1. We are looking for a volunteer to help out with entering the DC and Marvel comics solicitations. If you are interested, please contact Harley.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Just in time for Halloween, enter for a chance to win a $50 Gift Card from FUN.com! Details here.
    Dismiss Notice

"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

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    Messages:
    8,687
    Likes Received:
    0
    I also love the idea of the Joker having multiple stories about his past...but I believe the Killing Joke is actually where that idea comes from. The Joker talks about how, like Batman, he had a bad day once...some days he remembers it one way, some days he remembers it another way. I always interpreted Joker's flashbacks as just one of many possible stories.
     
  2. Batman

    Batman The Dark Knight

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2004
    Messages:
    1,552
    Likes Received:
    0
  3. Batman91

    Batman91 Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    1,232
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks. Thats really cool, never seen it before.
     
  4. defunctzombie

    defunctzombie 1992 not 2002
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Messages:
    14,833
    Likes Received:
    189
    The Killing Joke will always be my favorite Joker story, but since that one's been beaten to death already, let me elaborate on another favorite of mine. The Lovers and Madmen one is just brilliant. The art isn't my favorite (on the cover he looks like Clint Eastwood o_O) but the story is just great. If you haven't read it, it takes the path that he was already a brilliant hit man and the chemicals just make him more violent. I love the whole "bunny in the moon" thing. For me, THAT is the Joker. Pick that one up, it's a good read.
     
  5. James

    James Administrator
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    May 5, 2001
    Messages:
    31,316
    Likes Received:
    3
    But isn't that the beauty of serial comics? Is there one that does have a quintessential origin that isn't prone to change, be it additions, subtractions or a complete overhaul? Isn't that actually one of the cool things about DC/Marvel comics is they don't get stagnant because they continue to re-identify themselves?

    I mean, I love the Killing Joke backstory. The idea that Batman beget the Joker in a freak accident that created his arch nemesis may seem old now - given the Batman movie and virtually every superhero film having to make their villain origin's tragic - but in itself, as an analysis of the characters possibly more in relation to this story than any larger whole, it just works beautifully.

    Personally, I don't like to see the backstory as a lie, nor do I look at it as a cast iron truth, just a wonderful idea that works so well with the characters simply within the pages of the graphic novel. The range of emotions in that tale - horror, humour, tragedy, anger.. all wrapped around this two people who as alike as they are unalike. I don't really recall any story really carrying such a strong introspective between the Joker and Batman. So for that - not whether the origins will even be confirmed/denied to canon (given everything in comics gets denied at some point it seems hardly worth considering) - I think it's... well, what's the word...? Oh yeah, brill.
     
  6. Aizen

    Aizen Former 5th Squad Captain.

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Messages:
    1,540
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would say the true Joker was in the DCAU.
    However, I liked Joker in The Killing Joke (I was disgusted a little, but Joker is supposed to disgust you). I also liked the one in Batman movie by Jack Nicholson. His performance was superb.
     
  7. Aldrius

    Aldrius Arrogant Instigator

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Messages:
    3,875
    Likes Received:
    0
    That idea was in Batman comics long before the killing joke, though. I don't know, to me it always seemed like... too much information. I kinda liked how in Mask of the Phantasm the pre-Joker was an enigma. Never spoke, just oozed danger and followed Valestra's orders. But I get what you're saying, in terms of a stand alone comic, it works well. But in terms of the character at least that I've been watching and reading about, it just doesn't seem... true. It seems more to me like the Joker screwing around because he appreciates drama and irony more than Batman does.

    Anyway, the only reason I'm commenting on this is because so many people put down the Killing Joke as their favourite, and I kinda felt like putting down where I stood on that particular story.
     
  8. dark knight acolyte

    dark knight acolyte Deep in the Shadows of Gotham

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2002
    Messages:
    1,450
    Likes Received:
    0


    To broaden my point, I don't prefer the level of background detail the origin gets into in "The Killing Joke." His past should be hazy and contrived, even by his own counts, not illustrated. Just a preference.
     
