The JOKER’S ‘True Name’ is … (SPOILER ALERT)

The straight dope on Justice League #50’s big Bat-moment.

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UPDATED 6/4/17: Hey, folks! DC may be getting closer to revealing the Joker’s “true name”: Click here!

(NOTE: I don’t usually trade in spoilers like this but since Friday, so much has been revealed about DC Rebirth before the issue has even come out, that it’s become a runaway train. The DC Universe Rebirth one-shot deals with the Joker “revelation” from Justice League #50 — both issues are out this weekso that’s become fair game. And here we are.)

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ONE LAST TIME: SPOILER ALERT!

UPDATED 5/27/16: For a SNEAK PEEK of BATMAN: REBIRTH #1, click here.

Nearly a year after DC first teased the big reveal of the Joker’s identity, we get … another tease.

In Justice League #50, we learn that when Batman asked (in JL #42) what the Joker’s “true name” is …

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… the all-knowing Mobius Chair told him “there were three.”

As in, there might be three Jokers. At least that was Batman’s takeaway.

Turns out, the Mobius Chair likes to speak in cryptic riddles on occasion. (Then again, maybe the Chair was being literal and Batman should start looking for a guy named Joe Three, or something.)

Sigh.

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The idea is that maybe the Joker who committed the awful crimes of The Killing Joke, for example, is not be the same guy who tormented Batman during Snyder and Capullo’s run. And that maybe those guys are different from the Joker portrayed decades ago (in real time, mind you). Or something like that.

I’m not quite sure what DC is going for here. Are they planning to give us a literal explanation for why the Joker has changed so much in 76 years? He’s gone from homicidal maniac, to gimmick-happy super-thief, and back again.

But there’s not a single longtime character on DC’s roster that hasn’t gone through wholesale changes since 1938. So it seems kind of pointless to try to explain the Joker’s behavior this way. Besides, I’ve long preferred the idea that the Joker’s personality changes are due to his particular collection of psychoses. That actually makes sense, if you need some kind of canonical explanation.

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Or maybe an exploding cigar is just an exploding cigar and this is a face-value story that will reveal a Court of Jokers of some sort. Or maybe this is a bizarre gateway to a story that will explain that the DC Universe is something that just keeps regenerating itself — which, in a very real way, is true.

I dunno.

No matter what, Justice League #50 itself feels like a cheat. We as readers were certainly led to believe that this issue was going to give us some kind of affirmative answer.

Geoff Johns at WonderCon said that the answer was something people probably wouldn’t expect. He’s right about that. I didn’t expect some half-baked clue left over from “Lost.”

I’ve gone on record already (click here) that it’s perfectly OK for DC to go against decades of established practice by revealing the Joker’s true name — metaphorical or otherwise — because it’s perfectly OK for readers to create their own continuity and ignore bad stories.

All I have left to say right now on that score is that DC better have one helluva story up its sleeve.

MORE — UPDATED 6/4/17: DC may be getting closer to revealing the Joker’s “true name”: Click here!

Author: Dan Greenfield

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99 Comments

  1. Maybe the answer is that Joker has 3 personalities that have separate names to identify themselves
    One is the name he was born with (which is as meaningless to us as John Smith) one is the Joker – his
    public persona or stage name, and one is the name of the identity that embodies the impulses that drive him,
    like in the Batman Animated Series – Harvey Dent’s other personality was “Big Harv”.

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      • One of three is called Jack

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        • Tom Burton’s Batman ruined the Joker’s back story. They used the story of Black Mask as Joker’s. Black Mask was the one who created the cosmetic toxin, as well as ruining his model gf looks, not Joker. Joker falling in the vat was ab it for “Joker” history

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          • The movies are loosely based on the comics. Look at them for their merits, not how true they stay to the comics.
            The Animated shows/movies are the only ones that even try to stay true to the comics, and even then they still take some liberties.

