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"Your" Joker--What One Story Defines the Clown Prince of Crime for You?

Discussion in 'Comic Book Culture' started by Silly McGooses, Jul 13, 2008.

  1. Silly McGooses

    Silly McGooses Active Member

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    As just about everyone knows by now, THE DARK KNIGHT opens this week, and at midnight screening all over the country, comic book geeks will finally get to see Heath Ledger's massively hyped and anticipated performance as The Joker.

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    It's been fascinating to watch the reaction fans have given to this version of the character since the very first image was released through the infamous "IBelieveinHarveyDentToo.com" website last summer. Opinions have changed through time, with leaked set photos, the first real "trailer" and now countless trailers, clips, and TV spots. Much of this discussion has centered on whether or not this is the "real" Joker. Should the Joker be grimy and repellent or deceitfully suave and dapper? Can this really be the “true” Joker if he’s simply wearing white make-up on his face, rather than his body being bleached white as the result of a chemical spill that has remained a consistent part of his origin for decades?

    What these past months of discussion have shown is that most Batman fans have their own idea of what makes The Joker…The Joker.

    So in honor of this massive new movie, I thought it might be fun for all of us to share a single story—comic book, cartoon, TV Episode, or feature film—that represents our idea of the definitive Joker.

    I was sorely tempted to pick Paul Dini’s recent Detective Comics story, I believe it was called “Slay Ride,” involving The Joker kidnapping Robin and forcing him to sit through a terrifying Holiday hit-and-run spree.

    But ultimately, I decided to go back a little farther to another Paul Dini Joker story (man, does this guy get The Joker!), Batman Adventures Annual #1 (the comics spin-off of Batman: The Animated Series)

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    (Image from World's Finest)​
    The last of many slightly linked stories in this annual was "Laughter After Midnight," written by Paul Dini and pencilled by John Byrne (with inking by Rick Burchett and coloring by Bruce Timm, oddly enough).​

    "Laughter After Midnight" is very short, at just ten pages long, but that's enough to fit in "my" perfect version of The Joker. The story begins with Joker recovering from a fall into a pond in a park in Gotham after being pushed out of a police blimp by Batman. Joker decides not to use his "Trusty long-distance minigrenade launcher" on the blimp because...after all..."What's the point?" He's cold, wet, bruised up, in pain, and has no place in the world to go. And so, in the ensuing few pages, we have The Joker having his own little night on the town, looking for kicks--needless to say, several people appear to be dead before the end of the short story. I won't give away any specifics, but it's a very fun little piece. If you don't own it and can't find the original annual in the back issues of your comic shop, then it is available in the trade paperback "Dangerous Dames and Demons."

    So why is this my definitive version of the Joker?

    The first reason is probably simply that it is one of my earliest exposures to him and it just got to me first. The issue came out when I was four years old, my dad bought it for me, and I still have my tattered copy that has been read maybe fifty times over the years. And remember, this is the Animated Series version of The Joker, who I probably saw on the TV at least once a week on average. So as far as looks go, the animated Joker will always be “my” Joker.

    Second, in just a few short pages, all of what I consider to be The Joker’s trademarks are on display here. His nearly masochistic relationship with Batman, his sick sense of humor, his “laughing gas.” We even get a reference to Harley Quinn. The story doesn’t at all shy away from the fact that The Joker is a psychotic serial killer, but at the same time we get to see the fun side of the character that is so important. What more could I ask for? There's also a really eerie tone to the whole thing that I can't put my finger on. Maybe it's the memories and nostalgia that come with the story, but there's something especially unique about the atmosphere in this piece. Maybe it's just the late-late-late night quiet Gotham that we don't often see.

    So, if I had to pick one story that conveyed exactly who the Joker is to me, I’d have to dig out that old 1994 Batman Adventures annual for “Laughter After Midnight.”

    How ‘bout you?
     
    #1 Silly McGooses, Jul 13, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2008
  2. Harlan_Phoenix

    Harlan_Phoenix Active Member

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    Call me cliche, but I like to think that the definitive Joker is presented in The Killing Joke. His insanity's always been of an integral part of himself, and the idea that Batman may in fact share the element of insanity is interesting.

    There's a lot more I could say about it, but for some reason I can't quite collect it into words...so I may post more on it later if someone doesn't analyze it before then.
     
  3. thedanmachine

    thedanmachine gomu gomu no custom title

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    The Dark Knight Returns. That personifies the Joker the best for me. His homo-obsessional relationship with Batman and his unwavering psychosis make this one IMO the definitive Joker.
     
  4. dtemplar

    dtemplar Old School Professor
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    The Killing Joke, when we see The Joker taking off the Red Hood mask, and sees his image as he laughs like crazy.

     
  5. Batman91

    Batman91 Active Member

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    For me the definitive Joker would have to be the B:TAS series version. I would probably go with a book like "Mad Love" as an example. In that story, Joker beats the crap out of Harley. Really shows what a horrible person he can be, but we still like him and laugh at him.
     
  6. Cortez2301

    Cortez2301 Active Member

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    Probably the "Mad love" version for me.I always remember that Joker more than "The Killing Joke".
     
  7. Hobbes829

    Hobbes829 The Bad Guy

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    The Killing Joke puts Joker into too much of a sympathetic light. I love Return of the Joker from Batman Beyond. This was quintesential Joker to me. He doesn't just look to kill Batman, he goes after him psychologically. He tortures Robin into becoming a little version of him. That is a truely creepy visual, and the feature shows The Joker as the evil person that he his. He should just be, and not have any redeeming features.
     
