Among the first DC comics released in 2023 is the fourth issue of The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing, and in it, the Joker becomes pregnant and has a son.
The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing is a series by Matthew Rosenberg and Carmine Di Giandomenico that began in 2022 and is currently ongoing. As the title suggests, it stars the infamous Batman villain Joker, "setting out on his most bizarre caper yet."
The Joker is no stranger to bizarre tales, whether that comes in the form of Jared Leto's 'damaged' portrayal or Joker: Folie à Deux reportedly being made as a musical.
However, The Man Who Stopped Laughing's fourth issue was released on Jan. 4, 2023, and its backup story, Knocked Upside Down!, includes what may be among the strangest stories DC has told to date.
How The Joker Had a Child
The backup story in the fourth issue of The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing sees the titular Batman villain become pregnant and give birth. And if that was not far enough out there, the mother of the Joker's child is the magician-hero Zatanna.
The pregnancy was a result of Zatanna casting a spell on the Joker after he tried to persuade her to start a family with him. In her classic backward speak, Zatanna cast a spell that would ensure that "no one else will ever have [the Joker's] baby." However, her true meaning was twisted around in the enactment of the spell, such that the Joker himself would have his own baby.
The Joker wakes up — in a Wonder Woman bed, at that — and finds himself suddenly pregnant. Interestingly, until someone else pointed it out to him, the Joker did not even seem to realize what had happened.
When the Joker is looked at by Doctor Phosphorous, an established DC supervillain, the doctor tells him "I don't even know where the baby is going to come out from down here." After attempting to push, the Joker solves that mystery by suddenly vomiting up a brown substance.
The mud-like substance forms into a Clayface-like being before morphing into a child, whom Joker claims as his son. Said offspring develops an appearance almost identical to the Joker's own, prompting them both to look at the other and think "he's so handsome."
Fans React to The Joker's Pregnancy
As you would expect, fans' general reaction to Joker's pregnancy is pure confusion.
Some on the internet are taking this odd Joker story in stride, jokingly stating that they hope that Joker 2 or other movie versions of the Joker "feature the mpreg arc".
As a lot of fans are mentioning, "weird moments" like this were common in the Silver Age of comics, and this Joker story is "not even the weirdest thing that happens this month".
Some seemed to have missed the joke and are attempting to politicize the comic. They are suggesting that this is another attempt for "DC Comics to push social justice storylines" when in reality this is just another bizarre joke from the clown prince of crime.
The Joker Gave Birth to a Child, Now What?
Of the many questions fans have about this backup issue, "What comes next?" is surely among them.
Since this story is a backup, there is no guarantee that the next issue of The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing will pick up where this one leaves off, especially given the big, cursive "The End" at the story's conclusion.
Regardless, DC Comics might have a new character to play with — albeit one who may just have one of the most outlandish origin stories in comics history.
Perhaps fans can expect an eventual team-up between this mini-Joker and Duela Dent, who has the superhero name "Joker's Daughter" but is not the Joker's biological child.
Further, Zatanna was only given one panel to react to these events. Though the heroine has seen some unbelievable things throughout her years, her reaction is likely not limited to the look of surprise shown in the issue's final panel.
The real question is: will such a story ever make its way to the big screen? Newly appointed co-head of DC Studios James Gunn is known for his zany takes on comic book characters, but even this may be too far for his upcoming slate of movies.
The fourth issue of The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing is available for purchase in comic book shops.