BATMAN #251: How Fans Reacted to the Return of THE JOKER

It remains a classic 50 years later — but what did readers think at the time?

UPDATED 6/21/23: Batman #251 came out 50 years ago! Perfect time to re-present this piece from November 2020. For more on the anniversary, click here. Dig it! — Dan

Hey, we all know that 1973’s Batman #251The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge! by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams — is an outright classic and one of the greatest Batman stories ever. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best single issue in the Caped Crusader’s history — and I’m not alone in thinking that.

But it’s always fascinating to see what contemporary readers thought about a comic that has been lionized for nearly 50 years.

Well, jump ahead to Batman #254 and you’ll see what the fuss was about when the Clown Prince of Crime returned to Gotham after a years-long hiatus.

Right on:

Almost universal praise, though reader Michael Sloan — where is he now, I wonder — was a bit all over the map.

But hey, they had hot takes even then.


— BATMAN #251: DENNY O’NEIL and NEAL ADAMS on Bringing Back THE JOKER. Click here.

— How Fans Reacted WHEN ROBIN LEFT FOR COLLEGE. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to our current state of “modern” tales and the reactions of fans to the return of the “real” world of Gotham. The story today has gotten so far removed from what I recognize as the real Gotham. I wish we could go back to that world.

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  2. How the hell did Schwartz misspell Neal’s first name? Maybe a typesetting mistake? I remember being blown away at this when Ibread it as a kid…

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  3. I had fun reading this article. The Joker is one of Batman’s many adversaries. 🙂

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  4. I loved it the day it came out!

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  5. Thank you for this! I remember reading these! 50 years? Wow! (Oh, I agree with Scott Gibson on the Spectre story!)

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  6. Funny enough, I’m friends with one of the letter writers–Gail gave me my first job, at a comic book shop she owned. I was reading a bunch of Batman back issues and when I came to this ish, I had to quiz her immediately to find out if it was her, and turns out it was!

    It’s a small world in a lot of ways!

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