Here’s another post that I did on my old blog that I decided I would finally bring here. Originally posted on July 11, 2008.
The Joker – The Greatest Stories Ever Told
This book was released a couple of weeks ago but I wonder why DC Comics bothered to release it at all. Sure the Dark Knight is about to be released on the big screen with the late Heath Ledger playing the Clown Prince of Crime, but as many of the stories featured in this book were also reprinted in the similarly titled The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told back in 1999, when the original Batman film featuring Jack Nicolson was released, this book is surely redundant. That book was still in print until quite recently and is easy to find on Ebay or even in some comic shops, which means that it is very easy to find most of these stories, which maks me still wonder why DC bothered at all.
DC missed quite an opportunity to publish a book full of very hard to find stories that fans would love to see reprinted, such as The Joker’s Millions and The Joker Walks The Last Mile. Instead they offer another book featuring Steve Englehart’s ‘Case of the Laughing Fish’, David V Reed and Dick Sprang’s ‘Joker’s Utility Belt’ and Len Wein’s ‘Dreadful Birthday Dear Joker’. Sure, these are really great stories, but they have been reprinted thousands of times and are very easy to find. The only Joker story that has been printed more times than these ones is Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams’ ‘The Joker’s Five Way Revenge’, which is perhapsin my opinion, the greatest Joker story ever written. Fortunately it does not feature here as it was reprinted just a year or so ago in another Batman greatest stories book. (I wonder why that stopped DC as they seem to love to reprit the same stories ad-infinitum?)
There are some stories that feature in the book that are relatively difficult to find. These include ‘The Joker’s Comedy of Errors’, ‘Crime of the Month Club’ and ‘Joker’s Last Laugh’. None of these really qualify as being ‘Greatest’ Joker stories, with ‘Comedy of Errors’ being most notable for The Joker constantly talking of ‘boners’, something that was lampooned by Superdickery years ago. These are quite mediocre stories indeed.
Something else that I did not like was the amount of ‘modern’ stories featured in the book. Paul Dini’s ‘Slay Ride’ is just 18 months old, while there are another three stories that are a decade or less old and very easy to find. Why? Why? Why publish stories that are so easy to find? Why publish stories that only just hit the comic shops a year and a half ago? It does not make any sense at all. I always thought the aim of a collection such as this is to introduce fans to stories that they may not know of, not to repackage something that they have only just finished reading.
Avoid this book unless you are a Joker completest or have a thing for ‘boners’. Most likely you already have the majority of these stories in your comic book collection. I know I have!
There’s another review of the book at this site here.
By the way, is anyone else sick of Alex Ross’ covers for these things. I’m not a great fan of Ross but someone at DC loves him as he seems to be the only one who is allowed to do the art for their collected editions. I would rather see someone else given a go at the covers of these things, perhaps an artist who has actually been associated with the character who is featured in the collection. I think it would be great to have a Joker collection with a cover by Neal Adams, Jerry Robinson or Dick Sprang. Surely DC has some of their artwork which they could use, instead of just sing Ross’ work.
For a review of the much superior ‘Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told’, click here. This is a book that I really recommend. Better still, buy the hardcover ‘Stacked Deck: Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told’.