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TCE VS. THE UNIVERSE

ISSUE 4

Fiasco vs. The Joker

“You know what makes me laugh?” said the Joker to the thief.

“Oh, do tell, my fiendish friend,” said the thief, as he packed the stolen package that had been stolen from him by The Joker, then sold back to him, into his own back pack.

“Origin stories!”

The eponymous villain of Gotham City fame sat slouched on a sofa in the fancy plush penthouse hideout of the Platinum City heist man known as Fiasco. Outside, the sun was setting, casting a purplish hue across the sky. Inside, the two wiry madmen were finalizing their business, which involved the rare and very powerful substance psytanium.

“I mean, there must be some way outta this cycle of madness,” The Joker continued. “in which we hear about some hero whose parents died, and so they vowed to get revenge.”

“Ha-ha!” Fiasco blurted out gleefully, putting a pronounced emphasis on the second ha. “Or what about the ones where their uncle dies?”

“Or their partner.”

“Or their wife.”

“Ha! Or their whole family!”

“Or their whole freaking planet! Hahaha!”

Uproariously obnoxious laughter bellowed from the two men who were now riffing effortlessly. It was like they’d known each other their whole lives, although they’d only met just a few days earlier.

“Wait. Are there any stories out there where a hero wants revenge because her husband was killed?”

Both men stopped to think… for a long time. Joker rubbed his chin in deep thought, as Fiasco literally scratched his head.

“I’m sure there are some somewhere,” offered the latter. “But I’ll be darned if I can come up with any off the top of my head.”

“It’s probably because men can’t be stuffed into fridges as easily.”

“What?” said Fiasco with a puzzled look across his brow.

“You know, like ‘fridging?’ Oh, I forgot you’re still new to this,” The Joker said, oozing condescension. “Fridging happens to the ladies of all the greatest comic book heroes. It’s when bad guys, like you and me–” He’s cut off.

“You and I,” Fiasco corrected.

A little flustered that he was being corrected by this total newb, the Joker spouted, “You and I, you and me, what’s the difference?!”

“The difference is one makes you sound like you dropped out of Mrs. Petunia’s Second Grade Grammar Class. And that’s ‘grammar’ with an ‘a’ not an ‘e’.”

“Okay! Okay!” The Joker sat up and moved to the edge of his seat animating his hands wildly. “You and I. Villains like ‘you and I!’ Is that better?”

“No reason to get excited,” the thief kindly spoke. “But yes, much better. Carry on. You were saying.”

“I was saying that villains like you and I would kidnap a girlfriend or a wife or some love interest and do something mean or gruesome or deadly to them, and our dastardly deed would make the hero’s journey that much more emotional and their purpose for revenge that much more… relatable, I guess. One of the most famous instances was when the Green Lantern’s lady was murdered, stuffed in a refrigerator, and left for Kyle to find. Hence, the term ‘fridging.’”

“Ah, I see. But it never happens to a husband or a boyfriend?”

“If it does, it’s not often enough to be noteworthy.”

“We should totally change that!” Fiasco announced with unbridled glee!

“I agree! Gender equality for all!”

“Ha-HA! Who will be our first target?” said Fiasco as he pulled out his cellphone, which was adorned with a ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’ decal.

“Who’s Black Widow dating right now?” asked the Joker.

Let’s see,” said Fiasco as he ran an Ask Jeeves search. “Ah! Here we go! According to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it would seem she’s had some romantic entanglements with Bruce Banner! You wanna fridge the Incredible Hulk?”

“Hmmm…” The Joker murmured as he reconsidered. “That could prove to be… complicated.”

“True dat! What about Wonder Woman?

“Naw, she’s currently flying solo.” Said the Joker.

“Ooh! I know! Let’s do Batwoman! Who is she shacked up with nowadays?”

Both men furiously scrolled though their mobile devices. Then, after a moment, they stumbled upon the same bit of information. “A woman?!”

“It says here that she only dates women,” said the Joker. “How did I miss that?”

