The countdown continues...
5. The Joker - 797 points (9 first place votes)
Created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson, the Joker made his debut in the very first issue of Batman, and soon became a mainstay Batman villain, being one of the few Bat-villains to continue fighting Batman from the Golden Age through to the Silver Age.
It was actually in the Silver Age, when Julie Schwartz took over, that Joker basically vanished from the Bat-titles, only to be brought back by Denny O'Neil a number of years later. In the 50s and early 60s, the Joker had lessened from a murderer to basically being an annoyance, but O'Neil brought him back as an insane sociopath, the characterization that has, for the most part, persisted to this day.
In the 1980s, Joker achieved his two greatest blows to Batman, when he both murdered Batman's partner, Robin (Jason Todd) and crippled the daugher of Commissioner Gordon, Barbara (who was, unbeknown to the Joker, the hero Batgirl).
The Joker continues to make routine appearances, showing up to fight Batman here and there. He maintains his position as the most prominent Batman villain there is.
Here is David Farrell on why he picked Joker #1...
One of the best things about DC's modern era is the way they've set up their Superman/Batman dichotomy - Supeman has the powers of a god, and yet the heart and soul of a regular American guy from Kansas, while Batman is an ordinary mortal man with otherworldy spirit - his tireless quest for justice is all that matters to him, and thus he puts every ounce of his being into this battle; in effect, he has given up his mortal life to become an agent of justice.
Batman's strength as a character is enhanced by the presence of the Joker, my number one pick. If Batman is an embodiment of justice, then the Joker really is his polar opposite, an embodiment of mindless evil and violence. The Joker, like Batman, lacks true humanity - he exists only to kill and destroy, making him a truly frightening foe for the Dark Knight. Of course, his visual design is amazing - who isn't, at some level, scared of clowns? - and works to subvert the idea that the good guys are out in the open and the bad guys hide in the shadows. The image of his psychotic grin, combined with his amorality, make him one of the scariest people in comics, when handled by the right creative team.
Of course, no rivalry would be complete without history, and the Joker has it in spades. He killed a Robin. He crippled Batgirl. And of course, if Batman had broken his code against killing, these things wouldn't have happened. The Joker has affected Batman more than any other villain in the Dark Knight's rather large rogue's gallery.
And the clincher has to be this - if I see the Joker on the cover a comic, I get excited. I buy that book, and I read it, right away. That's how I knew he had to be my number one.
Here is Erik W's reason for putting Joker first...
The Joker hands down is one of the most classic and recognizable characters in all of comics, be it Marvel or DC. He is also one of, if not the single most, recognizable comic villain to the general public. Dress up as the Joker and walk out the door for Halloween, almost everybody will know who you are without asking.
The Joker has so many paths to travel as an opponent in storylines. You never know what sociopathic scheme will come from his wild and sadistic mind. One thing you can count on though is that it will usually be as fun as evil can be. Then there is all the pain and strife he has brought to the Batman's surrounding life. Is there any criminal character in comic history that has been as successful at causing his opponent pain and suffering as the Joker?
It's not too often you find a character that you just love to see interact. Many times the quality of the criminal antics are all driven by the storyline and how smart the scheme itself is and what obstacles the hero has to overcome to save the world again.
In this case however, I just love to see The Joker. I love to watch his appearances just for the character himself. I could care less if he is planning to steal talcum powder from a baby, it would be compelling.
Heck, I would eat up a Joker only comic, no heroes at all. Give me a mini-series of just him and Harley interacting. I would read it again and again.
God bless the Clown Prince of Crime.
Thanks, David and Eric!!