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Top 10 Alternate Versions Of Joker Crazier Than The Original

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We all know The Joker has been Batman’s greatest nemesis pretty much since he first donned the cowl. What you may not know is, in the DC universe, there are a number of Dark Knights from universes that exist parallel to the main continuity.

In these parallel universes called Elseworlds, if there’s a caped crusader, chances are there’s a crown prince of crime not too far away, plotting to make his life a living hell. Let’s take a look at 10 of these substitute psychopaths.

10 – Joker, Lord Of The Vampires,
Batman: Bloodstorm

Photo credit: Wikia

In the 1994 sequel to Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, Batman has destroyed Dracula (yes, the Dracula) but was himself turned into a bloodsucking fiend. After Dracula’s defeat, his undead followers are left without a master, a position that this universe’s Joker is more than willing to fill.

In the power vacuum left by the Dark Lord, Joker (sporting a criminally stylish gothic purple top hat) seizes control of the most influential of Gotham’s organized crime families by turning them all into vampires. Batman struggles to keep his bloodlust in check while fighting for the very soul of Gotham.

He teams up with Catwoman, who’s been turned into a “werecat” by one of Joker’s followers, Commissioner Gordon, and Alfred. They want to loosen Joker’s stranglehold on Gotham’s underworld and purge Gotham City of the damned.

9 – Sinestro + Joe Chill = Joker,
Batman: In Darkest Knight

Photo credit: mezotyda.blogspot.com

This one gets a little convoluted even for a comic book. Have you ever wondered what would happen if a Green Lantern ring flew through Bruce Wayne’s study window instead of a bat? Probably not, but the answer is insanity. Batsh—t insanity happens.

This story combines Batman and the Green Lantern Hal Jordan’s origins but leaves out the Hal Jordan part. Instead of the ring choosing Hal, it flies through Bruce’s window. One of the first things Bruce does with the ring is encounter Red Hood, the man who would become Joker at a chemical plant.

However, instead of knocking Red Hood into a vat of chemicals as the original story dictates, Bruce just scoops him up with his newly acquired power ring and turns him over to the police, seemingly avoiding the Joker ever being “born.”

Bruce is then sent by the Green Lantern Corps to bring in the rogue Green Lantern Sinestro, who is traditionally considered Hal Jordan’s archenemy, and things pretty much play out how they did for Hal. Greenbat Manlantern succeeds. Sinestro is imprisoned, escapes, creates a yellow lantern ring, and sets his sights on revenge. Now this is where it gets weird.

Sinestro goes to the Gotham City Police Department and kills Commissioner Gordon after uncovering Bruce’s identity and the whereabouts of Joe Chill, the man who killed Bruce’s parents. After finding Joe, Sinestro does a mind meld and absorbs Joe’s personality and memories.

Sinestro now has Joe’s personality existing independently in his mind. He also has a crazy smile and is wearing a waistcoat and bow tie, having become this universe’s Joker. If you’re thinking that this doesn’t make much sense, let us assure you that the comic fails to explain it better than we just have.

Sinestroker gives out Yellow Lantern rings to Harvey Dent (aka Two-Face) and Carol Ferris (aka Star Sapphire) and enlists them to help kill Bruce Lantern. The trio make it to Wayne Manor, promptly murder Alfred, and just wait for Bat Lantern to get home.

Bruce and most of the Justice League, who are now also Green Lanterns, arrive. But Joekestro and his posse escape, with Mangreen Lanternbat taking off into space after them for revenge. Batsh—t.

8 – Retro Cyborg Joker,
Nosferatu

Photo credit: Wikia

If you’re a fan of superheroes, post-humanism, and early 20th-century German expressionist cinema, then, oh boy, do we have just the comic for you. Nosferatu’s art style and setting are inspired by the 1922 film of the same name as well as similar films of the era.

In this time line, Joker is referred to as “The Laughing Man,” likely a nod to the 1928 film The Man Who Laughs, which was the real-life inspiration for the Joker’s iconic bleached skin and tortured grin. He is a cyborg created by Lutor (this universe’s version of Lex Luthor) to assist Dr. Arkham in his “psychomancy” seances, a grotesque technological and supernatural form of divination. He’s sort of a Frankenstein’s monster of a Joker, consisting of machinery and various body parts from Arkham’s former patients.

The idea behind psychomancy seems to be this: If you have a mind that’s far removed from reality and in a constant schizoid state, it has the ability to see reality from a greater vantage—past, present, and future all at once. The patricians of this universe’s Metropolis attend these seances as a sick curiosity.

