The Joker was a professional criminal leader who terrorized the streets of Gotham City.
Very little is known about the Joker's history prior to choosing a life of crime. His real name and place of birth have never been revealed.
The Joker was a lab worker, but his job was unfulfilling for his personal ambitions and he turned to crime to amass a personal fortune for himself, planning to steal $1,000,000 and then retire on his ill-gotten gains. He first started operating as a masked professional criminal leader known as the Red Hood. When the Red Hood attempted to rob the Monarch Playing Card Company, Batman and Robin arrived on the scene and cornered Red Hood on a catwalk. With little choice, the Red Hood jumped off the catwalk into a large vat of steaming chemicals. Batman and Robin assumed that their adversary died being exposed to the heated toxic chemicals.
However, the Red Hood actually survived the chemical bath and managed to escape through a drainage pipe that emptied out into the river. When he emerged from the waste pipes, he discovered that the chemicals turned his hair green, his skin chalk-white and his lips rouge red. Using the Playing Card Company as inspiration, the criminal decided to pattern himself after the Joker playing cards that the chemicals were used to create.
Soon after his recreation and new name, the Joker quickly became a noted criminal entity in Gotham City's criminal underground. He did this when he brazenly challenged Gotham's underworld and police department by announcing over the radio that he will kill three of Gotham's most prominent citizens: Henry Claridge, Judge Drake (who once sent him to prison) and Jay Wilde. Batman and Robin investigated the crimes and were startled to find the victims' bodies stricken with a macabre perpetual grin upon their faces. The Joker managed to trap Robin and was prepared to murder him with the same deadly Joker venom that he used on his other victims, but Batman rescued Robin and the Joker went to prison.
The Joker did not stay in prison very long however. He soon escaped via an explosive capsule concealed in a molar, and continued his never-ending crime spree. The Batman laid a trap for the Joker, baiting him to steal a valuable ruby gemstone. The plan worked and the Joker crossed swords with Batman and Robin once again. During their fight, the Joker was accidentally stabbed by his own knife and nearly died. He was taken to the hospital, but quickly recovered. A criminal cartel known as Crime Syndicate, Inc. took him from the hospital and offered them the position of leader of their gang. The Joker led Crime Syndicate, Inc. on a string of jewel robberies, but the organization collapsed after another encounter with the Batman. The Joker was left for dead inside of a burning building, but again, managed to survive.
The Joker's resilience and uncanny knack for cheating death came into play once again. While using a music store as a front for his criminal ventures, taking on the alias of A. Rekoj, he would hire thugs to steal for him. Ultimately, he'd reveal himself as the Joker and steal the loot from the thugs, who were completely flummoxed because they did not realize that A. Rekoj and the Joker were one in the same. During this caper the Joker once more ran afoul of Batman and Robin. Next the Joker stole a valuable item known as the Jade Buddha and fought the Dynamic Duo once again aboard a ship. The Joker was defeated and fell from the deck of the ship into the water, where he seemingly drowned.
He soon returned however and started up a new gang based on circus performers that stole from the wealthy people of Gotham. Joker's gang was stopped by Batman and Robin, and during a last encounter in the Joker's own "Haunted House", he fell to a dark pit and he was again assumed dead. However, he survived and the Joker's next plot would involve setting up an illegal gambling ship three miles into international waters with the aid of three other criminals: Queenie, Diamond Jack Deegan and Clubsy. Investigating the ship as Bruce Wayne, the Batman would learn of the Joker's involvement of the operation and end its exploitation of its clientele. After Batman discovered the whole scheme, the Joker would once more escape capture when he was thrown into the ocean during the final confrontation on a lighthouse.
The Joker's next caper consisted on organizing a group of practical jokers to create havoc around town while he stole a valuable gem and $10,000 from a notorious Duke. This plot was also foiled by Batman when he learned the truth, and while battling the Joker on a moving railroad car, the Joker fell off the car and down a cliff face after receiving a blow from Batman.
When Batman and Robin are called to Washington, D.C. to receive a Presidential commendation from F.B.I. director G. Henry Mover, the Joker intends to use the highly publicized event to attempt to assassinate his arch-foe. Waiting in the crowd with a loaded gun the Joker tries to take a shot at the Caped Crusader, however he hits Mover instead, and flees the scene. Due to his actions, a nationwide manhunt is called against the Joker. Batman chases the Joker across the country, as he goes on a crime spree in various states that spell out his name. Finally seeing the pattern, Batman apprehends the Joker in Rhode Island.
The Joker escaped prison and returned to Gotham with a new scheme, leading a group of henchmen dressed as several law enforcers. The gang was short-lived however, as Batman and Robin quickly apprehended the Joker and his various goons. Breaking out of jail the Joker engaged in a new scheme in which he and his accomplices go on a crime spree. In order to avoid suspicion of the Joker's men suddenly having a massive wealth, they would setup fraudulent lotteries and quiz shows so that the crooks "win" their proceedings of the crime. Although the Dynamic Duo exposed the plot and rounded up the Joker's men, the Joker himself managed to escape.
