Inside the Batcave, Bruce, Barbara and Jason are investigating about the plan of the Three Jokers, who are trying to find people to transform in other versions of themselves. Jason also told Bruce and Barbara
Synopsis for the 1st Story
Inside the Batcave, Bruce, Barbara and Jason are investigating about the plan of the Three Jokers, who are trying to find people to transform in other versions of themselves. Jason also told Bruce and Barbara about the words of the Criminal: they want to create the perfect Joker, even if he does not know what they mean with that. One thing is sure though: the Red Hood wants to finish the job he started, killing the two remaining Jokers, as Batman is too weak to do it by himself. This enrages Batman, who tells Jason if he really believes that he never wanted to end Joker's life. He did desire that, many times, especially after what the monster did to both him and Barbara. As Red Hood and Batgirl argue about the role of Bruce in their lives, Batman tells Jason he will never understand why he chose not to kill the Joker.
Ending any kind of argument, Bruce wants to focus on the case: he analyzes the Three Jokers and the fact that each and every one of them played a role in his career. The Criminal reminds him of the first encounters he had with the madman, while the Clown brings up memories of cartoonish, macabre showmanship, like hiring Gaggy as court jester. And the Comedian, with a sadistic streak stronger than the others, linking him to the Joker he faced last. Batman thinks that one of those is the original, and than at some point in time he created the other two. Barbara though tells him that another option might be right: the Joker created these two recently, to better hide his identity. Batgirl hopes that in this confusion, they might finally discover the true name of the Joker. She asks Bruce if he has some more info about it to share, but Jason tells her that he would not say anything to them, and that he believes he knows far more about the Joker's true past. Batman though tells them that if he knew the Joker's real name, he would share it with them.
They get interrupted by an alarm, signaling something happened at Blackgate: they discover that the Joker kidnapped Joe Chill. While investigating inside his cell, Batman finds a group of handwritten letters that Chill wanted to send him, but never did. To know more, he needs to address Reverend Evans, who could tell him what was going on in the conscience of Chill. Talking with the reverend, Batman learns that Chill wrote the letters long before he got sick and that he really could have changed, feeling guilty for what he did that tragic night. Meanwhile, outside of Blackgate, Jason promises to Barbara he will never do what he did with the Clown again, because of her.
The three head to Monarch Theater, as inside the pack of letters Batman found one clearly inserted there by the Joker: inside a ticket for the Mask of Zorro, a clear reference to the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. As they enter, a video about the confession of why Chill murdered the Waynes starts being projected on the screen. As both Barbara and Jason are occupied with several Jokerized goons, Batman faces the Criminal alone: in the end, says the Criminal, he will face the Bat together with Joe Chill, on the scene of Batman's original tragedy. He also tells Batman he thought about turning one between Jason and Barbara in the new, perfect Joker. But they lack the characteristics needed to be the ultimate version of the Dark Knight's nemesis. So he picked the killer, Joe Chill. And that's because Chill matters more to Batman than the Joker himself: they can do anything to him, but they will never surpass the pain Chill caused him when he murdered his parents. So turning Joe into the Joker would make him the one that matters.
As Batgirl and Red Hood fend off the attacks of the Comedian, Batman saves Chill from falling into a chemical bath that would have turned him into another Joker, also kicking the Criminal out of the theater. Once again demonstrating his morale, Batman saves Chill another time from certain death, surprising the criminal: Joe knows who Batman is, and thinks that it would be right if he wanted to take his life. As the Criminal reappears, ready to blow off the explosives attached to himself, the Comedian shoots him in the head. And there was only one, exclaims the madman. What he wants now is some rest from this crazy, fun ride and so he asks Batman to take him in.
Batman took the Comedian, riding him to Arkham, while he told Jason to get back home with the Batmobile, enraging the Hood: after all, is this how it ends? Still, Jason once again approaches Barbara, telling her that he would like to be more than friends, but Batgirl says that Jason interprets what happened between them differently than her, and keeps her distance. As Jason leaves, Commissioner Gordon tells Batgirl she should not associate herself with someone like the Red Hood. Barbara, addressing him as dad, showing the fact Gordon clearly knows her identity, tells him that what people she hangs out with is none of his business.
Meanwhile, the Batman and the only remaining Joker are inside the transport to Arkham. They talk about what happened: the Joker tells him he knows who he is, Bruce Wayne, and he knows the names of Batgirl and Red Hood, too. Barbara Gordon and Jason Todd. But that this does not matter: he will never reveal their secret identities, because if he does Batman might end his career. He might stop being the Dark Knight. And that would ruin all the fun. Batman is tired, and asks him what does he truly want. The Joker answers him, telling he does not want what the other two desired. The Clown just wanted to see people suffer, laughing at them. How common, he comments. And the Criminal...that old man was so delusional. The whole idea of creating a perfect Joker, with an identity, pure dumbness. The Joker is mystery and chaos. The Comedian definitely regrets making him...or was it the other way around?
Batman wants the joke to end, so he asks for the punchline. But Joker tells him there's no joke this time around: the other two did not understand who he is. He's chaos, he's the devil, he's nothing and everything for Batman. He convinced them that Joe Chill would be the perfect Joker, because he understood he would never be able to commit a crime more tragic than what Chill did to Bruce. So he manipulated everyone, and obtained what he wanted: the Batman saved Joe Chill's life, and than forgave the poor old man as Bruce Wayne. So now, the Joker can be his worst pain! And he will be, time and time again, until they both die together.
Meanwhile, Barbara is in the gym, trying to keep her mind away from bad memories. A letter is taped on the door of her apartment. It's from Jason: inside it, he confesses to Barbara he always loved her, and that he's ready to even abandon the Red Hood identity for good, if it means having a chance at staying with her. But Barbara will never read that letter: as it falls, the janitor collects it with his broom, and the message disappears.
In the aftermath, Bruce visits Chill just before he dies, giving him comfort and forgiveness. He then travels to Alaska, and comes back to Gotham. Meeting with Alfred, he tells him that even if Jason killed them all, him and Barbara will not forget what happened to them. They never will. In Alaska, he tells Alfred, lives the Comedian's family. Batman knows the Comedian's name, he knew since the start, discovering one week after their first encounter. But his name is not important, because revealing it would lead him to them. To Jeannie and her son, who the Joker never knew. For their safety, the safety of a mother and her child, Bruce must keep the secret.
Appearing in the 1st Story
- Batman Family (Flashback and main story)
- Alfred Pennyworth
- Gotham City Police Department (Flashback and main story)
- Joe Chill (Flashback and main story) (Dies)
- Joker (The Comedian) (Flashback and main story)
- Joker (The Criminal) (Flashback and main story) (Dies)
- Gaggy (Flashback only)
- Jeannie (First full appearance) (Flashback and main story)
- Joker's unnamed son (First full appearance)
- Joker (The Clown) (Flashback and main story)
- Robin (Dick Grayson) (Flashback only)
- Reverend Evans (Single appearance)
- Martha Wayne (Mentioned only)
- Thomas Wayne (Mentioned only)
- Ethiopia (Flashback only)
- United States of America (Flashback and main story)