- The invitation did say it was a surprise party. And what kind of host would I be... if I didn't have a little something extra for the worst of the bat-fakes? The one that makes my Batman the weakest.
- — Joker
Synopsis for "Curtain Call"
Nightwing is convinced that the Joker knows who he and the Bat-Family really are, such that he murdered Jimmy Clark and Raya Vestri in an effort to torture him - Dick Grayson. Though Dick managed to get the rest of Haly's Circus out of Gotham City, the Joker left him a message carved into Raya's stomach, inviting him to a party at the circus; at Amusement Mile. What's worse, Sonia Branch has called twice since he ran out of her apartment after being flooded with memories of his parents' murder when she kissed him.
Upon arriving at Amusement Mile, Nightwing hears the Joker's voice over the speaker system, admiring what has been done with the place since he was last there. He admits that it isn't the circus folk he's after, and directs Nightwing deeper into the amusement park. As Nightwing follows signs painted around the park, Joker explains through the PA system how he cannot understand why Nightwing would try to set up shop in Gotham again after having given up the role of Robin years ago; after he had been given everything by Batman, and rejected it. It is uncharacteristic of him, the Joker says, to be building a nest in Gotham. Nightwing should be flying free.
After following the signs into a football field, Nightwing is disturbed to see numerous corpses - all former members of Haly's Circus - propped up in the grass. The Joker laughs that that was a bit theatrical, even for him. Nightwing spots him leaning against one of the corpses and angrily throws his batarangs at him, worrying that no matter how hard he tries, the Joker will find those he loves and torture them. In response, the Joker detonates a bomb that fills the stadium with Joker Gas. Though Nightwing manages to attach his rebreather, he is soon sent hurtling out the doors by another explosive blast, followed by yet another. Soon, it becomes clear that the Joker is actually trying to destroy Amusement Mile, not kill him - at least, not yet.
Battered and affected by the toxin, Nightwing is plagued by hallucinations of both Raya and Jimmy, who mock him for failing to save their lives. Unwilling to hear any more of their jibes, he leaps up and throttles the Joker, knocking him to the ground and landing several heavy punches into the madman's grinning face. Through his bloody teeth, the Joker laughs that he hasn't even finished his joke, yet. After all, it is a surprise party. Grabbing a screwdriver from his tool belt, he thrusts the metal point into Nightwing's thigh, and kicks him away, arguing that Nightwing is the Bat-Fake that makes Batman the weakest. Having put all of his faith into his relationships with people, he has set himself up for a let down. For example, the entire population of Haly's Circus, who are now affected by Joker Venom - even little Christina Sorrano.
Under Joker's control, the circus folk attack Nightwing, and he falls unconscious. He wakes eventually, being dragged by the ankles by the Joker. He loses consciousness again, and wakes some time later to see the Joker bearing a blood-stained dinner platter.
Appearing in "Curtain Call"
- Joker says in this issue that he hates Nightwing the most out of all of Batman's allies.