The Joker, Batman's arch-nemesis and a mass murderer, draws the line at Nazism once again, Injustice writer Tom Taylor confirmed in the latest issue of Injustice: Year Zero. The Clown Prince of Crime, who has expressed these same feelings in the past, voices his disdain for Nazis in a scene where he says that, as an American, he [expletive] hates Nazis. The last time it came up, it was more or less a gag -- but in the intervening years, an ascendancy of white nationalism and fascist activism in the United States has made the decision to pick on Nazis strangely politically charged.
Since Year Zero is a prequel series, part of the tale centers on the Justice Society's days in World War II. At one point in this week's Injustice: Year Zero #4, The Joker and Harley Quinn are being told a flashback story, and Joker wants it sped up to the part where Nazis are getting killed.
"I'm a homicidal maniac, not a traitorous bigot," Joker says in the new issue.
You can see the panel below.
You could argue that it's strange for a character as warped and amoral as The Joker to have a line he won't cross, or you could argue that there is both value and comedy in giving him one. Alternately, he could just like having a group that few people would judge him for killing. There's also a sense that because fascism and authoritarianism go hand-in-hand, someone like The Joker, who is often depicted as something of an anarchist, would have non-moral reasons to hate it.
Joker's disdain for Nazis has roots in a 1997 crossover story in which Batman and Captain America are pitted against their greatest foes -- The Joker and Red Skull. Written and drawn by John Byrne and featuring colors by Patricia Mulvihill, Batman & Captain America featured a memorable scene where The Joker, realizing that the Red Skull is an actual adherent of Nazi philosophies and not just wearing swastikas to look tough, refuses to work with him anymore.
"That mask must be cutting off the oxygen to your brain," Byrne's Joker told Red Skull. "I may be a criminal lunatic, but I'm an American criminal lunatic."
With DC and Marvel crossover comics not having been produced in years, and being uniformly out of print now, that scene is the best-known moment from the story, and has been shared online ever since.
Injustice: Gods Among Us, the franchise, started as a video game in 2013. An intricate fighting game using DC characters, Injustice is set in an alternate universe where the death of Lois Lane drove Superman mad, making him a danger to the world, and other heroes decided to come together to stop him. The game was popular enough to spawn a sequel -- as well as a comic book series, which Taylor wrote from January 2013 until September 2016.6comments