This weeks recommendation is a collection of short stories entitled ‘The Further Adventures of the Joker’ and is now over 20years old but features some genuinely amazing stories based outside of Batman cannon and from the Jokers muddied past.
I have to give credit to my wife here for getting me this book as a present several years ago, as she knows my love for all things comic book related (especially Joker) is massive, and the moment I started reading this collection it became something I struggled to put down as the tales are engrossing and fully entertaining if a little creepy and scary at times.
The list of stories is massive and features a whole range of authors:
- “Belly Laugh or The Joker’s Trick or Treat” Joe R. Lansdale
- “Definitive Therapy” F. Paul Wilson
- “On a Beautiful Summer’s Day, He Was” Robert R. McCammon
- “The Man Who Laughs” Stuart M. Kaminsky
- “Someone Like You” Sheri S. Tepper
- “Help! I Am a Prisoner” Joey Cavalieri
- “Bone” Will Murray
- “Dying Is Easy, Comedy Is Hard” Edward Bryant and Dan Simmons
- “Double Dribble” George Alec Effinger
- “The Joker’s War” Robert Sheckley
- “The Joker Is Mild” Edward D. Hoch
- “Happy Birthday” Mark L. Van Name and Jack McDevitt
- “Masks” Garfield Reeves-Stevens
- “Best of All” Marco Palmieri
- “The Joker’s Christmas” Karen Haber
- “On the Wire” Andrew Helfer
- “The Fifty-Third Card” Henry Slesar
- “Museum Piece” Mike Resnick
- “Balloons” Edward Wellen
- “Jangletown” Elizabeth Hand
While there is a whole host of stories the themes are all very similar, each and every tale tells of the Joker and his relationship to the Batman and Gotham itself however it’s the way in which each of these tales is framed and presented that makes them feel unique and very different. There are tales that lead to encounters with Batman, and reading their interactions is a real treat as the wat the joker changes in the presence of the Batman is almost a thing of true beauty.
Despite the moments with Batman being great the true treats within this book are two very different tales; the first of these is a tale from the Joker’s childhood told by him that helps show just how badly he was raised and allowed to fend for himself along with the moment he found the darkness within himself. This is a creepy and unhinged tale that makes you wonder if it could be true, however as its told by the Joker himself you never know if this is all part of an elaborate game to make others wonder about him and his motivations and the fact that this is never cleared up just leaves you wondering for yourself how much truth there is to this.
The second of the tales features the Joker and a Banker, who become friends (yes they truly do) and the Banker spends his time getting what he wants from the Joker and thinking that he has him in his back pocket and totally under control, using this to his own ends as the Joker delivers him a birthday present and constant gifts. However as with everything involving the Joker it isn’t as simple as everyone else expects as things take a turn that no-one saw coming. I wont ruin it here if you read it, but you just get a sense of dread throughout the whole story and the entire narrative leaves you contemplating the way this could end for both parties: and the actual ending doesn’t disappoint.
The entire book is filled with little gems of Joker stories, and moments that make you go “Yeah that’s the Joker I love” as he gets sinister, dark, moody and creepy in equal parts at different times. This should be the first go to book for any Batman fan this year, outside of comic books, as it’s a real forgotten gem.