There is a character who is really like no other in the world of comic book villains. It would be hard for a person to actually find a character who is this deep and this disturbed in the world of comic book villains. The mind that concocted him, Jerry Robinson, must have been a very twisted person indeed. This character represents a theory about existence that part of me believes that all people wish we could embrace, in our own way. Don’t start thinking I’m crazy just yet. Hear me out, as I explain one of the most intricate and complicated people who has ever appeared in fiction.
Let’s break this down into categories. First, the Joker’s history. Now, there is a bit of argument as to where he actually came from. Different comics and movies have had different points of view. But there is no definite back-story for his character. He has always had a long-standing history of crime, that is a constant. Of course, his history is equally twisted as his character. Back when he first appeared in the comics, he was just a homicidal maniac, but over time, his character quickly evolved. Even how he was disfigured is often contested. Sometimes he was dumped into a vat of chemicals, other times he is the victim of self-mutilation, or in the case of The Dark Knight, the stories contradict one-another and there is no definite story at all.
Whatever the reason for his transformation, he quickly takes a liking to Batman. The great philosophical debacle of the Batman series is that the battle between these two never ends. The Joker has even said in the comics and in film that they will keep at it for as long as they live. Personally, I think that the Joker believes him to be the only enemy worth facing. When the comic series first had him in it, he was nothing more than a lunatic, like every other villain, but his character quickly evolves into a criminal genius.
This brings us to the second part – his character. The Joker is the definition of pure evil. Really, there is no way that one cannot believe that he is anything less. Some people believe that he is a psychopath, but that is not true. The Joker feels emotion, and the definition of psychopathy is that a person feels no emotion whatsoever. His emotion may be sick humor, or anger, and occasional sadness when one of his plans doesn’t go right, but he does feel genuine emotion. But even with his insanity, the fact is that he is a brilliant criminal mind. He is not only able to think up complicated schemes very quickly, and set up all the necessary tools to get these plans going, but he can also adjust them very quickly when he needs to, as he often does since Batman is messing them up. The Joker has claimed that Arkham Asylum is just a resting ground where he can chill out, since he is always able to leave the place at will.
Another sign of his brilliant mind is that he doesn’t rely on a single way of getting the job done. He uses multiple methods, such as elaborate traps, explosives, guns, anything that is on-hand, or that he cleverly has hidden on his person. There are also some pretty nifty little tools on him, like a flower in his lapel that can shoot acid, venom, fire, exploding toys, such as dice and countless other things. He has a little shocking device that he wears on his hand. Sometimes it is just a harmless prank, other time it is a great deal more serious.
Speaking of serious, there is a debate as to how mad the Joker really is. There was a part in the comic when he was teamed up with Scarecrow. Out of general curiosity, Scarecrow gasses him with his chemical that can induce fear. He wondered – what is the Joker afraid of? A good question, to be sure. However, after hitting him with the gas, there is no reaction at all. Nothing happens. The Joker proceeds to beat him with a chair, but it is the fact that there is no reaction whatsoever that is interesting. He feels no fear at all. Even the idea of his own death doesn’t frighten him. It was one of the most hardcore moments in film when, in The Dark Knight, Batman throws him off of a building and he just laughs the whole way down. Nothing scares this character, and in a way, that is even more terrifying than his natural inclination to do as he pleases.
The Dark Knight showed the Joker the way he was meant to be portrayed. It really captured him in the best way possible. The film showed a brilliant criminal mind who got bored with doing what normal criminals do. His boredom led him to seek out Batman. He spent that whole movie just trying to make a point – that Batman was just as corruptable as the rest of us. He nearly destroyed half of Gotham to in the process, but that was the extent of what he wanted to do. The little dialogue between Batman and the Joker at the police station showed it best. He didn’t care about anything, other than chaos.
The Joker is a catharsis about the dark side of a part of us that we don’t acknowledge – the part that doesn’t want to obey the little niceties of society. There is a reason that characters like Gregory House and Eric Cartman are so popular. They represent the idea that we all, in some way, wish we could be a part of. They don’t obey society’s rules. They don’t follow the set way of thinking. They do their own thing, and to hell with everybody else. Let’s be honest, all of us wish that we could do that. But the Joker is part of the darker side of that way of thinking. Not only does he not want to follow the rules of society, but he actively seeks to destroy the rules as we understand them. In his mind, chaos is the only actual truth in the world. He may have a bit of a point there, but that is not important.
Another contradiction of this character is his physical prowess. Some comics show the Joker as being a very capable combatant. Others have him as being a very weak character, almost too frail for his own good. All comics have him being very agile and quick, able to escape an area when things go wrong very quickly. This contradiction is meaningless in the broad scheme of things, because it was never his muscles that he was attacking Batman with. It was always a war of brains between two very brilliant characters who were both driven by impossibly complicated mental problems and even if his history was never explained, it is pretty much a given this the Joker’s way of doing things, he must have some pretty hardcore problems himself.
