Viral Batman Web Series Introduces Female Joker (Video)

The web series is heavily influenced by writer-director Hisonni Johnson's experiences growing up amid inner-city violence in Milwaukee.

It's time to meet a woman who is mad about The Joker. 

Grayson: Earth One returns more than a year after its first episode amassed more than 460,000 views online. The series takes place in a world in which Batman exists — but never worked with a Robin. It's exploring what effects not being mentored by Batman have had on Jason Todd (Jono Cota), Carrie Kelley (Katie Young) and Richard Grayson (Stephen McCain).

The series is set in a Gotham heavily influenced by writer-director Hisonni Johnson's experiences growing up in the '90s in the inner city of Milwaukee, Wis., which is among the poorest and most segregated cities in the U.S. Children roamed free, getting into trouble — just as in Grayson: Earth One.

"I saw what I thought were men with guns and money and cool cars selling drugs and getting the girls. When I look back on it, they were only 20, 21-years-old tops," recalls Johnson. "Really, they were just kids whose parents possibly didn't do their jobs. You take that, and you mix it with Batman — that's a world you can handle because you know it better than anyone else."

In this episode, Jason witnesses a horrific act of violence, which was drawn from Johnson's childhood, where he witnessed a woman shoot and kill someone when he was 7 or 8 — the first of multiple deaths he would witness.

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"It was abrupt. It was out of nowhere," says Johnson. "I reacted almost the exact same way as Jason does in the episode. I stood up, I saw the blood everywhere, I saw the beautiful woman that did it, and I spent the rest of my time doing whatever it takes to cope."

In Grayson, that murder sends Jason into the arms of Mama (Tania Nolan) — a woman who has founded a religious cult based around The Joker, who has died in this universe.

Johnson, who raised money for the episode via Indiegogo, is ready to continue the series once he gets the funds together. The next episode will introduce an older Batman and explore how not being a father figure to a Robin altered this version of the Dark Knight.

The first episode of Grayson won multiple awards, including being named the winner of Dragon Con 2014 and Phoenix Comic Con 2014, and will compete in two categories for the International Academy of Web Television Awards.

Watch episode 1.5 near the top of the post. And If you're wondering why the new episode is called 1.5 instead of episode 2,  it's all part of the plan. Each episode of the series will alternate between the viewpoint of Jason Todd and Richard Grayson, with the middle episodes focusing on Jason. 

You can watch episode 1 here.

Email: Aaron.Couch@THR.com
Twitter: @AaronCouch 

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