Joker: the Man Who Stopped Laughing #12 review

There can be only one! And thankfully that doesn’t mean there’s only one issue left cause Joker the Joker who stopped Jokering or whatever is finally all wrapped up! We have a big showdown involving the two characters and a bunch of their goons and allies by their side. There’s a couple twists and turns that you don’t need to follow because it doesn’t matter and barely makes sense.

I still have to write something about the comic instead of just constantly reiterating the same criticisms every review so let me just flex my english major muscles and talk about the semiotic function of the Joker within the comic. For those who don’t know the term semiotics I’m talking about the word Joker (the signifier) and the meanings attached to that word (signified). The comic makes a big point about what it means to be called the Joker and I want to take some time to unpack it.

I’m not exactly sure how much of that I can get away with so before I start going off serving Roland Barthes and the like let me actually make some more rapid fire review points. I’m not super motivated to talk about the art so let me just say that no matter how cool it can look at times there’s no point! The art has no direction nor rhyme nor reason with what it’s trying to execute. That’s because the writing can’t keep up with the balls to the wall story so nothing feels cohesive or properly thought out. The goons and allies are barely present cause they serve no purpose and are just as confused as we are. The title still makes no sense and I am only looking at the theme of Joker ontology cause I’m bored and I like to overthink things so why not.

Anyways the rest of the review is about semiotics and full of spoilers so for those truly curious I hope you enjoy!


What does it mean to be the Joker? Is it a fixed idea embodied by a single entity or, as this finale argues, does the Joker exist like a chaotic costume that anyone can put on once they truly commit to the craziness. The two Jokers start off hating the very idea that more than one Joker can exist. They are symbolically rejecting their identity becoming a symbol with multiple versions. Their fight becomes about claiming the Joker sign and fixing the meaning to being exclusively about them. By the end though chaos is the rallying cry. Joker as a word meaning chaos ends up embracing its own chaotic meanings. Joker is able to be a perfect mixture that is endlessly muddied. Or can it? The fact that one Joker ends up surviving to make this point actually complicates it. On one side the comic is saying only one Joker can ever exist whereas the other side is about how the one true Joker can’t exist because anyone can embrace the chaos.

On a meta level you can also see this thematic progression be about DC realizing that Joker will be anything as long as people buy into it and recognize the need to purchase his stories. Anyways that was a taste of semiotics.

Recommended if:

  • Joker is a must buy
  • You have infinite money


Doesn’t stick the landing. Just a whole series devoted to wasting your time.

Score: 2/10

DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman-News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.
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