A Countdown tie-in issue that is actually worth it


If you’ve read my other reviews of Countdown, you know my general complaint with the myriad of tie-in issues is the release schedule is so screwed up some issues arrive before the events in Countdown happen, or they are so delayed that it isn’t even worth picking up to see what happens. Fortunately, this isn’t the case with The Search for Ray Palmer: Crime Society. The issue came out a week after the introduction of Earth-3’s evil version of the JSA, and the Jokester, a perfect follow up to the answer the question, “Just who is this Jokester fellow, and why is he suddenly joining up with the Challengers from Beyond?”

Well dear reader, your questions are about to be answered.

The Jokester came out of nowhere in issue #31 of Countdown to help the Challengers fend off an attack from Owlman, Ultraman, Superwoman, and the rest of the Crime Society of Amerika. In Earth-3, good is bad, black is white, and even a happy clown has a sad story to tell.

In the case of the Jokester he began life as a terrible joke telling nobody, whose only pleasure in life was his beloved Eve and the dream of becoming a great comedian. A chance encounter with Owlman gives him a great idea – make fun of one of the most ruthless criminals in Gotham City.


While Jackie the joke man became a success, you can pretty much guess what happens when Owlman and Talon (his kid sidekick) finally catch up with the comedian.


I particularly like this sequence’s brief appearance by Harley Quinzel, manager of the stars, who ends up getting gutted in front of Jackie before he gets that face splitting grin courtesy of Owlman.

As expected the gagman becomes the Jokester taking on many of the gimmicks our very own New Earth Joker has been employing since his introduction oh so many years ago. Unlike the Joker, the Jokester doesn’t want Owlman and Talon dead; he has a death wish of his own. If you felt sorry for the Joker in the Killing Joke, Jackie’s story is pretty tragic as he’s lost everything he’s know; his face, his career, and even his precious Eve. All seems pretty bleak until one night when it looks like it is lights out for the Jokester, he gets a new reason for living.


crimesociety_01.jpgIf at least one of those faces looks familiar, then you’ve been paying attention. Turns out the Jokester’s Eve suffers from multiple personality disorder, and when she’s not in control becomes Three-face, and that harlequin looking character is in fact Duela Dent – the Riddler’s – no make that The Joker’s Daughter.

You gotta love the way Sean McKeever sums up all the continuity issues and errors with Duela’s many incarnations in just a few panels, where she talks about her messed up mind, how she thinks sometimes she’s good, sometimes she evil, and sometimes she thinks she’s on another world all together. Very well done Mr. McKeever, a quick stroke of the pen, and you’ve shoehorned The Joker’s Daughter into proper believable continuity without needing a JSA Classified mini-series to do it *cough*PowerGirl*cough*.

The trio quickly become a quartet (or is that a quintet with the MPD three-face?), and as the Jokester gets to know and love his daughter, and even makes some headway with Three-face, they continue to fight the Crime Society.

If everyone thought Duela’s death was a tragic Shakespearian ending to a character that has been floating around the DCU for the last 30 years, then it gets even stranger when Duela wants to introduce the family to her boyfriend she’s been seeing.


Talk about your doomed Romeo and Juliette relationships. The Jokester essentially disowns his daughter (causing a switch from the Joker’s Daughter back to Riddler’s Daughter perhaps?) and Talon and Duela fly off into the night to presumably start a new life together away from their controlling parental units. We all know where they end up – New Earth.

While one could say the appearance of Talon as the boyfriend was planned long ago in the pages of 52, I choose to think of this as another brilliant scheme by McKeever to get Talon’s appearance on the Teen Titans (52 #32, Teen Titans #38, World War III) to make sense in an ever confusing DC Universe.

Jokester’s anger is short lived as the Crime Society shows up and rips the Riddler Family to shreds – literally in the case of Three-face getting one of her arms torn from her body (don’t worry, she lives and has a nice shiny arm to show for her troubles). The Jokester can only escape to fight another day, and that brings us up to the events of Countdown where he and the Challengers escape to Earth-15.

