"Sign of the Joker!": Batman and Commissioner Gordon know that the Joker will target another city bureaucrat in his mad effort to copyright his chemically-altered Joker Fish. As per another televised threat, his n
Appearing in "Sign of the Joker!"
- Gotham City Police Department
- Rupert Thorne
- Hugo Strange (Ghost)
- Ernest the cat (Single appearance)
- Thomas Jackson (Only appearance; dies)
Synopsis for "Sign of the Joker!"
Batman and Commissioner Gordon know that the Joker will target another city bureaucrat in his mad effort to copyright his chemically-altered Joker Fish. As per another televised threat, his next target is a man named Thomas Jackson. As before, Batman, Gordon and a squad of police officers hole up inside of Jackson's mansion. Batman has Jackson don one of his costumes while he disguises himself to take Jackson's place. That way, if the Joker chooses to attack him, he will actually be attacking the Batman.
As luck would have it, Jackson's cat, Ernest, lopes into the study carrying a poisoned Joker Fish inside of his mouth. The venom has now infected the cat and her bears the striking rictus grin that most associate with the Joker. Batman dives after the animal, but the cat launches itself at Jackson (still wearing the Batman costume) and bites him across the face. The venom spreads into Jackson's bloodstream and he dies moments later. The television comes on and the Joker takes credit for ending the life of Thomas Jackson.
Batman leaves to track down the transmitting station that the Joker is broadcasting from. As he bounds through the nearby forests he spies a spectral image – seemingly, the ghost of his old foe, Hugo Strange. The image disappears, but Batman discovers a vapor analysis meter in the underbrush.
At his Ha-Hacienda, the Joker delights in his latest kill. He ponders to himself the fun to be had by mass-marketing his Joker Fish. He even considers using his special chemicals to infect cattle. "Joker-Burgers!" he cries. "Outrageous!"
Meanwhile, Rupert Thorne picks up a hitchhiking Silver St. Cloud. He barely remembers her from a previous exchange and pays little attention to her now. His mind is on Hugo Strange. Turning on the radio, Rupert and Silver learn about the most recent debacle involving the Joker as well as Batman's approach to the crimes. Rupert has no interest in hearing about Batman and angrily shuts the radio off. Silver expresses her support for the Caped Crusader and Thorne kicks her out of the car. Moments later, the ghost of Hugo Strange attacks him anew.
Two hours later, Batman and Commissioner Gordon meet back at police headquarters. They discuss strategies, but quickly discover that the Joker is impersonating one of the officers. The Joker tries spraying Batman with acid from a false police officer's badge, but Batman dodges the attack and the Joker escapes through the window. Batman follows him up the fire escape and the two adversaries chase one another up the side of the building as rain and lightning begin to pour down on top of them. The Joker leaps from the fire escape to a nearby construction scaffold and the Batman follows suit. Joker tries to get the upper hand on Batman by spraying acid on the cable holding the girder in which they both are standing. With a supreme effort, Batman jumps off the girder to the construction site and at that precise moment, a lightning strikes at the girder, shocking Joker and making him lose balance and plunging to the waters below. Moments later, Batman realizes that nothing has come out of the water, but he doubts this would be the last they hear from the Joker.
At that moment, Silver St. Cloud, who has since returned to Gotham and witnessed Batman's battle against the Joker, confronts him and tells him that she cannot involve herself with someone who lives such a dangerous lifestyle. During her attempt to break up with him, Silver's resolution breaks and the two of them embrace in a loving kiss for a few moments. When the passion fades, Silver finally breaks up with him. As Silver leaves, Commissioner Gordon approaches Batman and tells him that local cops had picked up Rupert Thorne, who is now confessing to all of his various crimes and has revealed that he is behind the public vetoing of Batman. However, Batman has already pulled his disappearing act on Gordon and he retreats to the shadows at the break of dawn.
- This story is reprinted in Shadow of the Batman #4, Batman: Strange Apparitions, The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told, Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers and The Joker: A Celebration of 75 Years.
- This issue was nominated at the 1979 Eagle Awards for Favourite Comicbook Artist (US), for Best Continued Story and for Best Cover.
- This story has been partially adapted in the 1993 episode of Batman: The Animated Series titled "The Laughing Fish".
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Links and References
- Detective Comics article at Wikipedia
- Detective Comics series index at DCU Guide
- Detective Comics series index at Comicbookdb.com
- Detective Comics series index at the Grand Comics Database Project