June 12, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #340: Gaggy Gagsworthy

Decades before Harley Quinn, the Joker had a decidedly different sidekick.

Harley Quinn is one of DC Comics’s biggest stars right now.  She’s appeared in comics, cartoons, and multiple live action movies.  Not bad for a character originally intended for a single episode of Batman the Animated Series until someone noticed she was rather colorful and could be brought back for more.

That said, she wasn’t the first Joker sidekick or henchman to have a distinct name or look aside from his usual gang of stupid hoods that he eventually turns on for his own amusement.  No, that honor goes to one Gagsworth A Gagsworthy, better known as Gaggy.

Gaggy first appeared in Batman #186 in November of 1966, during one of Batman’s, less say, less serious moments.  To give you an idea what that means, here’s a partial image of that cover showcasing Gaggy fighting Batman:

See, Gaggy was a little person who worked as a popular clown at Haly’s Circus until he lost his job to a more popular act in the form of the Flying Graysons.  Now, I could point out that trapeze artists and clowns are not exactly competition, and you’d think any halfway decent circus would make use of both, but this is a comic book about a guy in a bat suit who beats up criminals at night, so let’s just roll with it.

Anyway, after losing his job, Gaggy fell in with the Joker, and Joker found a very good use for Gaggy’s abilities which were, apparently, the ability to tell jokes very well and to break glass with his singing voice.  Batman and Robin showed up, took the two down, and sent them off to prison together.  Joker later got transferred to Arkham while Gaggy stayed in regular jail.

That is…more or less all there is of Gaggy in the Silver Age.  He might have had an appearance here or there, but that was his big debut.  Something about the guy amused the Joker, so the two did crimes together.

Now, Gaggy must have struck a cord with some readers because he did pop up in more recent comics, though usually in background shots like in a flashback Grant Morrison wrote as part of a Final Crisis crossover issue and in a group shot of the many people attending Batman’s wake in Neil Gaiman’s Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader story.  But there was one noteworthy appearance worth mentioning in the pages of Gotham City Sirens.

That series was one where Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman all teamed up to do some crime fighting or the like, and Gaggy appeared there, having gotten out of prison and mad that Joker forgot about him.  He decided to blame Harley and kidnapped her, forcing the other two women to find and rescue her.  Gaggy was defeated (somehow not surprising), but he swore he’d return…and never did.  I don’t think that series ran very long.

Gaggy has had some other references.  One comic, showing a Joker in his childhood, suggested Gaggy was the name of his favorite toy, a clown doll.  Most recently, there was the Three Jokers storyline where Batman identified Gaggy in a mob of Joker henchmen as Joker’s “court jester,” an appearance that ended when Jason Todd’s Red Hood killed Gaggy and fed him to a Joker-ized shark.

That said, there is a fan theory that Gaggy appeared in the Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie.  In that movie, Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck spares a little person from his clown agency after killing another man.  Fleck says the man was the only one who was nice to him and let’s the guy go.  His name?  Gary.  That is a bit close to Gaggy.

But could Gary dance?

Now, on a final note, I have a vague recollection that Morrison, during his own Batman run, did a mostly text issue where Joker, having reinvented himself into a more dangerous person, took it upon himself to kill off all of his old henchmen and sidekicks while Batman rushed to keep Harley Quinn  safe.  I think Joker took out Gaggy in that issue, and since Gaggy was long since retired from criminal activity and was about as threatening as a baby rabbit., that told Batman how seriously worse it was going to get with the Joker.  But I can’t find any evidence of that issue, so make of that what you will.

Somehow, I suspect that would be fine with a character like Gaggy Gagsworthy.