12 DAYS OF THE BATMAN! DAY 12: THE JOKER

JOKER 006Christmas with the Joker.

Batman first battled the Joker in 1940’s BATMAN #1 in a story by Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson. The Joker was poisoning wealthy men, leaving their corpses with an eerie rictus grin, and baffling the police in the process. His first fight with Batman ended with the Batman tossed into a river, excited at the prospect of an adversary who could really hit. The rematch ended with the Joker apparently accidentally stabbing himself in the heart, laughing maniacally as he died. A last-minute editorial decision saved his life, as the medics in the ambulance were shocked that the Joker was -somehow- still alive.

Over more than 70 years, the Joker remains an enigma. Different versions hinted at his life before Batman unwittingly dropped him into a vat of bleaching chemicals, but whoever he was before is unimportant. He is the Joker; deadly, anarchic, interested only in what makes him laugh, no matter who’s hurt in the process.

My take on the Joker is fairly traditional (I’ve sculpted him before). I dislike when he’s depicted as  a physical monster. He’s hideous because he chose to be,  not because he’s disfigured. I gave him a look like he’s just thought of an especially wicked joke.

And so the Joker gets the last laugh. Thanks for looking. This has been 12 Days of the Batman. 

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12 DAYS OF THE BATMAN! DAY 11: BATGIRL

Batgirl 001

Batman and Robin both faced the tragedy of witnessing their own parents’ murders; not surprising each of them decided to fight a war against crime. But what about Barbara Gordon, daughter of Batman’s ally, Police Commissioner Gordon? She had no great loss to define her, didn’t have the resources of a Bruce Wayne to train and equip herself, and wasn’t a physically imposing male, either.

No, Barbara Gordon was inspired by Batman to fight crime simply because it was the right thing to do. Introduced in 1967’s “The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl!” by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino, Barbara- Babs to her friends- has been an off-and-on member of the Bat-Family ever since.

Bruce Wayne trained for years, traveling the globe and studying with the finest teachers in every field, from martial arts to forensic science. Barbara had a library card. Batman had a nearly-unlimited fortune to outfit himself with Batman’s non-lethal arsenal. Barbara had significantly less to work with.

Even Robin was raised by Batman: he had the best crimefighting teacher possible. Barbara bootstrapped herself into the role of Batgirl. Batman’s often referred to as the most “realistic” superhero (which is, itself, kind of silly), but Batgirl did even more with far fewer resources, just her brains, skill, and tenacity.

Tomorrow is the final installment of 12 Days of the Batman, a man who’s brought a lot of smiles to the world. Go to bed.