Jonathan Powers, better known as the Jester, is a Marvel comics supervillain, a member of Thunderbolts and an opponent of Daredevil - he is one of many villains in fiction who has a clown-based theme, which was popularized by DC comics' infamous villain, the Joker.
A struggling actor for years, Jonathan Powers finally got cast as Cyrano de Bergerac in a New York City play, starring with Nancy Foreman. During his poor performance, however, the crowd booed him off-stage and he was fired.
The director who fired Powers was James Martin.
During his acting career, Powers starred in several other productions that were also major flops.
Powers was furious. He spent the following months learning swordsmanship, gymnastics, body-building, and physical culture, ignoring others advice that he should be studying acting. His frustration mounted when the only job he could find was as a stooge on camera for a performer called Tubby, who continued humiliating Powers by tossing pies in his face. Unable to take it anymore, he struck Tubby in the face and decided to seek a life of crime. He costumed himself as the Jester, equipping himself with weapons specially designed to look like toys. Jester went on a crime spree, developing a name for himself in the criminal community. He was written about in the times by Steven Urban.
Jester robbed a bank then, pleased with himself, knocked a driver out with a yo-yo, stealing his car to get away. Back at his headquarters (which was decorated with a larger-than-life portrait of his costumed self), he surveyed his success and his deadly toys, thinking over his origins. Jester heard that mayoral candidate Richard Raleigh was making an enemy of the Jester, so Jester attacked him in his campaign headquarters. He found Raleigh waiting for him, and Raleigh offered Jester ten thousand dollars to attack district attorney candidate Franklin "Foggy" Nelson. Though he was planning to double-cross Raleigh, Jester attacked Nelson and his companions Matt Murdock, Debbie Harris, and Karen Page in the park. Though he easily hit Nelson, Jester decided to take the blind Murdock hostage, demanding Nelson to drop out of the race or Murdock would be harmed. Though Jester had heard Daredevil had recently been killed, Murdock told Jester there was a new Daredevil in town. Jester returned Murdock to his headquarters and went to get ropes. When he returned, he found Daredevil waiting. They began sparring and Daredevil successfully evading Jester's sword thrusts. Daredevil quickly grew impressed with Jester's fighting skills. They continued to fight and Jester fled when he thought Daredevil was unconscious. Jester drove back to Raleigh, furious about having to fight Daredevil, but Daredevil attacked him anew. They burst through the door and found Raleigh dead. Jester made Daredevil fall with tossed marbles, then jumped through the window, vowing revenge.
Jester robbed a jewelry store, using a diminutive voice-responsive robot he'd designed to aid him in the heist. When the police arrived, Jester gladly left his heist behind, thrilled in the hunt itself and not worried about the rewards. He developed a plan to kill his Jonathan Powers identity and frame Daredevil. Powers went to the police and told them that he would be revealing Daredevil's true identity that night on the George Washington Bridge. The media, including cameraman Joe, got word and attended the event. Powers planted a submarine at the edge of the bridge, then posed as a man on the bridge who needed aid. As the media recorded it, Daredevil moved to save Powers, who made it look as if Daredevil was attacking him. Powers fell off the bridge, seemingly to his death, and escaped in the submarine, and Daredevil was publicly accused of murder. Later, Jester used his toys to hold up a TV station and told the cameras that he would prove himself a hero by apprehending Daredevil. Then he activated a transistor that he'd placed on Daredevil's costume, bring Daredevil to him in Central Park. He used gas-filled popcorn kernels to knock Daredevil out and turned him over to the police.
As the police surrounded, Daredevil managed to kick Jester, dislodging the rest of the kernels, which expelled their sleeping gas and allowed him to escape. Jester decided to put his criminal career on hold and focus on apprehending Daredevil. While riding on the subway, figuring he should spend some time with the common folk, Jester spotted a man with Daredevil's boots. He called out to the crowd that Daredevil was on the train, so the hero quickly fled, punching Jester aside. Jester pursued Daredevil to the Statue of Liberty, where he tossed antiseptic spraying flying discs at him. They engaged in an agile battle from the Statue's crown. When a man from a helicopter, Johnson, was going to fall to his death, Daredevil moved to save him and was rearrested. Jester, a champion diver and swimmer, fell safely in the water.
Jester saw someone posing as him on a live television show and grew furious. He donned his costume and rushed to the studio, where he forced his way in. He attacked the false Jester, who took off his costume to reveal himself as Daredevil. Jester tossed an expanding ping pong ball to encase Daredevil in, but the hero managed to pop it and then pin Jester, who drew a yo-yo and fought Daredevil off. Daredevil unmasked the Jester on live television and revealed that Powers had staged his own murder. Jester was arrested and Daredevil pardoned.
