75 Years of Jokes

The powers that be at Detective Comics, in 1940, looked around at the shitty world around them. Germany’s being a big dick. This Hitler thing is running amok. And those in charge at DC were like. “You know what? This Bat Man character… he’s got something to him. GIVE HIM HIS OWN BOOK!”

And. You know. Comic book sales were high and stuffs before this as well.

After Batman retrieved his own “Watson.” You know, in the form of a (pre-)teenaged sidekick/ward thing that would become the awesomeness that is the Robin character. The powers that be at DC, after the sales hike from the sidekick, decided that Batman was awesome.

And thus, DC released…

This. Right?

Essentially, it was (as was the industry standard at the time… which… you know… wasn’t much of a standard for the beginning of the Golden Age), a collection of stories involving Batman. And Robin, of course. Three stories, if I’m not mistaken. One involved… somebody (off the top of my “BATMAN EXPERT~!” head… I want to say it’s Hugo Strange… but I KNOW that’s incorrect). Another story involved Catwoman. Which, you know, is obviously awesome and amazing in its own right. And, in fact, I don’t know why there hasn’t been a MUCH bigger deal made about this year being Catwoman’s 75th birthday. Hell! DON’T YOU KNOW THAT AMERICAN’S WANT THEIR NEXT PRESIDENT TO BE A WOMAN?!

Either way.

This would be the first, official appearance of the Joker.

This guy, obviously.

Ever since his mysterious first appearance, Joker never had any sort of back-story. He just. Arrived. In Gotham. And he was all, like, “Hey everybody! I’m on the radio. And I’m going to kill people! BECAUSE I CAN!”

You see.

Bob Kane had once seen the 1928 film, The Man Who Laughs. As far as I know, he went to Bill Finger (often uncredited co-created of “The Bat-Man”) and Jerry Robinson with this idea of… basically… a villain with a sadistic smile.

One. Two. Skip a few. Ninety-nine. Joker.

I’ve never, nor will ever, watch the silent film. But. Come on. That’s a perfect villain right there.

RANDOM SIDENOTE: I realize that I’m well-over a month late on Joker’s birthday. Hate me. Slay me.

But. For right now. Let’s go back to Joker’s back-story. Although there’s been plenty of interpretations to the character’s origin, he’s never, ever had a… let’s say, official “real name.” But. To hell with that. I’m going to give you all Joker’s real name. Right now. Because. I can. And. I’m just stretching this paragraph with words. Because. Why not?

The Joker’s “real name.”


Alfred Stryker.

For all intents and purposes. Alfred Stryker is the Joker. Alfred Stryker. In Detective Comics #27,  he fell into a vat of acid because the Bat-Man punched him so hard in the face that he broke a guardrail.

The closest thing to an “official” origin that the Joker has would be found. You know. Over 40 years after his birth in the Alan Moore story, The Killing Joke. During a… heist-ish thing, Batman would foil a robbery, thing. And the alleged head of the group, the Red Hood, fell into a vat of acid. Skipping details. Of course.

So. A great mystery. Kind of. Sort of. Solved. Boom.

However, that doesn’t include Joker’s interpretations. Over the years, the clown prince of crime has been portrayed in numerous different ways. He’s been a goofy, laughing… idiot. He’s been an eccentric schemer. And, pretty much, most accurately, he’s been a complete psychopath.

Hell, in (I believe) the Silver Age of comics, he poisoned the water only to affect Gotham’s fishermen’s sales. SEE: “The Laughing Fish” from Batman – The Animated Series for easy reference. If that doesn’t SCREAM psycho (despite the time he poised the water supply so that all of Gotham’s residents would die with a white and red smile), I don’t know WHAT would be a better description!

As damaging as this may be to my Bat-cred. I'm pretty positive that this is my favorite Joker story.
As damaging as this may be to my Bat-cred. I’m pretty positive that this is my favorite Joker story.

Many-a person have described Joker as being Batman’s complete opposite. This is, you know, the essential “generic” description given to him by most of the titans of the comics industry. But. Honestly? I can’t see that. Like. At all.

Sure. Joker thinks that ANYTHING can be hilarious, or something. Batman finds NOTHING funny. Joker kills just because he can. Batman never kills anyone. Joker shot a bullet into Batgirl that left her paralyzed. Batgirl… sometimes fantasized about being with Batman? I don’t know. But. Sure. There’s plenty of contrasts here. But really?

“Complete opposite?” I just don’t see it. At all.

Oftentimes, hell, even on RyansDrunk.com, I’ve described Joker as a character that just wants to die. But he wants to go out in the grandest fashion possible. What better way to off yourself than to be killed by someone that’s sworn to never kill anyone. Right? It’s an ironic, poetic justice sort of thing.

Hate me. Slay me. But yes, I’m MOSTLY basing this description of the character based on Heath Ledger’s portrayal. But it’s prevalent in other stories as well.

But really? The Joker’s just. Way too God damn complicated. Perhaps, if your will is stronger than Harleen Quinzel’s, you may be able to peal back all of his layers to find his suicidal tendencies to be at his core. Perhaps.

But really? No one knows.

That’s probably the most brilliant part about the Joker. The character can, pretty much, be anything. He is the randomly laughing idiot portrayed by Cesar Romero. He is the flamboyant clown that enjoys art as seen by Jack Nicholson. He is the maniacal chemist that can create smile inducing toxins. And he’s just some random hobo with scars on his face and a few guns.

The one thing he ISN’T?

Is a person that has it in himself to admit that he’s damaged. He isn’t someone that knows, FOR A FACT, that his inner self is so distraught that he’d tattoo the word, “damaged,” on his forehead. I don’t care if you live in our parallel universe’s Earth Two, you would never EVER see the Joker with the word, “Damaged,” tattooed on his forehead. And, thankfully, it doesn’t look like you will ever will see that happen.

Be that as it may.

Right now? All I know is that it’s a month past his birthday. And I’m pretty sure Mr. Stryker would find some irony in my attempted appeasement by writing this semi-dedication thing that I’m doing. He’d find the irony before rigging my bed to explode as soon as I lay down.

Last thing.

Here’s to you,

Mr. J.

Harley's nice rack?
Harley’s nice rack?

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