by Bevan Thomas
The next installment in the Name Game, where I take the name of some DC or Marvel comics character, and construct a totally new entity from it (for either Universe-D or Universe-M, respectively), with the final result illustrated by some talented artist I know.
The Joker is one of the most famous supervillains, an insane clown who had bedevilled Batman through the ages. But what if he was at least nominally a good guy, and was a person whose name was chosen ironically, applied to someone with no sense of humour?
Real Name: Unknown
Aliases: John Jones, Mr. J
Occupation: Man in Black
Group Affiliation: Director of Shade
Ever since aboriginal shamans first locked horns with puritan mystics, ever since the first explorers of the “New World” unearthed mysteries far older than they could comprehend, there have been secret discoveries, secret wars, within the United States of America. And since almost the beginning, an organization was created to deal with it. Its purpose is simple: to protect America from paranormal forces, to make certain that the American populace remains ignorant (or “protected”) from them, and to see how such forces can be used for the betterment of the country.
Most citizens, even most superheroes, are not aware that Shade exists. It is staffed by the Men in Black, who investigate, infiltrate, and eliminate. They once tried to cover-up superheroes, but these transhuman beings just became too big too fast. So now Shade tries to control them instead.
The current director is a man who calls himself John Jones, an obvious pseudonym. He is the ultimate MIB, totally generic in his black suit and mirrored sunglasses, utterly unemotional while surrounded by total insanity. Witchcraft, aliens, bizarre supervillains, nothing seems to phase him. Many of his subordinates wonder if “Mr. J” is an emotionless robot programmed to serve his country. None have ever seen him crack a smile, perhaps he doesn’t even really comprehend what humour is. Certainly everything he says seems to be entirely earnest and to the point. In light of that, most agents of Shade have sarcastically referred to him as the “Joker,” though never to his face. He wouldn’t find in funny.
The Joker seems to have no life outside of Shade. He is almost never even seen leaving his office. A paranoid control freak, Jones has great distrust for any superhero operating outside government control, especially the Global Guardians and their mysterious benefactors the Global Peace Agency. It was Joker who spearheaded the development of the Supermen and Team Titans, Shade-controlled heroes to compete with the GPA’s. He is very aware of the coming of the Sun Emperor and recognizes the need to combat that godlike force, but Joker will not ally himself with the GPA. He does not trust that it or the Immortal Man has America’s best interests at heart and besides, the Joker will never accept any situation in which he has not total control over.
A firm utilitarian, the Joker is utterly ruthless. In the end, he considers himself a moral man, but would without hesitation kill ten people to save a hundred, and could very well kill a hundred to give himself the power that he believes would be able to save a million at some point in the future.
Joker often demonstrates strength, speed, and sensory capabilities far greater than a normal human should possess, as well as an ability to quickly recover from serious injuries. It is unclear if this is the result of actual superpowers, hidden equipment, or extensive training. He is a superlative hand-to-hand combatant in an obscure martial arts known as “mirror master,” that focuses on studying a opponent’s style in order to predict their actions, mimic their moves, and turn their strengths against them.
He has access to virtually all the mystic tools and alien tech that Shade has acquired over its long history: martian manhunters, reverse flashes, hellblazers, dreams of the Endless, and countless more. Most precious of all, the Joker has the Green Lantern, the one device that supposedly has the power to defeat the Sun Emperor. His favoured weapon is a cheshire gun, which can turn invisible (“I’ve seen a gun without a bullet before, but not a bullet without a gun”), and which he usually loads with deadshot and the occasional incendiary firefly round.
And then of course, there is the “Head.” This is the mummified head of a old bearded man that sits on Joker’s desk. Some people believe it to be the head of John the Baptist, many think that it was “Baphomet,” the head worshiped by the Templars, an organization that some have theorized evolved into Shade itself. Whatever the Head’s origins, it sporadically spouts gibberish that the Joker records and analyzes. Only he can analyze it, and his interpretations affect a lot of Shade policy.