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Detective Comics #71

November 20, 1942

"Crime a Day"

The Joker is back. What a surprise. You know, I know this is going to sound surprising, but I'm tired of the Joker. I think even at this point, they are overusing him. Add to it, they have played down his murderous ways and I'm finding the Penguin more interesting, which is also surprising as I was never a big Penguin fan. I felt that Burgess Meredith elevated a limited character, but in the comics so far, I've really enjoyed his stories.

It's interesting to note that the upcoming 1943 was allegedly going to have the Joker as Batman's villain, but changed it to the Japanese spy, Daka. At first, one could argue that someone that murderous might be a bit much for a Saturday afternoon movie serial for kids, but then when you see how much of his teeth has been taken from him in recent stories, he would have worked easily.

And what is the plot here? Well, it's something right out of Batman 66 as Batman begins a series of lectures on fighting crime. I think one of these days, I'm going to present an argument on how silly it is those who say Batman 66 ruined Batman when the show simply magnified the absurdity of a masked vigilante being embraced by a grateful city the way Gotham City does even here in the comics.

A question is asked at the first event about the Joker and Batman points out that while very smart, it's the Joker's ego that always gets the better of him and so Batman is able to defeat him.

The papers play this up with the headline calling Joker "A conceited fool" which is not what Batman said. Editorial cartoons mock the Joker as well and it gets back to him. He wants to get revenge, but not in the way of death, but through humiliation as Batman did to Joker.

At the next lecture, the Joker shares his schedule of crimes, one a day as Batman's lectures are one a day. He makes his challenge from a box seat in the theater Batman is giving the lecture. The two race after Joker, but he gets away, leaving a record of Joker saying he will start his challenge the next day.

The word gets to the newspapers and the humiliation of Batman begins as the headlines say how the Joker got away from Batman and left behind a taunting record. The Dynamic Duo get to work on figuring our Joker's clues and come to the conclusion it has to do with an auction of artwork including a painting called "The Harvest".

Meanwhile, Joker has followed through on all his clues as he takes a bow, sows the seeds of fine red pepper powder, shed a tear as those attending the auction cry, and then he "reaps the harvest" by taking the painting. Batman and Robin arrive to stop Joker and a fight breaks out. Joker and his men make their escape on an oil truck which covers the Batmobile in oil. Joker then sets fire to it. Trapped inside the vehicle, it looks like it's the end for the two.

Batman hurtles the Batmobile forward into a fire hydrant where the two are able to escape, but the vehicle is totaled. The press have another field day with the event. Joker gives another set of clues and is successful in pulling off his coup, leaving Batman with his head scratching.

And the newspapers continue to have fun at Batman's expense, right down to the editorial cartoons turning the tables and making Batman look silly. He even begins to doubt himself, especially when he is catcalled by his audience at his next lecture in a scene that reminds me of Joker's first appearance on the 66 TV series. It gets to Batman who begins to have his doubts, but a pep talk from Robin breaks him of his funk.

The Joker's next day crime has the two puzzling over it as it mentions judges and hanging and taking the rap. They think it is legal judges at first, but then they work out a competition where judges will determine who has the best outfit where one of the competitors is wearing a $15,000 fur wrap.

Joker traps the judges in an elevator which includes the Duo in disguise. They escape the elevator and are on time to stop Joker from stealing the wrap. Joker makes his escape via a pulley system he has set up, a similar escape plan used recently by the Penguin. But Batman cuts the line.

The two duke it out on a rooftop with Batman being victorious. He makes things worse for Joker by having him in a cage at his next lecture the next night and of course the newspapers are back on Batman's side.

It's not a bad little story, but again, and I can't believe I'm saying this, the Joker is not killing anyone. He is more like Cesar Romero's Joker in these stories. In fact, I could easily see this story being a Batman 66 story.

We're on to the 12th issue of Batman for our next look. Stay tuned, Citizens!

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