80 Years of the Clown Prince of Crime: Joker Recommended Reading List
Joker Recommended Reading List
Last week, to accompany the release of Catwoman’s 80th Anniversary Special, I made a list of Catwoman reading recommendations. This week, the Joker 80th Anniversary Special released, and – you guessed it! – I have another reading list. It’s no secret that the Joker is one of the most wildly popular villains of all time – not just in Batman, or even DC – but in comic history, and even mainstream society. He’s a frequent reoccurring main villain in Batman films, games, shows, etc. He can be portrayed cartoonish and campy, or as an anarchist, or in some cases, so close to the real, it feels eerie to think how some people are just one bad day away from madness. There’s a demand for everyone’s favorite Jester of Genocide, and entertainment is willing to provide at any opportunity.
But less talked about in mainstream society is the comic book versions, so I’d like to share some favorites and classics, as well as some underrated or overlooked reads.
The Killing Joke
This is both one of the most widely accepted origin stories for the Joker, as well as one of those stories fans either love or hate. For me, it’s one of my all time favorites, and one of my biggest recommendations for new readers that have an interest in the Joker. Brian Bolland’s art, and one of my all time favorite writers, Alan Moore, combine to give us a beautiful, dark journey into what makes the Joker tick.
The Joker: The Clown Prince of Crime
Let’s take a step back to 1975, and Joker’s mini series, in which he battled against heroes and villains alike. Want some classic feeling Joker? Try out this short, solo series.
Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity
Let’s jump back to more current comics. Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity (which I recently reviewed) is honestly one of the most underrated of the Black Label books DC is putting out right now. It’s very similar to an Elseworld’s story in a lot of ways, since it’s a reimagining of Harley Quinn and the Joker. But this is a great one to check out if you’re into forensic shows.
In Arkham Asylum, Grant Morrison’s writing paired with a hellish, unnerving Joker take you on a terrifying and dark ride. If you haven’t gotten around to reading this one yet, definitely get on it.
A Death in the Family
One of the most well known, and brutal, stories involving The Dark Knight and the Harlequin of Hate – A Death in the Family. I’m sure you know what the big deal is, but it’s definitely one you need to read, either way.
Batman: The Man Who Laughs
Similarly, this is a well known Joker story. However, it’s iconic, and deserves it’s spot on this list. Another one I recommend for people into that classic Joker feel.
The War of Jokes and Riddles
There are loads of Batman stories with the Joker I could add to the list, but I really loved Tom King’s story arc The War of Jokes and Riddles. I think this one would be an excellent film, and definitely a good jumping on point for new readers.
The Best Man (Batman #48-49)
While we’re talking about Tom King’s Batman, let’s talk about how good the story arc of The Best Man was. Because it was excellent, and had some of the best Joker and Batman panels of recent years.
Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo are an incredible team, and Joker is a perfect example of t hat. This is a good fit for fans of The Dark Knight / Heath Ledger Joker of the Nolanverse.
Death of the Family
No, you aren’t seeing A Death in the Family listed twice. You know that crazy looking Joker with his face stapled on? This is that. Read it if you want some disturbing Joker vs the Bat Family stories.
Batman: White Knight
Batman: White Knight is my favorite story on this list, and probably my favorite Batman story in general, and that says a lot. White Knight and Curse of the White Knight (the follow up series to White Knight) is a definite must read for fans new and old.
I could go on and on (and almost did) with recommendations, but this is a good list to get started with. Hopefully there are some stories here with the Clown Prince you haven’t read, or that could get you started if you’re new to comics!
Joker Recommended Reading List