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Batman #251 is an American comic book published by DC comics, released in September of 1973.
"The Joker's Five-Way Revenge!"Edit
The story begins on the outskirts of Gotham City on a stormy night, where Commissioner Gordon and an officer are inspecting a corpse left in the mud. Gordon expresses his wish for Batman to show up (the Bat-Signal had already been lit), to which the Dark Knight responds by stepping out of the shadows - he had already been there for ten minutes. Batman deduces that, without a doubt, the man was killed by the Joker, his ghastly smile and a joker card left nearby being telltale signs.
Batman acknowledges that it would be foolish to search for the Joker now that he has escaped from "the state hospital for the criminally insane", and instead decides to keep on eye on the members of his former gang, as the Joker was only captured because one of his former henchmen sold him out, and man killed earlier that night was also one of the Joker's former underlings. His first target is Packy White, a former boxer who now works as a janitor in a ratty gym. The two men exchange "friendly" blows while discussing the Joker, and in the end, Packy decides to accept police protection. Before he can follow through with his decision, however, he suddenly keels over dead with a smile on his face - the Joker had laced his water with Joker Venom.
The story then cuts to a sleazy hotel somewhere else in Gotham, where the Joker has already met up with the third henchman, Alby. Alby expresses surprise that the Joker would stay in Gotham, to which the Joker responds that it would be inevitable that Batman would find him wherever he went. Joker then questions Alby if he was the one who had betrayed him to the police, to which Alby denies. Seemingly convinced, the Joker hands Alby a cigar, which he then lights, believing it to be a harmless exploding cigar. He is proven wrong, however, when the cigar creates an enormous explosion - it was filled with nitroglycerin.
Batman hears news of Alby's being blown to pieces over the radio, and hurries to the next henchman - Bigger Melvin, who lives on a converted garbage scow near the docks. Melvin, spotting the Dark Knight first, panics, believing that Batman is coming to arrest him for mugging an old lady. Ignoring Batman's cries, Melvin makes his escape through a complex series of sewer pipes, seemingly losing Batman. As soon as he emerges from a manhole, however, the Dark Knight is right there, waiting for him. Batman asks that Melvin place himself in protective custody, to which Melvin pretends to agree. He, however, asks to go back to get his toothbrush, and while the Dark Knight is distracted, Melvin knocks him unconscious.
Melvin rushes back to his scow, intending to take not only his toothbrush, but his gun and knife as well, and leave town, all the while unaware that the Joker has already arrived. Batman, meanwhile, recuperates, mentally berates Melvin for his stupidity, and rushes inside to find that he is too late. Joker had already murdered Melvin (hinted to have been hung from the ceiling). He, however, has not left the scow, and launches a surprise attack on Batman - one that knocks him unconscious yet again. The Joker contemplates killing Batman here and now, but decides against it - it would be a hollow victory for him to score such a "cheap win".
Some time later, Batman wakes up and sets out for a retirement home to find the last of the Joker's gang - Bing Hooley. The nun who operates the home, however, informs Batman that Bing had left that morning with a friend of his by the name of "Mr. Genesius". Batman immediately figures out that the Joker is responsible, as St. Genesius is the patron saint of actors, comedians, and jokers. He then recalls that the Joker's footprints inside Melvin's scow were laced with a mixture of crude oil and sand, and figures out that there is only one place in Gotham where Joker could be holding Bing - at the beach.
As Batman recalls, the beach was declared off-limits since yesterday due to an oil tanker running aground, and the thousands of gallons of crude petrol would surely have mixed into the sand. The only place on the beach that could be a hideout is an abandoned aquarium, which Batman immediately rushes into. Sure enough, he is greeted by the Joker, who tosses a laughing gas bomb at him (which he has already prepared an antidote for) and runs into the shark display. Following him, Batman is treated to a nasty surprise - Bing, bound and gagged to his wheelchair, is perched right above the shark tank.
The Joker offers to let Bing go if Batman will take his place, to which Batman agrees. His hands are handcuffed behind his back, and he is unceremoniously kicked into the shark tank. Immediately afterward, however, the Joker goes back on his word and tosses Bing into the tank as well. Batman, however, is able to hook the chain of his handcuffs around the shark's teeth, rendering the shark harmless while simultaneously freeing himself. He then realizes that Bing is almost out of air, and in desperation, uses his wheelchair to break the glass of the tank, saving both of them.
Realizing that his plan is now in shambles, the Joker makes a run for it, Batman close on his heels. The ordeals of the night have taken their toll on Batman, making him unable to catch up as the Joker nears his getaway car. At the last moment, however, he slips on a patch of crude oil on the beach and falls, allowing Batman to catch up and beat him into submission. Batman then comments on the humor and irony of the situation - that he never thought the Joker would make him grateful for pollution, as he leads the Joker away, bathed in the light of the rising sun.
- This story is widely applauded as bringing the comics version of the Joker back to his homicidal roots, years before the likes of The Killing Joke and The Dark Knight Returns.
- The scene with the shark tank was adapted into Batman: The Animated Series's adaptation of "The Laughing Fish", despite the two stories having virtually nothing to do with each other.