          • on suicide squad she’s calls him Mr day when sitting across from each other at a table before he asks her for a machine gun

          • it didn’t exactly ruin his backstory

      • His name is Jack Napier.

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          • That’s from the movie Batman, the 1989 movie, which to me isn’t canon to the comics. It portrayed the origin of the Joker, and that before being the Joker he was a mobster named Jack Napier

        • In the TV show Gotham they call him Jerome. What is that about?

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          • Maybe Jerome is one of the 3 jokers. In my opinion, “there were three” meant there were three names or versions of the joker, which was Jerome from Gotham, Jack from the Batman movie in 1989, and the Joker himself.

      • There are 3 Jokers, I mean that are really relevant. Jack, Heath, and Jared. Haha. I got it.

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          • The animated series had some really good versions of joker tho

    • or maybe the third identity is the one he became after endgame

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    • first thing i thought of as well joker being Schizophrenic actually explains a lot

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      • Actually, it doesn’t… him having some sort of Psychosis, maybe. But Schizophrenia, definitely not…

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    • I once read what I took to be the craziest batman theories.Where batman had defeated some sort of cosmic threat to the universe itself. In doing so batman was cast thru a portal. When he awoke he found a trench coat to put on over her withered bat suit. As he continued down the ally he sees Thomas Martha and himself leaving the theater. With no one else in sight. Batman knowing the universe needs batman reaches into his coat pockets and finds the weapon he uses to murder his own parents. Later driven mad out of his mind he falls into an icy river. When he was fished out of the waters weeks later he emerged out of control with laugher he became the joker.

      Now mind you I’m not the best story teller but it begs a question. Go back and look at lots or joker orgins clues. Fit perfectly into this theory. Joker has three names Bruce Wayne Joker & BATMAN

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      • That’s pretty twisted…..

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      • I love this theory. i am going to look in to this more

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      • I would love if that were it!

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      • In Gotham it shows the person that is the red hood when Bruce is young but never told the name

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        • I would like the thought of the court of jokers but there is an i stallment were alfred is actually the joker because he wanted to give bruce a purpose as batman

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    • I do not think that is what this means. I figure that it’s very obvious. The Joker has a first, middle, and last name. Just my opinion

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      • Well it said the other guys name, and the guy had a first and second name. So I don’t think that matters

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        • I heard and read from many sources that his name was Jack Napier. And the Jokers first name also.starts with a J. Which is quite coincidental. Anyone agree??

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      • Joker DOES have a first, middle, and last name. It’s: The Motherfucking Joker.

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    • Actually that quite possible seeing that the joke had 3 generations meaning one half could be his prankster side,one could be his dark and serious side and one might be his super carzy,insane side

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    • John Smith/Jack from killing joke then Jason Todd he took over red hood (young joker from suicidal squad i think) there’s two jokers in one deck cards so the third one should be locked away (madness personality anyone has it)

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    • on youtube search up game theorists joker and there will be a video

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    • So witch one is his real name.

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    • i have the strangest, stupidest theory ever.
      what if one of the three is alexander luthor??
      they look strangely alike…

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    • In Batman: The Telltale Series, the Joker calls himself John.

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    • That’s what I was thinking, because Batman asked the Joker’s true name, and so the Mobius chair gave him an answer to that question. So given the question, it would make sense that the answer “there were three” was referring to not the Joker himself, but that he has 3 names.

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    • What if the Joker Is Thomas​ Wayne

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    • Or we could acknowledge the obvious. Everyone in the West has three names; your given name, your middle name, and your surname. I think that this feels more in line with the Chair’s cryptic and riddle-laden manner of speaking.

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    • One of the jokers names is Damian because the new robin became a joker and he was featured as the joker in the dark night

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    • what is the relation between the name “big harv” with the joker ??? theoriticaly it doesn’t match with the joker’s personality

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    • That’s been my idea. Going with the Nolanverse fan theory that he was in the military, I’d say Sergeant Joe Kerr.

