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The Joker is a homicidal maniac and the archenemy of Batman. Though his precise origin is unknown even to him, he is known to have been forced to swim through a vat of chemicals which turned his skin white, his hair green, and left his face permanently locked in a double Glasgow Grin.

Possible Origin

Due to his nature, the Joker suggested many possible origins for how he came to be. Even before becoming the Joker, his DNA was not available on any records.[2] One of his favorites was that he lived with his murderous Aunt Eunice. An abusive guardian, she washed his skin with bleach, resulting in irreparable brain damage as well as the drainage of all pigmentation from his skin.[3]

Some of the chemicals in the Joker's body greatly resemble those in the Lazarus Pit, leading Paul Dekker to believe that the Joker was subjected to the primordial originator of these pits, Dionesium, at some point in his life.[4]

Red Hood Gang

Main article: Batman: Zero Year

The Joker began as "Red Hood One," the leader of the Red Hood Gang, comprised of blackmailed individuals from the middle and upper classes of Gotham that the Red Hood kept under his sway. With the ideology of pointless violence, the gang dared the authorities to try and catch them all.[5] He first faced off against Bruce Wayne when the returned billionaire turned vigilante rescued some hostages from the madman.[6]

Hijacking and robbing Oswald Cobblepot's personal blimp, Red Hood One got his hands on some stolen WayneTech weapons that, when rewired, could cause some real damage. [2]

Having been tipped off by Edward Nygma, the Red Hood sent his gang to kill Bruce Wayne, catching the billionaire in an explosion in his brownstone. Taunting Wayne as he lay dying, Red Hood One added insult to injury by shooting two bullets through a portrait of Wayne's deceased parents before leaving the future vigilante to his injuries. [5]

Red Hood One becomes the Joker

Red Hood One becomes the Joker

As the tales of the urban legend known as the Batman rose in the wake of Wayne's attempted assassination, the ranks of the Red Hood Gang began to slowly dwindle bit by bit, each member caught one by one. Having discovered Red Hood One's plan, Wayne, having recovered from their last encountered, blew the gang's cover at Ace Chemical Processing Plant where the criminals were planning to steal flesh-eating chemicals. Realizing the jig was up, the Red Hood Gang led an assault there against the Batman and the GCPD.

Though Red Hood One attempted to escape in a helicopter, Batman fired his grappling line around his enemy's ankle, yanking him from the aircraft, and sending them both plummeting through the weakened roof of the chemical plant. Almost falling into a vat of chemicals, Red Hood One was caught by Batman, who attempted to save the criminal's life. Claiming this moment to only be the beginning, the gang leader broke free of his savior's grasp and plummeted into the chemicals below. The man who was Red Hood One, though, despite Batman's prediction that the chemicals were enough to kill him, would only mutate from his exposure in the vat both mentally and physically into the criminal that would later reappear as the Joker. [7][8]

The War of Jokes and Riddles

Not long after "the Zero Year", the Joker resurfaced and quickly made a name for himself in the city; his first attempted crime was trying to poison the Gotham Reservoir, an act that Batman successfully stopped. [8]

Near the conclusion of Batman's second year as a vigilante, Joker found himself with the unique inability to laugh, thought to be caused by his continued inability to beat the Bat. Going on a chaotic killing spree of comedians, the Joker was tracked down by the Riddler, who had broken free after a year in prison, to offer that the two work together to fight Batman. Joker didn't find this offer funny though and shot the Riddler in the stomach, instigating what would later be known as "the War of Jokes and Riddles". [9]

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Other Early Crimes

In and out of Arkham Asylum constantly, Joker further built a reputation as a notorious criminal. In one of his stays at the asylum, the madman actually managed to seduce his psychiatrist into letting him escape and join him as his criminal accomplice Harley Quinn.

One of Joker's early plans drew the attention of the Gotham Gazette and, in particular, one of their journalists Tommy Blackcrow. Trying to investigate the clown that he clearly underestimated, Blackcrow was captured by Joker and, still undaunted, proceeded to tell the madman that he's probably the way he is because he doesn't have any friends, a comment that Blackcrow later regretted when Joker took it upon himself to make the journalist his best friend. [10]

As years passed, Joker's crimes became more violent, such as torturing and paralyzing Barbara Gordon and even killing the second Robin. Again and again, Batman defeated Joker and sent him to Arkham, but his crimes had now hit much closer to home.

Faces of Death

Years later, the Joker is a homicidal killer being hunted by Gotham's police force. After a skirmish with Batman, the Joker is caught and taken to Arkham Asylum. There, the Dollmaker, pays him a visit, which the Joker seems to have been expecting. The two have cordially arranged this meeting, and the Joker has assigned his visitor with a special task: he has the Dollmaker cut off his face, and pin it to the wall.

Afterward, the Joker is assumed dead by virtually everyone except Batman, and hundreds of mourners have surrounded the GCPD building in a mock vigil, calling for Joker's face to be returned to them, and Batman's head too. Soon afterward Harley Quinn learns of her Puddin's "death" and betrays the Suicide Squad by orchestrating a mass prison break at Belle Reve Penitentiary. Afterward, she travels back to Gotham City, turning herself in at Gotham City Police Headquarters all in the hopes of stealing back the Joker's face.

Death of the Family

The Joker made his return to Gotham City a year after his disappearance. He infiltrated the GCPD headquarters, killing the lights, slaughtering several cops and making his presence known to Gordon. The following days, he reenacted some of his earliest crimes such as publicly announcing his intention to poison the mayor, with each crime having some morbid twist to it.

