The Joker's 10 Most Heinous Atrocities
The Joker’s 10 Most Heinous Atrocities
Even Genghis Khan would struggle to compete with The Joker’s acts of worldwide carnage.
Hand-shockers and exploding Christmas gifts?
The Joker can do far… far worse.
Since April 1940 The Joker has been the number one thorn in the side of everybody’s favourite Caped Crusader. Portrayed in almost every version of Batman on page and screen, the Clown Prince of Crime has racked up quite the Gotham City rap sheet. Here’s my pick for his ten most horrific offences!
10) Murders Alexander Luthor
Who wouldn’t invite the Joker to a party anyway?
Infinite Crisis (2005)
Originating in the ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ event in the 80s, Alexander Luthor Jr. was the lone defender of Earth-3, battling against the Crime Syndicate, a backwards evil version of the Justice League. He was one of the central heroes in this universe-warping 12-issue run that killed both Supergirl and The Flash.
Years later Luthor has become jaded by the effects of the new world he played a part in creating, and regrets what reality has become. Forming a new version of the Society of Supervillains, Luthor Jr. made the major mistake of disbarring Joker for being too unpredictable. This would catch up with him when his grand plans failed and he winds up hiding in the backstreets of Gotham. Discovered by the Earth-1 Lex Luthor and The Joker, he has half his face melted off with an acid flower before having his brains blown out.
9) Creates Harley Quinn
Yes, trained psychologist Harleen Quinzel was normal once.
Mad Love (1994)
Originating in the 90s TV show ‘Batman: The Animated Series’, Harley Quinn has turned into one of the most popular Batman baddies of the modern era. From black-and-red onesie to Margot Robbie’s sexually charged portrayal in 2016’s ‘Suicide Squad’, the origin of Harley remains consistent. A psychologist working at Arkham Asylum spends so much time psychoanalyzing the Clown Prince of Crime, that she is driven completely mad herself and falls in love with him. Perhaps the litres of blood are low in this entry, but it demonstrates best how compelling The Joker’s psyche can be to those susceptible. A theme re-iterated throughout The Joker’s history – an incredible ability to coax, con and coerce others to do the heavy lifting.
8) Kidnaps Gotham’s babies and murders Jim Gordon’s wife
Joker Day-care Ltd. was a fleeting enterprise.
Batman: No Man’s Land (1999)
After Gotham is levelled by a cataclysmic earthquake, the entire city is declared an outlaw zone by the US Government. Split between warring gangs and Bat-villains, Gotham descends into total anarchy with an absent Batman, and just a handful of unauthorised GCPD officers trying to hold the fort.
Enter the Clown Prince of Crime, who proceeds to kidnap every baby in the city and horde them inside the GCPD precinct. Unfortunately stumbling upon Mr. J’s secret stash, Commissioner Gordon’s second wife, Sarah Essen (not Barbara, mother of Batgirl) gets shot in the head for her trouble. Gordon pops a cap in the Joker’s knee but a reemergent Batman convinces him not to put him to death.
7) Skins Monty alive and rapes Jonny Frost’s wife to death
I prefer my club-owners skin-on.
Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo’s stand-alone 2008 graphic novel is a gritty and realistic depiction of The Joker’s actions following release from Arkham Asylum. Bermejo’s artwork almost certainly inspired Heath Ledger’s famous portrayal of the character in ‘The Dark Knight’, also in 2008.
The story is followed through the eyes of henchman Jonny Frost (who made a brief appearance in 2016’s ‘Suicide Squad’ movie), sent to collect the paroled Clown Prince. The Joker proceeds to skin night-club owner Monty alive as a message to rouse troops to his cause. After run-ins with Killer Croc, Penguin and Riddler, Joker helps save Jonny Frost’s wife from the clutches of Two-Face. Oh, and then rapes her – and claims that he and Jonny are now equal, because Frost had secretly met Two-Face and not told the Joker.
6) Kills Batman every day in a ‘Groundhog Day’-esque loop
Of all the people to have omnipotent power…
Superman: Emperor Joker (2000)
In the fall of 2000, The Joker took his extreme activity to a whole new level. After conning Mr. Mxyzptlk, the mischievous magical imp from the 5th dimension, out of nearly all of his powers, The Joker recreated the world in his own distorted image. Part of this new reality involved torturing his old foe to death, every day, and resurrecting him to do it all over again, in a new and horrifying way. Joker’s new world also included an Arkham Asylum under the control of super-zombie Solomon Grundy, and Bizarro as the most renowned hero of the day.
5) Removes his face and wages war on the Bat-Family
The Thinking Man’s disguise.
