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!
The Joker #6 - "Sherlock Stalks The Joker!
Denny O'neil crafts a pretty good story of an actor playing Sherlock Holmes in a play getting bonked on the head (twice!) by the Joker and who suddenly thinks he's the REAL Sherlock! He tracks the Joker to a boat named The Baskervilles and stops him, after a brief run-in at a golf course.
The Joker, again, doesn't get away with his crime asserting to all kids reading the book that "crime does not pay." The Joker doesn't kill anyone in the issue. It's just a fun, solid story with good art by Irv Novick and Tex Blaisdell.
They don't make 'em like this anymore!