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The Jokes on You! December Patreon reward for Firimil/Nova Quill and Barcast appearance! · 11:19am Dec 2nd, 2017

Heya, readers!

Welcome to month two, installment 3 of our reader supported blogs via Patreon! Once again I find myself delving into nerdom curtesy of Firimil/Nova Quill who wants to pontificate about the Clown Prince of Crime. Batman’s Thorn. The One! The… many? Joker!


But last thing first. Did you ever think it would be great to hear my voice? I assure you it’s probably disappointing! But it’s possible I use my voice to say funny/interesting things! Check me out TONIGHT at 5 or maybe 6 PM Pacific Standard Time on the Barcast! There will be drinks for me! And also you if you bring your own drinks and drink them while listening on your favorite podcast listening device!

Do you have a question for me? Ask it here! No doubt an uproariously good time will be had by all or at least me. Also, Firimil herself will be doing one of these later in the month (the 13th to be exact)! How lucky can you get?! Take THAT, Christmas!

As mentioned, Firimil asked if I can talk about the Joker, and left the specific details up to me beyond that. Ultimately, I decided to look at Joker in almost the broadest sense I can think of, what he represents both in general and in that Batman mythos. I’ll also take a look at a bunch of the Jokers I’m familiar with and discuss how they stack up against this ideal and in big Joker pile we find we have in the year of our Lord 2017.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time detailing out anything you can find on Joker’s Wikipedia page, but let’s say he’s one of Batman’s oldest iconic villains, tying Catwoman for that honor, both showing up in Batman #1 along with Robin and Hugo Strange of all people.

This makes for a somewhat serendipitous trio of characters as Batman is usually considered the pinnacle of what a moral individual can accomplish while I don’t think it’s too much a stretch to say Joker is sort of the consonant pinnacle of what an immoral induvial can accomplish. Catwoman is sort of the height of an amoral or selfish individual can accomplish. And then we have Robin who uh… represents maybe giving children too much freedom because being a parent (and often crimefighter) is hard and maybe kids need to take a few to the chest before they learn that they should listen to their parents when they help them pick out their clothes. Hugo represents the innate desire in all of us to make a serum that turns people freed from an insane asylum into twelve-foot-tall giants and have them beat cops with streetlights they ripped from the ground because how cool would that be?

Pretty cool!

But enough about these clowns, or rather, people who aren’t clowns at all! Let’s get back to the man of the hour and maybe briefly note that Joker didn’t even have any effs to spare in the 1940s.

Do you think maybe these two are arch-nemesis because they’re in a competition to see who can come up with the most groan-worthy pun/wordplay?

So, the Joker has been leaving smiles and corpses in his wake from the get-go and somehow making the “terrifying murder clown” thing work for a long time. I was going to let this lead into a ‘but’ where I question if that means he’s worthy of being Batman’s adversary, but honestly just perusing his first appearance has convinced me he earned that title and rarely had cause to worry it’d be taken from him. From the very beginning, he seems to possess all the skills Batman does. Heck, he even manages to beat Batman in pretty much EVERY one-on-one confrontation they have in the first issue and only is undone with a little or A LOT of help from Robin.

To be fair, this is hardly Batman at his best from a more current understanding of Batman…

When we stop all the murders, it’ll be an evening when I haven’t already had my Scotch and changed into my smoking jacket.

So, the Joker is cunning, a very competent combatant with both fists and a gun, he also possibly the best chemist in the entire DCU. He’s also sneaky and unpredictable. He’s basically got all the tools to do whatever he wants, and what he wants is money, not to be made fun of, and commit clown themed crimes where he leaves his victims a smiling corpse…

As you might have noticed, he’s also a bit illogical, which is somewhat a boon and a curse

Let’s skip ahead a bit.

Uh… Further…

Further than that.

Oooh… Not that far.

That’ll do.

For those unfamiliar with the comic, that’s from Frank Miller’s groundbreaking The Dark Knight Returns in which an aging Batman returns to his life of crime…fighting! This is first comic I’m aware of to really tie the Joker to Batman in universe as a person who only really functions as Batman’s foil. And if it’s not the first, it’s certainly one of the most iconic.

