"A joke a day keeps the gloom away!"
I try to post the monthly showcase on the first of each month. But with April, I usually post something… different. (Only one year that I can think of when I could post the April 1st edition as an induction into the Television Crossover Hall of Fame – Buddy Sorrell, April 2017.)
And so we had to put off this year’s April Fool inductee for a day as usual, but we’re still continuing with this year’s monthly theme of Superheroes and Super-Villains to celebrate the Hall’s 20th anniversary. And who would be more perfect for an April Fool inductee than….
The Joker is a super villain created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson who first appeared in the debut issue of the comic book Batman (April 25, 1940), published by DC Comics. Credit for the Joker's creation is disputed; Kane and Robinson claimed responsibility for the Joker's design, while acknowledging Finger's writing contribution. Although the Joker was planned to be killed off during his initial appearance, he was spared by editorial intervention, allowing the character to endure as the archenemy of the superhero Batman.
In his comic book appearances, the Joker is portrayed as a criminal mastermind. Introduced as a psychopath with a warped, sadistic sense of humor, the character became a goofy prankster in the late 1950s in response to regulation by the Comics Code Authority, before returning to his darker roots during the early 1970s. As Batman's nemesis, the Joker has been part of the superhero's defining stories, including the murder of Jason Todd—the second Robin and Batman's ward—and the paralysis of one of Batman's allies, Barbara Gordon. The Joker has had various possible origin stories during his decades of appearances. The most common story involves him falling into a tank of chemical waste which bleaches his skin white and turns his hair green and lips bright red; the resulting disfigurement drives him insane. The antithesis of Batman in personality and appearance, the Joker is considered by critics to be his perfect adversary.
The Joker possesses no superhuman abilities, instead using his expertise in chemical engineering to develop poisonous or lethal concoctions, and thematic weaponry, including razor-tipped playing cards, deadly joy buzzers, and acid-spraying lapel flowers. The Joker sometimes works with other Gotham City super villains such as the Penguin and Two-Face, and groups like the Injustice Gang and Injustice League, but these relationships often collapse due to the Joker's desire for unbridled chaos. The 1990s introduced a romantic interest for the Joker in his former psychiatrist, Harley Quinn, who becomes his villainous sidekick. Although his primary obsession is Batman, the Joker has also fought other heroes including Superman and Wonder Woman.
One of the most iconic characters in popular culture, the Joker has been listed among the greatest comic book villains and fictional characters ever created. The character's popularity has seen him appear on a variety of merchandise, such as clothing and collectible items, inspire real-world structures (such as theme park attractions), and be referenced in a number of media. The Joker has been adapted to serve as Batman's adversary in live-action, animated, and video game incarnations, including the 1960s Batman television series (played by Cesar Romero.)
The character's earliest on-screen adaptation was in the 1966 television series Batman and its film adaptation Batman, in which he was played as a cackling prankster by Cesar Romero (reflecting his contemporary comic counterpart.)
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The Wikipedia entry about the Joker was geared to the comic book version’s origin, but the Batman wiki showcased all of the various incarnations of the Clown Prince of Crime, including the one from Toobworld….
The Joker is an arch-criminal obsessed with absurdity and joke based crimes. Clown-like in appearance and personality, his behavior is very often akin to buffoonery. His abilities as a master conjurer allow him to effortlessly escape from prison many times, making him even more of a threat. Luckily, his crime waves often follow some pattern or theme that usually allows Batman and Robin to predict his next move.
Joker is a member of the United Underworld, a group of the four greatest criminals from Gotham City.
Nothing much is known of Joker's past except that he is well known for his skill with electronics and was a hypnotist when he was younger. He is now known by many as the Clown Prince of Crime with his fiendish cackle and cunning mind. One of his first goals was to unmask Batman, which ultimately failed. Some of his crimes were for little more than goofy amusement, while others were a little more destructive.
Some time later, Joker teamed up with Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman to form the United Underworld, to disband the United Nations. His role in the Combination Trap (devised by the Riddler) was the Jack in the Box to send Batman flying toward the Penguin's exploding octopus. However one of the unnamed thugs fell onto the jack in the box and was killed by the exploding octopus. The four super criminals managed to dehydrate the nine members of the United World Security Council and take them to the submarine. However Batman and Robin draw it to the surface, where the Dynamic Duo fight the United Underworld. After taking several beatings from Batman, the Joker is finished off by Robin, who punches him over the edge, into the water. He is captured along with the other criminals when Batman and Robin chain them to the side of the submarine and Batman calls the coast guard where the police can take them to prison.
