In the wake of Darkseid's death in Justice League, DC is releasing a series of one-shots about characters who've gained New God-like powers during "Darkseid War."
The first, this week's Justice League: Darkseid War — Batman by Peter Tomasi and Fernando Pasarin, had some surprising events, including a promise that readers will see Batman going after the Joker in upcoming issues of Justice League. And readers will remember that, according to earlier issues of Justice League, Batman is now aware of Joker's secret identity.
In Batman, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have gotten to tell their Batman-Joker story in "Death of the Family" and "Endgame," where the Joker appeared to know the secret identity of Batman. But it looks like readers will soon get to see a Batman-Joker story from Justice League writer and DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, and this time the tables will be turned — Batman will know the secret identity of the Joker.
So what brought us to the point where Batman knows Joker's secret identity? To bring everyone up to speed, the early issues of "Darkseid War" showed Batman taking over the Mobius Chair from Metron, turning him into a New God-type, all-knowing Dark Knight. The Mobius Chair, which has been part of New Gods mythology since Metron first appeared in 1971, is a time-space vehicle that apparently stores vast knowledge, and when Batman took over the chair from Metron in Justice League #42, he learned answers to questions from throughout the Multiverse.
As such, he knows the secret identity of the Joker (although… when Batman learned his name in Justice League #42, he didn't believe it and denied that it can be true.) That name has not been shared with readers.
In this week's Justice League: Darkseid War — Batman, after "Bat-tron" tried using his chair-knowledge to defeat crime in Gotham City, the final pages had Batman saying that he'll be going after the Joker next. "Thanks to this chair," he tells Alfred, as he pulls images of the Joker onto his Bat-computer, "I'll be able to narrow my focus from the many, to the one."
Earlier in the issue, Batman was shown trying to prevent murders and crimes in Gotham City by arresting people he said will be breaking the law, who are thinking about committing crimes. Jim Gordon isn't too happy with this new approach, since the criminals can't be convicted before they commit crimes. But when Batman takes a wife-beating man to Themyscira and informs them about his plans to kills his wife, the Amazons seem more open to the idea of preventative punishment.
The biggest surprise in the issue was Batman's confrontation of the man who shot his parents, Joe Chill, who is currently in prison. Batman takes Joe to Crime Alley — the scene of the crime — and after Joe dismisses Batman's anger and flippantly admits he killed 40 people during his time on the streets, Batman angrily reveals his secret identity to the man.
"I'm Bruce Wayne!" he screams.
"Not possible…can't be," Joe says, stunned. "I should've killed you."
Batman goes on to describe how devastating it would be for Joe if other inmates found out he created Batman.
"Lots of pent up rage and retribution would be focused on you," he says.
Joe becomes afraid and calls Batman a monster.
Eventually, Batman yells, "Forget everything we spoke about. You don't know who Batman is and you never will." Batman then uses the chair to boomtube away, and dialogue between Joe and his cellmate insinuates that he has indeed forgotten (although he's still frightened).
If the tease at the end of the issue is accurate, upcoming issues of Justice League will feature some type of Batman vs. Joker subplot, as Batman continues to occupy the Mobius Chair.
It's probably also important to remind readers that the Mobius Chair is playing a significant role in "Darkseid War," since Johns has now revamped the Anti-Monitor's history to make him the original Mobius who first occupied the chair.
Future one-shot issues of Justice League: Darkseid War will focus on Lex Luthor, who is the new Darkseid; The Flash, who's been bonded to the Black Racer; Superman, who is a corrupted version of himself; Green Lantern, who is fighting Parademons on Oa; and Shazam, who lost the power of the "old gods," but now commands the power of the New Gods. And the main storyline of "Darkseid War" will continue in Justice League into 2016.