Batman #8 - Story 4

October 10, 1941

"The Cross Country Crimes"

When the Joker began as a character, I could see how the insane behavior and murderous streak would be a template for modern day Jokers on the screen. But slowly, as the series has progressed, the Joker has become more of a character like our Joker from Batman 66.

The story opens as Batman and Robin have been summoned to Washington by the head of the FBI. There, Batman is almost killed by Joker when he takes a shot, but hits the FBI head instead. The President orders America's police force to bring the Joker once and for all.

The manhunt begins and the Joker issues a challenge to all by taking over a radio station. Again, he doesn't kill the radio announcer, but rather just clubs him. Batman finds a clue left behind, a playing card saying Joker is going to New Jersey of all places. (But where in New Jersey?)

Meanwhile, Joker overhears actors at a theater in New Jersey saying they will be wearing valuable jewels in their performance, playing in again with the idea of Joker loving his jewels.

That evening, Bruce and Dick take in the play as a break from their quest for Joker, but Joker shows up on stage to steal the jewels. They quickly change and confront Joker, but the jester gets hold of Robin and uses him as a shield to escape. He leaves behind another card saying he is going to Ohio.

In Ohio, Joker connects with some local crooks and comes up with a plan to steal a million in jewels from a jewelers' convention. But he once again double crosses them by poisoning celebratory cigars with his Joker venom, this time killing them.

Joker repaints the line on the road to lead off a cliff. In the dark, a bus full of the jewelers' convention attendees doesn't realize its mistake until it's too late. Batman and Robin are nearby and hear the crash. They jump Joker as he tries to rob the bus. Joker sprays Robin with his Joker venom, but for whatever reason, it's diluted so he's just rendered unconscious. Batman tries to capture him, but Joker knocks him away from a cable car. He leaves another card - this time Kentucky.

In Kentucky, the police corner Joker and when Batman and Robin approach him, they are electrocuted as the Joker is just a rigged dummy. His next card - Delaware. Robin notices how the D was crossed out. He did the same thing to certain letters in each of the other cards. Batman figures out that the first letter of each word remaining spells out the first four letters in Joker.

He figures out the next state will be Rhode Island so he and Robin will get there ahead of time. They plant a story in the papers of a Namtab has a large jewel he will display. This gets Joker's attention and he is surprised by Batman and Robin who after a brief chase and fight capture him and put him behind bars. The story ends with the Joker vowing escape from his cell in Alcatraz.

And we know he will, but what is next? Stay tuned, Citizens!

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