Behind every great hero is an equally great villain, usually holding some sort of snub-nosed revolver or doomsday device. Or if you’re the Joker, you’re probably holding a comically large pistol shooting out a flag emblazoned with the word “BANG!”.
Batman and the Joker are the greatest hero-villain pairing of all time. That isn’t up for debate; it’s a science fact. From his green hair to his purple suit to his crimson-lipped rictus grin plastered across his pale white face, the Joker represents everything that the Dark Knight is not. Yet, they are inextricably linked to one another: perpetuating a vicious cycle, a deadly game of cat and mouse with Gotham City as the unfortunate backdrop. Naturally, this codependent relationship has led to some incredible pieces of superhero fiction over the past 75 years of storytelling.
Now, with the news that Mark Hamill is poised to reprise his role as the Joker in an animated adaptation of The Killing Joke—which is arguably the greatest Joker story of them all—it got me thinking about some of the other truly inspired Joker-centric stories. So, today on The Dan Cave we’re going to delve into a selection of the greatest Joker stories ever told. Obviously there will be some omissions, but all the choices in today’s episode are USDA-approved prime cuts of big, bad, beefy storytelling.
What are your favorite Joker stories? Share them with us in the comments below. And in case you haven’t read The Killing Joke yet, you should absolutely do so. Whether or not that kind of brutality appeals to you, it’s an important entry in the Batman canon.
Dan Casey is the senior editor of Nerdist and the author of 100 Things Avengers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. You can follow him on Twitter (@Osteoferocious).