No Sleep ‘Til Crookin’ in One Operation Joker Vol. 2

Comic's most notorious sociopath needs a nap in DC x Kodansha's Bat-Manga, One Operation Joker Vol. 2

In the first volume of One Operation Joker brought to us by a collaboration between DC and the Kodansha publishing company, I was thrust into an Earth where Batman’s greatest enemy, the virulently vivacious Joker becomes a beleaguered guardian to Gotham’s favorite les enfant terrible, a bouncy, bubbly boy named Bruce after both fall into a vat of Ace chemicals. Forget about “one bad day”, shit’s more bananas than Gorilla Grod’s breakfast.

As a Batman fan, I can say with assurance that I’ve not read all Batman stories under the moonlight concerning him. Most have Bruce with the same backstory, so the outliers of his origins truly grab me both the collar (as only Batman could). This is especially true when it’s one about being raised by someone who rebukes the very notion of structure. 

Thankfully, I was happy to report that the cleverness of author Satoshi Miyagawa coupled with the striking art of Keisuke Gotou made what could have been a weird, one-off purchase something that I wanted to invest more time in, so here we are at Volume 2. Is the story still firing all on pistons or was Volume 1 just a toy car that was new, shiny, and fun for the brief life of a child’s interest?


It’s been a year of Jokerless reign in Gotham City. Hell, even its denizens are more pleasant and less fearful, but this progression of a new Eden in one of the most crime-addled cities in all of comic book history only begins to add to the acid, not in Joker’s heart, but in the pit of his stomach. How the dude does not end up with an ulcer by the end of Chapter 14 is beyond me.

He nearly itches at the chance to murder Harley when she nearly blows a Parent Conference. His appetite for destruction and to get back into the old swing of things is only usurped by his “helicoptering” over Master Wayne. I know only one person can call Bruce that, but Joker is truly a slave to him at this point. From Mister J packing Bruce’s bag for the nursery as if he were going to war to even leaving the edifice with the empty stroller, the Joker’s madness is only tempered by his shockingly nurturing acts.

The first volume of this English manga-style book struck me as “curious” in its inception and “inventive” in its execution through dueling philosophy in the daily rat race of life. Flourishes of this are very much present in this book, but I’ll add “endearing” into the mix. For all of the Joker’s theatrics, which includes a “return party” to Gotham, complete with a giant cake full of explosives with Gordo and others tied on, there’s always a foil in Bruce, especially when he runs a fever, ultimately blowing out the candles on Joker’s death cake. 

Sleeplessness, I am positive is a symptom of raising a child as well and Joker is certainly feeling it. That and impatience. He’s receiving considerable pushback, but it’s more of what Bruce must grow up to be that keeps the muddled, sleep-deprived, co-dependent mind of Gotham’s erstwhile threat going like the Energizer Rabbit. He wants this tyke to be a grown terror, not realizing that a toddler that can now stand is like working with live explosives, more lethal and exciting than chaingun of Batmen. To me, giving someone with no set agenda an agenda and forcing them to commit is just comedic gold.

I find it completely adorable that the Joker does harbor the irrational fear of the chemical wearing off that speaks to a truer, more based one. Outside of outright admitting he cares for the kid without motive, Joker’s happy to complain about the kid being desirous. Instead of letting the art of a child melt his heart, the Joker wants it as a yardstick for the Bat’s progress. He’s extricating the sentiment by deploying logic, but caring is ostensibly in every single thing the Joker has done for Bruce since the incident.

Don’t get me wrong. The Joker has been and will always be a coiled animal, but Bruce still seems to be winning for now. This is especially evident when the Joker takes him to the toy store, which is brilliant in its observance. At his most reductive, Batman is just the personification of arrested development. He’s always been that hurt, fragile little boy with a penchant for gadgetry, so not even a natural sleeping agent in Joker’s Flower can overpower this explosive tantrum in the toy aisle. Batman: 1, Joker: 0.

We’re also introduced to Alfred Pennyworth, who still adorably after a year of Master Bruce’s absence, still brings him breakfast. Thankfully, I don’t have to suffer much with his suffering of not knowing where Bruce is after he makes a stop off at Wayne Nursery School because he is just at all-time with nothing better to do. Sure, he runs into the Joker, not knowing it’s him, but it’s all good, right?

As a cherry on top of this metaphorical exploding cake, the jealousy in Joker is beginning to cloud the crime side of his brain when Alfred endears himself to Gotham’s most feared protector. A mensch to the letter, he does something that can be construed as either being two steps ahead or just stepping on toes which is where the end of this volume deftly swoops in.

There’s no time for the Joker to even consider “intruders” such as Alfred when crime is the only thing that will put food in Bruce’s belly. The beauty of a good story is good conflict and I love that author Satoshi Miyagawa never lets up on the Joker in the final pages of this volume by giving him a genuine choice. Batman: 2, Joker: -1, and never have I wanted to root for Poppa J more.

The menacing nature of Joker never strays or lets up in this continuation. I feel it’s about to get even more dangerous because when school lunches aren’t free, feeding your kid is more important than feeding yourself. The fact that he has his crew, Harls, the nursery, and even Alfred on his side (though he doesn’t know it yet) I feel will show that it will indeed “take a village” to raise the Dark Knight, not just the one man operation, which is the point. The city raised Bruce, which blows this whole series wide open for possibilities for Bruce to be raised even better than before… even if it’s with a couple of sticks of dynamite.

5/5 Stars

Robert Kijowski
Robert Kijowski
Robert Kijowski is a script writer who enjoys a good chuckle and an even better weep when indulging in art both good and even better bad. He's written for pop culture and film websites alike. You can hear him on Spotify (After the Credits) and reach out on Instagram, X or by English Carrier Pigeon.

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Joker's reign of terror has taken a backseat to his paternal duties in the second volume of this quirky concept and it's showing zero signs of slowing down making these seven new stories fresh as baby powder.No Sleep 'Til Crookin' in One Operation Joker Vol. 2