Joker has been more or less cationic since Batman’s retirement in this story. Basically, a buggy without a horse. Seems the poor clown had gotten so obsessed with the chase, he’d established a sort of love-hate relationship with Batman, in which he loved to hate the Bat.

With Batman back, Joker convinces his rehabilitation doctor that he’s ready to put his best face forward.

People who like to check filenames will find this one is probably the stupidest name featured on this list!

(Joker is clearly Bat-hatexual)

And then he proceeds to kill a lot of people, as he does! All to rekindle the old flame…

It gets a little rougher than usual.

Miller’s Joker here is basically focused on a single purpose. To confound the Bat! Maybe once and for all… Maybe not, but it’s a Joker solely set on making Batman’s life harder. To that end, he succeeds. Again, this whole story is pretty iconic and also represents Batman getting into the Batmobile and then doing doughnuts all over Comic Code’s lawn before firing off a massive grappling hook into its living room and destroying its entertainment system. The Joker is seen relatively briefly in the story, but he makes sure to start, continue, and end things with a bang. It’s no doubt an influential take on the character if nothing else.

Well, let’s fast-forward a couple years and see what mischief our favorite clown gets into this time!

What a scamp! Am I right?

Another defining piece and this one is about the Joker. The above is from Allan Moore and Brian Bolland’s instant staple of Joker mythos, The Killing Joke. In it sets ups a rather elaborate “gag” that’s supposed to demonstrate to Batman that everyone is just one bad day from going off the edge… A somewhat poignant message for our man in black. To this end, he shoots Barbra Gordon with both gun and camera and proceeds to torture Commissioner Gordon in an attempt to drive him, dare I say it? batty… or maybe clowny… I dunno. Gordon would need to come up with his own theme, I guess… but man would the Joker maybe feel a little silly if the result was Judge Dread.

The story also covers the Joker’s origins. Something that has been done before, but Moore has a nice spin in that the Joker’s origins, as relayed from the Joker, can’t be wholly relied on. The story reinforces this idea of Joker existing solely to challenge Batman, in fact, a fair amount of the premise is built upon the idea that the classic story of bat and clown can only end when one of them is dead. The whole setup is for Batman’s benefit and there’s no money payoff for the Joker, nor does he have a great plan to destroy the Dark Knight once and for all…  I mean… I guess he did hope to drive Batman mad… but Uh… He already dresses like a bat to fight crime so…

You know what, Jokes? I’m gonna let you have this one.

This story is intense and weird and well… Very fitting of the Joker. Honestly, still likely the best stand-alone Joker story out there to date. It was so good that it became DC canon despite the fact that it was never intended to be. I highly recommend reading it. Despite a lot of the criticism it’s received, I wouldn’t say the animated version is bad, though it could have been better.

Hey! At least it featured Mark Hamill as the Joker.

Speaking of perfect segues!

I’m sure that picture put a smile on the face of a lot of the older dudes and dudettes out there. Hell, don’t tell me you can’t hear his laugh in your head. This is the Joker for pretty much an entire generation. For dozens of episodes and movies, he tasked Batman for the better part of two decades. Interestingly enough, the Joker of the DCAU is often involved in stories based on comics that came out before Miller and Moore’s takes, meaning he often does what he wants because he can and because money is oh so useful. Not to say he’s only interested in Batman because Battsy so often thwarts his plans, but the DCAU Joker gives us an interesting look of a character whose just trying to make a little money through patens and murder, or trying to nuke the entire city because an opportunity arose, or partake in a little murder of a demi-god on earth because hi nice purple suits kept getting scuffed, ripped, and covered in blood.

More often his own then he’d probably like, but who can say?

Despite the fact that eventually, the DCAU introduced pretty much the entire Justice League (and I mean almost literally everyone who's been in it ever), the Joker was still able to hang with the big boys giving the Justice League, and Batman in particular, many epic showdowns. Heck, he even cheated death, as he always does, well enough to make it to the grim-dark, theme by Static-X, future to beat up Batman’s dog and try to make an arch nemesis of the new model via… you guessed it! Smile based murder!

