Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Retro Review: Detective Comics #475 (1977) - "The Laughing Fish!"

Fishing for Laughs

Written by: Steve Englehart
Art by: Marshall Rogers, Terry Austin, Jerry Serpe, and Ben Oda
Cover Price: 35¢
Release Date: October 1977

"The Joker must have the Batman! Nay, the Joker deserves the Batman! What fun would there be in humbling mere policemen? I am the Greatest Criminal ever known! HA HA HA HA! And for anyone else to destroy the Batman would be unworthy of me!"

-- The Joker

The issue begins with Batman paying a visit to silver st. Cloud.  At this point in the continuity, Bruce and silver have been dating and while he is really falling for her, he is very much afraid that she knows his big secret.  Well, this scene proves that to be 100% true!

We leave that hanging as we head off to pay a visit to the actual star of the issue...Joker!  It seems that the clown prince of crime has made every fish on the eastern seaboard look just like him...or at least have his smile.  Why would he do this sort of thing?  To collect money after he someone trademarks his looks and the fish themselves.  Yea, it doesn't make sense but when does the joker make sense?

After seeing that the Joker is ready to kill at the drop of a hat for no reason whatsoever, we get back to Batman.  He has responded to the Batsignal and the threat that joker will kill his lawyer (who wouldn't trademark his fish faces) at midnight.  It's more of a setup then Batman realizes as Joker has prepped his victim beforehand and while Batman watches, Mr. Francis dies with a smile on his face.

We also get the continuation of the Rupert Thorne story.  He killed Hugo Strange a couple issues before and had been dealing with a Christmas Carol type nightmare since.  Here, Joker gets to him as well and Thorne takes off to leave town...but runs into a pretty young lady with white hair who needs a ride.  The issue kind of just ends, but it does with a cliffhanger that makes you want to get the next issue right away even if it's just to see if St. Cloud is alright.

There is a lot of classic Joker here. There is one of the best scenes I've ever read with him where he explains why there needs to be a Batman and a Joker and while it feels almost cliched now, it wasn't then and really is so damn well written.  The Joker is easily the best part of the issue and my only complaint is there is not more of him.  This is part of a two part story so the issue may feel incomplete by itself, but it's a great start to a classic.

*This issue is on the DC Universe App*

Bits and Pieces: 

this is a great read for Joker fans and he steals the show here.  The story and art pop when he is on the page and while he isn't in every panel, he should be.  There is a bit of Batman as well and the cliffhanger will definitely make you want to read the next issue right away.


1 comment:

  1. This was really a reintroduction of the Joker to Batman, after Denny O'Neil and co. resisted using him for a while. It's the first instance of the "modern," murderous Joker, with decidedly more finesse than Joker kills today!