The Elephant in the Room

By Rutskarn Posted Friday Aug 5, 2016

Filed under: Batman 99 comments

Hey, guys, it’s Rutskarn. Some of you may recall how a while ago I expressed an interest in writing a short Joker fan comic. Emphasis on “writing”–the act you might recognize is the non-making-comics part of making comics. This meant that in industry terms, my idea was approximately as valuable as a time share on a pretend spaceship.

However, shortly after the episode aired, Stephan Kostrzewa and his unparalleled ability to use art supplies and pixels to effect storytelling reached out to me about making my non-comic idea into something extremely comic-like. Now, after four months of backbreaking work (and almost twenty full minutes of writing on my part), a comic-like product has resulted. You might even say it is a comic.

You can read it here. And should, if you’re into that sort of thing.


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99 thoughts on “The Elephant in the Room

  1. Another Scott says:

    I absolutely love it. I didn’t know I wanted this so badly until I saw it.

    I hope that the the elephant in the room isn’t that DC’s lawyers might not see it as so wonderful.

    1. Grudgeal says:

      Considering all the fanmade bat-slash erotica already drifting on the dirt-lines on the intertubes, I think DC has a lot of worse infringements on their trademark before they get down to this.

      I’m saving a copy to my local hard drive just in case, of course.

      1. Wide And Nerdy® says:

        Both DC and Marvel from what I’ve seen have traditionally been very open about letting fans riff on their stuff.

        Alternately, there’s absolutely no reason DC couldn’t hire these two to write and render this as a standalone miniseries. It looks amazing. The art style reminds me of early 90’s Joker. I wish I knew the artists from back then to nail it down. And the concept is the sort of thing you’d expect to see in the Batman Black and White Anthology, as is the writing itself.

        Amazing work Rutskarn, don’t sell your part short.

        1. LCF says:

          Very good!
          Likewise, I love the 1990’s feel and aesthetics, along with the Joker’s design.

  2. Akuma says:

    This is perfect.

  3. Tea says:

    Is the elephant in the room the offensive transwoman stereotype in the FIRST PANEL?

    EDIT: This was said really shitty in retrospect, but I maintain my point. Otherwise I really love the comic and think you both did a great job. Still miffed about that gross caricature…

    1. Primogenitor says:

      Yeah, I saw that and it put me off too. Imagine if it was someone in “blackface” there instead? Belch…

      But apart from that one miss-step the rest is awesome :) Love that Joker is concerned about his outfit being interpreted as racist.

      1. Wide And Nerdy® says:

        I got a laugh. Even though there was an Onion article a while back with essentially that gag a serial killer being upset that his work had been interpreted as racist.

        But as a throwaway detail in the panel, the joke lands, plus its the Joker so the execution is inherently different.

        1. Tea says:

          What ‘gag’? The gag of a gross stereotype? That gag?

          1. MichaelGC says:

            The gag of a serial killer being upset that his work had been interpreted as racist.

            1. Wide And Nerdy® says:

              Yeah sorry, I went back and fixed a sentence but didn’t fix it enough.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Imagine if it was someone in “blackface” there instead?

        Ok,hold on.
        Hahaha!That was a riot.Thanks.

        1. Syal says:

          They call him Nega-Mime.

        2. Felblood says:

          Y’know, there used to be a variant of Hobo Clown who used a black foundation, before the outcry over the Jim Crow plays led our society to decide, that all references to black facepaint must be scrubbed from history.

    2. lurkey says:

      If you mean the muscly person in red wife-beater and pigtails, how do you know it’s not just a dude in pigtails? Why do you instantly assume that’s a woman? Are you saying a dude can’t wear pigtails?

      You should really knock a few grads off your offensensitivity detector is what I’m saying.

    3. Grudgeal says:

      I thought it was a drag act myself. Nothing says a man can’t wear pigtails and a pink wifebeater.

      1. Von Krieger says:

        Pigtails and a wifebeater (though not pink) is my standard workout attire and I’m an NFL lineman sized dude.