  9. dark knight acolyte

    dark knight acolyte Deep in the Shadows of Gotham

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2002
    Messages:
    1,450
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sure, things are hardly set in stone or given any permanence in the ever-so altered comic-world. I'm more so referring to the preference of that at any one single point in time (pre-post-inner-outter-or round a' boutter- Crisis), I prefer a Joker undefined in his origin, a sort of tour de' force of nature that springs seemingly from out of nowhere (but clearly has come from somewhere) opposed to villains who at that same single point have defined backgrounds. Essentially, though, the comic world is ever-evolving, I agree; perhaps to be more clear- I love the Joker's willful and delightful fabrication in conveying 'who he is and how he came to be.' (to borrow from Batman: Year One).

    "MY" Joker, in preference, is essentially a lying SOB. :)

    Love the Killing Joke! Great story.....great portrait of both characters. You nailed it, James.
     
  10. klammed

    klammed the fool.

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    1,690
    Likes Received:
    0
    ROTJ's Joker for me. Hamill's best imo, solidly creeped me out, and his relationship with Batman (and 50 years into the future too) is still explored. Somehow Joker Junior could be as disturbing as what Joker did to Gordon and Barbara in the Killing Joke, or more so, since he's doing it to a sixteen year old? Just to get to Batman.

    Twisted.
     
  11. Revelator

    Revelator In summary then: "Oh no."

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2001
    Messages:
    3,225
    Likes Received:
    4
    I'd say the exact opposite. It makes the character seem more true than he ever has before, and it's why many people consider TKJ the definitive Joker story. The Joker's sympathetic origin forces us to ask how such a nice normal man became such a monster. And according to the Joker, all it takes is one bad day--in other words, a totally horrendous day that deprives you of everything you've ever live for--to send you over the edge and lose yourself.

    And if that's all it takes, then life is absurd, and categories like good or evil are meaningless trivia. And so one bad day can make someone Batman or make someone the Joker, and the absurdity of it all reflects harshly on life. In other words, Joker is trying to use his past to justify himself in Batman's eyes. For an existentialist like Batman, life has a meaning you make out of the ashes of your worst days. But Joker is a nihilist who insists that life is vicious, meaningless void, and that life is a joke played on anyone who doesn't understand that. The TKJ is a great story because it defines exactly where Batman and Joker stand, and how their philosophies are so violently opposed that they complement each other like lego pieces. No other story has so clearly done so.


    Perhaps, but if you discount Joker's origin, much of TKJ loses its force and meaning. And frankly, the Joker's other supposed origins have always struck me as boring. Having him as a mobster isn't exciting if all it proves is that Joker was evil all along. It's the sudden, almost supernatural transformation from a harmless normal man into a sociopathic monster that's compelling, and it's what gives Joker his twisted nihilism.
     
  12. Aldrius

    Aldrius Arrogant Instigator

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Messages:
    3,875
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well of course, which is why I said the story on it's own works very well, but in the grand scheme of things I just can't buy it. His behavior in the various animated series and in the few comics I've read doesn't make sense in regards to that origin. The Joker's a liar, he's a cheat, he's a psychopathic killer, and the only time I've ever seen the latter work is in the latest movie. If the Joker's a killer, then the Batman's even worse for NOT killing him.

    And I agree on the mobster note (at least the one in the Burton movie). To me the Joker's most interesting origin is when he starts off as a nobody. The guy in Phantasm who doesn't talk, the guy in Phantasm who is very intentionally boring (but creepy). Making his transformation into the lively and out of this world Joker all the more exciting. And I think there's poignancy to the fact that Batman made the Joker out of a nobody, while the Joker's very existence prevents Batman from ever being a nobody again.

    But I guess at the end of the day, really, we're just talking about two similar but very different characters.
     
  13. Revelator

    Revelator In summary then: "Oh no."

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2001
    Messages:
    3,225
    Likes Received:
    4
    I don't see how it doesn't. The Joker is a nihilistic madman who treats life as a black joke. TKJ supplies a motivation for the persona he displays in the Batman comics by explaining the reason for the character's nihilism and contempt for order. It explains the Joker of the various animated series and comics and makes his behavior have sense. The animated Joker would work no differently if his origin was that of TKJ (Though it might help explain his attachment to Harley). Moore applied the origin to an already established character. The character works with or without it, but with it he have a fuller sense of why he acts the way he does.

