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"The Riddle of the Missing Card"Edit
Following the events of their last encounter , Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson discuss the ultimate fate of The Joker, and believe that he is truly gone for good. The duo's words are soon proven wrong, however, as at that very moment, The Joker has just been rescued from a river by a trio of criminals. The Joker graciously accepts the trio's hospitality, and explains how he had survived: after plunging into the sewage waters, he had swam through the pipe until he wound up in the bay. Soon after, he had run out of strength, leaving him in the state that the trio had found him in.
The trio explains that they are racketeers, running a diamond-smuggling business, but business has become nonexistent in the face of World War II. This is why they had decided to rescue Joker - they need him to figure out a new racket for them. The trio then give their names: the black-haired woman is Queenie, the thin man is Diamond Jack Deegan, and the large man is Clubsy.
The trio's names intrigue Joker - with him added to the group, there are four "playing cards" - The Joker, the Black Queen, the Jack of Diamonds, and the King of Clubs. He proposes their new racket - a floating casino, outside of Gotham's three-mile limit so gambling laws cannot touch them. Queenie, he says, will get the rich customers drunk, Clubsy will mingle with the guests, and Jack will pump them for information. This way, they will not only take the wealthy patrons' money at the casino, but also their jewels at their homes.
Two months pass, during which the casino ship (named "The Deck") has gained quite a reputation. The city demands that the ship be closed down, due to the many robberies reported at the homes of its customers. Over at Wayne Manor, Bruce decides to go investigate the casino, but not before accidentally giving himself a shaving cut - a cut that, unknown to him, will save his life later on.
That evening, Bruce goes to the casino, and, by chance, makes acquaintance with Queenie. Queenie finds herself attracted to Bruce - she notes his shaving cut, but also believes (correctly) that his boredom is a mere mask. Later on, Bruce, looking for a spot to light his cigarette, comes upon The Joker (disguised as an old man) and his three cronies, discussing their latest target - the yacht where Mrs. Van Logan will be sleeping and keeping her jewels at.
Joker notices Bruce, and demands that he come out of the shadows. Bruce hastily attempts to explain that he was not spying, but Joker, unwilling to take chances, has Clubsy knock Bruce unconscious, before dumping his body overboard. Queenie is horrified, but Bruce is not quite finished yet - Clubsy notes that the cold water has revived him, and that he is swimming away. Joker proceeds to "fix" this development by shooting at Bruce with a silenced pistol, satisfied at last when the playboy's body sinks into the water.
The bullets, however, had missed Bruce - he had merely pretended to be hit. Soon, he swims to the shore, returns to Wayne Manor, and soon heads out as Batman with Robin in tow. The two arrive at Mrs. Van Logan's yacht, and not a moment too soon - The Joker and his gang have just finished taking the jewels. The Dynamic Duo engage in a fierce battle with the three cronies, but while they do so, The Joker begins to make his escape. Batman calls for Robin to try to hold his own, and goes after the Harlequin of Hate.
As Joker makes his getaway by car, Batman chases after him in the Batmobile. The Dark Knight is easily able to overtake Joker, but at the last moment, Joker wheels around his car, brakes, and jumps out, intending for Batman to crash. In a move of desperation, Batman, too, wheels the Batmobile, and winds up crashing through a fence and falling down a ravine. Joker cackles in triumph at the death of his enemy, but for the second time, Batman has cheated death - the Batmobile may be gone, but he has managed to save himself by grabbing onto a branch protruding from the cliff.
Back in Mrs. Van Logan's yacht, Robin finds himself overpowered by Joker's cronies, and is taken to the casino. Upon arriving there as well, The Joker is ecstatic to find that he has beaten both members of the Dynamic Duo. Diamond Jack explains to Joker that while Robin was unconscious, they had searched him for weapons, and found a radio receiver in his belt buckle. Joker, skeptic that Batman is really dead, uses the radio, and discovers that Batman is indeed still alive.
The Joker informs Batman that if he wishes to see Robin alive, he must come to the casino by himself. The Dark Knight takes the challenge, and upon arriving, spots the four "playing cards" in the cabin of the ship, along with Robin. The Joker subsequently challenges Batman to a game of cards, informing him that they are playing for "high stakes", but while he deals the cards, Queenie spots the nick on Batman's jaw, and realizes that Batman is Bruce Wayne. As the card game commences, Joker naturally cheats his way to victory, but Batman simply flings his hand of cards at the criminal and attacks his cronies. During the fight, the wily Joker slips away, tosses a handful of oily rags into the cabin, lights them on fire, and seals the entire room with a steel door and shutters, intending to kill the Dynamic Duo along with his minions.
Queenie panics at the sight of the fire, but Diamond Jack is much more interested in killing Batman. Queenie, unwilling to see Bruce shot dead, shoots Jack before he can do so. Batman is puzzled at this turn of events, but before he can ponder it any further, a dying Jack shoots Queenie as well in revenge for her double-cross. As Queenie lies dying in Batman's arms, she reveals that she knows of his secret identity, and asks for a goodbye kiss. The Dark Knight satisfies her final wish, and as she dies, he turns his attention to the matter at hand: the fire. By mixing together chemicals from his utility belt, Batman is able to blast the steel door off of its hinges, just in time to spot The Joker fleeing from the casino in a speedboat.
The Dynamic Duo quickly board their own speedboat, and chase after Joker through the storm brewing outside. The Ace of Knaves realizes that his archenemies are gaining on him, and attempts to lose them by hiding inside a lighthouse on a nearby island. Batman and Robin do not hesitate to follow him inside, and though Joker is nearly able to force Batman off of the lighthouse, he is eventually tossed into the churning waters below by Robin. As the Caped Crusaders peer over the railing of the lighthouse, Batman muses that Joker had lost because he had "lost track of one card". Later on, he explains to Dick what he had meant: Joker's "deck" had a Joker, Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades, but he had failed to account for the suit of Hearts - Queenie had doubled as the heart, and that had ensured his downfall.
- ↑ Batman #4