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Batman: The Man Who Laughs

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Quote1 One by one, they'll hear my call. Then this wicked town, will follow my fall. Quote2
-- The Joker

Appearing in "The Man Who Laughs"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:


Other Characters:

  • Henry Claridge
  • Jay W. Wylde (Single appearance)
  • Thomas Lake (Single appearance)




Synopsis for "The Man Who Laughs"

Captain James "Jim" Gordon and other officers are investigating a building filled with mutilated corpses. Batman enters and converses with Gordon. Bruce Wayne, meanwhile, is at a social event talking to fellow millionaire Henry Claridge. On a TV in the next room, a reporter is overheard announcing that Arkham Asylum is being reopened. She suddenly begins laughing and soon dies with a face similar to the mutilated corpses at the building. Joker (not yet given the name) walks onto camera and announces he will kill Claridge at midnight.

Bruce leaves the party and meets up with Gordon as Batman at Arkham Asylum. On a cell wall, Joker wrote "One by One, they'll hear my call. Then this wicked town, will follow my fall." Gordon then has police stationed in Claridge's house to protect him. Claridge begins laughing as his face turns pale white. Batman crashes down through a window, but is too late to save Claridge. Meanwhile on the streets of Gotham, the Joker enters the Williams Medical Center. After killing the security guards, he arms the inmates and releases them on the streets. Batman arrives and stops several inmates, and reveals his existence to the people on the streets.

While Bruce is researching in the Batcave, Joker appears on television again to make a similar threat, this time on Jay W. Wilde. Batman deduces that Claridge was killed with a time-released poison and tells Gordon to run a blood test on Wilde. Gordon does so, but nothing is found. Gordon is at Wilde's estate with other officers when a police helicopter crashes outside the estate. Joker then appears and releases poison smoke bombs into the building (all of the officers and Batman have gas masks.) Batman captures the Joker, but he escapes and Wilde is killed.

Bruce then disguises himself as a reporter and goes to the Ace Chemical Processing Plant, where he (as Batman) had a confrontation with The Red Hood, who jumped into a vat of chemicals to escape from Batman. Bruce discovers that a worker had his skin bleached and hair turned green when some acid dripped onto him.

Joker makes another television appearance with a similar threat. This time, he plans to kill Judge Thomas Lake and Bruce Wayne. Police officers are at both men's houses (However, Gordon is at Lake's.) Bruce starts laughing and turns white, but his butler, Alfred Pennyworth, administers a shot to slow his heart rate to slow the spread of the poison. Meanwhile, a gang of armed men dressed as clowns drive onto Lake's property where a shoot-out takes place. Bruce, while under the poison, hallucinates of the night his parents were murdered. He awakes, fully recovered, in an ambulance. Another gang of armed men dressed as clowns shoot at the ambulance. Bruce dresses up as Batman and exits the ambulance unnoticed and defeats the clowns.

Batman takes a police motorcycle and contacts Gordon via radio. He tells Gordon that Bruce Wayne is alive and that he figured out Joker's plan. He tells Gordon to have the water to the city shut off. Gordon contacts the reservoir, but receives no answer. Batman heads there himself to stop Joker from poisoning the water supply. He takes out Joker's clown-thugs. Batman meets up with Joker, who has rigged the viaduct with explosives, and detonates it, preventing the poisoned water from going into the city. Batman engages in a fight with Joker, defeats him, and has him imprisoned at the newly reopened Arkham Asylum. Batman meets with Gordon on top of Police Headquarters and unveils to him the Bat-Signal.


  • Chronologically, this story takes place following the events from the Batman: Year One story arc. The Joker makes a chronologically earlier appearance in the flashback sequences from Batman: The Killing Joke.
  • This is the first and only Post-Crisis appearance of Henry Claridge. The character originally appeared in Batman #1 where he suffered a fate similar to that which takes place in this issue.
  • Joker's Body Count = 21


  • The title of this one-shot is taken from the 1869 novel by Victor Hugo entitled The Man Who Laughs. In 1928, the story was adapted into a silent film starring Conrad Veidt. Veidt's character Gwynplaine later became the inspiration for the character of the Joker.

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