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Detective Comics 504

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Detective Comics 504
Detective Comics #504
Publication Information
Published July 1981
Executive Editor Julius Schwartz
Cover Artist(s) Jim Starlin; Don Newton (Inside art)
Writer(s) Gerry Conway
Inker(s) Dan Adkins
Letterer(s) John Costanza
Editor(s) Paul Levitz
Alternate Covers


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Detective Comics #503
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Detective Comics #505
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"The Joker's Rumpus Room Revenge!"Edit

SynopsisEdit

The first few pages of the story are narrated by The Joker, who sneaks through Gotham City in the dead of night, unseen and unheard. He finally arrives at a small toyshop, startling the owner, an old man by the name of Papetto. Papetto initially shows no fear toward the Harlequin of Hate, and supposes that he is here for "the last of your special consignment". It is only when he draws a gun that Papetto begins to become afraid, blubbering that he had built all of the toys to Joker's specifications. Joker is not dissuaded, and squirts a chemical out of the gun and into Papetto's face. As Papetto dies, Joker claims his "prize" - a small cymbal-banging toy monkey, which he comments is "cute". After he collects the monkey, Joker leaves behind his calling card and disappears into the night.

An hour later, Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and several policemen are on the scene, inspecting Papetto's murder. Gordon states that his men had been told to come to the toyshop on an "anonymous tip", and had initially thought it to be a normal homicide-robbery. The state of Papetto's body, however, is all the proof that they need that The Joker was behind it - Papetto's face had been contorted into a hideous, forced grin, and a Joker card is found pinned to his vest. Gordon explains that he had called Arkham Asylum earlier; apparently, Joker had escaped three nights ago. Batman furiously demands to know why the city was not informed of this, which Gordon attributes to his file having been lost/stolen - a typical bureaucratic foul-up.

Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of mayoral candidate and city councilman Arthur Reeves, a staunch anti-Batman politician, as well as his TV crew. Batman refuses to answer Reeves' and the TV crew's questions about why he is on the scene of a crime, and continues his investigation. He spots a muddy footprint on the floor of the toyshop, and uses a gadget from his utility belt to acquire a sample of the mud, but is caught by Reeves, who demands that he explain himself. Batman tells Reeves that he has neither the time nor the inclination to explain himself to him, and that if he wishes to find a cause for his mayoral platform, he will have to find another one. The Dark Knight leaves the toyshop through the window, much to Reeves' indignation.

The next morning, a new department store opens in Gotham - a branch of the famed Dallas Corporation, to be exact. Bruce Wayne, as one of Dallas' shareholders, naturally attends the grand opening, and is treated to a pleasant surprise - a solid gold train set, worth about three million dollars, has been flown in from Dallas to celebrate the opening. Bruce's attention, however, is soon diverted when he sees pink clouds of smoke drifting down from the ceiling, and, naturally suspicious, covers his own nostrils with a perfume-doused handkerchief. His suspicions soon prove to be correct, as the pink smoke turns out to be a laughing gas-slash-anesthetic spray - pumped into the room by none other than The Joker. The Harlequin of Hate descends onto the scene with a tiny toy parachute on his back, and steals the train set.

Not a minute too soon, Batman arrives on the scene, but finds that there is little he can do - Joker's parachute is attached to a harness in the ceiling, which is quickly pulling him out of Batman's reach. In desperation, Batman hurls a rope tied to a Batarang at The Joker's ankle, hoping to keep him grounded, but only succeeds in pulling his shoe off. Besides the shoe, there is one other possession of Joker's that has been left behind: the parachute, which Batman states "doesn't smell quite right". As night falls over Gotham, Batman busies himself in the Batcave, studying the mud sample that he had collected from Papetto's toyshop. As it turns out, the sample contains phosphors found in only two areas near Gotham City: Levitz City and Malcomville. In addition, the parachute's odor turns out to be that of chemical preservatives that are most often used to make commercial-brand ice cream. Bruce then reads up on ice cream factories in the Gotham area, and finds a match: the Happy Humor Ice Cream Plant, which is in Malcomville.

