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Batman #11 - Story 1

April 15, 1942

(The Joker's Advertising Campaign)

It wasn't that long ago we had one of the better Joker stories where the Joker was more his usual murderous self. And now we come to his return in the first story of this anthology issue. He is still murderous, but he is somewhat subdued in his attempts. In fact, the only potential victim is Robin, the Boy Wonder.

The story opens with a talent competition at a theater where one particular person wins based on his impression of the Joker. Everyone says he sounds just like him and it turns out because it is him. He races off, having let the world know that he has escaped from prison. Bruce and Dick, while sparring, hear the news on the radio.

Meanwhile, the Joker comes up with a new angle for a crime spree. He places ads in newspapers leaving clues for Batman to what his crime will be about. Batman scans the paper, but the ads all look the same for him.

That evening, as Batman and Robin are on patrol, the Joker robs a jewelry store. The police are unable to pursue him because a large group of old time vehicles are clustered on the street. Joker grabs a horse and cart and takes off with Batman and Robin following on a tandem motorcycle.

They catch up and while Batman fights Joker on the wagon, Robin tries to bring the horses to a stop. Joker jumps off and loses Batman on the subway. I have to admit, the idea of Joker on the subway appeals to me in an odd way.

Later, Bruce finds the ad asking for old style vehicles to gather for a movie shoot. He scans the newest issue, but nothing stands out to him. And here's the problem with this scheme - Joker may have placed the ads, but he didn't set them in a way to stand out and give Batman something to chew on. Indeed, as Batman is spending time scanning the ads that he could be out looking for Joker, who could already be committing the crime.

That night, Bruce attends a show by Presto the renowned magician. Presto makes several ladies disappear in his magic box. His laugh catches Bruce's attention as it's just like the Joker. Presto steps into the box and disappears. Bruce makes the change to Batman and discovers a trapdoor under the box. He is quickly knocked out when he goes down to investigate.

Joker won't kill Batman though as he enjoys the challenge. Joker leaves him behind along with the woman he made disappear (whose jewelry he stole) and the real Presto. He and his henchmen take a boat via the sewer system. Robin follows them and disrupts the boat because he is a "hardy young daredevil". But they capture Robin by holding him under the water until he passes out.

Joker ties Robin down and plans to kill him by having the Boy Wonder inhale sulphur fumes. Robin struggles to free himself. He is able to tie into the phone lines that lay in the sewer to tap out a message for Batman which is picked up by a switchboard operator.

Batman and the police arrive, but it appears Robin is dead. Even the doctor feels it's a hopeless cause, but Batman insists on a pulmotor (which is a device that forces oxygen into a person) and begins to work on Robin. Robin comes around and is brought home.

The next day, Bruce thinks he has figured out where Joker will strike next as an ad asks for painters for a billboard sign. The thing is, Batman never checks to see where work is being done like that in the city. Rather, he picks up a call in the Batmobile that Joker has robbed another jewelry store with a billboard sign on the roof of the building.

He and Joker duke it out on the roof with Joker falling off, slowing his decent until the street. But he's not hurt, so it's an opportunity to beat the stuffing out of him for attempting to kill Robin.

It's not a bad story, but considering what we had last issue, it's not as strong. Where will this take us for our next story? Stay tuned, Citizens!

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