Batman learns that he didn’t make Gotham City worse. In fact, the Joker was created by an alternate reality villain named Darwin Halliday by trying to become him.
At the end of Batman No. 131, the Dark Knight was transported to another world. On this Earth, Bruce Wayne was dead. This turned Gotham into a city run by Darwin Halliday a.k.a. Red Mask. A place where he has versions of Gotham villains like Harvey Dent hooked on Venom. It’s so bad that this new reality makes Gotham Prime look like a vacation destination.
During an experiment, Halliday discovers that he’s this universe’s version of Joker. Halliday also sees that he’s less than his multiversal counterpart. He lacks the fearlessness and craziness that Joker has and he wants it. This sets him on a mission to find out what makes him different from the Joker saw and become him. What Halliday learns is not what anyone could have expected. Halliday isn’t like the Joker because he actually created them.
After his fall into the chemicals (check out Batman: The Killing Joke for that story), the Red Hood emerges with the white face we know from The Joker. However, that isn’t what drove him crazy. When Halliday jumped to Joker’s origin, the Clown Prince of Crime saw him in his mind. Apparently, those thoughts drove him crazy. Halliday finds out that he isn’t Joker because he created them.
After being defeated by Batman, Halliday jumps to multiple realities trying to prove this isn’t true. He wants to be different and visits other worlds to find out how to make it happen. This results in him bringing back Jokers who died in other realities or making the living ones crazier and more powerful. He’s eventually stopped by Batman at the end of the multiverse. This leaves Batman with a thought that should give him peace. He isn’t the one who created the Joker.
Batman has always wondered if killing the Joker was the right thing to do or if becoming the Dark Knight is what created him in the first place. Bruce Wayne learns that he isn’t the cause of either. If he didn’t exist, all of Gotham’s worst people would have still been born. The gimmicks may have differed, but the results would have been the same. Harvey Dent still became a criminal with twisted ideas on Justice. Ghost-Maker trained hard to be the best, but without Bruce he seemed to become more consumed with that concept. Punchline remained obsessed with the a version of Joker.
Going forward, Batman will be a different kind of hero. Bruce said that he understands that he’s been doing things alone more than he should have and it’s led to him losing everything. Catwoman left him, his fortune and his home are no longer his, and he lost his hand in Batman No. 134. Maybe Tim Drake finding him at the edge of the multiverse will bring back the days when he asked the Bat-Family for help when he needed it. Who knows. This could be how Selina Kyle will come back into his life.
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What are your thoughts on an alternate reality character creating the Joker? Is this silly? Let us know in the comments below.