It’s hard to believe that the Joker has been around for more than 80 years now, but he has. Since the character was first created, he has become one of the most well-known bad guys in all of media. He has also proven to be interesting enough to keep people interested in stories that don’t even feature his arch nemesis, Batman. Former DC Comics senior editor and director of development Mike Gold wrote in the foreword to the 1988 collection “The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told” that “The Joker is so weird that his very presence almost guarantees an unusual story.” This is what he meant.
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The Joker, like the Dark Knight, has been around for eight decades. Part of the Joker’s history is that he can change. It has been a long time since writers and artists have shared their own ideas about the character, which has resulted in a long list of great stories. While Batman can be a gun-toting vigilante who drives a red coupe, the Joker has been shown to be a master of disguise, an extravagant prankster, a cold-blooded mass killer, an agent of chaos, and a tragically disturbed outcast. These 16 comics are some of his best.
1. Batman #1 (1940)
In the first issue of Batman’s own comic, the Joker made his first appearance. Batman creators Bill Kane and Bob Finger and artist Jerry Robinson came up with the idea for the Joker, who looks like Conrad Veidt from the 1928 silent film “The Man Who Laughs.” His flamboyant nature was based on Batman’s contemporary Dick Tracy’s rogues gallery.
In the character’s first story, called “The Joker,” the villain makes a series of daring robberies and murders that confuse the police in Gotham. Even though it’s still very early in the game, many of the character’s traits can already be seen, such as his use of a poison gas that leaves his victims with a disturbing grin.
Fans of “The Dark Knight” will see a lot of similarities to “Batman” #1 in both the movie’s story and the way the Joker is portrayed in the movie, too. In the comic, the Joker’s crime spree starts when he uses the media to scare the city’s people and predict the chaos that will follow. Gotham’s gangsters also don’t like him. He also breaks into a police station to poison a high-ranking judge, and he disguises himself as a police officer. These parallels turned out to be a complete accident.
2. The Dark Knight Returns
Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns,” which took place during the Reagan era, is one of the most critically-acclaimed Batman comics of all time. It’s also one of the most influential. Even though the Joker only plays a small part in this brilliant deconstruction of the Caped Crusader, Miller’s ink-stained fingerprints have been felt on the character ever since he wrote the book. Miller added a “camp and decadent Weimar-era menace” to the Joker, Grant Morrison said in his book “Supergods.” He added “twisted hypersexuality and feral horror” to the crime clown’s list of personal flaws.
When Batman doesn’t just kill the Joker, “The Dark Knight Returns” gives a clear answer to that question. A carnival’s Tunnel of Love (the metaphor is not subtle) is where Batman and the Joker have an ugly fight in the third issue. Batman brings Joker close to dying. The Joker laughs as he breaks his own neck to make fun of his opponent’s fear. Todd Phillips’ new movie, “Joker,” makes a reference to the comic book. In the movie, the Joker shows up on a late-night talk show and kills the host (a sex expert even appears as the other guest).
3. Batman: Endgame
“Endgame” is the final fight between Batman and the Joker written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Greg Capullo. It’s a fiery crescendo that connects several storylines from their time on the title. People who don’t know much about Batman might not enjoy “Endgame,” but it’s still a fun read. This comic is full of plot twists, pseudoscience, armchair psychoanalysis, hints at the supernatural, and ultraviolence. In this scene, Commissioner Gordon gets hit in the chest with an ax. Alfred loses his hand, and the Joker stabs Batman in the eye with a sharp card.
The story starts with Batman facing off against not just Superman but the whole Justice League in a mechanized super-suit. Batman’s fight with his teammates is caused by an airborne “Joker virus” that quickly spreads through the city, turning everyone in Gotham into zombies. This movie will get even more crazy from there. You won’t want to miss its shocking ending!
4. A Death in the Family
The second most well-known Joker story is “A Death in the Family,” in which the villain kills the second Robin, Jason Todd. In “Batman: A Death in the Family,” the Joker steals a nuclear weapon and is given the title of Iranian ambassador to the United Nations by Ayatollah Khomeini. The story is interesting because of how it came to be.
Todd, a petty street thief who became a crime fighter, was a source of debate for Batman fans. He was known for his violent outbursts. To figure out what to do about Robin, DC Comics set up a hotline that people could call to decide whether he lived or died. By a very small margin, 5,271 people voted for Robin to live, and 5,343 people voted for Jason to die.
With a crowbar, the Joker brutally beats Jason and locks him in a warehouse that has been set on fire, which leads to his death in the comic book. “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” made a joke about Todd’s death two years before comic book fans even looked at their phones for news. However, in superhero books, no one dies except for Thomas and Martha Wayne. Todd is still alive and well in the comics, on TV, and in animated movies.
5. Batman: The Man Who Laughs
“Batman: The Man Who Laughs” is a one-shot comic that was written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Doug Mahnke. In this book, Batman and the Joker meet for the first time. It takes place after Zero Hour, so it tells the story of how the two met before. If you read Batman #1 when you were younger, you will see a lot of this book’s ideas.
A classic story is being told again in some ways, but in other ways, it’s a new version of that story told in a different setting. When a character is brought into the 21st century in a new way like this one, it can be even better than the original. This book is a must-read for anyone who says they are a fan of the Joker.
6. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth
One of the most important places in Batman’s world is Arkham Asylum. For a long time, this has been the place where most of Batman’s enemies ended up at some point. The Joker, on the other hand, is the only one who would be welcome there. It’s a great book written by a legend: Grant Morrison talks about why Arkham Asylum is so important for Batman and his rogues in this brilliant book illustrated by Dave McKean.
In order for Batman to get to know Arkham Asylum, he also has to get to know his own inner demons and deal with them. During this story, the Dark Knight fights against his deadliest adversaries, which of course includes the Joker. The graphic novel was one of the first to really get into why Arkham Asylum was so important in the world of the Caped Crusader. It’s a good read for anyone who is a fan of the Dark Knight and his most dangerous enemy.
a great Batman writer He comes back to the series that started it all with “Slayride!” This story has the Joker back, and he wants to kill Robin. It’s not the first time the Joker has taken one of Batman’s kids and killed them. Robin knows he must do everything he can to get away from the Clown Prince of Crime.
It takes all of the Boy Wonder’s training and skills to find a way to get away from Batman’s most powerful enemy. Because the Joker is the main bad guy, this is a must-read for anyone who is a fan. This is more of a Robin story than a Joker story, but anyone who is a fan should read this.