Action Comics (1938) - #770
"He Who Laughs Last!"
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Joseph 'Joe' Kelly
Jose Angel Cano Lopez - 'Kano'
W. Moose Baumann
Richard Alan Starkings - 'RS'
Jose Angel Cano Lopez - 'Kano'
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Cover Date: October 2000
Cover Price: US $ 3.50
Issue Tagline: None.
Format: Color; Standard Comic Issue; 48 pages
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The Reign of Emperor Joker
Part 4 - the finale - of The Reign of Emperor Joker, continuing from Superman: The Man of Steel #105.
As Emperor Joker holds all the cards, his ultimate and shocking victory is at hand. It all comes down to this: Superman vs the Joker, for the fate of the universe.
In an unseen battle, the Joker has completely destroyed the newly reformed JLA, with Superman the sole survivor. He begs the Joker and the evil JLA to realize that Joker's tampering with reality will destroy all of time and space. However, the Joker reveals that he knows this, and that furthermore he is planning to destroy everything tomorrow, much to the surprise of his JLA members.
Superman is hung with Batman, sentenced to be the first to die. Although Joker took away Batman's mouth, he uses morse code to tell Superman to kill the Joker - it's the only way. Superman wonders how Batman could come to a conclusion, but then - as with every night - Batman is tortured and killed in a new way, and Superman is helpless.
Enigma, having confirmed with Mr. Mxyzptlk that Joker can destroy all of reality, recruits Bizarro, Ignition, Lex, and Lois in to a plan to stop the Joker. Even Harley asks Joker why he must do it, and he tells her life is a joke and this is the only answer. For all her years of service though, he kills her silently and turns her in to a constellation.
As the Joker contemplates how to destroy the world, Ignition hits him with a big nuclear blast. Enigma knew that the Joker would not sense his presence, as the Joker has confided before that he does not remember creating Ignition. The evil JLA thinks they've won, but Joker reappears, kills his old team mates, and crushes Superman under his boot. Superman lives though, and flies through Superman, who releases Lois. As she dies, she remembers who she was.
Mr. Mxyzptlk appears and takes Superman in to space, giving him one last bit of information: the Joker has rules. Why hasn't he just killed Superman before? While Superman thinks it over, the Joker appears, destroying planets, enraging Superman and bringing him close to strangling the Joker, finally killing him, but at the last moment he doesn't. Instead, the Joker rips Superman's heart out. As Superman lies dying, he realizes what the Joker's rules are: he can't kill Batman, because he needs him. The realization crushes the Joker, and releases his powers.
Later, Mr. Mxyzptlk and the Spectre have recreated the universe up to the point where Joker got his powers, and Mr. Mzyzptlk leaves under threat from Superman. However, there's still one big casualty: Batman. Having been killed and tortured numerous times, his mind can't take it. Superman asks the Spectre to help him help Batman - by taking Batman's memories and putting them in to Superman, making him bear the pain so Batman doesn't have to.
In the end, Superman asks Batman to visit the Joker in jail, to see if Batman finds something off about the Joker, but Batman remembers nothing. As they leave, Joker can be seen laying in a fetal position repeatedly muttering "Rorepme Rekoj" - Emperor Joker.
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