6 Awesome Joker Stories You May Not Know About
The Joker is held by many to be the greatest comic villain of all time. He's intelligent, unpredictable, utterly insane, and has absolutely no limits when it comes to the evil he's willing to commit. Being the first of Batman's regular villains to appear in the comics way back in Batman #1 of 1940, the Clown Prince of Crime has always shared in the popularity that the Caped Crusader has enjoyed throughout the past 75 years. With Heath Ledger's Oscar winning performance as the character less than a decade behind and with Jared Leto's anticipated portrayal of the Joker in Suicide Squad now less than a year ahead, it would seem as though he's never been quite so prominent in the public's eye than he is now.
The comic stories that made the Joker such an intriguing character have played a prominent part in other media throughout the years. Anyone who knows anything about the character knows that he put Batgirl in a wheelchair; if not from Alan Moore's the Killing Joke, then from it's references in the hugely popular Batman: Arkham Knight video game. By now, any fan of superheroes or superhero movies is also familiar with how the Clown Prince of Crime brutally murdered one of Batman's Robins, Jason Todd - if not from the Death in the Family and Under the Red Hood comics, then certainly from the Batman: Under the Red Hood animated movie. Likewise, stories like "The Laughing Fish" and "Batman vs. the Joker" have also gained familiarity due to their adaptions in Batman: the Animated Series.
Such stories bring to light and accentuate the insanity, depravity, and twisted humor behind Gotham's most feared comedian, but these are not the only tales to do so. Over the Joker's 75 year reign as Batman's greatest enemy, he's pulled off a lot of stunts that haven't gained as much notoriety, but nevertheless show just how twisted he really is. Check out these 6 lesser known tales of the Clown Prince of Crime, which only loyal fans of the comics know about:
Crisis in Identity
In Legends of the Dark Knight #2, the Joker kidnaps the Mad Hatter and forces him to hypnotize regular people into believing that they're the Batman and that he's Commissioner Gordon. He then sends them off to fight against the Batman's foes, and one can imagine what happens when a middle aged fat man dressed in a shabby Batman costume with no training whatsoever decides to taunt Killer Croc. Eventually, the Joker kidnaps Bruce Wayne and tries to convince him he's Batman, but as expected that doesn't turn out quite as well as he originally planned.
Crisis in Identity
The third Batman annual follows the perspective of reporter Thomas Blackcrow, who is convinced that there's nothing all that scary about a weirdo who dresses up like a clown. His confidence allows him to take on an assignment that involves going to the Joker's headquarters and trying to get a new angle on Batman's greatest enemy. After watching how the Joker treats his henchman from the shadows, he comes to the conclusion that the Joker doesn't have any real friends. He ends up telling this to the Joker face to face, but also publishes a news article entitled "The Loneliest Clown in the World" when Batman catches him soon after and takes him back to Arkham.
When the Joker escapes, he finds Thomas, kills his best friend, and tells him that since he thinks that the Joker needs friends, he can be his new best friend forever. Over the next five years, the Joker visits Thomas periodically (even though he's changed his name and skipped town) and terrorizes him in myriad ways. The fear eventually drives him crazy, and he gets locked up in Arkham where he makes friends with a certain doctor named Eric Border, who is revealed to be the Joker in disguise.
The Sound of One Hand Clapping
In The Adventures of Superman #14, the Joker travels to Metropolis to attempt to meet Superman. The entire issue is almost exclusively a conversation between the Man of Steel and the Clown Prince of Crime, but it definitely provides an interesting dynamic. During the issue, Superman legitimately throws the Joker off his game by actually laughing at his jokes and then threatening to end his life. When the Joker says he might set off the bombs he has set up around the city, Superman has already got them out of the way with his super speed and thrown them to the lunatic with the green hair - informing him that if he does set them off, he'd be the only one to die. Supes soon gets fed up and blasts the Clown Prince of Crime with his heat vision before sending him off to jail. The issue ends with Superman confronting Batman about letting the Joker come to Metropolis unchecked and then flying off into space, laughing at a joke that the Joker made earlier about everyone in Gotham shopping at the same Hot Topic.
The events of Detective Comics #726 takes place on the anniversary of Jason Todd's death at the hands of the Joker. It's the story of how the Joker influenced a fellow inmate at Arkham Asylum to put his daughter in the trunk of a car and then place the car in Gotham Harbor when he got released from the nut house. Batman, however, does not initially know this and must gain the information from the Joker directly.
The madman eventually tells him the location of the girl, and Batman makes it to her just in time. When Batman asks why the Joker would tell him where she was even when the Joker knew she would still be alive, he replies by saying "When you approach a hostage situation like I put you in tonight - you probably assume the victim is already dead. Oh, sure, you do everything you can to save them anyway, because that's you. But you don't really dare hope, do you? After tonight though - you'll never be able to do that again. Will you?"
The Pale Man, Saved, The First Laugh, and The Last Smile
In the back-ups of Batman #35-39, a story is played out in which Dr. Mahreen Zaheer of Arkham Asylum is kidnapped by five psychotic patients who each claim to know the true origins of the Joker. One says he's the devil; another, a secret robot. Every one of them has their own story that the Joker told them individually, each relating to the psychosis and fears of the patient. They drag Dr. Zaheer underneath the streets of Gotham where she comes face to face with her old co-worker, Dr. Erik Border, and it's revealed that he was actually the Joker in disguise all along.
The final story to be told of the Joker's origins is actually Zaheer's, as it turns out she was working on a book with the help of Dr. Border concerning who the Joker was before he became Gotham's most feared criminal. As the angry inmates try to break into the room where the two are having their conversation, the Joker then gives her a gun with five bullets, and tells her to shoot everyone who had the wrong story - she gets to choose the one she believes is right. When she asks the obvious and says "none of them are real, are they?" the Joker flips her a sixth bullet.
As a story concerning the Joker's backstory, it's only fitting that a reference is made before the issue ends to the infamous line from the Killing Joke in which the Joker says that he prefers his past to be "multiple choice." This time around, however, he says "I prefer not to think of it as multiple choice...it's more choose-your-own adventure."
Detective Comics #826 is a holiday themed issue of Batman, featuring the Joker and the third Robin, Tim Drake. Robin, about to get gunned down by some thugs, is rescued by someone in a strange car at the end of an alley. While Tim thinks he's found refuge, he soon learns otherwise when he sees that it's the Joker sitting beside him in the driver's seat. The Joker gasses him, ties him up with Christmas lights, and then takes him on a ride around Gotham, mowing down pedestrians along the way. They go through a drive through to pick up some eggnog shakes, but when the cashier can't get his order right he asks for the manager and shoots him before driving off, disappointed he didn't get his shakes.
Eventually Tim frees himself and is able to take out the Joker before he can hurt anyone else. Robin drops the Clown Prince off in the middle of a busy freeway where the Joker gets hit by a semi. Of course he finds the whole situation funny and laughs while his body is being thrown into the air.