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  2. Maybe Joker’s a Wayne…
    The third brother. Ha

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    • That was my original guess as well, but too hokey I think? It would be a really weird twist though.

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    • That’s certainly adolescent and fan-wanky enough for DC to think is “clever”.

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    • 3rd?? There’s a second??

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    • Joker is a Wayne. Alfred(butler) and Martha Wayne’s child. He is Bruce Wayne’s half brother.

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  3. Perhaps this three names thing mean his middle name as well. I believe the joker is one being for instance and Yeh the multiple personality theory is interesting but I think in could mean his full name, like Neil Patrick Harris or Aaron Taylor Johnson… Maybe his true name is something like Joseph K. Erkins who bloody knows? But it’ll be interesting to see what comes out of this.. for sure!

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  4. Maybe “there were three” means he had 3 names, as do most human beings… Meaning First, Middle, Last (ie: Joseph Aaron Kehr)…?

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  5. just another gimmick to sell more books at $6 a pop

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  6. ”The next game to use a joker was poker around 1875 where it functioned as a wild card.[10] Packs with two jokers started to become the norm during the late 1940s for the game of Canasta.[11][12][13] Since the 1950s, German and Austrian decks have included three jokers to play German rummy; in Poland the third joker is known as the blue joker. In Schleswig-Holstein, Zwicker decks come with six jokers.[14]”

    – Jack Nicholson
    – Heath Ledger
    – Jared Letto

    Sub-consciousness, consciousness and super consciousness?
    1 entity, 3 characters?

    ”And from the looks of the artwork, it appears that the three jokers include the original, Jerry Robinson Joker; the Brian Bolland Killing Joke Joker; and the Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo “New 52″ Joker.”

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  7. Also…

    In Greek mythology, Gelos[pronunciation?] (Γέλως) is the divine personification of laughter. According to Philostratus the Elder, he was believed to enter the retinue of Dionysus alongside Comus.[1] Plutarch relates that Lycurgus of Sparta dedicated a small statue of Gelos to the god,[2] and elsewhere, mentions that in Sparta there was a sanctuary of Gelos, as well as those of Thanatos, Phobos “and other [personifications of] experiences of this kind”.[3]

    Risus was the Latin rendition of the name Gelos. A festival in honor of Risus (i. e. Gelos) in Thessaly was described by Apuleius,[4] but it is unknown whether it was an actual event or writer’s invention.[5]

    And…

    Gelotology

    Laughter Meditation possesses similarities to traditional meditation. However, it is the laughter that focuses the person to concentrate on the moment. Through a three-stage process of stretching, intentional laughing, and a period of meditative silence. It is sometimes done in group settings.[6]

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  8. I bet they somehow include both the “Jack Napier” name from the Keaton movie and the “Jerome” character from Gotham. Either way, this is another completely unnecessary stunt that will have no sales impact and wreck a perfectly good comics tradition.

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    • Agreed self made hype by DC and totally unnecessary.

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      • but jerome dies in gotham

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        • No That a Just what They want You to think a look up gotham season 3 joker

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  9. After all the self made hype and $6 . We get NO NAME revealed… I am done with DC. I have been collecting for 30+ years and I’m tried of the big two and their bright ideas that their college interns come up with the “next big thing” total BS on DC’s part. Bad enough your going to give an iconic character a name and backstory. But then you jerk us around while doing it, next time I’ll give my 6 bucks to Starbucks & have some better enjoy for 10 minutes.

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  10. How bout three different names he goes by like the joker, the red hood, and Jayson Todd? Why not?

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  11. Everybody has a valid opinion; but last time we all saw joker, he lost his memory and was sitting on a park bench at the end of the last Snyder/Capullo arc. It will be interesting to see Tom King continue from there.

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  12. Of course there are three Jokers! The original one, then Robin as Joker and the Joker in the Future (Batman Beyond).

