They visit you for birthday parties, cheer you up when you're sad, and probably also want to kill you: clowns.
The fifth episode of season three pits a pair of psychotic clowns, renowned for both their dark humor and brutal tendencies, into the ring against one another. The hosts will match a madman working on his own whims against a murderer with another's agenda, an assortment of traps both practical and deadly against a truck with a collection of heavy firepower, for as violent as the Joker and Sweet Tooth are, only one has the necessary skills to withstand the other in a death battle.
To begin, the hosts give a look at the Joker, whose origins are unknown, even to himself; over the years, the figure has shared myriad retellings of his past, he has been shown as many things, a failed comedian with a dead wife, a once-proud mob boss, or even just a mere thug with terrible luck, yet throughout each origin, every story culminates in the same event, a trip through an array of liquid chemicals, permanently scarring and discoloring the face of what was once an everyday man, bleaching his skin white with red lips and dying his hair emerald green. Seeing what he had become is enough to drive the man now known as the Joker to lunacy, dedicated to sowing his own breed of dissent throughout Gotham.
The Joker is known as the archenemy of Batman for many reasons, not the least of which is the various gadgets and devices with which he arms himself with. Common fare, such as handguns and explosives, whilst the Joker finds well enough as tools of mayhem, are only the most basic of his arsenal; a clown such as him also comes equipped with lethal novelties, ranging from a squirting flower filled with acid, to razor-sharp playing cards, to million-voltage joy buzzers, all the way up to his signature Joker venom, a gas that incites uncontrolled laughter in those that inhale it, killing the victim as their muscles contort into a nightmarishly large grin. Repeated exposure to the venom has rendered the clown prince of crime immune to his own creation, which only makes him even more dangerous when one couples it with a body that has been honed enough to the point where he can hold his own in physical combat against Batman; and all of this is without factoring in the presence of the Jokermobile, his personal take on his foe's Batmobile, the Joker's smile painted on its hood, equipped with a bulletproof plating, and both machine guns and missile launchers.
The Joker's mastery of tricks and his unpredictable, some would even say cunning mind, has made him one of the foremost villains of the entire DC universe. The Joker's forethought has lent itself well on many occasions, able to outwit his foe consistently, and in turn bring tragedy unto his loved ones, as shown by the instances of him maining Jason Todd with a crowbar and blowing him up, and crippling Barbara Gordon, thus ending her career as Batgirl. Other superheroes have fallen prey to his trickery, as well, having been shown as outwitting Superman and Wonder Woman alike. That said, while the Joker has earned his position as public enemy number one to Gotham and Batman in particular, he is still not perfect. Over the years, he has acquired an astonishingly high pain tolerance, yet is still able to be killed; to put it another way, while it is hard to make the Joker feel pain, it is no harder to kill him. But as the Joker has fallen only a few times, such a feat is rare to accomplish, and with what the greatest of Batman's foes can accomplished, such a fate is rarer to await.
- Joker: (witnesses Gotham City falling to destruction and cackles)
From there, Wizard and Boomstick focus on Sweet Tooth, once just an unassuming ice cream man known to the world as Marcus Kane. While life was fine enough for Marcus, he bore a separate personality, one teeming with sadistic insanity; Marcus tried to keep this facet locked away within his psyche, but ultimately relented and carved this personality a mask, and it was on that day that Needles Kane was released upon the world. Needles started his spree of crime as a serial killer, murdering anyone he could find, his own family included, with a jagged machete, in a crime spree that, by his own accord, cost upwards of a thousand people their lives, before being arrested and cursed by Preacher to bear the fires of hell upon his skull. Breaking out of prison, Needles would meet an emissary of the devil, Calypso, who proposed that Needles join the Twisted Metal tournament, a demolition derby where the souls of the contestants are at stake for the prize of having a wish of their choosing granted.
Needles was all too willing to join in Twisted Metal, and to do so, he would need a vehicle of his own; as a facsimile of his old life as Marcus Kane, the serial killer clown's ride of choice is a modified Chevrolet step van ice cream truck known as Sweet Tooth (its rider, on occasion, has also taken up its mantle for himself). The Sweet Tooth truck, based on its varying incarnations throughout the Twisted Metal series, has a collection of armaments at its beck and call; these range from gatling guns, homing missiles, front mounted spikes, and even flight capabilities. Were that not enough, the truck is able to turn itself into a piloted mecha, the Sweet Bot. In this form, the Sweet Bot bears a multi-barreled gatling gun and enforced plating, on top of enhancing its flight power, while gaining a new ability in the Sweet Slam, a flying overhead strike that can demolish an entire building.
