The Joker has got to be the most famous super-villains of all time. For seventy-six years the ‘clown prince of crime’ has been causing chaos and facing off against the Dark Knight. For all that time and throughout hundreds of issues his identity has been unknown, but not for much longer. DC recently held a panel at WonderCon to give more details on the upcoming Rebirth event and, among this new information, we learned that the Joker’s name would finally be revealed in Justice League #50. Now that the biggest mystery in the DC Universe will be solved, it does raise one big question: should the Joker have a name??
(Spoilers for Batman: The Killing Joke and Darkseid War Below)
To answer this question, let’s step back in time to 1988’s Batman: The Killing Joke for a moment. In the graphic novel, Alan Moore depicts flashbacks of what appear to be the Joker’s past, but then the Joker reveals that even those memories might not be true. He goes on to justify his madness, saying that the only difference between himself and everyone else is, “one bad day.” In a way, this can be the reason why his identity was kept so secret, because it represents that insanity doesn’t really need a name; in a way, anyone could become the Joker if they really had that “one bad day”. I feel that metaphor and what it stands for, as well as all the philosophical ideas that surround him, are lost if the Joker’s name is revealed. But on that note, there’s another side to this that makes me a bit more hopeful for the reveal.
Revealing who the Joker is isn’t necessarily a bad thing if handled the right way. The Joker has been around for a very long time and is by far Batman’s greatest enemy. Seeing this dynamic change wouldn’t be so bad if the answer was truly something mind-blowing. A plot-point lending credence to the discovery of Joker’s identity can be found in the events of Justice League: Darkseid War, where Batman, now all-knowing thanks to the Mobius Chair, finds out the Joker’s real name; his reaction is pure shock. What kind of answer could make someone who knows everything pause like that? That’s the kind of thing that would makes this interesting! Based on his reaction, this brings up some interesting questions:
1. Is the Joker someone Batman already knows?
2. Are the theories brought up in Batman: Endgame involved?
3. What does this mean for the relationship between Batman and the Joker?
Either way the surprise not only has to be big, but it has to be colossal for it to feel worthwhile. Since Batman and the Joker have fought each other for a long time, seeing their feud change due to this would be welcome, but only if handled properly.
So, should the Joker have a name? While I might be leaning more towards, “no,” I am open to see exactly what they do with it, and I can see why DC Comics wants to tackle this idea in Rebirth. For now, I think it’s best left up to interpretation; we can only speculate until we finally know for sure. In the Joker’s own words, for now the past is “multiple-choice.”
So, who do you think the Joker is? Do you like that DC is doing this or do you hate it? Let me know below!