Death of the Family Event: Laughing All the Way
Let’s take a little time off from friends and family and spend the holidays with everyone’s favorite little psychopath, the Joker! You’ve no doubt already read the Christmas Rewind Reviews here on Comic Booked from the Batman animated series (Christmas with the Joker and Holiday Knights), but here’s a list of five more of the best holiday-themed comic book stories featuring the Clown Prince of Crime!
The now legendary story of how Batman got through (arguably) the roughest two years of his career, retold in a detective murder mystery fashion. This story features everyone from the Batman rogue’s gallery, including the Joker himself. When a holiday killer threatens to destroy Gotham’s underworld, the Joker threatens young district attorney Harvey Dent and even goes as far as hijacking a plane and trying to “kill the killer” before he gets him. So what if said plan involves poisoning everyone in the city? After all, the odds are in his favor because the killer’s probably down there somewhere, right?
2. Batman: Ghosts
Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale
Brief Synopsis: This is the tale that got Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale their jobs doing The Long Halloween and Dark Victory. Though not technically a holiday tale, who doesn’t love Batman going through an experience very similar, if not exactly the same, as the classic Charles Dickens character Ebeneezer Scrooge in his famous holiday tale, A Christmas Carol? That’s just what this comic is all about. The only major differences are that it takes place on Halloween, and the “ghosts” are actually Gotham City’s greatest villains straight from Bruce Wayne’s own tortured psyche.
3. Batman: No Man’s Land
Greg Rucka, Devin Grayson, Dale Eaglesham, Damion Scott
Brief Synopsis: This remains the only comic book that has ever given me a physical and emotional response after reading it. The conclusion of this epic storyline features the Joker not only murdering Commissioner Jim Gordon’s wife, Sergeant Sarah Essen-Gordon, but also capturing every newborn baby in Gotham City and threatening to kill the last slice of hope of an already devastated No Man’s Land. When Gordon shoots an unarmed Joker, he complains that he may never walk again, to which he immediately bursts into laughter, getting the irony. “Good one, Commissioner! Like your daughter!” This scene is only matched by the finale, featuring Gordon raising a toast on New Year’s Eve, at his beloved bride’s grave. This might be the best written ending to a comic epic I have ever read. Period.
4. Batman: Slay Ride
Paul Dini, Don Kramer
Brief Synopsis: Batman: The Animated Series veteran Paul Dini weaves a one-shot tale of terror when the Joker kidnaps Robin Tim Drake and ties him up in a stolen car, driving into and killing innocent last minute Christmas shoppers who cross the street in this high-octane, nothing-is-off-limits death ride of a story. It is Joker at his most disturbing. (Editor’s Note: At least until the Death of the Family arc…)
5. Robin: The Joker’s Wild
Chuck Dixon, Tom Lyle
Brief Synopsis: Batman leaves Gotham. Joker kills Mr. Freeze and takes over his gang. A rogue snowstorm prevents the Bat from returning in a timely fashion. And a young Tim Drake must stop the madman from killing everyone in Gotham City… while convincing the demon clown that Batman is just waiting in the wings. This is the very first comic series I read, and it was a special gift from my mom and grandma when I was a little kid, so it has a bit of nostalgic goodness to it for me personally as a comic fan, a Batman fan, and a fan of the holiday season in general. But after recently re-reading it, it’s still a classic. No matter your age.
And there you have it. My five favorite Joker holiday tales. Okay, now go spend the holidays with your loved ones. Seriously… Get off the computer! Merry Christmas, everyone!