Jace's Reviews > The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told

The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told by Mike Gold
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's review
Dec 31, 08

bookshelves: comics
Read in December, 2008

I had high hopes for this collection. The Joker is my favorite DC villain, and this is, after all, his self-proclaimed greatest hits. But overall, this volume was less than impressive. It starts off strong with early-40's stories where the maniacal Joker--gasp!--murdered people to achieve his criminal agenda. And it finishes off strong with his crafty 1970's resurgence in the hands of classic Batman writers such as O'Neill, Englehart, and Wein. But the meat of the book is filled with 50's and 60's Joker tales, an era in which his character was dumbed-down and cleaned under the auspices of the Comics Code. The Joker of that era was a bumbling clown who employed elaborate schemes and wacky devices that always tripped him up in the end. I had heard that this was a bad era for the Joker, but I had to read it to believe it. One or two examples of this type of story from the Joker's past would be fine, but this collection contains no less than 8 of them. The writing is incredibly hokey and full of puns, making them almost painful to read. And considering that the introduction and the afterword to the book both allude to a number of quality Joker stories that had to be left out due to page constraints, it's unacceptable that so many 60's stories are included. And this criticism is coming someone who loved watching re-runs of the campy Adam West Batman series growing up. Ultimately, the title of this collection is misleading. While it does include some of the greatest Joker stories ever told, it also contains far too many of the worst Joker stories ever written.
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