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The evolution of The Joker just took a surprising turn in his latest ongoing series. His comic, The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing features the Batman villain leaving a swath of destruction in Gotham City, but the latest issue that came out this week also contains a backup story that is garnering a lot of attention on social media. The short tale pairs Joker with the magician Zatanna, and instead of being a graphic, violent encounter, Zatanna casts a spell that leaves Joker pregnant and the two on the verge of starting a complicated new family.

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the “Knocked Upside Down!” story in The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing #4. Continue reading at your own risk.

The backup story in The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing #4 is by Matthew Rosenberg, Francesco Francavilla, and Tom Napolitano. It finds Joker and his gang attempting to steal all of the water from the Gotham River. Luckily, Zatanna shows up to stop the Clown Prince of Crime in his tracks. Strung upside down, Zatanna drops Joker into a pile of mud on the ground. After Joker comments on how they’d make a lovely family, Zatanna casts a backward spell that states, “No one else will ever have your baby!” 

Back at his criminal lair, Joker wakes up the next morning to discover his belly has grown larger, all thanks to a magic baby Zatanna implanted. Doctor Phosphorous is called in a hilarious bit to help deliver the baby, which comes out of Joker’s mouth as a small mud monster. The baby later transforms into a smaller version of The Joker, and they pay Zatanna a visit to let her know how they could have been a lovely family together.

(Photo: DC)

Joker Writer Matthew Rosenberg Teases Blood-Soaked Mystery

ComicBook.com spoke to The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing writer Matthew Rosenberg back in September on the eve of the series launch. He discussed Joker’s new status quo and what some of Gotham’s other villains think of his return.

“The Joker was on the run after being hunted by a lot of very dangerous people and Jim Gordon, who was working for some of those people and also working for himself,” Rosenberg told ComicBook.com. “And at the end of their series, he vanished. He’d left Gotham and was gone. When we pick up, this is The Joker’s return to Gotham. He’s come back, he’s had a little time away from the city to think and see what he wants to do, and he has some big plans.”

He continued, “He wants to get back to the status that he’s had of being the most dangerous villain in Gotham, or maybe in the world. And so he’s setting the plan in motion and coming up against some problems and some resistance, especially in Gotham, where when you leave, they don’t hold your place for you. People will take over, and he runs into some of his old coworkers in the form of Two-Face and Black Mask, and people like that, and they’re not exactly welcoming to him coming back. So that’s where we sort of come in, is that The Joker is ready to get started again at being the classic Joker, and finding that maybe there isn’t quite room for him.

Rosenberg also spoke about the backup stories, which is where we find Joker pregnant in Issue #4.

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“First, we have Francesco Francavilla drawing them, so they’re beautiful and amazing, and yeah, the backup stories are unusual. It’s not like a traditional backup story where it’s a separate idea exactly,” the writer said. “What they are as the story goes is going to sort of change and evolve, but they’re very strange backup stories, is what I can say. They’re funny and weird, and they tonally feel very different from what we’re doing. They’re much more comedic and much more wacky, but there is a reason for that, and it’s going to become clear as the story goes that these aren’t just different Joker stories exactly. That’s all I can really say. But they’re important to who The Joker is, who our Joker is in this book. They’re very key to unlocking that in a mysterious way.”

The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing #4 is on sale now from DC. Let us know your thoughts on the issue’s backup story in the comments.

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