Joining the search for backgrounds for the Tangent covers. (Hey, they offered me a way to continue the gag. I took it.)

Tangent Comics/The Joker

DC Comics (December, 1997)

“Laugh ‘Till It Hurts!”

CONCEPT: Dan Jurgens

WRITER: Karl Kesel

PENCILER: Matt Haley

INKER: Tom Simmons

COLORIST: Moose Baumann


LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos



EDITOR: Eddie Berganza

Remember that in the Tangent Universe the Cuban Missile Crisis ended with the missiles flying, destroying a part of the US coastline? That included Atlanta, GA, and New Atlantis was built over the remains. New to the police force is John Keel, and he’s already become a target for the Joker, the city’s craziest resident. She messes with the cops but she also brings down villains, stops a rabble rouser trying to start trouble at a college rally in her name, and even protects Keel from Big Barda, muscular girlfriend of mobster Dollman who has a beef with both of them after they were responsible for his arrest. Joker also uses a virtual arcade to help uncover that Keel is the son of the man who launched the missiles on our side, something he’s not happy about, but in turn he deduces she’s probably one of the lucky few who managed to be born in the area after that event. In the end they have an understanding, but what happens next…and what is the connection to mousey college techhead Mary Marvel, arcade owner Madame Xanadu, and World’s Finest news reporter Lori Lemaris?

What they got right: A clown superhero…and using the name of the character most responsible for the rash of evil clown characters. Seriously, it’s like every clown in fiction is taken from the Joker or Pennywise and their all evil. This Joker is the only other clown superhero I know besides the Golden Age hero Funnyman. While The Atom was tied to the origins of the alternate Cuban crisis history The Joker looks at the aftermath, with her possibly being one of the descendants of that terrible incident (and we see one victim of the “Miami sunburn” resulting from the fallout), though like her villainous namesake it’s all just guesswork.

What they got wrong: I’m noticing a pattern between this and fellow Tangent comic The Flash: random events that partly feel like an excuse to drop namesakes followed by a big bad just happening to show up. While this comic does it better by tying the muscle woman to the criminal from the start of the story some of the drops, especially when Keel and his partner Officer Mark Moonrider is talking with Flip Johnson, who works for World’s Finest. (Moonrider is rather obsessed with the online magazine…nice prediction Tangent writers.)

What I think overall: The Joker is one of the better Tangent comics. I like the clown hero idea, a 180 from her namesake, and there is potential to really explore the events of this alternate timeline. It also plays with the Three Jokers theory I’ll get into more after we return for the sequel comic, The Joker’s Wild, if I remember to do so. It companions well with The Atom and I do recommend reading them both together, though it’s not necessarily a requirement to do so to enjoy either.


About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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