Definitive Therapy

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a Joker story

by F. Paul Wilson

Is this fanfic? In a way, yes. I'm a fan of the Joker and this is fiction. But "Definitive Therapy" was commissioned and paid for by DC Comics for an anthology called The Further Adventures of The Joker to tie in with the first Batman movie.

It wasn't a good time for me to write a short story…a lot of work on my plate. But the Joker…one of my all‑time favorite villains…I couldn't resist.

But I wanted to do my Joker. I disliked Jack Nicholson's 1989 portrayal almost as much as Ceasar Romero's back in the sixties. Sure, the bizarre murders, the bad jokes, and psychopathic clowning were all there in abundance, but no sense of anything truly evil beating beneath the surface. I decided to take the Joker out of his element, drain off some of his control, make him a prisoner/patient in the notorious Arkham Asylum. Here we would see a subtler, less flamboyant Joker, but more deeply and darkly evil…coldly maleficent. Batman would not appear. I'd offer no prose equivalent of comic‑book splash‑page action. My Joker would chill instead of thrill. My story would be a table‑top psychomachy.

I wrote it years before The Dark Knight. When that film was released, readers wrote me to say they thought my take on the Joker appeared to have influenced Heath Ledger's interpretation. Who can say? But I can see the parallels. Can you?

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