"The Laughing Fish!": It is night time in Gotham City and Batman swings across the rooftops until he comes to the apartment window of Silver St. Cloud. After being invited in, Batman inquires whether or not Miss Cloud had anything
Synopsis for "The Laughing Fish!"
It is night time in Gotham City and Batman swings across the rooftops until he comes to the apartment window of Silver St. Cloud. After being invited in, Batman inquires whether or not Miss Cloud had anything to speak to him about. The look she had given him the previous evening expressed something akin to recognition. Silver stares back at him and confirm her suspicions that the Batman is Bruce Wayne. Batman, in turn, suspects that Silver may know the truth. An uncomfortable moment passes between the two, but Silver gives no signs of recognizing the real man, which is an act, since she doesn't want to lose Bruce Wayne's affection and trust. Moments later after Batman has left, he telephones Silver as Bruce Wayne, asking her to postpone their next date and Silver cancels the date altogether before she decides to leave town for a while.
Batman continues patrolling the city and eventually swoops down towards the Gotham docks. A stevedore approaches him and shows him barrels of freshly caught fish. Ordinarily, this mundane incident would not rouse the Batman's attention but for the fact that all of the fish bear faces similar to that of the Joker. The fisherman asks Batman why someone would want to create fish with Joker faces, but Batman discourages the inquiry, saying that Joker's methods are similar to his own madness.
The following morning, the Joker and his henchmen barge into the office of the city Copyright Commission. The Joker introduces himself to a clerk named G. Carl Francis, indicating that he wishes to trademark his designer Joker Fish. The man is clearly terrified by the Joker's presence, but tells him that nobody can register a copyright on a natural resource – even one as mutated as the macabre Joker Fish. The Joker scoffs at Francis and tells him that he has until midnight to make his desires a reality or else he will be dead.
The Joker leaves the office to confer with his underlings. As he is wont to do, he arbitrarily pushes one of them out into oncoming traffic where they are struck and killed by a truck.
Later, at the Tobacconists' Club, Rupert Thorne grows extremely nervous. His aide Marko comes to greet him, but his presence only serves to agitate Thorne even further. He goes to the restroom to wash his face when suddenly he is accosted by the Joker. The Joker knows that Thorne was involved with the mysterious death of Hugo Strange and wonders if Strange may have told him the true identity of the Batman. So far as the Joker is concerned, his greatest adversary has no identity other than being the Batman. However, he is satisfied that Thorne knows nothing and leaves him be. Frightened, Rupert scrambles out of the building, hops into his sedan and drives off.
That evening, Batman is summoned by Commissioner Gordon to the home of G. Carl Francis, who sought police protection against the Joker. Batman inspects the place for traps or hidden weapons, but he finds nothing suspicious. Then, the Joker broadcasts a message across television waves, declaring that he will kill Francis at 12:00 am. The three men maintain their vigil well into the evening, but at the stroke of midnight, Francis' study begins to fill with noxious gas. Batman quickly slides a re-breather into Francis' mouth, but it does no good. As the smoke clears, G. Carl Francis is dead, a grotesque smile etched across his face – the calling card of the Joker. Batman deduces that the gas that filled the room was one part of a binary compound, otherwise harmless unless mixed with another agent. He determines that the Joker must have sprayed Francis with the secondary agent when he visited his office earlier that day.
Later, Rupert Thorne continues driving across the state in the dark, rainy weather when he picks up a hitchhiker – Silver St. Cloud.
Appearing in "The Laughing Fish!"
- The Joker
- Blue-Eyes (Only appearance; dies)
- Deadshot (Mentioned only)
- Rupert Thorne
- Gotham City Police Department
- G. Carl Francis (Only appearance; dies)
- Sergeant Stark
- The story has been reprinted in Shadow of the Batman #4, Batman: Strange Apparitions, Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers, The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told, The Joker: A Celebration of 75 Years and The Joker: 80 Years of the Clown Prince of Crime: The Deluxe Edition.
- This issue was nominated at the 1979 Eagle Awards for Favorite Comic book Artist (US), and for Best Continued Story.
- This story was partially adapted into the 1993 episode of Batman: The Animated Series, "The Laughing Fish".
- A billboard on one of the story panels reads, "See the inkology of Terry Austin!" while a poster on the Copyright Office ends with the note "...Pencilography of Marshall Rogers."
- The Joker's televised threat is a recreation from the first Joker's modus operandi in his first appearance in Batman #1, where he also makes a similar threat on the radio.
- This issue was shown as Morgan Grimes favourite comic in the "Chuck Versus the Curse" episode of Chuck.
- During Joker's trademark attempt, there is a reference to Colonel Sanders and the KFC franchise.