|First appearance|| Batman #1 |
Story: "The Joker"
|Created by|| Bob Kane |
Jerry Robinson (concept)
|Origin||Detective Comics #168|
|Skin color||Chalk White|
|Affiliations||Crime Syndicate, Inc. (former)|
|Known alias(es)|| Clown Prince of Crime |
Harlequin of Hate
Ace of Knaves
Grand Mogul of Mountebanks
|Abilities|| Above-average gunfighter and marksman |
The Joker is a fictional character, a comic book supervillain from Earth-Two who terrorized Gotham City for years during the Golden Age of Comics. Created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson, the character appeared in Batman #1 (Spring 1940).
Bill Finger, the co-creator of Batman, brought credited Batman creator Bob Kane a photograph of actor Conrad Veidt wearing make-up for the silent film The Man Who Laughs (1928), and the Joker was modeled on this photograph.
The credit for creation of the Joker is disputed. Kane responded in a 1994 interview to claims that Jerry Robinson created the concept of the character:
"Bill Finger and I created the Joker. Bill was the writer. Jerry Robinson came to me with a playing card of the Joker. That's the way I sum it up. [The Joker] looks like Conrad Veidt — you know, the actor in The Man Who Laughs, [the 1928 movie based on the novel] by Victor Hugo. [...] Bill Finger had a book with a photograph of Conrad Veidt and showed it to me and said, 'Here's the Joker'. Jerry Robinson had absolutely nothing to do with it, but he'll always say he created it till he dies. He brought in a playing card, which we used for a couple of issues for him [the Joker] to use as his playing card."
Robinson, whose original Joker playing card was on public display in the exhibition "Masters of American Comics" at the Jewish Museum in New York City, New York, from September 16, 2006 to January 28, 2007, and the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, Georgia from October 24, 2004 to August 28, 2005, has countered that:
"Bill Finger knew of because Bill had been to a lot of the foreign films. Veidt ... had this clown makeup with the frozen smile on his face. When Bill saw the first drawing of the Joker, he said, 'That reminds me of Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs.' He said he would bring in some shots of that to show me. That's how that came about. I think in Bill's mind, he fleshed out the concept of the character."
Conflicts with the Earth-One 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).
Fictional Character BiographyEdit
The Joker's origins were explained in "The Man Behind the Red Hood!" (Detective Comics #168). Here, he was revealed to have been an ordinary lab worker before he became The Joker, who decided to steal one million dollars and retire into obscurity. To this end, he became a master thief known as the Red Hood, who wore a metallic dome over his head that prevented identification (by using two-way mirrors, he was able to see out of the hood). The Red Hood clashed with Batman on a number of occasions, culminating in a showdown at the Monarch Playing Card Company.
Cornered at last, Red Hood had no other escape options other than to dive into a vat of chemicals (later identified as inks used to make playing cards). The vat drained into a nearby river, allowing him to escape, but when he got home and took off the hood, he realized that the chemicals had bleached his skin bone-white, turned his hair bright green, and dyed his lips bright red. Believing this to be some sort of sign from the fates, he took on the identity of The Joker.
The Joker first made himself known in the underworld in Batman #1, where he brazenly announced his crimes over Gotham's radio airwaves before setting out to (successfully) commit them. By the time that Batman and Robin were finally able to stop him, he had already murdered two millionaires (and stolen their prized jewels), as well as a judge and a rival crime boss. Though he was sent to prison once defeated, The Joker would break out no more than a week later, by mixing chemicals hidden in two false teeth in order to blow apart his cell door.
Thus began a series of conflicts between the "Clown Prince of Crime" and the Dynamic Duo. Once he had broken out of prison, The Joker set about committing more robberies and killing several more people (amongst them a government official, another millionaire, and a public reformer). It was only by setting a trap in the police station that Batman and Robin were able to apprehend him once more, but not before Joker put up an enormous fight, nearly killing himself in the end when he accidentally stabs himself.
Though Batman and Robin believe him to be dead, a doctor diagnoses The Joker as being on the road to recovery, and sure enough, the Ace of Knaves was back on his feet in no time. In subsequent adventures, The Joker met up with Catwoman, operated a crime circus to rob the homes of the wealthy, and embarked on a cross-country crime spree across five states (New Jersey, Ohio, Kansas, Delaware, and Rhode Island) that spelled out his own name.
The true turning point for the Harlequin of Hate, however, came about in "The Joker Walks the Last Mile!"  , in which he turned himself in and was executed, but ordered his henchmen to then steal his corpse and use a resurrection potion to bring him back to life, thus allowing him to live out a normal life without being condemned by police (due to double jeopardy). After this story, the Joker's character became increasingly goofy, and where he once murdered dozens without so much as a thought, he now rarely harmed anyone in his crimes.
