Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Robin II: The Joker's Wild #3 (1991) - "... A Comedy Tonight!" Review

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artists: Bob Smith, Tom Lyle, Adrienne Roy
Release Date: November 26, 1991
Cover Price: $1.00
Review by: Joey Casco

Batman is away and Robin (Tim Drake) is up against the Joker, who has kidnapped Dr. Osgood Pellinger to hack into the computers of Gotham and provoke chaos. Knowing that the Joker will kill him like he did the previous Robin, Tim and Alfred tried to make it seem like Batman was still in town. But when the Joker broke away from his plans and risked an easy escape by deciding to shoot at Batman, the bullets passed right through him and Batman was exposed as a holograph. Robin is the lone vigilante in Gotham right now (I guess all those other ones are away too) and the Joker knows it.

A VHS tape has been sent to the Gotham PD with two dozen lilies. In it, the Joker catches us up with what's been going on since the last issue. Dr. Pellinger is now a drooly drugged up mess being controlled by the Joker, and he's been doing some hacking. One hundred dollars has been taken out  of the paychecks of every Gotham police officer "to help the city meet its debt". Businesses saw a 500% property tax surcharge. Most of the city is without power in December so there's been fires everywhere as people try to keep warm by any means. Oh, and to top that off that last problem, 1,000 firefighters received notifications of their termination (Boston, for example, has just under 1,500 uniformed firefighters).
Gotham is going through some shit, and it needs Batman. But when Gordon turns on the Batsignal, again it's only Robin who responds, and Gordon doesn't want to hand this over to a kid.

Back at his hideout, the Joker is pleased with the chaos that he's created. And with Batman away, he's got the city to himself to do what he wants. "I'm the main boob on the tube!" he states, only to be reminded by a henchman that the Hammer Bowl featuring the Gotham Giants is the only thing bigger than him right now.
We then skip over to the Wayne Manor where Alfred is prepping some cucumber sandwiches and pretending to not care about the Bowl game on the TV (which is amusing) while chatting with Tim. Suddenly, the game stops...

He then goes on to say he'll stop the "computerized naughtiness" if he receives one billion dollars. Which at first is weird because what does the Joker care about a billion dollars? He just used his new hacking friend to take a hundred dollars out of the paychecks of every police officer. He could get a billion dollars easily. Buuuuuuut... it's not about the money. The real catch is that it has to be delivered by Batman.

Having no idea what to do, Tim takes Alfred's advice and goes to play Warlocks and Warriors with his friends. He's the gamemaster so he comes up with a scenario similar to his Joker situation. They immediately find a solution to the problem. "If this psycho spellmaker controls all of the mystical energies of this place then all of them flow to him. Follow the magic and you find his lair." So of course that give Tim an idea and he's got to leave abruptly, ditching his friends.

At 3am he finally finds Pellinger's computer. The Batcave's cryptography program figures out the password. Then there are follow-up questions. He spends hours answering these questions until it finally asks him what his name is. Tim responds saying that it's a secret, and to tell him where he can find him. Then the terminal responds with "I already know your name. Your name is Robin."

Tim immediately does a hard shut down on the Batcave's computer system, and now he's without one of his greatest tools. On the other side, the Joker is upset as they lose connection. Apparently, the longs hours that they watched Robin trying to get into their computer wasn't long enough to give him a virus or find out the location of the Batcave. That gave me a good eye-roll.

We're shown a montage of the morning havoc in Gotham, and then Robin arrives at Pellinger's house that night. He searches the house for clues and finds a shoebox filled with pictures from 1961 of Pellinger as a kid with his childhood dog Pixie, along with Pixie's collar. Obviously that'll come up again.

Later at City Hall, a mysterious package has been delivered to the mayor's office. The bomb squad is called in, only to find that it contains the rest of Joker's demands. He wants a red tractor trailer driven by Batman to deliver the cash with the radio tuned to a specific frequency. If his demands aren't met then he has another prank that will kill hundreds of people. Tim tells Gordon he can probably find the Joker before the swap happens, but Gordon isn't showing much confidence in Robin. "If Batman were here..."

Bits and Pieces
This being the third of four issues, things have slowed down a bit to build up to the finale. So this is the one issue that isn't great. But we finally get to see what Joker was planning all along. For a second there it seemed like Joker was even doing a little good in his own warped way by taking money out of paychecks "to help the city meet its debt", but I doubt he meant that literally because even he said that in quotes. His plan has been quite successful in creating anarchy on the streets, and you can't help but think what Batman would do if he came home to what was going on in this issue. Would he blame Robin for letting this happen and gain trust issues, or would he understand that the Joker is a lot for him to handle? And is Robin even going to want to be out on his own from now on?


1 comment:

  1. Sorry, I forgot to send over the pictures! The review will make sense once they’re put in their proper spots.