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'The Joker: The Clown Prince of Crime' collects villainous jester's adventures

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'The Joker: The Clown Prince of Crime' Graphic Novel

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In 1975, the Joker became the first Batman villain to be awarded his very own title. Throughout each issue, the Clown Prince of Crime went up against a super hero or another megalomaniacal criminal before his corrupt plans were foiled and he was sent back to prison or left for dead. DC Comics has done fans the great service of finally releasing the nine issue series that ran from 1975 to 1976 in one collection.

"The Joker: The Clown Prince of Crime" features the insane jester going up against or working with several of his partners-in-crime. There are appearances by Lex Luthor, the Scarecrow, Catwoman, Two-Face, the Creeper, and the Royal Flush Gang. The only super hero that shows up is Green Arrow. I have to commend the writers and editors of the book for never bringing Batman into the stories. It shows that they wanted the Joker to rest on his own laurels, even if they weren't enough to keep the series afloat for very long.

Legendary Batman writer Dennis O'Neil scripted the first couple of issues collected in "The Joker: The Clown Prince of Crime." Elliot S! Maggin took the reins of the title from him for the rest of the series, minus two middle issues. O'Neil and Maggin penned every tale except one, which was written by Martin Pasko. Pasko is best known as the co-creator of the reboot of Dr. Fate in 1975. All the writers stuck to the typical formula of the series and kept the atmosphere between issues consistent.

Artist Irv Novick handled the penciling duties for "The Joker: The Clown Prince of Crime." Ernie Chan and J.L. Garcia Lopez took over for one issue, but you can't tell stylistically. Novick is assisted by Dick Giordano, Tex Blaisdell and a couple others throughout the rest of the series.

No extras are included for "The Joker: The Clown Prince of Crime." That's really no surprise, as the series is now almost 40 years old. It would take a lot of work to dig up any character sketches or page layouts, if they even exist.

"The Joker: The Clown Prince of Crime" is an essential item for any fan of Batman's archenemy. Every era has its own take on the Joker, and this book captures the character at a certain time in comic book history. It's nice to have all nine issues of the series in one volume to enjoy over and over again.

"The Joker: The Clown Prince of Crime" is available now in paperback and Kindle editions.

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