Hit the road, Jack.

§ March 28th, 2016 § Filed under batman § 20 Comments

Among other announcements at last weekend’s Wondercon, DC is apparently going to reveal the Joker’s real name in the forthcoming Justice League #50. They hinted at its reveal before, earlier in the storyline, and you can see those specific panels at that link where Batman learns the name, but we, the readers, are kept in the dark.

Now, assuming it’s not a big ol’ fake-out, it still seems kind of weird. As Twitter pal nicknewt newted…er, noted, “There’s two possible outcomes of revealing the Joker’s real name: 1: Someone we never heard of, thus anticlimactic / And 2) an existing character, which is dumb as [fudge].” My response was that it could be some heretofore unrevealed relative of Bruce Wayne, which, if I may opine briefly, would also be a dumb as [fudge] option. Given Batman’s reaction to the revelation of the name, it’s clearly got to mean something, but…well, I don’t know. We’ll see in two or three months, whenever Justice League #50 actually does show up.

And that’s the weird bit…the reason it feels like some kind of fake-out or doomed-for-the-reset-button reveal is because it is happening in Justice League, and not one of the main Batman books. Unless, as I also mentioned on the Twitterers, this is some kind of “Wolverine’s Origin” deal where the movie studios were going to reveal their own version of the formerly-secret information and it was in the comic company’s best interest to do it themselves in whatever title was convenient before it was done for them. I mean, I’m not sure what film or TV project could theoretically have done this. Maybe some throwaway line in Suicide Squad? Something they’re leading up to in Gotham?

The one time they almost got a real name to stick to the Joker was in the first Tim Burton Batman film, where he was given the name Jack Napier (a play, I think, on “jackanapes,” which is clever). The name ended up being used in the animated series (where I believe it was eventually revealed as an alias), and eventually faded away, finally unable to counter the decades of inertia of a nameless Joker. I noted, ugh, 11 years ago that the one remnant of that particular bit of the character’s history is that “Jack” (or something similar) is now sort-of the go-to name whenever the Joker’s past starts getting thrown around. (Interestingly, if a bit awkwardly, Alan Moore in The Killing Joke avoids mentioning his real name at all in the flashback scenes.)

Like I said, I’m still convinced this is a fake-out of some kind, but it got folks talking about their comics, so, hey, a win for DC. I personally think that would undermine the Joker’s power as a character, by nailing down this agent of chaos to a specific history, when he’s more effective as just this wild monster that came from nowhere to counter Batman’s need for order. It doesn’t matter who he was, just what he is, and (presumably) making a Shocking Reveal out of his true history may bump up sales and interest in the short run, but won’t really add anything in the long run. Then again, if DC really is sticking with it and (almost more importantly) if the tie-in media runs with it, the Joker’s real name could be with us for while…at least, until that previously-mentioned decades of inertia wipes it away once more.

20 Responses to “Hit the road, Jack.”

  • I’m hoping they say it’s “Joe Kerr” so we can all laugh about it.

  • James says:

    Here’s hoping that his name is Bruce Wayne. But not THAT Bruce Wayne. That’d be silly. Or Wayne Bruce. Something to roll our eyes about and then move on with life.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    His real name is… James Howlett!

  • Knowing DC (actually, I don’t, really), he’ll be a step-brother/half-brother of Bruce’s, either sired illegitimate by Thomas Wayne or some child-born-of-rape/incest upon Martha.

    It almost HAS to be something psychologically damaging to the young “redheaded stepchild”, and a family tie just gives it that daytime soap opera (Jerry Springerj edge.

  • James says:

    It could be a middle option, such as a relative of someone else in the DCU. So I’m throwing my wind behind the sails of Commissioner Gordon’s long lost son or nephew. If I’m right, I will eat a cookie to celebrate. If I’m wrong, I’ll eat two in shame.

    Which also puts it in the dumb as fudge category, but at least gives you somewhere to go.

    Or they could just say his name was Robert Paulson and that Batman is a cinephile, so he finds it amusing.

    Yeah, it sounds like a gimmick, to reveal his name, but gimmicks seem to be the name of the game when it comes to building excitement. I guess that’s what you do to stand out when the rack is full of “stories” without end, and so many comics on the shelf. Maybe that’s cynical of me (I don’t claim to be a cynic), but it feels that way.