This time it involves a space laser and entire city! But someone will be smiling.

Joker manages to remain relevant and Batman’s clear arch enemy until the end! I mean… Look, there’s a lot of time to cover here, but Hamill’s take on the Joker is one of the most endearing ones. While the nature of the DCAU means this version isn’t as focused, it’s memorable as a villain and a villain who specifically wants to ruin Batman’s day. Maybe not a Joker overly concerned with making a heady philosophical point, but damn was that a fun clown to watch commit horrific crimes and maybe make an elaborate setup just to have a pie smashed in Batman’s face on TV! Why would he kidnap so many people and take over a television station just so Batman can have a pie smashed in his face? Because you stopped long enough to ask yourself that question! That’s why!

I did plan to take this in chronological order, but I skipped Nicholson’s take from the 1989 film. Honestly, in hindsight, this is a somewhat forgettable take on the character. Not to say Jack Nicholson did a bad job and certainly bring a respectable amount of insanity to the table while the Joker does Joker things (murder, make money, make jokes, and murder some more) just that the movie simplifies the Batman mythos quite a bit to be consumable for movie-going audiences while borrowing from the aforementioned The Dark Knight Returns and Killing Joke with more simplifications.  It’s a watered down, but not terrible, culmination of the better-done aspects of the Joker to that point, it just brings little new to the table.

He did shoot down a Batjet with that hilarious monstrosity, though. I’ll give him that.

I’m also gonna blow right past the Joker from The Batman because uhhh….


Fast forwarding to a more recent franchise but not too recent because…

More reasons!

Thank God he thought to tattoo ‘damaged’ across his forehead! I might have thought him a rational and well-adjusted human being otherwise! Oh! And he tattoed his name across abs in case I forgot what shirtless, tatted up clown I was speaking to! How nice!

Right, so in 2008, the sequel to the very well received because it was good Batman Begins came out and it turned out to be the best live-action Batman movie ever created thus far maybe mostly on account of one character and one actor’s portrayal of him.

Let’s have him hold the card ‘cause that’s just the character’s thing.

Heath Ledger’s Joker is quite possibly the most perfect combination of ‘driven’ and ‘insane’ we will see. Keep in mind this movie came out when Mark Hamill’s Joker was still fairly fresh and popular with pretty much anyone who would go out to watch this movie (Justice League Unlimited just finished about three years prior) so Ledger had to somehow stand-out and also impress. Somehow, he managed to up the insanity beyond anything we’d seen in the Joker before, and this is a character who STARTED out with the smiling gas that kills and shooting people.

Just… look… if you haven’t watched it already and you enjoy Batman, go watch Batman Begins and then the gem that is The Dark Knight and then maybe watch The Dark Knight Rises because you’re not a quitter.

The Joker runs an-absolute-muck throughout the movie just because things are just too dang orderly with the Batman keeping the town clean. To borrow the movie’s most iconic line, “Some people just want to watch the world burn,” and the Joker in this is what it looks like when you’ve got a ton of matches and a city mostly made out of gas-soaked kindling. Sure, he’s focused on Batman, but that’s partially because Batman represents a sort of order and also goodness in people Joker would very much like to establish breaks down when the going gets tough. It’s The Killing Joke, but applied on a much larger scale, and this time the joke’s on everyone.

I kinda already took my shots at the most recent take on the Joker in the live action films. Anyhow, looking past the cringiness of what we’ve seen, Leto’s Joker is mostly there to further Harley’s story as it was and we get maybe one interaction with him with the Bat? But hey! Maybe if the DC live-action movies can keep up with this great momentum they have going, we’ll get to see a fully realized and amazing take on this incarnation of the Joker.

Yes… That was sarcasm… So much sarcasm…

 I’ll just say that if you’re desperate for good DC movies, check out what they’re doing with their animated stuff. It’s wildly more entertaining, though the bar is rather low.

Speaking of bars that are brought low... onto the sidekicks over and over again…

Anyhow, I’ll conclude things with one final Joker and one final thought. I think the notion of Joker being Batman’s hate-obsession is maybe played out.

Skip to 2 minutes in for Joker... goodness?

