• Grant Morrison’s Joker design in
    Batman: R.I.P.
    was inspired by David Bowie and Cabaret.
  • The storyline features the ultimate battle between Batman and the Joker.
  • Batman doesn’t die in
    , but goes missing and returns — much later — in
    The Return of Bruce Wayne



The Joker has had many frightening looks throughout the years, but the one designed by Grant Morrison for Batman: R.I.P. might be the most terrifying of all. The 2008 storyline saw the Dark Knight pushed to the brink by a gallery of deadly villains, with the Clown Prince of Crime joining in on the dance of death that led to Batman’s ultimate “demise.”

Morrison shared their original Joker designs via their Xanaduum newsletter in a subscriber-only post. The sketch, which is included in the original Substack post, reveals the original concept of the Bowie-inspired Joker that eventually made his way into Batman: R.I.P. As Morrison writes: “From one of my 2008 (!) notebooks comes this concept sketch/Page 3 pin-up for the Joker as the Thin White Duke of Death, from Batman: R.I.P.”

Joker holding two knives and smiling in Batman RIP

While known primarily as a writer, Morrison is also a talented artist. In previous installments of Xanaduum, Morrison shared how they make thumbnails for their comics as a part of their own process, even if the eventual artist drawing the story never sees them.


All 19 Animal Man Stories By Grant Morrison, Ranked

Grant Morrison’s Animal Man helped revolutionize American comics with its mixture of philosophy and super-heroics. Here are all 19 stories, ranked.

The Joker in Batman: R.I.P. Is “The Thin White Duke of Death”

Morrison’s Joker Was Inspired by Other Pop Culture Figures

Comic book panel: the Joker grins in Batman RIP.

Released in 2008, Batman: R.I.P. by Grant Morrison, Tony Daniel, Sandu Florea, Guy Major, Randy Gentile and Jared K. Fletcher ran in Batman #676-681. The story establishes an organization of international villains known as the Black Glove. These villains decide to not only kill Batman, but ruin his entire life and legacy. Led by the mysterious Doctor Hurt, the Black Glove recruits the Joker into their fold, and the Clown Prince gets a terrifying new look upon having his face reconstructed after being shot by a fake Batman.

A number of characters and villains established in Morrison’s
run have been reappearing in current DC storylines, including Zur-En-Arrh in
by writer Chip Zdarsky and Doctor Hurt in
Detective Comics
by writer Ram V.

Morrison pulled from a variety of sources for their design of the Joker, stating they were influenced by “The Night Porter, David Bowie, and the MC from Cabaret.” Morrison’s sketch depicts the Joker shirtless in a pair of overalls, dual-wielding a pair of straight razors. Morrison describes their work as a “whimsical portrait of a man at ease in his own skin (indeed, anyone’s skin). Morrison’s whole conception of the Joker revolved around an individual who is constantly reinventing himself throughout his criminal career, thus explaining how the goofy prankster of the Silver Age could also be the cold-blooded murderer of today.

Batman: R.I.P. Is the Ultimate Battle Between Batman and the Joker

Batman #680 Variant Cover by Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea, and Guy Major

Batman 680 Variant Cover: Batman holding the Joker by the throat.

Bruce Wayne actually doesn’t die in the course of Batman: R.I.P., although he does disappear after foiling Doctor Hurt and the Black Glove’s plans. Batman would actually fall in battle with Darkseid in the pages of Final Crisis, but it was eventually revealed that the Dark Knight had actually been sent back in time. He would eventually find his way back to the present in The Return of Bruce Wayne, after which he took up the mantle of the Bat once more. The Joker continued to reinvent himself in terrifying new ways, but Grant Morrison’s design for the villain in Batman: R.I.P. might still be his most terrifying look.

Batman: R.I.P is available now from DC Comics.

Source: Xanaduum

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