Batman 16 – the Joker loses his memory, and Alfred debuts

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Gee, where have we seen that cover image before?  Batman 16 (April.May 1943) re-uses the cover for Batman 9.

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Cameron, Kane and Robinson do craft a distinctly different Joker tale in this issue.

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The story begins with the Joker fleeing Batman and Robin after a jewel robbery.  His airplane crashes, and in the accident he loses his memory.  With no idea that the jewels he is in possession of are the ones he stole, he finds a small town and turns them in.  The town is so remote that no one recognizes him.

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Batman gets notified about the jewels, and comes to the town with Robin.  They are shocked to see the Joker, but also uncertain what action to take, as he clearly has no memory of his criminal past.  But some hoods wind up in the town as well, and think the Joker is playing some sort of scam with his new identity of Ed Smith.  They eventually attack the Joker, causing a head injury that restores his memory.

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So, as the story ends, all gets returned to normal, and Batman and Robin take the Joker back to jail.

Still, a really good change of pace for the almost monthly Joker stories.

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A major new supporting character joins the cast as Cameron, Kane and Robinson introduce Alfred, the Wayne butler.

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Alfred comes over from England on a ship, along with royalty in disguise, and some thieves out to steal the crown jewels of his country, which he is bringing in order to secure war loans.  Batman and Robin run into Alfred shortly after the ship docks.  The criminals get away, believing that Alfred is in possession of the jewels.

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To the great surprise of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, Alfred then shows up at their door, announcing that he is their new butler.

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Bruce has no desire to have a butler, fearing the problems it will cause for his identity, but Alfred explains that he is the son of Jarvis, his parent’s butler.  He had become an actor, to his parent’s dismay.  Jarvis’ dying wish was that Alfred return to service for the Waynes.  That’s really sort of demeaning, but considering England was being bombed to bits by the Nazis at the time, one can see why Alfred might choose to come to the US.

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When the bad guys break into the Wayne house, in search of Alfred’s bag, a sequence of events wind up opening the Batcave to Alfred, who realizes that Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are Batman and Robin.  He then proves some small help in saving the heroes from a death trap they wound up in.

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As the story ends, Bruce and Dick are still trying to figure out a way to get rid of Alfred, until they discover that he has learned their identities.

A really fun introduction for the character.  Alfred would undergo some major physical changes in the next year, but remain an integral part of the Batman mythos from now on.

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