“I guess this means subjecting her to a fridging would be just like every other clichéd origin story out there. What fun is that?”

“Awe, don’t be sad. Even clichés can be exciting,” said the joker as he shifted in his seat. “Just like the cliché of a supervillain making a deal then reneging on said deal!”

“What?” But just as Fiasco realized what was about to happen, it had already happened! The Joker had gone in his pocket and unleashed an array of Joker-branded bombs! The thief was forced to take cover as a plethora of explosions filled the penthouse with sparks and smoke.

“Hahahaha!” The Joker cackled as he leaped across the room and nabbed the back pack containing the psytanium. “Did you really think I was gonna sell this stuff back to you? The only reason I agreed to meet you here is so I could get the rest of your stash!” And with that, he ran over to the comically large safe positioned on the far side of the penthouse, pulled out a comically elaborate laser cutter and began burning through the reinforced metal. “You like my new tool, Fiasco? I got it at your local Platinum City Wal*mart. It was on sale for 99.99! Lowest prices anywhere! Hahahaha!”

“You must think life is but one big Joke,” snickered Fiasco from within the smoke. A split second later a pair of Fiasco-branded socks emanated from the smoke as well. But they weren’t just ordinary socks; they were laced with an adhesive gel that caused them to stick to the door of the safe. The adhesive gel was also a conductor for the electromagnetic devises tucked in near the toe of each piece of footwear.

Fiasco then pushed a sequence of buttons on his wrist-device activating the shock-socks and caused an electric pulse that blew the Joker back from the safe and onto his back. Fiasco then jumped out of the smoke. “Oooh! What a shocking development! Haha!”

The Joker shook out the cobwebs, collected the bag containing the psytanium and rolled to his feet. “Well played, my acrimonious acquaintance! But I’ve gotta say, I’m tired of coming up with quotable quips and clever carnage to cast your way. How about we make it simple and I just shoot you?” A split-second later The Joker pulled out a handgun and opened fire.

Fiasco was forced to take cover again, giving the Joker a chance to survey the situation. The safe would be impossible to crack, and neutralizing Fiasco, who was operating on his own turf, would prove to be difficult. “It looks like I’ll cut my losses here. I’ll be back later to get the rest of the psytanium.  “Perhaps Harley Quinn and Will Smith will up for another Suicide Squad Reunion! Huzzah!”

The Joker let off a few more rounds, then headed for the door. He hit the hallway in a dead sprint, rounded the corner and found the elevator. He smashed the down button a half dozen times. He waited.

And waited.

“Arrgh! Forget this!” he screamed in frustration. He pulled out his laser-cuter and cut open the elevator doors, revealing the shaft. He leapt into the shaft, grabbed the cables and slid like a firefighter on a pole all the way down to the underground garage, where his pimped-out Joker-branded Lamborghini Diablo was waiting. The dastardly dapper deviant ran for his ride.

But just as he was about to grab the driver side door handle, the entire car exploded! The impact sent him flying backwards! Then CRASH, Fiasco burst through one of the upper level glass panes with a comically cliché bomb in his hand. The Joker recovered, brandished his firearm and fired just as Fiasco let the bomb fly!

KABOOM! The explosion rocked the entire structure and ruined at least a dozen other high-end vehicles. “I have such an explosive personality, wouldn’t you say, Mr. J?” Fiasco said with a smirk on his lips.

The Joker took aim and pulled the trigger. CLICK! He was empty.

“Looks like you’re out of bullets.”

“And you’re out of bombs.”

“On the contrary, I have many more explosive toys at my disposal. You see this little thingy on my wrist?” He held out his right arm, showing the complicated device. “It’s a GPS that tells me the location of every last single one of the one-thousand, seven hundred, twenty-five booby traps and explosive devices I’ve rigged to this building. It also shows me the location of the nearly half-million traps and boom-booms I’ve rigged throughout this city and the rest of the world, including a couple in your beloved Gotham City. And furthermore, I can trigger any one of them at any time with the push of a button.”

