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What’s Bothering TBU #6-Where Does Joker Go From Here?

What's Bothering TBU?


So the Joker has this massive story line where he personally goes after Batman and his allies because somehow he has gained intimate knowledge about whom each of them are.


Okay, so this has been a kick-ass storyline so far, and no doubt will end in such a glorious fashion as only Scott Synder can provide these days. The question is though, what’s next? Oh yes, in Batman things move on to The Riddler and down the road we shall see the return of The Red Hood Gang that was seen in the pages of the Zero issue. But the question is where do you go with the character of The Joker?


There really isn’t any going back from this event. Assuming, like always, The Joker will survive somehow, leaving as Bruce says in the final pages of “Death In The Family” (Batman (1940-2011) #429) “That’s the way things always end with The Joker and me, unresolved.” But in this case, shouldn’t a resolution be the final result? Shouldn’t this story finish out with Batman somehow seeing the end of The Joker, most likely not by his hand of course? Which is kind of an underlying problem with using The Joker in this mega event story; sure his reasoning behind this is sound…well for him anyway, but since it’s so wide in scope and so vicious in nature, can you really tell another Joker story?


Yeah there are ways around it (but we saw how well that turned out in Identity Crisis), but here is the problem of the “can you top this” mentality of the mainstream comics, and really entertainment industry in general, today. You are setting up this ultimate Joker story in a mainstream continuity where everything needs to be somewhat the same. Oh sure things can’t be the same as they were back in the day of mostly one-shot issues, but consider this.


Bane and Hush were created specifically for their first major stories. Bane in Knightfall, and Hush in Hush; since then, because of how wide of a scope their stories were and how personal they took the fight to Bruce Wayne, they never really were the same after. Yes, Paul Dini revitalized Tommy Elliot a bit during his Detective Comics and Streets of Gotham runs, and Bane found a home in Secret Six, but the characters needed to be taken down a few notches and be less untouchable then they appeared in those original stories.


Can this be done now with a 70 year old character? Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight said “You and I are destined to do this forever” in regards to the cat and mouse game, but eventually there is a line that will be crossed, necessitating a final and decisive confrontation a la both of The Animated Series’ Joker’s demises in Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker.


Of course that being a separate universe, the producers could get away with permanently ridding the world of The Joker. You can do that another medium where there will always be another interpretation of Batman and his world coming around the corner once the show ends its run, the movie franchise runs its course until a reboot, or the game’s popularity dies down; and of course, in out-of-continuity, or not on “our Earth” comic book stories. Certainly an Elseworlds story, or an out-of-continuity book can get away with “the final Joker story” but should this be done in a continuity that really should be forever in the second act of the story?


This is of course assuming that Snyder won’t end the story in a manner that takes The Joker off the table for anyone to use for a good long time. While that would be an interesting thing to do, and of course death in comics is hardly ever permanent, the problem lies in the fact that there really isn’t anything for The Joker to do once this story comes to an end. 


And there is the Catch 22 of this situation. No you probably don’t want Joker taken off the table completely; after all it was after a few years that The Joker reappeared after Death In The Family. But at the same time, what Joker is doing in Death Of The Family is so monumental that he really can’t go back to the same cat and mouse chase that has peppered Joker stories through the years.


So what is it, can DC have their cake and eat it too? Can they literally end The Joker once and for all in this story (only to come back by using (insert comic book trope here) to bring him back down the road), or will it end with the same “unresolved” feeling and The Joker showing up again watered down a bit because his next story will not be as over the top as this one? DC really has gotten themselves in a corner with this Joker story, let’s see how they get themselves out. If they can.


Posted by Steve J. Rogers

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  • Alex

    Great post sir! I'm wondering the same thing. I don't think it's watering down to bring characters into a smaller story, rather a means to flesh them out more. It actually proves how strong a character is,if they can adapt to different types of stories. I loved Bane in Knightfall, but I didn't know how great of a character he was until he was shown in other stories like Bane of the Demon, Batman Legacy, No Man's Land, Vengeance of Bane #1 and #2. and Secret Six. Afterwards he became my favorite Batman villain. Same thing with Deathstroke and the Judas Contract. The reason why the Joker was never my favorite villain was because of that "resolution issue" you spoke of. I guess the only way they're going to make his death permanent is if Batman kills him.

  • Jon Roke

    But why does the next story have to be bigger and better? This story has without a doubt been fantastic. However it doesn't mean the end off the Joker and the death of all stories. I actually think this gives a great chance for us to have some lower key joker stories. To after this take it back to maybe a couple of issues in say detective where the Joker is back up to his old tricks. Or even better to have a look at him closer. For example after no man's land we got some great small stories that were all minor but still great. Comics need these peaks and troughs to keep all the stories going. If it is constantly trying to out do itself all the time then eventually the stories will become so stupid we will end up back in the sixties again.   

  • Alex

    That's a great point Jon! Some of these huge stories actually water down the characters.

  • dave

    following this event the creative teams should be given a ton of credit.  they have created several scenarios in which not only Bruce but Damien, Dick, Jason and Barbara would all have a reason to truly kill Joker off once and for all.  should they though?  in every other form of story telling, much loved heroes and villains are killed off and it is either a fitting end to that characters story arc (a good example from tv is Stringer Bell from the wire) or it can be used to push stories forward (ned stark in game of thrones).  the way this event is being set up it looks like it is possibly headed that way and the death of joker would develop all those characters in a way never done before.

  • Unlike Bane, the Joker is flexible enough to support stories that aren't mega-events. Going Sane and Slayride are excellent small-scale books that feature the Joker, don't throw an entire fictional universe into panic, and above all, they work as stories. My hope is that the Joker goes back into his box for a long while, then is featured in a smaller, lower-key way.