Out on parole, Jester teamed up with Mr. Hyde and Cobra. They stole antique toys from the Guggenheim Museum for him.
Cobra, Hyde, and Jester traveled to New Jersey and offered to rent a carnival from Lemuel Frye. Frye agreed to steer clear of the carnival for a day, but they caught him peeking in on them later and grew angry. Hyde promised to pay Frye if he lured Daredevil to them.
The villains laced the entire carnival with death-traps and saw Daredevil approach that night with Frye. Jester triggered a catapult trap on Daredevil, then operated the bumper cars with his remote. Jester sent Frye flying off, presumably to his death, but Daredevil escaped. The villainous trio soon pursued Daredevil into the house of mirrors, where he briefly evaded them. When Karen Page arrived with the police, the trio surrendered.
Putting a master plan in play, Jester forced a scientist with sophisticated editing equipment to create slanderous commercials that would sway public opinion into distrusting the government and ruining Franklin "Foggy" Nelson. Jester learned to operate the equipment himself.
A humiliating ad about Franklin "Foggy" Nelson started running, showing Foggy getting a pie in the face.
Television ads that claimed John and Robert Kennedy were still alive began appearing, shocking the nation.
False news ads claimed that Foggy Nelson had withdrawn from the election. This news was enough to give Blake Tower the win.
Radio reports leaked out through Abe Simons that the recent wars the country had fought in were only hallucinatory hoaxes.
Wearing a new costume, Jester killed his tech. man. He monitored the ongoing chaotic news through men like Wally Ballou. Media reports rolled in about the Kennedys being alive, the US invading Saudi Arabia, and historical events being entirely false.
Jester released news that Daredevil had killed cops, and altered a report of Daredevil to make it sound as if he was threatening the city.
Jester monitored the paper, where he saw the political reactions of General Theodore Cross, anchormen Roger Browne and Wally Tompkins, and reporter Jake Conover to his crimes, as well as ongoing hoaxes about the Kennedys, false historical events, and a new war. In addition, he noted his own interview, in which he claimed Daredevil had framed him, and a picture of Laura Lee Landers on the beach. Jester planned his final revenge against Daredevil that night. On the news, he revealed his plans to hunt down Daredevil, purposefully super-imposing the signal so that the hero and the police could track him down. Cops, including Bert Rose and O'Malley, found Daredevil standing over a facsimile of Jester's body and they ordered him arrested. Jester soon heard from Blake Tower on TV that Daredevil had been apprehended, and he commended himself for his brilliance. Jester then put another false program out that made it look as if Daredevil had attempted a jailbreak.
Jester detonated his "corpse" from afar, even as Fletcher, Daredevil's cell mate, grew confused about the supposed jailbreak as he'd seen Daredevil there all night. Pleased with himself, Jester listened in as Daredevil tried convincing the mayor and Blake Tower that Jester was behind it all. He prepared and released a media announcement from the president that stated that all cops were criminals. Jester then called a meeting of several criminal heads to unite them in pillaging the city. When Jeffrey Jefferson doubted him, Jester forced him into the prepared Murder Maze, which contained a deadly jack-in-the-box, illusory reflections, collapsing stairs, and various death traps; Jefferson quickly perished. The other criminals agreed to loot the streets and give 50 per cent of their profits to Jester. When Daredevil attacked, Jester ordered him captured and prepared to publicly hang him.
As Jester provoked the crowd, Daredevil tried to escape and managed to knock back many of Jester's armed men. The crowd turned against Jester, so he and his men fled in his airship. Jester, who planned to sell off sections of the city to criminal factions, called on Carpenter to share his complaints. After hearing that Carpenter doubted Jester's success rate, Jester madly tossed an exploding ball at Carpenter, killing him. He noted the success of criminal Big Max and gauged the commitments of other men. Jester soon released another message from the president about avoiding Wall Street, from where his men, including Gary and Francis, accidentally led Daredevil to Jester's hideout. Jester tossed an exploding ball at the hero, then hit him with a spring-loaded boxing glove. When Daredevil punched Jester, he feigned surrender, but gassed the hero instead and dropped him in the Murder Maze. Daredevil shockingly escaped the maze alive and avoided Jester's stooges and a sonic yo-yo (his men had special earplugs to protect themselves). Jester tried escaping on his special fireman pole platform, but Daredevil still apprehended him and exposed his plots to the public.