The Good

  • Creating a believable tragic hero in a world that is really messed up
  • Duela Dent’s back story works well
  • A punch to the nuts is always funny when you aren’t the one getting punched

The Bad

  • A little bit more exposition on the Jokester’s Atom tattoo would be helpful
  • Continuity errors abound in the big fight sequence here and the same one in Countdown
  • Seems like the Jokester got his smile via Owlrang(?) just like the Joker did in the semi-pukeable Batman Confidential series and we’re likely to see the same shtick appear in The Dark Knight movie
  • No Ray Palmer

Bottom line? Everything that makes this issue work is all McKeever’s doing. The story, even if it is told via flashback is well put together, and the major jumps in time are well constructed to make this one-shot a story worth reading. Sure there are some continuity issues between this and Countdown (hey guys, it’s called getting your editorial $^!* together), but this can be generally overlooked, since presumably you’ve already seen the fight scene over in Countdown. If you are going to buy only one tie-in issue this year (here I’m being sarcastic, because we all know you’re buying everything, just like DC wanted us to…) The Search for Ray Palmer: Crime Society is high on the list of tie-ins done right. I give the issue 4 out of 5 Stars.


Parting Shot


About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. I like it, I thought it was a good read, but is it the only thing the multiverse is good for? Imaginary stories that in the end have no bearing or weight?

  2. J’osh: I don’t think the Multiverse has no bearing or weight – remember it was Earth-3 Duela who’s death kicked off this whole countdown thing. And even if the tales do end up being throw away, they can be just as good as the Elseworlds series from long ago.

  3. OK, I get most of this, but I’m still confused about the Crime Syndicate vs. the Crime Society.

    It’s been established that the post-Crisis Crime Syndicate hails from Qward, first depicted as “normal” looking Qwardians and then established to come from Qward’s anti-Earth where good is evil, etc.

    If you look at Owlman as depicted in the Jokester’s “origin story” panel, he’s clearly wearing the Qwardian Owlman costume from the pre-Infinite Crisis continuity, and appears to have changed his look over the years (though I have to say I prefer his earlier duds).

    So, does this mean that the Qwardian anti-Earth and Crime Syndicate has been retconned out of existence in favor of Earth-3 and the Crime Society, or do the two co-exist?

    Personally, I hope it’s the latter – if there can be multiple good guys, then why not multiple bad guys?

    Also, this raises more questions than answers for me about Duela Dent – she clearly existed pre-Crisis, just like Power Girl, and while she apparently didn’t survive the destruction of her universe like Kara did (which explains why PG has never been targeted by Bob’s nasty brothers), she *did* apparently get “reborn” in a manner similar to the Huntress (the post-Crisis/New Earth one, not the post-Infinite Crisis Earth-2 one) because she’s been on-panel between 1985 and 2005.

    Did the creation of New Earth reset the entire DC timeline as well as restore the multi-verse then? Because if it didn’t, that means that although the Earth-3 Duela is dead, her post-Crisis counterpart is still out there on New Earth somewhere.

    Shit, my head hurts…

  4. It was surprisingly good, but did nothign to expand the Search for Ray Palmer, which strikes me as odd for a book entitled, The Search for Ray Palmer. Maybe they should have named it Countdown Presents: Jokester or something similar.

    I would have liked to know how exactly Duela manages to jump between worlds though. She has no technology or powers that would make sense to me. Does she just fall through a crack in the world or something? Still confused on that one, but liked her appearance and confusion over Jokester/Joker.

    Good book all around, but a few flaws here in there, mostly editorial based. Restored my faith in Countdown ever so slightly. The main series is actually on an upswing lately as well. Should be interesting as it moves into Countdown to Final Crisis.

    Kirk Warren
    The Weekly Crisis – Comic Book Review Blog

  5. Jeff: The way I choose to understand the Crime Syndicate versus the Crime Society is this – Crime Syndicate is still anti-matter universe version of the JLA, while Crime Society is the evil version of the JSA. Of course with DC, the anti-matter Earth could have indeed slipped into the matter universe and is now Earth-3…oh crap, now my brain hurts.

    Kirk: As far as Duela being on New Earth, the last we see of Talon and Duela are the two flying off into he night – perhaps the answer to how everyone (non-Challenger) is jumping from one universe to the other is a tale yet to be told. LOL – what am I saying, we’re talking about DC here!

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