Why DC Comics Should Never Reveal The Joker’s Identity

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Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok, the creative team behind “Justice League” announced at the Rebirth WonderCon panel that the Joker’s true identity will be revealed in issue #50. In issue #42 of “Justice League” Batman sat down in the Mobius Chair- which is like a toilet seat that sees everything- and learned who killed his parents and the identity of the Joker. The latter hasn’t been revealed yet, and I’m not sure people actually want to know who the Joker is.

The Joker is Batman’s quintessential villain, the one member of his Rogue Gallery that defines the dark knight’s character. Everybody knows “the Killing Joke” where Batman takes on the Joker in a fight to the death in order to rescue Jim Gordon. The hero and the villain argued over their parasitic existence. One can’t live without the other; they are like two sides of the same coin. Alan Moore is one of the best comic book writers of all time, and this is some of his best work.

“The Killing Joke” has a speech where the Joker talks about his identity, and Alan Moore goes full zeitgeist on our asses:  “MEMORY'S SO TREACHEROUS. ONE MOMENT YOU'RE LOST IN A CARNIVAL OF DELIGHTS, WITH POIGNANT CHILDHOOD AROMAS , THE FLASHING NEON OF PUBERTY, ALL THAT SENTIMENTAL CANDY-FLOSS ...THE NEXT , IT LEADS YOU SOMEWHERE YOU DON'T WANT TO GO......SOMEWHERE DARK AND COLD, FILLED WITH THE DAMP, AMBIGUOUS SHAPES OF THINGS YOU'D HOPED WERE FORGOTTEN.” The comic has so many quotable lines, but this one always stuck out to me. The Joker is more of a concept than a character, like Booster Gold is. He’s the Boogeyman under the bed, the incarnation of all our fears and terrors in one smiling apparition.

The Joker was created in 1940 by Bill Finger and Bob Kane (Jerry Robinson too) in the first issue of the comic “Batman”. He was originally just a serial killer in white paint, stabbing people and killing them with toxins. The Joker’s first origin story came out in 1951, where he masquerades as the Red Hood only to get foiled by Batman and end up falling into a vat of chemical waste. Though little tweaks have happened over the years, this still remains the most popular origin of the clown prince of crime.

There’s no way to pick one origin though, everyone has a different favorite Joker, especially in other media. I’m sorry fanboys of the internet, but my favorite on screen Joker isn’t Heath Ledger. He’s good and does his “Killing Joke” speech superbly, but I’m a Cesar Romero man.

The cartoonish antics of Batman ’66 get rid of all his “grim dark” and just focuses on having fun. In one episode, the Joker is pitching a softball game in prison. A puff of smoke appears and a spring popping out of the pitcher’s mound.  An audience member yells: “:the Joker sprung himself out of prison” and I had to pause the show I was laughing so hard. My mom’s favorite Joker is Jack Nicholson, so that might be where I get it from.

The Joker works when he’s ambiguous. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman run is one of the best in history, telling some of my favorite Batman stories. “A Death in the Family” shows what happens when the Joker feels that Robin, Batgirl and the rest of the bat-family is dragging the caped crusader down. Every single part of the story meets in the middle to give an ending I won’t dare spoil here. Snyder even gave his own origin to the Joker, where he is an immortal trickster who has been menacing Gotham for centuries.

No matter which Joker is your favorite, you are right. There is no single Joker, no matter what happens after DC’s billionth reboot. The only time I can go philosophical is when I talk about the Joker. As the man of the hour says in the Killing Joke: “If I’m going to have a past, I’d prefer it to be multiple choice!”

Who’s your favorite Joker, tell us in the comments!


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