Joker War was a storyline that occurred in the Batman family of DC Comics. The conflict pitted Batman against his arch-nemesis, the Joker. Joker War is available in a one-volume graphic novel.
In Joker War, the Joker took control of Wayne Industries and used the company’s resources to attack Gotham City and Batman.
Joker Took Control Of Wayne Industries
The Joker pretended to be a villain, the Designer, who previously worked with Catwoman, the Riddler, the Penguin, and the Joker. Fearing the Designer, Catwoman stole Bruce Wayne’s fortune in a plan to stow it in a safe location. Instead, his sidekick Punchline intercepted her and handed over the Wayne fortune to Joker.
The Joker kidnapped Lucius Fox, Batman’s close friend and ally and also the lead executive at Wayne Industries. Joker injected Fox with a modified version of his Joker Venom, which forced Fox to hand over the codes for all of Batman’s weapons to the Joker.
The Joker used Batman’s weapons to launch an all-out attack on Gotham City, using their superior technology to outgun the police.
As Joker’s thugs attacked Gotham, a teenager calling himself Clownhunter, who’s family was killed by the Joker, begins to hunt and kill off Joker’s henchmen.
Batman Was Poisoned by Punchline
Batman responded to the attack and had his first encounter with Punchline, the Joker’s new sidekick. Batman fought Punchline, who poisoned him with a toxin. While under the influence of the toxin, Batman hallucinated and saw his butler, Alfred Pennyworth (who was recently killed by Bane in “City of Bane”). The Joker used the Batplane to fire at Batman, who was aided in his escape by Harley Quinn.
Batman then knocked out Harley Quinn and went to the Mark of Zorro theater, where his parents were killed. Under the influence of Punchline’s toxin, Batman was attacked by the reanimated corpses of Joker victims. Batman collapsed while in the middle of his fight and was again rescued by Harley Quinn.
Harley took him to one of Poison Ivy’s sanctuaries in Gotham and feed him a medicinal tea to counteract the effect of the toxin.
Harley Quinn Fought Punchline For The First Time
Punchline found the sanctuary and attacked Batman and Harley. This led to the first fight between Punchline and Harley Quinn. The fight is significant because Harley was the Joker’s first, and most iconic sidekick and Punchline is widely seen as her replacement.
As they fought, Punchline mocked Harley for ever believing that the Joker loved her. In contrast to Harley, Punchline said that she followed Joker because of his twisted vision for society and that she believes in his point of view.
While they fight, Batman continues to have visions of Alfred, who told him to move on from his sorrow after his death. Batman then woke up and defeated Punchline, saving Harley.
The Bat Family Rescued Gotham City
Batman then calls in the various members of the “Bat family” (Dick Grayson – the first Robin/Nightwing, Jason Todd – the second Robin/The Red Hood, Tim Drake – the third Robin, Cassandra Cain – Orphan, Stephanie Brown – Spoiler, and Duke Thomas – Signal) to help him. Also helping them is Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, who returns to her role as Oracle to assist.
He dispatches the Bat family to assist the citizens of Gotham, who the Joker is forcing to go to movie theaters where he will attack and kill them with Joker toxin.
Meanwhile Batman goes to Ace Chemicals, where the Joker has been headquartered, for a showdown (Ace Chemicals is where the Joker fell into a vat of acid in his origin). Joker suits himself up in Batman armor that Alfred designed before he died. Joker used his toxin on Alfred’s corpse and the reanimated corpse attacked Batman.
Batman fought the Joker and managed to shatter the new armor. In response, Joker detonated a bomb that injured Batman.
Meanwhile Nightwing caught up to Punchline and he defeated her in a one-on-one fight. She called in her allies to help, but the Bat family assists him and Punchline is captured.
Harley Quinn Tried To Kill The Joker
Batman relays his victory to the Joker to let him know he did not succeed in his plan to take over Gotham. But Joker explained to Batman that his goal all along was not the destruction of Gotham, but to ruin the Wayne name. By taking over Wayne Industries and using it to hurt Gotham, he has taken away one of the core pillars of support that Batman has.
After his revelation, Harley Quinn appears and shoots the Joker in the eye. She told Batman that she was tired of him always allowing the Joker to live, by putting him in jail instead of killing him. She strapped a bomb to the Joker and told Batman that he can either save Joker or her as she jumped out of the building.
The Joker expected Batman to save him, but he tells a surprised Joker that he has the tools in the new batsuit to save himself and instead jumps out of the building and rescues Harley instead.
Joker War Aftermath
Later, Batman discovered that the Joker escaped the bomb and deactivated it. Along with the rest of the Bat family he gave Alfred a final burial.
Punchline was sent to prison, but in a series of videos released online, she manipulates public opinion in her favor to make herself seem like she was a victim of the Joker and not the true believer she actually is.
Batman confronted Clownhunter at his home and told him to stop his killing spree and seek professional help.
Catwoman convince the Penguin and the Riddler to steal back Bruce Wayne’s money and transferred the funds to Lucius Fox, who became the new controller of the Wayne fortune.
Joker War was written by James Tynion IV and primarily drawn by penciller Jorge Jimenez and inker Danny Miki. Penciller Greg Capullo also contributed art to the storyline.
Joker War Reading Order
Joker War was published between September of 2020 and December of 2020. The main storyline appeared in Batman #95-100. There were also tie-ins in Batgirl #47, Batman: The Joker War Zone #1, Catwoman #25, Red Hood: Outlaw #48, Detective Comics #1025, and Nightwing #72-74.