Arkham uses The Laughing Man as a tool to carry out political assassinations. His first two targets are this story’s analogues of Commissioner Gordon and Dick Grayson. (These poor guys don’t tend to live past the first 20 pages in an Elseworlds story.) After discovering that Arkham was the one responsible for the murders of his closest friends, Bruss Wayne-son (we think you can figure out who that one is) is then targeted by The Laughing Man.

After seemingly being killed, Bruss returns as the Nosferatu, a mix between the familiar vampire from the film of the same name and the Batman. The battle that ensues resembles a gothic deathmatch between two Edward Scissorhandses.

In fact, this entire book looks inspired by Tim Burton more than the 1989 Batman film. The fierce battle ends abruptly with the Nosferatu tearing out The Laughing Man’s organic heart from his metal breastplate, a moment that should feel cathartic to any Batman fan who feels frustrated by Bruce constantly allowing Joker to live and kill another day.

7 – Pirate Captain Joker,
Detective Comics Annual Vol 1. #7

Photo credit: Wikia

This version of The Joker is probably the most like his main continuity counterpart so far. In this alternate take, we find Batman as the privateer Leatherwing. (Get it? Like a bat.) Eventually, he comes toe to toe with the mad pirate captain known as . . . The Laughing Man again.

The story is set in the Caribbean sometime in the 1500s as Captain Leatherwing patrols the coasts defending sea-lanes for the British Crown. Shortly after we’re introduced to our hero, his first mate, Alfredo, and the orphan Robin Redblade, the focus turns to The Laughing Man.

This book came out the same year as Steven Spielberg’s Hook, and the similarities in appearance and demeanor between Joker and Dustin Hoffman’s Captain Hook are undeniable. While both costumes are traditionally what you would expect a pirate to wear, it looks like someone is doing a mash-up cosplay. That being said, the art is gorgeous, especially on the splash page where we’re introduced to Joker.

While this Joker might not be as “out there” as some of the others on this list, his cruelty and twisted wit really shine as being a bloodthirsty cutthroat really seems to suit him. He manages to convince this universe’s Catwoman, called Felina, to seduce and betray Leatherwing by leading Joker and his crew to the Batcave, which is called Bat’s Cay here.

The final conflict doesn’t last long, though, as Felina has a change of heart, alerting Leatherwing to The Laughing Man’s advancing ship. Leatherwing and Joker square off, with Robin taking a bullet for Bruce. Enraged Leatherwing plunges his cutlass through The Laughing Man’s heart and into the main mast. If only Batman prime would take some pointers from his less squeamish counterparts.

6 – Bruce’s Mr. Hyde,
Batman: Two Faces

Photo credit: Wikia

It’s often been said that Batman and The Joker are two sides of the same coin. This story really takes that concept to heart. Taking place in Gotham in 1886, this story takes inspiration from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as well as the myths surrounding Jack the Ripper. It explores the dual nature of Batman and The Joker’s relationship, Two-Face, and Batman himself.

When we’re first introduced to Bruce Wayne, he is attending a gala in honor of the twilight orchid, a flower from Asia that blooms during the day and turns into a shriveled weed at night. Bruce had the flower shipped to Gotham at great expense in hopes of using it to cure Harvey Dent/Two-Face of his bipolar nature.

While experimenting with the flower, Bruce concocts a serum that would mend Dent’s fractured psyche. To test it, Bruce drinks the serum himself. (This Bruce Wayne isn’t all that bright.) After a moment of pain, he finds that he’s faster and stronger than he was before and decides to take on the mantle of a bat to bring justice to Gotham and end Two-Face’s crime spree (because, of course, he does).

As soon as The Batman begins dismantling Harvey’s operations, a new villain begins murdering prostitutes in Gotham’s myriad dark alleys. The only evidence of the killer’s identity is notes left on the bodies that attribute the murders to The Joker and a ghastly smile cut into their cheeks.

After Joker paralyzes Catwoman with a knife in her spine, Bruce redoubles his efforts and makes an even stronger potion. This batch, however, leaves Bruce unconscious and he has a revelation when he awakes.

He requests to meet Dent and Commissioner Gordon on the roof of the Gotham courthouse to reveal that he himself is The Batman and The Joker. After giving Harvey a vial of the serum to hopefully cure him, Bruce transforms into the Joker.

After a rooftop scuffle, Bruce momentarily regains control of himself as he hangs from the roof with Two-Face clutching his arm. Bruce implores Harvey to let him fall and to take the serum so that Gotham will finally be rid of Two-Face and The Joker.

Harvey fulfills his old friend’s final wish and lets Bruce fall, taking the serum shortly after. We’re to believe that the serum worked because a flash-forward shows Batman still protecting Gotham. The only difference is his mismatched eyes under the cowl.

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Top 10 Alternate Versions Of Joker Crazier Than The Original

by Wayne Hillary
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