        It’s the only thing I can do with my hair to simultaneously keep out out of my face, off my back, and not be immediately behind my head.

      2. BenD says:

        I can’t make that look trans no matter how hard I try. Gender-nonconforming and also gender-ambiguous, sure. And I like that. I mean, if Joker’s goons aren’t inclusive, what are we coming to? The style is tasteless and campy because of the goon makeup and costuming, not the gender ambiguity. I feel right at home there. (I mean. Not saying I need to be a goon for Joker. But um. Maybe if I was given the option…)

    4. silver Harloe says:

      even if it was a woman, I didn’t see anything about it that said ‘trans’ to me – just a muscular chick, like a bodybuilder type.

    5. tmtvl says:

      You’re getting your knickers in a knot over an assumption you’re making?

      Even if it was meant in an offensive way (which would be fitting for a Joker henchman), the comic is amazing enough for it not to matter.

    6. Rutskarn says:

      No need to apologize, Tea.

      Strictly for the record–I didn’t see a trans character. I don’t think Stephan meant the character to be trans, or deliberately built on trans stereotypes, although I don’t know for sure–I never talked over henchman design.

      HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to talk about and that doesn’t mean anyone in the thread needs to rush to my or Stephan’s defense. There’s obviously something one or both of us is missing.

      1. Abnaxis says:

        Not meaning to be contrarian, but I still don’t see it. I see a goon in a pink wife-beater and pigtails laughing with the rest of the gang. What’s the stereotype being portrayed?

        1. doran says:

          I just assumed it was an in-universe jab at Harley, not at trans people, either in or out of universe.

      2. topazwolf says:

        What was the intent? Because my first thought was that Harley dressed him and did his hair. I get the feeling when she’s bored she hangs with the goons and does their hair and makeup. Refusal of her fashion would probably result in death.

      3. Kostrzewa says:

        While creating the comic I used all kinds of stereotypical signifiers from a lot of places. I used many attributes of different ethnicities, ages, genders, ideas of noir, punk, glam rock and the circus, to design the DIY look of the characters and environments. My goal for the scene was to draw a diverse group of mooks. Each should have had its own personality, reflected through their outfit and expression and some were supposed to be ambiguous in gender and/or gender expression (like most real people are). I thought of the Jokers gang as a kind of Peter Pans lost boys (and girls and *) home where everyone could express themself the way they want, with a calculating crazy artist/sociopath at the helm (which is ambiguous in and of itself, because the Jokers gang isn’t a democratic organization, but a very hierarchical matter, so it fits the point of the story that there is a performance on the surface and more to it underneath).

        The clown in question is one of my favorite characters on the page and I don’t think he is the point of any joke here. I thought of him as a positive and powerful figure, with his strength, exuberance and some gender ambiguity. I wanted to be inclusive and never intended to discriminate against already discriminated groups or enforce harmful stereotypes (quite the opposite, even though this wasn’t the point of the comic). So I hope this gives some insight in my design decisions. I never intended to offend anyone by drawing the character the way I did and I am sorry if anybody interpreted it that way and felt misrepresented by that depiction.

        1. Lanthanide says:

          You think “most” people are ambiguous in gender identity or gender expression?


          Where do you live?

          1. Felblood says:

            I think he means more externally ambiguous. As all communication is imperfect, the persona you project will be misinterpreted by every person you meet, in some way.

            For example, I know that I’m a straight man, who frowns on most forms of recreational drug use, enjoys showers and likes his music fast, loud and varied.

            –but the 3 foot ponytail really throws some people for a loop. –mostly children and old people, who I don’t blame, because it’s actually their parents’ fault.

            It’s occasionally inconvenient to explain to a man in a business suit that I’m a rocker, not a toker, but that same ambiguity has led to one of the most uplifting trends in my daily life.

            Every now and then a hippy will throw me a peace sign as I drive by, and I have to throw the horns back to him, to correct his misconception. Generally, this is followed by a mutual nod of respect and understanding, before I disappear down the street, which warms my heart a great deal.

    7. MadTinkerer says:

      After everything the Joker’s been through, I wonder if what will finally kill the character is political correctness.

