‘Why so serious’ about protecting Joker’s identity?

DC Comics have announced that they will finally reveal the true identity of the Joker for the very first time. Officials announced the reveal will take place in Justice League no. 50 in the climactic issue for their ongoing “Darkseid War” arc.

In Justice League no. 42, Batman learned the Joker’s real name when he took over the Mobius Chair, a magical chair that lets anyone who sits on it know all of the secrets of the universe. In the panel, Batman asked the Mobius Chair two questions. The first being who killed his parents, where he said “Joe Chill, yes.” The second question was what is the Joker’s true name. Batman only replies “No. That’s impossible.”

This definitely screams as a marketing ploy to sell comic books by DC. A reveal this huge will get people flocking to shops to buy the book, and find out that all elusive question: who is the Joker?

DC is planning a huge crossover event for all of its titles, deemed “DC Rebirth,” beginning this summer as a soft reboot for many of its characters. DC will want readers to buy comics leading up to this event, so why not tease such a big reveal?

The Joker’s true identity has been somewhat of a mystery since he was introduced in 1941. There have been numerous different attempts at revealing his backstory. In 1951, a story showed that Joker was just a common criminal who had previously run around as a criminal known as the Red Hood. Somewhere along the lines he went crazy and started painting his face white. His name was never actually revealed.

There is another story where the Joker is supposedly a Trickster god sent to create chaos in Gotham City. In the 1989 film “Batman,” the Joker played by Jack Nicholson had a name – Jack Napier – and was portrayed as the man who killed Bruce Wayne’s parents. That was never explored in the comics and is non-canon.

The most famous Joker origin story is Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke,” which told the story of the Joker as a failed stand-up comedian who had a horrible home life. In his desperation, that comedian turned to crime as the Red Hood. Being a timid, frail man, he wasn’t suited for the lifestyle and was confronted by Batman at the Ace Chemicals plant where he fell off a catwalk into a vat of chemicals, which turned him into the laughing menace we know today.

The kicker is, the story comes from the Joker’s point of view, but he is an unreliable narrator. “If I have a past, I prefer it to multiple choice,” the Joker explains at the end, which leaves the reader questioning if the story he told was actually true.

Fans have cried out saying the Joker’s identity should never be revealed. The character is too iconic and the magic of it is that no one knows who he really is. They feel that the reveal may be a huge let down, which DC has a history of doing. For example “The Death of Superman,” was just like this. Trying to sell a lot of comics fast, and Superman’s almost immediate rebirth in the story, turned off readers. It almost ruined the comic book industry.

Yet, the comic book industry recovered. People are buying the books. They’re going to see the movies. They’re watching the shows on Netflix. Revealing the Joker will be fine; maybe it will be surprisingly satisfying.

Comics have always been a story telling medium where many different versions of the same characters have been portrayed. It’s like television shows, except on paper. Each writer and artist will give their own take on the story. This will be one person’s version of the Joker, and I’m sure down the road. someone else will put their own take on it. That’s the cycle of comics. and that is what makes them so great. There is an open canvas. Anything is possible in the world of make believe.

I know I’ll be in the comic shop on May 25 when the issue comes out, and I’m going to buy it. Sure, it’s a marketing ploy, but that’s okay; I’m back to reading comics, it worked on me.

Have fun comic book fans. As the Joker says, “Why so serious?”

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