A recent issue of The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing saw the Harlequin of Hate fall pregnant courtesy of a spell by Zatanna, ultimately giving birth to a much smaller version of himself. He did so by vomiting out a mud-like substance we'd later learn was Clayface, and it was clearly meant as a fun, offbeat tale.
Alas, the outrage was very vocal, with many declaring that DC Comics had tarnished the Clown Prince of Crime's legacy by making him trans or gender fluid.
Writer Matthew Rosenberg has now responded to the backlash in a lengthy blog post. Pointing out that much of what's angered people doesn't actually take place in the comic, he explains: "The backup stories, by myself with the brilliant Francesco Francavilla on art, are made to be sort of Silver Age style fever dreams of the Joker that explore different, non-continuity explanations of how there could be multiple Jokers and other themes of the main book."
"So far he’s accidentally cloned himself in a magic mirror, faked his own death so that he could see what people say at his funeral, and accidentally had himself sewn to the body of a gorilla and one of his small henchman like some mythological 6-armed gorilla/circus performer/homicidal clown centaur."
Reiterating that these are "silly gag strips" not referenced within the comic's main story, Rosenberg blamed incorrect reporting for stirring up a hornet's nest of hate and anger among those who never actually read the comic in question.
"This isn’t an allegory, a metaphor, or social commentary. It’s a joke," he explains. "I will say, so this doesn’t come off as some sort of backpedalling, I believe Trans rights are Human rights. With that said, it has nothing to do with this story. This is a story about magical food poisoning."
Rosenberg concluded by pointing out how absurd it is that some have spoken of The Joker as if he's an aspirational figure, recalling some of the more distasteful stories the character has been part of before now.
"I was in no way trying to damage the pristine legacy of this psychotic serial murder that they hold in such high regard, but I guess to them I did. And for that I apologize...Either way, thanks for promoting our book. I’ve heard from a lot of retailers that it’s selling out. We appreciate it."
We'd say that response just about sums things up!
It's still hard to say why this backup generated such controversy and a shame that what was simply a weird short story has been overshadowed by such absurdity. We probably won't see The Joker's child return anytime soon, though we can't help but think it's a premise DC Comics could have fun with down the line...