Friday, April 29, 2022

A Phone Call from the Joker

BATPHONE - Ring ring!

BATMAN - Hello?

JOKER - Ha ha! Greetings, Batman! It's me, your old pal, the Joker!

BATMAN - This is an unlisted number.

JOKER - Just calling to let you know I've broken out of Arkham again! Ha ha! Next time you should try locking me up in a wet paper bag! By the way, I hope none of those guards had families! Ha ha!

BATMAN - Dammit, Joker, they all had families.

JOKER - Oh good! You see I dosed each of them with a time-delayed chemical, coordinated to the time of my breakout and the length of their shifts! Right about now, each of them should be murdering their spouses and children! Ha ha! 

Don't worry, none of them have control over their actions, and here I am, a known criminal, confessing to poisoning them in a recorded call with a sworn officer of the court! I'm sure the prosecutor won't hold them responsible! Of course nothing will save them from the guilt, or the drug-induced PTSD flashbacks! Ha ha!

BATMAN - What makes you think I'm recording this call?

art by Jonathan Case for Batman 66 #1

JOKER - By now you're probably wondering why I've phoned you! I wanted to let you know that I've decided to play a little game with your sworn oath to never kill anyone under any circumstances ever! Ha ha! My recent flooding of the entire Gotham subway system with poison gas during rush hour, killing thousands, apparently didn't provide you with enough motivation!

BATMAN - I won't stoop to your level, Joker.

JOKER - That's too bad for the people of Bludhaven, Batman! I've stolen a nuclear bomb, and I'm going to detonate it downtown! Millions will die! Ha ha!

BATMAN - I'll never let that happen, Joker. I'll find you before the bomb goes off. I'm the world's greatest detective, don't you think I can find you in time?

JOKER - Perhaps you plan to find me by tracing this phone call? Let me save you the trouble! This phone is the detonator to a bomb vest I'm wearing! Ha ha!

As soon as I hang up, all you have to do is call me back, the phone will ring, and I'll die in a fiery explosion! The bomb vest only has a single stick of dynamite and I'm nowhere near any other people! The bomb will kill me and me alone and won't cause any structural damage to any bridges, roads, or buildings! There'll be no collateral damage of any kind! Ha ha!

Of course that means if you don't want to kill me then you can't risk calling me back after I hang up!

BATMAN - I don't need to find you, Joker, I just need to find the bomb.

JOKER - The bomb? The nuclear bomb? The nuclear bomb hidden somewhere in the heart of downtown Bludhaven? A city of millions? Millions who will die by being blown up by the nuclear bomb hidden by me, the Joker?

BATMAN - Yes, that bomb.

JOKER - You should know, Batman, that there's no way to disable the bomb on-site! Ha ha! It's connected to a remote detonator, and if you disable or remove it, it'll blow up immediately, which, I'll remind you again, will result in the deaths of millions! 

BATMAN - I understand the threat, Joker.

JOKER - What's the remote detonator you ask? Why it's a simple countdown timer, but instead of being linked to a clock, it's connected directly to my heartbeat! Ha ha! The only way to stop the countdown is to stop my heart!

By the way Batman, I hope I haven't given you the impression that you're going to have enough time to stop me any other way! Ha ha! After I hang up the phone you'll have about 3 minutes before the nuclear bomb detonates, less if I get excited and my heart starts racing while we talk!

BATMAN - . . .

JOKER - So what's it going to be, Batman? Lift one little finger to kill me? Or by your inaction allow millions to die and suffer? There's no other way to solve this!

You're trapped in a no-win situation specifically designed to show off the limits of your never kill anyone no matter how much they deserve it policy! A better, or at least more unified team of writers and editors would either allow you to kill or avoid putting you in situations like this one that make you look foolish! 

No one minds a Batman who doesn't kill as long as he only fights bank robbers with silly costumes! But try explaining why you won't execute a war criminal who has wiped out whole neighborhoods, entire cities, and will keep doing so again and again until you put him in the only place he can't escape!

BATMAN - . . . 

JOKER - What will you do? Police can't arrest me, prisons can't hold me! If you capture me, my next crime will make this one pale in comparison! How many lives are you willing to sacrifice just to prevent me from committing suicide?

You can't get to Bludhaven, and couldn't stop the detonation there if you tried! You don't have time to drive or fly here! You don't even know where I am! 

Even your other old pal Superman can't help you! Metropolis is basically Manhattan, Gotham is Brooklyn, and Bludhaven is essentially Queens! And everyone knows Superman never crosses the East River!

BATMAN - Actually, Gotham is canonically in New Jersey.

JOKER - Ha ha! You're almost out of time, Batman! 

By the way, if the millions of lives at stake aren't enough to sufficiently motivate you to take decisive action, let me remind you that your son and heir Robin, under his new nom de guerre Nighwing is in Bludhaven, and will certainly perish along with the others! I don't know your real name or his, but I know he's there, along with his adorable little pet dog Bitewing! Ha ha! 

You have less than 3 minutes, Batman, and then everyone in Bludhaven dies in a nuclear holocaust, including your protege!

BATMAN - No, not Robin!

BATPHONE - Dial tone.

art by Dick Dillin for Amazing World of DC Comics #14


  1. goddam, we really do be living in a society I guess

  2. I'm more disturbed that Metropolis is in Delaware.

    1. There's a lot that's disturbing about that map, really.

  3. Ah, what a love letter. I like this.

  4. Jersey, Jersey
    I wonder who the hell invented Jersey?
    Statue of Liberty faces down the bay
    Ashamed to look the other way

  5. Metropolis is in Chicago and I'll die on this hill.

    1. Interesting! I've often thought of Gotham as Chicago and Metropolis as New York.

  6. Sublime. It's almost like the Joker radiates this . . . field or something, a localized malkavian madness network that emits this escalating trolley problems. Like he himself has become comics.

  7. and those green screeds on the far end of the line, chef's kiss! suggests that the Joker is running on twisted plant elemental energy, which is why Batman has so many run ins with plant people. (Solomon Grundy is canonically from the Gotham burbs, which supports the South Jersey Hypothesis.)

  8. >he himself has become comics
    >twisted plant elemental energy

    I submit before the four-color court that comics are made of paper and the Joker probably smells like freshly bleached pulp. "Swamp Thing never lost so much time as when he consented to learn from the Joker." - old cajun proverb

    1. I'm glad this inspired you, bombasticus!

  9. The Joker's phone is probably really scary... it's probably like a flip-phone, and when he flips it open a knife pops out... only sometimes instead of a knife it's a flag that says "stab!" on it... just to really keep you guessing, because he's the Joker, he's truly mental

  10. Gotham City in New Jersey . . . it all starts making sense.

  11. Batman is a lot of fun when nobody is taking the idea too seriously.

    So, of course, every writer feels the need to take it super seriously.

  12. Hi Anne, this is Derek Ruiz, managing editor of Dungeon Vault Magazine. I'd like to talk to you about a possible collaboration with your blog's content. What is the best way to reach you?

    1. Hi Derek! My gmail address is diyanddragons. You can contact me there to let me know what you have in mind. Thank you for reaching out!