The Return Of The Joker!!!!
It’s almost here. The Storyline I’ve been waiting for since it was announced months ago is so close I can taste it: The latest story arc by the amazing team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s phenomenal Batman run, “The Death Of the Family”, which features the return of my favorite villain of all time, The Joker. Batman and The Clown Prince Of Crime have long battled one another, and the Dark Knight has suffered numerous causalities in their long struggle. So, in honor of Joker’s return to the DC universe, lets look at some of his most heinous moments, shall we?
One of the best Joker tales didn’t even take place in a Batman title. A crossover amongst the main Superman title and it’s other common books; “Emperor Joker” has the Clown Prince Of Crime steal the reality alternating abilities of Mr. Mxyzptlk. Of course, Mr. J then turns the entire world into a sick joke based on his world view, including devouring the entire country of China, and killing (and resurrecting) Batman every day. Of course, he’s defeated, but it takes the might of the Man Of Steel to gather the necessary allies to defeat him.
Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo’s Joker graphic novel is a step inside the life of a henchman in Gotham City, who have it pretty rough. But when said henchman finds himself working for the Joker? Let’s just say he probably should’ve rethought his life choices. Following Joker’s “accidental” release from Arkham Asylum, this real-world take on the world of Batman focuses on Joker’s ambitious plans to regain his hold on the Gotham underworld. Seen through the eyes of Johnny Frost, we get a first hand look at what it would be like to be working for Gotham’s most dangerous criminal, and it’s the stuff of nightmares.
Gotham Central, Volume Two: Jokers and Madmen
Gotham Central is one of the overlooked gems of the past ten years. Focusing on the men and women who make up the overworked Gotham Major Crimes Unit, the Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka penned series is one of the best examples of how effective comics can be as a medium, and also feature a Joker tale that more than earns its spot on this list. Sniping civilians and members of the Gotham City council, this story is on the list because it shows how much power Joker has over the citizens of Gotham. Hell, even some members of the police force ask for vacation time once they hear he might be a possible suspect. Add to the fact that Joker has planned this attack on Christmas, and you have a Joker tale worthy of adding to your bookshelf.
No Man’s Land
While “No Man’s Land” was a huge event showcasing all of the Bat-titles, the finale of the arc belongs to Mr. J. After kidnapping all of Gotham’s babies and holding them in the ruined old police building, James Gordon’s wife goes after him. Needless to say, things don’t go so well, and the Gordon family undergoes yet another horrific event thanks to the Joker. The final moments of the issue are deeply affecting, and one of the best closings to an event I’ve ever read.
Detective Comics #880
Smack dab in the middle of Scott Snyder’s excellent pre-reboot Detective Comics run, Dick Grayson Batman meets The Joker, who immediately knows that the Batman in front of him isn’t “his Batman”. Rummaging through the bowels of Old Gotham, Joker toys with Grayson with Glee, and Snyder’s fantastic take on Joker is one of the many reasons for why I’m so excited for “Death Of The Family”.
The Dark Knight
What is there to say about The Dark Knight that hasn’t already been said? Christopher Nolan’s 2008 follow-up to Batman Begins is a huge improvement off of an already stellar film, and a large part of that is due to Heath Ledger’s immortal performance as The Joker. While there are numerous moments that stand out, one that I always think of first is his interrogation of the imposter Batman: “look at me……LOOK AT ME!” It gives me chills every time.
Batman the Animated Series: “The Laughing Fish”
Mark Hamill will go down as the best Joker. Yes, Heath Ledger has the live action performance as a lock, but Hamill is hands down the best depiction of Mr. J we’ve ever seen. In my opinion, his greatest episode is “The Laughing Fish”. An adaptation of the classic tale by Steve Englehart, the episode finds Joker drugging a species of fish so they have his grin(“but they share my unique face!”), and then try and trademark them so he can profit off of them. When he’s told he can’t, things start to get ugly in an episode that showcases just how crazy and dangerous the Joker can be.
The Killing Joke
Arguably Joker’s most chilling act, Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke features the infamous crippling of Barbara Gordon. Paired with flashbacks of one of the Joker’s possible origins, this tale has Joker putting his hypothesis of “all it takes is one bad day” to the extreme, forever altering the lives of James Gordon and many of the supporting cast of Batman’s world. Gordon’s dark voyage through Joker’s funhouse is the stuff of nightmares, and many times you believe that Gordon could snap. With Batgirl tying in with “Death Of the Family”, those who still haven’t read this tale would be wise to pick it up.
A Death In The Family
Joker’s ultimate strike against Batman is here, with the infamous death of Jason Todd, the second Robin. Sure, Todd has since been resurrected, but the impact of the story still remains the same. Joker achieves what no other Batman rogue has with this story: he kills a Robin. And with that, forever changes the dynamic between himself and his archenemy. The “new 52” spin on this classic story hints at some very surprising revelations for Todd (who now goes by “Red Hood”), and much like Killing Joke, if you haven’t read this (or “Under The Hood”) you really, really should.
The Dark Knight Returns
If Batman comes out of retirement, one shouldn’t be surprised that the Joker would follow suit. Seeing news reports of Batman’s return, the catatonic Joker suddenly returns to the world, and seemingly has a new stance on life. While appearing on a David Letterman-esque talk show, Joker quickly starts gassing the studio audience, killing everyone inside. Batman leaps into action, and the two mortal enemies do battle one last time. Pushing batman to his breaking point, Joker ends up taking his own life, finally ending the long struggle that he and Batman have had for so many years.
Someone has been poisoning the backs of stamps with Joker venom. Of course, the entire city of Gotham believes it to be The Joker, except for one man: Batman. Now, with a case that could potentially put Joker in the electric chair, Batman has to race against time to find the person responsible for framing the Joker, a task that puts him at odds with even his closest allies.
What happens when The Joker gets a hold of the mask of Loki? Bad things. Bad, bad things. A smaller scale “Emperor Joker”, Joker/Mask is an extremely entertaining and unexpected crossover that you never expect to work, but does on every level.