Alternative versions of Joker
As a fictional character and the archenemy of Batman, the Joker has been represented in a variety of different stories that redefine elements of the characters appearance and personality. Each work typically establishes its own continuity, and sometimes introduces parallel universes, to the point where distinct differences in the portrayal of the character can be identified. This article details various versions of the Joker depicted in works including various alternative universe stories.
|Alternate versions of Joker|
|First appearance||Batman #1 (Spring 1940)|
|Created by||Jerry Robinson (concept)|
|See also||Joker in other media|
Batman: Digital JusticeEdit
In the 1990 graphic novel Batman: Digital Justice created by Pepe Moreno, an artificial intelligence calling itself the "Joker Virus" takes over a futuristic, technology-dependent Gotham City in the late 21st century and claims to be the reincarnation of its creator, the original Joker. Batman, in this version, the grandson of Commissioner James Gordon stops the virus with help from another A.I.: the Batcomputer, as programmed by the long-dead Bruce Wayne.
Dark Knight UniverseEdit
- In the alternative future of The Dark Knight Returns (1986), the Joker has been catatonic since Batman's retirement but regains consciousness after seeing a news story about his nemesis' reemergence. He manipulates his psychiatrist into declaring him cured, and hires a publicist to book him on a late night talk show. He attempts to destroy the television studio, drawing Batman out into the open. Batman pursues him into the Tunnel of Love at a carnival, where he fractures the Joker's neck in a fit of rage, but cannot bring himself to kill his old foe. The Joker then commits suicide by twisting his fractured neck until it breaks completely, thus framing Batman as a murderer.
- In The Dark Knight Strikes Again (2001), the sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, a man resembling the Joker with supernatural powers and a healing factor kills numerous superheroes under orders from Lex Luthor to foil Batman's superhero revolution against Luthor's dictatorial regime. Despite his appearance, several heroes insist that he cannot be the deceased Joker. In the climax, he is revealed to be Dick Grayson, who had been fired and abandoned by Batman many years ago. Grayson targeted Batman's partner Carrie Kelly specifically because of his jealousy of the girl. Grayson's disguise as the Joker is shown to have been a ploy to taunt Batman emotionally before taking his revenge. Dick is killed after a final confrontation with Batman.
- In All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, the prequel to The Dark Knight Returns (1986), the Joker is revealed to be the man responsible for the death of Grayson's parents, having hired "Jocko-Boy" Vanzetti to murder them during a circus act.
- In the one shot Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade, the Joker is revealed to be responsible for the death of Jason Todd, by having ordered his men to brutally beaten the new Robin to death in retaliation of his last defeat by the Dynamic Duo.
In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Martha Wayne is the Joker (and even resembles Heath Ledger's portrayal as seen in The Dark Knight). After Bruce Wayne is shot and killed by Joe Chill, Martha is unable to cope with her loss so she cuts open her cheeks to create a faux smile.
As Joker, she is the nemesis of Batman and uses Yo-Yo as a henchman. She kidnaps Harvey Dent's son and daughter. Joker kills James Gordon after she tricks Gordon into shooting Harvey's daughter (disguised as the Joker). After Dent's son and daughter are saved, Batman confronts Joker about their son's death. As Batman has recently met Barry Allen, Martha learns that there is a way to rewrite history where Bruce will live although they will die. Realizing that her son will be Batman in that timeline, Martha flees in horror, falling to her death in the caverns below Wayne Manor.
The DC Multiverse contains numerous parallel universes which in turn contain parallel Earths and alternative versions of DC characters different from the mainstream DC continuity.
The Joker of the post-52 Earth-2 is depicted as an old man, frail and wheelchair bound after a lifetime of exposure to deadly chemicals, and ironically unable to laugh without hurting himself. After disfiguring Huntress's boyfriend, Harry Simms, in an attempt to create a replacement for the deceased Two-Face, he is tracked down by the vengeful heroine. The Joker attempts to kill Huntress with a lethal joy buzzer, but the attack is intercepted by Power Girl, and the Joker is himself electrocuted as a result.
The Joker of the Earth-3 is a hero operating under the alias of the Jokester, and first appeared in Countdown #32 (Sep 2007). He is the nemesis of Owlman, a villainous version of Batman. Jokester and his daughter Duela Dent are killed by the rogue Monitor Solomon.
