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Pregnant Joker refers to a secondary story in issue #4 of DC Comics' The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing #4, where the Joker wakes up, seemingly pregnant, then pukes up a mud monster that resembles a small version of himself. The issue inspired negative reception and controversy following its release in January 2023, including complaints about the story being poorly written. Some framed the Joker's pregnancy as a negative result of woke culture, pushing a "men can get pregnant too" or male pregnancy ideology.
On January 3rd, 2023, issue four of The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing was released. The comic contains a "back-up story" written by Matthew Rosenberg unrelated to the main plot drawn in the style of older bronze-age DC comics. In the story, Joker has a confrontation with Zatanna, a magician superhero who he is infatuated with. She rejects his flirtatious behavior and casts a spell on him, saying, "On eno esle lliw reve evah ruoy ybab," or, "No one else will ever have your baby!" Joker wakes up the next morning seemingly pregnant. He goes to the hospital to give birth but instead throws up a mud monster, the doctor exclaiming, "Guess you weren't pregnant after all." The monster takes the form of a mini Joker and The Joker embraces him as a son. He then taunts Zatanna with his "son," bragging that she could have had a family with him.
Matthew Rosenberg's Response
On January 15th, 2023, the comic's writer, Matthew Rosenberg, published an article to his Substack page where he talks about the controversy surrounding the comic. In the article, he makes it clear that Joker is not trans in the comic and doesn't get impregnated, writing, " none of that actually happens in the comic. That didn’t stop Fox News, The NY Post, Channel 1 Russia, various internet outrage peddlers, and so many of the other sources of journalistic excellence from going all in on it this past week." He writes that the story is meant as a gag, writing, "In each issue the events of the previous issue aren’t discussed or acknowledged. They are, literally, silly gag strips. We wanted to pay tribute to the fun old stuff of DC’s history where Batman becomes 2 Dimensional, or Superman turns himself into a lion, or a tree, or an ant, or Jimmy Olsen marries a gorilla."
The issue gained negative reviews upon release. On January 3rd, 2023, Theresa Campagna of Batman-News.com published a negative review for the issue, giving it a 2/10 rating. In the review she critiques both the main story, which she calls "filler," and the back-up story with pregnant Joker, concluding, "Comics are over-priced. Their contents are of either sub-mediocre work or feature the writers exposing their fetishes."
Campagna also posted a tweet that day (@TheresaCampagna) sharing a panel from the comic, writing, "Today, DC released a comic in which the Joker becomes pregnant and gives birth to a mud monster who transforms into a child-version of himself who he adopts as his son… I don't know how much longer I can do this…" garnering over 3,600 likes in two days. She posted a video essay about the comic to YouTube the next day, garnering over 3,800 views in under 24 hours (shown below).
Reactions / Criticism
In the days following its release, Joker's pregnancy story became a subject of criticism, particularly among the YouTube commentary community. Many of the complaints frame the story as an example of "woke culture run amok" and the downfall of modern comics. For example, on January 4th, 2022, YouTubers Clownfish TV and YellowFlash 2 posted videos criticizing the comic, specifically blaming woke culture, garnering over 30,000 and 58,000 views respectively in a day (shown below, left and right). In YellowFlash's video, he acknowledges that it's a backup story with no relation to the main comic and says it has no purpose other than to "push 'men can get pregnant too.'"