DC is dropping a new round of DC/Looney Tunes mashups this week, and with it, we get The Joker/Daffy Duck Special #1 by the team that brought us the lackluster The Flash/Speed Buggy Special #1. The Flash/Speed Buggy mash-up highlighted some significant flaws in melding these two universes together and The Joker/Daffy Duck Special #1 further complicates the situation.
The issue’s main story “Why Tho Theriouth?” gives readers a standard, thin characterization of the Joker. The issue opens with a murder spree in a comedy club, which is a little too on the nose. Meanwhile, Daffy Duck is fighting the ACME Electronics tech support line somewhere else within the DC Universe, with no explanation of what he’s doing there.
You may ask, “What in the world connects The Joker and Daffy here?” Lobdell apparently decided if we are going to go thin on explanations of how this shared universe exists, why not just throw the Joker into an ACME Electronics warehouse at the same time Daffy goes there to lodge a complaint?
The rest of the comic concerns a murder plot envisioned by Joker, implemented by Daffy, and thwarted by Batman. There’s just nothing really special here. The dynamic between Daffy and Joker is fine, but placing Daffy in Gotham’s shadows instead of a more cartoonish reality stifles the possibilities offered by Daffy’s madcap zaniness.
Booth’s art is good. The detail in the backgrounds and his development of the settings and atmosphere feel perfect for this Gotham-based story. Booth’s visual representation of Daffy, however, is a bit off-putting. Booth envisions Daffy as something taller and more human-like than Howard the Duck. I felt like Booth wanted something akin to The Simpsons Lego episode by showing what Daffy would look like in the “realistic” Gotham environment, but Daffy ends up coming across as a weird, displaced image.
The backup story, “Silence of the Lame,” by Cavalieri and Vecchio, is more of what I expected out of a DC/Looney Tunes crossover. The artistic direction employed by Vecchio is more cartoonish and feels more suitable to the theme. Cavalieri allows Daffy’s ego to shine as he provides therapy to a Joker who does a fine, Hannibal Lecter impersonation. The slapstick ending to the story provides some much-needed laughs after a surprising lack of humor in the main story.
I feel like the overall intention of these DC/Looney Tunes crossovers are to be fun mash-ups for a younger audience, but Lobdell and Booth create a thinly developed, weirdly realistic imagined situation for the Joker and Daffy Duck that is nowhere close to appropriate for a younger audience. Even the backstory, though better written, satirizes a movie that is nowhere near appropriate for kids. The confusing approach to both the written and visual development within this issue makes it inappropriate for younger audiences and forgettable to older audiences.