The Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime debuted in 1975 and was an early part of the "DC Explosion", an attempt by DC to boost sales by adding 57 new titles over 4 years.

One of the things you'll immediately notice when reading these stories is that the Joker isn't the dark, homicidal maniac that we know today. Even though the book came out a good 7 years after the campy Batman tv show ended, there is still that layer of campiness to it. 

It would have been easy to wedge several appearances by Batman into some issues to try and boost sales but the writers (Denny O'Neil, Elliot S! Maggin and Martin Pasko) resisted the temptation and, instead, guest-starred villains. Their goal was to showcase the Joker as a villain who wasn't as bad as these other villains. It kind of made the Joker one of those misunderstood villains but, make no mistake, a villain he still was.

Starting tomorrow I'll begin going through this series, which lasted 9 issues, and hopefully shed light on whether the series is actually worth the exorbitant prices comic shops are charging for back issues! Join me in the dialogue!

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In issue 1, The Joker escapes from Arkham Asylum, following Two-Face's escape, and is intent on foiling Two-Face's plot to steal double-faced Spanish Dubloons! This is simply because the man who helped Two-Face escape and told Two-Face of the Dubloons (Senor Alvarez) did not help the Joker escape at the same time! Even though The Joker already had an escape planned. Huh?

Ahh, you gotta love these mid-70's comic stories. The Joker doesn't kill anyone in this story and Two-Face is played out to be a much meaner villain with little to no morals and an intense hatred of The Joker.

Batman shows up on the cover and is mentioned about a dozen times throughout the story. Batman is even said to have originally found the real dubloons while the ones Two-Face stole were counterfeits, placed by Alvarez.

The real strength here is the art by Irv Novick and Dick Giordano. Very nice to look at! Overall I would give The Joker #1 2 out of 4 stars. It did the job of setting up the rest of the series, it guest-starred Two-Face with an appearance by Commish Gordon to tie everything together. Passable.

Hey, cool! I picked up this book a few weeks ago! I specifically got it because I had never seen issue #1. Actually, I have seen about half of the nine issues.

I need to pick up this tpb.  The back issue prices are ridiculous, but I'd love to read these stories.

Issue 2 focuses on Willy the Weeper and the tone of the story is as wacky as The Joker himself!

The Joker has escaped Arkham for the 5th time so, logically, the guards responsible for keeping an eye on him are fired! Hey, it only took 5 times!

Willy has an idea to hoist a millionaires roomful of liquid platinum so The Joker wants to help Willy to try and cure him of his continuous wailing after he robs people. Again, we have this Joker who is helping someone commit a crime but just so you don't think he's a hero there's a lot of double-crossing going on and The Joker does kill someone at the beginning of the story by throwing the person down an incinerator chute to the furnace. Just to remind you that he's not really that nice of a guy!

We get the first appearance of the Joker's Ha-Hacienda, which I would have loved to see on the Batman tv show (did it?), and the Jokermobile which, unless I'm wrong, I believe made appearances on a Batman animated show around that time. I will admit that it's kind of creepy seeing that Joker face on the front of a car...

The Joker is caught by the guards who were fired from Arkham but somehow I don't think that got them their job back! We also get another Commish Gordon cameo!

It's not a bad story by Denny O'Neil, just real strange. More Irv Novick pencils but this time coupled with Garcia Lopez on inks. Very nice!

Next up: the obligatory 3rd issue guest-star! (NOT who you think!)

I remember reading the Willy the Weeper story when I got this TPB last fall (?). I have to say, even though this guy does seem a little over the top, he is actually a quintessential Batman villain. Goofy gimmick, check. Okay, that's all you really need.

...I always thought the cover to this issue was one of the greatest old-style DC covers of all time !!!!!!!!!!! :-)

  DC put elements , anyway , of it elsewhere in the book , IIRC , so I'm a great mind !!!!!!!!!!!:-)

  I did recall that this title did move eventually towards showing the Joker killing people ~ even innocents ~ and I always thought that this title was a bit of a gateway along the way of " SA ' niceness ' being left behind as the BA progressed " .

