It’s not at all easy being a henchman or a villainous sidekick in Gotham City. If you are fortunate enough, you will get the chance to work for the Penguin. Not only this, you will get the chance to wear a beautiful suit and look scary. In case you are not that fortunate, you may have to wear a crazy “Alice in Wonderland” outfit hanging out with Mad Hatter. And all you can do is hope that he is in one of the phases, where he is obsessed with his hats and not in that phase where he is finding a teen or tween to be his Alice. And if you are really very unfortunate, you will end up working for the joker.
Gotham City’s biggest rogue is the Joker. He is the boogeyman who scares the other boogeymen. Working for him is putting your life on the line. Either a hood gets paid or he ends up dead. Because one can not predict what the madman is thinking. The Joker has had got many partners in crimes. The newest among them being Punchline which is already selling at about $50 at eBay.
Having said all that, let’s take a look at some other famous or ill-famous, fortunate and not so fortunate members of the Joker’s crew.
History of the Fortunate and Unfortunate Members of Joker’s Crew
As mentioned earlier, the Joker has worked with many unnamed goons from the very beginning. The first named one was Gaggy. Gaggy is a small person and he is a mad follower of Joker. This special character was introduced in the story (Batman #186 from November 1966 ) at the time when Joker first committed a crime. He stole the original copies of paintings and inventions. Though this story is not so great to remember, the cover of this comic will surely attract you. The cover is so amazing and famous that it gets featured in the Great Batman Cover Galleries and highlights Gaggy. You would have completely forgotten this character if he did not appear in a couple of cameos in Grant Morrison’s run and if not for Paul Dini.
In the story,
Dini brings back Gaggy for the three-issue arc in “Gotham City Sirens” where at the very beginning you will get to see Gaggy has worn the disguise of Joker. His purpose was to attack the Sirens. Most notably Harley Quinn. When everybody guessed there was something wrong and he got exposed in front of everyone, he expressed that his intention was to help the Joker by killing Harley Quinn. All this he did just to bring back the madman Joker on his real track. Because Gaggy was thinking that the Joker had lost his way somewhere and he needed to charge up. As a result, Gaggy ends up smashing into Gotham Bay and he promises to himself that he will take revenge. But in the end, Dini did not return to him before he left the title.
Joker’s Killing Whims
The Joker’s Five Way revenge from Batman #251 is one of the celebrated books of Neal Adams and Denny O’Neil. It is one of the greatest Joker stories where it is depicted how dangerous it can be to work for a Joker. They really did a great job in bringing back Joker’s long lost terrifying identity of the Golden Age from the Silver Age Joker.
After getting freed from the mental hospital which was before Arkham Asylum and first such place mentioned in Gotham City, Joker went to look for the 5 members of his gang, the members that he used to work with before this locking up. One of the members gave Joker up to the police and Joker, all fired up, goes on in killing all the five members. It seems like a typical game of a cat and a mouse. Joker kills all his gang members one by one that too when Batman was present there.
In order to kill the team members, Joker used poisoned water, blasting cigar and a tank that was full of sharks. Having said that, Batman arrives and saves the life of the last gang member in Joker’s last attempt to kill in the shark tank. So the story displays that Joker is not only crazy but a murderer too. The story also focuses on how unsafe it is to work with such a crazy man.
More of Joker’s Killing Whim
In the story “Five Way Revenge”, Joker at least has a solid reason to kill his ex team members. With time, Joker’s killing pattern becomes regular. The earliest Joker story which depicts this sort of killing at whim of his own gang members is found in “Dreadful Birthday. Dear Joker!” from Batman #321. In this particular story, a goon whose name is Sidney, did not laugh at a joke that was cracked by Joker. Joker observed this and pulled out a gun that releases a Bang flag. But Sidney was calm and made Joker understand that it was a spear gun. When Joker fired the gun the flag was released and got attached to Sidney’s head.
Joker made a come back at the silver screens in Tim Burton’s Batman movie in 1989. Here, Joker arrives in his own legendary style and we get to see him with a lot of leather jacket clad thugs. Ninja guys, Armed guys, and Big guys were also present there in this film. The one worth mentioning was Bob though. In case you forgot who Bob was, Bob was Jack Napier’s go-to person in any work. Till the time he was not Joker, Bob stayed by Jack’s side and followed all his instructions. That is until Batman saved Gotham from the poisonous balloons that Joker arranged. We get to see Joker asks Bob to provide him with a gun. But when Bob handed over the gun to Joker, he shot him with it.
Chuck Dixon’s Joker
One must agree that Chuck Dixon has become one of the most controversial characters in the modern comic world. However, his runs of the Bat titles in the ’90s are one of the best comics. He has given us some really good and cherishable books and some great Joker stories.
Chuck Dixon ended up creating a very interesting Joker for his comic. His Joker maintains the balance between being a violent madman and a playful comedian. But he doesn’t leave planning robbery and other criminal activities and at the same time being unpredictable and brutal. In Dixon’s story, you will discover a new goon who was recruited. He is bearded and wears a vest. His name is Bones. You may have seen him in many other stories. He is the lucky one that he becomes successful in saving his life till the end.
