Tag Archives: Joker

Batman 400 – everyone vs Batman

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Although it was not promoted as such, Batman 400 (Oct. 86) really was the grand finale to the adventures of the Batman of Earth-1, a double sized special issue, written by Doug Moench, with a vast artistic line-up: John Byrne, Steve Lightle, Bruce Patterson, George Perez, Paris Cullins, Larrry Mahlstedt, Arthur Adams, Terry Austin, Thomas Sutton, Ricardo Villagran, Steve Leialoha, Joe Kubert, Ken Steacy, Rick Leonardi, Karl Kesel and Brian Bolland.  As one might guess, each artist only does a few pages of this story.

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The tale bears a close resemblance, in its opening, to the later story Knightfall, as both Arkham Asylum an the main prison in Gotham City get blasted open, freeing the inmates.

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They find their costumes all conveniently hanging on trees, and this allows for a number of villains to make small appearances, not joining in on the major story. So this sequences marks the final appearances of, for example, Dr. Double X and Mirage, whose outfits can be spotted.

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While some villains join with the Joker is following the grand plan of their benefactor to take out Batman, others, such as Croc, want no part of this, and simply take their freedom.

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Then there are a number of scenes that see Batman’s various friends and allies captured by the villains – Harvey Bullock, Commissioner Gordon, Vicki Vale all get attacked, and poor Julia Pennyworth has to suffer her second shower scene attack, this time by the Scarecrow.

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Ra’s Al Ghul is the mastermind, and openly declares himself such to Batman.  Once again his goal is to recruit the hero, and even offers to help eliminate all the villains that he has just freed.  It’s really a much better Ra’s Al Ghul plot than any since his original big storyline.

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While Batman and Robin try to take the various villains down, they are clearly out numbered, and have little choice but to play along wit the larger game.   They take out Black Spider and Cat-Man, but have to allow the Riddler, Scarecrow and Poison Ivy to go free, as long as they are holding the hostages.  Catwoman, no longer Batman’s partner, gets involved, and decides to follow the departing villains.

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The Joker leads his crew, which includes the Penguin, Cavalier, Killer Moth, Deadshot and Mad Hatter, in taking over the headquarters of the police, to Commissioner Gordon’s dismay.

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Poison Ivy is holding Harvey Bullock, and having a grand time of her own, toying with him.  Catwoman does track her down, but fails to stop her.

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Kubert’s pages deserve mention, even though they do not really advance the story much.  But they look sooo good.

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Talia joins forces with Batman and Robin to help scupper her father’s plans.  Batman has so much on his plate that he has little time for the Joker or his games.  Even still, the Joker is one of the few villains in the story who really gets much of a chance to show his stuff.  most get overwhelmed by the crowd scenes.

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In the end, of course, it comes down to a battle between Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul, who has taken a dip in a Lazarus Pit without dying first, to super-charge himself.  Bolland’s art makes the most of this scene, although it plays out in the standard fashion, with Talia betraying her father, who appears to die at the end.

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But it’s really the final sequence that makes this story, as Batman brings all his friends and allies – Robin, Catwoman, Alfred, Julia Pennyworth, Vicki Vale, Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Bullock, to the Batcave.  The reason given is the tenth anniversary of Batman being Batman, but the stalactite that falls and pierces the cake is a stark reminder that Bruce Wayne is not Batman for the fun of it.

A great “last” issue.

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Batman 366 – the revolutionary Joker

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The Joker’s Central American adventure concludes in Batman 366 (Dec. 83), in a story by Moench, Newton and Alcala.

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There is some great art on this tale, but overall the Joker seems a bit out of place in this story, which touches lightly on the actual issues going on in the region at the time.  At least both of the warring sides come to the realization that the Joker is a threat to everyone, and join forces against him.

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Back in Gotham, Julia Remarque has shown up, having finally learned what everyone else figured out ages ago, that Alfred is her real father. Introduced a couple of years earlier in Detective Comics, this marks Julia’s first appearance in Batman.

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Batman and the Joker have a great fight amidst some ancient ruins, and both are quite surprised when Robin suddenly show up to join the battle, taking the Joker out.

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Thanks to some hair dye, Jason has succeeded in passing himself off as the original Robin, and Vicki is happy to think this, taking some pictures of the dynamic duo.  Batman, on the other hand, is offended that Jason would adopt Dick’s identity.

 

Batman 365 – Vicki Vale in Guatemala

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Vicki Vale heads to Central American to get away from Bruce Wayne and winds up enmeshed in a revolution in Batman 365 (Nov. 83).

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It may not have been the wisest place to go, but at least Moench, Newton and Alcala give Vicki a real photojournalist’s career in this story, rather than having her constantly go after Batman’s identity.

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Harvey Bullock goes to check on the comatose Commissioner Gordon.  He is consumed with guilt, and we learn that his prank was at the order of Hamilton Hill.  But he keeps that news to himself.  Barbara Gordon learns about her father’s state, and contacts Bruce Wayne, who comes to the hospital with Jason Todd in tow.  There, they hear about Vicki’s trip to Guatemala, and the fact that she has gone missing.

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Jason pleads to be allowed to accompany Batman as he heads south, but though Batman had agreed to allow Jason to be his partner, he deems this too dangerous, and goes on his own.

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Probably a good idea, as Batman finds that Vicki has fallen into the hands of the one funding the revolution, the Joker.

The story continues in the next issue of Detective.

Batman 353 – carving Mount Joker

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A month after a less than impressive team-up with Batman in the Brave the Bold, the Joker is back for a far more entertaining little tale by Conway, Garcia-Lopez and Dan Adkins in Batman 353 (Nov. 82).

