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Joker (Earth-One)

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Joker (Earth-One)
Joker
Publication Information
First appearance Batman #85
Story: "Batman - Clown of Crime!" (Contended)
Created by Bob Kane
Bill Finger
Jerry Robinson (concept)
Origin Who's Who in the DC Universe Volume XI (11)
Biographical Information
True Identity Unknown
Hair Green
Eyes Green
Height 6'5"
Weight 192 lbs
Skin color Chalk White
Gender Male
Affiliations None
Partner(s) Penguin (occasional)
Riddler (occasional)
Known alias(es) Clown Prince of Crime
Harlequin of Hate
Ace of Knaves
Grand Mogul of Mountebanks
Abilities Displays of near-superhuman strength
born of madness in the heat of battle
Skilled chemist and inventor
Extremely unpredictable
Arch-nemesis Batman

The Joker is a fictional character, a comic book supervillain from Earth-One who terrorized Gotham City (and the rest of the DC Universe) for years during the Silver and Bronze Ages of Comics.

Publication HistoryEdit

Conflicts with the Earth-Two JokerEdit

Due to the concept of multiple Earths existing in the DC Universe not having been established until well into the Silver Age, where the Earth-Two Joker's stories end and where the Earth-One Joker's stories begin is a matter of interpretation. It is generally accepted that the Earth-Two Joker's last "official" story was "The Joker's Movie Crimes!" (Batman #80), and subsequently, was taken over by the Earth-One Joker in "Batman: Clown of Crime!" (Batman #85).

Revision by O' Neil and AdamsEdit

In 1973, the character was revived and profoundly revised in Batman stories by writer Dennis O' Neil and artist Neal Adams. Beginning in Batman #251, with "The Joker's Five Way Revenge", the Joker returns to his roots as a homicidal maniac who murders people on a whim, while enjoying battles of wits with Batman. O'Neil said his idea was "simply to take it back to where it started. I went to the DC library and read some of the early stories. I tried to get a sense of what Kane and Finger were after."

Writer Steve Englehart and artist Marshall Rogers, in an acclaimed run in Detective Comics #471-476 (Aug. 1977 - April 1978), which went on to influence the 1989 film Batman and be adapted for the 1990s animated series, added elements deepening the severity of the Joker's insanity. In the Englehart/Rogers story "The Laughing Fish", the Joker is brazen enough to disfigure fish with a rictus grin, then expects to be granted a federal trademark on them, only to start killing bureaucrats who try to explain that obtaining such a claim on a natural resource is a legal impossibility.

In addition, it was during the seventies that The Joker got his own (short-lived) comic book series, which featured him meeting and battling various other DC characters.

Fictional Character BiographyEdit

OriginEdit

Unlike the Earth-Two Joker, the Earth-One Joker never received an actual backstory printed in comics (save for a reprinting of the story "The Man Behind The Red Hood!" in Batman #213). The encyclopedic series Who's Who in the DC Universe, however, depicts him with an origin immensely close, if not identical, to that of the Earth-Two Joker:

The man who would become The Joker was a lab worker who plotted to steal one million dollars and retire, and to do so, invented the identity of the Red Hood. During a confrontation with Batman at the Monarch Playing Card Company, however, The Red Hood found himself cornered, and dove into a vat of chemicals to escape. The vat drained into a nearby river, making his escape successful, but he later found out that the chemicals in the vat (identified as inks for playing cards) had turned him into a grotesque parody of a human being with chalk-white skin, emerald-green hair, and ruby-red lips. Subsequently, he donned the mantle of The Joker, convinced that this was his fate all along.

Criminal CareerEdit

The criminal exploits of the Earth-One Joker can be considered an inversion of that of the Earth-Two Joker; whereas the Earth-Two Joker's crimes started out as rather mundane (though still with a tinge of the fantastic to them) as well as murderous, they eventually became larger-than-life exploits that were much less violent. The Earth-One Joker's crimes started out nearly identical in nature to that of the Earth-Two Joker's later crimes, but as time went on, they gained a decidedly more sinister and murderous bent.

"Batman - Clown of Crime!", widely regarded as the "first" story to feature the Earth-One Joker, had the Clown Prince of Crime switch bodies with his arch-foe, Batman. As Batman, The Joker wasted no time in using the gadgets in the Dark Knight's utility belt to create all sorts of havoc, and to cap it all off, offered to unmask himself in front of the entire city if given one million dollars. Though this amount was raised, The Joker was stopped by the real Batman (in Joker's body) before he could reveal Batman's secret identity, and the two were subsequently swapped back.

