“What if the Joker became Batman?” Something you’d hear after three seconds of a Batman brainstorming session, and only because it takes three seconds to say. It’s a simple idea which would require a genius to pull off. The team behind “I, Joker” knew that, and knew they didn’t qualify, and unfortunately knowing two things simultaneously overloaded their simple brains and everything after that was gibberubbish. Especially the comic.
They hacked away at the idea until even Zsasz wouldn’t recognise it, babbling “Actually it’s not the Joker, it’s a random nobody who’s been surgically altered to look like the Joker, and not the Batman, but a distant insane relative in the future, and where are you going?” Unfortunately, their audience was going to sell the idea to DC. The resulting trainwreck had less to do with Batman than Prince Namor, but still happened.
In the far future Gotham is a cross between the Church of Batman and the Running Man, and this comic will still not have been forgiven for creating and then failing to live up to such an awesome idea. The Church of Batman uses abduction, involuntary surgery and brainwashing to turn random citizens into crazy villains who terrorize the city. (The crazy thing is where you realise that they’re using evil techniques, but having the exact same effect as the original Batman).
Anyone managing to kill a villain gets a chance at murdering The Bruce, the divine figure of this chiropterological cult, whose main Bat-aspects seem to be killing people and shouting Batman’s real name as often as possible. Honestly, I don’t think he’s read even one issue of the scriptures of Batman. He’s just in it for the evil cape.
Though he is quite good at dispatching all the optimistic wannaBats.
The latest Joker-a-like manages to hold on to his original brain. Which means that this fake Joker isn’t even a good a fake as this comic could have aimed for. He’s just a random mook with a facelift. True, a Joker facelift means hoisting the corners of your grin into low Earth orbit, but the fact remains that instead of a reincarnated clown prince of crime, we’re following the adventures of an involuntary cosplayer.
We end up with a fancily dressed cult leader fighting a victim of botched plastic surgery. There are more authentic Bat-struggles in the queue for the toilet at cosplay conventions. (Protip: of all the things you include in your utility belt, the ability to quickly remove it to urinate in a cramped space is the most important.) The-guy-who-heard-of-Joker-once wins, swears to defend the city, and everyone pretends the story never happened.
Witness even worse Batmen with The Worst Alternate Universe Batmen Ever, and celebrate the release of Arkham Origins by laughing at The Worst Batman Video Games Ever.
Revel in the rage triggered by 6 Objective Reasons Iron Man Is Better Than Batman. Or see how I’d solve Gotham with An Infinity Of Alternate Batmen.