Joker tagged posts

Batman Noel (2011)

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Often listed in the top-10 best Batman stories, Noel is a lushly illustrated Christmas Carol.

Batman Noel (2011)

Batman Noel (2011)

Lee Bermejo is a true artist. In every sense of the word. From his staccato narration to the loving brushstrokes that create a yester-world not glimpsed for two centuries. A work Charles Dickens would enjoy himself.

Batman is the Scrooge. Bob is one of the Joker’s henchmen. His son is Tiny Tim and the Joker is, well, the Joker. Catwoman is the Ghost of Christmas Past and Superman the Ghost of Christmas Present. Jacob Marley is represented by a generic Robin.

Fans of the Batman: Arkham Origins video game were offered the Noel Bat-suit as one of the skins available for play.

Dickens’ original novella was first published in 1843 in a London scrutinizing its own traditions. So popular was the story when it was released Dec. 19, it sold out by Christmas Eve. To this day, A Christmas Carol has never been out of print.

Like Dikens’ work, Bermejo has crafted a perennial tradition with this elseworld’s work.

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World’s Finest (1990) 1-3

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Post-crisis DC was an exciting era. All the old was washed away in the stroke of the 12-issue maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Not much time would pass before creators began bringing back pre-crisis pieces. Or, pulling back the facade to reveal some cracks already forming. Or, simply harken back with an else-worlds type story. The World’s Finest mini under the microscope is more of a return to the Eisenhower era. Batman and Superman were still friends – of sorts. Not the embattled super willpowers gracing the silver screen.

The Joker is as maniacal as ever, with enough murderous undercurrent to make readers nervous. Lex Luthor sports double chins, more comfortable in a three-piece suit rather than a white lab coat.

The four principle players intermingle in an awkward ballet told in three parts. From beginning to conclusion the story unfolds as slickly as the paper it was printed on.

Luthor and Joker trade stomping grounds, as do Batman and Superman in pursuit of their arch nemeses’. Christmas is a storm front that spills into New Year’s as the story reaches a false crescendo in issue two.

Issue three ties up the loose threads with a bit of pranking done on and by various participants.

Dave Gibbons brought back a sliver of the Silver Age with his script while Steve Rude was anything but with his renderings. This is a story that calls to me on a regular basis. Usually I heed.

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Batman (1940) 260

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Okay, not a Christmas comic book in that there is no Christmas cover, no Christmas stories. Just an original Denny O’Neil/Irv Novick Batman v. Joker tussle. The remainder are reprints dating back to Batman (1940) 16.

What makes this a Christmas comic book – to me – is the fact it was in my stocking Christmas the morning of 1974.

Yeah, I’m that old.

If you’ve read my earlier ramblings, you know my Mom had a routine. Christmas morning you hopped out of bed, brushed teeth and hair, donned suitable clothes and waited for everyone else to do the same. When Mom, Dad and Grandma and Grandpa Winterhalter were seated in the living room, I opened my stockings.

Stuffed among the Lifesaver Holiday box set, Crayola Crayons and miscellaneous merriment was Batman (1940) 260, one of the prized 100-page issues DC published at the time.

Other than the Christmas tabloids DC published under the Limited Collector’s Edition imprint (C-34 and C-43) this comic book is the one I remember most from my stockings. The jarring orange (or whatever color that is) cover with the Joker flipping his deck of cards showing the Caped Crusader in death throws at the reader. Riddler and Robin taunting Batman behind a cell door. Batman atop of giant glass bottle, muscles straining as he tries to free Robin from inside. Alfred and Catwoman’s heads barely rising above the cover bottom.

Batman (1940) 260

Batman (1940) 260

“This One Will Kill You Batman!” is the original story. DC’s hundred pagers followed a formula with the first story being an original one. The remaining tales were reprints from the Golden and Silver ages.

Fans know when a key villain appears, the issue is always better. Certainly no common crook could serve as felonious a foe as the Joker. Already the issue was better than most.

