Throughout all of comic book history, few villains are as beloved as the heroes they fight against, but if there was one everyone would easily recognize as the greatest villain from all of comics, it would likely be the Joker. Since he first debuted alongside the Caped Crusader, the Crown Prince of Crime has caused some of the more tragic events in Batman's life, but more than that, he's shaped the world of superheroes and Gotham City since the very beginning. There are both new and classic joker comics on this list.
The Joker has been written about and illustrated by hundreds of people over the years, and his stories span thousands of comic books, but which one could be considered the best of them all? Seeing as he's appeared in numerous one-shot single issues of comic books, graphic novels, trade paperbacks, numerous story arcs, and storylines, determining which is the best is no easy task. Fortunately, this list has you covered, as it outlines the 20 greatest Joker stories ever told within the pages of DC Comics! Check out the list below, and don't forget to vote up your favorite of the Joker's adventures, like Joker's Five-Way Revenge, to see which one rises to the top!
Story Found In: Batman: The Killing Joke
"Batman: The Killing Joke" is one of the most controversial Batman stories ever told, and it's all thanks to the writing talents of Alan Moore's use of the Joker. In the book, the Joker decides to prove that a single bad day can turn a man from good into a villain. To do this, he targets Jim Gordon, first attacking his daughter by shooting her in such a way that she is paralyzed from the waist down.
After shooting her, he then proceeds to assault her in a number of sick and twisted ways, while capturing the entire thing on film. He planned to show these to Gordon, and essentially bring him down to his level, but the Dark Knight was ready to intervene. This story bridges the already narrow gap between sanity and insanity by using the Joker as an instrument towards the latter. It's easily one of the best Batman stories ever told, but more than that, it's one of the greatest Joker stories of all time.
Story Found In: Batman #251
Many of the Joker's best stories are told in single issues of Batman or Detective Comics. One of his best stories was featured in the pages of Batman #251 with the title, "Joker's Five-Way Revenge." This story thrusts the Clown Prince of Crime back into Gotham City where he sets about making everyone who has ever wronged him pay for their misdeeds!
While he blames Batman for putting him away, he realized that one member of his gang was a rat! Instead of taking revenge out on the guilty party, he decides he will kill all five of them, and only Batman can stop him from carrying out his evil act. This issue was important for a number of reasons, but most importantly, it returned the Joker to his more violent tendencies. Additionally, Arkham Asylum was mentioned in this issue for the first time, though it wasn't actually named for another seven issues.
Story Found In: Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth
One of the most important settings in the Batman universe is Arkham Asylum. For decades, this has been the place where most of Batman's enemies ended up sooner or later, and none of the residents could be more welcome than the Joker. Legendary scribe Grant Morrison takes a look into what makes Arkham Asylum such an important venue for Batman and his rogues in this brilliant book illustrated by the inimitable Dave McKean.
As Batman must explore the depths of Arkham Asylum, he also must face his own inner demons. This story pits the Dark Knight against his deadliest foes, which of course, includes the Joker. The graphic novel was one of the first to really dive into what made Arkham Asylum so important within the Caped Crusader's world and is a great read for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the Dark Knight and his most dangerous enemy.
Story Found In: Batman: The Man Who Laughs
"Batman: The Man Who Laughs" is a one-shot comic written by Ed Brubaker with pencils by Doug Mahnke. The book tells the story of the first meeting between the Joker and Batman but in a post-Zero Hour continuity. While this book was put together in 2005, it does take a great deal of inspiration from Batman #1.
In some ways, this is a retelling of a classic story, but in another way, it's really a reshaping of that classic origin story as told in a more modern setting. The first appearance of the Joker is certainly an amazing read, but bringing classic characters into the 21st-Century is often done best by revamps like this one, which makes it a must-read for anyone who calls themselves a fan of the Joker.