Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Finally, The True Origin Of The Joker?

Let us travel back to ye olden days in Europe...

See?!? That's so obviously the Joker, that--

Oh. Never mind.

Still, this brings to mind a question--is the Joker the last major character (recent creations excepted) to not actually have an origin, to have his creation myth shrouded and hidden from the readers?

Wolverine's origin wasn't revealed for decades, but Marvel got to it (eventually)--hell, they even made a movie out of it!

The Phantom Stranger's beginnings were deliberately kept cloudy--famously, there was an issue of Secret Origins in the 1980s that coyly posited 4 different possible origin stories for the Stranger, without committing to any of them being the actual "truth".

Of course, once the nu52 came along, literal-minded DC ended all that: "He's Judas--deal with it!"

Yet despite insisting on ending the mystery of the one character whose mystique perhaps depended on mystery, DC has insisted on keeping the truth of the Joker's origin mum. He was Red Hood! He was a failed comedian! He was a vicious criminal! He's a super-genius whose spine is filled with mysterious fluid that can turn anyone into a Joker! He's immortal! He's a floor wax! He's a dessert topping!

Of course, we're now at the point where Geoff Johns has made it canon that there are 3 Jokers, without any explanation. (I picture Johns grinning foolishly at that little turd he left in DC's bowl as he walked away from writing comics, knowing that no one there would have the guramba to flush it away or do anything with it...)

Does it serve any purpose to keep the Joker's origin so shrouded? At best, it allows unrestrained writers to keep making The Clown Prince Of Crime more and more powerful, as he's escalated from a bank robber with a shtick to an insane nihilist to Maximus The Mad, trying to bring down all society and powerful enough to take out the whole Justice League (but not Batman--he's the bestest!).

That's one symbol of what's been going on at DC the past decade--we must completely define the Phantom Stranger, but we must keep the Joker free to grow more and more powerful and dangerous to better show off how cool Batman is.

So, since DC won't give us a Joker origin--for any of the three (!)--feel free to use the story above. Except for the "he died" part...

From The Beyond #8 (1952)


Anonymous said...

Didn't they kill the Joker off in the Golden Age, only to bring him back right away? Guy's come back so many times he has a trope named after him ("Joker Immunity") and the DC wiki actually lists one the Joker's powers as "Cheating Death" (the other being "Comic Awareness"). So why couldn't this be his origin story? ;)

Joker: Oh who cares? I've been blown up, thrown down smokestacks, fed to sharks; I'm the Joker! I always survive!

BK said...

Love a bit of mystery and playfulness, myself. So many Golden Age heroes and some villains didn't have origins, per se. Fantom? Captain Nazi? Bad to mess with the obliqueness and vagueness of genius. Byrne tried to give Darkseid an origin and then they just did it again in the new 52, I think? Gross.