An INSIDE LOOK at a Martin Pasko rarity unpublished for more than 40 years — guest-starring Elton John!
UPDATED 5/12/20: Writer Martin Pasko died this week at the age of 65. (Click here for Alan Brennert’s homage.) As it turns out, one of his last published comics stories was the long-lost The Joker #10, which finally saw print in 2019. Seems like the perfect time to re-present this look at a gloriously off-kilter tale of the Clown Prince of Crime — by a writer who died too soon. — Dan
It’s JOKER WEEK! We’re celebrating comics’ greatest villain since there’s a big ol’ major motion picture coming out this week. For the complete index of features, click here. — Dan
Y’know, the 1970s Joker solo series gets something of a bad rap.
They weren’t great comics, to be sure, but a lot of them were a kick – and at times definitely weird. Weird is good.
But none of the published issues compare to the one that didn’t see the light of day – until just recently.
The Joker was cancelled with Issue #9 in 1976, but Issue #10 — featuring the tale 99 and 99/100% Dead — was set to be the first of a three-parter in which the Clown Prince of Crime takes on the Justice League.
The doomed story by Martin Pasko — clearly having the time of his life — and Irv Novick was resurrected for the just released The Joker Bronze Age Omnibus – the chief selling point for the 808-page doorstop of a book.
(UPDATED: It was also posted on ComiXology on Thursday! Click here.)
And boy is this tale a beaut.
Now, seeing as how you might not have picked up this particular volume yet, I’ll give you an old-fashioned SPOILER ALERT – with some of the insane details below this opening splash page:
I won’t give everything away, mind you, but basically the Joker agrees to a deal with the devil – a dead ringer for Elton John (!) — to kill the Justice League because they might distribute an immortality serum that “Lou Cipher” says would be bad for business.
And that’s just the premise.
There’s an attempt to force the Joker into a lobotomy – shades of Power Records’ Stacked Cards (click here) – as well as details of exactly how the Harlequin of Hate ostensibly kills off each Leaguer:
Green Arrow gets it in the chest with an arrow doctored with Joker venom; Black Canary has her sonic cry turned back on her; the Flash laughs himself to death in super-speed; and, in the most grim move of all, Wonder Woman is hanged from the Statue of Liberty by her own Golden Lasso.
Hey, kids! Comics!
But that’s what’s actually great about the Bronze Age: There was plenty of murderous mayhem to go around but it was done with style.
Anyway, the issue ends on a cliffhanger promising to introduce us to the Joker’s father – but, alas, we’re fated not to know how that turned out.
The Joker Bronze Age Omnibus lists for $99.99 but you can get for much less at certain online retailer. (UPDATED: Again, it was also posted on ComiXology on Thursday! Click here.)
Is it worth it to pay, oh, say, $65 for a collection that includes this extremely rare, bizarre gem? That depends on you. (Click here for the table of contents if you want to know what else is in there.)
For me, it was worth every gloriously, unhinged penny.
— The Complete JOKER’S WEEK Index of Features. Click here.
— STACKED CARDS: The Clown Prince of Crime on Glorious Vinyl. Click here.