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World's Finest Comics 61
"The Crimes of Batman!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND November - December, 1952

Story: Bill Finger (?) Art: Sheldon Moldoff (?)

Originally Reviewed On 11/08/01

Peering from around the corner of a building, The Dynamic Duo are shocked to see The Joker, overcome with laughter, from seeing a wanted poster for The Caped Crusader, dead or alive, with a fifty thousand dollar reward offered for information leading to his apprehension! (Holy America's Most Wanted, Batman! Looks like a Crime alley in there...)

It's nighttime, as The Dynamic Duo pause in their rooftop patrol of Gotham City, and see The Joker's car driving by. Batman explains that The Joker has been released from prison, and has seemingly gone straight! When The Clown Prince of Crime leaves his car unattended, Batman plants a bug to pick up any crime plans which The Joker may know about. In the Bat-Cave, The Dynamic Duo listen as The Harlequin of Hate guffaws about The Gregg Jewelry Robbery, and how the police are unaware of who pulled the job, but The Joker knows that it was done in the style of Dink Devers, whom the authorities believe to be dead, but who is in hiding at the Blake Hotel. (Holy Family Jewels, Batman!) The Joker's laughter continues to be heard, while Batman and Robin head to The Blake Hotel...

Dink Devers is astonished that The Dynamic Duo have found him, and The Caped Crusader tells him that it was thanks to The Joker that the case was solved. The newspapers have a field day with headlines telling how The Joker "solved" the case, while The Joker is not laughing, having been made a fool of by The Batman! In order to save face, The Joker intends to turn the tables on Batman by turning him into a criminal! At Stately Wayne Manor, Dick prepares to change into his Robin uniform and speak at the boat show, while Bruce will fight crime solo as Batman! Near the Gotham Auditorium, The Joker's men have hustled some South American sailors into an alley at gunpoint, and have his men change clothes with them in order to trap Robin!

Inside the hall, the disguised henchmen see Robin about to speak and get their gas masks ready. The Joker and his men hurl gas pellets which are designed to give its victims a state similar to sea-sickness. Comandeering a car, they take Robin to their hideout, and at Commissioner Gordon's office, Batman reads a message from The Joker, who has Robin as a prisoner, and The Caped Crusader is to be driven to The Joker's hideout. The Joker greets Batman, who sees the banners overhead which read "Hurrah For Batman -- The Master Crook!", and knows that if he makes any sudden moves, Robin will be a goner.

The Joker points a finger at The Caped Crusader, and intends to disgrace his foe by making him turn crooked! The Clown Prince of Crime intends to have Batman cheat, steal, and kill in that order, with each event publicized so that the whole world knows of his guilt, otherwise, Robin will die! Batman is given 24 hours to become a cheat, and he begins to make his plan... In the Batcave, Batman checks out all of his remote control equipment before boarding The Batplane... In the morning, the citizens of Gotham City see The Batplane flying out of control, then catch flame, and outside of Gotham, The Batplane begins to plummet, while the startled citizens watch as Batman jumps from the plane...

The citizens are shocked as they see The Caped Crusader's chute hasn't opened yet, and he continues to fall into the woods! Within those selfsame woods, The Caped Crusader inspects the Bat-Dummy who came crashing to the ground in his place, as the remote-controlled Batplane carried out his plan to the letter. Minutes later, the startled folks see a battered and bruised Batman emerge from the woods, citing his survival as a miracle, figuring that the trees broke his fall! The Joker laughs for there remains but two hours for Batman to prove himself a cheat, while one of his men shows up with a box for him! Opening the box, three bats fly out, leaving no doubt as to who sent them, while a newspaper front page is the only other occupant in the box. Unfolding the paper, The Harlequin of Hate is startled to read about how The Caped Crusader cheated death!

When Batman shows up at The Joker's hideout, Robin is held at gunpoint, while The Joker congratulates The Caped Crusader on outsmarting him, but the next crime that Batman must commit will be the act of stealing, a theft which must earn The Joker's respect, with a deadline of 24 hours. (Holy Kiefer, Batman!) While Batman is to fulfill his task, The Clown Prince of Crime and his men will be pulling a crime of their own, and in Stately Wayne Manor, Alfred tells his master that Robin must be saved, while The Caped Crusader can't ignore the Bat-Signal, which is no doubt linked to The Joker's latest escapade! Commissioner Gordon tells Batman that The Joker has broken into Farley's Department Store, and is no doubt after the playing card collection on display, while The Caped Crusader merely smiles and tells the startled Commissioner that perhaps The Joker isn't as smart as he thinks! (Holy House of Cards, Batman! The Joker doesn't play by Hoyle!) Within the closed department store, Batman arrives and recalls where the playing card display is located, while The Joker is surprised to see The Caped Crusader crash his caper!