The Joker of Earth-9 in the DC Comics imprint Tangent Comics is a female hero who uses her array of jokes and comical devices to mock the evil tyrant Superman's authority. She first appears in Tangent Comics/The Joker #1 (Dec 1997). This Joker is actually three women: student Mary Marvel, entrepreneur Christie Xanadu, and reporter Lori Lemaris, all of whom take turns wearing the Joker costume. Mary is captured by the Tangent Superman and tortured into revealing the identities of the other two before she is killed. Lemaris is sent to prison and Christina's fate is left unknown. Lemaris is later re-offered the Joker mantle, but instead chooses to take up that of her fallen comrade, Manhunter.
On this alternate Earth, the children of metahuman heroes and villains have been forced into apparent retirement due to the efficiency of Superman robots. Amongst these individuals is Duela Dent/The Joker's Daughter, friends with Alexis Luthor, daughter of Lex Luthor.
In the timeline of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, set outside the DC animated universe, the character operates as the hero the Red Hood, escaping the clutches of the villainous Batman counterpart, Owlman.
A "Super deformed" version of the Justice League of America and some villains (the Joker among them) appeared in Superman/Batman #51 and #52. In Grant Morrison's 2014-15 miniseries The Mulitiversity, this alternate Earth is given the designation Earth-42.
Elseworlds titles are stories that take place in their own separate continuities and often feature different interpretations of mainstream continuity characters.
Batman: Bloodstorm (1994)Edit
In Batman: Bloodstorm, a sequel to Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, the Joker becomes the leader of a group of vampires after the death of their original leader, Dracula. Although he successfully coordinates their efforts to take control of Gotham's major crime families, the now-vampire Batman aided by were-cat Selina Kyle is able to destroy the Joker's minions. Unfortunately, Selina is killed in the final battle with the Joker's vampires, with her death causing Batman to succumb to his lust for blood and drink from the Joker. Although he stakes his foe to prevent him from coming back as a vampire, Batman is left tormented by the knowledge that the Joker won their long conflict by driving him to kill, often reflecting that he is damned by Dracula's bite and the Joker's blood in equal measure as he surrenders to his vampire side and turns on his old enemies.
Batman: In Darkest Knight (1994)Edit
In Batman: In Darkest Knight, a Joker/Two-Face analogue character is created when Sinestro absorbs the mind of Joe Chill, driving him insane and resulting in his taking on Joker's iconic purple suit and warped sense of humor (as well as a state resembling multiple personality disorder). The classic Joker origin (as depicted in The Killing Joke) is referenced, but averted by Green Lantern Bruce Wayne; after being arrested, the Red Hood says he's "had a really bad day", and Bruce counters by saying that's no excuse, because everyone has terrible days, which shames the Hood into apologizing.
Batman: Leatherwing (1994)Edit
In Batman: Leatherwing, the Joker is represented as the Laughing Man, the deformed and insane pirate captain of the Pescador ship. He is the adversary of Captain Leatherwing, a Batman analogue.
Batman: Nosferatu (1999)Edit
In Batman: Nosferatu, the Joker appears as the Laughing Man, a monstrous cyborg created by the experiments of the depraved Dr. Arkham, who uses him as an assassin. This version of the Joker ironically ends up creating this world's Batman after an assassination attempt on Bruce Wayne's counterpart.
Batman: Two Faces (1998)Edit
In Batman: Two Faces, the Joker is not an independent entity, but a shared identity created when a potion created by Bruce Wayne to give himself superhuman strength also creates a new personality, Bruce alternating randomly between himself and the Joker, his Batman identity fighting crime while the Joker commits murders. After he realizes the truth and confesses to his allies, Bruce, unable to cure himself, allows himself to fall off a building to stop the Joker once and for all.
Gotham by Gaslight (1989)Edit
The Joker cameos in Gotham by Gaslight as a serial killer who, having married and poisoned at least ten women, tries to commit suicide with strychnine when he is caught, leaving him with a permanent grin.
JLA: The Nail (1998)Edit
In JLA: The Nail, the Joker is provided with Kryptonian gauntlets and launches an attack on Arkham Asylum, forcing most of the inmates to fight each other before brutally murdering Batgirl and Robin while forcing Batman to watch. Catwoman distracts Joker long enough for Batman to escape, but the traumatised Batman subsequently kills the Joker in a rage. During JLA: Another Nail (2004), Batman encounters the Joker in the afterlife when dimensional anomalies allow him to escape from Hell, briefly attempting to sacrifice himself to ensure that the Joker will remain trapped, but Robin and Batgirl's spirit halts Batman's attempted sacrifice and gives him the strength to move on from his guilt.