His many schemes after this included committing crimes based on the signs of Zodiac, stealing the famous Renaissance art collection for ransom and trying to take over Gotham City with a flying saucer. He can also easily persuade women to help him in his crimes with his charm and wits.
He was also one of six arch-criminals freed from prison by Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft to form her new invisible gang, but this brief cameo appearance was by a stand-in. (O'Bservation: This is one recastaway which Toobworld Central ignores. And that goes for the others freed by Spellcraft.)
Even though Batman defeated him many times, the felonious funnyman never rested until the last laugh was his.
The Joker was one of the more obsessed villians with unmasking Batman. Despite his frenzied efforts to expose the Caped Crusader, Joker was not one of the show's two villains who discovered Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, although he did come close a couple of times.
Unlike in DC Comics, there is no mention of how his physical deformity at Ace Chemical Processing Plant permanently changed his appearance or about his origin as the Red Hood. Batman seems not to regard him as any more dangerous or cunning than Penguin, Riddler, or Catwoman. He is also not shown to be as homicidal as his comic counterpart, and he does not use his signature weapon, his "Joker Venom," that makes people laugh themselves literally to death and leaves their corpses with rictus grins on their faces. However in the two-part episode, The Joker Trumps An Ace/Batman Sets The Pace, he did use deadly gas.
In an interview about his role, Cesar said, "Why Dozier wanted me I'll never know because I asked his wife, Ann Rutherford, 'Why did Bill think of me for this part?' She said, 'I don't know. He said he saw you in something, and he said, "He's the one I want to play the Joker."' I haven't the slightest idea what it was that he saw me in, because I had never done anything like it before."
Because Cesar Romero refused to shave his mustache, the make-up artists working with Ben Nye Sr., who designed the Joker makeup format for color television, had to cover it with as much white make-up as they could. It did show up in a lot of close-ups.
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Because the 1966 TV series never addressed the origins for the Joker, then I don’t believe Earth Prime-Time has to be tied to the origins set up in the comic books or the later movies. And so, as the Curator of the Toobworld archives, I cobbled together an origin story which served to connect several other shows into the mix.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
- The Never-Never Affair (1965)
... Victor Gervais
From the IMDb:
An UNCLE translator, Mandy Stevenson, seeks excitement. Solo, feeling sorry for her, "recruits" Mandy to be a courier. In reality, she is only supposed to get Waverly more pipe tobacco. Things go askew when Mandy is given actual valuable information (a list of Thrush agents in France). UNCLE and Thrush comb New York to find Mandy.
O'Bservation: Mandy Stevenson eventually got a job as a spy with CONTROL as Agent 99.
- The Reluctant Redhead (1968)
... Kinsey Krispen
From the IMDb:
CONTROL tries to get some KAOS files with the help of a non-professional spy.
Batman: The Movie
From the IMDb:
The Dynamic Duo faces four supervillains who plan to hold the world for ransom with the help of a secret invention that instantly dehydrates people.
So here was the argument I made for the claim that Victor Gervais and Kinsey Krispen were the same man and later became the Joker.
The Clown Prince Of Crime was visually active (and what a visual!) in Gotham City during the 1960's. Before that, he had been a schizophrenic operative named Victor Gervais working for THRUSH in New York City. But then, after the post-traumatic stress of being shot, he was a double agent in Washington, D.C. using the alias of Kinsey Krispen.
After he nearly drowned in a vat of the pasty white liquid which was used in making his statuary, his mind finally snapped and he became the arch-criminal The Joker.
And I also addressed the matter of the Joker’s white mustache in the show. (It also splains his green hair and the rest of his body hair....)
THE JOKER’S MUSTACHE – HAIR TODAY, GROAN TOMORROW
And there you are!
Welcome to the Hall, Joker. You'll find fellow Bat-fiends already ensconced here - The Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and the third Catwoman. And this June, the Gemini month since you had that O'Bsession with the Zodiac, two more foes of the Dynamic Duo will be joining you....