The Sound of One Hand Clapping is a short story written by Max Allan Collins. The story originally appeared in The Further Adventures of Batman – a 400-page prose novel published in 1989 by Bantam Books.

The novel collected together 14 stories featuring the Caped Crusader, with each story written by a different prolific author. The Sound of One Hand Clapping was the fourth story in the collection and featured the Joker.

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What happens in The Sound of One Hand Clapping?

The Joker is feeling blue. His life lacks direction, he struggles to find anything funny, and he’s not even motivated enough to commit a crime.

As the Joker slumps further into his depressive state, he happens upon a television news report about an heiress called Camilla Cameo. Taking on the guise of the Mime, Cameo has turned to crime and has run afoul of Batman and the Gotham City Police Department.

Something about Cameo excites the Joker and he wants to help her out of her current predicament – in order to woo her. The next day he breaks Cameo free from police custody and takes her to his hideout in Crime Alley.

Under the belief that Cameo will be instantly attracted to him, the Joker is quite shocked to discover this is far from true. So, to win Cameo’s favour he decides to present her with a gift – a gift in the shape of Batman!

The Joker captures the Caped Crusader and offers him up as a token of love. But this does nothing to win Cameo‘s heart.

Meanwhile, with the Joker preoccupied with Cameo, Batman gains the upper hand and subdues his enemy. He then hands both the Joker and Camilla Cameo over to the authorities.

A short while later, both Joker and Cameo are in Arkham Asylum. The Joker continues to act friendly with Cameo, but her mind is now lost to madness – another victim of the Joker.

Is The Sound of One Hand Clapping worth a read?

Running a mere 20 pages in length,  The Sound of One Hand Clapping is a good read that highlights the madness which exists in the Joker’s mind. From his obsessive personality through to his dialogue, writer Max Allan Collins perfectly nails the character.

What I enjoy most about this story is the way it deals with an extremely bored Joker. At the beginning of the story he is depressed, with no motivation, but this is largely because no one appears to be paying him any attention. As such, his obsession with Camilla Cameo feels less about love and more about the need for something to do. 

It becomes even more evident that his love for Cameo is merely a way to preoccupy his time, when he ropes Batman into the situation as his ‘gift’. The Joker craves Batman’s attention so much, that on a subconscious level this whole situation is as much about reconnecting with Batman than it is about starting a romance with Cameo.

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Has The Sound of One Hand Clapping been turned into a movie?

The Sound of One Hand Clapping has not been turned into a movie. It is unlikely it ever will be, as the story  is too short and more suited to print or maybe television. However, the Joker’s character trait of becoming obsessed with someone has popped up in multiple movies including Batman (1989), Suicide Squad (2016) and Joker (2019).

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