Sunday, March 07, 2021
I'm experiencing Joker fatigue.
Recently, I was on Twitter and a user whose initials I'll use, "DB" proposed that "There needs to be absolutely no Joker or Joker related stories from DC for at least five years." I read that sentence and felt my heart rise a bit. My heart yearns for a DCU without a Joker in it.
I like that world, I want to be in that world. A world where a Joker appearance may actually... mean something.
Let me get this out of the way... I don't hate The Joker. I like him. I am tired of him, though.
Lately, I find myself more tired of the things people put on him and into him. The Joker is plainly and simply, insane. That's it. There's nothing more to it than that. As I grow older, I find myself less interested in what new way he'll inflict his cruelty onto Gotham. I become less interested in which way he'll escape again to do all over again but in some new crueler way.
I'm tired of folks thinking there's brilliance to be found in insanity.
The original fun in The Joker was to be found in his randomness. How he could pop up in one writer's story wanting to destroy The Justice League, only to wind up in the suburbs fleeing Big Barda and Mister Miracle's cookout. Want another cool Joker story?
My personal favorite Joker story from the pages of Batman: Legends of The Dark Knight where Batman finds The Joker close to death after crossing paths with Ra's al Ghul, must make a hard decision allow him to die or submerge in within the restorative ooze that is a Lazarus Pit so that he can bring The Joker to justice.
Batman chooses the pit. Now, here's the thing about Lazarus Pits, when one rises from the pool, they emerge violently. Feral, even.
The Joker having lived most of his life immersed in violence, emerges from The Lazarus Pit changed, racked with guilt and pain over all of the lives he's destroyed, crying for the judgement he finally knew he deserved.
To say that I was intrigued would be an understatement. That story took place twenty years ago in Batman: Legends of The Dark Knight #142-145. I haven't been given the opportunity to be surprised by The Joker since.
Lately though, stories involving The Joker don't lean into the randomness of his actions and go all in on the belief that his sadism is somehow a frequency we could never understand.
To quote Chris Rock, "Whatever happened to crazy?"
Lately, all The Joker is is just evil and nothing more than a Batman-adjacent serial killer.
Let's be real, today's Joker is less criminal mastermind and more Victor Zsasz but in purple pants.
In order to get into most any Batman story, you have to invest into that rogue's mission. With say, The Mad Hatter, you most likely will have something "hat" happen. When the "mad" is emphasized something glorious could unfold. For proof, look no further than Detective Comics #787, Brian K. Vaughan's heart-wrenching look into the Mad Hatter's mind. It moved me and now, I have a hard time watching Batman sock him in the jaw again.
I find myself in an age of mass shootings and gaslighting from all sides less able to stomach the continuing saga of a serial killer.
This month, there's a new continuing Joker series arriving on comic shop stands. I genuinely believe the creators involved are great and will find something new to say with this character.
Maybe I'll be missing out but I don't see myself reading it. As a firm believer in consequences, my head just won't allow me to go there.