Warner Bros.'Batman Beyond' may have been but a kids' cartoon, but that didn't stop the subsequent feature film from straying into some pretty dark places in depicting Joker's inevitable return. Fighting an apparently resurrected Joker, Future Batman (teen angst by way of Spider-Man) uncovers a dark secret from mentor Bruce Wayne's past when his investigation takes him to ex-Robin Tim Drake's doorstep.
While Joker's return isn't quite as total as events might suggest, what young Terry discovers is as dark and twisted as anything the 'Batman' animated series ever came up with. Yes, even 'Mask of the Phantasm'. In a segue to flashback, we see Wayne and the Joker's final encounter: having kidnapped Tim, Joker and sidekick/occasional squeeze Harley Quinn brainwash the poor lad and turn him into their own little puppet.
Tim regains control of his senses for long enough to kill his new master (in a surprisingly bloody manner, if you seek out the unrated cut of the film) before promptly having a mental breakdown and giving up the cape. Still, Joker's influence would loom large for years afterwards, leading a middle-aged Drake to take on the clown's persona and battle the future Bat himself.
The real Joker may have been long dead, but in this case, the last laugh was most definitely his own. Get used to that sentence, by the way. You'll be hearing it quite a lot over the next few pages...
Horror and Batman fanatic, Haribo fiend and Nicolas Cage scholar. I write a lot, drink even more and can usually be found listening to the work of Queen while styling my hair in an increasingly ridiculous quiff.