The Joker returns to the pages of Batman in issue 286 (April 1977), a few months after his appearance in the classic DC Special that had heroes and villains playing baseball against each other. I am sooo looking forward to the day I get around to that one.
I really loved the cover to this issue as a kid. Now, I admire it far less, as I found it swipes from a classic Neal Adams Deadman story.
The story, by O’Neil, Novick and Bob Wiacek, is a good one. The Joker escapes, taking his psychiatrist hostage, and kills him with a shrinking gas. Robin is in town, and joins Batman on this mission. The dying psychiatrist leaves behind a clue, informing Batman that the Joker intends to hit the Revelry in the Park fair.
So that’s where the heroes go, and almost immediately Batman spots the Joker. But it’s not the real villain, it’s his last attorney, wearing a Joker costume just for the fun of it. As the story plays out, Batman realizes that the attorney is the one the Joker is after, as the shady lawyer has arranged to sell the jewels the Joker stole in his last robbery.
A good use is made of the location, with the climax in a hall of mirrors.
The Joker next appears, in a couple of months, in the pages of Detective Comics, at Hugo Strange’s auction for the secret of Batman’s identity.