Love the Joker? DC’s upcoming The Joker Presents: A Puzzlebox will let readers into the interrogation room as two Gotham City detectives try to unravel the Clown Prince of Crime’s latest murderous punchline.
But ahead of its August 3 release, it’s a great time to revisit some of the best portrayals of the Clown Prince of Crime from his decades of appearances in comics.
Here are the 5 essential Joker comic storylines you need to read.
5. Batman: The Killing Joke
Probably the most famous Joker comic of all, The Killing Joke is essential to understanding the character. On the other hand, it’s rightfully been criticized for its treatment of Barbara Gordon, which even its writer, Alan Moore, says went too far.
4. Batman: A Death in the Family
This story centers on Robin’s search for his mother, but is mostly remembered for its end, where he’s killed by the Joker. It’s especially memorable since Robin’s death was decided in a poll of apparently bloodthirsty comics readers.
3. Batman: The Man Who Laughs
The 2005 retelling of the Joker’s original appearance establishes him as a villain bent on sowing chaos, rather than a mere criminal. It’s not the first comic to do so, but it may be the Joker’s best origin story.
2. Gotham Central: Soft Targets
Soft Targets focuses on the toll the Joker’s violence takes on ordinary Gotham City citizens and shows just how terrifying of a force he is to people who aren’t wearing capes and masks.
1. Batman: Endgame
Endgame is meant as the final battle between Batman and his nemesis, in which the Joker outsmarts Batman and poisons all of Gotham City. This story shows that the Joker is as capable as he is terrifying, and works as a fitting ending to his story.