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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Even back then, the Joker had been falling off bridges & such to his "death" for ages, and I don't think anyone in or out of the comic book really thought that this time would be for real.

I remember this one fondly. Poor Black Canary! She gets no cover billing, no "costume" time and can't escape despite having a super-power!

Not that Green Arrow fared that much better, being consigned to the lower right-hand corner of the cover! At least he got a co-starring billing up top!

Though I doubt that anyone was clamoring for Green Joker/Green Arrow #1!

I'm not sure if they did a "Joker-Falls-In-Love" story before. It's not like he's Captain Cold! Kidnapping a woman who strikes your fancy and threatening to kill her in order for her to love you might be crazy but it does give the Grinning Ghoul a different motivation for a change. (And Dinah looked really sexy thanks to Mr. Garcia-Lopez!)

The Joker has "drowned" numerous times in the past.

Believe it or not, I think that the Joker's "love" for Black Canary was brought up again in another comic!

I remember this one, but not so fondly. What totally yanked me out of the story the first time I read it -- and every time since -- is that early on, The Joker uses a pea-shooter on a civilian and Green Arrow finds the poor target dead. But later on, Green Arrow directly confronts The Joker, who throws a ball at him full of the same kind of poison gas. Green Arrow punctures it with, well, an arrow ... but doesn't die.

There is NO reason Green Arrow shouldn't have died from that attack, save writer's fiat photo wfiat.gif

Not only that, there's work by the ever-wonderful Jose Luis Garcia Lopez marred by the inks of Vince Colletta.

The Joker #5 features a pretty good story by Martin Pasko and nice art by Irv Novick and Tex Blaisdell.

The issue features the Joker vs. the Royal Flush Gang over a series of paintings. There are a lot of twists and turns as the Joker disguises himself as the Artist and admits he's the artist of the paintings only for it not to be true! It seems as if Pasko has the Joker down pat in character, painting (pun intended) to be a true homicidal maniac who will say anything to accomplish his goals. Yes, we even get the obligatory brutal murder of a security guard by the Joker, just to remind you that he's really not a good guy. He's crazy!!

This is probably one of the issues in the series that I liked the most; great art, a complex story, the Royal Flush Gang mentioning their brush with the JLA from JLA #43...good stuff!

Reading this one again made me miss Irv Novick. Being one of DC's journeyman artists, he never got much acclaim, but he always turned in solid work on Batman,The Flash, and various DC war titles such as All-American Men of War, where he handled the Lt. Cloud feature.

It might be heresy to say but to me, Irv Novick was THE Flash artist and one of the major Bat-ones that I grew up on.

I think this was where the Royal Flush Gang changed from "Clubs" to "Spades".

Didn't the Joker give a false origin for himself here?

I totally agree on Irv Novick. I always enjoyed his work.

ClarkKent_DC said:

Reading this one again made me miss Irv Novick. Being one of DC's journeyman artists, he never got much acclaim, but he always turned in solid work on Batman,The Flash, and various DC war titles such as All-American Men of War, where he handled the Lt. Cloud feature.

Yup, Phillip!  He gave his henchmen the origin story that he later recanted... just for the giggles.

Well yes and no. In the story the poor shmuck on the street states that "something poked me in the neck" indicating it likely injected something in to his bloodstream. Later, as you say, The Joker throws a ball at GA and GA skewers it with an arrow but the ball doesn't reach him. Based on the image, I would say it was about 5 feet away from him and the smoke coming out of it is kind of, well, wimpy, and he is in an open air environment being on a bridge so it pretty quickly disperses so I could see it being non-lethal in that case. Likely The Joker realized it when he was doing it because he enjoys his "playmates" and doesn't want to off the amusing ones too quickly (plus DC merchandising would have had Maggin's butt in a sling if he HAD killed off Ollie) ;)

ClarkKent_DC said:

I remember this one, but not so fondly. What totally yanked me out of the story the first time I read it -- and every time since -- is that early on, The Joker uses a pea-shooter on a civilian and Green Arrow finds the poor target dead. But later on, Green Arrow directly confronts The Joker, who throws a ball at him full of the same kind of poison gas. Green Arrow punctures it with, well, an arrow ... but doesn't die.

There is NO reason Green Arrow shouldn't have died from that attack, save writer's fiat photo wfiat.gif

Not only that, there's work by the ever-wonderful Jose Luis Garcia Lopez marred by the inks of Vince Colletta.

John Moret said:

Likely The Joker realized it when he was doing it because he enjoys his "playmates" and doesn't want to off the amusing ones too quickly (plus DC merchandising would have had Maggin's butt in a sling if he HAD killed off Ollie) ;)

Your wink may already mean this, but it hasn't stopped them from killing Ollie a couple of times since then.

True, but that was when his celebrity status in the hero world was on the downswing. Back in the seventies, there were stickers and dolls (they weren't referred to as action figures back then) and other stuff with GA on it. He was a semi-regular back up in Action Comics and later World's Finest and appeared almost monthly in JLA as well as guesting on Superfriends.

Richard Willis said:

John Moret said:

Likely The Joker realized it when he was doing it because he enjoys his "playmates" and doesn't want to off the amusing ones too quickly (plus DC merchandising would have had Maggin's butt in a sling if he HAD killed off Ollie) ;)

Your wink may already mean this, but it hasn't stopped them from killing Ollie a couple of times since then.

He guest-starred once in the first season of The Super Friends and had to be saved by Wonder Dog! But that one appearance justified his MEGO action figure (something they didn't do for the Flash or Plastic Man!)

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