The Return of the Joker

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"The Return of the Joker"
Batman number 451 (front cover).jpg
Cover of Batman #451, the conclusion to "Return of the Joker" art by Norm Breyfogle.
PublisherDC Comics
Publication dateJuly – July 1990
Title(s)Batman #450-#451
Main character(s)Batman
Creative team
Writer(s)Marv Wolfman
Artist(s)Norm Breyfogle
Penciller(s)Jim Aparo
Inker(s)Mike DeCarlo
Letterer(s)John Constanza
Colorist(s)Adrienne Roy
Editor(s)Dennis O'Neil

"The Return of the Joker" is a storyline in Batman Comics which features a villain posing as Batman's archfoe, the Joker, who is believed to be dead.


A judge is found hanged, and Commissioner Gordon believes that the Joker is the culprit. Bruce Wayne decides to send his ward, Tim Drake, to school in Tokyo to protect him from the Joker, wanting to spare him Jason Todd's fate. The Joker then attacks an investment party, stealing cash and jewels from the audience. Gordon feels that something is not right about the way the Joker operates, and concludes that this Joker is an impostor. Meanwhile, in his hideout, the real Joker fumes at his name being wrongly used. As he is still recovering from the near-death experience he suffered in the "Death in the Family" storyline, he decides to regain his confidence by committing a series of crimes as his old alter-ego, the Red Hood.

After regaining his self-confidence, the Joker goes after the impostor, with Batman in pursuit. Both Jokers meet in a violent confrontation with the real Joker gaining the upper hand. The confrontation is stopped by both Batman and the police, and both Jokers escape. The impostor lures his three pursuers to the chemical plant where the Joker was born. In order to become like his idol, the impostor jumps into the vat of toxic waste which disfigured the Joker — only to die instantly. Batman arrests the real Joker, who willingly gives up.[citation needed]


"The Return of the Joker" is the continuing story-arc after "A Lonely Place of Dying" and "A Death in the Family". The Joker's origins were depicted before in the one-shot graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke.