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Detective Comics #62

February 25, 1942

"Laugh, Town, Laugh"

Wow! Just when I think that perhaps the teeth has been taken from the Joker, this story takes us right back to his murderous ways while pairing with the theme of comedy. It's a dark tale as comedian Happy Hanson lays dying. His last words are gruesome as he makes jokes about "killing" and how it's a shame he can't come back for a few more bows. He has amassed a fortune with his comedy and plans to leave it to one he deems the funniest of his fellow comedians.

And here is where I love the timely nature of this comic. The comics, five in total, are gathered and given each a clue to where to find Hanson's fortune. At the end of the month, each comic must tell his funniest joke. The winner gets all the clues and can then search for the fortune. What I love here is that each comedian's name is a play on a then current comedian.

I can't figure them all though - Denny Jackson is Jack Benny. Ted Allenby is Fred Allen. Buster Parks is Buster Keaton. Fredde Banter is Eddie Cantor. But I cannot figure Claude S. Tilley. If anyone has an idea, shoot me an email at thebatcavepodcast@gmail.

Meanwhile, the Joker escapes from jail by crafting an explosive using scrapping from the pips on playing cards. It certainly is different. He reads of the quest for the funniest man and is upset that he is not included in the party and swears to take them all out.

Joker takes out his first victim, Banter, by hanging him by his own suspenders. His clue was an old joke, "Why does a fireman wear red suspenders?" The Joker leaves his own answer, "To hang this fool up." Ted Allenby is next, killed also based on Joker's answer to the clue Allenby has.

Batman and Robin manage to intercept Joker's attempt at taking our Denny Jackson after speaking with his butler. This is the only part of the story I was a little disappointed. The butler wasn't a Rochester spoof, but we do get a violin reference in. The two are able to stop the killing, but the Joker gets away with the clue.

Batman and the police force split up their guarding of the two, with Batman and Robin taking Buster Parks. Joker takes out Tilley by posing as a balloon salesman who releases some balloons with his Joker gas. Meanwhile, some of Joker's men try the same with Batman, but he smashes open a window to let in fresh air. He and Robin chase after the men who escape with the last clue and Parks.

They follow them to the docks where the Joker and his men are on a boat. Batman and Robin sneak aboard and attack. In the melee, Robin gets Parks who is in need of artificial resuscitation, but he is left with the dilemma of helping Batman or saving Parks. He engages in the later as Batman is trussed up. Joker gets away with all the clues and Batman.

Back at his hideout, Joker studies the clues and determines where the fortune is hidden. He leaves Batman with the Lady and the Tiger scenario with one door holding the tiger and the other holding blades that would launch immediately at Batman should he open the door. Batman sees a group of flies buzzing about the door holding the blades and determines they are attracted to the blades as they were fake and made of sugar.

Batman studies the clues and they follow Joker to a hotel where he has retrieved a pearl necklace, but tosses it when he sees they are fake as they lack luster. Batman rounds up Joker quickly and points out the pearls show their luster when in contact with human skin.

Another round to Batman, but this was certainly a much better Joker story than some of the others of late. And what's next? Stay tuned, Citizens!

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