Just to touch on it briefly before I get to my last point, The Lego Movie Batman Joker is entertaining, but pretty much purely as a character who's stuck in ‘notice me Batman Sempai!’ mode and well… It’s the culmination of over 40 years of this idea that the Joker is completely obsessed with Batman distilled down to a humorous take that kids can watch and enjoy and just… Enough is enough. Sure, it’s interesting that the Joker maybe does this because in his weird, twisted way he’s helping Batman by giving him an obstacle he knows Batman while rise up against and better himself for the trouble, but Batman kinda represents man’s drive to constantly better himself and conquer the problems man itself has created. Crime, poverty, corruption… If the Joker is just going to be “the guy who challenges Batman the most”, how interesting can he really be? He can bring crime and maybe a reminder that “good” and “moral” people don’t just shoot their problems in the face because that’s wrong, but Batman deals with that all the time anyway. If the Joker died tomorrow because say, Harley Quin clued into the current climate regarding speaking out against abusers and dealt with her situation in a very Harley way, Batman would still do Batman things without the Joker.

Batman himself is an idea of human perfection, basically. The Joker could be the antithesis of that morally and some versions up there did it well!

You really do deserve another picture here…

Basically, while the Joker can and sometimes is portrayed as the sort of ultimate ‘bad guy’, it seems pen holders are often content just to write him as ‘that homicidal clown that fights Batman’. And, I think that’s a huge mistake. Sure, the Joker is never going to be separate from the Bat, but he’s also that nagging thought that maybe if you shot your boss, work would be more tolerable, or that you could pick up that baby and throw it over that chain-link fence into the highway and maybe just run away from the chaos and get away with it. He’s your intrusive thoughts made manifest coupled with enough forethought that you could literally get away with murder while Papa Roach plays in the background.

Sure… We all want to be Batman.

But we also want to ruin someone’s day because how frickin’ hard is it to listen and put the right food in a bag?!

Well, I think that’ll about cover it! Again, if you want to get in on this, my Patreon is here! Thanks again to  Firimil/Nova Quill for her support and the topic! And Again, check out my antics TONIGHT on the Barcast!

Next reader supported blog to hit in a week or two! See you all soon!

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Comments ( 11 )

The version that's always stuck with me is the one animated episode where he uses an unstable chemical mutagen in an attempt to sue fishing companies for copyright infringement.
R.I.P. captain clown

People love Batman, and sometimes that's because he's a normal man insane enough to be on the level of a superhero, I always loved the Joker because he was a nor... well, a man insane enough to be on the level of a super villain, you know?

Thanks! For someone who can't sleep at 3:43 AM, this is perfect~


You killed Captain Clown! I LOVED CAPTAIN CLOWN!!!

Personally my favourite Joker epsode from the show was the one that focused on Jack Ryder / The Creeper. It might one of the few times that Joker gets honestly freaked out by someone else's insanity.

I actually wish they would tone down the edginess of Batman.

I mean I love the fightscenes and the badassery, but Batman is supposed to be this guy who uses killing as an ABSOLUTE last resort and is so much more awesome for it.

I like Ben Affleck as Batman, but man... was this incarnation of Batman written pretty murder happy. I guess with the ending of Dawn of Justice we're maybe getting a lighter Batman?Honestly, I kinda just want DC to quietly try again with the live action stuff.

You mean restart?

Yeah, I completely agree. Like Spiderman. Took them three times, but they got it SMACK dab in the middle with that third one.

I liked the first two Spiderman movies, not the third... and yeah... that second try was a wash at best. I am looking forward to seeing what Marvel does. They do seem to be well set up to have the best Spiderman movie franchise so far.

Wait by first two spiderman movies dod you mean like first two or do you mean by first two franchises?

Because I don't know if I can agree with you if yo usay Spiderman: Homecoming sucks.

I WILL FIGHT YOU! Except not, because you're an awesome writer and I really hate Rehabs waiting periods.

The first two with Tobey Maguire. I watched the Amazing Spiderman and thought it was a'ight. Didn't bother with the second. I enjoyed Homecoming a great deal and look forward to the next.

Infinity War is coming...


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