Joker’s Failure to Make Batman Laugh Could Save the Dark Knight’s Life

Warning! Contains spoilers for Batman #143!


Summary

  • Batman’s lack of humor is what makes him the last survivor in the Joker’s apocalypse.
  • The Joker’s virus is transmitted through laughter, and Batman’s refusal to laugh saves him.
  • The Joker’s final plan is to trap Batman in a world where everyone finds the joke funny, except for Batman.


The Joker has always wanted to make Batman laugh. Despite the Joker’s many attempts at showing Batman the absurd side of life, Batman has never really broken his stone-faced persona, and it turns out that this lack of humor on Batman’s part is what makes him the last survivor in the Joker’s apocalypse.


The true origins of the Joker are being revealed in “The Joker: Year One,” a story that continues in Batman #143 by Chip Zdarsky, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Andrea Sorrentino. The Joker’s origin story is juxtaposed with a flash-forward to his final attack on Gotham, which leaves the city completely destroyed, as Joker-like zombies wander the ruins.



In the previous issue, Batman’s narration explains that the virus that transforms people into these monsters is transmitted through laughter. Batman creates earplugs that block out the frequency of laughter, and since he never laughs himself, he’s managed to be the final survivor in this apocalypse scenario.


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The Jokers Virus Is Transmitted Through Laughter

Batman #142, future timeline, Gotham lies in ruins with Jokerfied civilians all around


Part of Batman and the Joker’s conflict is their extremely differing views on the world. Batman believes that order can exist, that justice is real, and that innocent people should be spared from harm. The Joker believes that nothing matters and that life is pure chaos. For years, the Joker has tried to justify his viewpoint to Batman, which has resulted in stories such as The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, in which the Joker specifically asks Batman “Why can’t you see the funny side?” This has been a major component of their conflict, and now Batman’s refusal to understand the Joker’s worldview is what ultimately helps save him.


Regardless of how many jokes that the Joker tells Batman, the punchline never seems to make the Dark Knight life. This was famously pointed out by Batman Beyond Terry McGinnis in the animated film Return of the Joker, as part of the Joker’s obsession over the years was his inability to get a laugh out of Batman. It seems that this will eventually push the Joker to try and force Batman into seeing his view of the world. If Batman refuses to laugh for Joker, then the Joker will force the entire world to laugh at Batman by unleashing a virus that transmits through laughter.

“The Joker: Year One” is a three-part story told weekly in the
Batman
title throughout February 2024.

The Joker Has Always Been Trying to Make Batman Laugh

Comic book panels: the Joker grinning and Batman adjusting his mask.


As it stands, the Joker will surely continue evolving until he reaches a point where he destroys everything in Gotham and the DC Universe at large. The exact details of how he does that have finally been revealed. The Joker’s final gag is trapping Batman in a world where everyone sees the joke except for him, and if Batman ever does end up seeing the funny side of things, he’ll join the Joker’s world — forever. That’s why, for all their battles over the years, it’s not Batman’s willpower or sense of justice that will ultimately save him: it’s that Batman just doesn’t find the Joker funny.


Batman #143 is available February 13th from DC Comics!


BATMAN #143 (2024)

Batman 143 Main Cover: the Joker looking scared as Batman attacks him.

  • Writer: Chip Zdarsky
  • Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Andrea Sorrentino
  • Inker: Stefano Nesi
  • Colorist: Alejandro Sánchez, Dave Stewart
  • Letterer: Clayton Cowles
  • Cover Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Stefano Nesi, Tomeu Morey