Superman & Batman: Generations (1999)Edit
In the Superman & Batman: Generations mini-series, the DC characters are shown to age at a normal rate, with Batman and Superman beginning their careers in 1939. In 1949 the Joker and Lex Luthor kidnap a pregnant Lois Lane and expose her to gold kryptonite; this renders her first-born child a normal human. In 1969, the now-elderly Joker secretly escapes Arkham Asylum and poses as 'Joker Junior', claiming to be the original's protege. The Joker kills the second Batman (an adult Dick Grayson) before revealing his true identity to the police as he gloats about how he has finally killed Batman, but Bruce Junior, Bruce Wayne's son and Grayson's Robin, manages to switch costumes with his mentor to create the impression that the Joker killed Robin rather than Batman. In 1975 Grayson's spirit attacks the Joker in an attempt to kill him, but the spirit of the deceased Alfred Pennyworth convinces Grayson to pass on as the Joker can be no threat to anyone. Learning that his enemy is about to die of old age, the now retired Bruce Wayne dons the cape and cowl for a final visit to the Joker's deathbed. Batman rejects the Joker's request to learn his true identity on the grounds that the Joker is the last man he would want to bring peace to.
Superman: Speeding Bullets (1993)Edit
This Elseworlds is set on an Earth where baby Kal-El was adopted by Thomas and Martha Wayne and raised as Bruce Wayne. When Bruce's parents are killed, he becomes the ruthless vigilante Batman. Batman's nemesis is Lex Luthor who, in this reality, was injured in the same type of chemical accident that created the main universe Joker. The accident also drives Luthor insane, and he attempts to destroy Gotham City with an army of thugs, but is stopped by Batman.
Thrillkiller and Thrillkiller '62Edit
In the Elseworlds mini series Batman: Thrillkiller (Jan-Mar 1997), the Joker is gangster Bianca Steeplechase, and the nemesis of Batgirl and Robin. Steeplechase poisons Robin, masquerades as the mayor's wife, abducts and tortures Bruce Wayne, and is in a lesbian relationship with Earth-37's Harley Quinn. Bianca is killed by Batgirl, drowning in Gotham River.
In the mini series Batman: Damned, printed under the DC Black Label, Joker’s death is the center of the story. The circumstances are left unclear, though it occurred after a confrontation with Batman led to both of them tumbling over a bridge. The Joker’s body is later discovered by police, having washed up on shore, while Batman is severely injured and disoriented. Harley Quinn snaps completely and performs surgery in herself to resemble Joker, before leading his henchman on a revenge mission. 
Amalgam Comics is a 1997-98 shared imprint of DC Comics and Marvel Comics, which features characters that are composites of DC and Marvel characters. The Hyena (Creed H. Quinn) is a composite of DC's Joker and Marvel's Sabretooth. He is the nemesis of the Dark Claw (Logan Wayne), a composite of Batman and Marvel's Wolverine. Hyena, like Wayne, is a mutant with the ability to rapidly heal injuries. The two were both subjects of the Weapon X program, an attempt to create "living weapons". Hyena used his enhancements to become a psychopathic killer. The Hyena first appeared in Legends of the Dark Claw #1 (April 1996).
Batman/Judge Dredd featured the Joker character as a member of the Dark Judges, in the original graphic novel Die Laughing (1998). The Joker helped free the original Dark Judges in exchange for immortality. He received his payment by having his spirit merged into a corpse (which was not quite the "immortality" he had sought), creating "Judge Joker". As a Dark Judge, the Joker could kill masses of people with his laugh, which caused human heads to explode.
His tenure was a brief one, as he quickly became bored with slaughter simply for its own sake and did not share the original Dark Judge's fanatical zeal for their "sacred mission" of purging all life. The Joker was restored to his normal, mortal form upon returning to Gotham City via a defective dimensional jump device.
In the timeline of Batman Beyond, set in the DC animated universe after the events of the film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, the Joker remains deceased. In the Justice League Beyond arc "Flashdrive" his corpse appears in a flashback, set immediately after his death at the hands of Tim Drake in Return of the Joker, being buried beneath Arkham Asylum by Batman and James Gordon. The Joker's death is shown to be the catalyst for Barbara Gordon’s retirement as Batgirl.
Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo CrewEdit
The 1980s series Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew presented the parallel Earth of "Earth-C," a world populated by funny animal superheroes. Captain Carrot, in his secret identity of Rodney Rabbit, is the creator of the superhero comic Just'a Lotta Animals (an animal version of the Justice League of America). Captain Carrot and the Zoo eventually discover the characters in Rodney's comics actually live on "Earth-C-Minus", in yet another alternate universe. There, the Porker, a pig analog of the Joker, is the nemesis of the Batmouse. A poster of the Porker (drawn in a style resembling Alex Ross's version of the Joker) is later seen at a comic book convention on Earth-C.