    Joker has also been a psychopathic killer in the animated series, and that surely worked. And in TKJ he doesn't even kill anyone.

    But not entirely so, since the Joker is a murderous creep even pre-acid bath. Morally he doesn't have far to fall.

    I wouldn't say so--these characters are flexible. The Batman of 1958 is after all a far cry from that of today.
     
  14. Aldrius

    Aldrius Arrogant Instigator

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Messages:
    3,875
    Likes Received:
    0
    When? The only time he ever kills anyone is when it suits his fancy or when somebody's in his way or when he seeks something to gain from killing somebody. It's not random acts of violence to prove a point or because he's a sociopath.

    But it's not a moral transformation. It's a transformation of social standing. He goes from mute henchman to the second most dangerous guy in town. It's not about giving the Joker's life meaning or excusing his actions. Besides, his goal in the DCAU was never to show that one bad day can lead to Madness, his mission was always to kill Batman in the most humiliating way possible and bring excitement into people's lives.

    Indeed. Though I'd at least say that the Joker of the Animated Series is very different than the one presented in recent comics and in the Killing Joke.
     
  15. jph139

    jph139 Immortal

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2007
    Messages:
    5,532
    Likes Received:
    0
    Alright, with The Dark Knight hype, movies everywhere, specials, all that... Batman and the Joker have been bouncing around in my head. Other than The Long Halloween (fantastic story by the way), I've never read a single Batman comic book or graphic novel, and as such, I probably shouldn't be posting here. I apologize in advance - but I do want to talk about what defines the Joker as a whole. Plus, I want to put this somewhere before it seeps out of me head.

    But first I want to give a quick rundown of what I think defines Batman - not Bruce Wayne, mind you. And I just saw Batman Begins for the first time yesterday, so there's a lot of influence. :p

    Batman is, as a whole, pure good. Yang, a symbol of justice. And he's motivated by justice - he has no motive other than to punish evil and defend good. That's fairly obvious, but I need to emphasize that Batman is PURE GOOD. Not a complex hero, not a Punisher or a Wolverine. Bruce Wayne can be complex, of course, but Batman is more than that. He's a hero.

    Another thing to note is that Batman is also an ICON. He is a symbol of good surrounded by bad. And he LOOKS bad. He's a bat, he attacks from the darkness, he's dark and forboding. With no prior knowlage of him, you'd think he's the bad guy... which, of course, leads us to the Joker.

    The Joker, on the other hand, is not evil looking at all. He's a clown, he stays in the light, he's all smiles, wearing a clean, colorful suit. But the Joker is also an icon; the exact opposite of Batman.

    He's evil - pure, nihilistic evil. Yin without a balance. He does what he does only for himself, regardless of who he hurts in the process. If he wants to kill someone, he'll kill someone. If he wants to help someone, he'll help someone - but usually, he'll kill them. And he does it however he wants. With poison, with dart guns, with a knife, with a cannon... whatever suits his needs.

    So, they form a mirror. One selfish, one selfless. One protector, one destroyer. One frightening, one amusing. One good, one bad... they fit together like, well, like yin and yang. Batman can't die, or at least, what Batman STANDS FOR can't die. And the Joker can't die either, both literally and figuratively. Chaos will always exist, so on, so forth. But I like to think of the Joker as Batman's one true enemy, and vice-versa. Batman can't die because the Joker doesn't want to kill him - he'd have no foil otherwise - and the Joker can't die because Batman WON'T kill him - just like he won't kill any other villain.

    As one more note, Batman is tethered to Bruce Wayne. But they're two seperate entities - sometimes he's wearing a mask, sometimes he's not. However, the Joker is, again, the opposite of this. There IS no Bruce Wayne to tie him down. The mask IS his face. Again, they compliment eachother.

    One more thing to note, though - from Wikipedia, these are the characteristics of Yin - which is commonly associated with evil. "Soft, slow, substantial, water, cold, conserving, tranquil, gentle, and corresponds to the night." Other than a few, these remind you of Batman, right? He's slow, shadowy, moving smoothly like water in the cold night... sure, he's not all that soft or gentle, but hey.

