- His life is mine... I can crush the breath out of him... effortlessly! I can, at last, triumph! But such a hollow victory--! It was mere luck that caused my attack on him to succeed. I'd always envisioned my winning as a result of cunning... at the end of a bitter struggle between the Batman and Myself-- him using his Detective Skills and me employing the divine gift men call Madness!... No! Without the game that the Batman and I have played for so many years, winning is nothing! He shall live... until I can destroy him properly!
- -- The Joker's Thoughts
Appearing in "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge!"
- The Joker's Former Gang (Single appearance)
- Philly Jack Barton
- Packy White
- Bigger Melvin
- Bing Hooley
- A shark
Synopsis for "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge!"
The Joker has set himself free from the last institution Batman had him incarcerated in, and he is out for blood. Before he was sent away, knowing that one member of his previous gang had ratted him out to the police, he had vowed to murder all five of them; And only the Batman is capable of stopping him. Despite Batman's best efforts, the Joker is able to finish off nearly all of his hit list. Batman is only alerted after the first murder, when a grinning corpse is found in the mud just outside of Gotham City, and he goes to each of the former members of the Joker's gang individually to try to protect them.
The second member agrees to go into protective custody with Batman, but drinks from his water bucket right afterwards and is killed by Joker Venom it had been laced with. The third member is treated favorably by the Joker, and even believes the two of them to be on good terms when the Joker gives him a cigar before leaving his apartment. As the Joker walks out of the building, the cigar blows up the man's entire household. Most interestingly, the fourth member of the gang believes Batman is only trying to bring him in for a mugging he recently committed, even after Batman tells him the story. He asks if Batman will lead the way because he's frightened, and then the second his back is turned bashes Batman over the head with a sap and runs back to his hideout. When Batman regains his composure enough to pursue, he finds the man already strung up by the neck, hanged from his rafters, and the Joker lying in ambush. Although the Joker is able to subdue the already disoriented Batman, he declines to kill him, because it was "mere chance that caused [his] attack on Batman to succeed," and he had "always envisioned [his] winning as a result of cunning at the end of a bitter struggle."
When Batman regains consciousness, he is able to deduce the location of the Joker's hideout by the strange mixture of sand and oil on his face where the Joker had kicked him. The Joker is hiding out in the aquarium right next to the beach, where there was very recently an oil spill. Batman tracks the Joker down, hoping to save the life of the last man, now a senior citizen confined to a wheelchair. Naturally, knowing Batman would find him, the Joker has the man poised over a giant tank of water with a shark inside, and agrees that he will let him go only if Batman takes his place. Batman is forced to agree, and after he is handcuffed, the Joker pushes both of them in. Thinking fast, Batman is actually able to subdue the shark using only his handcuffs, and to break the glass of the tank by bashing it with the wheelchair, saving the man's life and escaping in barely enough time to pursue the Joker. Batman runs out into the early dawn, and chases the Joker to his getaway car, but worries that in his current condition, after the lump on his head, the lack of air, and the night of running around Gotham he won't be able to catch up to him in time. But the Joker slips on the oil slime of the beach right before reaching his escape, and Batman is able to catch up with him, and beat him silly.
As he drags him off into the sunrise, Batman asks the Joker, "You're not laughing? Don't you see the joke?"
The Joker replies that his capture is not funny, and Batman insists,
"You're wrong! It is funny -- to think that you -- my archenemy -- would make me grateful for pollution!"
- Reprinted in The Official Batman Annual 1986 (UK) and the Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told trade paperback.
- This story is largely credited with being the Joker's return to his violent roots. Although he had been portrayed as a mass murderer during the Golden Age in his first appearances, creators believed that having a serial killer such as the Joker constantly on the loose would reflect poorly on Batman. That, combined with trouble from the Comics Code Authority, and other things such as the 1960's Adam West Batman TV Series, had reduced the Joker to merely an annoying prankster, always causing trouble for the Batman, but never doing any real harm. Batman #251 is a landmark issue, because it reestablished the Joker as a merciless killer, and introduced dynamics into the Batman/Joker relationship that are still incredibly popular influences on the characters to this day. Namely, the Joker's dependence on Batman as his one truly worthy adversary.
- The episode "Vendetta" of Batman: The Animated Series homages this story, but using Killer Croc instead of the Joker as its antagonist.
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- Discuss Batman Vol 1 251 on the forums
- Cover gallery for the Batman series
- Images from Batman Vol 1 251
- The Joker (Volume One)
- Batman #321 (Dreadful Birthday, Dear Joker!)
- Detective Comics #475 (The Laughing Fish)
- Detective Comics #476 (The Sign of the Joker)
Links and References
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