Superman: Emperor Joker Graphic Novel Series Review

Superman: Emperor Joker Review

By: John C. Mayberry

Oh, Superman you rascally world’s most dangerous criminal, here you go breaking out of Arkham again…. Wait ……huh? Yeah, exactly the first thing I though the moment I started to read the ten issue Superman: Emperor Joker story arc. Crossing over into every mainstream Superman title at the time it was released, this was something that I’m positive caught many readers off guard by introducing them to a chilling concept: what does someone like Joker do with near omnipotent power? What happens to the world? What happens to existence itself for that matter? Will elephants still exist when this is all over? Only one way to find out, boys and girls, we must dive deeper into the nonsensical, deranged and oftentimes funny as hell depiction of Joker’s new reality.

 

For starters, Superman, a.k.a. The Man who Steals, is the world’s most dangerous criminal, locked in chains deep within Arkham Asylum, which is run by warden Solomon Grundy for reasons, and Bizarro’s the leader of the Justice League, who’s sent to catch Superman every time he escapes. With Superman apparently being the only one aware that something’s very wrong with everything, he is eventually able to slowly convince others, especially Lois Lane, owner and C.E.O. of LaneCorp and this reality’s Lex Luthor counterpart (bald head and wig collection included), of how ridiculous, horrifically illogical, and cartoonish the world has become. Success, however, would require that Superman “awakens” his friends and allies to the extremely odd reality around them to put an end to Emperor Joker’s cosmic level lunacy.

But in managing to steal Mr. Mxyzptlk’s powers, Joker’s influence is too strong for even some of the DC universe’s most powerful cosmic beings, especially in the part where Darkseid is convening with the cosmic quintessence (Zeus, High Father, Phantom Stranger, Ganthet, The Wizard Shazam) and Joker’s power over them is demonstrated in one of the most hilarious pop culture references I’ve ever seen. Aside from the hilarity of the series, there is one ominous occurrence that happens every night that you are not made immediately aware of, but upon realizing what it is also reminds you just how depraved Joker really is, and adds an element of darkness to the story that helps to maintain balance between the clown and psychopath aspects of Joker’s diseased mind. Cosmic level threat, ridiculousness on an almost biblical scale, and the surprise pitting of Superman against Batman’s greatest enemy, Superman: Emperor Joker is worth every minute you spend reading it, and re-reading it also. Believe me, I know. I’ve read through it more times than I can remember and love it more every time.

PROS:

  • Unique Concept – Take a pairing of hero and villain that is never usually seen, and add insane and destructive conflict on a universal scale, and you have yourself a story that nobody is going to ignore. This is certainly one of the few examples I can think of where Joker has proven he is more than capable of being a credible threat to Superman.
  • Deeper look into how far Joker’s insanity could reach – In giving Joker the god-like power of Mr. Mxyzptlk, the multiple writers who worked on this arc really had a chance to cut loose and be as silly and deranged as possible with their interpretation of how Joker would re-shape reality to his mad whims, and completely nail it!
  • The comedic factor – Let’s face it, if you’ve already read this you laughed through at least half of it. Some of the ideas and concepts the writers warped and re-shaped did so in some of the funniest ways I have ever seen. Especially this one part that involves the Giant Turtle Boy, which I won’t discuss here but holy hell you’re going to lose it!

CONS:

  • The Members of The Joker League of Anarchy – Given the story’s events, seeing a warped version of the Justice League was to be expected at some point. However instead of using warped versions of other characters readers were more familiar with, writers opted to use altered, and sometimes unrelated, names and characters that are obscure at best. Could be a stroke of genius on the part of the writers since in a way this does also demonstrate the randomness of Joker’s mind, but unfortunately in a way that will leave some readers wondering “why these guys”?

OVERALL RATING – 9.75 out of 10

A great demonstration of the story potential that comes from the pitting of the most unlikely of enemies against each other. The writers and artists both took Joker’s insanity to cosmic proportions, unleashing all kinds of random madness that might seem over the top at first, but they still manage to maintain a good balance of the sane and just flat out craziness of Emperor Joker’s reality. The only issue I saw was in the usage of obscure characters and character names that might throw some readers off at first (myself included), but even then it’s a minor one as it’s easily overshadowed by everything great about the story. Fans of the big blue boy scout do not want to miss out on this story, and the ones who have already read it will find themselves re-reading it to the point where they’ve almost memorized it.