Purple Man took control of the inmates of Ryker's Island and forced them to do his bidding. Cobra, Mr. Hyde, Jester, and Gladiator were sent against the hero while Purple Man kept Heather Glenn hostage. After Daredevil caught Jester's thrown yo-yo, Jester was thrown by Daredevil into Hyde, who punched Jester into the ground. Paladin aided Daredevil in the ensuing defeat of Purple Man.
Powers befriended fellow inmate Ace Taggert, who desired revenge on Moon Knight (Marc Spector). They realized they'd be released about the same time. Powers promised to help Taggert get revenge on Moon Knight if he followed a plan to get revenge on James Martin, who was returning to Broadway, first.
At Powers' insistence, Taggert agreed to get all of the Jester's equipment ready for their move on Martin so they could act when Powers got released days later, and Powers promised they'd move on Moon Knight after Martin. When Powers was released, he found all his equipment ready and donned his costume, and that Taggert had set his equipment around their target. Jester moved for Broadway in costume, hitting a man who yelled at him with a yo-yo. Jester was thrilled when he saw Daredevil and Moon Knight battling outside the theater, and he rushed in to take care of Martin. He met Taggert inside and told him to wait in a truck across the street. Jester then had his toy soldiers burn a hole in the wall and, after tripping the actors up with marbles, had the robots take the theater hostage. When Martin spoke up, the robots administered an electric shock, then Jester jumped out and revealed himself, demanding that the audience cheer for him as he fenced. Jester ordered Martin to get the box office cash and the audience to bring him their valuables. Outside, Taggert reported, over the walkie, that the police were on their way, and the Jester ordered him to bring the helicopter. When Daredevil burst in, Jester released a box of exploding popcorn filled with knockout gas, not knowing Daredevil had nose filters. Jester drew his fence and parried the hero's billy club. As Moon Knight defeated the robots, avoiding their drill-bit-tipped toy planes, Jester hit Daredevil with his yo-yo and punched him repeatedly, but Daredevil managed to get the best of him. Jester went running for his helicopter and grabbed on to the rope ladder, not knowing that Moon Knight had apprehended Taggert and switched copters. The copter let Jester down among the police and he was rearrested.
At some point in the past Jester took out a life insurance policy from the Guardian Life Insurance Company.
Hearing that famous actor Benedict LaForge was coming to New York to do a live television broadcast as Cyrano De Bergerac, Jester put a plan in motion. He convinced the prison to start a fencing club, then hired a con for four cartons of cigarettes to pose as him in a fencing match.
While the con was fencing Hannigan, Jester escaped in the laundry. Benedict LaForge arrived at the airport, fraternizing with the cameras and Matt Murdock there, before getting picked up by Jester, who tied him up and rushed in costume to perform as Cyrano. Daredevil checked Jester's home for LaForge and fought off three men Jester had hired to protect his place, all wielding his deadly toys. In front of the cameras, Jester gave a stirring performance as Cyrano. When cops, including Rafael Scarfe and Flint, who had found an escaped LaForge, arrived to arrest Jester, Daredevil posed as Jester and held the cops off, giving Jester time to finish his big speech in front of the cameras. When he was finished, he willingly turned himself over to the police again.
Powers was released from prison, having served full-term. When the guards teased him about his costume, he threw it in their faces and promised to turn over a new leaf.
When Powers heard Daredevil was being sued, he laughed.
Jester was hired by Elaine Kendrick of Murdock and Nelson to act as a process server for Daredevil.
Powers donned his costume and interrupted a televised baseball game, interrupting patrons such as Sid and Rivera, telling the public he would be giving a free performance at a bank later and inviting Daredevil to come. At the bank, Jester was careful not to rob the place, but encouraged donations from the crowd as he played with a harmless yo-yo, a knife that squirted red ink, and a bomb filled with flour. When Daredevil arrived, he chased Jester across the city until Jester was pinned. Jester then served the hero with his papers.
Powers advertised his new business, Jest-In-Case, from process-serving to parties, for the cameras.
Jester met Lawrence, a man who practiced ancient ritualistic rites. After they negotiated, Lawrence summoned up a strange demonic baby to possess Jester, giving him a power boost of increased strength.
Jester attacked a bank in broad daylight, taking many hostage.
Daredevil attacked the bank and traded blows with Jester, who was soon overcome with pain and vomited up the baby. Daredevil punched the demon away and Jester fell into a coma.