I awoke this morning to an insistent rapping at my front door. Hastily if groggily making myself presentable I managed to open the door…to find only a box with my name and address upon it. Thinking this might be some new film to review from Scream Factory I quickly made short work of the tape around the box and opened it to reveal…
…a Joker playing card as well as…
…this Sherlock Holmes Pipe. Which could only mean one thing. It was time to join forces with my old allies of the Super Blog Team-Up to once again discuss a single subject that unites us for a single day. This time the subject is Versus. Elementary, my friends, elementary.
Being such a big fan of Batman I decided to focus on that epic battle through the ages between the Clown Prince of Crime and the World’s most famous Detective…no, not the Dark Knight in this case but that one time that the Joker matched wits against Sherlock Holmes himself!
Beginning on May of 1975 and sadly only lasting until October 1976, DC Comics released a total of nine issues where the Joker took the spotlight. Legendary writer on Batman, Dennis “Deny” O’Neil took the job of crafting a comic series where the Joked could not only be the star of the series but wouldn’t come under fire from the Comics Code Authority. While O’Neil scripted only four of the nine issues he realized that they would have to really draw back on the Joker’s more frightening aspects not to mention his ability to murder innocents at the drop of a hat. So he and fellow writers, Elliot s. Maggin as well as Martin Pasko made the Joker a rather wicked prankster.
The shocking thing is how absolutely fantastic these nine issues turned out, they aren’t exactly lighthearted but they certainly fall under the category of fun. At times the Joker even would find himself at odds with the fellow members of Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery like Two-Face…
…and even the Scarecrow.
In the sixth issue of the comic the Joker in disguise sneaks onto the stage of a theater hundreds of miles from Gotham where a famous thespian named Clive Sigerson is performing as Sherlock Holmes. Why? To merely tweak the nose of any do-gooder that considers themselves a detective and since Sherlock Holmes isn’t real he decides to punish Clive.
After Clive is subjected to the spring-loaded punching glove to the face he is clocked across the brow by a heavy smoking pipe prop courtesy of the Joker. Stunned he watches the villain and his henchman escape…actually they dance and sing their way off the stage.
Hey, when it comes to the Joker you do things with style or not at all!
An unforeseen side effect though is that Clive now thinks he is in fact Sherlock Holmes, kind of like George C. Scott’s character from 1971’s They Might Be Giants. The stage show’s Producer demands that a stagehand…named Watson…follow Clive/Sherlock to make sure while he is wandering the city he doesn’t get into trouble. Unfortunately for the stagehand who used to be a sailor and whose nickname was “Dock” Watson, the confused actor is hot on the trail of the Joker which leads him to a Golf course where the two do battle with the weapons at hand.
This is the Joker of course and which means he is always prepared to put the actor out of action so he can make his escape.
It is quickly revealed that Batman’s greatest foe is using the works of Arthur Conan Doyle to plan his capers…in the case of the golf course heist he makes off with the flag from the fourth green, the “Sign of the Four”.
Sherlock/Clive deduces that the Joker’s next target is a sailing ship that just so happens to be named The Baskervilles!
Why is the Joker there? Well, he is below deck using a cutting torch to remove one of the clasps from a steel door…which is explained is used to secure hatches on ships an action referred to by sailors as “Dogging down the hatches”, the Joker considers himself holding a “Dog” and another name for a dog is a hound, so he possesses the Hound of the Baskervilles!
I won’t ruin the remainder of the comic as I am quite happy to report that you can pick up this very issue over on Comixology for a mere .99 cents! I would highly recommend you pick up the other eight issues of this DC Comics series as well because at least for myself it’s quite refreshing to revisit a time when the Joker was so much fun, dangerous but not exactly deadly.
As always with the Super Blog Team-Up you can visit other sites throughout the day that are presenting their own take on the subject of Versus:
Between The Pages: Star Wars Versus…
Bronze Age Babies: Civil War – Silver Age Style! Tales of Suspense 58 ? Captain America versus Iron Man
Crapbox Son Of Cthulhu: ROM versus The Jack of Hearts
Chris Is On Infinite Earths: Blue Beetle versus Guy Gardner
Longbox Graveyard: Fire and Water: Human Torch versus Submariner
In My Not So Humble Opinion: Captain America vs. Wolverine
Superhero Satellite: Batman versus Guy Gardner
Unspoken Decade: War Machine versus Cable
Coffee and Comics Blog: Spider-Man Versus Ghost Rider