Comic Book: Joker's Last Laugh

The Joker: This one'll really kill you!

The Joker's Last Laugh sometimes simply called The Last Laugh was a Crisis Crossover DC Comics published in 2001. It was written by Chuck Dixon and Scott Beaty.

In the story, The Joker is told he is dying of an inoperable brain tumor shortly after arriving at the villain prison known as The Slab. He quickly decides to go out with a bang and infects all the other inmates with an insanity virus that also puts them under his control to stage a mass breakout, tossing the prison into another dimension as he does. While the Batfamily and Justice League scramble to contain his malice, the survivors at The Slab work to return it to earth and world governments panic in fear of the clown's wrath.

But could this really be it for the clown prince of crime?

  • Attempted Rape: Joker believes he wants to continue his own legacy by sending his mooks to kidnap Harley Quinn and bring her to him so he could have an heir by raping her (out of wedlock, by artificial insemination). Fortunately, Spoiler and Batgirl showed up to stop the mooks from capturing Harley.
  • Badass Normal: Spoiler and Batgirl can barely slow down the supervillainesses Joker sent after Harley Quinn, especially the super-speedy Dervish. They only last as long as they do because the villains want to kill them in a funny way and start fighting over how to do that long enough for Power Girl to get there.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Nightwing declares this when he loses control and tries to beat the Joker to death. The Joker got what he wanted, a member of the Batfamily nearly killed him in a fit of rage as his last laugh, his last triumph. Averted in that the Joker is stopped and captured, and Shilo puts him in a cell that monitors his biology for security but doesn't give him a camera, and thus no audience.
  • Batfamily Crossover: While villain-wise it's a Crisis, with the Joker getting dozens brainwashed, the most influential heroes in the plot are all from Gotham. The Joker even intentionally stages the final confrontation in his hometown.
  • Batman Gambit: Played by the Joker. He got a riot going and removed all the shock collars so the guards would have to use the nerve-gas, which he turned into a Psycho Serum that jokerizes all the other villains and puts them under his control. He also has the Arkham Rogues go after Robin to kill him, trying to drive Batman or at least a member of the Batfamily kill him as his real last laugh. Nightwing beats him nearly to death, and only emergency resuscitation (implied to have been from Batman himself) saves Nightwing from being a killer. Nightwing says the Joker won anyway.
  • Bechdel Test: Passes. There's a scene where five villainesses, Harley, Spoiler, and Cassandra Cain interact. All dialogue is about how the villains plan to kill the other three and Spoiler and Batgirl are in over their heads.
  • Blessed with Suck: A Slab inmate whose power is to resurrect when killed and come back with a new power every time. The Joker and his group murder him over and over until they get what they want. Shilo gives him some more freedoms in the epilogue as thanks for his help in getting the Slab back in the right dimension.
  • CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable): After Nightwing has beaten the Joker to the point when his heart stops beating and he almost dies, Batman arrives to perform CPR on the Clown Prince of Crime in order to keep Nightwing from stooping down to Joker's level as a murderer.
  • Enemy Mine: Mr. Mind helps Shilo and the guard return the slab to reality, since he wants to get back there too.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Joker's response to the Aryan group in the Slab's mess hall, saying they're "just mean."
  • Five Stages of Grief: The doctors and guards of the Slab get worried when the Joker seemingly goes through them in five minutes after being told of his tumor. This being the Joker, it's hard to tell if he faked it or not.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: While the plot moves rather quickly, we do have to contend with The Joker's plot, the Batfamily's plot, The Slab plot, and the reactions of the world to the other three.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • Oracle justifies bringing Huntress on board despite Batman's dislike of her because they need everyone right now.
    • Other heroes note it too.
    Black Canary: You don't understand...he's dying...inoperable tumor...
    Batman: Dying.
    Nightwing: All bets are off.
  • I Lied: The doctor who told The Joker about the tumor was playing a mean joke on Joker to see if it might make him feel remorse. Black Canary notes this lie might have doomed them all.
  • Joker Immunity: The Joker reacts to seemingly losing his by making sure he'll leave his mark. It's still intact, the doctor lied.
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • Oracle, who feels this was because she let herself have one night to not compulsively watch the Joker at prison, leading to a substandard first response the clown took advantage of.
    • Nightwing, for killing the Joker when he thought Robin was dead. Even though the Joker was resuscitated, he still blames himself for the loss of control, since that was what Joker wanted.
  • Oh Crap!: Pretty much everyone's reaction to hearing the Joker's been told he's dying.
  • Power Levels: Discussed when Harley Quinn is attacked by some of the jokerized supervillains. The only heroines close enough for Oracle to send right away are Spoiler and Batgirl. Oracle is reluctant and warns the girls to be careful, and the villainesses are "out of their weight class". Sure enough the girls stay on the ropes until Power Girl shows up. It's implied that the Joker himself is considered above-level for the younger members of the Batfamily.
  • President Evil: Subverted. This took place when Lex Luthor was president, but in the story proper, he has no effect on the plot beyond authorizing a shoot to kill order for any troops who see the Joker.
    • That said, in one of the tie-ins issues, Superman (volume 2) #175, Luthor did a few more President Evil hijinks: After the Joker unleashed a jokerized Doomsdaynote  on Superman, he almost killed Superman when he locked him in a box full of synthetic kryptonite alongside Doomsday (Black Lightning, then Luthor's Secretary of Education, revived him), and then SOLD that monster to Darkseid as the price of the New God's help against Imperiex. He also got jokerized and then proceeded to start his re-election campaign early, and almost brought nuclear megadeath to everyone if not for Superman restraining him.
  • Psycho Serum: Whatever the Joker doused the Slab inmates with. It makes them look like him and drives them mad like typical Joker venom does, but also puts them under his control somehow. He later does the same to various civilian populations with "crazy rain" and then to Arkham Asylum.
  • Shout-Out: A few times to DC Comics events and movies.
  • Slave to PR: Nightwing points out to Oracle that, as much as they hate the Joker, they aren't cops or soldiers. Society would stop tolerating superheroes and masked vigilantes if they started using lethal force.
  • Straight Man: While surrounded by Jokerized supervillains, the Joker realizes "I'm becoming the straight man of the act."
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Killer Frost closes Power Girl in with ice to try and make the latter panic due to her clautrophobia, which Phobia teases her over. Power Girl reveals she's had therapy about it, and can handle her fear now, busting out and flooring her opponents.
  • Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: While getting brutally beaten by Nightwing, the Joker gives one of his best lines ever.
    Joker: Oh geez. I hit Jason harder than that. His name was Jason, right?
  • You Are in Command Now: Shilo, formerly the second Mister Miracle, is promoted to head of the Slab when the Joker's first attack kills a bunch of other employees. He later becomes Warden for real at the end.
  • You Don't Look Like You: Black Canary isn't in her more well known leotard and fishnets, but instead some kind of jumpsuit. If she hadn't been quickly identified as Black Canary people might have gotten a bit confused about who she was.