That Time Batman and the Joker Battled It Out Using…Word Puzzles?

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Today, we look at the time that Batman and the Joker fought each other using…word puzzles?1

In every installment of I Love Ya But You’re Strange I spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories. Feel free to e-mail me at brianc@cbr.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

As I’ve noted a few times over the years, the first generation of comic book writers were noted by the fact that none of them actually aspired to BEING comic book writers because, of course, there was no such THING as comic book writers when they all started out. Really, the best avenue that these people had to make a living as writers at the time (outside of hitting it big with a novel or a screenplay, of course) was to write short stories. Pulp magazines constantly needed short stories and fiction writers had slightly more rights than comic book creators ever did, so it was very much frowned upon to reuse stories, so the magazines had to keep hiring writers to do NEW stories. Meanwhile, other anthologies of the era were also looking for short stories. So there was a frequent market for short stories, but not enough of a market that a lot of those short story writers found themselves writing comic books, as well, to make some money.

One of those writers who went “slumming” in the comic book industry was Donald Clough Cameron, a respected mystery writer who wrote a number of stories for the pulps on top of five detective novels between 1939 and 1946. Cameron got regular work writing for the Batman comic book and comic strip in the 1940s and his tenure on the books were a memorable one. For instance, it was Cameron who introduced Alfred into the Batman titles.

However, like other Batman writers of the era, he also wrote plenty of gimmick stories, like June 1946‘s “Acrostic of Crime” in Detective Comics #114 (art by Win Mortimer).

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The Joker, who somehow collects all of his old headlines in leather-bound volumes, is reflecting on all of his fun crimes against Batman when he realizes that he has gotten boring recently…

So he challenges Batman to an acrostic challenge. The Joker will try to spell a word using crimes and Batman will have to try to stop him. The word he chose, of course, was “Joker.” He starts by stealing a bunch of evidence from the hall of Justice to ransom off (either to the police or to the criminals in the cases)…

He then robes the Opera…

He then steals the Khan diamond and when Batman and Robin show up to stop him, he holds them off with a Kangaroo (yes, seriously)…

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Robin comes across the Joker while he is stealing equipment from an electronics factory. Robin signals Batman with an electric flare and Batman shows up and beats up the Joker, forming his own acrostic in the process…

Since there was an electromagnet on the ground and some metal stencils (for…reasons), Robin is able to literally make the word Batman appear!

In the end, the Joker sort of gets the last laugh by noting that Robin stopping him gave him his final R…

That doesn’t make any sense, of course, but it is kind of fun.

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