Saturday, July 17, 2010
In the world of comics, if evil is completely personified, if it truly takes human form, it is in the form of Batman's ultimate nemesis - The Joker. Which is what makes his same publisher doppleganager Trickster, that we looked at last time, so utterly lame. Simply put, the Joker cannot be copied, nor frankly should you want to. Over the decades, Joker has gone from "Gee aren't clowns scary," to homicidal maniac, to simply the incarnation of evil. Even heroes with psychic abilities have been driven made by trying to enter his mind - it is not a place of just evil intent, it is simply hell.
We are meant, I believe, through the explorations of the Jokers psyche, to come to feel pity for the man - so tortured is his soul. But that is also why the character has become anathema to me. Evil is longer evil - it is just "sick." I find that impossible to buy into in the case of the Joker. Unlike most bad guys, he has never done anything to indicate there is a redeemable soul in there anywhere. Usually the baddest of the baddies has a puppy they love, or rescue a squirrel or something to show that inside their gruff exterior, there is a person. Not so the Joker. If he rescued a cat from a tree it would only be to reserve the "pleasure" of breaking its neck for himself. He is irredeemably, unrelentingly evil.
They attempt often to portray the fact that Batman does not kill him as the one connection Bruce Wayne retains to his humanity - as if killing the Joker would sever all ties with ethical reality. Were the Joker like say, Harvey Dent, perhaps I might agree - but to all ow evil on this level to continue to exist is in my mind, ultimately inhuman. It is the reason I rarely read Batman anymore. It's a shame.