The Joker: 75 Years of MadnessApril 26, 2015
The celebration continues with the 75th anniversary of Batman #1 which also hallmarks the debut of the Joker. The character is considered Batman’s most iconic and nefarious nemesis, even his most challenging to a point, and there are no lack of stories to prove that as a fact. Yesterday I highlighted some of the greatest moments of Gotham’s infamous cat thief so it only seemed fair that the Joker get a commemoration all his own.
Comics own Clown Prince of Crime has had no shortage of buzz over the past few months. We’ve had constant updates on the latest manifestation of his character in the Suicide Squad film set to debut next year. In fact on Friday we got the first official release photo of Jared Leto as the Joker. Make sure you check that out and tell us your thoughts in the comments below. Joker has also been stirring trouble in Gotham once again in the current run of Batman with Scott Snyder’s and Greg Capullo’s lunatic event Endgame, the conclusion of which releases this week.
We’ve watched over the years and across countless story lines, Joker’s evolution from menace to maniac. His actions in the 1988 Death In The Family arc transformed not only the world of Batman but also attested to the beginning of just how brutal comics could be. Leaving the death of Jason Todd, and the savage treatment of Barbara Gordon in 1989’s The Killing Joke in his wake, Joker began to prove himself as more then just a halfhearted villain, transforming himself into a fully recognized terror as his actions became progressively more gruesome.
One of many things about Joker that not only make him a horrifyingly wonderful character let alone intimidating villain, is his origin story or rather lack there of. While origin stories for comic book characters can often bounce back and forth between the details all the while sticking to a rather familiar basis, that isn’t the case with Gotham’s most notorious villain. Sure, we’ve seen allusions at what could have possibly been a life for a seemingly simple man before his life of crime and madness, as seen in various stories like The Killing Joke and Gotham Knights. Yet 75 years later, readers still don’t have a concise understanding of who the Joker was before his everlasting clash with Batman.
When we break it down, the Joker is downright terrifying. I mean, the guy cut off his own face only to wear it as a mask… I’m pretty sure that constitutes as disturbing. He’s a man with no powers that’s merely just gone over the edge. A character with no morals and no understanding of right and wrong, the Joker is a character that is there not only there to torment Batman, hoping to one day push him across that fine line, but is also a man that only wishes to see the devastating effects of his own actions.
75 years worth of stories have certainly gave us more than enough nightmare worthy moments. For a character often considered as an agent of chaos, readers can only wait in awe at the next terrorizing stunt the Joker will assemble. Until then, check out some of the recommended reading below at some of the Joker’s most iconic stories and be sure to drop a comment and let us know your favorite Joker story!
The Killing Joke: There isn’t a single Joker recommended reading list that doesn’t have this story. A defining moment for the DC Universe, Alan Moore and Brian Bolland crafted a stunning story of tragedy of story and horror. In an attempt to break the Batman yet again, Joker shoots Barbara Gordon through the spine leaving her paralyzed for over a decade. Years after the book has been released, it is still considered as one of Joker’s most dark and powerful stories. [See also Death In The Family ]
The Man Who Laughs – Ed Brubaker’s last story before switching sides and writing for Marvel, The Man Who Laughs is set after the events of both The Killing Joke and Batman Year One. It’s a must read story that is regarded as one of many origin stories between Batman and his most famous foe.
Joker: In this stand alone graphic novel done by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo readers find Joker newly released from Arkham Asylum. In a terrifying night filled with revenge, horror and murder the Joker begins a war against characters like Penguin and Two Face to reclaim his rightful place as Gotham’s most feared man. [See also Arkham Asylum]
Death Of The Family: I personally see this as one of the finer stories of the New 52. Death Of The Family is one of those stories that expanded across nine titles including Batgirl, Red Hood & The Outlaws and Batman & Robin. This story arc marked the return of Joker after his disappearance from the DC Universe when the New 52 began, and he did so with a bang in an attempt to break the Batman once and for all by using the people closest to him.