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Monday, February 01, 2016 

Would DC really tell people to stop idolizing the Joker?

That's what HitFix is saying after finding a panel on Instagram from a book called We Are Robin #8 that shows a guy with his own personal Joker picture shrine:
The Joker is absolutely a compelling character. A psychopath with little regard for humanity, he makes an excellent foil for Batman. The ultimate test of the Dark Knight’s commitment to not killing bad guys. There was even a time the Joker may have had some redeemable qualities. Way back in the wacky, giant ACME-like contraption era of the Silver Age.
I'd be cautious about saying a villain is compelling. Because truly, a villain like the Joker, who did start out as a serial killer before the watering down in the Silver Age, is not somebody to admire, even if he is a fictional villain. And should heroes like Batman always be depicted not killing villains at all? Why must it always be written in such a way that never allows for challenging stories where the hero may need to kill in self-defense, or to prevent the villain from killing an innocent civilian? The PC mindset that oversaw much of superhero comics went much too far.
But that was then. Neil Gaiman has written a lovely bit in SECRET ORIGINS SPECIAL VOL 2 #1 where the Riddler laments how dark things have gotten.
But if DC will neither cut it out entirely, nor do anything to get Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns to scram, then it's pointless to write that story in the first place, and besides, even Gaiman never exactly changed his own tune.
And boy have they gotten dark. From THE KILLING JOKE to DEATH OF THE FAMILY, Joker has become one of the most terrifying villains in pop culture history. Yet he still has his fans. The people who think he has something in him worth admiring. They turn up without fail in stories about Batman to defend his anarchist, anti-establishment ways as respectable. A handful seem to want to BE the Joker when they grow up.

DC Entertainment has a message for those people: Stop it.
If DC really meant that, which I doubt, it'd be one of the few positive things they'd have to say. But this is a company whose modern overlords have put such an emphasis on the villains in the past decade, to the point where they would publish stories sympathetic to the villains, and even try to make some of their villains as bad - and possibly worse - than the Joker. That's what Johns was doing with the Flash, and even in Green Lantern, he took a direction like that. And I honestly don't see them trying to say his work has any poor influence that could appeal to those lacking moral compasses.

The writer of the above article may be joking, but still, there is something to contemplate here: have the Big Two wound up appealing to ghetto mentalists who think the villains are worth far more than the heroes? The Big Two themselves have to shoulder some blame for getting to the point where the heroes either don't matter so much, or, they're being made to look like villains themselves. And that's one of the many reasons why superhero comics lost appeal since the turn of the century.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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