Here are some stories that properly established the Joker as Batman’s biggest nemesis
The Joker was meant to have a very short career. The creators meant to kill him off in the early stages but editorial intervention prolonged his life. And for good reason too. While he was more goofy than dangerous in the first 3 decades, the ’80s were a major turning point. The character got a much-needed dark makeover and became a true nemesis to the caped crusader. Here are three of his best appearances.
3. A Death In The Family (Dec. 1988 – Jan. 1989)
The entire story revolves around a terrifying fact. Batman’s second Robin Jason Todd tortured by Joker before getting blown up in a warehouse explosion. The story does not end with Batman saving the day. Instead we see him failing to protect the life of the kid he adopted. This story established the Joker as a ruthless adversary and continues to be a remainder for Batman that he cannot save everyone. It also set Jason Todd up to return as the troubled antihero Red Hood.
2. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth (One-shot, Nov. 1989)
A brilliant story accompanied with terrifying art. The Joker is shown as a nightmarish figure, but that could be how Batman is seeing him since he is hallucinating in this one. A trip to Arkham Asylum to stop a riot ends in him learning about its supernatural history.
Many one-on-one dialogues between the hero and the psychopath makes up the story, with the Joker trying to trap Batman with his wits. Some dark philosphies are shared, and some future franchises are made, like the game Batman: Arkham Asylum.
1. The Dark Knight Returns (June – Dec. 1986)
The Frank Miller comic series that brought a whole new perspective to Batman and Joker. We see Batman coming out of retirement at the age of 55. The Joker doesn’t have a big role, but it’s an impactful one all the same. Joker learns about Batmancs return while recovering at Arkham Asylum. Following an escape and a TV show massacre, he confronts Batman and tries to make him let go of his morals one last time. This theme of Batman and Joker completing each other inspired countless other stories and movies.