Inside the hiding of the Three Jokers, the Comedian is hallucinating on having dinner with his family, when the Criminal comes into the room. He questions the Comedian's actions, telling him this is not the time for fantasies: one of the three is dead, as the [[Jason Todd (Prime
Synopsis for the 1st Story
Inside the hiding of the Three Jokers, the Comedian is hallucinating on having dinner with his family, when the Criminal comes into the room. He questions the Comedian's actions, telling him this is not the time for fantasies: one of the three is dead, as the Red Hood shot the Clown in the head. The Comedian is clearly pissed at the Criminal for interrupting his role-playing, but does not react. Meanwhile, the Batman and Commissioner Gordon are inspecting the house of Judge Walls, murdered by his dogs who were infected with Joker Gas. While trying to understand why the Joker targeted the judge, Batgirl steps inside, telling Batman they must have a private word.
Barbara reveals to Bruce that Jason killed the Joker, or at least one version of him. Batgirl wants Batman to take action into his hands, and stop Jason as he is now a criminal, but Bruce tells her there's nothing they can do about it. If Jason confesses about murdering the Joker, Batgirl would be put in jail as an accomplice, being there during the murder. Also, Bruce still regrets being unable to protect Jason. He is deeply wounded by the fact he did not understand he was still alive after the Joker took him: the Red Hood is hurt. Barbara then tells Bruce he must talk and reason with him, also asking him why he didn't approach Jason earlier about his attitude. Batman answers that he hoped, with time, that Jason would heal and become a stronger version of himself, just like Barbara did after her own personal tragedy.
Meanwhile, Jason is still out hunting for the other two Jokers, willing to end once and for all the career of the clown prince of crime. He successfully guesses where the Jokers are right now, and heads there. At the same time, Batman and Batgirl go to Blackgate Penitentiary: inside the crime scene of the murder of judge Walls, Batman found the fingerprints of one particular criminal. Joe Chill, the shooter who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne. Bruce must understand what is Chill's part in all of this, so he breaks into his cell, but he finds it empty. Barbara then tells him she discovered Chill is sick, and terminal from cancer. He has only a few weeks to live.
Red Hood trail led him to the Gotham City Athletic Association, an abandoned sport club. Opening the locked door, Jason steps inside to find dozens of bodies bathed in a Joker-turning chemicals-filled pool. Shocked, he tells himself Batman must see this: in that right moment, one of the bodies takes him by the leg, screaming for help. Jason shoots him. As he struggles to focus, Jason gets hit from behind by the Comedian, who drags him away from the pool, mumbling about him being perfect for their plan, and also collecting Jason's helmet. Waking up, the Hood is bounded to a chair, naked. The Criminal starts speaking to him: once a petty thief, he was reborn as a Robin. Than, broken by a crowbar, he was reborn a second time, as the vigilante known as Red Hood. But things happen in threes: he will be reborn a third time. Just like him, he will change: before Batman he led Gotham's crime, but then...Jason explodes in anger, cutting the madman off and telling him he already shot the brains out of one of them, and he will be next. As an answer, the Criminal starts laughing, then stops, telling Jason that laughing hurts him. Jason tries to take something out of what the Criminal told him: could he be the original Joker?
The Criminal then tells him why he was taken as prisoner, as the Comedian puts the Red Hood helmet on Jason's head, now painted with a sadistic Joker smile: they are searching for someone to turn into a perfect, better version of the Joker to antagonize the Bat. All the victims they killed were tests for their final product, but they were not enough. But Jason, he could be the perfect candidate: they know he hates Batman and they know why he adopted the Red Hood alias. As a joke. But in the end, they decided that Jason is not good enough, after all. So he'll have to pass the opportunity: once the Criminal finished talking, the Comedian strikes Jason with a crowbar through his helmet.
Moments later, Barbara and Bruce find the place as well and enter inside. They are attacked by the people the Jokers bathed in the chemicals: after some struggles, they come out victorious and soon find Jason, unconscious and naked on the floor. Barbara is in shock while Bruce approaches him to check him out: Jason explodes against him, telling him to stay away as all that happened in his life is Batman's fault. In anger and despair, Barbara tries and succeeds in calming him. Jason just wants a safe place to stay in. Barbara takes him to her apartment and leaves him there to rest: Batgirl tries to make Bruce do something, but the Batman tells her Gotham is the priority now, as Jason is safe. As both leave, Jason finds Barbara's wheelchair and books about nerve damage and pain therapy. He looks into them.
After a while, Barbara comes back and enters the apartment, expecting Jason to be out of it. But the Red Hood is still there, taking a shower. Getting out of it, Jason confesses to Barbara he looked through his things, especially the pain therapy books. They agree about the fact there are a lot of similarities between them and their tragedy, and Barbara tells Jason she lived through a moment much similar to the one he's having right now. She wants to help him get better. As they look into each other's eyes, they kiss. Barbara then breaks the moment, telling Jason they are making a mistake. Meanwhile, Batman is investigating inside the Batcave about some missing persons files, while also observing a place in Alaska on the globe.
In Blackgate, the Comedian kidnaps Joe Chill, starting then to record his confession: why did Joe Chill murder Thomas and Martha Wayne?
Appearing in the 1st Story
- Doctor Phosphorous
- Jim Gordon (In a photograph only)
- Jeannie (First appearance) (Hallucination)
- Joker's unnamed son (First appearance) (Hallucination)
- Joker (The Clown) (Appears only as a corpse)
- Jokerized dogs
- Judge Walls (Appears only as a corpse)
- Martha Wayne (Flashback only)
- Rupert Thorne (First appearance)
- Thomas Wayne (Flashback only)
- Alfred Pennyworth (Mentioned only)
- Robin (Tim Drake) (Mentioned only)
- Gotham City (Flashback and main story)
- The prison cell numbers for Rupert Thorne and Dr. Phosphorus are 04691977 and 0197705, respectively. They refer to the characters' first appearances in Detective Comics #469, published in May 1977.
- Similarly, Joe Chill's prison cell number is 0331939. This refers to his first appearance in Detective Comics #33, published in 1939.