A Brief History Of The Joker

A crash-course in the Clown Prince of Crime's horrifying history.

DC Comics/Alex Ross

When it comes to fiction, let alone the comic book medium, there are few villains as iconic - or as memorable - as the Joker.

Whether it be in film, TV or of course the comics themselves, the Clown Prince of Crime has fostered a diabolical reputation for carnage, destruction and violence. He's the worst of the worst, but with a 75 year history to speak of, the Joker's past can get a little... confusing, to say the least.

This is largely because it gets changed every other year. First there's one origin, then there's two; first there's one Joker, then there's three (yes, three), and with so many different versions, incarnations and designs to point to, it's little wonder that the character means different things to different people. He's a Dick Sprang-style connoisseur of grandiose schemes, but also a sadistic knife-wielding murderer, depending on the interpretation, and that's without even broaching the various alternate-universes, one-shots and specials that have deviated even further from the norm.

That in itself possesses its own appeal, but in discerning the true history of the Man Who Laughs - both on and off the page - you have go back a long time; back to when a trio of comic book professionals came together to create a villain of nightmarish proportions, and with a menacing grin that no one would soon forget...

Comics Editor
Comics Editor

WhatCulture's very own Comics Editor. Cats, comic books and spaghetti westerns are my thing. Rants about stuff @EwanRuinsThings