Joker resurfaces, wearing his dismembered face

Joker resurfaces, wearing his dismembered face

After using Harley Quinn to distract Batman, the Joker went after anyone who has a connection to Batman. In order, he vanquished Batgirl, Catwoman, Robin, Nightwing, Red Robin and Red Hood. Joker brought them all to Arkham Asylum.

By the time Batman came, Joker had his defenses ready and lured the Dark Knight into his trap. Batman complied, hoping to learn more of his adversary's plans. Joker placed the entire Bat-Family on a large table, with bandages around their faces. He claimed he had removed their faces as Dollmaker had removed his. He also explained that he had instructed Dollmaker to remove his face to show that under his grin, there was only more grin. He left them, and set the scene on fire.

Batman broke free. He liberated his allies and discovered their faces were still intact. He caught up with Joker, and the fight was short. Batman taunted him, claiming to have discovered who the Joker was before his chemical bath. Not wanting to hear it, Joker jumped off the cliff.[11]

In the pit, Batman would later learn, was a pool of the element Dionesium, which had the supernatural ability to heal the Joker's dismembered face skin and grant him a superhuman healing factor, which he would later incorporate into his next plot against the Bat. Also in the cave, Joker discovered the cave painting of a bat that he wouldn't realize the significance of until even later. [12]

Eric Border

Soon after his supposed death off the cliff, Joker reappeared, but disguised as a new orderly at Arkham Asylum. Using pigmentation to conceal the pale skin on his new face and muscle relaxant pills to suppress his constant smile, Joker adopted the name "Eric Border" - "Eric" being a combination pun of the Norse and Gothic words "Eternal" and "Prince" respectively, and "Border", which is a homophone of the archaic word "bourder" meaning "jester". [13]

Befriending Dr. Mahreen Zaheer, Joker worked in Arkham, formulating his plan for return. In his new identity, the criminal kept to his roots by playing a dark prank on his new friend Dr. Zaheer by encouraging her to write a book about the "true" origin of the Joker. The clown falsified documents and paid people off in order to construct another origin story that could only potentially be true. [14] As part of his dark prank, the Joker gave each of four inmates a different origin for himself (a demon,[15] a robot,[16] a man from another time,[17] and a soldier who was the first in an army of Batmen created by the government.[18]) with a path through Gotham that eventually leads to the publisher of Dr. Zaheer's book where the fifth inmate has Dr. Zaheer tell them her story.

Endgame

Shedding his Eric Border identity almost a year after adopting it, Joker came back with an endgame in mind for Batman. Unlike his last dastardly plot, the clown made clear that he was no longer playing; he intended to make this his final dance with the Bat.

The Joker returns for one final fight

The Joker returns for one final fight

Drugging the Justice League using a new and extremely potent Joker Venom, the madman sent Batman's superhero allies after the vigilante, forcing Batman to singlehandedly fend off the entire Justice League. [13] Letting no time go to waste, Joker infected the entire city with the same virus, turning them all into laughing homicidal maniacs. Revealing that he knew Batman's secret identity, Joker then singled out some of Batman's closest allies, putting a hatchet into Commissioner Gordon's chest[4] and cutting off Alfred's right hand with a meat cleaver. Left severely injured from gunshot wounds from both Gordon and Pennyworth, Joker organized a gruesome parade in the middle of Gotham in preparation for his final battle with Batman.[14]

Though initially fooled into fighting an impostor, Joker made his way down into the depths of Gotham to his dionesium pit, where he fought Bruce Wayne's Batman in a duel to the death. With both eventually severely wounded and Joker's own supply of dionesium neutralized, Batman and the Joker died together, side by side, under the streets of Gotham.

Revival

The dionesium, despite having thought to been destroyed in the cave's collapse, managed to still revive both Bruce and the Joker, healing the scars on their bodies, but also robbing them of their memories. The man who was once the Joker - his skin and hair turned back to normal - returned to society and started a new life at a butcher shop.[19] Months later, Bruce, also living a normal life without the knowledge that he was once the Batman, met the former Joker in the park, who had intended to kill himself that night but eventually backed down. [20]

A short time later, after Bruce used a machine in the Batcave to return all his memories of being Batman, the insanity of his former life seeped back into the reformed Joker's mind, causing him to return to his normal Joker self. [21]

Metal

With all his memories back, the Joker began investigating a conspiracy behind a cave painting he had found when he was first revived by the pool of Dionesium. Batman, following the same mystery and thinking the Joker might hold a clue, captured him and detained the clown in a secret wing secluded in the Batcave for weeks.

The Joker, however, escaped when Hal Jordan and Duke Thomas accidentally set the madman free while trying to find out more about the mystery themselves. The Joker, raving about the evil that Batman was going to unleash if he didn't stop following the clues, smashed a machine vital to the investigation and left the Batcave in the commotion. [22].

Powers

  • 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.
  • Cheating Death: The Joker has an uncanny ability to cheat deadly situations, including before his transformation into the Joker, when he was still Red Hood One.[7]
  • Regeneration: Joker's spine contains the chemical compound, Dionesium, within it. This allows Joker to recover from injures at an accelerated rate. He was able to regenerate his face after it was cut off, and instantly heal from a lethal gunshot.[4]

Abilities

Weaknesses

Equipment

Related


Footnotes


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Batman Villain(s)
This character, team or organization, is or was primarily an enemy of the Batman, or the Batman Family as a whole. This template will categorize articles that include it into the category "Batman Villains."