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 visionary Alan Moore's use of the Joker. In the book, the Joker decides to prove that a single bad day can turn a good man 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 #426-429
"Batman: A Death in the Family" is another pivotal book in the Dark Knight's library as it details the death of none other than Jason Todd, otherwise known as the Boy Wonder, Robin! This was one of those events in comics that had a lasting impact for years to come, and it all came as the result of a reader poll. Readers were asked if they thought Robin should be killed, and when the results came in, Jim Shooter wrote the story that spelled the end for the Boy Wonder.
Granted, he wasn't going to get taken out by falling onto the subway tracks or anything, which is why Shooter had none other than the Joker himself take Todd captive, torture him, and ultimately kill him. The shockwave this sent through Batman's world would endure for decades, which made this story one of the most important to ever feature the Joker, Batman, or Robin.
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.
Story Found In: Batman #13-17
A year after the Joker was brutally wounded when someone carved the skin from his face, he has returned, but the Dark Knight isn't his target now that he's back! The Joker comes gunning at Commissioner Gordon, Robin, Batgirl, Alfred, Red Hood, and everyone else Bruce Wayne considers to be a member of his family!
The Clown Prince of Crime's deadly assault comes against everyone Batman holds dear, but will he be able to stop him from killing his entire family? Will saving them cost him his most important secret as well in this horrifying tale called, "Death of the Family?" Taking some license from the "Death in the Family" storyline, the Joker's antics spell certain doom for the Caped Crusader, but things don't play out as they did before in this amazing storyline penned by Scott Snyder with illustrations by Greg Capullo and Jock.