|Detective Comics #476|
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"Sign of The Joker!"Edit
Continuing directly from the events of Detective Comics #475, Batman, Commissioner Gordon, Chief o' Hara, and a horde of policemen are now inside the home of bureaucrat Thomas Jackson, The Joker's next target. Outside, the thunderstorm is has reached its zenith, while inside, Batman, Gordon, and o' Hara discuss whether or not they will be able to protect Jackson - after all, they had previously failed to protect Francis. It is now 2:57 P.M., a mere three minutes before three o' clock, the time that The Joker had set for Jackson's "execution" if his demands are not met.
Gordon, Batman, o' Hara, and Jackson are interrupted by the arrival of Jackson's cat, Ernest. Jackson assures them that Ernest is harmless, but the panic soon spikes when they realize that Ernest has a Joker Fish in his mouth. Subsequently, Ernest goes berserk and sinks his fangs into "Batman", causing him to drop dead with his mouth frozen in the same grotesque grin as The Joker. It is then revealed that "Batman" is really Jackson in disguise, and vice-versa; even maddened by the Joker-Fish, Jackson's cat could discern its owner. Once again, The Joker's leering face appears on the television screen, gloating over his second victory.
The Joker promises yet another murder if his demand for a copyright is not met by dawn, and it is only now that Batman realizes that the Crime Clown is jamming the television frequency with his own transmitter somewhere nearby. Telling Gordon that he will be in touch, the Dark Knight leaves Jackson's home and runs into the nearby woods to search for The Joker. Instead of the Ace of Knaves, however, he instead finds the shimmering form of Hugo Strange, who then vanishes before he can get a better look. Mysteriously, the spot where Strange was is devoid of footprints; instead, the Caped Crusader finds a small device marked "vapor analysis meter".
Meanwhile, The Joker is inside his hideout inside a crypt at a nearby cemetery, gloating over his latest victory even more and announcing to himself his plan to infect every fish in the world with his venom. He briefly considers the possibility of everyone in the world boycotting the eating of fish to spite him, but soon dismisses the notion - the vegetarians would never agree, and besides, he could always use his Venom on cattle and "Joker-Burgers". The story then cuts over to Rupert Thorne and Silver St. Cloud, both wishing to get as far away as possible from Gotham - Thorne because of Strange's ghost; Silver because of her recent knowledge of Batman's identity.
Thorne is secretly glad to have Silver as his passenger, as he believes Strange has some "code of honor" that means he will not attack him in front of a lady. Looking for something to relieve him of his stress, he turns on the radio, which reports news of The Joker's latest doings, and how the police - and even Batman - were helpless to stop him. Thorne angrily turns off the radio, denouncing Batman as nothing but a menace, but Silver jumps to the Caped Crusader's defense. The two soon get into a heated argument, and in a moment of hastiness, Thorne drives off by himself, leaving Silver by the side of the road.
Silver sees the glow from the lights of a nearby building, and walks inside. Fortunately for her, the building is an aircraft barn, and she takes advantage of it, asking the man inside if she can borrow his plane for a little while. Thorne, meanwhile, is panicked now that he's all alone once more, but assures himself that there will be another hitchhiker soon. At that very moment, he sees one on the side of the road, but to his horror, it is the ghost of Hugo Strange, who attacks him.
It is now five o' clock, and Batman, Gordon, and the police are now inside the home of the third bureaucrat. Batman suddenly grabs onto the wrist of one policeman in particular, much to Gordon's confusion. Batman asserts that the policeman is not who he appears to be, to which the "policeman" agrees - he rips off his disguise, revealing himself to be The Joker. A brief scuffle ensues, with The Joker utilizing a special acid-squirting police badge while taunting Batman about how he had "his own chemical games", as it was the gas Hugo Strange had sprayed him with that had allowed the Dark Knight to know it was him.  Inside his own head, Batman confirms it - it was the vapor analysis meter that had allowed him to see through the Joker's disguise.
The Joker flees the scene, climbing onto the fire escape outside the building and challenging Batman to catch him. The Dark Knight accepts the dare, chasing the madman as the two climb higher and higher. Down on the ground, meanwhile, Silver St. Cloud has just returned to Gotham, and reacts with horror when she sees what Batman/Bruce is doing. Back on the fire escape, Batman and Joker continue to do battle, Batman very nearly getting killed several times along the way. The two eventually reach the rooftops, where their chase continues all the way into a construction site.
Now facing each other atop a steel girder suspended hundreds of feet in the air, The Joker unleashes his final attack - another squirt of acid from his badge. Batman is forced to leap off of the girder to dodge the deadly stream of liquid, and manages to catch onto the wooden frame of a nearby half-built house. The Joker, however, is not so lucky - he, still atop the girder, is struck by a bolt of lightning, and plunges straight into the raging sea below. Batman waits by the edge of the water for several hours, but The Joker never surfaces, though the Dark Knight does not dare to hope that his longtime enemy has finally met his end.
Silver finally catches up to Batman, and tearfully admits that she had indeed known Batman's secret identity the entire time. She goes on to say, however, that she cannot bear the thought of staying together with a man who risks his life every night as he had done this very night, and reluctantly breaks up with him, telling him to never make contact with her again. As Silver leaves, Commissioner Gordon arrives, informing Batman that the Ohio State Patrol had found Rupert Thorne, "scared out of his wits". Gordon goes on to say that Thorne had admitted to every crime he had committed in his life, including the anti-Batman campaign that he and the city council were behind. The Dark Knight's name is now cleared, but when Gordon turns around, he is gone - swinging away into the city as the morning sun rises behind him.
- ↑ Detective Comics #472