The Joker is one of Batman’s worst enemies. He might be Batman‘s worst enemy, period. The Clown Prince of Crime and The Caped Crusader have gone at it for years. At many different points, The Dark Knight’s vow against killing has led to The Joker crippling Batman and his allies. At one point, Barbara Gordon/Batgirl lost the use of her legs and was paralyzed. She went on to become Oracle, a tech wizard that assisted Batman on his missions before eventually regaining use of her legs to be Batgirl once more. However, that’s not the only Batman ally that suffered. Jason Todd, the second Robin, was killed by The Joker and eventually came back from the dead to be the antihero, The Red Hood. What was significant about Todd’s decision to be named The Red Hood was because it was the identity The Joker was known by before he fell into a vat of chemicals, bleaching his skin and distorting his mind. It’s meant as an affront to Batman. However, The Joker has taken aim at Batman in other ways.
Constantly, during The Joker’s fight against Batman, he has utilized the drug, Joker Venom. It makes the victim laugh with a smile plastered permanently on their face. It can lead its victims to their deaths. The drug itself is composed of strychnine and hydrogen cyanide often times. He has been able to make the drug from ingredients at a household or within the janitor closet of Arkham Asylum. What happens is the drug works to overstimulate laughter functions within the brain itself, where the victim cannot breathe whatsoever.
It may also lead the victim to have the same facial type as The Joker with red lips and white skin. The drug causes permanent brain damage in some cases. The Joker has exposed his victims to this drug by releasing it airborne or in liquid form by squirting it from a flower or a small spike within his hand akin to a joy buzzer. The drug’s closest real life equivalent is that of a stimulant someone becomes addicted to. Stimulant drugs can indeed cause brain damage like the Joker’s Venom does. In some cases, The Joker never intended to poison anyone. At one point in Detective Comics, he created a version of the drug that was not harmful to humans whatsoever. He only used the venom to plaster a permanent smile on fish in order to create “Joker fish.” His aim was to copyright the term “Joker fish” and own a majority of the fish sold in Gotham City.
Yet, a version of the drug called Smylex is on full display in the 1989 Batman film, where its victims are left with a smile on their face after using beauty and hygiene products that are tainted with the Joker Venom. The question, often, is why is The Joker the only person immune to his drug? The idea might be that he has abused it himself for so long, that his body built up an immunity to the drug. He might have needed a stimulant addiction treatment in Texas and never gotten it. Sometimes, after taking a drug long enough, the effects will become less effective and instead weaker. What might also be happening is that person enjoys selling drugs and the thrill of it almost similar to a gambling addiction.
For The Joker, his case is probably he was hooked on it and eventually stopped feeling the effects of the drug completely. He might have prevented such issues if he received a stimulant addiction treatment in Texas. It’s strange this drug was ever created in the first place for The Joker because he is a much more nefarious villain without a drug such as Joker Venom. Instead, being a crazy clown who has murdered people is a darker and more potent villain for Batman to tangle with. Yet, the Joker Venom still makes the villain nefarious nonetheless.
It can cause a chill to go down your spine to think you or characters in the comics might be impacted by such a drug if The Joker was around. Yet, in real life, drug dealers do exist and pose threats to society. In today’s world, Gotham City may not seem so far off from the environments within inner cities today. It becomes relatable for many people who listen to news of all the terrible and tragic things that happen within cities today because of rampant crime. You can identify with the citizens of Gotham reading about all of the horrible things The Joker and other villains because we are those citizens.
In that way, The Joker doesn’t just impact Batman’s world but impacts ours too.
About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery and the entertainment industry.