"The Laughing Fish!": It is night time in Gotham City. Batman swings across the rooftops until he comes to the apartment window of Silver St. Cloud. After being invited in, Batman inquires whether or not Miss Cloud had anything to
Appearing in "The Laughing Fish!"
- The Joker
- Joker's henchmen
- Rupert Thorne
- G. Carl Francis (Only appearance; dies)
- Sergeant Stark
- Rupert Thorne's sedan
Synopsis for "The Laughing Fish!"
It is night time in Gotham City. Batman swings across the rooftops until he comes to the apartment window of Silver St. Cloud. After being invited in, Batman inquires whether or not Miss Cloud had anything to speak to him about. The look she had given him the previous evening expressed something akin to recognition. Silver stares back at him and immediately recognizes the Batman as Bruce Wayne. Batman, in turn, suspects that Silver may know the truth. An uncomfortable moment passes between the two and Batman excuses himself. Moments later, he telephones Silver as Bruce Wayne, asking her to postpone their next date. Silver cancels the date altogether.
Batman continues patrolling the city and eventually swoops down towards the Gotham docks. A stevedore approaches him and shows him barrels of freshly caught fish. Ordinarily, this mundane incident would not rouse the Batman's attention but for the fact that all of the fish bear faces similar to that of the Joker. The fisherman asks Batman why someone would want to create fish with Joker faces, but Batman discourages the inquiry, saying "The Joker's mind is clouded in madness! His motives make sense to him alone!"
The following morning, the Joker and his henchmen barge into the office of the city Copyright Commission. The Joker introduces himself to a clerk named G. Carl Francis, indicating that he wishes to trademark his designer Joker Fish. The man is clearly terrified by the Joker's presence, but tells him that nobody can register a copyright on a natural resource – even one as mutated as the macabre Joker Fish. The Joker scoffs at Francis and tells him that he has until midnight to make his desires a reality or else he will be "dead as a mackerel".
The Joker leaves the office to confer with his underlings. As he is wont to do, he arbitrarily pushes one of them out into oncoming traffic where they are struck and killed by a truck.
At the Tobacconists' Club, Rupert Thorne grows extremely nervous. His aide Marko comes to greet him, but his presence only serves to agitate Thorne even further. He goes to the restroom to wash his face when suddenly he is accosted by the Joker. The Joker knows that Thorne was involved with the mysterious death of Hugo Strange and wonders if Strange may have told him the true identity of the Batman. So far as the Joker is concerned, his greatest adversary has no identity other than being the Batman. However, he is satisfied that Thorne knows nothing and leaves him be. Frightened, Rupert scrambles out of the building, hops into his sedan and drives off.
That evening, G. Carl Francis goes to Commissioner Gordon to tell him about the threat made against his life. Gordon and Batman bring Francis back to his home where Batman inspects it for traps or hidden weapons. The Joker broadcasts a message across television waves, declaring that he will kill Francis at 12:00 am. The three men maintain their vigil well into the evening, but at the stroke of midnight, Francis' study begins to fill with noxious gas. Batman quickly slides a re-breather into Francis' mouth, but it does no good. As the smoke clears, G. Carl Francis is dead, a grotesque smile etched across his face – the calling card of the Joker. Batman deduces that the gas that filled the room was one part of a binary compound, otherwise harmless unless mixed with another agent. He determines that the Joker must have sprayed Francis with the secondary agent when he visited his office earlier that day.
Later, Rupert Thorne continues driving across the state in the dark, rainy weather when he picks up a hitchhiker – Silver St. Cloud.
- Reprinted in Shadow of the Batman #4, Batman: Strange Apparitions, The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told and The Joker: A Celebration of 75 Years.
- This issue was nominated at the 1979 Eagle Awards for Favorite Comic book Artist (US), and for Best Continued Story.
- A billboard on one of the story panels reads, "See the inkology of Terry Austin!"
- The Joker's televised threat is reminiscent of a similar scene from the first Joker story in Batman #1. In this issue the Joker says, "Tonight, at precisely twelve o'clock, I will kill G. Carl Francis! The Joker has spoken!" In Batman #1 he says, "Tonight, at precisely twelve o'clock midnight I will kill Henry Claridge and steal the Claridge Diamond. Do not try to stop me! The Joker has spoken!"
- This issue was shown as Morgan Grimes favourite comic in the "Chuck Versus the Curse" episode of Chuck.
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Links and References
- Detective Comics article at Wikipedia
- Detective Comics series index at DCU Guide
- Detective Comics series index at Comicbookdb.com
- Detective Comics series index at the Grand Comics Database Project