But even without his truck, Needles is a fearsome foe in his own right, one who can survive being stabbed in the face and even the 2000+ volts of an electric chair, breaking free and fighting his way out of the prison. Sweet Tooth is, by and far, one of the Twisted Metal competition's longest-lasting contestants, but he is by no means an unstoppable one. Despite the curse Preacher has put upon him, the serial killer is still a mortal man, one that can be killed nonetheless, and Calypso has been able to consistently deceive Sweet Tooth. That said, both the truck and its rider are tough enough to survive multiple rounds in the demolition derby, and keep coming back unscathed, ready for more carnage.
Both sides have been given their due, and there is little left to do. One ad for audible.com later, and now, it's time for a death battle (and then books)!
The slums of Gotham City, with its ambience of police sirens, finds itself visited by the clown prince of crime, the Joker, who has stumbled upon the Batmobile, left behind by his sworn foe. Musing over its design, Batman's nemesis gives the car a paint job, giving the newly-made Jokermobile a test drive through the city streets. Alongside the road, the serial killer Needles Kane, resting outside his truck, Sweet Tooth, is busy savoring the aroma of a strawberry ice cream cone, a treat soon deprived of him as the Joker extends an arm, swiping the frozen treat from Needles. Enraged, the former ice cream salesman mounts his truck, chasing after the Joker. Sweet Tooth rams into the Jokermobile, knocking the ice cream out of the Joker's hand, before the stolen ride swirls around, the two cars facing each other dead-on.
The vehicles dart down the empty city streets, ramming into one another. Joker, taking a Thompson submachine gun, opens fire on the ice cream truck, who opens fire with its dual gatling guns; neither fares any well at hitting their designated foes. The greatest threat to Gotham slinks back into the car as Needles rams his truck into it, bemused at the assortment of buttons lining the dashboard. Gleefully does the Joker mash all the buttons, unveiling an array of guns and rockets, all delivering their payload unto Calypso's pawn, yet the ice cream truck evades many of the projectiles, its armored plating absorbing the rest; the harlqeuin of hate eyes a particular button on the steering wheel, unawaredly activating the nitrous on the Batmobile. Luckily for the Joker, a truck with a loading ramp arrives right before him, giving him a means to vault the Jokermobile over.
By now, Needles has decided to show off the other accessories of his truck. The flaming head that decorates the roof of the truck sprouts an exhaust; being launched off the ride, the Laughing Ghost homes in on the Jokermobile, blasting back down to the ground below, turning a building office into rubble as the car itself is destroyed altogether. Stepping out of the ruins of the Jokermobile, the psychotic jester taunts his foe, who revs his truck in response. The Sweet Tooth gains momentum as it heads towards the Joker, who continues throwing insults and berating degradations at Needles. At a moment's notice, however, the Joker pulls out a revolver and fires a round at one of the Sweet Tooth's tires, the recoil knocking him back. The truck careens out of control, twisting wildly out of control, yet Batman's premiere foe times a jump to land safely in the passenger seat.
Both Joker and Sweet Tooth engage in a brief battle over control of the truck, swerving the vehicle haphazardly through the city streets, ramming into the few cars now emerging onto the road. To gain the upper hand, Joker sprays the other clown with the acidic flower on his lapel and a jolt with the joy buzzer for good measure, irritating Sweet Tooth the man enough to kick the Joker out of Sweet Tooth the truck. Joker, complaining to himself, is unaware of the ice cream truck's transformation into the Sweet Bot. By the time he does take notice, however, the gatling-equipped arm throws a backhand that launches the jester into another building; by the time the dust settles, the Joker finds himself impaled on a metal rod, the Sweet Bot slowly approaching. It is now, Joker decides, to engage in conversation with Needles and the man he once was; in the satisfaction of seeing a victim's life as their killer takes it from them in person.
