Character Spotlight: The Joker
Accounts of the Joker’s origin story have been varied and numerous. He himself has told the story of how he came to be in several different variations, saying that sometimes he remembers it one way, sometimes another; and that if he has to have a past, he “[prefers] it to be multiple choice.” What has remained the most consistent is that his first encounter with the Batman was while he was acting in the identity of “The Red Hood” with a gang of other thugs, committing a robbery in or near the Ace Chemical Processing Plant. He either tripped into a vat of chemicals, or was accidentally pushed in by Batman.
Though many have been related, a definitive history of the Joker has never been established in the comics, and his true name has never been confirmed. The most widely cited back-story can be seen in Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke. It depicts him as originally being an engineer at a chemical plant who quit his job to pursue his dream of being a stand-up comedian, only to fail miserably. Desperate to support his pregnant wife, Jeannie, the man agrees to help two criminals break into the plant where he was formerly employed. In this version of the story, the Red Hood persona is given to the inside man of every job (thus it is never the same man twice); this makes the inside man appear to be the leader, allowing the two ring-leaders to escape. During the planning, police contact him and inform him that his wife and unborn child have died in a household accident.
Stricken with grief, he attempts to back out of the plan, but the criminals strong-arm him into keeping his promise. As soon as they enter the plant, however, they are immediately caught by security and a fatal shoot-out ensues, in which the two criminals are killed. As he tries to escape, he is confronted by Batman, who is investigating the disturbance. Terrified, the engineer leaps over a rail and plummets into a vat of chemicals. When he surfaces in the nearby reservoir, he removes the hood and sees his reflection: bleached chalk-white skin, ruby-red lips, and emerald green hair. These events, coupled with his other misfortunes that day, drive the engineer through the massive personality shift that results in the birth of the Joker.
Unique Physiology: Due to his chemical submergence, Joker has gained beyond average advantages over normal humans as well as further exposure has tainted his physiology.
Joker Venom Immunity: The Joker is immune to his own venom as well as various similar toxins.
Genius-level Intellect: The Joker is portrayed as highly intelligent and skilled in the fields of chemistry and engineering, as well an expert with explosives. From his first appearance onward, he has been consistently portrayed as capable of hijacking broadcasts – usually news programs – of both the television and radio varieties.
Master of psychology
Excellent actor and the master of transformation
Hand-to-Hand Combat: The Joker has moderate skill in hand to hand combat. Over the years it has been shown that although Batman is stronger, the Joker is faster and more agile. The Joker has been known to be able to hold his own in hand-to-hand combat against Batman, however every time he is subdued by Batman, it is through physical force. However, the Joker has proven to be very skilled in the area of martial arts as well, this being proven when beating the Batman once in a fight without “cheating”.
It can be argued that the Joker is one of Batman’s greatest enemies. He isn’t as smart as Ra’s Al Ghul, as strong as Bane, or as conniving as The Penguin, but maybe it is his completely random behavior and chilling ruthlessness that Batman has trouble dealing with. The Joker seems to live for causing havoc, and delights at making Batman squirm.
Like many Batman fans, The Joker is one my favorite Batman villains next to Hush (Future Character Spotlight). I strongly believe that the character is the most well known comic book villain of all time and I mean that literally. Batman has one of the greatest Rogue Galleries in the Comic Book Universe but out of all of them on the list, The Joker tops them all of being the one that can push Batman over the edge and question his code or morals.
Though he may be Batman’s undisputed arch-nemesis, The Joker has always held some kind of respect for Batman, saying in “The Dark Knight”, “Why would I kill you? What would I do without you?”. He also acknowledges that Batman will never kill him, as that is Batman’s only rule, and since The Joker will not kill Batman, they are truly destined to fight forever. As The Joker says, “This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.”
In all his shapes and forms, The Joker remains as one of the scariest and most ingenious of all comic book villain history.