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ASK...THE QUESTION: How Many Names Has the Joker Had?

ASK...THE QUESTION: How Many Names Has the Joker Had?

By Alex Jaffe Wednesday, October 5th, 2022

ASK...THE QUESTION is a recurring column where Alex Jaffe answers questions about the world of DC Super Heroes posed by fans like you. Is there something you've been wondering? All you have to do is ask...

Hello again. I’m Alex Jaffe, your host of this monthly column and our weekly Trivia Tuesdays over in the DC Community, where I go by HubCityQuestion. In this feature, I take all the pressing questions that you submit about the vast scope of the DC Universe and all its inhabitants and history, and I do my level best to deliver the answers you crave. This week is a particularly wild one, so let’s get to it.
 

For Queen and Kentry

Reaganfan78 asks:

I was watching season six of Smallville the other day, and was wondering: when did Superman and Green Arrow team up for the first time and how often were they seen together?

Superman and Green Arrow often shared issues of anthology comics like World’s Finest, More Fun Comics and Adventure Comics in the 1940s and ’50s, though never in the same story. That changed in 1959, with Adventure Comics #258. And, appropriately enough to your question, the meeting happened to occur in Smallville.

In a lead story titled “Superboy Meets the Young Green Arrow!,” Superboy’s time monitor reveals to him that his new classmate, Oliver Queen, will one day become the hero known as Green Arrow. Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, young Oliver is a terrible marksman. The task falls to Superboy to give young Ollie the confidence he needs to one day become a superhero.

By 1961, Green Arrow would be inducted as the first new member of the Justice League of America after the team’s founding in Justice League of America #4. Superman and Green Arrow have counted each other as colleagues ever since. Especially within their capacity as co-members of the Justice League, team-ups between the heroes are too numerous to mention in entirety. But here’s a personally curated reading list if you’d like to see some of their one-on-one time in the comics:


Unsolved Mystery in Space

“EVERYONE SHUT UP, WHO’S THE SPACE DOMINATRIX RIDING THE T-REX???  …for research purposes, obviously.”
-@AnneComics, Twitter

“Alex Jaffe we need your skills.”
-@JohnVillari, Twitter

Normally, I only accept questions submitted to me through the DC community. But after this panel from 1990’s Animal Man #23 became the subject of an internet-wide search this month, I felt it was my duty to the public to solve this mystery. It seemed to all readily available evidence that this helmet-wearing, whip-wielding, two pistol-carrying adventurer riding bareback on a tyrannosaurus rex, who appears only in this issue as a ghostly image was a one-off background character. But several factors here led many to believe that this may not have been her first appearance. Most importantly, the context of the issue is that Psycho-Pirate, the super-villain driven mad by his unique memory of the Pre-Crisis universe, is unintentionally conjuring the ghosts of characters who no longer exist in Post-Crisis continuity. The presence in this panel of Kole of the Teen Titans (bottom left) and Beppo the Super-Monkey (hopefully obvious) seems to indicate that the striking woman who dominates the background must have some forgotten comic book origin as well. But where?

Like everyone else who encountered this panel, I had to admit I wasn’t immediately familiar with her. My first skeptical thought was initial impressions were correct—she was from nowhere at all. Our mystery woman was simply a visual avatar for the blending of retrofuturism and primal fantasy, which dominated Silver Age comics.

But that wasn’t good enough for me. After all, it was only a theory. To do right by all of you, I had to get searching.

The first clue for me was the design of this character’s uniform, which seems to at least superficially resemble Adam Strange. A Rannian warrior, perhaps? I went through hundreds of Silver Age issues between Strange Adventures and Mystery in Space to find our lady—who, at this point, I had taken to calling “Rextina.” I discovered that there were many dinosaurs in the Silver Age space of Earth-One, but no dinosaur riders.

My next thought was that it seemed like it might be the kind of concept that William Moulton Marston or Robert Kanigher would conjure—a powerful woman astride a prehistoric beast. Sensation Comics and Wonder Woman alike provided no answers.

My fellow columnist Josh Lapine-Bertone suggested trying some other places in the Pre-Crisis world where dinosaurs might be found, like “The Island That Time Forgot” in Star Spangled War Stories, and the underground realm of Skartaris in Mike Grell’s Warlord. No space-age warriors could be found there either. (He did suggest an alternate name for her: “Dinah Ryder.” Maybe that’s her civilian name.)

At this point, having trawled through what felt like half the sequential art of the ’50s and ’60s for a character that no encyclopedia, no comic book archive, and no online resource had ever listed before, I threw up my hands. The only way I was going to get answers about this character who apparently appears only once in the background of one panel in a thirty-year-old comic was to go to the creators themselves.

Animal Man writer Grant Morrison, I found, was unavailable for comment. They’re probably off on some treacherous vision quest about the nature of the infinite that mere mortals like myself can scarcely comprehend. But through the right social media channels, I was able to get in touch with the story’s artist: the penciler for all but a couple issues of Morrison’s legendary Animal Man run, Chaz Truog.