Before Batman sets out for Malcomville, however, Alfred directs his attention to the evening news, reporting yet another toy theft. This time, the item stolen was a teddy bear known as "Puff Bear", featured in the original "Chris Redbreast" stories by A. A. Milner (a parody of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories by A. A. Milne). The only clue left at the scene of the crime was a plasterboard Joker card - leaving no doubts as to who was behind the crime. Bruce acknowledges that The Joker is taunting him - the footprint and the parachute had been left at the crime scenes on purpose - and mere moments later, sets out for Malcomville in the Batmobile. Soon enough, he arrives at the Happy Humor Ice Cream Plant, and immediately spots two suspicious-looking men in the factory yard carrying a crate marked "TOYS", whom he knocks unconscious with ease. A few minutes later, a third man emerges from the factory, and, along with a fourth man, carries the crate into the factory, mentioning that it is something "the boss ordered for his rumpus room".

The two men drop the crate off at its intended destination, and walk away. As soon as they leave, Batman springs out of the crate, which he had been hiding in the entire time, and finds himself in a room full of toys. Before he can do anything, however, a spotlight suddenly shines onto him, while at the same time, The Joker's voice fills the room, welcoming Batman to his "rumpus room". Batman spots The Joker in a small window on one of the room's walls, and the Ace of Knaves continues to gloat; all of his crimes had been part of a plan to trap him inside this room - especially Papetto's murder. Furious at his disregard for human life, Batman springs toward The Joker, but winds up pressing a hidden switch in the floorboards, which results in an enormous jack-in-the-box (made to look like The Joker in samurai armor, complete with a real sword) activating and doing its best to slice the Caped Crusader. Batman thinks the jack-in-the-box deadly, but not much of a danger - its attack range, after all, is rather limited.

Joker interrupts Batman's thoughts, telling him that the jack-in-the-box isn't the only thing he has to worry about. Sure enough, every other toy in the room suddenly attacks the Dark Knight - the dolls begin to grab onto him, the toy soldier begins firing real bullets from its gun, etc. The Joker, laughing at Batman's perilous situation, slams the window shut and walks away. As he walks away from the rumpus room, he is filled to the brim with glee - the deadly toys that he had Papetto build should finish off his hated enemy in a matter of moments. Joker proceeds to tell his men to warm up the van for an "early departure", and returns to the rumpus room, though this time resisting the urge to open the window.

Meanwhile, inside the rumpus room, Batman is at his wit's end. He had been backed into a corner by the deadly toys, and they just keep on coming - a solid steel rocking horse rams him in the ribs, and the cymbal-clanging monkey (which Joker had gotten last night from Papetto's shop) turns out to be armed with electrified cymbals. Worst of all, however, is the fact that the deadly toys are latching onto him like "metal leeches", leaving him with no way to defend himself. In the next moment, however, Batman sees the jack-in-the-box, and is suddenly struck with inspiration: using one set of toys against another. Outside the rumpus room, Joker hears nothing but silence, and is all but convinced that the toys have finally slain his archenemy. The minute that he opens the window to check, however, he is greeted by the Caped Crusader's fist.

Though down, The Joker is not out, and whips out his poison squirt gun to use against Batman (who had exited the rumpus room via the window). Batman, however, merely makes a contemptuous remark at Joker, and hurls a Batarang at a nearby control panel, this results in a large pile of ice cream dropping onto The Joker, holding him in place. Joker expresses his confusion - how had Batman escaped from the deadly rumpus room. Batman answers that Joker had, in fact, given him the very tools that would have made it harmless: he had realized that the killer toys were designed to clamp onto their victim, and thus simply made them clamp onto the jack-in-the-box's sword instead, rendering both parties harmless. Joker wails in frustration at this revelation, stating that had Papetto not been dead already, he would have killed him for ensuring his defeat.

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