"Batman: Endgame, Part Five": Batman confronts the Court of Owls, to ask about the lead he got from Dr. Paul Dekker, suggesting that there was once a mining project in Gotham hundreds of years ago, which had hoped to collect the miner
- So yes, it's a bad plan. Anyone has a better one, I'm all ears. No? Then the bottom line is this: It's our city. All of ours. And we need to take it back from him, now, together, or it's over. For all of us. Forever. So tell me... who's in?!
- — Batman
Synopsis for "Batman: Endgame, Part Five"
Batman confronts the Court of Owls, to ask about the lead he got from Dr. Paul Dekker, suggesting that there was once a mining project in Gotham hundreds of years ago, which had hoped to collect the mineral Dionesium. He suspects that the Court funded that project, and that Dionesium is a component of the Electrum they use to bring the Talons back to life. A representative of the Court admits that what they'd found back then was a corrupted version of the mineral - it was not nearly as pure as what's in the Joker's blood.
Angrily, Batman warns that the Joker will burn the city to the ground, and they will all die if he isn't stopped. Nonchalantly, the Court responds that they will let him burn Gotham down. From its ashes will rise a new, purer city. Their representative gestures upward to a model of the city, carved into a rock, and suspended by a rope over their heads, upside-down. The Court's representative explains that they build these models upside down to remind them that they are beneath Gotham - it is greater than any one of them. Frustrated, Batman tosses an explosive batarang and destroyed it, sending the Court running.
Instead of leaving, though, Batman turns and challenges the waiting Talon who intends to carry out the Court's sentence of death upon him. Defending himself, Batman responds that he will not die today. He recognizes his executioner as Uriah Boone - one of the first Talons, dating back to before the city was what it is today. He demands to know just one thing: was the Joker in Gotham four hundred years ago, when Boone was active?
Later, Batman emerges from the sewers, having survived his battle with the Talon. He must admit that he had taught himself not to believe in death. The last time he had really believed he might die was when he was thirteen years old, and falling into the darkness of what would become the Batcave. Reporting back to Julia Pennyworth, he learns that something terrible had happened in his absence. The Joker had swum his way into the Batcave, and attempted to retrieve the Red Hood. He was caught in the act by Alfred, who fired at him with his shotgun. The Joker leapt into a shadow, grinning as he taunted Alfred by comparing him to the disloyal character of the fool in King Lear. Before Alfred knew what had happened, the Joker chopped off his hand with a meat cleaver. Fortunately, Julia clued in to what had happened from her remote location in the new downtown Batcave, and locked Alfred safely in the Armory. Still, the Joker stole a number of trophies from the cave.
Suddenly, a video broadcast begins playing on every screen in the city - a live feed from downtown, where the Joker has put on a parade, creating floats out of the mementos stolen from the cave. The Joker's speech is littered with hints referring to his lumbar and spinal cord - taunting Batman, daring him to come and take the Dionesium from his spine.
Batman is aware that his enemies have a secret pact, that when he dies, they will shine the Bat-Signal over Gotham City, from the roof of the Ace Chemical plant - upside-down in memoriam. Today, Batman has the privilege of seeing that come to pass. As it shines nearby, Batman explains his plan to his skeptical allies. Whatever happens, they need to collect the Dionesium from the Joker in order to synthesize a cure. Therefore, he has equipped his four allies with gas-masks - but it will not just be them fighting alongside him. By lighting the upside-down bat-signal, he has called some of his greatest enemies to them. Though they are confused as to what they're doing there, Batman explains that he needs them to act as back-up so that after he gets the sample from the Joker's spine, he can make it out alive without being mobbed by the infected crowds. If his enemies don't see that the Joker's victory means the end for them as well as the Batman Family - they are fools. Reluctantly, they accept that while it is a bad plan, it is their only plan.
Watching them fight their way toward him from atop his float, the Joker grins and promises to deliver his best trick of all.
Appearing in "Batman: Endgame, Part Five"
- Batman Family
- Poison Ivy
- Mister Freeze
- Killer Croc
Synopsis for "The Last Smile"
Having made their way down into the sewers of Gotham City, the escaped Arkham Asylum prisoners lead Dr. Mahreen Zaheer into an elevator, which leads them to the Marquis Publishing Group offices - with which Mahreen is uncomfortably familiar. As it happens, this is where Mahreen sealed her book deal on the Joker's life story. Grinning, Mrs. Chen explains that she doesn't have a story to tell like the others - that's the joke. Now it's Mahreen's turn to tell her story.
Unlike their patently false tales, Mahreen believes hers is true, developed from years of difficult research. The Joker grew up as William Distal, shifting between six different foster homes after he was abandoned by his parents - she talked to the parents. He was a bully, and would manipulate other children against each other. When he was sixteen, he ran away to the Narrows. During the Zero Year, he faked his death so that he could shape his own story and become something new.
The inmates are enraged by what they believe are lies, having been led to believe that the Joker was the key to their salvation. Sensing their animosity, Mahreen runs and locks herself in a room. Desperately, she tries to call Eric Border, when she is surprised to hear his voice from behind her. She turns to see that it is not Eric, but the Joker - realizing finally that they were always the same man. He grins, reminding her of how she'd showed him the ropes when he first showed up at Arkham as Eric. How she grew to trust him enough to show him her manuscript. When he saw all of the blanks in the story she had, he took pity on her, and helped her fill them in. All the same - what he'd told her had only been a story - the story she wanted to hear. He had done the same with all of them. They'd wanted to know the truth about him, and he'd told them the story they wanted to hear.
The Joker passes Mahreen a revolver with five bullets. He explains that he is leaving the choice up to her as to which of the six stories is true. Only one can survive. Tearfully, Mahreen challenges that none of the stories are true. The Joker tosses her a sixth bullet for herself, if that's how she wants to play it. Knowing that she doesn't have time to kill him, he disappears, and worriedly, Mahreen watches as the door bursts open, and six shots are fired.
Appearing in "The Last Smile"
- Mahreen Zaheer (Apparent Death)
- Cassidy (Apparent Death)
- Cordelia Doe (Apparent Death)
- Ephram Snow (Apparent Death)
- Morton Wales (Apparent Death)
- Chen (Apparent Death)
- Gotham City (Flashback and main story)
- This issue is reprinted in the Batman: Endgame collection.