"The Meat & the Marrow": Duela Dent long ago ran away to Gotham City's Nethers, a region of the city's underground that had been flooded for the reservoir system. People still chose to live there, and she now lives there with her ugly cat, surviving by trading go
- Ugly is the new beautiful.
Synopsis for "The Meat & the Marrow"
Duela Dent long ago ran away to Gotham City's Nethers, a region of the city's underground that had been flooded for the reservoir system. People still chose to live there, and she now lives there with her ugly cat, surviving by trading goods she finds in the flooded houses. When, one day, she discovers the Joker's shorn-off face floating in the water, and feels a sudden yearning to make it her own.
With the face upon her own face, she catches a couple eating rats by a fire. The men of the underground society always eat first, and this man's woman is thinner than he is. From the shadows, she considers that she could turn things in the tribe around, if she had the right method. Fashioning a weapon from things she found in the water, she heats the blade in the hot coals of their fire and threateningly presses the man for information about who is leading the tribe. Nervously, the man responds that the leader is a man called Charon who gives safe passage to anyone from Arkham, and gives them a woman.
Grinning, Duela takes her weapon and brands a crescent shaped grin over the man's mouth, explaining that from this moment, he will let his wife eat first - but before that, he will take her to Charon. It turns out that Charon is a very handsome man - and she wants to fix that. When she attacks him, he tries to convince her of his intent to help her, but is forced to defend himself. Eventually, they both fall into the water, and she learns that he is a stronger fighter than her; better than her. When he tosses her back onto the shore, he demands to know what happened to her to make her the way she is.
Though the story she tells is full of lies, the reality is that her parents were perfectionists, and saw her tendency toward the strange and unusual as a flaw in need of fixing. When she was a child, she adopted a stray dog without consulting them, and they were forced to set it free without her knowledge, complaining of the difficulty of loving a child like her. Struggling with anorexia and body dysmorphia, she cut her face, trying to kill her pain. Her parents were forced to put her into an institution. During her surgery to repair her wounded face, she squirmed and caused the doctors' knives to cause more damage to her face. When she was returned home, her parents were even more horrified by her. Secretly, she overheard them discussing a plan to send her away, and she preempted them by running away.
Unconvinced by her story, Charon sees the secret sadness that lies underneath it, and begs her to join his tribe and get help. Angrily, Duela responds that she's not a charity case, and takes her weapon and brands her smile onto his face. He is surprised to see that all of the other men have done the same to themselves - happy to let the women lead the tribe for a while. They're curious to see what would happen. Cringing from the pain, Charon warns that Duela is making them ugly in order to control them. The men are determined, though, and so Duela orders that Charon's coat, signifying his leadership be removed, and that he be sent away.
With the tribe under her thumb, Duela decides it's time to show the beautiful things in the world what happens when ugly gets the chance to rule.
Appearing in "The Meat & the Marrow"
- Ugly Cat
- Batman (Cover only)
- Gotham City
- Cover gallery for the Batman: The Dark Knight series
- Images from Batman: The Dark Knight Vol 2 23.4: The Joker's Daughter