When a famous comedian dies leaving a great fortune, his will stipulates that his estate is to go to the world's greatest comedian. Selecting five different comedians, each one is given a clue to the location of his money and the victor of a competition to see who can tell the funniest joke would be given all the clues and be awarded Hanson's fortune. Learning of this, and furious that he'd been overlooked, the Joker breaks out of prison and violently includes himself in the competition. Although the Joker manages to kill all the comedians and collect all the clues, he is once more foiled by Batman and Robin.
Some time after this, the Joker decided to fake his own death and to achieve this, he surrendered himself to the justice and confessed all his crimes. The courts gave Joker the death sentence, and after he was executed in the electric chair his body was recovered from the prison morgue by his henchmen. The men took Joker to his secret hideout and used a solution of his own design to revive him from death. Revived once more, Joker started a new life with a clean slate. Putting up a false pretense that he is a law abiding citizen, the Joker once more engaged in criminal activity. When Batman and Robin learned of the Joker's recent criminal activities they tried to capture him, however the Joker managed to escape.
Joker's next scheme involved using outside circumstances to try and foul up any attempts to capture him. A bank robbery was successful when the Joker put in an ad seeking out old cars which end up jamming up traffic when the police try to stop the Joker. Then he posed as a magician to steal priceless jewels and his last attempted crime -- wherein the Joker poses as a sign painter -- failed when Batman deduced Joker's plan and captured him. When the Joker almost killed Robin by suffocating him with sulfur, the Dark Knight gave him a good beating and left him in front of the court house.
After this, Joker started using slang terms literally to commit crimes. The whole scheme led to a fight with Batman on top of a Army barrage balloon. However, during the fight the Joker loses his footing and falls into the raging waters below. Once more the Joker manages to survive he gathers some new henchmen to steal seemingly useless documents (a child report card for example) which is a cover for stealing signatures of wealthy men for fraudulent means. When Batman and Robin try to intervene, the Joker grabs hold of Robin and threatens to kill the boy unless he is assured freedom and a ransom of $100,000. The demand is met and the Joker gets away, but when he opens the bag that is supposed to be full of money, he is shocked to find that instead of cash there is a check for the amount. Although the Joker got what he wanted, he cannot cash the check without getting arrested.
Resurfacing again, the Joker attempts to blackmail various managers of businessmen to help in his recent robberies through fear of revealing dark secrets about their past. Batman and Robin once more manage to stop the Jokers plan, however the villain once more escapes in an aircraft during a battle at an aircraft factory.
When the local newspaper ends up publishing biting editorial cartoons depicting the clown prince as a buffoon who is easily defeated by Batman due to his arrogance, the Joker vows to initiate a series of crimes that will make the caped crusader look foolish to spurn an editorial shift of opinion in the hopes that the bad press would convince Batman to resign from crime fighting in shame. At first the scheme works, however Batman renews his resolve after Robin gives him a pep-talk, and Batman brings the Joker to justice and redeems himself in the public eye. As icing on the cake, Batman displays the Joker in a cage during one of his public lectures on crime-fighting.
After a successful crime, the Joker was aboard a plane that crashed and as a result of the accident, he suffered amnesia. Ending up in a town called Farr Corners, the Joker became a good Samaritan, even turned over the stolen loot. When his henchmen tracked him down, seeking out their share of the loot, and they ran afoul of Batman and Robin, the Joker suffered another blow to the head that restored his memory, and they are all apprehended.
Escaping prison once more, the Joker and his men took over a floral shop and kidnapped its owner. The Joker initiated an elaborate plot that involved chloroform filled bags of soil on a time release that they sold to wealthy customers and stole from their homes. This plot was foiled once more by Batman, and the Joker was once again apprehended. When a man named Lyon went on a crime spree and left clues framing the Joker to pin the crimes on him, the Joker was furious and sought revenge against Lyon. Joker ultimately trapped Batman, Robin and Lyon in a lion cage. However, the Dynamic Duo managed to break free and apprehended both Lyon and the Joker.
The Joker found freedom once more and established another fraudulent operation, this time in cahoots with bogus scientist Ecla Tate and fraudulent mystic Swami Meera Kell. Using an abandoned movie studio they constructed realistic sets of past, present and future locations and tricked clients into thinking they can travel to other eras in time to their own benefit and then extort them out of money. The scheme was once more foiled by Batman and Robin who arrested the entire gang.