      No, I’m being serious here. If fictional villains that make jokes are problematic, if The Joker can’t be allowed to do something tasteless, that’s the end of The Joker. It already happened once, thanks to Fredric Wertham.

      And hey: maybe that’s exactly what we need to create our perfect thinking society. Boring villains that aren’t allowed to do anything that any real person might possibly consider offensive. Then Batman can finally retire!

      Imagine there’s no Batman
      because everything is fine
      No Joker below us
      or even the concept of crime
      Imagine all the villains
      vanishing completely

      1. bionicOnion says:

        The issue isn’t with the Joker making tasteless and mean-spirited jokes; the issue is the Joker making tasteless and mean-spirited jokes targeting groups that already have to deal with that enough in their daily existence.

        Take, for instance, the rest of what’s going on on that first page: making someone legitimately believe that you’re going to kill them only to have it turn out that they’re fired instead is absolutely tasteless and mean-spirited–and thus it tracks perfectly with the character of the Joker. However, tasteless though it is, it’s not a joke that singles out any particular group; there’s still a way for the Joker to be the same maniacally cruel rogue that he’s always been without relying on the sort of “jokes” that are actually damaging and hurtful to the audience as well as the characters.

        On top of that, I think that it’s actually better in keeping with the character to avoid bringing that particular kind of malice into his jokes. The Joker’s sense of humor is most certainly malicious, but in an arbitrary and almost whimsical sort of way–and humor which is really just vaguely masked hate speech is anything but whimsical.

        1. topazwolf says:

          I would argue that Joker is probably one of the most evil characters in the DC universe. Him openly mocking specific groups and being a general bad man is something he just does. Have you read the Killing Joke?

          Take how he treats Harley by verbally and emotionally abusing her. You are supposed to hate him. He is irredeemable in a way that is unique among villains from his era. He even beat Robin to death with a crowbar (with help from readers I suppose). The punchline of all his jokes is that the previously whimsical joke was masking sadism and hatred. The normal followup to his flag bang gun is that he pulls out a real gun and executes them after laughing.

          He isn’t whimsical at all, he only pretends to be. He alternates from being fun and insightful to being the most disgusting and violent person imaginable.

        2. Nidokoenig says:

          One of the big bits of catharsis in fiction is having a villain who does a relatable evil(assault, murder, rape, etc) getting seven shades of shit kicked out of him, your basic revenge fantasy. There should be racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic villains, and they should get their shit wrecked. Remember, if these little microaggressions are supposed to be acts of violence, the feeling of a superior force backing you is one of the most powerful ways to allay those fears. I have traumatic memories from a dog attack when I was little, and wearing steel-toed boots is the most effective way to neutralise those memories when they pop back up for me. Purging dangerous dogs from fiction wouldn’t help me at all(primarily because I only freak out about actual dogs that can get to me), and I haven’t a clue what the mechanism by which it’s supposed to help others is.

          Also, I’m a big, beardy cismale who likes wearing women’s clothing occasionally, so let me have a little representation now and then.

          1. Pete_Volmen says:

            This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. I mean, that’s what we do with literature, right? There’s plenty of racism in Mark Twain’s work, but it’s not seen as a negative thing because it comments on it.
            Whether to hold up a mirror or provide catharsis, there’s a place for stuff like this.

        3. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          Two things about this:
          1) No, the Joker shouldn’t target any specific groups. Even if this is “evil” in a generic way, it seems rife for author abuse, where the author sneaks in their politics. Either by having the Joker act out the prejudices of people the author disagrees with for the satisfaction of Batman bashing his head in at the end OR for the author to put ideas he ACTUALLY believes in into Joker’s mouth which the author has deniability for because “he’s the bad guy.”

          2) But also, no, it’s really bizarre to be like “was that trans insensitive? HOW DARE HE?!” when the Joker is just CONSTANTLY murdering and torturing people. It’s his whole thing. Saying that the villain shouldn’t do anything bad because it may trigger someone is… well it’s oversensitive. The author should be more clever than to have the villain kick puppies every single issue (or the modern comic equivalent, rape and kill girlfriend characters); but the audience shouldn’t assume bad intentions on the part of the author when the Villain does something BAD.

