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|Publication date||February 1952|
|Main character(s)||Batman, Robin, the Joker|
|Batman: The Complete History||ISBN 0-8118-4232-0|
"Joker's Millions" is both a comic book story and an animated TV series episode where the Joker suddenly inherits a massive fortune, only to find out too late that he has fallen victim to an elaborate scheme to humiliate him.
"The Joker's Millions" is a story published in Detective Comics #180 (Feb. 1952). As with all early Batman comics at the time, Bob Kane is the only person credited for the comic, but the story itself was written by "David Vern" (a.k.a. David V. Reed).
At the funeral of "King" Barlowe, a criminal racketeer and a rival of the Joker, the Joker is surprised to learn that he has inherited Barlowe's vast fortune. With his newfound fortune, the Joker builds himself a life of luxury and retires from crime. The Joker spends his money freely, thinking that he still has plenty of it left, only to discover that Barlowe has had the last laugh after all from beyond the grave - the inheritance money is counterfeit. 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 inheritance money as counterfeit in order to avoid the tax liability (thus becoming a laughing stock in the Gotham City underworld for admitting that Barlowe had tricked him), going to jail for tax evasion, or returning to crime in order to accumulate tax money. The Joker chooses the third option, yet he decides to commit normal, un-Jokerish crimes as secretly as possible and without his usual calling card flourishes, figuring that no one would ever suspect him of such pedestrian affairs. 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 that the Joker just robbed, making it look like a Joker crime. After discovering that the Joker's money is counterfeit, Batman and Robin have to prove that the Joker is actually committing these crimes.
When the Joker performs a stick-up at the Gotham Opera House dressed in a trenchcoat and slouch hat, Batman is able to guess that the Joker was behind it and burns the theater's tickets to I Pagliacci to make it, too, look like a Joker crime. A similar deduction occurs after the Joker tries robbing the Gotham Zoo. Batman locks himself in the zoo's bat cage to make it look like a joke that was 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 actually Batman in disguise, and with a recording of the Joker's confession that Batman made, the Joker is arrested.
As well as appearing in Detective Comics #180, it has been reprinted in a trade paperback:
In other media
"Joker's Millions" was then adapted for The New Batman Adventures animated TV series in February 1998, only changing a few aspects of the story, such as using Harley Quinn in the episode (as she had not yet been created at the time of the story's writing), as well as using Batgirl instead of Robin (although Nightwing does appear in the episode). Other differences are that the Joker learns how he was tricked by a videotape of Edward "King" Barlowe on his deathbed cheerfully explaining his scheme (as videotapes were not yet invented at the time of the story's writing), and in order to make it even harder for Batman to link the Joker to the crime that he planned so that he can pay the tax money, he decides to have one of his henchmen pose as him at the Penguin's Iceberg Lounge in order to give him an alibi. However, Bruce Wayne sees through the impostor 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 when he discovers that the policewoman with him is Harley Quinn, who vengefully bludgeons him for hiring a replacement instead of trying to get her out of Arkham.