As there is nothing new under the sun, nearly every recently created Batman villain introduced over the last 30-plus years has had a hint of some Gotham Rogue that came before – even popular ones like Black Mask, who despite having caught on among fans, still bears similarities to Penguin and Two-Face through his blue-blood roots and psycho obsession with garish and spooky countenances producing new identities.
While all the classics have continually been ripe for imitation, Batman’s most iconic and timeless foe, the Joker, has perhaps seen more imitators and ripoffs than any of the Dark Knight’s other rogues
From Batwoman’s Alice, to Duela Dent the self-proclaimed supervillain Joker’s Daughter (a.k.a. Duela Dent), to last year’s Harley Quinn-derivative Punchline, this particular trend shows no sign of slowing down.
Batman: Urban Legends #4 rides the ‘Joker wave’ a bit further with the introduction of Gotham’s latest grinning threat and drug peddler, Cheer. Sporting a big smile and a penchant for chemical intoxicants, while not directly related to the villain as far as we know, the parallels between him and The Joker can’t be denied.
However, unlike the Clown Prince of Crime, Cheer’s color scheme and aesthetics are Halloween-themed, with Gotham’s latest terror adorned inbright yellow face paint and clad in a black jacket featuring a crudely drawn smiley face.
Taking into account the fact that his first appearance came on the heels of the recent release of the first part of the animated Batman: The Long Halloween film, the timing of Cheer’s debut is quite fitting.
His chemicals, or “Cheerdrops,” on the other hand, are more of a left turn from Joker and even the likes of Scarecrow who more often than not use their compounds to either target a specific individual or to sow a little chaos in service of a larger scheme.
Given that Cheer’s paraphernalia is mass-produced for consumption on the street, Screen Rant believes that the Gotham newcomer’s racket makes him more dangerous than the Jester of Genocide.
“Although drug issues are persistent in almost every city around the world, the Cheer drug has been an especially serious problem for Gotham,” says their piece on the aptly named Urban Legends #4 story ‘Cheer’. “The entire city has been swarmed by people getting affected by Cheer’s manufactured drug,” they add. “And the man behind it all, as it has been inferred, is a villain that is seriously dangerous and needs to be stopped.”
ScreenRant further explains “These drugs aren’t carefully administered to select targeted events and people like Joker’s typically are. The spread of Cheer’s drugs is leaps and bounds beyond Joker’s and even when he’s gone, serious ramifications will be felt throughout Gotham’s streets as people recover.”
Cheer’s drug sounds a little like the injectable Snake Bite hallucinogen manufactured by Black Mask in Batwoman, which had a variety of serious ramifications for the residents of The CW’s version of Gotham City, least of all turning homeless addicts into flesh-hungry zombies straight out of Army of the Dead near the end of the series’ most recent season.
As bold as that kind of stunt is, to say Cheer will be any kind of game-changer is prematurely audacious, especially when his superior antecedent, Joker, has previously created incendiary ripples that caused widespread changes across not only Gotham, but the DC Universe far and wide – incidents which anyone who’s read Injustice: Gods Among Us or Death in the Family can easily recall.
Still, much like his inspiration, Cheer may end up having the worst impact on Red Hood, who is seen at the conclusion of the issue having fallen into an icy trap watched over by the villain’s new hireling, Mr. Freeze.
While Batman: Urban Legends’ main story focuses on the estranged partnership between Bruce and Jason, the truth is that the former Robin was always hot-headed, and as such, was never going to listen to orders -a habit which led to his eventual demise after it was discovered that the Joker was bribing his birth mother into becoming an accessory to his crimes.
Fast-forwarding to the present, and there’s a chance that Cheer’s derivative villainy and obsession with Batman could be what pushes Jason further over the edge and drives him to become even more estranged from his mentor.
Batman: Urban Legends #4 is in stores now and available to read digitally.
Have you picked it up? Tell us what you thought of the story and, Cheer more specifically, on social media or in the comments down below!