Batman: Death of the Family (2012)
With a title harking back to 1988’s ‘A Death in the Family’, this 2012 story arc features The Joker returning from absence with his most comprehensive campaign against the Bat-Family ever. A year prior to the events Mr. J had been confined to Arkham once more, but little did the Caped Crusader know that his nemesis had planned for this, and fully intended to go to Arkham in search of the Dollmaker. He then has the Dollmaker remove his face for him.
Launching his assault on everyone Bats cares about, Joker attacks the GCPD before individually reigning hell upon Alfred, Catwoman, Jim Gordon, Batgirl, and every existing Robin. His exploits over 23 comic issues, spanning 9 titles, include blowing up a reservoir, poisoning Commissioner Gordon, electrocuting Batman in an electric chair, and bandaging the entire Bat-Family’s heads up to lead Batman to believe they’ve had their faces removed as well. He also used locations and individuals in his twisted game, to lead Batman back through some of their earliest confrontations.
4) Paralyzes Barbara Gordon
Although I suppose an optimist could say we have Joker to thank for creating Oracle….
Batman: The Killing Joke (1988)
Probably the best-known Batman graphic novel of all time; Alan Moore’s 1988 masterpiece, illustrated by Brian Bollard, highlights how inseparable The Joker is from Batman, and how one cannot exist without the other. As well as kidnapping Commissioner Gordon himself, and dragging him through a literal and emotional mad house, The Joker pays a visit to Gordon’s daughter Barbara. Unbeknownst to Gordon, his daughter is secretly Batman’s female sidekick Batgirl, and The Joker introduces himself by shooting her through the hip, paralyzing her from the waist down. Luckily for Barbara, she also happens to be an ace hacker and continues to assist the Caped Crusader through technological espionage from the comfort of her wheelchair. When the Bat finally comes to save the day, he finds the Commissioner naked, in a cage, sporting a dog collar, and babbling nonsense. The last few frames of the graphic novel sparked a popular internet fan theory that Batman killed The Joker at the end. Alan Moore has never confirmed this however, and the killing isn’t in the original transcript.
Recently adapted into DC’s first R-Rated animation feature, the film version of ‘The Killing Joke’ suggests that Barbara had also been raped by The Joker, and adds a controversial romance between the Dark Knight and his younger sidekick.
3) Murders Jason Todd
….and the Red Hood.
Batman: A Death in the Family (1988)
1988 wasn’t a great year for Batman’s sidekicks. As well as Batgirl being permanently prevented from back-flipping; the second Robin, Jason Todd, was failing to prove as popular with the comic-reading public as Dick ‘Nightwing’ Grayson, his predecessor. In a unique phone-in competition, the readers were encouraged to vote whether Jason Todd was to live or die, and the results were as you’d expect.
In a story arc that features Bruce and Jason globe-trotting in the hunt for Todd’s real mother, The Joker manages to obtain a position of power in Iranian government, and some nuclear warheads. Ultimately, upon finding the true mother of Jason, she has already been leveraged by The Joker, and sells her own son out to the Clown Prince of Crime. Jason is savagely beaten with a crowbar, and both he and his mother are left in a warehouse with a ticking bomb. Bats does of course find them, but it’s already too late. Although other entrants on this list are more gruesome, or more complex, the death of Jason Todd is one of the defining moments in the history of both Batman and his nemesis.
2) Attacks Gotham’s Twin Towers
Glass-shards keep fallin’ on my head…
Batman Confidential #11 (2007)
Released six years after the events of 9/11, DC Comics clearly felt the “too soon” moment had passed. The 'Batman: Confidential' series explored past adventures of the Dark Knight, looking back at early altercations with well-known foes. In the story arc ‘Lovers and Madmen’ The Joker unleashes a zeppelin directly at Gotham’s version of the Twin Towers.
After a failed helicopter interception by Commissioner James Gordon, the contents of the blimp explode over the streets of Gotham, raining poison-laced shards of glass upon the long-suffering populace. Before the Bat can arrive to save the day, the gutters are brimming with the twisted corpses of Joker’s victims, beaming with agonising glee.
1) Eats the entire population of China
Mr. J had a plan for China’s spiralling population.
Superman: Emperor Joker (2000)
Placed at #1 for sheer body-count and absurdity, following on from #6, during The Joker’s reign as Emperor, he used his new-found powers to consume the entire Chinese population. Giggling to himself that ‘someone should have yelled “Peking. Duck!”’, many atrocities have been committed by supervillains over the decades, but personally devouring 1 billion people in a cannibalistic genocide, is hardcore even for The Joker.