DC’s newest event is Doomsday Clock, a 12-issue sequel to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ iconic Watchmen comic. The comic is basically a big giant cross-over between the Watchmen characters and the rest of the DC Universe. All your favorite heroes and villains will appear — including the Clown Prince of Crime himself, the Joker. But a new petition wants to make sure the Doomsday Clock version of the Joker is gay. And, surprisingly, there’s comic precedent for a gay Joker.
The history of the gay Joker
The Joker, created by Batman co-creator Bill Finger and artist Jerry Robinson, is one of Batman’s most formidable enemies. Dressed as an evil clown, some critics have read the Joker as queer-coded from the beginning. (And, of course, queer-coded villains are nothing new.)
In 1973, then-Batman writer Neal Adams declared that the Joker was and had always been gay. Adams’ version of the Joker played up the symbiotic nature of Batman and the Joker; they needed one another — they couldn’t exist without the other. As in the recent Lego Batman Movie, their relationship mirrored a romantic, albeit dysfunctional, relationship.
Since Adams’ run, however, the Joker’s been pushed back into and pulled from the closet many times. In the classic 1990s series Batman: The Animated Series, fan-favorite Harley Quinn was created as a love interest for the Joker. (That said, you could argue that their relationship often seems one-sided, with Harley deeply in love with the Joker, who instead tolerates and uses her.)
Frank Miller’s version of the Joker in The Dark Knight Returns uses feminine pet names for Batman like “Honey Pie,” “Darling” and “My Sweet.” And in Arkham Asylum, Grant Morrison has the Joker even cop a feel off Bats. (A deleted scene nixed by the DC executives also had the Joker dressed as Madonna from the “Open Your Heart” video.)
The gay Joker petition
A petition from Elena Shestakova, a Russian comics fan, urges Geoff Johns, the writer of Doomsday Clock, to restore the Joker’s homosexuality. She writes:
The Joker repeatedly confessed his feelings to Batman and showed an interest in other men. Also there was Joker’s unnamed boyfriend in the graphic novel Devil’s Advocate. The Joker has many feminine traits – he uses lipstick, paints his nails, wears high heels and sometimes does crossdressing. We realize that some of these things is stereotypical, but it gives a very clear picture. Over the years, there were plenty of other queer moments in comics, cartoons and video games (especially in Batman: Arkham series).
The petition ends with a plea to “restore the Joker’s homosexuality in comics and other media. No one’s sexual identity should be changed, even it’s only a fictional character. Because sometimes fictional characters is something real people hold onto.”
Should a gay Joker be canon?
Should the Joker be explicitly gay? On one hand, representation is always good — and the Joker is undeniably one of the strongest, most known characters in comic history. But on the other, are we harming the community by falling into the queer-coded villain trope?
Right now, the petition only has 262 signatures, slightly over halfway to the goal of 500. So far, Johns hasn’t made a comment either way about the Joker. Besides, this comic nerd wonders if a better question isn’t “should we even bother with a Watchmen sequel?”
Do you think a gay Joker should be canon? Let us know in the comments!
Featured image by Brian Bolland courtesy DC Comics