Joker, Clown Prince of Crime, Comic Book Covers
Perhaps the World’s Most Popular Comic Book Villain
Most children and adults the world over recognize the Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime, thanks to DC Comics’ popular Batman series of comic books and live action and animated television shows and movies. Not to mention action figures, novels, trading cards and other collectibles.
The Joker has been Batman’s greatest foe since his debut in Batman #1 (May 1940) and over the years has quickly become one of DC’s most colorful and popular characters and one of the world’s most popular villains.
Many might be surprised to learn that the Joker was originally conceived as an expendable character, useful only as a contrasting foil to Batman for a single issue. The character was an instant hit, however, and the Joker continued to appear to antagonize and battle Batman, soon becoming the brooding hero’s arch-nemesis.
Originally a criminal mastermind, the late 1940s saw the Joker reimagined as a harmless prankster, causing the character to fall into virtual obscurity until he was reborn (one might say) in the early 1970s as a deadly, cunning criminal mastermind, every bit Batman’s equal and besting even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. Credit for this rebirth falls to comic book creators such as Neal Adams and others.
Today, the Joker — like Batman — is a much darker character than originally conceived. The Joker is not only a criminal mastermind but a study of sort in criminal psychology (along with Joker’s long-time love interest, Harley Quinn).
Sources: Batman Fandom (“The Joker”)