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Following the reveal of Superman's identity and the liberation of Gotham City from Bane, one of Joker's thugs suggested revealing Batman's (secretly the billionaire Bruce Wayne) identity to the world to finally bring h

"The Joker War" is a Batman Family crossover storyline conceived by James Tynion IV. It was published as part of his Batman run. Tie-ins were also published, mostly as part of Nightwing, Red Hood, Batgirl and Catwoman titles. It follows the conclusion of Tom King's run and Tynion's Their Dark Designs storyline.

Synopsis

Prelude

Following the reveal of Superman's identity and the liberation of Gotham City from Bane, one of Joker's thugs suggested revealing Batman's (secretly the billionaire Bruce Wayne) identity to the world to finally bring him down. The Joker bashed his head in for even thinking this, as this would mean he wouldn't be able to torture and play his games with Bruce any longer. Soon however, he realized this would actually be fun.[1] He however didn't really want to kill his long-time nemesis, rather switch roles by becoming the protector of Gotham and turning him into the new Joker, after making the city lose faith in him.[2]

Soon after, Harvey Dent, the criminal with the split-personality known as "Two Face", started becoming more unstable due to Joker manipulating him with the microchip Hugo Strange placed in his brain long ago. Meanwhile Joker also revived Lincoln March in order to make him fight Batman, who had learnt about how Harvey was being manipulated from Strange as well as Vice and Versa. As Batman and Two-Face battled, Lincoln intervened along with the revived Talons, who assaulted Harvey's Church of the Two as well. Harvey successfully destroyed the Talons using Jim Gordon's Rookie armor, before it was immobilized by Batman, who dug out the microchip and bullet causing his split-personality.[3]

Joker also secretly hired various assassins to create trouble for Batman and crafted the narrative of the master criminal called the "Designer" being alive. As Catwoman tried to take away Bruce's money and stash it away in a safe location, in order to stop the Designer from stealing it, the Underbroker and Joker's new ally Punchline revealed that she had already been set up, so they could get the codes to Bruce's accounts, before she was shot. Harley Quinn, who had accompanied Catwoman to the Underbroker's lair, also had her throat cut by Punchline, but managed to save herself.[4][5]

Joker also went after Batman's ally and former sidekick Dick Grayson, who had been amnesiac since being shot by KGBeast and had his memories manipulated by the Court of Owls. Using the crystal the Court wanted to turn him to their side, he brainwashed him into believing that he had been taken in by the Joker after his alcoholic and abusive parents' death, consistently waging war on Batman alongside him thereafter.[6]

After Batman uncovered that the Designer was nothing more than a corpse being controlled like a zombie by the Joker, he was stabbed in the femoral artery by Deathstroke, who had pretended to act as his ally after the Designer betrayed his contract. Batman had earlier knocked Deathstroke out with tranquilizers, though unknown to him, he had recovered by the time he finished battling the Designer. Lucius Fox rescued him, but he soon uncovered that Catwoman had been taken out of action, while his money was stolen. Going after her to rescue her, he found that she had run away and Joker's men confronted him, forcing him to flee from their heavy gunfire.[7]

The war begins

Kidnapping Lucius, Joker injected him with a modified Joker Venom, making him hand over the codes to all of Batman's weapons and unleashing chaos on the city with his goons. He also gained control of the city and went for Bruce's ally Batgirl, who was secretly Barbara Gordon. Using a device to control the implant allowing her to walk, he demanded that she tell her the access codes of the computers in the Batcave. Batgirl however dug out her implant, before driving a rod through his back, though he survived and fled. She was soon escued by her brother James Gordon, Jr.[8]

Joker was regardless now the owner of Wayne Enterprises and its new representative Underbroker claimed to the public that Bruce Wayne had been funding Batman, before demanding that he return all the technology he had acquired through Wayne's help. Going later to the Monarch Theater where Bruce had watched The Mark of Zorro, Joker stuffed it with corpses made to look like him with Joker Venom and controlled with the Designer's formula, in order to mentally assault Batman, who was ambushed by Punchline while entering his secret hideout. She surprised him with the reveal of a shiny idealistic Batsuit created by his dead father-figure Alfred Pennyworth and meant to be only given to him when he left his dark life behind, before pumping the cave with modified Joker Venom, incapacitating him.[9]

Red Hood arrived in Gotham after hearing about the chaos there. Making Joker's goons follow him to Ma Gunn's School for Boys, he rigged it to blow and take out as many of them as possible. While battling them, he heard noises of someone being beaten with a crowbar, which is how he was himself killed by the Joker in past before being revived. Rushing to its location, he found that Punchline was being beaten by Duela Dent, but was ambushed by a masked Dick Grayson. As the two fought, Punchline knocked him out by hitting him from behind with her crowbar and the two dragged him outside, while planting another woman's corpse to make him think that Duela had been killed.[10]

Batman, who had been experiencing hallucinations after being struck by Joker Venom, was rescued by Harley. Joker bought up all the cinemas in Gotham and started paying people to see The Mark of Zorro, in order to turn them into zombified versions of himself. Going to the Monarch Theater, he was confronted with the corpses Joker had stuffed them with and was forced to burn it down in order to escape the mass-assault. Harley took him to Poison Ivy's hideout as he was still in a delirious state from the Joker Venom and gave him a medicinal tea to cure him. Punchline soon assaulted the two, but Batman recovered in time to knock her out, before deciding to call the Batman Family for support.[11]

