Top 10 Best Joker Stories

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To go along with the recent Top 10 Lamest Batman Villains post, here’s top 10 list of the best Joker stories. The criteria in picking these was that it had to be a story that features the Joker, not just a great Batman story that the Joker appeared in briefly. If you’re a Joker fan, you owe it to yourself to read all of these.

“What? Not laughing yet? Just wait ’til I get to the punch line.
It’ll kill you! HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa”
~The Joker

Batman 663

10. The Clown at Midnight

by Grant Morrison & John Van Fleet (2007, batman #663)
Grant Morrison returned to Batman after eighteen years to write the seminal modern Joker story. If you like Heath Ledger’s Joker in the Dark Knight movie, then you will absolutely love this story!

The Great Clayface-Joker Feud

9. The Great Clayface-Joker Feud

by Bill Finger, Jim Mooney & Sheldon Moldoff (1963, Batman #159)
Batman, Robin, Bat-Girl, Batwoman, the Joker, Clayface, twists, turns, battles, surprises… what more could you want!?!

Mad Love

8. Mad Love

by Paul Dini & Bruce Timm (1994, Batman Adventures Graphic Novel)
From the people who brought you Batman the Animated Series comes the best Joker love story around, and also one of the most hilarious comics you’ll ever read. Dive into the shallow end, and try not to hit your head against the insane love affair between Harley Quinn and Mr. J.

The Laughing Fish

7. The Laughing Fish, The Sign of the Joker

by Steve Englehart & Marshall Rodgers (1978, Detective Comics #475-476)
A quintessential classic Joker tale. During the 70s, writers stopped portraying the Joker as a campy villain, like in the TV show, and yet Englehart perfectly wove a corny yet serious tale.

The Joker's Five-Way Revenge

6. The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge

by Denny O’Neil & Neal Adams (1973, Batman #251)
Heralded as the first story to strip the Joker of his 60s campiness. This tale along with Neal Adams terrifying pencils, portrays the Joker as a true psychotic maniac. And the Joker goes after his own henchmen.

Death in the Family

5. Death in the Family

by Jim Starlin & Jim Aparo (1988, Batman #426-429)
This time the Joker kills someone very close to home for Batman and Bruce Wayne. No other death, save for Bruce’s parents, had such a resonating effect on the Dark Knight as did the death of Jason Todd.

Batman 1

4. Batman vs The Joker

by Bill Finger, Bob Kane & Jerry Robinson (1940, Batman #1)
This is it, the first appearance of the Joker, the one that started it all.

The Man Who Laughs

3. Batman: The Man Who Laughs

by Ed Brubaker & Dough Mahnke (2005, Graphic Novel)
Ed Brubaker wrote this wondrous story as a sequel to Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One and to Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke. Not only did he pull off this gigantic daunting task, but he crafted one of the best Joker stories ever.

Arkham Asylum

2. Arkham Asylum

by Grant Morrison & Dave McKean (1989, Graphic Novel)
What happens when the inmates take over the asylum? Grant Morrison not only showed us that, but re-invented The Joker into a totally deranged maniac that puts on a different persona like we put on clean underwear. A chilling tale to say the least.

The Killing Joke

1. The Killing Joke

by Alan Moore & Brian Bolland (1988, Graphic Novel)
Certainly number one on many people’s list, and rightfully so, easily the best Joker story of all-time. A masterful tale that changed Batman and Barbara Gordon’s life forever.

“Any man can have one really bad day and end up just like me.”
~The Joker

Submitted by Topher


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17 Comments

  1. @Casey Granted it's been awhile since I read the Venom arc, but I don't see how that can be called a Joker story.

    @sean While Long Halloween was an awesome story, I agree with this list that it doesn't count as a Joker story either. I would call Long Halloween a Two-Face story.

    • Same…Have you read Lovers and Madmen it is incredible. It shows that Batman needs Joker just as much as Joker needs Batman. I definitely recommend it

    • Nick, this list was published in July, 2008. Brian Azzarello's Joker didn't come out until October 2008. So it couldn't have made the list back then.

  2. Harley_Quinn27 on

    agreed with killing joke the laughing fish and arkham asylum but mad love should have been further at the top its brilliant

  3. In the words of the greatest comic book vilian ever…..

    “Madness is the emergency exit. You can just step outside, and close the door on all those dreadful things that happened. You can lock them away… forever.”

    -Joker

  4. I’m surprised that Joker isn’t on this list, not only was that a brilliant comic that put the Joker in the spotlight, but the joker was the main character. Batman was only in it for like 2 pages at the very end. It was an amazing depiction of the joker, other than that, this list was pretty accurate

    • I agree, but Azzarello’s Joker was released after this list was published. Scott Snyder’s 2011 Detective Comics run would also be a current contender, brilliant story arc.

  5. I’d say you missed two of my favorites:

    Gotham Central’s “Soft Targets” and
    Detective Comics 826: “Slayride” (the one with The Joker and Tim in a car on christmas).

    My personal list would be:

    1.-Killing Joke
    2.-Soft Targets
    3.-Arkham Asylum
    4.-Detective 826 “Slayride”
    5.-The Man who Laughs
    6.-Mad Love (eventhough is more of a Harley story)
    7.-Five-way Revenge
    8.-The Laughing Fish
    9.-The Devil’s Advocate (Chuck Dixon/Graham Nolan)
    10.-The Clown at Midnight

  6. My favorite is Joker written by Brian Azzarello. The story is great and the artwork is incredible.

    The following description is from http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=15190221
    Art by Lee Bermejo and Mick Gray. Cover by Lee Bermejo. In the all-new, hardcover original graphic novel JOKER, writer Brian Azzarello (100 BULLETS) and artist Lee Bermejo (HELLBLAZER covers) – the creative team behind the acclaimed miniseries LEX LUTHOR: MAN OF STEEL – show an even darker and more disturbing side to the most dangerous man in Gotham: The Joker. After yet another stint in Arkham Asylum, The Joker finds “his city” divided among mobsters and costumed villains. Not content to settle for a piece of the pie, The Joker vows to take back the whole damn enchilada by any means necessary. Look for appearances by a slew of Gotham’s most wanted, including gritty takes on Two-Face, Riddler, Killer Croc, Penguin, Harley Quinn and even Batman! Not since THE KILLING JOKE have you seen such a powerful tale of The Joker – you won’t want to miss this one.

  7. Azzarello’s Joker is not a good story . It depends on pointless violence and Joker’s portray try resembling Heath Ledger’s joker in the movie . In my opinion Heath Ledger is the best joker in live action movies and Azzarello’s Joker couldn’t succeed Heath Ledger’s portray because of stupid violence and sensless plot . I think comic books shouldn’t show us movie portray .

    By the way great list but Arkham Asylum doesn’t count a Joker story

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