The Joker runs away, taunting Batman about Robin's fate, while The Caped Crusader nonchalantly reaches for a golf club from a display, and swings, with the golfball bringing down a chandelier in their midst! The Joker and his men are under attack by more golf balls sent by Batman via a knee supporter! Near a football display, The Joker leaves via the exit, while a thrown football brings down a group of uniformed mannequins onto his men!

The Joker has made his escape, but without any loot and most of his gang, while Batman remains to give his story to the newspapers! The Harlequin of Hate reads about how Batman stole his thunder by foiling his caper, making him admit that The Batman is a most worthy adversary.

The Joker's men can't understand why their boss is toying with The Caped Crusader, but The Clown Prince of Crime is convinced that he has Batman right where he wants him! At the hideout, The Joker admits that Batman has cheated and stolen, but he is still not a criminal, and it is his intention to have The Caped Crusader become one by making him a killer! To stave off any clever ideas, Batman is to be The Joker's trigger-man at a job which he'll be pulling tonight, where The Harlequin of Hate can watch him kill with his own eyes! The group leave, with one of Joker's men thinking that his boss has finally put one over on The Batman!

In another room, The Joker has Batman covered, as well as his utility belt in hand, as they get ready to steal money from a circus! Within Gotham Square Garden, The Joker forgoes his love of the circus, as they hustle Batman towards the cash office, disguised as circus clowns. Batman is to kill the cashier, while The Joker and his men steal from the safe, but a box of sawdust catches The Caped Crusader's eye... In one quick motion, Batman throws the sawdust into the faces of The Joker and his gang, while The Caped Crusader doesn't dare risk a gunfight to startle the crowd, and grabs The Clown Prince of Crime, while the henchmen rush towards him, and the crowd believes it to be a show! Batman drags The Joker up a ladder towards the trapeze, while the audience watch in anticipation...

Batman shouts to the circus guards some orders, then takes The Harlequin of Hate for a ride on the trapeze, who is killing time while the guards round up The Joker's men! Holding The Joker in a tight grip, Batman sends him for a spin, while the audience go frantic with applause, and The Caped Crusader tells his trapeze partner how he is "killing" the audience! Both fall from the trapeze to the waiting net below, but a bounce sends The Joker out of Batman's reach! With too much of a head start, The Joker races for the offices and a phone to tell his men to kill Robin, with Batman in hot pursuit.

Opening a door, The Joker races down the stairs, determined to have the last laugh by finding a phone, but the lights go out with him in mid-step, and he is soon tackled by The Batman, who "killed" the lights at the fusebox. At the hideout, the henchmen watching Robin grins as The Joker and his gang of circus clowns return from their caper, no doubt having made Batman a killer, but it turns out that it is Batman who delivers the final "Killing" Joke, disguised as The Joker, and policemen disguised as the circus clown gang, who make short work of Robin's captors! The True Joker is in the custody of the police, and by killing time at the circus and catching The Joker, Batman has killed two birds with one stone!

D.C. is supposed to have the next Bat-Event be "Bruce Wayne, Murderer" but I like how Batman turns the tables on The Joker and commits his own brand of crimes to thwart The Clown Prince of Crime.

The Joker's car actually has The Joker's grinning face on its grill! A lot to enjoy, no doubt, and makes The Edsel look practical by comparison.

Gee, I rather enjoyed this story, especially where The Joker has Robin prisoner in order to make Batman do his bidding rather than beating his brains out with a crowbar, as his modern-day counterpart would have done.

Kind of funny that Batman has no problem with bugging The Jokermobile, or that The Harlequin of Hate didn't cite him for it in a court of law.

Nowadays, The Joker would have his last laugh all over the pages of the monthly D.C. books, but I prefer this tale, where contrary to The Joker's wishes, Batman fulfills his part of the bargain, and has the last laugh, instead.

Steve Chung
"The Reviews of Batman!"