(Warning. This article contains fairly graphic images. At least I think they are graphic. You have been warned.)
No really. Why the hell is the Joker still alive?
A friend of mine, Darrick Chen, asked a question like this on his facebook page. He pointed out, correctly, that the Joker has gotten worse and worse over the years. I mean, mass murderer-type worse. He has a five digit death count it this point. The question isn’t “why hasn’t Batman killed him?” We all know that answer. The question is, why hasn’t anyone else? There are costume vigilantes that want to make a name for themselves, super villains that Joker pissed the hell off, victims that survived his attempts, family members of his murder victims, and hundreds of police officers who want to put a bullet in his head.
So, I want to emphasize this point. Joker has really, really, really pissed off a lot of people. While I can understand some criminals being intimidated by him or maybe the surviving family members maybe deciding to steer clear… not all of them. And yes, I can understand the Justice System constantly giving him a pass. I can’t buy it, but it makes sense in the context of the DC Universe. But all the criminals wouldn’t want to make their name by killing the Joker? You’re telling me there’s not one super-criminal out there that wouldn’t get a kick out of having his reputation bolstered by offing the most famous bad guy in existence? Seriously?
For now, I want to focus on the Gotham Police. I feel the police officers would have more than enough justification to “accidentally” have a weapon’s discharge into the Joker’s head. I’m going to focus on Batman, issue #13. So I’m going to need to put this issue into context.
So now we have something called the New 52. I’m not a fan. It made the DC universe a much, much darker place. It was already turning dark after Infinite Crisis. But this… guys, the Joker had his face cut off. You see that picture up there? HE’S WEARING IS OWN F**KING FACE!!!!
How the hell is that not the creepiest thing you’ve ever seen?
Oh, I know. Before Joker gets it, Harley puts it on a guy she tied up and tries to dry humps him. What, you don’t believe me?
Yeah. This is a very, very dark place. Fortunately, the reader was saved from watching a disturbing scene because the guy tied up shot Harley Quinn. Yes, you read that right. One of the newest, yet iconic, women in the DC universe was shot (she really looked like she was killed) after trying to do something a touch disturbing. But the Joker… after doing what I’m about to show you… doesn’t really have anything bad happen to him at all.
So the Gotham Police department somehow gained possession of the Joker’s face. Maybe it was going to be used in their production of Annie. Or maybe Phantom of the Opera! That would be something.
So anyways, Joker’s face. At Gotham Police station. What could go wrong?
Oh right. The Joker will probably want his face back. Huh. Who would have saw that coming? Certainly not Jim Gordon, who used to be a respectable detective back in the day. So the Joker proceeds to kill a lot of police officers with his bare hands.
I mean, look at the carnage when Batman arrives.
Dead cops everywhere. Oh, and later on, Joker announces that he’s going to try to kill the mayor. But he ends up infecting the police officers who went to guard the mayor with a far more deadly version of his toxin. Far deadlier.
Now, I want you to imagine being a police officer. Batman just brought in the Joker. He’s in a holding cell, under lock and key. This is the man who killed a lot of your close friends. Before killing them, he tortured them in ways that probably had them begging for death. And that man’s right there. And you have a gun in your holster on your hip. Chances are, the Joker’s secured to a table or wall, so he won’t even be able to move out of the way.
Wouldn’t you take the shot?
No matter how you’d answer, don’t you think that there would be one police officer who would take the shot? After that truly horrific carnage that the Joker inflicted on his/her fellow officers, I think there would be at least one.
DC has constantly upped the ante with the Joker throughout the years. He’s become far more deadly and killed lots and lots more people. He’s tried to kill the UN General Assembly. He’s crippled Barbara Gordon. He infected every superhero, and a lot of the super villains, with his Joker toxin to try to kill them all. He’s stolen Mr Myxlplyx’s power and re-wrote the universe. There’s no way in hell, and I mean no way in hell, that someone wouldn’t try to get revenge. Mr Myxlplyx would have ended the Joker before he was born. One of the super villains Joker infected would have snapped and disintegrated him with their super-power.
You can’t have the Joker constantly upping the ante like DC has been doing and maintain the suspension of disbelief required for comics. It hits a point where someone would stop and point out how unrealistic that is. Yes, in a universe where we can believe one man can re-arrange entire solar systems and that gods walk among everyday people…. what DC is doing with the Joker is just to unrealistic.
Revenge is the most basic motivation. And quite frankly, more than enough people in the DC universe has justification to do it.
(note: All image owned by DC Comics)