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Superman – Emperor Joker

November 4, 2008

I have seldom been so bamboozled than the time I read the TPB of Emperor Joker. The reader is thrown into a story “in medias res” and it takes a while to know what is going on. Considering the fact, that Superman is incarcerated at Arkham Asylum and that he has been convicted of murdering Lex Luthor, it is no wonder that you might be a bit confused during these first pages. Of course he escapes to clear his name, but then Bizarro #1 enters the scene to save the day and bring Superman (murderer and menace to society) to justice. If you are asking yourself what kind of nonsensical story this is, the writers did their job. The new JLA is formed out of supervillains, while the former heroes are considered to be the bad guys. However the explanation for this disaster is not as straight forward as Superman initially thinks. The title of the paperback already hints at this, but it takes four issues to make everybody realize that the world is upside down because the Joker has gained the powers to alter reality as it pleases him, which quite frankly is insane. He tricked Mxyzptlk into giving him his powers and from that moment on turned the world into his own private hell. It is now up to Superman to help his former allies to remember that they once were Earth’s biggest heroes and to put Joker back into his place.

The writing team includes Jeph Loeb, J.M. DeMatteis, Joe Kelly and Mark Schultz, which is by itself already a guarantee for entertainment. Coupled with the artistic talents of Ed McGuinness, Mike Miller, Doug Mahnke, Kano, Duncan Rouleau, Todd Nauck, Carlo Barberi and Scott McDaniel, Emperor Joker turns into one of the funnest stories I have ever read. The sheer amount of insanity that makes the Joker so unique is perfectly mirrored in his recreation of the universe. Every neurosis and mad quirk is present and every homicidal fantasy comes to life. It will truly take a man with Superman’s leadership capabilities to bring down a Joker with the powers of a God.

Story 9, Art 8, Re-read 10, Overall Score 9/10

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