Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Robin II: The Joker's Wild! #1 (1991) - "The Funniest Thing Happened..." Review

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artists: Bob Smith, Tom Lyle, Adrienne Roy
Release Date: October 29, 1991
Cover Price: $1.00
Review by: Joey Casco

Please go check out Joey's awesome site 

"Robin II: The Joker's Wild!" is a four-part series that, when put into a collection, falls within Robin Vol. 2: Triumphant. I got each issue as they were released in 1991 when I was 11 years old and, at least for me, it's an early '90's classic!

Most of the covers and variant covers for this series came with a portion of the cover as a holograph. I don't know if the holograph changed like you could collect the same cover with different holographs, but there was a lot of different covers for this series. For example the cover of my physical copy isn't even shown in the digital copy, which displays four different covers for the issue.
But enough of that. Let's get into the story!
We start off at Arkham Asylum where *guy listed as "bureaucrat"* is arguing with a lawyer that we will only know as Strenstrom. The mother of Strenstrom's client wants to visit her son on his birthday. Who wouldn't want to see their mother on their birthday? The only problem... that client is the Joker! Who even knew Joker had a mother?
Despite *guy listed as "bureaucrat"* 's instinct, he lets the meeting occur. A little old lady holding a Bible is checked out with a metal detector and brought in to a room where armed guards await with Joker, who is strapped into a straight jacket. And then...

The Bible releases a gas, mommy opens the Bible which contains a mask, puts it on Joker's face, unlocks him from the straight jacket, and then runs outside into Arkham's snowy yard while Joker stays behind. The guards catch up and tackle dear old mother, only to see that it was some crazy ginger guy wearing a wig. Back inside, the guards think that they've shot Joker within the chaos of the gas, only to find that Strenstrom had changed his clothes as a diversion. Strenstrom was dead, and Joker got away.

Finally, we see Tim Drake as Robin slinging from building to building in the falling snow. It's his first time patrolling Gotham alone because Bruce is out on a yacht in Rio. You know he's out there like Dan Bilzerian, dozens of girls drinking champagne and tequila and, uh, doing activities. The Bat-Signal appears and Tim meets with Commissioner Gordon, who isn't too pleased that it's just Robin answering his call. Tim tries to tell Gordon that he can handle whatever it is, and when told that the Joker escaped he kinda freaks out.

Yeah, Alfred's been driving him around in a van because he can't drive himself. I'm forgetting when he gets that sweet little Redbird but he doesn't have it yet.
The Joker gets back to his hideout where his henchmen are sitting around a table playing cards. They pretty much shit their pants because Mr. Freeze, who steps out of the shadows, has taken over. But that's no problem for the clown prince of crime. "You let this... popsicle, this second-rate Captain Cold, tell you what to do?"

I love how he doesn't even care that they were working for Mr. Freeze. Most villains (or writer's writing villains) would have killed the crew just to make a point of how crazy or evil said villain was. Not this guy.
We now see Tim at school with his rad spiked hair and M.C. Hammer sticker inside his locker. He's met by his nerdy friends and he has to tell them that he can't come over and play Warlocks and Warriors because of, ya know, he's got a lot going on. The jock walks up and invites him to a party while the parents are away and Tim says no to that too.

Yeah! Tim's a totally cool dude that listens to rap and grunge and skateboards and he has a Nintendo 64 and he snuck in to the theater to see Terminator 2 but he also gets good grades and eats his vegetables and plays RPGs with his nerdy friends and he's a really nice guy even to jerk-off meatheads!
Back into the Robin suit, he goes to Arkham to examine Joker's room. There's a bunch of magazines (with staples removed, of course) and most of them are computer magazines featuring articles by or about a Dr. Osgood Pellinger. So after consulting with Alfred in the Batcave, they head out in the van to Pellinger's place of residence.

Tim spies on Pellinger for a bit, who is working on his computer. Pellinger suddenly gets up and walks out of the house, getting into a green Beetle. I just punched the person next to me and said "Punch Buggy!" I think I'm sleeping on the couch tonight.
A large construction truck driven by Joker comes barreling down the road and hits Pellinger's car before he can drive off, then scoops the car up in the bucket and dumps it in the bed. Tim jumps onto roof, the henchman passenger shoots at the windshield, and Tim uses a bullet hole to poke the henchman right in the face with his staff. Then the Joker realizes who it is...

Oh, that's just so good. The frame even changes on the bottom panel as the Joker finally meets the new Robin, thinking that it's Jason Todd, the one he had killed. Amazing. Joker drives off and, back at his hideout, we're given a little glimpse into his diabolical plan for Pellinger. Meanwhile, back at the Batcave, Tim must find a way to not end up like the previous Robin.

Bits and Pieces
The Joker is just so great in every single scene he appears in. I cannot state that enough. He's just brilliant in what he says, what he does, and his body language. This is probably why I've been enjoying Doomsday Clock so much since the Joker came in, because this is the Joker that's been in Doomsday Clock. We need more of this Joker. And everything about Tim in this is so '90's that I'm getting flashbacks. The story is great, too: Tim is alone in Gotham for the first time and he has to go up against Batman's most deadly foe. And the art is just that classic late '80's, early '90's style that I grew up on. Combine those things and I'm giving it the highest score that I can to a 10 that I feel comfortable handing out right now.

9.0 / 10

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