One of the big announcements coming out of WonderCon in Los Angeles this weekend was the complete unveiling of the Rebirth event coming from DC Comics. The DC Universe will be changing with fresh starts on several new series and new creative teams to help kick them off. But along with the news of Rebirth, the publisher announced that it will also be doing something it has never done before: it will reveal the identity of their most notorious villain, the Joker.
While the new Rebirth event won’t serve as a complete reboot of the DC Comics universe, it will serve as a reimagining of sorts, a course correction of The New 52 universe, one where Action Comics and Detective Comics will be return to their original numeration from the 1930s. Rebirth will officially begin with an 80-page one-shot by writer and DC’s chief creative officer Geoff Johns that will set up a new story that will play out for the next two years.
While Rebirth is a large deal that will bring about sweeping changes to the universe, it was the news that the Joker's identity would become known that feels far more immediate. In a recent interview with IGN, Johns revealed that in Justice League #50, readers will learn the true identity of the character, which Batman actually learned in Justice League #42, with the help of the Mobius Chair. The powerful device grants those who use it access to all knowledge, and naturally, Batman wanted to uncover the identity of his nemesis, which left him shocked.
Johns elaborated on the upcoming reveal, but remained coy as to who the Clown Prince of Crime actually is. Though he did offer the following to prepare audiences:
“The answer probably won't be an answer people predict."
While the comics have been fairly ambiguous about the origins of the Joker, many consider The Killing Joke as the character's origin story. That tale involves the Joker falling into a vat of toxic chemicals turning his skin white, lips red, and his hair green. The incident (and certainly other circumstances) drives the character insane and eventually puts him on the road to becoming Batman’s biggest adversary. However, as the origin is told from the Joker’s perspective, The Killing Joke offers one memorable bit of dialogue:
“I'm not exactly sure what happened. Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another... If I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!”
DC Comics will be taking a gamble by giving the Joker his own definitive identity. It may be hard to satisfy comic fans by revealing who he is and possibly changing the origins of the character himself. As with The New 52, changing beloved characters too dramatically can result in a negative reaction from fans. While the Rebirth event is an exciting new step for DC Comics, it may be prudent to remain cautiously optimistic with the Joker’s identity reveal.
DC Universe: Rebirth one-shot will be released on May 25.