    On the other hand, Yang. "Hot, fire, restless, hard, dry, excitement, non-substantial, rapidity, and corresponds to the day." The Joker is a fast moving, soulless, restless, exciting symbol of ghoulish fun. See what I'm getting at?

    To sum things up, Batman is good, Joker is evil. But on the surface, Batman is dark and nightmarish, while Joker is bright and cheery. They're mirror images of eachother... literally and figuratively.

    Well, just wanted to vent. Don't really expect anyone to read the whole thing... but are there any comics that really encompass this? The real balanced, yin-yang, mirror stuff. I'd love to read one. :D And I can't wait to see The Dark Knight now. I wasn't excited at all before, but all of this thought has pumped me up... and all the hype helped, too. :p
     
  16. Silly McGooses

    Silly McGooses Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    Messages:
    8,687
    Likes Received:
    0
    Great post johnny139, some interesting points.
     
  17. defunctzombie

    defunctzombie 1992 not 2002
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Messages:
    14,833
    Likes Received:
    189
    I second. It's nice to see an opinion by someone who isn't knee deep in comics. My mother (who I dragged to the midnight showing) always looks at Nicholson when thinking of the Joker because it's fresher in her mind (the last time she read a comic was in the 70s), and when I first showed her the Dark Knight trailer she said Heath sounded like him.
     
  18. purplehairedwonder

    purplehairedwonder No woman should suffer at the hands of men
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2002
    Messages:
    18,265
    Likes Received:
    7
    I pretty much have no knowledge about Batman comics and have only seen limited amounts of B:TAS. As a result, my Joker comes from Return of the Joker. That performance is one of the more powerful things of pretty much any film I've seen and has stuck with me for a long time. The sick, sadistic torture of Robin as well going after an aged Bruce marks his character for me. "I thought you always wanted to make Batman laugh." "You're not Batman!" For whatever reason, that little exchange has stuck with me, too. Terry is provoking him and it shows his obsession with not only Bruce-Batman, but the Batman symbol that Terry now dons.

    And after seeing TDK, I can tell that Heath's Joker is going to stick with me for a long time as well.
     
  19. Revelator

    Revelator In summary then: "Oh no."

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2001
    Messages:
    3,225
    Likes Received:
    4
    A psychopathic killer does kill people who get in his way or if it suits his fancy or if he has something to gain. What makes him psychopathic is the total disregard for human life and values with which he murders, often for the most petty reasons. And the Joker's crimes are definitely sociopathic--attempting to kill everyone in Gotham on New Year's eve, or attempting to nuke the city are sociopathic crimes.

    Yes, but if we're looking at the issue of characterization, one can argue that moral transformations are of more interest than social ones.

    The Joker's actions can't be excused, no matter how much one might know about his motivations.

    But why does he do so? Why has he had the same purpose in so many cartoons and comics? Why does he feel the way he does? Why is he a nihilist? Why does he view life as a black joke to be played on the world, with no regard for the feelings of others? The Killing Joke answers that by saying that he got a taste of the absurdity of life thanks to that one bad day. With that rationale you can explain pretty much any action of the Joker in the DCAU, even if the origin is not the same (and were a DCAU version of TKJ to be made, you wouldn't have to change the DCAU Joker's character to make it fit him--you'd just have to ignore Phantasm). The Joker's overall mission is not to show that one bad day can lead to madness, but it's what underpins his larger mission of destroying Batman and playing deadly pranks on others.

    I really don't think so, and one could even argue that TKJ influenced the animated version. And the Joker that Paul Dini writes for Detective Comics is essentially the same character as the animated version.
     
  20. Harvey Two Face

    Harvey Two Face Formerly Reiven

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2006
    Messages:
    2,326
    Likes Received:
    0
    For me, originally, the Joker was defined by B:TAS and Jack Nicholson since I watched a lot of Batman while young, and seeing the movie once or twice, but Heath has stepped up to this role and performed tremendously. He has kept the insanity and unpredictable nature of the Joker, even if he does look a lot grungier, which I thought made him more scary.
     

Share This Page

  • Find Toonzone on Facebook

  • Toonzone News

  • Site Updates

    Upcoming Premieres

  • Toonzone Fan Sites


Tac Anti Spam from Surrey Forum