While Batman found himself in the middle of the Joker War, it wasn’t really his fault. According to the Joker, the blame falls on Bane’s shoulders.
Warning: Spoilers for Batman #110
For years, Batman has been seen as the object of obsession for the Joker, but it seems that the Clown Prince of Crime’s latest assault during “the Joker War” wasn’t actually Bruce’s fault – it was Bane’s. Batman may have been caught in the middle, but the latest issue of Batman hints that Joker’s attack had as much to do with outdoing the Man Who Broke the Bat as it did with breaking the Bat himself. But that’s not unexpected when it comes to the Joker.
Batman #110 by James Tynion IV and Jorge Jimenez finds Gotham City still reeling from an explosion that destroyed a part of City Hall. Although the explosion was actually caused by Simon Saint as a part of his plan to get his Magistrate program pushed through, the people of Gotham and its news outlets believe it to be a part of Scarecrow’s ongoing terror campaign against the city. But while the pundits argue about the real reason behind the attack, one newscaster says, “We need to consider that these costumed villains are all in competition with each other.” He believes that the Joker was looking to top Bane during “the Joker War” and now the Scarecrow is looking to outpace the Joker by any means necessary.
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If it’s gotten to the point that even Gotham’s citizens realize that the villains compete with one another, then it has to be true. While the Dark Knight’s rogues gallery may team up every once in a while to take him down, it’s only ever a matter of time before they turn on each other for their own benefit. It’s all one big competition to them, and it seems even Gotham knows it.
If there’s one thing Gotham’s villains tend to hate almost as much as they do Batman, it’s each other. “The Joker War” was designed to show up Bane as much as it was to torment Batman, and the Joker says as much to Bane himself in the Batman: The Joker War Zone #1 short story “A Serious House.” In Joker’s eyes, Bane wasted Alfred’s death by killing him in front of Robin instead of Batman. The Joker knows how to use trauma as a weapon, and he believed he could do it better than Bane ever could. As for Joker’s actions during “Joker War,” Batman may be the victim he traumatizes, but Bane is the one he’s trying to beat. Maintaining a Gotham ecosystem where he’s the top bad guy is a petty reason to terrorize a whole city, but the Joker has done worse things with less of a reason.
Whether criminals torment Batman because of their hatred for the Dark Knight or because of an ongoing feud with each other, it’s the people of Gotham who are the real victims. At this point, they’re treated as little more than cannon fodder, and even they realize the situation they’re in. Batman may not be to blame for their suffering, but he probably agrees with them that he’s not doing enough to stop it.
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