I didn’t have much in the way of expectations when I reached out to him. After all, this was a comic he’d drawn before Bill Clinton was president. To my delight, however, I finally caught a break. Chaz (whose first name was spelled with an S in the actual issue) was more than happy to talk to me about Animal Man and this issue in particular. I told him my story and my theories. And Chaz gave me his answer:

“Some of those characters I made up to fill in the space. Dinosaur Girl is one of them, unless I’m mistaken. Just an excuse to draw a dinosaur!”

At this point, I don’t think he’s mistaken at all. So here we are at last. Dinosaur Girl is an original character created by Chaz Truog. I look forward to the upcoming twelve-issue Black Label series exploring her rich history and traumatic past by Tom King and Mitch Gerads.
 

Stage Names

a2.ton.51072 asks:

In the latest issue of Flashpoint Beyond, DC may or may not have made the Joker’s “real name” canon. That started me wondering, how many different names has the Joker had in DC comics?

Spoiler alert for anyone who’s behind, but in Flashpoint Beyond #5, Martha Wayne—the Joker of Flashpoint’s altered timeline—tells Thomas Wayne, Flashpoint’s Batman, about a man named Jack Oswald White—a failed comedian employed at Wayne Casino. It’s heavily implied that had the timeline turned out differently, Jack White would have become the Joker we know today in the main timeline. But there’s enough plausible deniability with differences between timelines to dismiss this as a possible origin, and not a definite one, if you are so inclined.

As far as other names go, what we mostly have are obvious aliases or outright impostors. The first alias the Joker ever assumed was “A. Rekoj,” posing as the proprietor of a music store in 1940’s Detective Comics #45. In 1948’s Detective Comics #148, Joker adopts the moniker of “J.O. Kerr” for the first time, which he would use variations of for the rest of his villainous career.

1969’s Justice League of America #77 introduces us to John Dough, aka Mr. Normal—“the most normal man in America.” Dough convinces Justice League mascot Snapper Carr to grant him access to Justice League headquarters. This, too, proves to be the Joker. In 1982’s Batman #353, Joker uses the alias “Harlan Quinn”—a full decade before the advent of Harley. In 1975’s The Joker #4, Joker adopts the identity of bus driver Harry Hack as part of an elaborate scheme to marry Black Canary. That really happened, I promise. I can tell you don’t believe me. Read it, it’s on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE, I’ll wait.

See? I told you. Moving on, Grant Morrison’s Batman run has Joker adopt the identity of British detective Oberon Sexton, another alias. In 2012’s Red Hood and the Outlaws #14, Joker adopts the alias of “Jack Napier,” an allusion to his true identity in the 1989 Batman film. Scott Snyder’s Batman comics also see Joker take on the alias of Eric Border, an orderly at Arkham Asylum, while he lays low between the events of “Death of the Family” and “Batman: Endgame.” Which is all to say that no canonical name has ever been presented in main continuity before.

Other comics outside of the main canon, such as may possibly be the case with Jack O. White, are a different story. Discounting worlds such as Flashpoint where an existing character takes on the Joker’s identity, or those which assign an identity to a successor to the original Joker, here are the names we know:

As you can see, “J” names are very popular for the Joker across the Multiverse, be it Jack, John or Joe. Maybe Harley’s been trying to give us a hint with that “Mr. J” nickname this whole time.
 

House of Nursery

The Elizableez asks:

Did Zatanna and John Constantine have any kids? I know in Constantine: The House of Mystery they have kids, but do they in comics?

This year’s Constantine: The House of Mystery short film is indeed the first time that we’ve seen John and Zee have kids together in any version of continuity. “Jack” and “Della” appear here for the first time and it remains to be seen whether we’ll ever see them again.

Considering John’s track record, though, Zatanna might have the right idea not starting a family with him. In The Hellblazer #200, John had triplets with the demon Roscarnis—Adam, Maria and Saul. All three of them were killed by the First of the Fallen, twelve issues later.

But Constantine does have one surviving child: Tefé Holland. John conceived Tefé with Abby Holland, Swamp Thing’s wife—though it should be noted that Swamp Thing was possessing John’s body at the time. Tefé went on to be the protagonist of the 2000 Swamp Thing series and she recently played a role in the recently concluded The Swamp Thing as an ally to new Avatar of the Green, Levi Kamei.

In the Injustice comics, set in a separate continuity, we discover that John has a daughter named Rose. John joins up with the resistance against Superman’s tyrant regime in order to protect her in “Injustice: Year Three.” Rose’s mother is unknown, but as a young woman of color, it almost certainly isn’t Zatanna.

But despite never having children of their own together, you’re in luck if you want to read a comic where John and Zatanna co-parent. In DC Comics Bombshells, the pair of them take in an orphaned Raven as their own foster daughter.
 

Well, look at the word count! That’s all the time and space we have for this column. But until my next piece, I’ll continue to remain at your inquisitive disposal online every day in the DC Community. I’ll go to any length necessary to slake your curiosity. All you need to do is ASK… THE QUESTION.


Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Alex Jaffe and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.