    8. Decius says:

      I don’t see what’s offensive or even stereotypical about the trans woman in the nurses’ outfit. I guess that there’s four trans men in the scene but only one trans woman?

    9. Viktor says:

      Everyone saying you don’t see the stereotype or how it’s offensive: Really? You haven’t seen the massive number of jokes that boil down to “Dude in a dress, lulz, how silly and dumb he is”, with those jokes usually involving an overly-buff dude and a pink poofy dress? That sort of joke is pretty damn traumatizing for a little kid who everyone says is male and who wants to wear a dress sometimes. And seeing a reference to that sort of bs joke from someone who you expected to respect you enough to not do that can be fairly hurtful.

      That said, I’m sure this case was unintentional. The overall color scheme in that scene meant that every outfit looks at least slightly feminine, so having one char who looks like a bad trans stereotype without meaning to is pretty plausible. At the same time, insulting your readers, even accidentally, isn’t a good way to get people to read more of your work.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        You will always accidentally insult someone.The more people follow your work,the more youll insult.Thats a fact.I can already see someone being insulted because of the money parts because “thats an offensive jewish stereotype”.So you should never try to avoid accidentally treading on someones toes.If people cant get over that you accidentally said something that reminded them of something bad that happened to them,its their problem.

      2. Ninety-Three says:

        Everyone saying you don't see the stereotype or how it's offensive: Really? You haven't seen the massive number of jokes

        But that’s just it, it’s not a joke. It’s just a burly person wearing pigtails and pink. No one is pointing and going “Hahaha, pink and muscles, am I right?” The “You are fired” gun is a joke, this is just a depiction of a masculine character wearing feminine attire without being the target of any derision.

        There are lots of jokes about burly people in pink, but this isn’t one of them. This is not insulting anyone, unless you’re saying that the prevalence of “burly person in pink” as a punchline automatically transmutes all burly pink people into jokes.

        1. Mr. Son says:

          Not to mention that some women — both trans and cis — are burly and appear masculine? And if they’re not being mocked for it, I say there’s no reason not to make one a mook? In fact I’d argue that depicting burly women who aren’t mocked for it should be encouraged. World could use more burly women.

          1. Jsor says:

            Yeah, I’m literally a transgirl. I even voiced a minor complaint on this very site about one of the drag episodes in Fallout 4. I’m at a point in my transition where my testeosterone isn’t low enough to see any changes from my estrogen so I still look masculine and have really bad dysphoria, so I’m very sensitive to “haha dude thinks he’s a lady” jokes.

            I ain’t seeing anything offensive in the comic. Some trans women and even cis women look burly for a multitude of reasons, nobody made a joke at anybody’s expense. I’m not even sure they’re meant to be trans, could just be gender non-conforming, an off-model drawing, or any number of things.

            Obviously I can’t speak for anybody other than myself, but personally I don’t see anything I’d even nitpick about.

      3. Syal says:

        I’ll throw in that I’m pretty sure Rutskarn actively wants to hear if people are offended by something he’s helped make. People arguing it shouldn’t matter are ignoring that it matters to the author.

        Having said that, I’ll undermine my own point and say it irritates me when people assume a man in women’s clothing must be Trans. Ed Wood was famous for crossdressing and made a whole movie about how wearing women’s clothing doesn’t always mean you want to be one.

        And that’s taking it seriously. A football player wearing a tutu to ballet is the same joke as someone wearing leather biker gear to a bicycle race. “This is the uniform” jokes don’t imply gender.

        (And looking at the guy with the KISS star, it looks like he is wearing a tutu. I’m guessing the idea was it’s a criminal costume party where the musclebound guy dressed up as a rollerskate girl.)

        1. topazwolf says:

          While valuable to know that people are offended by it, I would say it’s probably more valuable to know the why of it. Arguing will allow multiple viewpoints to directly contrast and highlight more information to avoid the same issue in the future.

