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You Decide: What’s The Greatest Multi-Issue Joker-Centric Storyline?

With the conclusion of Death of the Family this week, we figured we’d ask you what your favorite multi-issue Joker storyline was.

Click here to vote.

Read on for a full list of the issue numbers of the above listed stories (there’s not enough room in the polls to give you the full credits)!

“A Death in the Family” (Batman #426-429)
“Batman and Robin Must Die” (Batman and Robin #13-15)
“Death of the Family” (Batman V2 #13-17)
“Emperor Joker” (34-42 in the 2000 Superman triangle numbers)
“Endgame” (Last month of Batman: No Man’s Land)
“Going Sane” (Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #65-68)
“The Joker’s Wild” (Robin II #1-4)
“Joker’s Last Laugh” (Joker’s Last Laugh #1-5)
“The Laughing Fish/Sign of the Joker” (Detective Comics #475-476)
“Soft Targets” (Gotham Central #12-15)
“Wildcard!” (Batman #450-451)


joe the poor speller

February 15, 2013 at 10:04 am

So many great stories. I’m very happy to see Wildcard!/Judgements on the poll.

snyder cant plot worth §$%”.

Anyone who actually thinks Death of the Family is a great story, let alone a great JOKER story, needs to read some actual comics.

It’s Laughing Fish/Sign of the Joker.

Anyone who thinks otherwise needs their heads examined.

Man, my two favorite Joker stories are RIP and Dark Knight Returns, neither of which count as “Joker-centric,” I suppose.

After that, I /narrowly/ picked Batman & Robin Must Die over Laughing Fish. I stand by my choice.

I went into this poll planning on voting for RIP (probably because I just read it for the first time and I’m still basking in it’s greatness), but it’s obviously not on here. I guess it’s not really “Joker-centric”, but Morrison’s portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime is absolutely masterful. I’ll have to settle with voting for Batman & Robin Must Die, which is also really good.

Laughing fish, clearly.

The Laughing Fish as an option makes this decision as difficult as picking the best band from a random collection of X Factor contestants or the Beatles.

I was sorely dissapointed at the end of Snyder’s Joker arc. I couldn’t see any long term ramifications to the Bat Family whatsoever. It wasn’t anything they couldn’t get past after a night out on the town or a family dinner/ BBQ. Very dissapointed.

As for my favourite Joker story?
Death in the Family – the last issue in that arc where Bats confronts Joker in the UN building is intense. Starlin’s narration is brilliant. And the fallout afterwards was so devastating. It was what truly made me a Batman fan.

The Joker’s Five Way Revenge – how can ANY Batman fan leave this off the list!!!

The Killing Joke – amazing.

Going Sane – J.M. DeMatteis’ run in Legends in which Joker goes sane after he believes Batman is dead was pretty cool.

There was also a Robin limited series featuring Joker that I really enjoyed at the time.

That list from CBR is rubbish too. Emperor Joker? Are you serious?

I don’t know what you halfwits are complaining about. Death of the Family is better than anything Morrison’s done, that hack.

But Englehart wins this for me. It’d be great to have a Denny O’Neil option, but “Joker’s Five Way Revenge” was just one issue.

– I’m surprised to see so little love for “Soft Targets” here, though in the end I have to pick Englehart as well.

— Joker’s Five-Way Revenge isn’t a multi-part story. But where’s Doug Moench’s three-part “Jokerland” tale from the 1980s?

— Morrison’s story is a favorite of mine, but I don’t think of it as a Joker-centric story.

— “Death IN the Family” is a lousy story. The entire thing is built on weak coincidences — the Joker just happens to be in half the places Jason visits? — and some very…odd attempts at political relevance. (Of all villains to be recruited for Iranian state-sponsored terrorism, the supremely irreverent Joker is probably the least plausible choice and the UN General Assembly is the least likely target.)

— If there’s one thing that convinces me of someone else’s opinion, it’s being called a halfwit! Personally, I think Oswald’s just envious at being left out of Morrison’s bat-work to date. (I was surprised the Penguin wasn’t even in the 1960s tribute scenes in Batman #700.)

Wow, a lot of venom in a simple discussion about comics here. This is a forum for a fun discussion, guys, not a chance for internet tough-guys to tell everyone how stupid their opinions are.

Better a halfwit than a rude prick.

Death in the Family isn’t a lousy story at all. What a rude thing to say.

If only I’d provided reasons for y opinion instead of just calling the story “lousy!”

More seriously, I’d like to hear more about what makes it a good story from those who like it. I’ll grant that the third, pivotal chapter has a lot of strong moments, but I feel as if the plotting and the pacing of the rest fatally undermine whatever good work is done there. But then, I’m also not that fond of Starlin’s Batman work, even though here’s a vocal contingent that considers it definitive.