Another side that gives some interest to this is in how he treats his side-kick, Harley Quinn. Harley genuinely loves him, even though he is openly abusive to her and seems to regard her as just a fun time between his jobs, or to kick around whenever he wants to. However, he also seems to have some genuine affection himself for Harley. It is a very strange perspective, which the animated series in the early 90’s added to an already complicated character.
This character is one of the most heinous of the villains that has ever existed in any comic book. It was hinted in one that he has over 2,000 kills to his name. His evil truly knows no bounds. But he is also an example of what humanity could indeed become. Mental madness means one thing, but when people are taught that mass killing is worthy of being canonized, then it may just be what happens to society at large.
This page is a small insight into the some of characters in Trash, Raphael, Gardo, Rat and Jose Angelico. Including some useful quotes.
In the very first chapter Raphael tells the reader, “I am a trash boy with style.” ( p.6) this implies that even though Raphael is a trash boy he is proud of it and may be a little better off in some ways compared to other boys living on the dumpsite. He is not only a boy but an important part of his family and later on in the book when Raphael is taken by the police we discover that he is the core of his community. The people living on the dumpsite are, yes, fighting for their own lives but have formed a tight community around themselves, they are a group, just like people living at Central Station or around Colva Prison. Raphael fights poverty, not having enough food, no proper shelter or getting an education, although he faces these challenges everyday and more, Raphael is a small boy with a lot of strength, he wants to get somewhere in life.
Quotes about/by Raphael:
“You should see me, dressed to kill. I wear a pair of hacked-off jeans and a too-big T-shirt that I can roll up onto my head when the sun gets bad. I don’t wear shoes- one, because I don’t have any, and two, because you need to feel with your feet.” P.5
“I was a trash boy since I was old enough to move without help and pick things up. That was what- three years old, and I was sorting.” P.5
“A long time later I would think to myself: Everyone needs a key. With the right key, you can bust the door wide open. Because nobody’s going to open it for you.” P.9
Gardo is like a big brother to Raphael. He is strong and protective, never leaving Raphael’s side. The two go through everything together. Such as when Raphael is arrested, Gardo feels it too, “Gardo was right with me at once, and he was talking fast, saying, “What are you doing? What has he done?” P. 56. This tells the reader just how much Gardo cares about Raphael and through out the whole book Gardo continues to display his caring nature.
Quotes about/by Gardo:
“Gardo- the bold boy- put his hand very gently on his [Raphael] arm before turning back to me.” P.79
“Gardo got his arm around me but someone pushed him off… He was screaming at me. trying to get to me,and a policeman grabbed him by the neck and threw him off.” P.56
Rat, is a small but clever boy who really does live up to his name. He is fast but sneaky, dirty but charming and is friendly. Rat is always getting things from the mission school as he appears to be sweet and useless. He saves the money that he is giving so, surprisingly is one of the riches people on the dump.
Quotes about/by Rat:
“Rat is a boy- three or four years younger than me. His real name is Jun-Jun. Nobody calls him that, though, because he lived with the rats and has come to look like one. He was the only kid in Behala that I knew of who had no family at all…” P.19
“The kid was sitting up, just in his shorts, gazing at me with frightened eyes and his big broken teeth sticking out of his mouth.” P.22
“I am the best hearer, the best jumper, the best runner-they think I brag, but they know it’s true!” P.159
“Rat saw a once we had to dive back in among them… It was the smarted thing he ever did.” P.163
Jose Angelico is a man of mystery in Andy Mulligan’s novel, Trash. The boys, Raphael, Gardo and Rat, discover little bits and pieces about Jose as they strive to uncover the secret of his murder. We know only small bits about Jose, one of which is in chapter seven, part four. This is where Frederico Gonz, a grave memorial maker tells the reader all he knows about about Jose and his family as he made memorials for his daughter, son, and Jose himself. Also near the start of the adventure the information they find in the purse tell the reader details about Mr. Angelico. A man of the age 33, unmarried and living in Green Hills, employed as a houseboy, and does not appear to be wealthy in any way.
Quotes about Jose Angelico:
“I met Jose Angelico the way I meet many of my customers. I have a workshop on the cemetery road, just past the coffin makers. I specialize in the small, simple stone. I am very aware that my clients have next to nothing, and renting the grave has often taken most of their money. So I modify and modify and get down to the very lowest cost. The dead, however, must have that stone: the reminder, the eternal reminder, that this man, this woman, this child—existed. On some of the graves the name is marked in paint, or even pen, and everyone knows how sad that is. Make something out of stone, I say, and no one touches the grave. The poor are not buried, you see. There is not enough ground here anymore, so in the Naravo they build upwards. The graves of the poor are concrete boxes, each just big enough for the coffin. They go up and up—in some parts twenty boxes high. A funeral here is to slide the coffin in and watch the sealing of the compartment. Part of my service is that I cement the stone that I’ve made into place, and thus seal the chamber.” P.166
(note to reader: with this character analysis I have tried not to give to much away of the story as that would prevent people from having enjoyment of discovering answers to the mystery of Jose Angelico.)