DC Reveals A Surprising Truth About Joker's Rivalry With Batman

The Joker and Batman's rivalry is one of the most fascinating relationships in all of literary fiction. Batman's obsessive quest to establish law and order in a violent, chaotic, world directly conflicts with Joker's philosophy of death and chaos. One of the most interesting about Batman vs. The Joker is how the latter often doesn't view The Dark Knight as a foe to be vanquished, but rather a soulmate he is forever connected with. 

...But what if The Joker finally did kill Batman? Turns out, his life would (literally) become a nightmare. 


DC's current crossover event "Knight Terrors" has introduced a villain called "Insomnia" to the DC Universe. Insomnia unleashed a deep-sleep trance on all the DC heroes and villains, trapping each of them in his/her/their own version of a nightmarish hell. For Joker, "hell" turns out to be a life without Batman! 

In Knight Terrors: The Joker #1 writer Matthew Rosenberg envisions Joker's nightmare as one really bad joke: Batman accidentally slips and falls to his death, during one of their encounters. That ending i so unsatisfying to Joker that he enters a sort of depressive state. Joker keeps Bruce Wayne/Batman's corpse as his closest friend; he can't find joy in mass murder at a diner, piracy on the seas, or even a master plan using a nuclear bomb to threaten Gotham City. 

Before long, Joker finds his henchmen deserting him; chance points him in the direction out of his slump in the form of a job application for Wayne Enterprises. Joker re-invents himself as "Johann Kaiser" and takes a cubicle job where he can look into all of Bruce's hidden finances and Batman's armory for himself. However, the absurdity of corporate life breaks Joker down before his scheme can work; he ends up murdering his boss, only to have the big boss (Insomnia) promote him to his victim's management position. 

The issue ends with Joker still unsatisfied, even with sycophant workers laughing at his bad jokes. When reports start coming in that both Bruce Wayne and Batman are still somehow active, Joker has a true American Psycho moment where he realizes that his rivalry is gone, and the world doesn't even know he won. Instead, Joker sadly checks out, reclining in his chair with a beer and watching Real Housewives, with Batman's corpse rotting in his closet. 

Why Joker's Nightmare Matters

(Photo: DC)


Even though it's just a dream sequence, Rosenberg crafts the point so clearly in this issue: Joker is aimless and joyless without Batman being the sole focus of his existence. When Insomnia is eventually defeated, the nightmares these DC characters suffered will leave them changed. Will Joker actually want to be friends with Batman? Because somehow that just sounds even more dangerous.