Batman’s oldest, craziest enemy that comic book fans loved to hate is The Joker. He has done so many foul things that it’s no wonder why he’s in Arkham Mental Asylum and not a regular prison on death row. Everyone there has an inmate number and cell number. So what’s Joker’s inmate number?
We get to find out in Batman 36 from volume 2. The story arc here is called Endgame. The Joker poisoned The Justice League with gas and now they are all out of commission. The last one is Batman and he’s out of ideas. Batman knows that The Joker is up to something big, since he took out the entire League. He decides to visit Arkham Asylum and see what he could dig up. He knows that he has to capture Joker fast but doesn’t know how. At that point the asylum is not being used and is covered in debris and spider webs. As he is there he visits cell 0801. “Eight o one. The eighth and the first letters of the alphabet”. Batman points out the coincidence of how they spell out “HA”, as in laughter. Perhaps a sick joke, he wonders. So we know at this point that this is Joker’s inmate number, or at least his cell number. We don’t get to actually see the number, but we know of the number due to Batman’s inner dialog.
While examining the interior of the cell he encounters who he thinks is Mr. Border. It is actually Joker, who catches Batman in a trap. The cell snaps shut and Joker releases a new type of gas that’s paralytic. He then explains his plan to gas the entire city, driving Gotham into a violent storm of infection. As this is being explained, in the background of the comic page we see the image of blood cells, implying the gas will infect their blood.
The artwork in Batman 36 is quite good. At the beginning of the issue (and seen at the end of the previous issue) we get a glimpse of the interior of an old style theater. The theater is very detailed and I took a little time to admire it. Even if it were traced from a photograph it was done exceptionally well and doesn’t look like it was done with a Photoshop filter or a copy machine, as seen in other comics. (An example before Photoshop became mainstream is in Amazing Spider-Man 316, as a couple pages by McFarlane have a photo background.) Batman 36 also has Batman fighting Superman in a sophisticated battle suit. Superman almost kills him until Batman spits some kryptonite in his face. So bottom line is that this is a monumental comic that is both collectable and entertaining. Pick it up and give it a read if you are a super-fan and want to see Joker’s inmate number and understand the intimate details of his thoughts and relationship with Batman.