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The art is great, and the Joker is at his manic best, killing off his own gang members for laughs.

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The Boss Thorne subplot gets advanced as well, as Batman tricks Arthur Reeves into confessing that he got the faked photos from Thorne, with both Robin and Commissioner Gordon as witnesses.

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Then it’s on to the main story, as the Joker captures Batman, making him watch as he has a rocky island off the coast of Gotham carved with his face, a la Mount Rushmore.

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The Joker pretty much counted on being caught, but figured his creation would remain to mock Batman – except that Batman has it shattered to bits.

The Joker returns in a few months in the Detective Comics story that introduces Jason Todd as Robin.

Batman 321 – the Joker’s birthday party

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I knew Batman 321 (March 1980) was destined to be a classic the day I first bought it and read it, and indeed, to date this tale has been reprinted five times.

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Wein, Simonson and Giordano have a ball with this tale, in which the Joker decides to throw himself a big birthday party, kidnapping a number of Batman’s friends and allies to decorate his cake with. Commissioner Gordon is the first one we see get taken, though chronologically, Robin had been captured earlier.

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Lucius Fox and Selina Kyle appear in the sequence in which the Joker bursts into the Wayne penthouse to grab Alfred.  The Joker recognizes Selina, but assumes she is there undercover, as part of some scheme as Catwoman.  The Joker takes her out, but leaves her behind.

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The Joker lures a huge crowd to an auditorium on the harbourfront, offering free cake.  Once the building is filled to capacity, he seals the people in, and drugs them into submission, providing himself a captive audience, as he reveals his giant cake.

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Batman shows, as the Joker expects he would, and even offers himself in exchange for the other captives.  The Joker agrees to the deal, but quickly reneges once he has Batman tied to a giant candle. But Batman was expecting that, and had already rigged the centre candle to fire as a rocket.  Some nice batarang action cuts the fuses on the candles the others are tied to, and frees Robin, allowing him some action in the tale.

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A great story from start to finish, quirky, funny and deadly.

The Joker returns the following year in Detective Comics.

Batman 319 – the Gentleman Ghost returns

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The Gentleman Ghost is back, and once again gets a Kubert cover, inked by Giordano, in Batman 319 (Jan. 80).

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Wein, Novick and Bob Smith are the creative team on the tale itself, which plays up the element of Batman refusing to believe that the Gentleman Ghost is really a spirit.  As with many of the character’s Hawkman stories, Batman finds various tricks that the Ghost uses, projections and dummies, but can never quite prove that everything is being faked.

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Early in, the story has a set-up for the forthcoming Joker tale, as his henchmen kill some policemen, leaving them with deathly grins, as they retrieve one of the Joker’s men from custody. The Joker will not actually appear in the following issue, which takes place almost entirely in Spain, but does show up in issue 321.

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Wayne Manor is used again for the bulk of the tale.  The Gentleman Ghost does fit this locale better than urban Gotham.  Bruce Wayne is hosting a costume ball, and showing off a collection of gems, which he expects the Ghost to go after.  Bruce is dressed as Henry VIII, with Selina Kyle as Katharine of Aragon.  Lucius Fox is dressed as Lincoln, and even Alfred gets into the spirit of things, going as George Washington.  Bruce makes peace between Selina and Lucius, who find out that they have something in common – a curiosity as to why Bruce keeps disappearing.

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The Gentleman Ghost has his men dress up as well, in his own costume, making it much more difficult for Batman to determine which of them is the real Ghost.

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And though Batman unmasks the fakes, stops the robbery and even finds a projector that the Gentleman Ghost is using, he is incapable of actually capturing the spirit, or even proving that he is not really a ghost.

This is the last time the Gentleman Ghost and Batman will face each other, though the character does have a cameo along with a host of other Batman villains three years down the road, in the story that sees Jason Todd become Robin.  It’s kind of a shame, I really enjoyed the Ghost’s two stories with Batman.

Batman 294 – Where Were You on the Night Batman was Killed? concludes

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Reed, Calnan and Blaisdel brings “Where Were You on the Night Batman was Killed” to a clever conclusion in Batman 294 (Dec. 77).

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The trial has been drawing a lot of Batman’s lesser known villains.  Captain Stingaree, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Getaway Genius, the Cavalier, Killer Moth and Cluemaster all have cameos in this final issue.  Not to mention the jury of the Mad Hatter, Scarecrow, Spook, Poison Ivy, Signalman and Mr. Freeze, and Ra’s Al Ghul as the judge.  The Joker testifies in this issue, and as it’s the final chapter, it’s fairly clear that his testimony will have an importance than none of the others had.

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The Joker tells a story about Batman foiling a robbery one night.  The Joker returned to the same location the next night, and was surprised to find Batman there again.  This time, Batman was no match for the Joker, who killed him, and used acid to destroy his facial features.  Two-Face demands some proof of this, and the Joker states that he has a picture of Batman’s face before he used the acid on it.

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The Joker leave to get hi proof, to the cheer of the other villain.  But then the tory take a major tit, a Two-Face remove his diguie.  He was really Batman all along.

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He follo the Joker, and they have an enjoyable fight scene, with Batman subjected to a hallucinogenic effect during the battle.  He still manages to win, of course.

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At the end, Batman explains the whole story to Commissioner Gordon.  The real victim was a man who liked to dress up as Batman, and re-enact his feats. That was why he went to the location of the robbery the following night, and fell prey to the Joker. Batman had Two-Face put into solitary, to take his place and set up the trial, to root out whoever it was that committed the murder.

A clever and fun story, providing many minor villains with, in some cases, their only appearances during the 70s.