5. The Laughing Fish
The Laughing Fish is a storyline fans of Batman: The Animated Series have come to cherish, but it was an actual comic long before it became a cartoon.
Written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Marshall Rogers, The Laughing Fish revolves entirely around the Joker’s efforts to trademark the aquatic life surrounding Gotham City. By adorning the fish with his menacing image, he attempts to trademark the stock and make a killing in the market. Gotham being Gotham, however, doesn’t take too kindly to the Clown’s machinations, denying him the opportunity to copyright the fish as they’re a natural resource.
What follows is a story that embodies all there is to love – and fear – about the Joker, with the goofy premise being offset entirely by the lengths the Clown goes to in order to see his fish make it to market. Characters die in horrendous fashion, left with the iconic and unnerving Joker grin as they pass on, and Batman is forced to contend with his nemesis at his most unpredictable.
This new Joker film is said to be an origin story, and though this particular arc revolves around the villain in his prime, there’s nothing to stop Phillips from making a non-linear tale that switches back and forth between this story and the aforementioned origin from Moore and Bolland’s comic.