The Harlequin of Hate. The Clown Prince of Crime. The Man Who Laughs. Whatever name he goes by, the Joker has remained right at the top of Batman's rouges gallery since his introduction in comics over seventy years ago, and it's not hard to see why: despite one being a crime fighter with a vow against killing, and the other being a remorseless murderer who delights in destruction, Batman and the Joker do have a bizarre, unsettling kinship.
Both have set out to change the society that set up the groundwork for their current professions. Both had the prospect of a normal life torn away from them by "one bad day," even if the Joker can't quite make up his mind about what that bad day was. Both have created a larger than life persona, and both have a rather theatrical style of presenting themselves and their deeds. Even their costumes went through a similar thought process: Batman takes something that people fear, and uses it to help them, while the Joker takes something we should trust, and uses it to terrify. The Joker, essentially, is what Batman could become if he loses too much of his humanity to the monster he's created, and it's that reminder that makes their interactions so compelling to watch.
|The Killing Joke shows us how it's done.|
Of course, all that analysis lies below the surface. Strictly in terms of the visual, what makes the Joker's fights with Batman so arresting is what polar opposites the characters are. Batman is dark and brooding, the Joker is pale as snow, dressed as garishly as possible, and loud. Batman operates from within the shadows, the Joker calls so much attention to himself that he might as well stand in the town square yelling "Look at me!" into a megaphone. The Joker never stops talking, while Batman is the silent type. Just by looking at them, their rivalry is almost confusing: what do clowns have to do with bats anyway? At the most superficial level, the only thing Batman and the Joker seem to have in common is their gender.
And, with this being comics, even that's not set in stone.
|Well, hello beautiful.|
The Joker may be a remorseless killing machine with questionable mental health and - depending on the writer - even more questionable hygiene, but there's one thing that can't be denied: he is one sharp dresser. Particularly, for my aesthetic, in the film The Dark Knight. And being a college student with nothing better to do than read comics and recreate the outfits within them in stunning detail, it was only natural that I'd turn my attention to the late Heath Ledger's attire sooner or later.
Still, my ability to make myself look like a man is questionable at best, and something about going out in sub-par cross-dressing didn't sit right with me. Creepy and dirty as Nolan's take on the Joker may be, there's something undeniably sexual about his look, and I didn't want to detract from that by hiding the form of my own body.
|There's something a little Freudian about this image...I just can't seem to put my finger on it...|
The obvious solution, then, was to make the costume fit to a female body. But, given that I am the Queen of nothing if not Over-Analysis, it wasn't just enough to create a Lady Joker. I had to research it, if only to satisfy my curiosity of if it had ever, canonically, been done before.
And not only has it, it's been done so often that I feel justified in dedicating an entire week to the various female iterations of the Joker who have popped up over the years, because it's spring break and there's little else constructive I have to do. So tune in tomorrow, when Lady Joker Week kicks off with Bianca Steeplechase from the DC Elseworlds comic Thrill Killer.