Joker in Batman Stories
Batman made his debut in 1992. It was called “Batman: The Animated Series”. Here, people noticed Joker more than any other wicked characters. He drew everybody’s attention with his presence. He was there to work with some other set of goons. There were Rocco and Henshaw, two huge bully boys. Besides that, there were three mimes, Vinnie, Knuckles. and Kowalski and the two hyenas (Bud and Lou). And of course, Harley Quinn was also there. You may have read about her earlier.
Harley Quinn and Her Appearances in Different Stories
Harley would appear in those comic books where her character would shine out brighter. In due course, she would get her own series. But here, we are discussing Harley Volume 1. It is written by Kral Kesel with art by Terry and Rachel Dodson. In the very first issue of this series, we get to see Harley breaks Joker out of the Arkham. And after getting out of jail, we notice Joker killing most of his team members one after another. The only one who survives is Lewis Lebeau.
Lewis ended up entering into a partnership with Harley in the leadup to the Caper. As a young man, Lewis made some mistakes and now is unable to catch a break. He knows the fact very well that he can’t be rich if he keeps working for the Joker. But he has no other options but to be by the Joker’s side as he has the responsibilities of his wife and his kid. He maintains a journal as he works for the Joker.
His plan was, after his death, whether by the police or the Joker himself, his girl will publish the journal. He also expected that the diary of Joker Henchmen was going to earn a lot of money for his wife to raise their kid well.
Lewis is a decent guy and at the end of the first issue, when Harley splits from Joker, we see Lewis following Haley to join her team in issue 5. But unfortunately. Lewis ended up spoiling one of Harley’s plans and as a result, he got killed. What happened with Lewis’s Journal is still a mystery.
Grant Morrison’s Batman is one of the most praised and longest Batmans of this era. And you have to appreciate the fact that Morrison’s take on the Joker is also very special. The name of the first full-length story of Joker by Morrison is “The Clown at Midnight” in Batman #663. This is a text story with supporting demonstration issue and spot illustrations by JohnVan Fleet. Here the Joker decides to abolish the henchmen he came across in his past. Joker hands over red and black roses to his former colleagues, including all the clowns and the little people from The Killing Joke.
Harley had executed all these murders at Joker’s request. Joker being Joker, in the end, Joker plans to kill Harley as well. He took such a decision to cut off every connection that was related to his past life. At the time of escaping from Arkham, Batman finds Joker and stops him. Harley was a great help to Batman in shooting Joker. Having said that, it is the Pre New 52 era. Here, Harley plays Joker’s sidekick stepping away from his craziness and aggressiveness.
One can make a list of some great Joker stories where the Joker can be found as a murderer as he kills all his henchmen. But all his killing patterns are exactly the same. While the Joker Last laugh event was happening, Joker got a disciple in Rancor. A Neo Nazi that has the magical powers to bring out the worst emotions hidden in every individual. In the course of DC’s villain month, Batman #23.1 emphasized on Joker and Jackanapes. He was a gorilla who got proper training to serve the Joker. The gorilla evidently died in the story. But there are chances that he still exists as he appears in a possible future story in Batman #666.
In the most recent story Joker: Year of the Villain, we get to see Jeremy. Jeremy is a very distressed young man. And he becomes Robin to Batman in the course of a riot through the streets of Gotham. This is the place where Joker is ‘helping’ people as the Caped Crusader. And at last, the most awaited Joker OGN of Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo released. The release date clashed with the released date of “The Dark Knight”. The Dark Knight is an out of continuity tale that Johhny Frost narrated.
In the End
No discussions about the influence of the Joker and Joker henchmen is complete without mentioning the name of Jokerz. In Batman Beyond, we get to see Jokerz as a street gang. They are the disaffected youth. They dress up as clowns and get themselves in trouble around Neo Gotham. The atrocities they carried out ranged from inconvenience to genuine threats. Often just damaging property and attacking people. But sometimes their antics would cause real threats. Such as, when they stole a tank with an experimental power source that nearly blew up and smashed the city.
On the other hand, in the animated film “Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker”, we get to see a regenerated Joker who created a small team of Jokers as his followers. He killed one of his sidekicks as he mouthed off to the Joker. But in the recent Joker creation ( incarnation of the series ), we find Joker killing all his sidekicks one after another as they diminish his brand.
The trending question, for now, is what would Punchline be and what would be her fate? Will she be the next Harley Quinn or the next Gaggy? What will happen in the end? Will she suffer the fate of Jackanapes, left to drown in Gotham Bay. Nobody knows or can predict the conclusion. This is why the story of Joker is so interesting. Because it is unpredictable.
The only thing you should understand is that working for the Joker is indeed dangerous. In case you are a Gotham criminal and want to work for the Joker, it’s indeed a terrible idea.