The Joker’s new design

For those of you who haven’t seen it, there’s a link. Short version: it looks like joker peeled off someone’s face, put it over his own, and hooked his mouth into a permanent grin. I am so glad I don’t read comics.

It’s stupid and I hate it.

I just… who thought this was a good idea?! It’s disturbing, sure, but a rape scene on every page would be disturbing too! That doesn’t mean it’s any good, it just means the person who wrote the damn thing is a sick son of a-

Okay, okay… Calm down. Just… explain.

It’s no secret that the Joker is basically the anti-Batman. A happy, bright exterior and demeanor with an insane black heart of evil personified, contrasted with the dark terrifying exterior with a selfless heart of justice and good. Joker laughs, Batman broods. Joker kills en masse without a second of thought. Batman refuses to kill to the point that he will defy physics to avoid killing someone (see that Red Hood movie). Joker’s vain and loves to talk, Batman prefers to keep his mouth shut and just scare the shit out of you. Both are geniuses, but the Joker uses his genius to break people down, while Batman uses his to build people up… well okay, that last one is more iffy, but you get the idea.

My first problem with this redesign is that it completely ignores this. The joker is supposed to be happy, bright and cheery, laughing his way through exploding cars. Even the Heath Ledger joker, with his scars and evident psychosis in a darker and grittier world, was laughing and smiling and cheering his way through the horrific carnage. (Need I remind everyone of the exploding hospital scene) Now? He looks more disturbing than Batman, a quasi-immortal super ninja who has made it his explicit goal to strike fear into the hearts of men. Sure, he’s got the permanent grin, but it’s clearly meant to be disturbing, and that’s where we have my next problem. The permanent grin.

Now, you may ask why this is such a big deal. After all, you might say, the Joker’s smile is what the character is all about. I just finished saying the character’s a happy, grinny anti-Batman. Let me ask you: How are you supposed to believe the grin if he never frowns?

What makes the Joker disturbing is, ultimately, that he enjoys everything he’s doing. He will kill your daughter in front of you and laugh, cracking a joke about being in bed by nine. One of his most iconic weapons is a poison gas that freezes your face into a permanent grin. (and kills you in several incarnations). And we know he enjoys being a mad lunatic because the smile is completely voluntary. And we know this because, occasionally, he stops smiling. The two moments that spring immediately to mind are his bomb plot on the Vegas strip (see the Justice League Animated series), usually when talking to Flash, and when Terry breaks him by talking in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. In both cases, he stops frowning because he’s annoyed or angry. Even if only subconsciously, this reinforces that yes, when he’s smiling, it’s because he’s genuinely happy, not because he’s got his face stuck in a permanent grin. When they gave him the Heath Ledger lip scars, sure, he had a permanent ‘grin’, but aside from the scars, the rest of his mouth could still frown, sneer, do whatever, so it wasn’t too bad. Here… it’s like breaking the glass of a revolving door to unlock it, ya might get in the building but that doesn’t mean the door’s gonna spin!

Do I even NEED to talk about the belt on his head?!

…. I don’t see a problem with the suit, though.

I dunno. Like I said before, I’m not really a comic fan, so I don’t have much business complaining. And maybe comic fans out there actually want this sort of thing. But… look, this still ticks me off. The Joker is one of my favorite villains of all time (Azula from Avatar still comes out on top, but Joker’s up there) and this design feels like an utter butchery that just makes me sick to my stomach.

And not in a good, ‘oh god why am I laughing he just dumped someone in acid’, way.

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