Detective Comics #69

September 26, 1942

"The Harlequin's Hoax"

The Joker is back and he has a new crime scheme. Before we get into the story, have to say, I love the simplistic nature of the cover of this issue. It's just the Joker looming over Batman and Robin with a black backdrop, but the details in the Joker are just wonderful. This is a cover I would love to own framed.

The Joker's latest scheme involves sending a series of odd gifts to various men. One such gift is a radio without a speaker or a car with only three wheels. Each of the men receiving these items seem to know what is happening.

We cut then to Bruce and Linda out for an evening a the carnival. All is going well until the two get stuck on the parachute ride. As they wait to be rescued, a radio mic is sent up for the two to sent messages to their loved ones that they are all right.

But then the call goes out as the Batsignal can be seen in the night sky. I love it. Batman is needed and Bruce is stuck on a ride with Linda at a carnival. And what he does in order to get away is to literally let himself fall from the car of the ride. He grabs a cable and slowly makes his way down. There, the police find him and offer him a ride home.

It's not long before he is swinging his way to Gordon and here's another image I wouldn't mind having enlarged and framed. The shading of Batman swinging from the rooftops is fantastic! There, he learns of the odd gifts from the Joker. He vows to capture him.

The Joker robs a store that turns out to be owned by one of the men that he gave the odd gift to. It was an easy crime as the burglar alarm was turned off. He gets into a warehouse owned by one of the other men by being brought in with his men in barrels that the employees are told to leave alone. Joker surprises one though and then is surprised himself as Batman and Robin arrive and get into it with Joker and his men.

Batman giving the double punch here. I love this as it reminds me of Adam West doing the double punch on the 66 show.

They round up the gang and use a stolen truck to transport them to jail, but Joker manages to blow a tire of the truck and escapes as Batman is investigating. In a moment that is somewhat lighthearted, Batman asks Robin to kick his butt and to keep doing so until Batman tells him stop because of his allowing Joker to escape.

Batman goes to visit each of the men and discovers that each is missing a body part, be it an arm, a leg, an eye or hearing in an ear. From there, he figures out that Joker had something all four men and they proceed to tell the story of how they were all in another city together with two other men. An explosion brought about their injuries and killed the other two. The four were blamed and while they eventually proved their innocence, the stigma of the event forced them to move to Gotham City. The Joker learned of the situation and blackmailed the four to let him rob their businesses.

They hear of another robbery on the radio. It prompts the fourth man to want to call the police, but the Joker and his men arrive. They capture Batman, Robin and the man and tie them to a radiator and leaves a bomb behind. But the fourth member of the group is the one who lost his arm in the explosion. He snaps his artificial arm free of its bonds, which allows him to reach the bomb to kick out the window as it explodes. The force of the explosion frees the three.

Batman and Robin then head to the man's aviation plant where they find Joker breaking into the safe. They fight it out, but Joker gets away by stealing a plane.

It's definitely a good scheme and a good story, one of the better Joker ones even if he isn't his former murderous self. And what's next - the next issue of Batman comics. Stay tuned, Citizens!

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