So, in the farewell post at Grotesque Anatomy, John Jakala signled out this comic as one of his favorite comics as a kid:

And it’s easy to see why. Despite the overwhelming adequateness of most of Bob Haney’s stories, this one just goes that little bit extra bit over the top to turn it into a thing of beauty.

First of all, we open with Batman and Commisoner Gordon debating what to do about an imprisioned henchman of the Joker’s, Mike Dubcek, who refuses to talk:

Next, we move onto Wildcat, who is preparing to participate in an exhibition boxing match at the very prison, hires a washed-up ex-boxer to be his bucketman. In fact, Dubcek is the prisoner the warden has selected to fight Ted Grant, on the basis that Dubcek once almost beat him in a title bout and “we might have a riot on our hands” if they don’t let him out. The fight goes as you’d expect:

But what of this curious incident just before the fight?

Shortly afterwards (we know it’s “shortly” because we’re conveniently told that by the text) every inmate comes down with a “rare tropical fever”…medical authorities are baffled until:

Yes, that washed up boxer Ted Grant hired was actually a stooge for the Joker! And that water-bucket? Infected with a “rare tropical fever.” And all of this would have been avoided if the Warden had just, oh, I don’t know, actually kept the guy he was supposed to keep in solitary in solitary…Luckily, there’s a scientist investigating the disease who has a dog “whose blood’s crammed with enough antibodies to inject all the prisoners”:

I’ll leave the feasability of the medical aspects of this over to Scott at Polite Dissent…what can’t be disputed is this: Isn’t it cool to see Batman saying something as completely out of character as “we dig?”

Somehow, of course, the Joker has found out all about this little dog with the cure for the “rare tropical fever” in his blood, and sets out to kidnap the dog so that Dubcek won’t be able to inform on him…killing everyone in a prison seems to be a pretty far length to go to off one guy, but this is the Joker we’re talking about here.

Of course, we wouldn’t have a story if the Joker’s plan worked, and so:

What ensues is a wild chase through the city, with Batman, Wildcat on his Cat-O-Cycle (I’m not making that up, that’s what it’s actually called) and the Joker looking desperately for Spot. And doing a real good job of it too:

Spot, meanwhile, makes friends with a garbage scow dog, a little boy and a homeless man before succumbing to the inevitable…leaping into the dog catcher’s van…

Luckily, Batman thought to check the pound, only to discover that the dog’s owner came to claim him already. A “weird lookin’ bozo…had green hair”…which means that there’s someone out there in the DC Universe who’s been living under a rock for twenty years and has never heard of the Joker…who then, coincidentally, calls Batman on his “secret police frequency” (and how secret is it if your archnemesis knows it?) and tells him of a way he can get the dog back:

The Joker knows Wildcat’s secret identity? Anyway, knowing that if they don’t fight for real, the Joker will kill the dog and doom all those rapists, murderers and thieves to a death by “rare tropical fever”, Batman and Wildcat give it their all. Of course, since we can’t definitvely establish whether Bruce or Ted is the better fighter, this is the result we get:

A double kayo! Joker takes the opportunity to tell Bats and Cats that they heavy metal gloves they were wearing were also both infected with the “rare tropical fever” and so now they’re doomed as well…only:

Joker rushes to stop one of hench-man from drowning Spot, only to remember that he can’t swim. Luckily for everyone, even a dog can escape from one of the Joker’s death-traps and so:

And everything works out in the end:

(Except for Spot, who will probably be dissected…)

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