: [personal profile] grazzt
If I have one complaint with this story, it's the Joker's eyes. They're a little too crazy, not sadistic or cunning, but just sort of lost. They do come into focus occasionally (like when Tim swears through the ball gag), but they make him look less threatening and just sort of...not there. Maybe that's the effect the artist was going for, but it doesn't work all that well for me.

Date: 2009-12-21 10:03 pm (UTC)
howeverimprobable: (TTYO)
From: [personal profile] howeverimprobable
My favorite line in this has always been "I mean, we never do this-- just hang out." So perfect. I love this story.

Date: 2009-12-22 09:14 pm (UTC)
levyrasputin: (gen-butterflyonthewall)
From: [personal profile] levyrasputin
I agree, awesome story, well balanced, not pretentious... * *

Date: 2010-12-23 07:11 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
I got Vol. 1 of BtAS for a birthday present last month, and now I can't read this without thinking of the Christmas episode. "Live from Gotham City - the show that no one wants to see, but everyone will watch! Yes, it's 'Christmas with the Joker'!"
Also, I've seen this posted multiple times, but it's only now (I think) that I've noticed this - just what are Tim's Christmas tree light ropes plugged into? I mean, they're glowing, so they must be plugged into SOMETHING.


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