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The History of Batman and Joker Team-Ups

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Dark Nights Metal #6, written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion and Batman: White Knight #7, written and illustrated by Sean Gordon Murphy, both in stores now.

Two recent major comic books by DC Comics featured Batman deciding to team up with the Joker to fight a worse enemy. In the world of comics, there are certain plot ideas that are, in effect, low hanging fruit. They are just too tempting to resist eventually using them. For instance, once you establish that Superman has entrusted Batman with a piece of kryptonite to be used in case of emergencies, you would be a fool to never do a story where Batman needs to use that kryptonite ring. Similarly, Batman and Joker are such polar opposites that the idea of having Batman be willing to team up with him for the greater good is an incredibly appetizing concept.

Therefore, these two recent comics might have been two of the more notable instances of these sorts of team-ups occurring, but they are far from the first time that it has happened. Here, we will take a look at the comic book history of Batman and the Joker teaming up.

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The first team-up between the two arch-rivals occurred in 1973's Brave and the Bold #111, by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo. It had the following amazing cover by Aparo...

The issue opens up with a whole family being murdered seemingly by the Joker because the father of the family testified against a criminal and saw him sent to prison. There was a note with the dead bodies saying that it was the Joker who killed them and it was not even because he knew the criminal who was sent away, but just as a general deterrence to other people to testify in the future. Batman, naturally, was really torn up about this and obsessively hunted the Joker down.

When he cornered him, he discovered that the Joker was seemingly hunting another criminal down! Batman pieced together some clues and realized that the other criminal was the real killer of the family and had just framed the Joker for the murders. So Batman decided to team up with the Joker to take the real killer down...

However, here's a fascinating thing about Bob Haney's Batman. He was all in favor of Batman being human, in that he screwed up a lot, so as it turned out, the Joker was behind the murders all along (the guy who did the physical crime did so at the Joker's orders) and just went along with Batman's team-up to trap him and kill him. Batman, of course, managed to escape and arrest both the Joker and the "real" killer.

Nine years and 80 issues later, another issue of The Brave and the Bold, #191, saw Batman and the Joker team up once again. Check out another amazing Aparo cover...

In this instance, in a story by Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn (with art by Jim Aparo), the Joker is framed for the murder of the Penguin and he teams up with Batman to prove that he didn't do the crime.

What confused Batman was that he could investigate it without the Joker's help. He was confused as to why the Joker cared so much, but as it turned out, the Joker

This time around, though, the Joker actually was telling the truth. The Penguin faked his own death as part of an elaborate scam to get a Catholic Cardinal to perform his funeral service, at which point the Penguin (dressed as a nun) planned to kidnap him...

We share this page not just to show how awesome it is (the Penguin dressed as a nun is hilarious), but also to note the Easter Egg in the page. Aparo, you see, would often hide little hints in each issue as to who Batman would be teaming up with in the next issue. See if you can figure out who Batman teamed up with in the following issue, based on this page.

Batman has proven the Joker innocent of other charges in other instances, but we don't necessarily count those as "team-ups." Like the graphic novel where the Joker is declared sane and thus is about to be executed, but Batman realizes that the murder that he is going to be put to death for he didn't actually do.

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