Last week the guys debated which Batman villain is the best, and this week they continue that debate in print for your reading enjoyment.
Chris: If there was any doubt that No Right Answer has awesome fans, this week's episode would have proven it and then some. I say this because I entirely expected more than a handful of comments stating that the Joker was the best and we were fools for not including him (which would mean they didn't actually watch the episode), or that our choices were so far away from rational thought that we must be morons of the highest caliber.
And yet neither of those things happened. More than enough viewers agreed that the Riddler was a fantastic choice for the "best" moniker, with another high percentage saying that Two-Face was a strong choice as well. Then we had other fans coming in and (civilly) giving their own cases for villains such as Ra's, Scarecrow, Clayface, Mr. Freeze, Hush, and even our colleague Jim Sterling represented Team Killer Moth.
What this forces me to do is reconsider the Joker as Batman's one truest and most obvious villain ever. Come to think of it, I've read a number of stories that feature the Joker most prominently and more often than not, I'm overwhelmingly disappointed with the results. It leads me to learn that just as stories that take Batman out of Gotham, stories that give the Joker too much power also don't work.
Essentially, any story where the Joker isn't both confined to Gotham and to the restraints of just being a lone lunatic in a clown's body can and does quickly become laughable, but not in any enjoyable way. Take the A Death in the Family storyline where the Joker becomes an ambassador for Iran. Doesn't that just sound a bit too moronic to work? Or Last Laugh, where the Joker is diagnosed with cancer, decides to pretty much kill the world and finds instant success, which again doesn't feel very fun since it's all too easy.
Probably the most disappointing arc I've read is actually a Superman story called Emperor Joker. In it, the Joker gets 99% of Mr. Mxyzptlk's power and uses it to utterly redo the universe into this bizarre world of his insanity. Again, it's a concept that sounds really fun, but giving the Joker so much power so quickly gets boring way too fast.
For my money, if you're looking for a brilliant Joker story within the comics and already went through The Killing Joke, check out Brian Azzarello's Joker. It's a Joker story told entirely from the perspective of a lowly henchman in the Joker's gang that shows how utterly insane and terrifying the Clown Prince of Crime can really be when restraint on the writer's part is expressed. Seriously, if you haven't given Joker a read by now, you're really missing out.
If I were to give an honest option for the real harshest villain Batman has ever faced, it'd without a doubt be Bob Kane. Ooh, didn't expect that? Go give a read about what he actually did for the Dark Knight. You'll discover that Kane originally envisioned Batman as being a middle-aged dude in bright red bat wings (no cowl) just swinging around, shooting bad guys as he pleased. Everyone knows Kane as Batman's creator, but he was a hack and a joke. Bill Finger gets all the credit for giving us the Batman we know and love today. Don't believe me? Maybe Cracked can convince you instead.