  8. Wolf Boy2

    Wolf Boy2 Active Member

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    "Mask of the Phantasm" for me. Every line and every action was spot on. THIS is and always will be my definitive Joker.
     
  9. Aldrius

    Aldrius Arrogant Instigator

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    Joker's Favour.

    To me, he's a hobbyist. He's just out there looking for a good time, and he'll go after that good time no matter who he hurts or who gets in his way. This is present in "Mad Love" and it's present in "Mask of the Phantasm". He's completely amoral to the point that he really cares about nothing, and everything is just one huge big joke to him.
     
  10. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Uncreative Hack

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    "The Joker's Five Way Revenge" does it for me.
     
  11. FightingDreamer

    FightingDreamer Mutant on the Rise

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    Probably either "Mask of the Phantasm" or "Return of the Joker". Not only do they contain, IMO, Mark Hamill's best Joker performances, they expertly portray the "funny-scary" whiplash: One minute, he's jovial if somewhat creepy, the next he's snarling or talking in a voice so low you know he means business.
     
  12. Silly McGooses

    Silly McGooses Active Member

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    Almost forgot about that one. Great story.
     
  13. Robin2099

    Robin2099 Active Member

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    I don't really think there is a definitive Joker version. I know a lot of people will jump up and say that it was the DCAU Joker, but outside of Hammil's performance, I always found that Joker wildly inconsistent since he was an hodgepodge of all the other Jokers throughout history.Personally I would say the best Joker stories are:

    The Killing Joke: This might be the closest to a definitive Joker story. What is brilliant about it is that the whole origin story in the book is basically the Joker telling you a lie to make you feel sorry for him. Combine that with his spot in characterization and you have what is easily the most brilliant Joker story ever.

    The Laughing Fish:Another great Joker story that's been reprinted multiple times. This really shows how crazy and sadistic the Joker can be and shows how to him, misery is funny. Also adapted for the BTAS by Paul Dini.

    The Man who laughs: A great story by Ed Brubaker that retells the story of how Batman and the Joker met for the first time.

    The Jokers five way revenge: Dennis O Neal wrote this and it also ranks as one of the best Joker stories ever.
     
  14. Hobbes829

    Hobbes829 The Bad Guy

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    I thought the killing joke was just a flashback. Maybe i read it wrong because i don't remember the joker telling his backstory. Also, i love the man who laughs.
     
  15. rggkjg1

    rggkjg1 Batman v Superman

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    a death in the family. the joker killing robin is batman's biggest defeat.
     
  16. James

    James Administrator
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    I think the Killing Joke. It took the Joker away from his simple counterfoil role to Batman and looked a little deeper into the character and their relationship. It carried pathos and a stark shock element wrapped in a smart and beautifully told story that made you hate and pity the man. He really was something a little deeper than his usual wicked-come-hilarious self.
     
  17. Damien

    Damien Watching

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    I have yet to read The Killing Joke, but it sounds like I would pick that from what I know of it. "Return of the Joker" is a great take. I also have a book from when I was a kid where he uses a glue gun and has Batman chasing a Jokermobile set on auto-pilot. That's a good one, too. :D
     
  18. Light Lucario

    Light Lucario Moderator
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    While I haven't read much of the comic version, Mad Love really captures Joker's determination to defeat Batman by his own twisted and humorous plots. Not only that, but it also showed how extremely dangerous he can be when he pushed Harley out the window. Mask of the Phantasm also showed how he took his whole confrontations with Batman as a game since he seemed to take it all in as a joke. Return of the Joker had some intense Joker moments too, especially with how he tries to kill Batman not only physically, but psychologically with brain-washing Robin and trying to get him to shoot the gun into him. He was truly showing how dangerously insane, or unstable if you prefer, when he laughed after telling Batman that he knew everything. Mark Hamill also did some of his best acting, especially with his laughs, in both of those movies.
     
  19. Batman

    Batman The Dark Knight

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    Comic books
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    TV SERIES
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    Mark Hamill - As THE CLOWN PRINCE OF CRIME !!!!!!!!!!!! IMO I THINK HAMILL's Incarnation of THE JOKER IS THE GREATEST Ever .

    Classic Tv Series
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    Cesar Romero as THE JOKER (I'll never forget That Laugh)

    Movie
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    Jack Nicholson


    I can't wait to see Ledger preformance as The Joker in TDK all the reviews I'm reading about him sounds exciting . :D ONLY 2 DAYS LEFT TO GO FOR ME .
     
  20. dark knight acolyte

    dark knight acolyte Deep in the Shadows of Gotham

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    Could spout off many, I'm sure, but to narrow it down to one is the challenge, so here goes.

    For me, while I enjoyed the Joker established in the "present" of Killing Joke, I was never a fan of any attempt to legitimately give the Joker a back-story. In fact, I'm in love with the notion of varying re-tellings from the Joker himself.

    My pick is B:TAS (both the comic and television versions) "Mad Love." It showcases his dark humor, mysterious background, ego, love of the game, pride, and supremely disturbed matter of the heart for Harley. It, to me, encapsulates the quintessential Joker.

    I would also give kudos to the flashback sequence of BB: ROTJ, but I understand that this is only one scene and the question asks for a full story.....
     

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