  • Jason says:

    I think his name is going to be either Jack Romero or Cesar Nicholson because somebody at DC thinks they’re really clever.
    Actually, I’m subscribing to the relative thing too, either a Wayne, a Gordon, or just to get weird, a Pennyworth, Grayson, Todd, or Drake.

  • ArghSims says:

    Emmett Kelly Pagliacci!

  • Andrew Davison says:

    Bob Bill Jerry Robinson Finger Kane

  • philip says:

    Sterling Michaels or nothing.

    For all of the reasons you mention, I do hope it’s a red herring (a joker fish?). What he is matters. Who he was? See Anakin Skywalker

  • Brian says:

    I’m thinking it might actually be an entirely different direction. The idea that’s been effectively accepted with The Joker in recent years involves his ability to recreate himself, so what if Batman asks the all-knowing Mobius Chair what The Joker’s real name is…and finds out that he doesn’t have one, that his real name, his very origin, has been removed from existence by his own force of will? Given the storyline in question, of the imposition of ‘divine’ will and supernatural ‘order’ upon humans regardless of their own desires, doesn’t that particular outcome of the “hypersane” Joker strangely provide a possible tool for Batman (the man who, of all people – possible more so than the Joker himself) to exploit as a way to finally break the cycle of Apokalips’ parasitic hold upon Mankind?

    I may be presuming too much creativity on Johns’ part here, but perhaps the way that the idea was presented initially and the way its conclusion is being marketed to us is meant as a sort of surprise (I wanted to not say “bait and switch,” since that’s such a loaded term the other way around) in terms of how we expect the revelation to turn out versus how it actually might…

  • Andrew says:

    I’m thinking they’ll go for a really deep cut: Harvey Kent, now retconned as being Clark’s cousin.

    That, or it’s the most obvious answer of all: The Joker’s name is “The Joker.”

  • John says:

    Joe Chill, Jr.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Well, obviously, the Joker’s real name is Alfred Stryker.

    On the remote chance that some of you do not remember, I will explain that Stryker was the villain in the very first Batman story, “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate” in DETECTIVE COMICS #27. That story ended with him falling into a vat of acid. We shall be learning soon that this had the effect of bleaching his skin bone white, turning his hair green, and twisting his mouth into a permanent grin–and that the experience left him mentally scarred as well, and obsessed with revenge on Batman.

    DC plays a long game, people.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    More seriously (though, if Roy Thomas were writing the story, I would put money on the above theory being correct), this is definitely about GOTHAM. The producers have said that they will eventually introduce the Joker, and have hinted he will be one of the established characters.

  • demoncat_4 says:

    the way i read the pannel is that dc is hinting at the joker may turn out to be none other then joe chill himself reconting his death or that maybe the joker is really a wayne like batmans long lost brother .

  • Wes says:

    In the original Sam Hamm script for the 1989 film, Joker’s name was Jack Rapier. Someone in the publicity dept at Warners decided that the ignorant public would think that the character was a rapist and requested the name change. Allegedly a few scenes were shot prior to the change and were fixed in looping.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    demoncat_4: ANOTHER long lost brother for Batman?

    Does anyone else remember the first, introduced in WORLDS FINEST? He had Down’s Syndrome, and the Waynes kept him “warehoused” in an institution, until he eventually escaped and tracked down his brother. Then Deadman showed up, and everyone agreed it would be a good thing for him to use the Wayne brother as a permanent host body–after all, if someone is mentally disabled, then there can be nothing wrong in him losing all of his memories and control of his body. I mean, if both Superman AND Batman are all right with this, it must be good.

    Ah, the ’70s.

    Was he ever mentioned again?

  • Mr Lawless says:


  • Dave says:

    Given the promotional image with all the past Joker faces (Sprang’s, Bolland’s, etc.), I’m predicting “the Joker” turns out to be some kind of cosmic thing that inhabits people. (An anti-Captain Universe.) Once they die, it moves on. It would explain how he now (more or less canonically) can’t be killed and why he’s never had a set identity.

  • Snark Shark says:

    as long as they don’t give him some DORKY name like FRED SCHWIBBLE, i don’t think It’ll matter much.