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"Their Dark Designs, Part 6": The Joker is sitting, talking to a bartender. He's explaining to him that everyone tells the story the way they lived, or understood, it. Most of the time it's full of lies. He's going to tell him how it went: one day, four crooks were invite

Quote1.png I've spent my career using my wealth and power to fight costumed madmen. And they keep coming back, over and over! I keep needing to make bigger and more frightening weapons just to keep you people down! You know who I am. You know how it started... in an alley with a mugger and a gun... and I changed to stop that... and the muggers changed too... You always come back with a bigger gun. Quote2.png

Batman (Volume 3) #91 is an issue of the series Batman (Volume 3) with a cover date of May, 2020. It was published on March 18, 2020.

Synopsis for "Their Dark Designs, Part 6"

The Joker is sitting, talking to a bartender. He's explaining to him that everyone tells the story the way they lived, or understood, it. Most of the time it's full of lies. He's going to tell him how it went: one day, four crooks were invited by the Devil himself to eat with him, at the same devil. He was amused by their sins, and wanted to give them a boon. One by one he asked them what they wanted, and he would tell them how to obtain just that.

The first crook was an old fat bird. He wanted to be king, and so the Devil gave him the numbers of the best killers in the country, to kill or the rulers of the nation he wanted to control. Replacing them would grant the bird his throne. The second crook was a mad, crooked man. He wanted to be the wisest around, and so the Devil gave him a game to play with the best scholars around, leading the others to death while only the mad man survived, making him the wisest. The third crook was a thieving cat. She wanted to be the richest in town. The Devil gave her the keys to all the vaults of the most wealthy men in the nation, so she would rob them all, keeping the diamonds for herself.

Then came the fourth. He was a jester, and he was laughing all the time. Only he understood what the Devil truly was doing: tricking the bird, he would get rid of every powerful man in the nation. Tricking the crooked man, he would eliminate all the wise men in the nation. And tricking the cat, he would waste all the possessions of the richest men in the nation. Then, he would claim the city for himself, and himself only. So when the Devil asked the jester what he wanted, he answered a simple desire: to become himself the Devil. Then, he killed the Devil himself, taking his place. Leaving the bartender with some context to better understand his next series of jokes, the Joker started to move, asking for some information to his new sidekick. This time, he will bring the house down, and right on Batman's head.

The Diamond District, Gotham City

Batman knows the Designer is targeting him. Since his coming of age, Bruce Wayne dedicated himself to the war against crime. His mind, his body, his soul tools for the war, sharpened year after year, experience after experience. It is like a melody well played, ringing in his ears. But the Designer, he knows how to play this kind of music, too. And he's playing it fast and loud, overwhelming the Batman's sensing to hide a pattern of secret notes. Batman knows what his weakness now is: he's trapped in his usual way of thinking, something the Designer of course knows. His enemy is playing notes matching the way he approaches the war, and that's the danger: he won't see it coming. So, Batman needs to step out of his mind and change pattern, provoking dissonance, getting his enemy to act too fast, too soon in response of a sudden change. And his first step towards this is to take out Deathstroke once and for all.

Inside Nygma's former lair, Catwoman and Harley start moving out to help Batman. They soon discover that the three killers caged there escaped, thanks to the Designer who appears on screens all around Selina and Harley. The initial part of his masterplan, the part initially developed to make Cobblepot mayor of Gotham, was just some ruckus to get Batman busy. And then, the Designer tells her, Catwoman played her part perfectly, telling Batman what was her part in the plan and making him react just like he predicted: he's now trying to escape his cliches to outthink him. And it fits perfectly: it will allow the Designer to move his final pieces, and start the games.

Meanwhile, Bruce is trying to make an ally out of Slade, explaining his intentions. He knows that his actions only encouraged masked villains to become bolder, stronger, meaner. He knows that probably he produced more fear in the citizens of Gotham than anyone else. But he wants to change, starting with changing the city of Gotham itself, rebuilding it to be a city of light. Bruce wants Slade to care for this, and help him find the Designer. As Slade refuses, Batman throws himself, tied with Deathstroke, from his plane. Meanwhile, Selina triggers the explosives inside Eddie's lair, blowing it up and saving both herself and Harley from an horde of dead toxic zombies controlled by the Designer himself. Harley asks her what the plan is: Selina, in the past, practically told the Designer how to steal more money than anyone ever stole in a single heist. He's going to do it soon, but she must do it first and Harley will help her doing just that.

In the end, Bruce must surrender to the fact Slade never knew where the Designer was, as the mastermind never gave him even an hint. Saving both his and Slade's lives, they end up staring to a giant screen with the face of the Designer upon it. He tells Slade his role in the plan is over, and the contract is officially terminated. And then he reveals that Eddie was together with him since the start, and he's ready to make his presence felt, as his turn to play approaches.

Appearing in "Their Dark Designs, Part 6"

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