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Batman #16 - Story 1

February 10, 1943

"The Joker Reforms"

Ugh, this has two elements I'm not very fond of in Batman at this moment - The Joker and a Wild West setting. Let's see how this one plays out.

The story opens with a stranger coming into the town of Farr Corners. He looks for and finds the constable who he turns over a bunch of diamonds he found with a newspaper that reports on the theft of them by the Joker. The thing is, the man is the Joker, but he claims to be Ed Smith. Now, he may not be known in these parts, but it's odd that the constable or the man he's playing checkers with don't seem to bat an eye at the strange sight of the Joker though.

We flashback briefly to the night before when Joker and his men stole the diamonds, getting away from Batman and Robin. They grab a plane and fly west where the plane develops engine problems. Joker holds the plane steady while they jump out with parachutes. He plans to follow. But once gone, the Joker tries to ride out the difficulties and get as far away from his men so the loot is all his. The problem is, he can't hold it steady for long and it crashes.

When he emerges, the Joker has amnesia and we see a complete change in his behavior. Gone is his manic ways and he even comments on how crime doesn't pay when he reads of the Joker in the paper.

Back in Gotham, Bruce has a piece of paper they found at the crime scene that mentions the town of Farr Corners. They fly out in the Batplane to investigate.

Meanwhile, Joker's men are walking toward Farr Corners. One of them, Nitro, believes the Joker tricked them and has all the diamonds. He plots revenge despite the talk from his companions. They enter as the town honors Joker for his honesty by calling him a hero. The three hold back, figuring Joker is up to something.

And the same thought happens to Batman when he and Robin arrive. He wants to hold off nabbing him as the Joker can lead them to the loot from his other crimes. They walk Joker back to his hotel when they are spotted by Joker's men who think the Duo have captured Joker. They attack and are surprised when Joker defends Batman and Robin. The three retreat when Batman and Robin join in.

That night, Joker is awakened from a dream where he, as the Joker, committed the robberies and has the loot sent to the express office in Farr Corners. It seems so real, the Joker decides to see if there's any truth to it. There, he is surprised by his men, one of whom clubs him with his gun.

Batman and Robin arrive and round up the gang, but find themselves at gunpoint from the Joker who is back to normal thanks to the whack from his man. Robin stops him by knocking over a collection of boxes, one of which is contains the rest of the loot Joker had stolen. He shipped it to Farr Corners with the intention of recovering it, but his plans got sidelined with the fallen plane.

Joker having amnesia allows for a departure from the MO I expect to see, so this elevates this story a little more than I expected. And as a western set story, it's not bad either. So what's next? Stay tuned, Citizens!

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