This was the opening sequence of The Batman Strikes #35 which I co-wrote!
Russell Lissau was one of the writers contributing scripts for The Batman Strikes and I met him and was chatting with him at Wizard World Chicago. He mentioned that he’d wanted to do a story with the Joker but hadn’t been able to think of a Joker plot that could be told within the kid-friendly confines of the Strikes title. I mentioned an idea I’d had to tell a story from the point of view of someone under the influence of the Joker’s nerve-toxin, since in this continuity is was a paralytic rather than instantly deadly. The whole story would be about The Joker and Batman playing hot-potato with the victim while they were a helpless, paralyzed observer. Russell loved the idea and offered to co-write it with me, which lead to issue #35.
The concept got watered down a bit. I would have loved to tell the story literally from the victim’s POV – seeing it through their eyes, but I wasn’t surprised when it was deemed too high-concept for an animation tie-in title. I’d hoped that we could at least limit our story POV to that character – only seeing and hearing what they would be personally aware of. But even that was considered to be a little too much.
Still, the story was a ton of fun. It introduced the show’s version of Harley Quinn into the comic, and centered on a late-night talk show host who earns the Joker’s ire when he is dubbed “The Clown Prince of Late Night” by a Gotham magazine. The character was deliberately a cross between David Letterman and Conan Obrian.
That opening page took forever to draw, but I really wanted that big shot looking from behind our host out at his studio audience – letting us share the view he would have walking onstage. I think this was one of the pages I apologized for when handing it off to inker Terry Beatty. I wanted the sequence to feel like you were seeing it from the stage floor of the studio, not from the POV of the audience or the cameras, so that meant a few more busy shots of the studio audience in the opening pages, until the action eventually led us to a chase outside the studio confines.
As a note of trivia, I should mention that I designed the Corwin O’Dooley Show logo and modeled the theater on the CBS Ed Sullivan Theater where David Letterman’s show is done, which is on the next block over from DC Comics‘ offices in New York. I replaced the “CBS” letters on the marquee with “GBS (aka the Galaxy Broadcasting System),” as a nod to the TV network where Clark Kent served as a news anchor during some of the Superman comics of the 1970s.
And here’s a look at how some of these pages looked in print, with inks by Terry Beatty and colors by Heroic Age.