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The Joker gets his own comic series for the first time in 45 years

The Clown Prince of Crime is on the lam from Commissioner Gordon

The Joker sprawls on a throne in a purple suit and green vest. His right eyelid is sewn shut. From the cover of The Joker #1, DC Comics (2021). Image: Guillem March/DC Comics

The Joker’s monstrous ego may finally be assuaged with DC Comics’ latest announcement: A solo book just for stories about him. The Joker, from Batman writer James Tynion IV and artist Guillem March, will hit shelves in March.

“After an unthinkable attack on Gotham City, the Clown Prince of Crime has become the most wanted man in the world,” reads DC Comics’ announcement. “The Joker is doing his best to stay several steps ahead of law enforcement overseas, but Jim Gordon, facing retirement, realizes this is the last manhunt of his life and vows to track down Gotham’s worst nemesis, completing his storied career. But there are some mysterious and deadly forces that are also on the hunt for The Joker, and they’re not going to let Gordon slow them down or get in the way.”

Given the Joker’s fame in and outside of comics, you might be surprised to know that this is only the second time he’s gotten his own ongoing series. 1975’s Joker was the first time a Batman villain had ever gotten their own series — a fairly regular occurrence these days — but it ran for a mere nine issues before it was canceled.

“When I was approached by DC about the concept of an ongoing series spotlighting The Joker, I thought, ‘What would that book even look like?,’” Tynion said in DC’s announcement. “I’m excited to share this story in a way that honors everything that a series about The Joker can be, while coming at if from an exciting, unexpected angle.”

Tynion started his run on Batman with a big Joker-focused event, Joker War, that concluded by reframing the relationship between Gotham’s deadliest rogue and Batman. The Joker knows that Batman is Bruce Wayne, but he also knows that their seemingly endless rivalry has changed its patterns. The breakout character of Tynion’s run, Punchline, is also reframing the Joker’s mythology. The fully-culpable Joker-infatuated college student has used social media to create a movement advocating for her exoneration — by peddling the false but attractive idea that the Joker stands for a kind of nihilistic rebellion against authority.

In addition to its main story about Joker on the run, The Joker will feature a Punchline backup story, form Tynion, co-writer Sam Johns, and artist Mirka Andolfo, who have already collaborated on Punchline stories.

Here’s the full cover of The Joker #1, along with several variants.

The Joker sits on a throne above the Arkham Asylum Gates, with Bane looming over him, on the cover of The Joker #1, DC Comics (2021). Image: Guillem March/DC Comics
The Joker grins at the viewer in a variant cover for The Joker #1, DC Comics (2021). Image: Frank Quitely/DC Comics
Punchline brandishes two knives on a variant cover for The Joker #1, DC Comics (2021). Image: Francesco Mattina/DC Comics
The Joker grins at the viewer in a variant cover for The Joker #1, DC Comics (2021). Image: Riccardo Federici/DC Comics

By Riccardo Federici