Injustice: Gods Among Us comicEdit
In this spin off of the online game, the Joker tires of his unsuccessful fight with Batman, and decides to attack Superman. He and Harley Quinn kill Jimmy Olsen and abduct Lois Lane (who is pregnant with Superman's child). They place a stolen nuclear warhead within Metropolis, with a deadman switch wired to Lois. After exposing Superman to Kryptonite laced fear toxin (stolen from the Scarecrow), Superman mistakes Lois for Doomsday and kills her. Metropolis is destroyed in the subsequent nuclear detonation. A grief-filled and vengeful Superman then goes to confront the captured Joker, who states that'll he'll escape to commit more crimes to top of this. Enraged, Superman kills the Joker and goes on to establish the Regime, intent on eliminating crime through any means necessary.
In the Year Three comic series, Superman is placed into a magical sleep where he imagines events playing out differently. He is able to break free of the fear toxin in time to save Lois, their child, and Metropolis. Before Superman can attack the Joker, Batman takes the Joker away. When the Joker confesses to Batman that he would try to kill Lois again, Batman then kills Joker. With the tragedy averted Superman is able to live a happy life with his wife and child. Superman is eventually woken from his dream and forced to contend with a world where the Joker bested him.
In Year Four it is revealed that the Joker's name is used by the Joker Underground, a large group of people who oppose Superman's Regime. They see Joker as a symbol of freedom, though this catches Batwoman and Harley Quinn's eyes and they convince the protestors to use a different system. The Underground agree, but shortly after the two's departure an enraged Superman shows up, furious they are using Joker as a symbol. He then kills the Underground, including over 200 people, as punishment. This results in others continuing to use the Joker's name as a symbol, seemingly in response to the fact that Superman showed he is willing to murder those who had already agreed to stop using Joker's name as their symbol, resulting in the Underground being co-opted by the Joker of an alternate universe temporarily.
Another graphic novel, called simply Joker, focuses on the character in a more gritty, realistic version of the Batman mythos.
Planetary/Batman presents the Joker as a field agent for Planetary named Jasper, working under Richard Grayson. He is apparently harmless and has a habit of giggling when he is nervous. Elijah Snow mentions not liking the way Jasper "kept hugging himself" when looking at pictures of homicides.
In a comic book mini-series based from the television series Smallville, an interpretation of the Joker made his debut in Smallville: Alien #3 (February 2014). He is a parallel universe counterpart of Batman and incorporates an element of the Crime Syndicate/Society character, Owlman.
Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesEdit
Joker is first seen mocking one of Arkham's psychiatrists, earning him a dose of medication. Joker is also mutated into a king cobra. Despite almost killing Batman he his quickly knocked out by Donatello.
The Batman Who LaughsEdit
In the Earth-Minus-22 of the Dark Multiverse, having learned Batman's secret identity, the Joker slaughtered most of Batman's other rogues, as well as Commissioner Gordon, and then infected a sizeable portion of Gotham's population with the same chemicals that transformed him, subsequently killing several parents in front of their children with the goal of creating a gathering of children that were essentially a combination of himself and Batman. As Batman grappled with the Joker, the Joker died as the chemicals that had transformed him finally caught up with him, but as he died, his decaying body infected Batman with a virus that gradually transformed him into a new Joker. By the time he realized what the Joker's death had done to him, the process was too advanced for him to find a cure. Batman kills most of his allies and transforms Damian into a mini-Joker before turning on the rest of the Justice League and then conquering the world. Although the Batman Who Laughs successfully leads the other Dark Knights in a large-scale assault on the prime DC Universe on behalf of Barbatos, he is finally defeated by Batman and the Joker of the prime Earth, the Joker mockingly musing that even an insane Batman can only plan for scenarios that he believes are possible and such an alliance is the one thing the Batman Who Laughs could never have considered.
Batman: White KnightEdit
In this alternate reality, the Joker mocks Batman's attitude towards his "crusade" for justice, claiming that Batman's actions amount to nothing but an attempt to control his world and the Joker simply gives him the opportunity to express this rage. Disgusted at this claim, Batman force feeds the Joker a bottle of pills the villain had just stolen, but the overdose has the unexpected side effect of restoring the Joker to sanity, as well as remembering his former identity of Jack Napier, prompting him to "order" the GCPD to either charge Batman for assault or he would sue the department for complicity in Batman's abuse of prisoners. Napier's case against the department continues as he states that the GCPD locked him up as a major criminal on minimal evidence, and even finds himself reforming Harley Quinn as he reveals that he drove the true Doctor Harleen Quinzell away a long time ago and the Harley he has been working with was another madwoman. He reinforces his vendetta against Batman by discovering records of the cost of building insurance to compensate for all the damage caused by Batman's actions, as well as taking control of several other villains by adapting the technology used by the Mad Hatter to take control of Clayface and then expose the others to samples of Clayface, allowing him to control them by proxy.
