Cover of Detective Comics 180 (Feb 1952).Art by Win Mortimer.
|Publication date||February 1952|
|Main character(s)||Batman, Robin, Joker|
"Joker's Millions" is both a comic book story and an animated television episode where The Joker inexplicably inherits a massive fortune, only to find out too late that he has fallen victim to a lavish scheme to humiliate him.
Joker's Millions is a story published in Detective Comics #180 in February 1952. As with all early Batman comics, Bob Kane is the only person credited for the comic, but the comic itself was written by David Verne.
At the funeral of "King" Barlowe, a criminal racketeer and rival of The Joker, Joker is surprised to learn that he inherited Barlowe's vast fortune. With his newfound fortune, the Joker builds himself a life of luxury and retires from crime. Joker spends his money freely, thinking he still has plenty left, only to discover that the rest of the fortune is counterfeit as a joke of Barlowe's. He then receives a visit from the IRS, which has assessed an inheritance tax based on the total amount of the supposed fortune.
The Joker is torn between reporting the money as counterfeit to avoid the tax liability (thus becoming a laughing-stock in the Gotham underworld for admitting that Barlowe tricked him), going to jail for tax evasion, or returning to crime in order to rebuild his fortune. The Joker chooses the third option, yet he decides to commit normal crimes without his usual calling-card flourishes so that no one would suspect him. First he breaks into a bank safe, but "fate's invisible hand plays a strange trick" as the wind blows a banner onto the bank the Joker just robbed, making it look like a joke crime. After discovering Joker's money is counterfeit, Batman and Robin have to prove Joker is committing these crimes.
When Joker performs a stick-up at the Gotham opera house dressed in a trenchcoat, Batman is able to guess that the Joker was behind it and burns the theater's tickets to I Pagliacci to make it look like a Joker crime. A similar deduction occurs after Joker tries robbing the Gotham Zoo. Batman locks himself in the zoo's bat cage to make it look like a joke performed by the Joker. The Joker, jumping at the chance to satisfy his ego, claims to an underworld friend that he had robbed the zoo for the sole purpose of humiliating Batman. However, the underworld friend was Batman in disguise, and with a recording of Joker's confession, the Joker is arrested.
As well as appearing in Detective Comics #180 it has been reprinted in:
- Batman: The Complete History (Paperback, 1999, Chronicle Books ISBN 0-8118-4232-0)
Joker's Millions was then adapted for The New Batman Adventures cartoon in February 1998, only changing a few aspects of the story, such as using Harley Quinn in the cartoon, who hadn't yet been created at the time of the comic's writing, as well as using Batgirl instead of Robin (Although Nightwing did appear in the episode). Other differences are that Joker learns how he was tricked by a videotape of Edward "King" Barlowe on his deathbed cheerfully explaining his scheme (videotapes were not yet invented when the story was first written) and in order to make it even harder for Batman to link the Joker to the crime he planned so he had be able to pay the taxes, he decides to have one of his henchmen pose as him at Penguin's Iceberg Lounge to give him an alibi. However, Bruce Wayne sees through the imposter and (as Batman) gets him to divulge the Joker's plan. The Joker is subsequently captured and is transported back to Arkham, a journey made all the worse by the appearance by Harley Quinn in his transport van, who vengefully bludgeons him for hiring a replacement instead of trying to get her out of Arkham.