"The Joker's Five-Way Revenge!": The Joker has set himself free from the Mental Hospital for the Criminally Insane Batman had him incarcerated in, and he is out for blood. Before he was sent away, knowing that one member of his previous gang had
- His life is mine... I can crush the breath out of him... effortlessly! I can, at last, triumph! But such a hollow victory--! It was mere luck that caused my attack on him to succeed. I'd always envisioned my winning as a result of cunning... at the end of a bitter struggle between the Batman and Myself-- him using his Detective Skills and me employing the divine gift men call Madness!... No! Without the game that the Batman and I have played for so many years, winning is nothing! He shall live... until I can destroy him properly!
Synopsis for "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge!"
The Joker has set himself free from the Mental Hospital for the Criminally Insane Batman had him incarcerated in, and he is out for blood. Before he was sent away, knowing that one member of his previous gang had ratted him out to the police, he had vowed to murder all five of them; And only the Batman is capable of stopping him. Despite Batman's best efforts, the Joker is able to finish off nearly all of his hit list. Batman is only alerted after the first murder, when a grinning corpse is found in the mud just outside of Gotham City, and he goes to each of the former members of the Joker's gang individually to try to protect them.
The second member agrees to go into protective custody with Batman, but drinks from his water bucket right afterwards and is killed by Joker Venom it had been laced with. The third member is treated favorably by the Joker, and even believes the two of them to be on good terms when the Joker gives him a cigar before leaving his apartment. As the Joker walks out of the building, the cigar blows up the man's entire household.
Most interestingly, the fourth member of the gang believes Batman is only trying to bring him in for a mugging he recently committed, even after Batman tells him the story. He asks if Batman will lead the way because he's frightened, and then the second his back is turned bashes Batman over the head with a sap and runs back to his hideout. When Batman regains his composure enough to pursue, he finds the man already strung up by the neck, hanged from his rafters, and the Joker lying in ambush. Although the Joker is able to subdue the already disoriented Batman, he declines to kill him, because it was "mere chance that caused his attack on Batman to succeed," and he had "always envisioned his winning as a result of cunning at the end of a bitter struggle."
When Batman regains consciousness, he is able to deduce the location of the Joker's hideout by the strange mixture of sand and oil on his face where the Joker had kicked him. The Joker is hiding out in the aquarium right next to the beach, where there was very recently an oil spill. Batman tracks the Joker down, hoping to save the life of the last man, now a senior citizen confined to a wheelchair. Naturally, knowing Batman would find him, the Joker has the man poised over a giant tank of water with a shark inside, and agrees that he will let him go only if Batman takes his place. Batman is forced to agree, and after he is handcuffed, the Joker pushes both of them in. Thinking fast, Batman is actually able to subdue the shark using only his handcuffs, and to break the glass of the tank by bashing it with the wheelchair, saving the man's life and escaping in barely enough time to pursue the Joker. Batman runs out into the early dawn, and chases the Joker to his getaway car, but worries that in his current condition, after the lump on his head, the lack of air, and the night of running around Gotham; he won't be able to catch up to him in time. But the Joker slips on the oil slime of the beach right before reaching his escape, and Batman is able to catch up with him, and beat him silly.
As Batman drags Joker off into the sunrise, the Dark Knight finds irony in the fact that pollution was the element that helped him capture his most dangerous rival.
Appearing in "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge!"
- Philly Jack Barton (Appears only as a corpse)
- Packy White (Only appearance; dies)
- "Alby" (Only appearance; dies)
- Bigger Melvin (Only appearance; dies)
- Bing Hooley (Single appearance)
- A shark
- This issue is historically significant for the following reasons:
- It marks the Joker's return to his violent roots. After been portrayed as a mass murderer during the early years of the Golden Age, Joker was reduced to being an annoying prankster on the late years of the Golden Age and on his scarce appearances during the Silver Age. With this story, many elements of the Joker's original portrayal were updated and remain to the present day, a constant feature in the development of the character.
- This story also makes relevant the fact that criminals like the Joker are held in an unnamed mental hospital for the criminally insane. While some Golden Age stories also mentioned mental hospitals for the Joker and other villains, the idea had been largely forgotten during the entire Silver Age and the concept is first revisited in this issue. Arkham Asylum would make its first official appearance as the Arkham Hospital in Batman #258, only seven issues after this one.
- This issue also marks the permanent return of Batman's Rogues Gallery after several years of absence.
- "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge!" has been reprinted entirely and partially in the following releases:
- Batman #254 and #255 (Reprint of page 21)
- The Best of DC #2
- The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told
- Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol 3
- Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told
- The Joker: A Celebration of 75 Years
- Facsimile Edition: Batman #251 (A full reprint of the issue by DC, coinciding with the release of the movie Joker).
- The Joker: 80 Years of the Clown Prince of Crime: The Deluxe Edition.
- The Joker's last appearance before this was four years earlier in Justice League of America #77.
- The third act of this story was partially and loosely adapted in the 1993 episode "The Laughing Fish" from Batman: The Animated Series.
- Joker Recommended Reading
- The Joker (Volume 1)
- The Joker (Volume 2)
- Batman: The Killing Joke
- Batman: The Man Who Laughs
- "Batman: Lovers and Madmen"
- "Batman: A Death in the Family"
- Joker: Devil's Advocate
- Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth
- "The Joker's Last Laugh"
- "Superman: Emperor Joker"
- "Superman/Batman: With a Vengeance!"
- The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told
- Joker (graphic novel)
- Batman Recommended Reading
- Batman (Volume 1)
- Batman (Volume 2)
- Batman (Volume 3)
- Batman and Robin (Volume 1)
- Batman and Robin (Volume 2)
- Batman Confidential (Volume 1)
- Batman: Gotham Knights (Volume 1)
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight (Volume 1)
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat (Volume 1)
- Batman: Streets of Gotham (Volume 1)
- Batman Incorporated (Volume 1)
- Batman Incorporated (Volume 2)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 2)
- Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 1)
- Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 2)
- The Brave and the Bold (Volume 1)
- Detective Comics (Volume 1)
- Detective Comics (Volume 2)
- Superman/Batman (Volume 1)
- World's Finest (Volume 1)