I have (so far) only read “Batman” #17, the finale of “Death of the Family”. Wasn’t too impressed with it, frankly. The problem, for me, is the issue/story contained too many fake outs. SPOILERS:

First of all, we’re lead to believe the Joker was going to serve the Bat Family Chicken Alfred-o. Psyche! Then, the Joker had everyone (including we, the readers, believing he gave the Bat Family face-lifts, so to speak. Psyche!

These fake outs, especially given how horrific they were, had the effect of making the story’s ending worse than anti-climatic to me. I mean, seriously, Alfred for dinner? The faces of the Bat Family removed? Nope. That’s not the shock ending. The shock ending is the Bat Family chose to believe whatever it was Joker told them Batman really thought of the Bat Family. And now they won’t talk to Batman. 0_o I grant you Jason Todd might be inclined to believe the Joker and maybe Tim or Damian. But Dick? Nightwing has been with Batman the longest. He’s fought the Joker almost as often as Batman. Of all the Bat Family, Dick Grayson should know better than to believe whatever the Joker told him. It stretches credibility for Dick to shun Batman because of what the Joker claims is Bruce’s real feelings about him. (Frankly, Damian should be scarred to the extent he refuses to be in the superhero game again. But that’s another matter.) I’m not sure that Batgirl should fall for the Joker’s claims so easily either.

It’s because the ending fell so flat to me and didn’t ring true, I couldn’t pick “Death of the Family”. I went the Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers/Terry Austin classic two-parter (The Joker Fish issues). But then, those were my first true exposure to the Joker in the comics.

Death of the Family had a brilliant conclusion based on Batman “breaking the spell”, betraying the “game” he’d been playing with Joker, in Joker’s mind, by actually discovering who Joker really is, which Joker couldn’t stand for. Joker just assumes that Batman’s in on it, that he lets Joker do what he wants because he wants him to. When Batman leans in to declare Joker’s name, that’s the harshest blow he’s ever dealt to the Joker, because it makes him a person, not the Joker.

It’s a better concept that any of that bullshit cosmic entities thing Morrison was going for with his beat poetry dialogue.

penguintruth, you DID see at the end of Death of the Family the computer screen that said “identity unknown” for the Joker? Batman was trying (or did, I’ll grant you that) to psyche out the Joker like the Joker’d been trying to psyche him out — he still doesn’t know who the Joker is. It’s actually kind of funny that the Joker gets psyched out as much as he was trying to psyche out the Family, so maybe I did like DOTF a little better than I thought.

The reason Death of the Family didn’t work for me is because it was based so much on these psyche outs that we KNOW aren’t leading to anything. Did anyone really think, once we saw the reveal of the dinner plates, that those were real?

Anyway, overall, looking at this list, I find I don’t particularly like ANY Joker stories. Maybe just because he’s so played out, since EVERYONE wants to do a Joker story. Ugh.

I seem to recall liking “Going Sane”, although it’s been ages since I read it. And I recall a semi-decent 2 parter from Shadow of the Bat (37 and 38, or 38 and 39, can’t remember) that plays off the “reveals” of Killing Joke. Man, I should pull that out, Alan Grant needs some love, y’all!

@penguintruth: That reveal – that Batman knows the Joker’s true identity (how long before we, the audience, are let in on that secret?) – is possibly the best thing about “Batman” #17. To me, though, the problem is “Death of the Family” is clearly meant to be an echo of “A Death In the Family”. No matter what else one might think of that story, the brutal death of Jason Todd was shocking. The sequences in “Death of the Family” where we think Alfred has been served as dinner or the faces of the Bat Family have been removed seem to be meant to top the shock of Robin’s earlier murder. That the DotF sequences I’ve singled out are fake outs distracts from the revelation that Batman knows the Joker’s true name. There’s a certain emotional exhaustion that weakens the power of the name reveal, just as it weakens the impact of the Bat Family rejecting Bruce.

But hey, if you works for you, that’s what counts. :)

There’s no reveal, guys. Near the end of the issue, we see Bruce recovering in the cave, and we see on a computer screen under the Joker’s face “identity unknown”. Bruce was psycheing the Joker out the way the Joker had psyched the Family out. Which to me, is about the only good thing about the storyline, because the Joker got fished in by it SO easily.

You’re right, Travis. I’d forgotten about the “Identity Unknown” on the computer screen at the end of the story. (I had posted my last message without seeing your post on the subject.)

The point is that whether or not Batman knows who Joker is or whether he doesn’t, Joker believes he does, because he cannot contemplate giving real names and faces to the game.

Wow, that was bad grammar.

That point doesn’t make the story any better to me. I like what Travis said: What’s cool is the fact the Joker believed Batman.


Dick has only known Batman 3 or 4 years right? How ling did they even work together, a year or two? It is NuDC… (and judging by the poll results, a lot of new ‘fans’ as well).


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