The Earth-One Joker was also (in)famous for teaming up with Superman's archenemy, Lex Luthor, on a number of occasions. The first of these occasions in particular depicted the two as business partners who created an army of "Mechano Men" that they claimed would help the citizens of Metropolis perform tasks that humans could not do by themselves. Ultimately, however, their plan was to use the "Mechano Men" to rob the Metropolis Sub-Treasury Building - a plan that Batman, Robin, and Superman were able to foil.

It was with the groundbreaking 1970s story "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge!" [1], however, that the Clown Prince of Crime returned to his roots as a homicidal maniac. Here, he gleefully murdered four of his former henchmen, and it was only Batman's intervention that stopped him from feeding the fifth to a shark. From there on, The Joker's crimes became more and more violent in nature, perhaps as a way of demonstrating his slowly decaying sanity. The aforementioned Englehart/Rogers stories "The Laughing Fish" and "Sign of the Joker!" played up his insanity even more, depicting him as believing that he can rightfully copyright fish whose faces he had chemically disfigured to resemble his. When told that fish cannot be copyrighted, he furiously kills two bureaucrats with his Joker Venom, and nearly kills a third with an acid-squirting police badge.

While the Earth-One Joker generally kept his operations restricted to Gotham City, he has traveled abroad a number of times. One storyline by Doug Menoch in the 1980s, for example, had him traveling to a civil war-torn Guatemala and increasing the tension between the local government and the rebel army with a group of fake rebels composed of hired mercenaries. By doing this, he hoped to goad the two sides into all-out war, and once the war had finished, he intended to take over the country and turn it into his private crime haven-slash-theme park. As always, however, his ruse was discovered, and he was brought down by Batman and Jason Todd, who had just donned the Robin costume for the first time. [2]

When Catwoman reformed and became an ally of Batman and Robin, The Joker was the one who returned her to her criminal roots. With the philosophy "Us thieves have to stick together", the Clown Prince of Crime had Dr. Moon restore Selina's criminal tendencies with electro-shock "therapy".

In 1986, the legendary event known as Crisis on Infinite Earths occurred, and The Joker of Earth-One was presumably merged with the Joker of Earth-Two (assuming that the latter had not died of old age already) to create the Joker of New Earth.

Powers and AbilitiesEdit

The Joker's entry in the 1980s series Who's Who in the DC Universe states that:

"An average athlete and hand-to-hand combatant, The Joker is occasionally possessed of almost-superhuman strength within the heat of battle-madness, thus making him more than a match for the physically superior Batman."

Several instances in the comics have backed this notion, such as in Batman #251, where The Joker is able to actually beat Batman in physical combat (though he had caught the Dark Knight off-guard, and Batman had sustained a head injuries mere minutes ago). In Batman #366, The Joker is driven wild by the heat of an enormous shootout occurring below him, and nearly kills Batman with a machine gun. In general, however, The Joker often proves to be a poor physical opponent for Batman, as he tends to crumple after even a single well-aimed blow from the Caped Crusader.

Because of this, The Joker often flees from Batman if the two confront each other face-to-face, and he has no gadgets on hand. When he does have a gadget or two on hand, however, he proves to be a rather tricky opponent, as his agility allows him to dart around many of Batman's punches and kicks while he strikes back with an unorthodox array of weaponry.

ParaphernaliaEdit

Keeping in with his namesake, The Joker carries a wide array of weaponry, most of which are designed to look like harmless gags. As always, his most often-used weapon is his Joker Venom, which has been depicted in many more forms than the types used by his Earth-Two Counterpart. It can be a harmless dust that only makes people laugh uncontrollably, a chemical that can kill almost instantly, or a chemical that slowly kills a victim within twenty-four hours, making them laugh uncontrollably all the while.

Besides the Venom, The Joker's most famous weapon is a joy buzzer that electrocutes his enemies. While the shock is sometimes lethal, other times, it serves only to stun the opponent.

Still, these two items are by no means The Joker's only pieces of paraphernalia. He has, on one occasion or another, utilized a nitroglycerin-filled cigar that could blow up an entire room [3], a spring-loaded boxing glove hidden in a bouquet of roses [4], and an exploding toy truck [5].

FootnotesEdit

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