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Friday, April 01, 2016 

Why must we care what the Joker's real name is?

Thinking their stunts are still a big deal, DC's announced they'll be giving the Clown Prince of Crime a name:
During the DC Rebirth event at WonderCon, the creative team for Justice League, writer Geoff Johns and artist Jason Fabok, announced that they will be revealing the identity of the Joker in Justice League #50.
First clue to why this is not worth the effort. Besides, Johns had no problem discarding most of his earlier writing assignments, which were already loathsome and pretentious, when he scripted Flashpoint 5 years ago, and replacing them with still more of the same badness.
In Justice League #42, Batman sat on the Mobius Chair, which granted him access to all knowledge. He tested it out first by asking who killed his parents and, yup, it said Joe Chill. He used it again, this time asking "What's the Joker's true name?" and while the chair did respond, only Batman heard the answer, leaving us to just see his shocked reaction. Come Justice League #50, on sale May 25, Johns and Fabok will finally tell us what Batman heard.

Given that the Joker's origin has generally always been a mystery, with the Joker himself famously saying in The Killing Joke, "If I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!", some fans might not even want to know the answer because it would ruin the character's mystique.
IMO, it doesn't even count as canon, and with Johns writing, that's why I for one am rejecting it. And curious that this all takes place in Justice League rather than Batman's own books. That only makes this all the more stilted. This is decidedly no more worthwhile than it was to give Wolverine an origin.

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The character's origin was revealed in Detective Comics #168 (1951). Presumably, the story was canon, since it was mentioned in passing in World's Finest #159 (1966).

The 1989 movie gave the character's name as Jack Napier, and his origin was similar to the 1951 story. But the movie probably is not canon in the comics, since it linked the Joker's and Batman's origins together in a way that the comics never did.

The Killing Joke graphic novel may or may not be canon; it retold the Joker's origin as a variation on the 1951 story. What happened to Barbara Gordon in that story affected the way she was portrayed in later issues of the regular series.

Either way, it's impossible to get excited about the latest "startling revelation" about a character. Even if it is intended as canon, it is likely to get wiped out before long, in the next regularly scheduled reboot and/or retcon.

In World's Finest #136 (1963), the Joker's name was Freddy Forbes. However, the story took place in a parallel dimension where the Joker was a TV comedian instead of a criminal, Robin was Superman's sidekick, and Batman never existed.

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #14 (1981) had one-page features retelling the origins of five classic villains (Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, Riddler, and Two-Face). The Joker's origin was the same as in Detective Comics #168.

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