thehefner: (Two-Face: FOREVER!!!)
thehefner ([personal profile] thehefner) wrote in [community profile] scans_daily2011-02-15 11:51 pm

The Batman Newspaper Comic Strip (1990), Part 4: the Trial of the Joker

Previous installments: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

I should have mentioned it in the last entry, but we're now in the middle of a trilogy of sorts, with today's entry being part two of a continuous storyline within the comic strip started in the previous storyline. But it could just as easily be argued that it's all one big story: that of Harvey Dent's rise, fall, rise again, and...?

I think it's fair to say that Harvey is the true protagonist because he's the only one who really changes, and not just in ways you'd expect from the character who becomes Two-Face. Even when he disappears and we get standalone story arcs about Robin's origin (followed by the Most Pathetic Riddler Story Ever), the final storyline still comes right back to Harvey. Obviously, that's why I love it so much.

So with that said, this storyline is the hardest for me to take. This is the point where Harvey crosses a line, and Bruce--for whatever reason--decides to not step in, but actively oppose his supposed best friend. Do the characters have justified reasons? Absolutely. Do I like it? Of course not. Does it work within the context of the story? You be the judge (pun not intended, I swear).

Note: Scans taken from Comics Revue magazine, #51-52, the only known compilation of the newspaper comic strips

Heh, Ostrander vs. Yale. Also, poor Harvey, so desperate to redeem himself, especially after Bruce and Alice talked him out of resigning.

That's one of the few Joker moments from this entire series that I love. It actually feels like classic crazy, scary Joker. Although his next trick ain't so bad either:

Aaaand thus he finally crosses that line. Harvey, you idiot. But then, he really tried to resign because he knew, he knew that he had that dark side, and that he couldn't keep it in check.

I wonder how Harvey would feel if he knew that Bruce was helping defense? What's more, I don't understand why Bruce isn't actually trying to stop Harvey. Is he so disgusted with the wiretapping that he's writing Harvey off entirely now in favor of helping defense? Bruce is about justice above all else, and rightly so. And yet, this doesn't sit entirely well with me either.

Also, Carla's last name is Drake now? Any relation to Tim? And what's more, her name was Deevers before! Did she get married, or is there just rampant continuity issues with Messner-Loeb's story? I love this strip, but it really needed an editor.

In truth, he's not actually aware about what's being done at the word of his assistant, Mark (assuming the threatening phone call actually did come from Mark's orders, and wasn't just one of the many Gotham citizens who were already after the Joker's blood even before the trial started), so if he's guilty of anything, it's of turning a blind eye. And even that, I'm not sure about.

All the same, I still kinda want to smack him for his callousness here. Where was the man so filled with self-doubt

To me, this feels like a writer kinda betraying his own character in order to show, "Oooh, oooh, see? Now he's

Anyone else get the distinct impression that it was the Joker himself who called up Drake's grandmother and terrorized her into a heart attack?

... Damn!

Okay, so I'm gonna guess that you felt like I did when this story started: you figured that this story would have the Joker himself being the one to scar Harvey. It'd make perfect sense. Hell, they let the maniac wear his acid-shooting lapel flower right there in the courtroom! It would have worked just as well in this context, more so than Maroni/Moroni showing up at the last minute. And hell, there's certainly something to be said for the idea of the Joker having a hand in the creation of Two-Face.

But this is so much better. Bruce has already been arguably complicit in helping create Two-Face (flaunting the laws by being a vigilante, giving Harvey the coin, not trying to stop his friend from going down a corrupt path but actively helping his opponents), but it's now sealed by the fact that Harvey got burned because Batman saved the Joker.

To twist the knife even more, the acid still wouldn't have hit Harvey, but rather Alice. In an action which still proved that the corruped D.A. still had good within himself, he actually saved Alice and took the facefull of acid for her. In case that complex turn of events wasn't clear, take a look at the penultimate strip, which I edited out in favor of a more powerful reading experience:

The only downside to this version of events is the sudden appearance of a brand-new character, Jack Estrada. I wish he'd been established during the Joker storyline, so that his motive could be clear, but I think he still works so long as you view him not as a single person, but rather the culminated rage towards the Joker on behalf of Gotham's citizens in general, and Harvey Dent in particular. Harvey gave himself over to vindictive rage, and it could be argued that he essentially took his own bullet.

Coming up next... well, do I really need to say it?
blunderbuss: (Default)

[personal profile] blunderbuss 2011-02-16 04:34 pm (UTC)(link)
Exactly. There's countless mentally ill people who honestly don't believe they're crazy. In fact a lot of therapy focuses on getting the patient to finally confront the problems in their thought processes and realize that they're not well. It's then - and only then - that someone can actually be properly treated.

