The 6 Best Comic Book Fools (Who Are Not the Joker)
We all know about the Joker and Harley Quinn, a pair of comic book fools who have pretty much permeated the pop culture landscape. But did you know that comic book villains can’t help but model themselves after foolish things? And I don’t just mean a bunch of clown-themed super-villains.
This is an odd list of legitimate comic book characters who took a gag idea and then just added ‘-er’ on the end.
This is surprisingly common, and really funny in its own right. I’m sure you can name a couple of them off the top of your head. Mark Hamill plays one of them on TV — and again, I’m not talking about the Joker. This list has to be seen to be believed, and then we can all share a delightful giggle.
Join me after the jump for the six best non-JokERs in comics!
Not quite the Joker, the Jokester is actually the heroic, Earth 3 counterpart of the Clown Prince of Crime. In a universe where the Justice League are actually the evil Crime Syndicate of America, the Jokester is the silly vigilante doing everything in his hilarious nature to combat the forces of darkness. He’s the hero Gotham City needs when you’re ruled over by an immovable, darkly evil, super serious dork like Owlman.
There have actually been several different Puzzlers at DC Comics, I guess because they couldn’t get one to stick? And it’s too good a name to pass up? The first Puzzler was a dork in a business suit who ran a protection racket in Metropolis and somehow used his love of games and puzzles to get one over on Superman. He literally defeated Superman by challenging him to checkers and then cheating, only for Superman to also cheat to give him a taste of his own medicine. And Puzzler didn’t even wear a themed business suit. Just a regular dude who liked ordinary board games. I’m not even sure if he put together puzzles.
But he did show up in the 1960s Batman TV show, so he’s got that going for him!
Not wanting to let a good name go to waste, DC eventually re-invented the Puzzler in 2002 as a villain made out of literal puzzle pieces. Valerie Van Haaften is a big Superman fan who tried to get his attention by becoming a super-villain. Supes defeats her by taking apart her puzzle pieces, which seems like a really obvious achilles heel — which makes up another one of her puzzle pieces!
Not to be outdone by their direct competition, Marvel Comics also has a comical super-villain: the Jester! Everybody loves a good harlequin, right? There are two Jesters at Marvel. The first was Jonathan Powers, a struggling actor who couldn’t get any good roles, so he eventually used his skills with acrobatics to become a costumed super-villain. He had a pretty solid super-villain career, mixing it up with the likes of Daredevil, Moon Knight and the usual rabble of street-level do-gooders. Fairly standard super-villain. The second Jester, Jody Putt, was recruited by Doctor Doom, of all people. Putt used his weapons and Jester-gear much like the first, getting involved in various big time crime, until he was shot dead by the Punisher. That guy does kill more than just ordinary criminals, after all.
Now we’re getting into the knock-offiest of the knock-offs! The Prankster is another Superman villain who uses jokes, gags and practical jokes to commit crimes. This is the sort of guy who uses exploding whoopee cushions to rob banks. Or one time, he filed a copyright claim on the English language and charged people for using letters. But that was in the classy Silver Age. In modern comics, old Harold Loomis is a bit more of a sadistic asshole, pulling pranks and committing crimes just to be a jerkass about it. Eventually he got the bright idea to hire himself out to other villains to act as a distraction while they commit their crimes. Not too bad of a plan, actually.
Prankster also has a completely different New 52 update, but the less said about him the better.
Trickster is such a popular villain that Mark Hamill has played him on TV in two separate Flash TV shows! The Trickster is a Flash villain known for using tricks and gag items to commit crimes — kind of exactly like the Prankster, but Trickster has a much snazzier outfit. How this guy can menace someone with the powers of the Flash is anyone’s guess. James Jesse sometimes dabbled as a do-gooder, because gag weapons are good for any purpose. And Trickster was so popular that some punk kid even took over the identity when the original died. If you’re going to be a punk kid, then a super-villain outfit where you dress like an idiot and trick people is a solid way to be an asshole.
Gag characters are apparently so much fun that Batman has two of them! The Joker may be the arch enemy, but the Riddler is pretty cool in his own right. Can you tell the difference between a joke and a riddle? I’m sure there’s something in the definitions. But Edward Nygma excels in trying to prove that he’s smarter than Batman, emphasis on ‘trying’. I don’t think he’s proved it yet. Tricks, traps, riddles, clues; these are the Riddler’s weapons of crime. Sometimes he’s smart and clever Sometimes he’s a Jim Carrey-esque maniac. Whatever the case may be, the dude loves the color green and question marks. That’s all it really takes to be a quality super-villain.