Did you hear the one about the Marvel villain who was repeatedly hit in the face with pies until he couldn’t take it anymore? Well, we’re here today to talk about one of the silliest B-tier baddies to ever grace the page of a Marvel comic – The Jester!
Or, more appropriately, Jesters as there have been two men to don the drooping conical cap – Jonathan Powers and Jody Putt. While the first was a struggling actor, the second was a super-villain fan. What joins them in their villainy is their reliance on gadgets, created by the Tinkerer for the former, and Doctor Doom for the latter. Regardless of which both would prove to be (somewhat) worthy adversaries for many of Marvel’s street-level heroes.
Jonathan Powers made his first appearance in 1968’s Daredevil #42. He was a would-be thespian, who failed at his first big break on Broadway. Powers found himself the butt of jokes on a kids’ TV show. There, he regularly endured the ignominy of being plastered in the face with pies. Angered by this embarrassing situation, Powers turned himself into a villain. He went after Foggy Nelson, which soon embroiled him in regular conflict with Daredevil.
The Jester is definitely on the lower end of Marvel villains. He’s a name, but not one that collectors are currently embracing. A 9.8 graded copy of Daredevil #42 is tracking at a $350 price point. A 6.0 mid-grade is at $32. However, as speculation continues to mount that Daredevil could show up in the MCU as soon as Spider-Man: No Way Home, the character’s slim rogues gallery – Bullseye, Kingpin, and Gladiator being most prominent – could lead to increased interest in characters like the Jester in hopes that they, too, will be featured in some way in Marvel movies.
The Jester would go on to appear in multiple issues of Daredevil, becoming one of his most prominent foes in the late 1960s clear through to the late 1970s when Frank Miller began his run on the title. While he was almost exclusively a Daredevil villain during that time, his antics did bring him into conflict with one Marc Spector in Moon Knight #13, an issue that guest-starred the Man Without Fear. In later years, Jonathan Powers’ career fizzled out. He would be shot in prison, dying an ignoble death, the failure of this actor coming full circle. But the joke’s on us – April Fools! The Jonathan Powers Jester shows up alive and well in Spider-Men II #2.
The Second Jester
Jody Putt began his short-lived career of crime in The Mutant Misadventures of Cloak and Dagger #8. After a drubbing by this dynamic duo, Putt found himself part of the Thunderbolts in Marvel’s Civil War mini-series and many offshoots. While he and Jack O’Lantern got the better of Spider-Man, they both ended up on the receiving end of Frank Castle’s wrath in Punisher: War Journal Volume 2 #1. Thus, ended the career of the Jester, Jody Putt.
While something of a poor man’s Joker, and rarely a villain who could be taken seriously, the Jester is one of the more prominent Daredevil antagonists in the early years of that character’s first series. Marvel continues to see value in bringing as much of their IP as possible onto screens large and small. It could just be a matter of time until Daredevil and the Jester take their places in the MCU. A small investment now could potentially lead to big returns later.