The Joker thinks he's a grand comedian, a grand prince of crime. Why would he want to admit that it's all because he's serious mental problems instead of his own genius?
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)

[personal profile] hatman 2011-02-16 05:06 pm (UTC)(link)
He doesn't. That's why he's upset when the doc says so. He wants to fool the doc (and the people) into believing he's crazy (and thus escape punishment) while actually considering himself sane. He thought he could outsmart the doc by playing the crazy part so well that the doc couldn't tell the difference.

Then, in court, the doc is asked for his evaluation. And he says yes, the Joker is playing the part of a crazy person. (Which the Joker didn't want him to figure out.) But, actually, beneath that, he really is crazy. (Which pissed the Joker off. "He was supposed to prove I'm insane, not believe it!" Which is why he's so angry when the jury comes back with a verdict of insanity, after all. Because, at that point, they were confirming the doc's diagnosis - that he really is insane, not that he'd played a joke on them by tricking them into believing he was.
sadoeuphemist: (Default)

[personal profile] sadoeuphemist 2011-02-17 12:11 am (UTC)(link)
That defeats the entire definition of legal insanity. If you're insane, it means you can't tell the difference from right and wrong. If you're pretending to be insane in an effort to escape punishment because you realize what you did was wrong, then you are by definition legally sane.

[personal profile] poussifeu 2011-02-17 05:36 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah but he doesn't realize that what he did was wrong, he just knows he's liable to be punished for it if he's held responsible. There's a huge difference between knowing something is wrong and knowing that you can be punished for it. The Joker's a sociopath that really doesn't know right from wrong and views the world and all the people in it as his personal playthings, and he's basically playing his own version of cops 'n robbers. He's trying to fake a completely different insanity, a more "lolrandom" kind, akin to disorganized schizophrenia - this doesn't mean he's not insane, just that he's faking one kind of insanity while being a different kind.
sadoeuphemist: (Default)

[personal profile] sadoeuphemist 2011-02-17 07:52 am (UTC)(link)
This is a legal construction, not a moral one. If you realize what you are doing is illegal and you will get punished for it, and you take steps to avoid being punished, then yes, you can distinguish "right" from "wrong" and are legally sane.

[personal profile] poussifeu 2011-02-17 05:20 pm (UTC)(link)
I'll be honest I've never heard the legal construction separated and defined that way from the societal one. I was under the impression that legally insane meant you were diagnosably unable to differentiate right from wrong the way most other people can.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)

[personal profile] hatman 2011-02-17 03:28 pm (UTC)(link)
Let's say the Joker's mind is like the Earth.

The atmosphere - air, clouds, etc. - is an obscuring layer of insanity, created deliberately by the Joker. It's an act. What he wants you to see when you're looking at him from the outside. By itself, it would not legally count as insanity. But if the cloud cover was dense enough, you wouldn't be able to see through it, and you might mistake it for real insanity. That's what the Joker wants. It's also what he expects, because he thinks he did that good a job of creating it.

Beneath the atmosphere is the crust. Joker's conscious mind. What he sees from where he's standing. To him, it appears solid/sane. He looks up and sees the clouds (and, through them, outside), but, looking down, all he can see is the crust. As far as he's concerned, then, he's sane. He's just hiding that sanity from other people. To play a joke on them. One of the pleasant side effects of that being that it would legally shelter him from the consequences of his actions.

Beneath the crust, however, there's the core. His subconscious mind. It's molten, chaotic. And, it turns out, truly, legally insane. There is no understanding there of right and wrong.

So: Most people just see the clouds and think Joker is insane. Beneath that, he believes himself sane, and is laughing at all the people who fell for his act. Beneath that, however, his true self really is insane - something which truly offends him and hurts his self-image.

The doctor psychoanalyzes him.

Joker believes that the doctor will only see the clouds. That he'll say Joker is insane and thus get him a "not guilty (by reason of insanity)" verdict. And, inside, Joker will laugh at him and the whole legal system.

Harvey sees the crust. He can tell that the clouds are merely an act. He expects the doctor to see the same, and thus, as you say, to defeat his plea of insanity.

The doctor sees more deeply than that, however. He sees that the clouds are an act... but he also sees that the crust is thin and that, below that, there exists real insanity. Thus his testimony that the insanity most people see is, indeed, an act... but that, deep down, Joker really is insane, after all.

This maddens the Joker. The doctor wasn't supposed to be able to see through his brilliant facade, let alone tell him what Joker didn't want to hear or believe himself... that his self-image of sanity is also a facade, and that he really is crazy.