DC Comics ‘Batman/Superman’: Does Superman Really Need a ‘Joker’…When He Already Has One?
By Jerry Bonner | Dec 18, 2014 09:48 PM EST
An interesting (well, kind of exasperating, really) piece over Comic Vine (via Yahoo!), posits “Who is Superman’s Joker?” While I myself think the answer to that question is rather obvious (it always has been and always will be Lex Luthor), it seems the newest issues of DC’s “Batman/Superman” series are delving into that (not so) grey area.
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Writer of the series, Greg Pak, was asked where the idea for “Superman’s Joker” came from, and the scribe said: “The glory of writing this book is that my job is to find new ways to mix things up for both Superman and Batman. And pushing each hero into the other guy’s milieu can be a fantastic way to shed new light on both characters. So I was looking for a story that could force Superman to operate in Batman’s world, stepping into Batman’s mindset in a way that’s deeply uncomfortable to him. Because the best thing we can do as writers is make trouble for our heroes. And the idea of a Joker-like character who could actually challenge the power of Superman seemed like a very scary and very fun thing to explore.”
Yeah. Except for the fact that Superman has had such a villain for decades…and his name is Luthor, Lex Luthor. I’m not even sure why this a question at this stage of the game for the Man of Steel? It just seems like another cheap ploy to sell some books. Seriously.
Pak went on to say that, “One of the glories of the New 52 is that even now, a few years in, Superman is still relatively early in his career and absolutely can still be shocked and shaped by his experiences. So every new adventure in these books has the potential to affect his worldview and tactics in major ways that reverberate through his ongoing stories.”
So, my take-away from that is since we’re in the era of the “New 52” reboot DC is going to retcon one of Superman’s long-standing foes into the mold of the Joker because that just needs to happen to make Superman as popular as Batman. I don’t get it. I’m sorry…I just don’t.
Let me say this: a good villain, especially in comic book terms, is a counterpoint, a “shadowy reflection” to quote Rene Belloq in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” to everything the hero is. Joker is madness and insanity. Batman is reason and logic. Luthor is intelligence/mental prowess and ego. Superman is strength/physical prowess and selflessness. How is that not clear?
Anyway, the other candidates, beyond Luthor, to be “Superman’s Joker” are: psychic Hector Hammond, the Kryptonite powered cyborg Metallo, the living computer Brainiac, the “main man” Lobo, General Zod, and Hiro, the new Toymaster.
From the overall tone of the article, it seems that Pak is setting people up for this reveal (in the upcoming “Batman/Superman” #19) not be Luthor. He states, rather dramatically, “I’m finishing [the issue] even as we speak! It’ll be a shocker…with major ramifications for Superman moving forward. Do not miss this issue!”
He’s obviously telling people it isn’t going to be Luthor…because that’s what everyone expects and wants. Off of Pak’s list, the only two that make any sense, even in a retconning fashion, are Brainiac and Zod…and the only reason I’m giving him those two are because of their Kyrptonian origins. I could (almost) see how those two baddies could be shoehorned into Joker-esque foil for Kal El.
But they really don’t need to be because you already have Lex Luthor at your disposal to pee in Superman’s cornflakes from time to time. He is Superman’s Joker. End of story.