          That being said, arguments on the internet do have a tendency to be overzealous.

          1. Nidokoenig says:

            The why is key, because it’s vital to understanding the problem a writer will want to solve, which is “My art is not correctly communicating my vision”. The Stanley Parable had a bit that was altered because it seemed to a significant chunk of people to be referencing some killings in the recent past, so they were looking at it through a lens that didn’t reveal the creator’s vision and amplified messages they weren’t interested in broadcasting. That was a fairly obvious bug with an easy fix with few drawbacks, a simple engineering problem.

            The problem here is that the solution is, what exactly? It’s obviously not to purge all characters who don’t conform to gender norms(whose norms?), nor to follow an approved template for trans characters(whose template? Hope you enjoy making enemies with everyone else). Hell, harsh truth is that a number of trans women look like dudes in dresses, at least for a certain amount of time, and representing that reality in fiction is a pretty effective way to acclimatise people to it and dampen down their reactions in real life. The greatest enemy to normalising a group is making discussion taboo and highly regulated, it others them and makes dealing with them dangerous.

            1. Syal says:

              The problem here is that the solution is, what exactly?

              Assuming the artists think it’s a problem (I’d say it’s more work to fix than it’s worth), there are multiple possible solutions, all of which boil down to “make the character stand out less”:

              Move the character to the back row or the right side of the panel, or group them up with the nurse and tutu guys.

              Any or all of: Different clothes/hair colors, fewer muscles, shorter hair. Stereotype is a subjective thing, any move away can break it for someone.

              Everyone between that guy and the Joker has white clothes with red accessories, while that guy, the Joker and the giant teeth are all in pink and serve as frames. Put him in white with red ponytails and put a giant pink novelty flower on the left, see if that works.

              Have them do something more than laugh; I think the reason people think it’s a visual gag is because they have no personality yet. If that’s the guy getting gag-shot I doubt it’s a problem anymore; now he stands out so much because he’s the focus of the action.

              Have two group shots with that character only being visible in the second one. First panel means first impressions, if the first impression is a group of normies you can get real weird in follow-ups and avoid a lot of stigmas.

              1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

                Your “fixes” all entail taking a guy you assume is trans (or at least gender non-normative) and… erasing him from the story. Uh… I find THAT much more problematic than anything the original person assumed.

                1. Gilfareth says:

                  This solution is coming from a position of assuming the person raising a complaint is valid in their worries, which I really don’t think is the case. From my own personal perspective as (and dating) a transitioning person, the burly individual in the pink dress is just another mook in the Joker’s gang. I mean, there isn’t anyone calling any attention to them. They aren’t singled out in any way except their outfit, which isn’t commented upon in any light, positive or negative. They’re just… there.

                  I really don’t want to disparage anyone who keeps an eye out for painful representations, because goodness knows I’ve seen it myself. But seeing it here is more an issue of projection and knee-jerk reflexive fear of any visual indication a character is trans, with the underlying assumption that either trans people are just mocked or mockable by being what they are and looking how they look (which is a terrible idea to carry around) or that any depiction will inevitably carry some negative message or derision, which is just as poisonous an idea to keep in your head.

    10. RJT says:

      I honestly had a reaction to that character, too, but it was, “It’s so nice that they have more than one female body type in that crowd, and such a big variety, too.” I can think of very few portrayals of trans-women in media at all, so I’m not aware of a stereotype. (Of course, I don’t consume a lot of entertainment media.) It does not matter that the character is not blatantly identified as trans, though, as that is the point of a stereotype. For all I know, the character has a few standard cues that make a vast swath of people roll their eyes and think, “Not this again.”

  4. Tektotherriggen says:

    Wow, that was superb!

    I’ve never read Batman comics, but to this non-fan it felt incredibly authentic. Great art, great script!

    1. Ramsus says:

      Same here. Good job Ruts!

  5. sheer_falacy says:

    That was awesome. It’s a really clever idea for how the Joker’s stunts work, and the art shows it beautifully. Great job!

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ah,so thats what lead to the killing joke.

