DC’s Iconic Compilation of The Clown Prince of Crime
On April 25th, 2018; we celebrated the 78th anniversary of the publication of the Dark Knight’s greatest adversary, the Joker. A few years ago DC Comics took the opportunity to chronicle the major highlights of the character through out the years with a hardcover, 75th Anniversary compilation. Today I am writing about this special edition, a back-issue review spanning decades.
To start, I am a fan of the Joker. Ever since watching Cesar Romero when I was a kid, I have been fascinated with the Crown Prince of Crime. To be clear, I am not really into psychotic clowns, to an ‘It’ or ICP level. I am attracted to the depiction of a colorful Agent of Chaos who laughs with utter abandon at the frivolity of life. Basically, an existentialist anarchist who is liberated by madness. Plus my love for the color Purple, to a Prince-type level. Yeah. There’s that.
The 75th Anniversary collection touches on the multifaceted origin of the Joker. Not just the retcons of the past few years, but the creators of the character; Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson.
All three of these men claimed sole credit for the inception of the Joker, but just as with the creation of Superman and Captain America, it takes a community of artists to make an idea manifest.
The biggest inspiration for the look of the Joker comes from the silent film ‘The Man Who Laughed’ based upon the book by Victor Hugo. It is about a man with a permanent rictus grin and the tragic life he endures with a smile on his face; a common theme that would follow the Joker through all his iterations.
Sadly, one major chapter that is omitted from the anniversary edition is ‘The Killing Joke’ by Alan Moore. While they do include an honorable mention to Moore’s work, any Joker fan will tell you that ‘The Killing Joke’ is not just a great stand-alone graphic novel, but also the most iconic portrait of the Joker.
It hearkens back to the Red Hood origins started in Detective Comics #168 in 1951 in which the ending was left ambiguous, leaving some fans to believe Batman killed the Joker. The many origins and deaths of the Joker were even referenced with Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning performance, held in the phrase “Wanna know how I got these scars”. Over the years many writers and artists have tackled the origins of the Joker, just as many actors have attempted to accurately portray the character. But few come close to the bar set by ‘The Killing Joke’.
Aside from this omission, the 75th anniversary collection covers many highlights of the character, from Batman #1 to the Batman Rebirth story ‘But Here’s the Kicker’ in 2012. To any fan of Joker, or Batman, I suggest making the 75th Anniversary edition part of your permanent collection.
For articles on more recent Batman and Joker titles, visit the ‘Batman: White Knight’ review, available now on Thatentertains.com