I wonder what it’s like to be a rainmaker/I wonder what it’s like to know that I made the rain/I put it in boxes with little yellow tags on every one
I feel a little weird writing about how jazzed I am for the new Joker seeing as Heath Ledger died recently, but I have to show my admiration.
Growing up, I was a huge, huge fan of the Joker. When I was nine or so, Alan Moore’s classic graphic novel The Killing Joke was released with stunning art by Brian Bolland. I reproduced the cover as an art class project and as a piece of sidewalk art in downtown Richmond.
The thing that made The Killing Joke so innovative is that the Joker was every bit the menacing killer clown he was originally meant to be. After years and years of campy Batman *pow* *whap* *zoinks* Joker, Moore re-told the story of how the Red Hood fell into toxic waste, bleaching his face and going insane. More importantly (no pun intended), in the story the Joker shoots Batgirl/Barbara Gordon in the stomach. The wound he inflicted—paralyzing Batgirl—is one of the few sadistic acts in comic history that wasn’t later “retconned” (meaning no other writer un-did or otherwise fixed Batgirl, who still works from a wheelchair as “Oracle”).
While I’m sure that I will be conflicted watching Heath Ledger’s final performance, I am overjoyed that his Joker is gritty and sadistic. From the look (the butchered smile, the wild eyes) to the awesome viral marketing campaign started with www.thegothamtimes.com, it’s nice as a life-long fan to see a Joker with teeth.
Look for more Joker related content in the not-too-distant future. And maybe a little Lex Luthor.