  7. Sunshine says:

    “approximately as valuable as a time share on a pretend spaceship”

    Somehow, I think someone’s probably making money out of that in EVE Online.

    I really liked the comic. It’s just what I imagined when you described the idea.

    1. GloatingSwine says:

      EVE be damned, Chris Roberts is making a mint on pretend spaceships that don’t even pretend exist yet.

  8. Ciennas says:

    This is beautiful, and I would love to see more stuff like this. Wonderella kinda does this, but it’s too busy being parody to really show the off hours moments for anyone.

    This is really really cool, and an element that has gone underaddressed in my opinion.

    1. Wide And Nerdy® says:

      Keith Giffen used to do this with the Justice League.

      Favorite moment was Mr Miracle discovering that, no, not all brownstones are built to accommodate spaceship roof landings.

  9. Grudgeal says:

    …Just got to ask: Was it an intentional choice by you, as the scriptwriter, to have the Joker not do a Joker Grin in the last panel and just deliver a regular smile without teeth, or did that just come out naturally during the drawing stage?

    1. silver Harloe says:

      he saves the showy stuff for when people are watching, was my take

      1. Grudgeal says:

        I have a similar interpretation. I was just wondering if the writer intended it that way from the get-go.

    2. Ninety-Three says:

      Similarly, was it scripted that Party Joker is drawn differently than Manager Joker, whose face is substantially longer? It’s a good effect.

  10. Christopher says:

    So cool! I like this a lot, from idea to the finished pages. The Joker seems like the kind of guy that always plan crazy elaborate heists way more in advance than is believable, and it’s funny that he’s this serious about his act from behind closed doors. I would have been happy if it was a collection of sketches in a tumblr post, but it’s much better when the finished comic looks entirely professional(if more retro than I’ve gotten the impression the New 52 is). Major props to the artist, you put some effort into these.

    1. Matt Downie says:

      I’d like to see an alternative cut of The Dark Knight where Heath Ledger’s Joker has to deal with the administrative work behind secretly planting enough explosives to destroy an entire hospital, making sure there’s an exploding guy in the right place to rescue him from prison, and so on.

      1. Nessus says:

        My interpretation was he doesn’t actually plan specific bombings per-se, he just salted the entire city with all kinds assorted bombs. So when something comes up, or he gets an idea, he can just grab the detonator for bomb 23# off the shelf, or call his henchmen and tell them to move that one semi trailer parked by the docks onto a ferry and unload it.

        I like to imagine that for decades after his rampage, people are still finding explosive caches tucked away in various random corners of the city. Sort of like post-WWII London.

        1. Neil W says:

          1. Even if there were no more actual bombs, Gotham City PD bomb squad would be getting called to birthday parties for months afterwards.

          2. The Dark Knight claims it’s the mob guys who arrange everything for the Joker’s elaborate last half of the film events but… I don’t believe it. At the very least he’s got a second in command overseeing it, someone who knows his moves and style. More likely a full (and silent) partner who organises and backs the flamboyant front man.

  11. Nixitur says:

    I loved the idea back when you talked about it on the Diecast, but I never would have imagined that it would turn into an actual comic. Huge props to both of you, this looks amazing!

  12. Xpovos says:

    This is fun and a great set-up, but as a rejection letter I got on a piece of fiction I once wrote told me, “this is the beginning of a story, not a story.” Is there more coming? If so, count me as enthused. The scripting is good and intriguing and the artwork is amazing. You two should definitely continue. Take this story to a proper conclusion. Just don’t go crazy delving the depths of the Joker’s psychology.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      I don’t really disagree, but I think that was essentially the idea: i.e. to cover the bits of a Joker story which aren’t usually shown. So including the actual story of how Batman foiled the elephants (or whatever) would probably dilute that goal somewhat.

      Completely agree that more of this quality would be great, though! :D

      1. Decius says:

        I would be hella disappointed if, after the setup and groundwork promised here, Batman comes in and saves the day.

        1. Thomas Lines says:

          That could be a story though. Reframing the hero for a minute as the guy who comes along and stamps all over the elephant-shaped sandcastles.

