The list continues to roll on with #10 down through #6…
#10. Bludgeons Lois Lane To Death
(Kingdom Come – 1996)
All the attacks on Gotham, fights with Batman, and travesties committed against Jim Gordon’s family – it’s his acts in Metropolis that eventually get the Clown Price of Crime killed. In one possible future (Elseworld’s Kingdom Come) the Joker goes on a murderous rampage though Metropolis killing 91 people at the Daily Planet and capped it off by bashing in Lois Lane’s skull with a Daily Planet paperweight. Talk about a symbolic weapon…
And it is this act that becomes the catalyst for the impending war. His heinous crime inspires Magog to take actions into his own hands and do what Superman and Batman refused to…
Joker’s career is capped off by setting in motion a new age that would divide heroes and ruin the superhero community in one fell swoop. Despite appearing in only a few panels of the massively epic story, the Joker causes as much damage as anyone else involved.
– B. Kronner
#9. The Killing Joke’s Joke
(The Killing Joke, 1988)
As is often the case, the magnitude of the Joker’s actions can be measured by the effect they have on the Batman, and in this case that is the sole reason this instance made our Top 10. The Dark Knight isn’t know much for his outstanding sense of humor, but rather his lack there of. So after the events that transpired throughout The Killing Joke, for old Bats to finally crack a smile speaks volumes…
Seldom as it is, sometimes even rivals share a moment.
#8. The Laughing Fish
(Detective Comics #475 – 1978)
One of Joker’s most iconic crimes is the Laughing Fish. This was basically the rebirth of the character as we know him now. He poisons the river and turns all the fish into grotesque reflections of himself, but not to kill people for once. This time he instead plans to copyright the fish and collect a percentage of the sales. Problem here – you can’t copyright a natural resource, or some copyright clerk Carl G. Francis informs him. This rejection doesn’t sit well with the grinning psychopath, and he threatens to kill Mr. Francis.
The story was adapted by the brilliant animated series (above) and the animators choose to spare poor Mr. Francis. The comic however was not so kind and our patent clerk dies in a manner similar to the way Mr. Henry Claridge did back in 1940. The brilliant episode and the unforgettable looking fish (top of the page) have kept this caper fresh in the minds of fans for over 30 years.
– B. Kronner
#7. The Clown at Midnight
(Batman #663 – 2007)
One issue stands out above a few others when it comes to the uniqueness of the Joker. Written by Grant Morrison in prose, The Clown at Midnight describes one of Joker’s many nights in Arkham Asylum, and brings us into the world of his insanity like never before. Alerted to his plan by the deaths of eight of Joker’s henchman at a funeral, Batman arrives at Arkham to see Joker freshly bandaged, and blinking at him in Morse Code. This was shortly after he had been shot in the head by an impostor Batman, so there is a little uncertainty just how much of the Joker remains intact. As we work our way through Joker’s plan and witness some more of the murders of his previous henchman, it’s clear that not only is Joker still a threat, he may be more insane than ever.
The importance of the story lies in the way it shows how much everybody around Joker is affected by him. Whether it’s Harley Quinn, Commissioner Gordon, Batman, or even some of the tortured souls that find their way under his wing, everyone leaves changed after contact with the Joker. As he continues his rebirth and goal of letting go of the past throughout the story, we are witness to the first moment of self mutilation that continues to be a theme in recent Joker stories. The reason for his fresh bandages are the new grotesque smile carved forever into his flesh, adding to the menace and further terrifying his victims. Here we see the very memorable birth of one of the craziest versions of the Joker, The latest of the superpersona’s that are constantly dominating his psychopathic nature. And we get to witness it first hand in his mind’s eye, elegantly written by Morrison in a story that stands out from the rest.
– S. Fraser
#6. Emperor Joker Crucifies Batman
(Superman: Man of Steel #105 – 2000)
Maybe nothing has ever exemplified Mr. J’s obsession with the Bat more than this story…which stars Superman. Much like Joker did in Kingdom Come, here Batman proves what an impact you can make on a book in only a few short panels. This story, which spanned over several books before being collected into a trade, revolved around the Joker tricking Mister Mxyzptlk out of his powers and taking over the Earth. In the story we follow Superman trying to put things right and we get a real look inside the mind of the Joker.
So Joker, being near omnipotent chooses to spend each night torturing and killing Batman, then resurrecting him so he can do it all over again. Superman recognizes the obsession with his friend the plagues the Joker and convinces him that he can’t truly rule a universe while so obviously afflicted with his obsession. So the Joker attempts to erase Batman from existence, but this proves harder than expected. Without Batman the Joker would cease to be the Joker and his entire convoluted universe fell apart. Once again proving how truly intertwined the two characters are. And much like the laughing fish, this story was also adapted by animators, this time for Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
– B. Kronner
So that does it for this 3rd chapter. Ugly fish, magic powers, and alternate realities made up this section of the list, but there are still 5 remaining entries. Be sure to check back for the top 5 Joker moments!
Images: DC Comics, Warner Bros. Animation