Daniel Wallace is a comic book expert, sci-fi sage, and lifelong geek. Author or co-author of more than two dozen books including The Jedi Path, Man of Steel: Inside the Legendary World of Superman, DC Comics Year by Year, The Marvel Encyclopedia, and the New York Times bestselling Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Characters, he has alternately found himself trading tense questions with Kevin Spacey about head-shaving and banging out three thousand trivia questions for Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. Other universes he has worked with include Smallville, Indiana Jones, and Supernatural.
The Joker is generally considered to be the most visually arresting and best overall bad guy in comic books. What is remarkable is that no one from the next tier of characters - Luthor, Doctor-Doom, Magneto, Red Skull - is even remotely close in impact. This may account for the decision by DC to feature the Joker in its first book devoted solely to a villain.
The dominance of the Joker started early. While Lex Luthor did not begin to menace Superman until Action Comics 23, the Joker appeared in Batman number one as well as 9 of the first 12 issues of that book. He is introduced as a murderous villain who could have walked right out of a pulp story. During the Silver Age, however, the Joker is treated as a lighter character prone to themed robberies and little violence. This changed in the late 1980s. No comic book creation so characterized DC's transition into darker stories in that decade as the Joker. He shoots former Batgirl Barbara Gordon in The "Killing Joke", leaving her a paraplegic, and murders new Robin Jason Todd in "A Death in the Family." As an even more twisted version of himself in the future portrayed in "The Dark Night Returns," the Joker snaps his own neck so that Batman will be blamed: "They'll kill you for this...I'll see you in hell."
Even so, The Visual History argues that The Joker shares the same literary DNA as Batman, functioning as his dark mirror image. Both lack super powers in a comic book world where the extraordinary is normal. Both rely on their brains to play the role of underlord and overlord of DC's darkest city. Batman and the Joker are maniacal and obsessive in their relative efforts. At one point, the Joker admits that he is defined by his nemesis as he tells Batman: "You can't kill me without becoming like me.Read more ›
I have been a huge Joker fan for many years. I was thrilled to get the book and was not disappointed. The book has wonderful artwork from many of the artists from the comics. It tells stories about the Joker as well as some of the behind the scenes stuff from the writers and artists. I learned several things I didn't know like where the Joker came from, where inspiriation for him came from. The Intro by Mark Hamill was great.
The book is comprehensive and informative but I wish it featured interviews by comic book artists, writers, filmmakers and actors such as Kevin Smith, Jack Nicholson, Cesar Romero, Heath Ledger, Tim Burton, Christopher and Jonathan Nolan. I would have loved to have read their opinions and thoughts on the Joker and his ideology. It also would have been interesting to get an actual psychiatrist's point of view too. Toys and clothing and other merchandise are not featured in the book though, just the comics and live-action media. So it doesn't have that scrapbook feel that I was anticipating, it has more of a Wikipedia entry feel to it. You're also not learning any new information about the character that you don't already know so don't expect it to be eye-opening or have a whole new perspective of the character. The book is beautifully crafted though. So if you're a Joker fan then definitely purchase this.
A must own for anybody who loves the Joker! It's beautiful, comprehensive, and chalked full of fascinating trivia. I couldn't resist flipping through it before wrapping it up for my husband's birthday.
I received my order very promptly and in great condition. I have enjoyed persuing the book, caught up in the vibrant colors and various sketches of this madcap villian. The Joker is a unique foe and classy enigma and is a formible adversary to the Caped Crusader. I heartily recommend this edition to Batman collectors.
Since I started reading Batman comics during comic's "Silver Age," the Joker has always been my favorite Batman villain and possibly the greatest comic book villain of all-time. This book gives us a history from the "Clown Prince of Crime's" beginnings to Heath Ledger's Joker in "The Dark Knight." (There are also some nice photos of Caesar Romero's Joker on the Batman TV series and, of course, Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton's first Batman film.) This book is loaded with countless beautiful color and black and white photos and is a definite must for any Joker or Batman fan. The book is a quick read and you will greatly enjoy the trip down memory lane with the Joker. Highly Recommended.