        2. ngthagg says:

          I think that’s the payoff though. The Joker is a guy who gets off on putting together these intricate and sadistic plots. By the end of the comic we would see how the Joker overcame the money issue, and the time issue, and managed to get the elephants where they need to be, and probably some other obstacle that even he didn’t see. And every time he conquers one of these problems and brings his plan closer to fruition, we see the manic energy building, until it reaches a near-orgasmic peak when Batman enters the scene. And we would know that no matter what Batman does, he can’t beat the Joker. Because Batman can only stop the outcome, but the Joker lives for the process.

          I can see the final panel: the Joker, in a cell at Arkham, strapped into a strait jacket, laughing to himself. Because no matter how defeated he looks on the outside, inside he is victorious.

          1. Sunshine says:

            And that, to some extent, the final battle where Batman has to figure out how to stop this crazy scheme is a big part of the point of it. When the Joker asks “Who am I doing this for?” we do know the answer, or at least part of it.

        3. Syal says:

          Dealing with the heroes in the mid-way stuff makes for good logistics problems though.

          “Okay, Batman’s going to stop a shipment, Robin might stop a second one, so we’ll need at least three shipments to come in at the same time. You know what, make it six.”

          “Boss, Batman and five Robins stopped all our shipments.”

          Dammit Batman why don’t you just pick one and stick with ’em?

      2. Retsam says:

        It’s not the “how does Batman save the Congressmen from the elephants” part that I felt was missing, but actual details of how the Joker manages to enact his plan. The comic outlines the problem but doesn’t cover the solution to the problem.

        This is the definition of looking gift horses in their mouth, granted, but I was surprised when the comic ended where it did.

        1. Nidokoenig says:

          The details of the plan aren’t important, though. The strip’s purpose is meta, it’s to implant the idea that the Joker does meticulously plan out all the crazy shit that just happens, and sticking around long enough to explain the details takes the emphasis off the idea. Now, whether the reader might be better convinced of the idea by being led through the working of the plan this time is a fair question, but it’s kind of undercut by the shitload of Joker stories where shit just happens.

    2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      The “story” part of this is every Batman v Joker takedown. This is just “well wait… where did the ELEPHANTS come from?” which is a great non sequitur. Reminds me of the Sheepdog and Wolf cartoons where they clock in and out.

  13. Vermander says:

    Really awesome. I’ve always secretly wished I had a super talented artist friend who would be willing to sketch all of my random ideas for me (or that I had any artistic ability myself). Instead I’m stuck creating characters on Heromachine.

    One question though, why would there be multiple congressmen at one event in Gotham. Shouldn’t it be city council members or state senators of something?

    1. Party convention, fact-finding trip, campaigning for a friend/fellow party member…. There’s plenty of reasons for having several congresspeople in one place.

  14. HiEv says:

    The obvious solution to the Joker’s problem is to get permission to walk the elephants through the middle of town as part of a parade. Make sure all of the politicians are there because the media will be watching. Then make Batman think it’s a distraction for some other bank job or something.

    You’d likely end up either pulling off the bank job or killing off the politicians, possibly both.

    Wait… Why am I trying to solve problems FOR THE JOKER?!?

    1. modus0 says:

      Because some people just love to solve puzzles.

    2. Sunshine says:

      I think you’re right, because moving elephants around is so ostentatious that hiding in plain sight is the best option. (Here I’m only thinking about getting the elephants into position for the Joker’s scheme, before it’s ready to go.) The abandoned subway is out of sight, but if there’s one guy (or a group) working down there (the city’s power grid or sewers or whatever) and they see this happening, the story of “Why are elephants moving underground?” is too interesting to not spread, especially in a city of themed supervillians.

      On the other hand, however flimsy the pretext is for a parade – India Appreciation Day? Promotions at LexStore? Gotham is trying for the Olympics? – it’s an acceptable reason for such spectacle.

