If you played Batman: The Telltale Series, then you remember John Doe. It is never specifically mentioned, but the green haired, white skinned, psychotic inmate of Arkham Asylum is quite clearly the Joker. Only, he is the Joker before he becomes the Joker.
During the first season, both Bruce Wayne and Batman have a brief interaction with John, with neither truly knowing how important the other will be to their lives, but that is it, no fight, no maliciousness, just a chat or glance.
Telltale’s use of the Joker as a side character in the first season was excellent. They managed to quietly introduce a major character, but rather than him taking over the season, Telltale used the Joker to further the story of the other, more important, villains, of the series. It was an excellent tease, without actually being a tease.
With season two just announced, Telltale need to resist the urge to put John Doe into the spotlight, they need to hold him back.
The Joker vs Batman battle has been a staple for Batman games, films & TV for years. But in the first season, Telltale told an interesting Batman narrative without the clown prince of crime. At the same time, they also managed to include enough of him to make us want him to feature slightly more. That anticipation is nowhere near fever pitch though, and sure, we would like to see more of John’s story, but we don’t want him suddenly manifesting into the Joker and becoming this Batman’s arch enemy. Telltale need to build to that, otherwise, it just becomes Batman v Joker, again.
Season two needs to see Batman/Bruce interact with John, to remind people of his existence, but that interaction has to be minimal. Eventually, we will see the Batman Joker arc from Telltale, but it doesn’t and shouldn’t be now, there are far too many characters in Batman’s rogues’ gallery to be ignored in favour of the Joker.
Telltale have introduced a whole new incarnation of the Joker, they need to use that to create a compelling character and build to the reveal, and fight, between himself and Batman; the ultimate showdown.
In the first series, Telltale made John Doe instantly interesting because we all knew he was the Joker, but we also realised that they are going to take the character in a different direction. The Joker’s backstory is seldom elaborated on, yet here, Telltale has a way of introducing us to how John Doe became the Joker, there seemed to be no obvious allusions to the fact he was already Mr. J. That should be his arc for the second season. It should run parallel to Batman’s, possibly intersecting, but not meeting head on.
Without playing as the Joker, that will be hard, but there are narrative routes or easter eggs Telltale can throw into the second season to keep us up to date on John without having to interact. Think newspapers or TV news talking about such a character but his actions are not enough to be on Batman’s radar, sorry, his BatRadar quite yet.
Obviously, all this depends on how many series’ Telltale is going to make, but they need to resist the urge to bring the Joker into the spotlight for the sake of it.