Mass Effect HWLB cover

Mass Effect: He Who Laughs Best is a single-issue comic released on May 4, 2013 for Free Comic Book Day 2013.[1] It delves into how Jeff "Joker" Moreau became the SSV Normandy's pilot prior to the events of Mass Effect. It is written by Mac Walters and Jeremy Barlow, with art by Garry Brown.

Story Edit

Joker is piloting a shuttle to Arcturus Station with General Invectus on board. He attempts some small talk with the general, asking him if he is going for the Normandy's test flight and disparaging the Alliance's choice of pilot (the job for which he had himself applied). Invectus cuts him off with a curt, "Just drive." As they arrive in the station, Joker introduces himself to the general, and tells him that if he needs to get anywhere while visiting the station, he was his man. Invectus replies, saying that never in a million years would a cripple have control over the fleet's most sophisticated starship.

Captain Dillard is then seen complaining to David Anderson about the Turian Hierarchy's mistrust—they could have run the Normandy through her paces a week prior, but they had to wait for a turian overseer. Anderson replies that their sending of only one turian was as close to trust as they were going to get. After the pair reach the control room, Dillard is introduced to Invectus. At that moment, they receive a distress call from the Normandy's crew, informing them that they've been hijacked and that the pilot has locked himself in the cockpit and sealed the kinetic barriers.

However, Dillard is informed that the Normandy wasn't breaking their flight plan, sticking to the path they have already charted, leading Anderson to wonder if it's a malfunction. Dillard tells him that it isn't likely as the pilot can override the locks from within the cockpit. Anderson thinks that the pilot could then be reasoned with and asks for his name. He is told that the pilot is named Crooks by Crooks himself—a soldier had found him locked in a shuttle that was left in the station's cargo dump. Dillard then contacts the Normandy's pilot, informing him that he had ten seconds to turn the ship around or else he'd send a patrol after him.

They get no response from the pilot, so Dillard orders the nearest patrol to try to force the Normandy to land and, failing that, to target the Normandy's engines. Anderson isn't happy about the idea of firing at the Normandy, but Dillard points out that until they know what the situation is, they have to assume the worst and prevent the Normandy from falling into enemy hands.

Joker then comes in over the comms, telling them not to worry since the Normandy was in good hands: he read the manifest, memorized the obstacle course, and he'll "drop her off when [he's] done". One of the members of the patrol comes in, saying that he has a lock on the Normandy. He's told to bring down the Normandy in one piece. However, the patrol proves ineffective at stopping the Normandy, as Joker is able to evade all their shots. Anderson wants to know who's piloting, and Joker introduces himself with full name and rank. Dillard tells Invectus that they have the situation under control, but Invectus replies noncommittally.

Soon, Joker returns the Normandy back to the station, gushing about how amazing the ship is, believing himself to be in love. Anderson tells him that he'll have to write his love letters from prison, demanding to know what Joker was thinking. Joker tells him that while he's the most qualified pilot on the station, the moment people see him on his crutches his bonafides are forgotten. He goes on to say that he was born to fly the Normandy, and that the only chance he'd get to do that was to steal it. Dillard informs him to tell it to the court martial judge, and that he was going to be locked up for a very long time.

Invectus tells them to wait, pointing out that while Joker can barely walk, he was able to run circles around their security protocols, and that he was able to keep his cool and adjust to unexpected conditions while under fire, all the while being able to beat their trials with spare time. He goes on to say that Joker is the kind of man they want piloting the Normandy, and that in the interest of continued turian-human relations, he strongly suggested that they listen to him.

Anderson agrees, saying that while Joker would have to be punished for what he did, he wouldn't trust the Normandy to anyone else. Joker is stunned into disbelief that stealing the Normandy actually worked out well for him.

References Edit

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