One of the "new" Joker's more infamous crimes had him commit robberies based off of various "boners" of history (at the time of the story's publishing, "boner" was slang for a mistake). On another occasion, he, taking inspiration from Batman, created his own utility belt to assist him in his crimes . On yet another occasion, he inherited the riches of rival mob boss "King" Barlowe, only to realize too late that it had been a trap to make a fool out of him. Batman and Robin would always stop his crimes and recover the loot, but The Joker, steadfast in his ways, would always try again and again.
As time went on, The Caped Crusader aged and died, and in an ironic twist, The Earth-Two Joker was actually able to outlive his arch-foe. He, however, was unable to accept that he had beaten his eternal enemy simply because the latter had died of old age, and as a result, escaped from prison and started his old criminal activities to draw Batman out. Dick Grayson (who had, by this point, become Batman II and retired from it), in order to calm the Ace of Knaves down, assumed the cowl once more and managed to get him to surrender peacefully. 
The Earth-Two Joker's ultimate fate is unknown. It is very possible that he was merged with the Earth-One Joker to become the Joker of New Earth when Crisis on Infinite Earths occurred, but all the same, it is also possible that he had died of old age before the Crisis.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
When he initially appeared, The Joker was actually a rather competent combatant. Several times, he was actually able to gain the upper hand over Batman in fistfights, and on one occasion, managed to outgun four policemen. The story "The Cross Country Crimes" also depicts the Earth-Two Joker as a competent sniper, nearly killing the head of the FBI.
As the years went on, The Joker's skills in hand-to-hand combat deteriorated. The Dynamic Duo were now easily able to best him in hand-to-hand combat, to the point where any direct meeting between the two was sure to end in the Joker's defeat. He was, however, still quite skilled with a gun, once shooting a small vase off of Batman's head from fifty yards away. 
Like his Earth-One and New Earth incarnations, The Joker was always depicted as having a high durability rate, as well as an uncanny ability to cheat death time and time again. He had, at one point or another, been trapped in burning buildings , fallen impossible heights into the sea , and plunged straight toward a speeding train, but has come back to torment the Dark Knight time and time again.
Last but certainly not least, The Joker is an extremely dangerous criminal genius, intelligent as well as creative. He is a master chemist, having concocted his trademark "Joker Venom", as well as various explosive solutions. As his homicidal tendencies dwindled, his capacity for inventing expanded to include mechanical items as well, ensuring that every time he face the Batman, he would have a new gadget at the ready.
Being an avid inventor, the Earth-Two Joker had no shortage of weapons and gadgetry. In his very first appearance, he utilized Joker Venom in several different forms - one killed the victim in the space of twenty-four hours, one killed instantly, and one merely paralyzed (the former two were liquids and had to be injected, while the latter was a vapor shot from a gas gun).
Ultimately, The Joker's weapons follow no distinct pattern, and are only bound by his imagination. In the story "The Joker Follows Suit!" for example, he invented the "Jokermobile" and "Joker-Gyro" - a plane and a car bearing his own likeness that proved to be a match for even the Batmobile and the Batplane. Capping it all off, The Joker even created his own "Joker-Signal". 
By far, one of The Joker's most creative pieces of paraphernalia was his utility belt. With a buckle shaped like his own face, the belt had twelve cylinders sewn onto it, and inside each of them was a "joke gadget" that would prove to be very useful in dodging the police and making getaways.
Of course, The Joker is still not above using more mundane weapons if the situation calls for it. He almost always carries a gun or two on him for intimidation and assault, and in "The Joker Returns", was also featured as carrying an emergency switchblade. 
Unlike his later incarnations, The Joker of Earth-Two, while homicidal, eccentric, and perhaps even a bit of a sociopath, was not insane. One story, in fact, revolved around him attempting to have a court declare him insane, but to no avail; Batman was easily able to prove that he was, in fact, completely aware of his own actions. 
In the dozen or so stories that came before "The Joker Walks The Last Mile!", The Joker was decidedly more homicidal, killing around thirty people in his crimes. Unlike his Earth-One and New Earth counterparts, however, the Earth-Two Joker did not kill for fun. Rather, he killed to establish his reputation and to remove his opponents. The Joker of Earth-Two has also been shown to possess a fondness toward jewels, but not for their value; instead, he coveted them for their beauty.
The Joker's ego knows no bounds, as he proved in his very first appearance when he shot and killed a mob boss who had made fun of him. As his homicidal tendencies were toned down, his ego expanded, to the point where he would gladly place his own face on his possessions (his utility belt; the "Jokermobile", etc.). With such an enormous ego, The Joker is supremely arrogant, believing Batman and Robin to be the only ones who could even pose a challenge to him (and even then, he still believed himself superior, hence why he often attempted to make fools out of the Dynamic Duo).