The Joker is a supervillain appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. The character was created by Jerry Robinson, Bill Finger, and Bob Kane, and first appeared in Batman #1 (April 25, 1940). The Joker was originally 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 Batman’s ally, Barbara Gordon.
The Joker has had various possible origin stories during his over seven decades in publication. The most common story involves him falling into a tank of chemical waste which bleaches his skin white, turns his hair green, and his lips bright red; the resulting disfigurement drives him insane. Even Joker himself has stated that he doesn’t know his origins.
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. Although the Joker sometimes works with other supervillains such as the Penguin and Two-Face, and groups like the Injustice Gang and Injustice League, these relationships often collapse due to the Joker’s desire for unbridled chaos.
In the1990s a romantic interest for the Joker was introduced in his former psychiatrist, Harley Quinn, who becomes his villainous sidekick.
The antithes of Batman in personality and appearance, the Joker is considered by critics to be his perfect adversary.