That was followed by “Grade A Crimes!,” originally published in May-April issue of Batman 16. Catwoman was featured in the following story, “The Perfect Crime – Slightly Imperfect!” from Batman 181 of June 1966. “The Case Without a Crime!” was pulled from Detective Comics 112 having first seen light June 1946. “The Pearl of Peril!” was courtesy of Batman 27, February-March 1945 and “The Riddlers’ Prison-Puzzle Problem!” rounded out the book. It was the most recent of the reprints having been published in Detective Comics a scant six years earlier.

I read the issue cover-to-cover several times during that Christmas break. The book stayed with for years until it wasn’t with me. I forget what happened to it to be honest. It just was gone one day. The saddest part is I didn’t notice its passage.

Until one day.

One day I started buying Batman comic books again. Years after I’d first received the book. By that time I was an adult. As much of an adult as I will ever be at least.

Something jogged my memory. Maybe I saw a picture of it. Maybe another issue reminded me. Whatever the reason I realized the issue was gone.

Though I mourned the loss it wasn’t a book I made a priority to replace. I spoke of it at times. One of those occasions was with a dear friend of mine, long since moved, who kept that discussion in mind.

That Christmas Batman 260 became a Christmas comic book again. In the hand-wrapped bundle of comic books he handed me was that issue. The same cover. The same promises of stories to come. The same book in every respect other than it had to be in better shape than my original. That issue had to have been dog eared and ratty from the repeated readings.

It didn’t matter.

Here was my beloved Batman 260. Once again in my hands. Ready to read. Again and again and again.

And, I have read it again and again and again. I’m far more respectful in my handlings now, but enjoy them no less.

So, for everyone enjoying a comic book today, and those who aren’t, Merry Christmas.

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Detective Comics (1937) 741

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Detective Comics 741

Detective Comics 741

The end of 1999. The end of a century and millennium. The end of “No Man’s Land.” So many endings. Not at all what Prince prophesized in 1982.

“End Game” was the end of the beginning as Gotham would rebuild from the ashes of a year-long crossover in the Bat titles. From “Cataclysm” to “Aftershock” to “Road to No Man’s Land” to “End Game.” By the time 1999 finished “No Mans’ Land,” alone, encompassed 80-regular monthly titles and several specials including Batman: Harley Quinn, the book that brought Harley into the regular DC Universe.

To celebrate Christmas, the Joker makes an end run on a rival. The Harlequin of Hate continues to wreak havoc by nearly killing the Huntress and kidnapping the babies of Gotham. Commissioner James Gordon’s wife, Sarah, stumbles across the plot and sacrifices herself to save the children.

Another ending amid all the others.

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DC Universe Holiday Bash III (1998)

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DC saved the best for last. The DC Universe Holiday Bash III is the final installment of Christmas specials before Y2K featuring seven stories running a gamut of characters.

Superman and Batman headline the book in “World’s Finest Christmas.” Writer Karl Kesel expounds on the toy collecting trend of the day. The Captain Action knock-off featured is Toyman’s revenge for a believed slight. Batman brings a bittersweet tale to conclusion with an act of kindness.

“The Joker’s Twelve Days of Christmas” mangles the holiday staple in a murderous take off.

DC Universe Holiday Bash III (1998)

DC Universe Holiday Bash III (1998)

Wonder Woman returns to her newfound fold for Christmas to be accused of foregoing her heritage and beliefs in “Heathen Ways.”

Chuck Dixon proves why he was the Bat Family scribe for so long with “Alone for the Holidays.” Robin finds himself part of an extended family so he’s never really alone – especially at Christmas time.

Prison is not the place to be for Christmas as Shrapnel discovers. His short-term vacation from the Slab brings Christmas “Home for the Holidays.”

Bat Lash has “An Eye for Detail” saving a frontier family from a dastardly land deal.

Finally, Impulse creator Mark Waid pens, with Devin Grayson, “No, Bart, There is No Santa Claus.” Bart Allen’s naivety and impulsive nature send him around the world as Santa’s helper.

The package is wrapped by a two-page spread as imagined by Sergio Aragones.

DC would take a break from Christmas specials for the next several years allowing the individual writers to pen any holiday tales in their respective titles.

 

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Joking Around at Christmas Time

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The Clown Prince of Crime can’t help but be amused.  By George Kambadais.

The Clown and his Snow Globe

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