The Joker’s eyes widened. He was truly impressed. “You’re quite the little criminal mastermind.”

“Why, thank you. I was inspired by the best,” Fiasco responded with a glint of genuine esteem. “Now, hand over the psytanium, for despite my profound respect for your mischievous machinations, I’m the only one who gets to stick it to the heroes in my multiverse.”

“Ah, you’ve got me cornered and defeated, Fiasco. You are truly a worthy miscreant yourself. I mean half-million booby traps all controlled from a wrist device? Simply stupendous.” The Joker rubbed his chin. “Hmm… if only I had my own wrist device…” He then dropped his gun and pulled up the sleeve on his right arm, revealing just that! “Ooh, lookie here, I DO happen to have one!”

Fiasco’s smirked disappeared.

“I didn’t pick this one up at your local big box store. This is actually a custom design from the good folks over at Lex Corp. They have some of the best hackers in the universe. Hackers who were able to hack into your wristband and reroute some of the functionality to my device! Hahaha!”

“No, it’s impossible!” Fiasco shouted.

“Oh, that’s what I said! I mean how in the world could I ever afford such a toy,” joked the Joker. “But, here’s the thing; Mr. Luthor himself said I could have it for free, as long as I brought back some psytanium. It’s like they have their very own Rewards Club! Yay!” He then turned serious. “Now, you let me walk out of here, or I blow the whole building and bring it down on top of both us.”

The two men stared at each other for an intense moment. You could cut the tension with a butter knife. It was Fiasco who broke first… as in broke out in laughter!

“Hahahaha!!!” He took a deep breath, then “Hahahahahaha!”

“What’s so funny?”

“Are you kidding me? You were doing so well and we were having such a great time! But then you threaten me with blowing up the building? My entire existence is predicated on blowing up buildings! Come on, man. You’ve gotta do better than that!”

Fiasco continued to laugh, and after a few moments, the Joker began laughing too! Before long, they were both hooting outrageously, slapping their knees, holding their bellies, almost rolling on the floor laughing their butts off.

It was nearly 2 whole minutes before they began to compose themselves. Fiasco found the composure to speak. “It’s pretty crazy we find ourselves here, but you know, you and I, we’ve been through a lot, and this, my friend, is not our fate. So, let’s stop talking falsely, the hour’s indeed getting late.” And with that lyric of the Jimi Hendrix classic, Fiasco hit a button on his wristband causing a pillar near The Joker to explode! The Joker leapt for cover then hit a button on his own wristband igniting yet another blast!

For the next several minutes the two scandalous scoundrels traded explosions, the Joker attempting to find an opening to escape while Fiasco looked for the perfect opportunity to box in his adversary. With every discharge, the parking structure weakened, meaning the 33-story building’s foundation was also faltering.

And by the time they realized what was happening, it was too late. The skyscraper buckled under the pressure of the detonations! Fiasco and the Joker ran for their lives but were not able to reach the exits before tons of rubble and debris came crashing down!

Within minutes emergency crews were on the scene. Police officers, fire and rescue and even a few superheroes had arrived to begin the process of digging out survivors and cleaning up yet another disaster caused by villainous activity.

Down the street, a manhole cover popped open and The Joker climbed out. He looked upon the carnage with unbridled glee. “Haha-ouch!” A brick up-side his head had caused him to stumble forward, forcing him to drop the backpack. A moment later, Fiasco snatched up the bag and threw it over his shoulder.

“Gotcha! Hahaha!” Fiasco chuckled, as the two men faced each other.

“I’m gonna feel that one in the morning.”

“Yeah, I’d say!”

“Soooo… no hard feelings?” The Joker asked.

“Of course not! I look forward to my role in your next evil plan! Until then, keep your eyes peeled for a boyfriend or a husband we can fridge.”

“Ha! Deal!”

Just then the sound of a police sirens ruined the moment. The two men bid each other adieu and scurried out of sight.