      1. Neil W says:

        No no no. What you should do is make it appear as though you (The Joker) are trying to STOP the elephant parade. Then Batman will do his very best to make sure it occurs. Then mayhem, elephants running amok, Batman trampled in a stampede/crushed by the Elephant’s trunk etc.

  15. Falterfire says:

    This reminds me a bit of an idea I’ve had kicking around in my head for forever but never quite had the time or the skill or the team to build:

    I’d like to see a supervillain game where the goal is to work on managing a criminal empire so you can enact some evil plan. There have been a couple games that are similar, but most games tend to be either about base management (See: Evil Genius) or just running heists (See: Payday) without really having the tie together that I’m looking for.

    Really, XCOM is probably the closest to what I’m thinking about: You have some aspects of base management as you get new weapons and tools for your goons to unleash, but ultimately that’s just a way to run more successful heists rather than the focus being on the base building itself.

    XCOM with lots of control over missions and a Supervillain skin is what I’m talking about, I guess: Core gameplay is making decisions like “Alright, so I need more money right now, so which bank is currently the best mix of payout and lower defenses?” or “I want the Scepter of Hades from the Museum of Fallen Superheroes, what do I need in order to successfully launch an attack on it?” and then carrying out the resulting heists using the tools you’ve put together.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Have you tried omerta – city of gangsters?

    2. Sunshine says:

      I like this idea.

      Also, I’m kind of disappointed that XCOM 2 hasn’t done a perspective-flipped DLC where you play as ADVENT, the (mostly?) human forces of the alien rulers, trying to contain XCOM terrorism while your alien overlords demand results.

  16. The Specktre says:

    Like it, dig it. Great job!

  17. Sunshine says:

    “Frauds, industrial theft, shell corporations”

    Is the last just a coincidence borne of sharing the language of shady money or a deliberate reference to Shamus’ Mass Effect series and “Yes, ‘shell corporations’ are a thing, but they don’t begin to explain/excuse why The Illusive Man has limitless funds.”

  18. Cuthalion says:

    This was pretty great. And I agree: has to be elephants.

  19. shiroax says:

    I remember Rutskarn talking about the Joker, but not exactly what he said. Could somebody point me to the relevant timestamp please? I don’t really have time to relisten to the whole episode.

    1. MichaelGC says:


      1. shiroax says:

        Thank you.

  20. V says:

    I feel like I missed the punchline. What happened on the last page?

    1. Ninety-Three says:

      He asks himself who he’s doing this for, looks at a photo the audience doesn’t see, then smiles and declares it’s gonna be great. It’s left to the reader to assume the photo is Batman, as reinforced by the Bat’s silhouette in the credits. It’s not so much a punchline as a character moment, the old “Joker loves Batman” motif.

      1. tengokujin says:

        I thought it was a mirror or just a contemplative side-glance (contemplating himself), myself.

    2. MichaelGC says:

      I think I actually prefer Ninety-Three’s interpretation, but my first thought was that the picture he’s looking at is just himself in the elephant-Joker suit. So that’d mean the answer to the question would also be ‘himself’.

  21. Zak McKracken says:

    … And now I want to see how he does it.

    This was my first kind-of Batman comic ever, and I think I like it :)

  22. Giancarlo says:

    I’m reminded of the conversation during the SW: Arkham Asylum playthroughs regarding Joker being the most tryhard of the Batrogues (regarding the design of Suicide Squad’s Joker). Quoth Mumbles: “nobody in the fucking business works as hard as the Joker does…the ‘joke’ of Joker is that he seems like he doesn’t try at all but really he tries very hard. It’s all a lie”

  23. UnwiseTrout says:

    I don’t post here often, but this is fantastic work, I can’t wait to see more of it.

  24. Jack V says:

    Is there more? Because that was really awesome.

  25. Guile says:

    A great premise even if I tend to think of the Joker as more freeform in his evil, but I can’t deal with that chin. Possibly that makes me shallow.

  26. lostclause says:

    I know I’m late to the party but I want to say thanks to Stephan, you’re art is amazing. I loved the tiny background details that brought this short comic to life, as well as the overall old school comic style. Wonderful job!

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