"Endgame, Part Two": Batman is still plagued by nightmares of his own death, thanks to the Scarecrow's Cassandra Strain of Fear Toxin. What he fears most, though, is that when the real end comes, all he will hear is cold, empt
Appearing in "Endgame, Part Two"
- Eric Border (revealed to be The Joker)
- Justice League (Controlled by Joker)
- King Croc (Hallucination)
- Harvey Dent (Mentioned only)
- Scarecrow (Mentioned only)
- Lincoln March (Mentioned only)
- Neo-Talons (Mentioned only)
- Ray Palmer (Mentioned only)
- Gotham City
- A.R.G.U.S. Headquarters (Mentioned only)
Synopsis for "Endgame, Part Two"
Batman is still plagued by nightmares of his own death, thanks to the Scarecrow's Cassandra Strain of Fear Toxin. What he fears most, though, is that when the real end comes, all he will hear is cold, empty laughter.
Laughter is exactly what he hears now, as Superman threatens to crush him to death, affected by Joker Venom. He tries to reach out to Superman's human side, but there is nothing. Realizing that he won't get through, he braces himself to fight for his life. Thanks to Dr. Ray Palmer, Bruce has shrunk down red suns collected from dead solar systems, and embedded them within the fists of his protective suit, knowing that it will give him a needed edge in trying to beat the Joker out of his friend. When Superman sees that Bruce has accounted for all of his possible attacks, he attacks the building behind him, and causes it to collapse on top of Batman. Clearly, the lines that Superman would never cross have been erased by this toxin.
Superman grabs Batman up out of the rubble and carries him high above Gotham, tearing the suit from Bruce's body, piece by piece. Desperately, Bruce begs Clark to listen to him, and shake off the venom. Through his giggles, Superman relays a message: Beg. Grimly, Batman spits in Superman's eye. The sputum contains a synthetic polymer laced with Kryptonite dust - a Kryptonite gum. As Superman loses consciousness, they drop into the ocean, and Bruce muses that in a fight, neither of them wins.
Later, in the Batcave, Bruce analyzes the venom in the League's systems and determines that it is a more vicious version of the original that seems tailored to each individual member. The Joker had planned this. The League will be spending the next four or five days recovering at A.R.G.U.S. with an anti-toxin. This effectively makes the planet vulnerable during that time. The Joker must be planning something big, and for that reason, Bruce intends to see both Alfred and Julia Pennyworth into hiding. Angrily, Alfred reminds that when the Joker attacks Batman, he attacks his family, and he refuses to sit by in hiding. Bruce agrees to let him stay, so long as he rests. He still hasn't recovered from his own experience with Fear Toxin.
Julia insists on staying as well, seeking to ensure that the Joker is broken for what he did to her father. She suggests that they look for opportunities they Joker might have had to poison the League all at once, and Bruce realizes that it must have been at the dedication of the Gotham Children's Hospital the month before. Where he will attack next, Bruce isn't sure, but if their last encounter was any indication, the Joker's delusion that he and Batman are friends has shifted to a dynamic of friends turned to enemies.
In the ruins of Arkham Asylum, Batman searches for clues, after finding none at the Children's Hospital. He admits to himself that this is the place he hates most in all of Gotham - even over Crime Alley. And within the asylum, his most hated place is cell 0801 - the Joker's cell. He wonders if it's a coincidence that the eighth and first letters of the alphabet spell out Ha. Stepping into the cell, he angrily tears the chain holding up the dirty cot from the wall, attracting the attention of Eric Border, who is still at the asylum, despite the move to Wayne Manor. Border explains that when he first arrived in Gotham, he'd wanted nothing more than to help. He'd wanted to help Batman - until he saw that there was nothing he could do for him. Batman doesn't see a helping hand, even when it's right in his face. Suddenly, Eric shuts the cell door on Batman, and locks it shut.
He turns to Batman and marvels that he doesn't recognize him - after all, he has a new face. He'd gone to great efforts to hide in place sight. He'd thought maybe, though, that Batman would have caught on to the clue in his name. Eric comes from proto-Norse words meaning "Eternal Prince," while "Border" comes from the obsolete Bourder - a word for Jester. All this time - for nearly a year - Eric Border has been the Joker.
He releases a paralytic gas, and taunts Batman by waving the remains of his old face in front of him, explaining that before, the game he'd set up was done out of care. It was meant to have a happy ending - but it was ruined. So, this time, things will be different. He punctuates this by comically stretching the grotesque face into a frown. In his paralysis, Batman will be unable to stop the numerous infections he has planned for Gotham City. there will be no more games or jokes from here on. He is burning all of the bridges between them. Working together has become boring - perhaps because he knows Batman too well. The irony, though, is that Batman knows so little about him. But one thing he can be assured of is that when all of this is over, everyone in Gotham will be laughing at Batman. Pulling out a revolver, the Joker fires.
Appearing in "Saved"
- Joker (Flashback only)
- Aaron Doe
Synopsis for "Saved"
Inside a Chinese restaurant in Gotham, Dr. Mahreen Zaheer demands to know what she is meant to do next now that she has followed Ephram Snow's instructions to go into the city. The Joker's venom infection has already begun spreading through the city outside, but they have been instructed to wait until it has spread further. In the meantime, Cordelia Doe tells the story she was told to tell.
She had once lived happily with her husband Aaron, who was a banker. His smile had made her fall in love with him, and they'd had three wonderful children. One day, though, Aaron came home different, and she knew he wasn't himself anymore. He was something else. When she heard her husband and children laughing without her, she knew that he had put machines inside of them as well, and they were laughing to vent the last remaining emotions they had. To free them, she stabbed them all to death, thinking the blood and flesh she'd seen was just testament to how advanced the technology of these replacements was. She'd found computer chips inside of them, but the doctors at Arkham insisted that the chips were figments of her imagination. But the Joker had revealed inside the asylum that he was responsible for the transformation of her family.
It's clear enough to Mahreen that the Joker was just playing upon her companion's deluded fantasies, but Ephram insists that he showed them the truth. Unexpectedly, the two employees at the restaurant become infected with the Joker's venom, and soon, the restaurant is overwhelmed by its victims.
- This book was first published on November 12, 2014.
- This issue is reprinted in the Batman: Endgame collection.
- The events of this story take place after those of Batman Eternal.
- This issue was in the December 2014 Lootcrate box.
- The Lootcrate issue's cover art by artist Greg Capullo is drawn as a homage to the cover art of the album Vulgar Display of Power by Pantera.
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