  The derivation of the phrase " Willy The Weeper " might prove interesting , should you do some " chimney sweeping " about it :-) . Hi de hi dee hi.........



Mark Stanislawski said:

Issue 2 focuses on Willy the Weeper and the tone of the story is as wacky as The Joker himself!

The Joker has escaped Arkham for the 5th time so, logically, the guards responsible for keeping an eye on him are fired! Hey, it only took 5 times!

Willy has an idea to hoist a millionaires roomful of liquid platinum so The Joker wants to help Willy to try and cure him of his continuous wailing after he robs people. Again, we have this Joker who is helping someone commit a crime but just so you don't think he's a hero there's a lot of double-crossing going on and The Joker does kill someone at the beginning of the story by throwing the person down an incinerator chute to the furnace. Just to remind you that he's not really that nice of a guy!

We get the first appearance of the Joker's Ha-Hacienda, which I would have loved to see on the Batman tv show (did it?), and the Jokermobile which, unless I'm wrong, I believe made appearances on a Batman animated show around that time. I will admit that it's kind of creepy seeing that Joker face on the front of a car...

The Joker is caught by the guards who were fired from Arkham but somehow I don't think that got them their job back! We also get another Commish Gordon cameo!

It's not a bad story by Denny O'Neil, just real strange. More Irv Novick pencils but this time coupled with Garcia Lopez on inks. Very nice!

Next up: the obligatory 3rd issue guest-star! (NOT who you think!)

I always wondered how the Comics Code at the time justified (in their minds) having the Joker as the "hero" of his own book, let alone killing people in it. The same goes for Marvel's Doctor Doom series, although it wasn't a self-titled book.

I have no idea about the Joker, but while he & Dr. Doom are both villains, only the Joker is consistently a criminal, who steals, kidnaps, murders, etc., while Doom, between his ego and odd code of honor, rarely sullies his hands with such things--like Pinky & the Brain, he just keeps trying to take over the world. Plus, as an absolute monarch, as long as he's in Latveria (or in his embassy), when he does that sort of thing, it's confiscation, incarceration, and execution.

In answer to my own question, the Joker series debuted in 1975. The CCA was greatly liberalized in 1971 following the Spider-Man drug issues.

Issue 3 of The Joker has a nice cover. According to GCD, the cover is by Dick Giordano but he does a great Ditko Creeper! I thought for sure that at least The Creeper had been drawn by Ditko himself!

The Joker steals a rare jeweled comedy mask but the crime is pinned on The Creeper! So, of course, The Creeper must bring The Joker to justice. There's the usual Creeper-gets-amnesia twist but the story is action-packed and one of the better stories in the Joker's run. The art by Ernie Chan and Garcia-Lopez doesn't hurt, either!

Nice one!

I think the deal with the Comics Code was that the Joker had to end up in Arkham at the end of every issue.  As long as he got his just desserts, then all was well.

Issue 4 of The Joker is the first one not written by Denny O'Neil.

It's a pretty simple story by Elliot S! Maggin which involves The Joker, disguised as a bus driver from Gotham, driving through Star City, seeing Dinah Lance and falling head-over-heels in love with her. I can only guess that he was disguised in order to escape Gotham (and Arkham. Again.) Of course, The Joker kidnaps Dinah and gives her the ultimate choice; marry him or die!

Kidnapping Dinah, though, brings in Green Arrow. Green Arrow promptly saves his girlfriend after the Joker brings her to the top of a bridge (why couldn't Spider-Man do that with Gwen Stacy?) The Joker, however, supposedly falls to his death in the river...and Green Arrow lets him. GA could have saved the Joker but purposely didn't. This kind of makes you wonder why GA just didn't kill other villains he ran into, like Count Vertigo.

Not spectacular, just meh. Still had great Garcia-Lopez art, though!

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