Meanwhile, the assault of Joker's thugs while the GCPD did next to nothing to help and the Batman Family was nowhere to be seen, encouraged people to take the law into their own hands, particularly in the Gotham Narrows where the vigilante called Clownhunter had killed many of Joker's thugs after getting disillusioned with Batman's ways. Joker personally sent a hit squad of four men to eliminate him, but he succeeded in killing all of them and earned the support of the people of the Narrows.[12] Batman would soon liberate Lucius from the grip of Joker's thugs at Wayne Tower with the help of Batwoman.[13]

When Joker's thugs destroyed the Monstertown hotel owned by Killer Croc, he ran back to the city's sewers. There, he found a bunch of criminals hiding from the war and planning on taking over Gotham when it was over. They soon started drowning in the toxic waste from Ace Chemical Processing Plant, dumped in the sewers after Joker's goons attacked the facility, but he rescued them. They were however turned into animal-like monsters and Croc decided to build his new Monstertown with the chemicals, by kidnapping people and turning them. Batman soon discovered this, and also that the waste was slowly killing them, before defeating them all and bringing them in for treatment.[14] He next went into a Wayne Enterprises facility and took away the Black Casebook from there, evading Joker's traps. The traps however resulted in police officer Christopher Nakano losing his left eye and partner.[15]

Dick's girlfriend Bea Bennett meanwhile called to Batgirl for help after she noticed him acting strange ever since his encounter with the Joker. Growing concerned after learning what had happened, Barbara tried to track him down, but Dick caught up to her instead and attacked her in concert with Punchline. The two soon knocked her out and forced her to fight him in a ring for the entertainment of Joker's clowns. She however successfully escaped, while Punchline called Red Hood and Tim Drake, pretending to be her and claiming Joker's thugs were going to assault the children's hospital dedicated to Alfred. As Dick turned on his allies and fought them, Batgirl stole the memory crystal from Joker. Bea grabbed it after Barbara dropped it during the fight and used it to restore Dick's memory, making the Joker flee.[16]

Catwoman soon convinced the Riddler and the Penguin to help her steal Bruce's money back as well as that of every other criminal after recovering from her wounds, in exchange for receiving part of it. Infiltrating Underbroker's business front, she however transferred all the money to Lucius Fox instead, hoping it'll be put to better use, and escaped to Gotham City East End, in order to hide from the Penguin and the Riddler, whom she had betrayed and robbed as well.[17] Joker's gang later came after Lucius and his family, but Batwing soon neutralized all of them with the help of Lucius.[12]

Batman later assembled his allies who dealt with Joker's thugs, while he went to Ace Chemicals to confront Joker himself, but soon came upon a zombified corpse of Alfred, which he was greatly startled by, as well as Joker wearing the shiny Batsuit Alfred had made for him. Joker shot at the tanks as he tried saving Alfred from harm, and Batman was drenched in the chemicals which made the Joker himself. As he escaped to a higher platform with Alfred, he was soon stabbed by the Joker. The two fought as Batman bought time for the Bat-Family to arrive, but the Joker detonated explosives he had placed in the facility after being overpowered. As Bruce tried to rescue Alfred, he was repeatedly stabbed by the Joker, but again managed to overpower him. The Joker soon pounced at him in order to turn him into a new Joker, but was shot through the eye by Harley, who strapped herself and him with explosives. Forcing Batman to choose who to save, she ran away, and Batman soon left him to die.[2]

Aftermath

Batman rescued Harley in time and took her to a hospital after she was hurt by the explosives. He was however unable to find any proof that the Joker had died, before deciding to rebury Alfred along with the Bat-Family, as he had been killed in the explosion of the plant. The Joker however had indeed survived and decided to leave Gotham City, killing a man in a bar and making him look like him in order to fool the police. Punchline meanwhile manipulated the public opinion, in order to avoid a harsh sentence, and Batman went to Clownhunter's home, telling him to seek professional help from Leslie Thompkins and warning that he will stop his violent vigilantism himself if he refused.[2]

The war also invited repercussions for Batman, who had promised to be better than before. The Ghost-Maker, a former friend who had trained alongside Bruce in past, had watched how this whole war tore Gotham up. Deeming him to be a massive failure whom their teachers would be ashamed of, he decided to head to Gotham to become the city's new protector and fight Batman.[2] Remnants of the Joker's gang however kept attacking people for a while even after the defeat of their boss, making the Bat-Family intervene.[18]

Realizing he needed to change his old ways which won't work any longer, Batman asked Catwoman to get used to his new reality and to grow accustomed of protecting Gotham in new ways. Catwoman understood and gave him a year to figure it out, before they made permanent decisions about how they should be together.[19] The Ghost-Maker soon struck at Joker's loyalists called "Grinners", a gang of crazed psychopaths still active after the war, at their headquarters called the "Smile Bar". He killed every Grinner there to send a message to Batman. This led to Batman chasing after him and a showdown between the two.[20]

The war also led to a rise in resentment against masked people, both vigilantes and criminals, in Gotham. Most prominent among the people rallying to the anti-vigilante cause was a group called the "Gargoyle Hunters", led by the Mirror. Members engaged in sabotaging the Batman Family and attacking them. Nakano, who had retired from the police, stood in the mayoral elections on an anti-vigilante platform and promised to outlaw masked vigilantes, gaining support from many of its citizens.[21]

Issues

Journey to... the Joker War

The Joker War

The Joker War: Collateral Damage

Tie-ins


Recommended Reading

Links and References


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Batman Family Storyline
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