When a West Virginian businessman named Hart frames the Joker for his crimes, the furious clown prince is forced to help Batman and Robin to stop this copycat to prove his innocence. Joker succeeded and he managed to escape before Batman and Robin could capture him as well. The Joker's next scheme consisted on committing crimes upside-down, but this plan was also foiled and the Joker was forced to escape once more.
The Joker would eventually be apprehended under unrevealed circumstances and serving a life sentence. The Joker however, manages to escape and commits a series of crimes that are based on common practical jokes. However, the Joker is duped into trying to use a seemingly empty van as an escape vehicle, and ends up hand himself over to the police officers hiding inside.
Back in prison, the Joker and the Penguin get in a heated argument over who is the superior criminal. This leads to the two breaking out and committing crimes to see who can pull off their caper and still manage to best the Batman. This leads to a three way battle between the two rival crooks, their henchmen and the Dynamic Duo. Finally realizing they have a common foe, the Joker and Penguin decide to team-up and easily defeat Batman and Robin. However, this union proves short lived when the two almost come to blows over what means they will eliminate their hated foes. The argument gives Batman and Robin enough time to escape, defeat and turn the two villains over to the police.
The Joker once more escaped from prison and created "Shadow City" a mock of a hidden city within a warehouse and played off as a secret part of Gotham City where patrons could achieve their heart's desire. He used this fake city as a means of extorting people out of money. This plot, like all his previous ones, was foiled by the Dynamic Duo. The Joker's other crimes at the time involved "kidnapping" up a house for ransom, a plot with the Velvet Kid who posed as a reformed criminal that would exploit the security flaws of the homes of the rich, and attempting to extort Robin into reenacting humiliating fraternity initiations that he previously witnessed in order to keep Batman (whom the Joker captured) alive. Each of these plots ended in failure. Joker then started to rob a series of wealthy men and he tried to murder Batman and Robin, but his plans were similarly foiled by the Dynamic Duo.
Next, the Joker attempted to commit a series of crimes that would complete an acrostic that spelled out his whole name. He succeeded in committing crimes to spell out the letters J, O, K and E, however he was captured and foiled by Robin. Realizing that Robin's involvement was the "R" he was looking for, the Joker considered his acrostic a success even though he was captured in the process.
Finally fed up with Batman's superior gadgetry that played a part in foiling his criminal plots, the Joker built a series of Joker themed devices such as the Jokermobile, the Jokergyro and Joker-Signals. He sold his services out to crooks who needed his assistance in committing their heists. After a series of successful hits with this plot, the Joker was ultimately arrested once more by Batman and Robin.
Following this defeat, the Joker tried to commit a series of crimes based on a "royal flush" centered on diamonds, which would also end in failure at the Batman's hands. When a new television program debunking popular superstitions began to air on television, the Joker decided to "prove them wrong" by committing a series of superstition based crimes, which was foiled thanks to the intervention of Batman and Robin. Joker then labeled his next robberies as the "Crime Parade", drawing inspiration from the "Tune Parade" radio show, and this plan was also foiled by Batman.
After his most recent escape from incarceration, the Joker attempted to commit a series of crimes in reverse: instead of announcing crimes he intended to commit, he boasted that he already committed them. When the flabbergasted victims of his jest showed that they were not robbed, one of the Joker's men would be on hand to capture the intended loot. This plot was also foiled by Batman and Robin and was Joker once again apprehended.
Later, after winning big in an illegal casino, the Joker used a gambling scheme for his next series of robberies. He created high stakes crime implicating Batman with a wager of people's lives on the line. To facilitate this, the Joker hired some accomplices to steal some medical Radium and tried to make off with the loot. When his hired help realized what they had stolen, they surrendered and faced the law, while the Joker eluded capture by jumping off a cliff. However, he would eventually be captured through unrevealed circumstances. When he broke out of jail next the underworld threw a party for his escape complete with giant greeting cards. Drawing inspiration, the Joker committed a series of crimes where he sent Batman cryptic greeting cards giving the Caped Crusader clues as to what he intended to rob. This eventually worked against him, and Batman captured the Joker once more. Another attempt at baffling the authorities with rebus riddles also ended with his defeat at the hands of the Dynamic Duo. The Joker next kidnapped Dr. Walter Timmins, the inventor of an invisibility serum. The Joker used it to his advantage until his inability to stop boasting allowed Batman to follow the sound of his voice and defeated the Joker once more.
Later, the Joker tricked people into setting up fake "funny robberies" where he really robbed them with the promise of giving them double of what was taken and cheated them by giving something very worthless. This plan was again foiled by the Dynamic Duo. The Joker then attempts attempted to become the authority in comedy in Gotham City. For this purpose, Joker stole things that spelled out "Ha! Ha! Ho! Ho!" forwards, leaving clues to his next crimes, but this plan was thwarted by Batman. Another plot using sound effects to cause panic among people as a gimmick to commit robberies was similarly defeated by Batman and Robin.
