"Laugh 'Till It Hurts": The Joker is a female vigilante and anarchist operating in the city of New Atlantis. Although a hero, she is still considered a criminal and remains a wanted fugitive by the police. Officer John A. Keel gets involved in searching for the Joker after finding her in arresti
Tangent Comics: Joker #1 is a one-shot with a cover date of December, 1997. It was published on October 1, 1997.
Synopsis for "Laugh 'Till It Hurts"
The Joker is a female vigilante and anarchist operating in the city of New Atlantis. Although a hero, she is still considered a criminal and remains a wanted fugitive by the police. Officer John A. Keel gets involved in searching for the Joker after finding her in arresting midget mobster Doll Man for arms smuggling.
Keel begins his investigation at e-magazine World's Finest and interviews reporter Lori Lemaris. Keel reveals to her that the video camera belonging to Lori was found at the crime scene of Doll Man's arrest and was used in broadcasting the entire scene, thus making her a suspect. Lori states that her camera disappeared right after conducting her interview with President Schwartz at Washington, D.C. and that she had never had dealings with her. All she can provide to Keel is that she claims that she doesn't fully see the Joker herself in any photos or blurry video-clips and wild rumors about her origins.
Keel travels to Higher Atlantis University, a university based in a series of skyscrapers, where its radical students looks up to the Joker. There he meets some resistance from the students who refuse to help him with his case until learning, from his partner, that the Joker is sighted on the west walkway where a rally is being conducted by Brother Power, who intends on using the Joker's image and "beliefs" to start an uprising against society. The Joker herself interrupts his rally by publicly humiliating Brother Power and convincing her fans to desist their violent protests before jumping off the university and into the streets below.
Keel follows her where she fell and is knock out by her. He wakes up in a surreal world on the day of the deteriorating Cuban Missile Crisis in which the southeastern United States was destroyed in the nuclear exchange between Cuba and the U.S. He is brought out of this haunting scenario, revealing that he is in a virtual reality game, by Madame Xanadu, the millionaire owner of New Atlantis's V.R.-arcade. Keel demands she tell him why the Joker have for bringing him here to which Xanadu only replies that the V.R. room he is in is anonymously booked. Then Keel realizes that the Missile Crisis is personally tied to him and the Joker.
Keel finds his answers at the Cuban Missile Crisis Survivor's Memorial, a monument dedicated to those who died on the day of the Crisis that is now neglectfully forgotten by the public in the lower levels of the city. There he finally meets the Joker face-to-face and tells her why she is doing this: he concludes that she was a daughter of some of the survivors of the Crisis who were scarred, deformed and slowly dying from irradiation. Thusly, Joker's being birthed without any complications was a minor miracle. But the sight of seeing her parents die and the city's building over the memorial made her furious at the current society for burying its horrific past that never happened. Keel shares that he is no different from her as his father was responsible for pushing the button that launched America's first nuclear strike on Cuba. He is not proud of what his father did, and that he and Joker are scarred and are trying to do justice and good to make sure the same mistakes doesn't happen again.
Their moment is interrupted by Big Barda, Doll Man's muscle and squeeze, who is seeking revenge on Joker and Keel for arresting her boss. Joker escapes and leaves Keel to deal with Barda by fleeing from her to the surface. As Keel makes it to the surface, Joker is waiting for him behind a soda machine which she rigged to spring a trap on Barda, who is then sent flying into a wall. Keel is then given an Impulse soda as a token of generosity between them before ziplining away. Keel is left understanding the Joker's motives, but still wonders exactly who she is.
It is revealed to the viewers that the Joker was impersonated by all three individuals: Lori Lemaris, university student Mary Marvel, and Madame Xanadu.
Appearing in "Laugh 'Till It Hurts"
- The Titans from Adam Warren's Elseworlds one-shot Titans: Scissors, Paper, Stone makes a cameo as members of the protest group.
Links and References