Needles, lured in by Joker's filibuster, dismounts the Sweet Bot, dragging his jagged machete along the ground. As the man who was once Marcus Kane hoists the Joker from off the rod, staring at his eyes, the Twisted Metal entrant agrees that he wishes to savor the look upon his foe as he murders him; sadly for him, the man who may or may not have been Jack Napier has one final surprise in store. With a thrust of the arm, the clown prince of crime sprays his Joker venom dead in Sweet Tooth's face, who releases the Gotham terrorist and stumbles back. Needles recovers and prepares to strangle the life out of the Joker, but in his mind's eye, the nightmarish visage of Calypso emerges. A guttural chuckle does Sweet Tooth emit, becoming a rough, hearty laughter; Calypso's image flooding the screen repeatedly. Together the two clowns engage in their sinister cackling, but only mere seconds pass as Sweet Tooth slumps backwards, silenced forever, his corpse the Joker's only company.
Police cars arrive on the scene, surrounding the still-laughing Joker, Sweet Tooth's lifeless body laying right beside him. The hosts admit both were talented in the field of hand-to-hand combat, but Joker's unpredictability and tactics gave him the advantage; in particular citing the Joker venom, potent enough to disable the entire Justice League, as key in his victory. So skilled is the Joker in planning, that he has been able to manipulate both Superman and Batman as pawns for his schemes; in comparison to Kane, whose capacity for killing is a straightforward offense. In addition, Joker is an expert in playing upon the psyches of hardened killers, especially those who share in Sweet Tooth's mindset. Both killer clowns are terrifying to others for good reason, but the Joker exceeds Sweet Tooth in many ways and more.
- Boomstick: Joker wasn't "clowning" around in this "gas" of a fight that had us on pins... and "Needles."
Wizard: We should really put you on a limit.
Boomstick: Aw, come on, Wiz; those puns were "Sweet!"
Wizard: ... the winner is the Joker.
Joker: (sighs, then a beat before grinning) Well, that was fun! Who's for Chinese?
Joker vs. Sweet Tooth contains examples of:
- Batman Gambit: The Joker exploits Needles' psychopathic nature to get him to try and kill him up close and personal rather than with the Sweet Bot...right into range of Joker Toxin.
- Broken Win/Loss Streak: This episode broke the losing streak that had been hanging over the heads of the DC villain contestants for a while now. The Joker is officially the first villain of the DC Universe to score a victory.
- Deliberate Injury Gambit: Joker lets himself get pummeled by the Sweet Bot to give him enough time to reason with Needles to kill him in person, proving to be Sweet Tooth's undoing.
- Disproportionate Retribution: The whole reason the fight starts is over the Joker stealing Needles' ice cream.
- Dumb Muscle: One of Sweet Tooth's major flaws, and the ultimate reason why he loses to Joker, is because he's a relative idiot with a one-track mind, whereas the Joker is wildly cunning, highly innovative, and adept at manipulating bloodthirsty goons exactly like Sweet Tooth.
- Eviler Than Thou: And it has the same result of pretty much anyone who tries to out-evil the Joker.
- It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: Joker, after driving the nitro-boosted Jokermobile off an improvised ramp shortly into the fight, has this to say about the experience thus far:"Best! Button! Ever!"
- Lame Pun Reaction: Just like the prior episode, Wizard halfheartedly declares the episode's winner courtesy of Boomstick's puns annoying him.
- Made of Iron: Joker's insanity-fueled ability to tolerate pain — like the times he shrugged off having a batarang lodged in his eye or was running around with his face peeled off and strapped back on like a mask — is lampshaded, and it's actually one of the key elements that enables him to survive against and ultimately defeat Sweet Tooth.
- Monster Clown: The unifying theme between both combatants — psychotically evil clowns.
- Pyrrhic Victory: The Joker wins, but he's injured and bleeding heavily, and even if he lives, he's likely headed back to Arkham afterwards.
- Rule of Funny: The "Jokermobile" seen in the fight is actually a Batmobile with a paint job. Since most incarnations of the Jokermobile are specifically designed to go rubber-to-rubber with the Batmobile, it's is mostly reasonable, and this trope covers the rest.note
- Shout-Out: Joker channels his Heath Ledger portrayal near the end of the fight, asking Sweet Tooth to "savor all the little emotions" by killing him up close.
- Transforming Mecha: Sweet Tooth's ride that can transforming into a pilotable robot.
- Understatement:Boomstick: [Joker] got a Batarang lodged in his eye! And was still running around, laughing, and shooting people! Goddamn, that's almost as bad as the time he had his own face cut off for giggles.Wiz: That's WAY worse!
- What Does This Button Do?: Joker's first instinct upon seeing the various buttons lining the dashboard of the Batmobile-cum-Jokermobile.