Comic Book / Emperor Joker

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It's an average day in Metropolis: Superman breaks out of Arkham Asylum, overseen by Solomon Grundy, Lois Lane is the richest, vilest, and baldest woman in (and owner of) the city, and Bizarro #1 is the most beloved (and destructive) hero in the city.

...sorry, what?

Well, it turns out that this is what happens when Mr. Mxyzptlk accidentally gives most of his power to The Joker, who creates a mind-bendingly odd world for giggles so that he will be able to kill Batman over and over and over again. Of course, in doing so he's risking tearing the fabric of reality apart at the seams, but when has he ever worried about that?

What started out as a mind-boggling inversion of everything Superman knows to be true turns into a race against time to stop the Joker's reality warping and get the associated powers back to their rightful owner.


This comic book miniseries contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Ignition’s origin and why the Joker cannot read his mind are never revealed, despite receiving a great amount of attention.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Batman: The Brave and the Bold loosely adapted this storyline in one episode, with Batman instead of Superman defeating The Joker (and Bat-Mite instead of Mxy). And the many deaths of Batman at the hands of the Joker became less graphic and more comical, off-screen, and Lighter and Softer, but still disturbing for children (in Batman's first death, they even showed him as a winged angel playing a harp and flying off to heaven... for a short while anyway).
  • And I Must Scream: The Joker kills Batman in extremely excruciating ways each night, and then resurrects Batman so he can excruciatingly kill him again. And Batman remembers all of the pain of each murder. And he cannot stop the cycle of murder and resurrection.
  • And Show It to You: The Joker does this to Superman near the end. Superman survives for several minutes afterwards.
  • Antagonist Title: Superman is the protagonist of the story, and the Joker is only revealed as the villain halfway through the series (which until The Reveal is called Superman: Arkham). But once the Joker does appear, he almost becomes the Villain Protagonist.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Inverted by the Joker when listing his faults as a husband to Lois.
    Joker: “Sure I can be difficult—I eat crackers in bed, and I never put the cap back on the rat poison, and occasionally I’ll snap your neck to prove a point …”
  • Audience? What Audience?: Joker gives a nonsensical narration at one point and then mocks the reader for getting confused. Harley asks who he is talking to.
  • Bastard Understudy: Enigma/Riddler—justified though given the Joker's plans to destroy all reality, including his minions.
  • Batman Gambit: Done by Batman himself. He lets the Joker know how much Superman cares for Lois, knowing the Joker would send her into the Superman sitcom to be killed, and that this would only spur Superman on more strongly. This is the only time throughout the story that Batman smiles.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Joker, even going so far as to turn the page for the reader.
  • Break the Badass: At the end, after Joker's beaten, Batman's seen huddling and weeping in horror. Superman is forced to take his memories of Joker's atrocities to heal him.
  • Burger Fool: Superboy works at one of these under Joker's reign.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Satanus is completely unfazed with The Joker's take on him, chiefly because of the I Have Many Names nature of him. He also proves that he can step away from the Joker's incarnation of him very easily. It's implied he actually enjoys Joker's take of him as a piano playing crooner.
  • Call Back: The story recalls the first Batman/Hulk Crossover, when The Shaper of Worlds gave The Joker reality-warping powers. That story ended with Batman Talking the Monster to Death just as Superman did in this story.
  • Cardboard Prison: The Joker is ultimately sent to a real prison called Slabside Penitentiary, which takes pride in the fact the no one has ever escaped from it. This didn't last as during Joker: Last Laugh, after being lied to and told he has terminal cancer, the Joker engineers and pulls off a jailbreak, and subsequent stories would see Joker back in Arkham.
    • Superman breaks out of Arkham every night, only for Bizarro to capture him and return him again.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Lois backstabs Superman several times, but he never gives up on her. And despite the constant backstabbing, Lois cannot shake her feelings for Superman.
  • Cloudcuckooland
  • Death Is Cheap: Joker shoots Lex dead, later resurrects him and immediately shoots him dead again because Lex gets mouthy about getting killed in the first place. Then there's Batman...
  • Despair Event Horizon: Batman reaches this point after being continuously murdered and resurrected.
    Batman: I can't close my eyes, Clark. I can't close my eyes because I see it. All of it. I can't close my eyes, because I see him ... and it ... and me ... pieces and parts ...
    Spectre: Each death cry, each horror resonates within him. Dark vibrations ... merciless as the Joker's attentions. And they have broken him. The man you know ... is lost. Only pain remains.
  • Determinator: Superman offers to take Batman's memories of being horribly killed over and over and over in order to mend his (Batman's) utterly shattered mind. Superman was also the only being who never gave up under Joker's reign.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Mxy decides to give the Joker just 1% of his power to see what he will do with it. The Joker scams him into handing over 99%.
  • Enemy Mine: Darkseid of all people tries to do this with the council known as the Quintessence, which contains his mortal enemy Highfather, because The Joker could potentially gain the Anti-Life Equation with his powers, but The Joker warped them, too.
  • "End of the World" Special: At the end, the Joker destroys the universe. Mxy supervises its rebuilding.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Satanus invokes the trope as he kicks Superboy and Supergirl out of Hell after they've been killed - after offering a standard Deal with the Devil, he gets annoyed with Supergirl's incessant prayer and sends them back to the Joker's world, commenting there weren't many Hells worse than that.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: The Joker, even more so than usual.
