Matthew Rosenberg has seen his DC output increase over the last few years, and will add even more titles to his resume this fall. Along with penning a new WildC.A.T.s comic series, Rosenberg will write the newest volume of The Joker. James Tynion IV and Guillem March were the last collaborators on The Joker, with Jim Gordon and other dangerous individuals chasing the Clown Prince of Crime. The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing from Matthew Rosenberg and Carmine Di Giandomenico will pick up the baton while also establishing a new status quo for the series, as another mysterious figure stalks Batman's greatest nemesis.
ComicBook.com had the opportunity to talk with Matthew Rosenberg about his plans for The Joker. The writer spoke about continuing Joker's terroristic escapades, taking the villain on a cross-country road trip across the DC Universe, surprise guest appearances, working with Carmine Di Giandomenico, and much more. You can also take a look at preview art for The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing. The first issue is scheduled for an October 4th release.
Launching a New Volume of The Joker
ComicBook.com: How do you approach a series like The Joker, where you're getting to relaunch it with a new number one, while also picking up the baton from James Tynion?
Matthew Rosenberg: It's always tricky to approach a book like this, because The Joker obviously has an amazing history and over 80 years of stories to pull from. So you want to do something that feels fresh and different, but you also want to make sure that you're honoring everything that came before. For this book, it's especially tricky because James and Guillem [March] and that team made such an amazing book, and it's so recent, so it took me a long time to crack exactly how we wanted to handle picking up from there.
I think the idea is we're sort of treating it like a continuation of what they were doing, but also a completely fresh start. So if you haven't read it before, you should, but if you haven't read their book, we have a new protagonist in the series, we have a new direction, but storywise The Joker is picking up just a few weeks or maybe a month after where that series ended. And so we want to make sure that the fans of what they did, which I'm a huge fan of what they did, we want to make sure that those fans know what they're getting and understand it and it feels natural, but also by the end of what we're doing, it should feel like a completely different book and a completely different experience if we did our jobs right. So it's a complicated balancing act, but I feel like we've pulled it off in the first few issues. I feel like no one's going to be lost, and everyone's going to realize that we're going someplace different with it.prevnext
The Joker's New Status Quo
For readers that may not be up to date, what's the status quo of The Joker when readers pick up the first issue?
The Joker was on the run after being hunted by a lot of very dangerous people and Jim Gordon, who was working for some of those people and also working for himself. And at the end of their series, he vanished. He'd left Gotham and was gone. When we pick up, this is The Joker's return to Gotham. He's come back, he's had a little time away from the city to think and see what he wants to do, and he has some big plans.
He wants to get back to the status that he's had of being the most dangerous villain in Gotham, or maybe in the world. And so he's setting the plan in motion and coming up against some problems and some resistance, especially in Gotham, where when you leave, they don't hold your place for you. People will take over, and he runs into some of his old coworkers in the form of Two-Face and Black Mask, and people like that, and they're not exactly welcoming to him coming back. So that's where we sort of come in, is that The Joker is ready to get started again at being the classic Joker, and finding that maybe there isn't quite room for him.prevnext
Joker's Cross-Country Journey
What went behind the decision to put Joker on a cross-country road trip across the US?
It's a few things. It's hard to tell a Joker story in Gotham that doesn't end up becoming mostly a Batman story, and we didn't want to do that. This is The Joker's book and this is Joker trying to return to his glory, and it's hard when you have Batmans and Robins and Nightwings and all these people who will get in his way. So as he gets to Gotham and tries to return to his glory, he very quickly realizes that it's not going to work and he has to expand and change what he does and change his location. So it's Joker on the move, but there's also a lot of Gotham stuff in there. I have to be a little vague about it here, but it'll start to make sense. The city is a big part of The Joker's lore, and so we want to make sure there are ties to it, but we also want to see him expanding to new places he's never been.prevnext
DC Universe Guest Appearances
Aside from seeing some Batman characters in the series, the road trip aspect of it serves up a unique opportunity to take Joker to some different locations in the DC Universe. Are there chances of seeing some non-Batman characters show up in the series?
For sure, yeah. That's part of the fun of what we're trying to do, is make sure that The Joker has a chance to prove who he is by putting him in places he's never been. That's really the idea. And so there are a couple early on, a couple non-regular Batman characters who are going to make appearances, and as we go, it's going to be a book that takes you places you've never been in the DC Universe. But also, there'll be some familiar faces who he's going to come across, for sure.prevnext
I saw in the original announcement that there are going to be backup stories, with the first pairing Joker up with Mirror Master. Are those going to continue as the series goes on?
Yeah. First, we have Francesco Francavilla drawing them, so they're beautiful and amazing, and yeah, the backup stories are unusual. It's not like a traditional backup story where it's a separate idea exactly. What they are as the story goes is going to sort of change and evolve, but they're very strange backup stories, is what I can say. They're funny and weird, and they tonally feel very different from what we're doing. They're much more comedic and much more wacky, but there is a reason for that, and it's going to become clear as the story goes that these aren't just different Joker stories exactly. That's all I can really say. But they're important to who The Joker is, who our Joker is in this book. They're very key to unlocking that in a mysterious way.prevnext
Mystery Character Hunting Joker
And of course, without giving away spoilers, there appears to be a larger mystery going on with Joker by the time people readers get to the end of the first issue. What can fans expect out of this development that pops up?
Yeah, there's a big mystery that drives the whole book, and it has a lot to do with our character who's hunting The Joker and what he wants. And basically, the whole idea is we're trying to challenge what you know about The Joker and what you think you know about him. I always feel like Joker works best when you have more questions about him than answers, and so we're trying to really raise as many questions and keep you unsure of what you know as it goes. And that's going to continue. That's sort of a theme of the book, of who The Joker really is, is what we're trying to have people try and figure out, and we're going to make that very difficult for them.prevnext
Collaborating With Carmine Di Giandomenico
What's the collaboration process been like with Carmine Di Giandomenico? Is this your first time working with him?
No, I was lucky enough to work with Carmine on my first thing back at DC a little while ago. We did two issues together of Future State: Grifter, which sort of started my journey into the WildCATS. Carmine's amazing, he is consistently an artist who I feel really pushes me to do my best work and lay out my best pages, and then he constantly comes in and just levels everything up and makes it better. And so then you want to work harder, and it feels like an endless arms race of who can make the book look better. I'm always coming up with things where I'm like, "This is a brilliant panel," and he'll do really good, and then it comes back and it's even better.
I love working with Carmine. He's such a smart storyteller, and he's so good at building the world just in the little details. So I really feel like people are going to fall in love with his Joker and the way his Joker interacts with everything. You get a real sense of just his place in Gotham and his place in the bigger world. And so everything I do is sort of in service of trying to give him enough space to really make things big and crazy and creepy and weird and fun, and he's doing it as good as anyone.prevnext
What the Future Holds
What can readers look forward to as The Joker continues?
I think it's one of the craziest things I've ever written. It's one of the most fun and exciting things I've ever worked on. I hope people give it a chance and see that we're trying to make sure we honor the legacy of The Joker and really do things that make you question everything about The Joker at the same time, and that's a really dangerous balance. It's a really hard tightrope to walk, and we want the readers there with us to feel that sort of tension, of everything could go wrong and everything you know could be wrong.
So I'm hoping that when the first issue comes out, people really dive in and give us their trust because we have a really crazy plan for all of this that I don't think anyone is quite going to see coming. And other than that, I would say people should, when the book comes out there's going to be some spoilers out there about things, or maybe they're not spoilers, but just be careful. You should read it before you go online, would be my advice.prev