While in police custody, the Joker is questioned by Batman and Robin about his criminal tendencies; the Joker explains that he comes from a line of criminal clowns. When Batman and Robin, visit Professor Carter Nichols-- who has invented a functional time machine -- the duo try to travel 100 years into the past to see if there is a historic root to the Joker's criminal tendencies. They are transported 100 years into the future accidentally instead, where they find the Joker's descendant Rokej, who is a law abiding citizen working as the police chief of 21st century Gotham City.
The Joker continued working on various plots like his nation-wide Joker crime operation, the comedic stunts, the musical crimes, the crime costumes, the "boner" crimes, the writing gag crimes, the crimes in which he used resourceful people he called "Aces", the time when he kidnapped Robin in order to force Batman into crime, his crazy crimes that caused him to be locked in an insane asylum, the Joker's crime newspaper, the Joker's movie crimes, the crimes in which he used various specialized crooks to succeed and finally his attempt to ruin a TV broadcast in Batman's honor. All of these crimes were stopped by Batman and Robin, as usual.
The Joker was eventually tricked by his longtime enemy, King Barlowe, who left the Joker a gigantic inheritance in money and jewels. All the fortune turned out to be fake and the Joker tried to recover all the money he spent by doing regular crimes, but he was discovered and captured by Batman. Sometime later, the Joker created his own version of a utility belt, which worked just like Batman's in the sense that it would prove useful for the Joker during his crimes. However, Batman found a way to use Joker's utility belt against him, causing the Joker to stop using the item. During one of his last crimes, the Joker's mind was switched into Batman's body, which allowed the Joker to create a series of phenomenal crimes until Robin found a way to reverse the effects and the Joker was returned to his own body.
The Joker would continue to remain an active criminal after Bruce Wayne had retired from being Batman. The Joker would continue to engage Gotham City's costumed protectors Dick Grayson who became Batman II and Bruce's daughter Helena who became the Huntress though usually with less frequency than his earlier years. But eventually, the Joker would tire of his criminal exploits, probably due to his advancing age and would surrender to prison.
The Joker's last known crime spree was when he learned that Wayne, who had been publicly revealed to be the original Batman, had died. Unable to accept that he had finally beaten his long-term adversary -- simply by outliving Wayne -- the Joker escaped prison and started up his old criminal exploits to draw Batman out of what the Joker thought was merely Batman's retirement.
With Wayne dead, Grayson resumed his identity as the second Batman long enough to convince the Joker that Wayne was still alive and that the battle could resume at a later time. With the possibility of finally directly defeating the original Batman still in existence, the Joker allowed the Huntress to take him back into custody and his own retirement where he plotted out his eventual final battle with Batman. That battle never occurred as Wayne was dead, and Grayson was never again known to have resumed the identity of Batman after this case, feeling that he had already failed in the role of successor to Wayne despite convincing the Joker to peacefully surrender.
The Joker finally accepted that Batman had died and was locked up in Gotham State Penitentiary, where he shared a cell with Nicholas Lucien after he had recovered from a coma. Lucien wanted revenge, but the Joker mocked him and informed that the Batman was already dead.
Powers and Abilities
- Cheating Death: The Joker has cheated death numerous times, even in seemingly inescapable and lethal situations.
- Genius Level Intellect: The Joker is portrayed as highly intelligent and skilled in the fields of chemistry and engineering, as well an expert with explosives.
- Hand-to-Hand Combat (Basic)
- Jokermobile: The Joker drove a customized coupe similar in design and function to Batman's Batmobile. Whereas the Batmobile had a large bat-shaped shield on the front of its grill, the Jokermobile had an oversized likeness of the Joker's face.
- Unlike the Earth-One and later incarnations the Joker, the Earth-Two Joker's face muscles and nerves were not damaged into a contortion that makes him looking like he was smiling at all times.
- Although the character of the Joker is traditionally portrayed as a murderous psychopath, the Earth-Two version of the Joker was not nearly so monstrous. While he was not above murder to achieve his goals, this version of the Joker was known more for his over-the-top crimes, prankish nature, and his penchant for delivering puns and one-liners.
- This version of the Joker, including all history and corresponding appearances, was erased from existence following the collapse of the original Multiverse in the 1985–86 Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series. Even though versions of the character may have since appeared, this information does not apply to those versions.
- Artist Bob Kane based his visual interpretation of the Joker on the character of Gwynplaine, from the 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs, based on a story by Victor Hugo. Gwynplaine was played by German actor Conrad Veidt.
- 97 Appearances of Joker (Earth-Two)
- 29 Images featuring Joker (Earth-Two)
- 22 Quotations by or about Joker (Earth-Two)
- Character Gallery: Joker (Earth-Two)
- Detective Comics #138
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