- In the 1981 story Batman And The Incredible Hulk: The Monster And The Madman, the Shaper of Worlds loses control of his powers after passing through a unique field of radiation. He makes contact with the Joker to steal gamma ray equipment from Wayne Enterprises that can treat his condition. Despite the intervention of the Hulk, the Joker manages to escape with the equipment by tricking the Hulk into fighting Batman. The stolen ray proves ineffective, but exposure to the Hulk's unique gamma radiation cures the Shaper instead. As part of a deal with the Joker, the Shaper agrees to make the Joker's dreams real, but Batman and the Hulk are able to trick him into overloading his ability to dream.
- Carnage teams up with the Joker in Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds #1 (1995). The two meet when behavioral psychiatrist Cassandra Briar attempts to use the two killers as tests for a chip that will "lobotomise" their homicidal instincts. The Carnage symbiote neutralizes Kasady's chip after it is implanted, with Kasady pretending that the chip had worked so that he could meet the Joker. After Carnage removes Joker's chip, the two's mutual psychoses lead them into a brief alliance before their differing methods of murder cause a clash; Carnage favors numbers and actually seeing the death of his victims of his murder sprees close up while the Joker prefers the artistry of his usual traps and tricks, Carnage dismissing the Joker's methods as slow while Joker sees Carnage as an amateur as anyone can just go out and kill people. The Joker tries to kill Carnage with a bomb, but Carnage drapes a piece of symbiote over a corpse to fake his death. Batman and Spider-Man uncover the trick, and Batman is subsequently engulfed in Carnage's symbiote tendrils. Carnage proposes to kill Batman, but the Joker threatens to set off a bomb to destroy Gotham, himself and Carnage, rather than see Carnage kill Batman. As Batman battles Carnage, Spider-Man follows the Joker. The Joker defiantly dares Spider-Man to kill him, however, Spider-Man is unable to stoop to his level, electing instead to apprehend the Joker in classic hero style.
- In the 1997 DC/Marvel special Batman/Captain America, the Red Skull hires the Joker to steal an atomic bomb during World War II. Joker evades Batman, Cap, Bucky, and Robin and delivers it to the Skull, but is horrified when he learns that the Skull is a Nazi (saying "I may be a criminal lunatic but I'm an American criminal lunatic!"). When the Skull threatens to drop the bomb on Washington D.C., the Joker attacks him in the plane's cargo bay. While Captain America and Batman fly the plane over the ocean, the two villains are dropped out with the bomb just before it explodes. Both Captain America and Batman are convinced the two are still alive somehow.
- Newsstand on-sale date April 25, 1940 per: "The first ad for Batman #1". DC Comics. Archived from the original on October 19, 2006. Retrieved October 23, 2006.
- Miller, Frank, Azzarello, Brian (w), John Romita Jr., Peter Steigerwald (a). Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade: 64 (15 June 2016), DC Comics, retrieved on 28 June 2016
- Brian Azzarello (w). "Batman Knight of Vengeance" Flashpoint 3 of 3: 27-33 (August 2011), Detective Comics
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- Geoff Johns (w), Jerry Ordway (p), Bob Wiacek (i). "The Hunted" Justice Society of America 2 (September 2008), Detective Comics
- Countdown #29 (Dec 2007)
- The Multiversity: The Just #1 (Dec 2014)
- The Multiversity Guidebook #1 (Mar 2015)
- Superman/Batman: Generations #1 (Jan 1999)
- Superman/Batman: Generations #2 (Feb 1999)
- Superman/Batman: Generations II #2 (Sept 2001)
- Thrillkiller '62 (1998)
- Batman: Damned #1
- Batman: Damned #2
- Review at Every Day is Like Wednesday website (retrieved 4 July 2016)
- Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #14-15, April–May 1983
- Captain Carrot and the Final Ark #1, December 2007
- Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth
- Smallville: Alien #3 (February 2014)
- Batman/TMNT #2
- Batman: The Batman Who Laughs #1
- Batman: White Knight #1
- Batman: White Knight #2
- Batman: White Knight #3
- Batman And The Incredible Hulk: The Monster And The Madman
- Spider-Man and Batman #1
- Batman & Captain America #1 (January 1997)