Joker: Best Comic Issues of the 1990s | ScreenRant

Staring with the 1980s, the Joker began transitioning toward a darker and more twisted personality. With slightly more violent and disturbing storylines, this transition carried out in the next decade. He had, over time, morphed into much more than just a homicidal maniac. In several 90s era storylines, he had grown an increasingly toxic obsession with Batman to the point where he was willing to cause any amount of pointless chaos.

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This was also the decade of Mark Hamill voicing the character in Batman: The Animated Series, furthering the character's popularity through the show and its associated tie-in comics.

8 The Batman Adventures: Mad Love (One-Shot)

Set in the same continuity as Batman: The Animated Series, Mad Love introduced the character of Harley Quinn as the Joker's love interest. Initially introduced as Arkham Asylum psychologist Harleen Quinzel, she becomes the villain's lovestruck sidekick.

Evoking the dark tones of its source material, the one-shot brings out Harley's tragic history and her toxic dependency on the Joker. The Eisner-winning Harley Quinn comic story is of great significance in comic book history, as it led to the genesis of Harley Quinn's future franchise. As for the Joker, the comic goes on to show just how much he loves manipulating and using people for his own vile motives.

7 Going Sane (Legends Of The Dark Knight #65-68)

The Joker has a highly unstable personality, but Going Sane imagines a polar opposite situation. Believing that he has finally killed Batman, he forgets his tumultuous past. He starts leading a normal life under the alias of Joseph Kerr. However, when Batman is found to be alive, Kerr's mental state will be tested yet again.

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Going Sane can make for a disturbing read, but it does a great job at showing the human side of the Joker. As he gains a newfound perspective on life, readers can't help but empathize with the character. But, then again, he's the same person whose actions led to immense bloodshed in the past. This constant shift of moods makes the story all the more exciting.

6 The Return Of The Joker (Batman #450-451)

The Return of the Joker deals with an "impostor Joker" who commits a series of murders in a similar manner as the Joker. Infuriated by this doppelganger, the clown prince of crime decides to take matters into his own hands and clear his name.

The two-issue storyline is a must-read for diehard fans, as it takes place after the controversial Joker comic from the 1980s A Death In The Family. In fact, Batman is so terrified that he sends Tim Drake off to Japan so as to ensure he doesn't get killed like Jason Todd. There's also a slight connection to The Killing Joke, as the Joker adopts his old alter ego of Red Hood to capture the impostor.

5 Joker: Devil's Advocate (One-Shot)

When a series of stamps are released to commemorate famous comedians, the Joker grows disappointed to find his face missing. As a result, he allegedly adds toxic venom to the stamps so that whoever licks them would die. It seems like a perfect trick for the Joker to pull given his attention-grabbing tactics.

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Despite all clues pointing to him, Batman is sure that the perpetrator of this crime is someone other than the Joker. This is an interesting spin on their enmity, as the caped crusader is willing to be an advocate for the agent of chaos.

4 No Man's Land (Crossover)

No Man's Land is an ambitious crossover event that spanned several comic series in the 1990s, including the likes of Catwoman and Detective Comics. The storyline is set in the aftermath of an earthquake in Gotham that forces its citizens to evacuate till the city is reconstructed.

This realistic storyline also delves into the criminal activities that breed in the face of this disaster. The Joker establishes his own anarchical neighborhood and dubs it Jokerville. His activities are disturbing to the point that even other evil Batman villains like Bane try to stop him. Further, the comic also shows how the Joker is incomplete without his city, much like his nemesis Batman.

3 Knightfall (Batman #492-Showcase '94 #10)

The inspiration behind Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, Knightfall's breakout character is undoubtedly Bane who renders Batman immobile to the point that Azrael takes up the hero's mantle. The Joker appears briefly alongside other Batman comic villains as Bane frees them all from prison.

At the same time, there's a significant moment in Knightfall that sheds light on the Joker's fearlessness. When Scarecrow releases his fear toxin on him, he hardly bats an eye. Instead, he smiles and says "boo." The Joker's origins are so ominous that readers still can't figure out his deepest fears.

2 Underworld Unleashed (Crossover)

The Joker—along with four more iconic villains—gets to make a deal with the hellish demon Neron. In exchange for their souls, Neron is willing to make them his lieutenants and engage in acts of destruction.

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While most of the Joker's storylines incorporate themes of noir and crime thrillers, a fantasy-driven arc such as Underworld Unleashed would serve as a breath of fresh air. Further, the Joker's collaboration with Lex Luthor is monumental for future villain-centric storylines around the "Rogues" Gallery.

1 Batman: Harley Quinn (One-Shot)

Harley Quinn was introduced to the DC Comics canon with her 1999 titular comic. This particular arc touched further on her origin and her aforementioned romance with the Joker. Her friendship with Poison Ivy was also established in this particular story. It's with her help that she develops immunity to toxins. Both Joker and Poison Ivy would go on to be recurring characters in Harley's life in the future.

Also iconic is Alex Ross's painted cover art that depicts Harley Quinn in her original red-and-black outfit dancing with a tuxedo-clad Joker. This scene was popularized again in the DCEU movie Suicide Squad.

NEXT: 10 Batman Villains We Would've Loved To See In Christopher Nolan's Trilogy



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