  • Gilligan Cut: Issue #8 ends with the Justice League members returning to their original form and preparing to storm Joker City. Issue #9 begins with a detailed shot of the Justice League’s mangled remains, and the Joker laughing hysterically over them. Needless to say, this is a non-humorous version of the trope.
  • God Emperor/Mad God/World Gone Mad: The Joker + Reality warping powers = this.
  • Gonk: Gorgeous Gilly is ugly as sin, but uses her powers to make men fall in love with her.
  • Gut Punch: Superman first assumes (when he finally realizes that this isn't right) that Mxyzptlk is responsible for all the changes. Standing on the Moon, he received a truly epic gut punch when he looks back at the Earth and sees its a cube with the Joker's face as the landmass on each side.
  • I Know Your True Name: The Joker uses this knowledge to steal Mxy's power.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: When the Joker decides to have Chinese for lunch, he decides to have all billion or so of them.
  • Idiot Ball: Mxyzptlk decides to give the Joker, a known psychotic maniac, reality warping powers, simply because he is bored. Mxyzptlk eventually acknowledges his catastrophic stupidity.
  • Impossibly-Low Neckline: Harley looks like she's on the verge of popping out of several outfits in the first half.
  • Just Toying with Them: The Joker can't not toy with Batman.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Joker's fate.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: If you bought the original monthly issues, then who exactly was responsible for this was kept secret until The Reveal halfway through, with the title of the arc being given as "Superman: Arkham!" The Emperor Joker oneshot at the halfway point was solicited as Emperor ?????. If you buy the trade, of course, it says Emperor Joker on the cover.
  • Logic Bomb: Leads to the Joker's defeat. How can he be all powerful if he can't just kill Batman once and for all?
  • Magic Kiss: The Joker has one. When Harley Quinn thinks she's about to die after all she's done for him, he says, "You kooky kid — c'mere," and as they both kiss, his is a powerful one that turns her into a constellation. So heartwarming.
  • Magical Clown: While the Joker is usually a Badass Normal, in this book, he becomes a Reality Warper.
  • Mind Wipe: Because of what the Joker put Batman through when he killed him over and over again, Superman has to take Batman's memories onto himself for Batman to move on.
  • Mythology Gag: The resolution of the plot resembles how Batman dealt with The Joker when he was given similar power by Marvel's Shaper of Worlds. (The Hulk was not amused by Joker's take on reality.)
    • The Joker tells Superman, “Never rub another man’s rhubarb,” when Superman goes after Lois. This is the Joker’s post-mortem line to Bruce Wayne in the 1989 movie after shooting Bruce for being in Vicki Vale’s apartment.
    • Robin has sign saying, “Why didn’t anyone call in to save me?” referencing the popular vote over whether to kill or save Jason Todd in A Death in the Family. Also counts as Breaking the Fourth Wall.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: Darkseid is aware of the Joker's ascension and the peril it places reality in (and how the lunatic has access to the Anti-Life Equation), so he contacts the Quintessence, a group of cosmic entities devoted to the good of the universe - to convince them not to bother him while he deals with the situation. Unfortunately, by the time he's presented his case, the Quintessence has already been reduced to imbeciles by the Joker.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Joker is prepared to unmake all reality simply because it created him.
  • Only Sane Man: Aside from the heroes, Joker left a single person untouched and drew him into his demented world - Lex Luthor. He was not pleased. Not pleased at all.
  • Rage Against the Author: During his Villainous Breakdown, Joker blames his inability to get rid of Batman permanently on the artist.
    Joker: "HEY KANO! Which part of 'Batman no longer exists' don't you understand?! ¿Hablo 'No Batman'?"
  • Reality Bleed: Small hints of standard reality leak through the Joker's rewoven fabric of the universe, offering the heroes hints that something—okay, everything isn't right.
  • Reality Warper: As annoying as Mr. Mxyzptlk is, the Joker with his power is worse.
  • Reality Warping Is Not a Toy
  • Rolling Pin of Doom: Armed by The Joker's Straw Feminist Wonder Woman.
  • Rogues-Gallery Transplant: The Joker's biggest invasion into Superman's world, after a few mild jaunts.
  • Rushmore Refacement: The Joker remakes the whole world in his image.
  • Sdrawkcab Alias: "Rekoj Rorepme... Rekoj Rorepme... Rekoj Rorepme..."
  • Shooting Superman: To Batman's credit, it involves missiles.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Stars Are Souls: Joker turns Harley into a constellation rather than kill her outright. For the Joker, this counts as sentimentality.
  • The Starscream: Lex seems to have ambitions to be this, but Joker kills him (twice) before Lex has the opportunity to do anything. Though Enigma’s failed coup shows any attempt to overthrow Joker would’ve been pointless anyway.
  • Straw Feminist: Joker's take on Wonder Woman. Complete with rolling pin.
  • Super Empowering: To the Joker.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Played straight by Superman, despite great temptation, but subverted by Batman, who after suffering endless brutal murders and resurrections decides that killing the Joker is the only way to stop him. This is then doubly subverted after the Joker is defeated, and Bruce agrees that Superman was right not to kill him. But then it is then quickly triply subverted(!) by Bruce saying that when he does kill the Joker, he wants it to be for real.
  • Victory Is Boring: The Joker literally cannot bring himself to kill Batman once and for all, because he defines himself with Batman as his foil.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Joker, when he realizes that he literally can't exist without Batman.
  • Villain World
  • Weird Moon: Joker reshapes the moon to resemble his face.
  • Wham Episode
  • Wipe That Smile Off Your Face: The Joker removes Batman's mouth. Batman communicates using Morse code and by clicking his teeth. Because he's Batman, dammit.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Joker skates close to this, deciding that any world where someone like him could happen simply shouldn't exist.
  • World Shapes: In this case, a cube, with landmasses on each face shaped like the Joker's visage.
  • Writer on Board: Possibly a few early gags poking fun at organized religion were inspired by Jeph Loeb's own viewpoints.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ComicBook/EmperorJoker