- I made a promise on the grave of my parents that I would rid this city of the evil that took their lives. Tonight... I nearly became a part of that evil...
- — Batman
Synopsis for "Hush, Part Seven: The Joke"
Batman flies into a rage and begins pummeling the Joker. The Joker keeps muttering the word, "Stop", but Batman isn't listening to him. Harley Quinn tries to sneak up behind him with her signature mallet, but Batman sidesteps the blow, and Harley accidentally smashes the Joker's arm with the hammer. Batman gives Harley a kick to the gut to get her out of the way, then continues to beat on the Joker. Images of Barbara Gordon, Jason Todd and Sarah Essen flash through his mind – all victims of the Joker.
Catwoman, slowed by the bullet lodged in her shoulder, attempts to restrain Batman with her whip. She recognizes the look in the Dark Knight's eyes, and realizes that he plans on killing the Joker. Batman swings about punching Catwoman in her wounded shoulder. The shock from the pain causes her to slump over, but Batman can't stop from killing the Joker because he thinks about the idea of Catwoman being Joker's next victim and he can't stand the thought of it.
As Batman continues to wail on the Joker, former police commissioner James Gordon shows up behind him. He draws his weapon and fires two warning shots, telling Batman to calm down and think it through. Gordon is horrified as he realizes Batman already has thought it through. He coaxes Batman away from the Joker, reminding him that he is about to cross a line that can never be forgiven, and that if Batman becomes a killer, Gordon will lead the hunt for Batman himself. Shocked that the only other man who could want the Joker dead more than Batman himself wants him to live, Batman calms down, and the Joker keeps repeating that he is innocent.
From a rooftop high above, the man whose face is covered in bandages witnesses the event while flipping a scarred silver dollar in his hand. Talking to himself, he admits that the Joker was actually innocent in the death of Tommy Elliot.
Appearing in "Hush, Part Seven: The Joke"
- Batman (Flashback and main story)
- Barbara Gordon (Flashback and main story)
- Jason Todd (Flashback only)
- Sarah Essen-Gordon (Flashback only)
- This issue is reprinted in the Batman: Hush Vol 2, Batman: Hush and The Joker: 80 Years of the Clown Prince of Crime: The Deluxe Edition trade paperbacks.
- Clayface appears as Thomas Elliot's corpse in this issue. This fact is not revealed until Batman #619.
- Hush makes a brief appearance at the end of this issue. He is seen flipping a scarred silver dollar - the trademark of the villain known as Two-Face. Issue #615 reveals that this is in fact Harvey Dent and not Hush.
- Flashbacks involving some of the Joker's more notable crimes include: crippling Barbara Gordon in Batman: The Killing Joke, killing Jason Todd in Batman #428 in A Death in the Family, and murdering Sarah Essen-Gordon in Detective Comics #741 during the No Man's Land story arc.
- The tagline for this issue is "Punch Line". Contextually the phrase has a double meaning, as a "punchline" is the end of a joke, and also because Batman punches the Joker during the course of this issue.