Return of the Joker
Posted on Oct 22, 2012 in Opinion
If asked, “Who is Batman’s greatest rouge?” the obvious answer would be Joker, the clown prince of crime. Over the years the Joker has shown that he is capable of anything from whoopee cushions for a laugh or psychological torture, such as crippling Barbara Gordon – the Batgirl – and killing Jason Todd – the second Robin – to get at Commissioner Gordon and Batman. Joker is a villain who has always been depicted in a variety of ways such as a prankster and a psychopath so writers could go crazy with him.
However, despite being such an iconic villain, the Joker has not played the driving force in comics since stories such as “Batman: The Killing Joke” and “A Death in the Family,” stories taking place in the 1980s. Yet, all of that has changed with the release of “Batman #13,” an arc entitled “Death of the Family,” on October 10.
When DC Comics put The New 52 into effect last year, they wanted the Joker off the table for a while so they could do completely new things. Scott Snyder, the scribe of the Batman comic book, said he had an important story in mind and informed DC that they could work it into his broader story. So, in “Detective Comics #1,” the Joker disappeared, leaving only his carved off face on a wall in Arkham Asylum. Snyder says that the Joker has been watching and waiting for a year now and has come to an important conclusion: He must save Batman.
Batman, while only human, has been seen and portrayed as an inhuman force, a figure of myth and legend, rather than flesh and blood. That is Joker’s Batman–the one that can’t be beaten back. However, after seeing Batman go through trouble with the Court of Owls over the first year of “Batman” in The New 52, he has decided that Batman has become fat and soft, and he will not allow that. He believes that Batman’s friends and allies are holding him back and they must all die for his Batman to come back.
Within the first few pages of “Batman #13,” it is already easy to tell how dark, twisted, creepy, and downright scary the Joker is portrayed. That’s even without clearly seeing him in the dark!
With just a few words, he is able to bring Commissioner Gordon to his knees while snapping the necks of several police officers. Batman goes to confront Joker at Ace Chemicals where the Joker fell into a vat of chemicals which turned him into the Joker known around the world. He sees a figure in Joker’s old Red Hood outfit, but quickly deduces that it is actually his sometimes sidekick Harley Quinn under the helmet who is scared and sad, saying “He’s not the same, Bats. He’s not my Mr. J. anymore.”
Then we see Joker with his new look as he attacks Alfred at Wayne Manor. It is sick and scary, which is perfect for the Joker. If anyone thought the scars from Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” was scary, then the Joker wearing his face as a mask, using hooks and belts to hold it in place is far more terrifying. The way Joker wears his face as a mask reminds me of how Bruce Wayne is often seen as the mask and Batman is the true face. It seems the Joker is wearing his face as a mask so he is closer to Batman in that sense. Their actual connected faces aren’t their true selves; instead, the masks they put on are the real deal.
The Joker’s plans shall have terrifying consequences as “Death of the Family” continues in “Batman” and crosses over into other DC titles involving members of the Bat Family. Snyder says by the time he is done with the Joker, no one will want to use him for another 20 years; he is writing this as if he’ll never have a chance to write about Joker again, as he does with all his stories.