Joker is easily one of the most well known and favorite comic villains ever created. He’s also one of the few Comic Villain that is just as well-known and as loved as his respected hero. With that said let’s get to the entire Story of Joker.
Actor Conrad Veidt influenced joker in the film The Man Who Laughs (1928). They also use inspiration from a Joker playing card from an ordinary deck of cards. And so be it, in comics the Joker card has become a massive part of the Joker’s mythos.
One of the Joker’s most famous storylines Batman: The Man Who Laughs was even titled after the movie of the same name.
The origin of Joker is one of the biggest mysteries in all of the complex. And also, everyone prefers it that way. It’s like one of two rules in the Batman universe: Batman could never kill, and Joker’s full origin must always stay a mystery.
We truly understand that the second we get to know about his origin, Joker becomes less scary. Because we always fear what we don’t understand.
What makes this mystery even more mysterious is that over the years in multiple comics, The Joker hints that his origin is unclear even to himself. In one of the most loved Joker stories of all time, The Killing Joke, Joker mentioned, “Sometimes I remember one way sometimes another. If I’m gonna have a past I prefer it to be multiple choice.” Sounds insane right? Well, he is one.
We do have a pretty good guess to what his origin is that we were given through flashback sequences throughout Alan Moore‘s Killing Joke. The flashbacks explore a possible origin for the Joker, portraying him as a failed comedian who remained nameless in the book. He was pressured into committing a crime as the Red Hood to support his pregnant wife. Batman’s interference causes him to leap into a chemical VAT that disfigures his skin, combined with the trauma of his pregnant wife’s earlier accidental death. The man goes insane, creating the Joker.
Joker’s Real Name
No one knows for sure Joker’s real name before he became The Joker. But what’s most widely agreed on is Jack Napier as that’s what he’s referred to in the 1989’s Batman film. Even in Batman the animated series it’s shown and said that his real name is Jack Napier.
Evolution of The Joker
Let’s talk about the Joker’s evolution through the years. Starting from his first appearance in Batman issue 1 in 1940, the Joker was a straightforward homicidal maniac. Initially, the character was to be killed in his second appearance in Batman issue 1 after being stabbed in the heart. But he was overruled by then editor Whitney Ellsworth, who suggested that the character has the potential and should be spared. A hastily drawn panel was demonstrating that the Joker was still alive, was subsequently added to the comic. The Joker then went on to appear in nine of Batman’s first twelve issues.
A cool little fun fact about the Joker is that he’s known as the First Comic book supervillain. This was even stated on the PBS documentary Superheroes: A Never-ending Battle.
The use of the character lessened by the mid-sixties when Julius Schwartz took over editorship of Batman comics in 1964. The character remained largely absent throughout the decade until this version of the character was adapted into the 1966 television series Batman. The show’s popularity made DC want to have a similar tone with their comics. But once this series had ended in 1968, Schwartz was free to begin reversing the trend.
The Silver Age of Comics introduced the character traits for the Joker, like the use of acid squirting flowers, trick guns, the committing of goofy elaborate crimes and a lot of other stuff.
The Joker is one of the few popular villains who continued making regular appearances in Batman comics from the Golden Age into the Silver Age of comics. The rise of the Comics Code Authority in the 1950s saw excessive comic violence in character. This resulted in the Joker’s transformation into a goofy thieving trickster with none of his homicidal menacing features from his earlier incarnation, which sucked.
In 1973, the character was revived and revamped in Batman stories by writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams. The Joker returns to his roots as a homicidal maniac who murders people on his impulse, while enjoying battles of wits with Batman. O’Neal said, “My idea was to simply take it back where it started. I went to the DC library and read some of the earlier stories and tried to get a sense of what cane and finger were after.”
O’Neill’s 1973 run introduced the concept of Joker’s legally defined insanity. That resulted in the Joker being sent to the Arkham Asylum which was called Arkham Hospital back then. Adams also modified the character’s appearance, changing his more average body type to look taller and leaner with an extended jaw.
The 80s would bring us three of the best Batman/Joker stories ever written: ‘The Dark Knight Returns,’ ‘The Killing Joke’ and ‘A Death in the Family.’
A Death in the Family’s storyline had the Joker murder Jason Todd Robin which was decided by readers who voted via phone for Todd’s fate. But most recently The Joker chopped off his own face and nailed it to a wall. Only to later wear his own face as a mask to prove a point to Batman and the rest of the bat family in the storyline of ‘Death of the family’ by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.
Now I couldn’t talk about the Joker without at least mentioning his lady friend Harley Quinn. Her real name is Dr. Harleen Francis Quinzel. She was an Arkham psychiatrist, who went mad and fell in love with the Joker. A Mad Love so to speak as that’s the title of her Origin Story.
Harley Quinn, she was actually created for the Batman the Animated Series TV show. But she became so popular amongst fans that she made her way into the comics.
So this was it guys. Please let me know in the comments down below whether or not you liked this article.