Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to give a little love to that great villain. The Crown Prince of Crime! The reason people are afraid of clowns! The undisputed archenemy of the Dark Knight himself! The one, the only, THE JOKER!
Making his first appearance in the Spring of 1940 in Batman #1, the concept created by Jerry Robinson, his words first crafted by Bill Finger and his look by Bob Kane, Joker has leapt higher than most could imagine, becoming the ultimate foe of Batman. He’s number 1 on Wizard’s list of 100 greatest comic villains, number 2 on IGN’s, and on the lists that weren’t limited to villains, he still ranks as the highest villain.
He’s well remembered for his more horrifying deeds like killing Jason Todd (the second Robin), as well as his more insane criminal endeavors (trying to copyright fish and killing anyone in his way). The only things often consistent about him are his appearance and the fact that he fell into a vat of chemicals. And while a whole ton of articles could be written about his various memorable comics, his many acts of evil, and such, the things that fascinate me are the varying stories of who he was before, and more importantly his first clashes with Batman. Of course, his various depictions in the media also are something I love. So, here’s how Joker week will break down:
Monday the 14th: Batman #1‘s iconic “Batman vs. The Joker”. We talk about Joker’s first story, and how his popularity would skyrocket, even as his character changed to conform to it.
Tuesday the 15th: Allan Moore’s The Killing Joke. The graphic novel that redefined the Joker’s origins, as Joker flashes back over his pre-crime life while enacting a plan for revenge that would change everything.
Wednesday the 16th: Batman: The Man Who Laughs. Working as a sequel to both Batman: Year One and The Killing Joke, this update of Joker’s first story from Batman #1 helps bring a contemporary look at the sheer horror and chills that his appearance in Gotham had on the common folk, as well as the dedication Batman puts into stopping his first psychotic plan to destroy Gotham.
Thursday the 17th: Batman: Lovers and Madmen. In this non-canon mini-series first printed in Batman Confidential, we meet a very different Joker, before his accident, one who was already the most dangerous criminal in Gotham that Batman ever faced, and see how far Batman can be pushed in this darker and edgier tale.
Friday the 18th: In my grand conclusion, I talk about all the various depictions in the media that our villain has been through, from Caesar Romero through to Heath Ledger, and what each brought to the table.