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  13. Thomas Wayne never died.He was shot by a rival gang member. He lived and with the loss of his wife he went deeper into into the crazed persona of “Joker” . Theres one. Now if you go to the theory that Bruce Wayne is delusional, then mix in some fight club, Bruce Wayne is number 2. After learning of his fathers alter ego he himself goes crazy and becomes “joker”. and the 3rd could quite possibly be the Joker he thinks hes chasing

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  14. It could be from arkham knight the singer,restler,and Henry wasn’t that affected, and the one who likes batman

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  15. I’m just as interested as the next person as to who the joker really is. But the three identity thing has little to do with who he actually is as to a birth name. DC is smart to leave fans hanging on just to reveal a character that was readily present in the franchise already. DC doesn’t even know or and hasn’t decided who they want him to be as of yet. But all the theories do help. so keep’em coming and they’ll eventually decide on the original joker’s name. The joker has been given so many makeovers over the years that they can say by now that he’s not one person but many acting out. Everyone has a different theory as to who he is so why can’t all the theories be correct individually. Otherwise the greatest mind to ever grace DC comics should’ve dealt with him by now.unless he has but more jokers still remain. Either way what DC decides I’m cool with. Batman is coolest but the joker promotes the idea. I personally think his mom called him the joker as a child and it stuck. Live up to the name ya’mom gave you sort of speak.

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  16. Maybe it’s talking about “Gold Age Joker” A murderer who enjoys killing, “Silver Age Joker” The Joker that has pranks and gadgets and messes around or “Bronze Age / Current Age Joker” Basically a rehash of Gold Age. The reason they did this is because comics were REAAALY dark in the beginning (Gold Age) and then comics got lighter less hardcore (Silver Age) and then comics got the right again (Bronze / Current Age)

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    • Doesn’t anyone find it interesting that around the time they start revealing about the 3 jokers and leading up to it, that batman beyond came out finally as a comic? It’s cuz batman beyond gave us the clue yrs ago. RETURN OF THE JOKER.

      The golden and silver are probably one in the same. If i was writing it, at the end of the golden age he found out he was dying. So rather than waste time, he made more focus on larceny to buy black market materials and pay freelance assistance. By reducing the loss of life, he would lessen the charges so it would be in lesser restrictions to escape or easier to manipulate staff.

      Once he was able to complete his project, he found a new host. This second joker is the bronze/modern version. At first, he’s just like he used to be. After a while the merging memories drive him further batty. Thus leading up to his current iteration. The 3rd is Tim Drake in the future during McGinnis’s time. Though the comic may change the victim in the future comics.

      Incidentally, another possible thought i would elude to is joker’s original identity is the owner of ACE chemicals. Thus why he ran in there. After all he is a chemical engineer. and that he was the one to actually start the royal flush gang to help him steal things for him. Then when they got tired of him or he told them to, he worked for someone else who got the credit for their formation. And additionally over time they forgot who gbeir founder was because they had changed several times.

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  17. The joker is MARTHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

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  18. Maybe JUST MAYBE it means this Bruce is just crazy and the joker is 1. Bruce Wayne 2. Batman and 3. The Joker or it’s the Golden Age/Silver Age/Bronze Age theory. Watch MatPat/The Film Theorists’ video “Batmans Three Joker Theory” and his video called “Can The Joker Save DC Films?”

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  19. According to Wikipedia and of what I understand the word mobius is German and in German there are three names for joker. These names are 1. Joker 2. Juker and 3. Juckerspiel. Now forgive me I do not know much about the comic books so I am probably totally wrong, but here is my theory. the joker once was a normal person (because only a normal person could go that mad)because it takes a completely sane person to become completely insan.e And I like to think that his dad was in the entertainment business like a magician or clown and that is why he has always like the playing cards, jokes, the clown look, and the tricks. I also like to think that his dad was screwed over by the Wayne family and that is why he has always targeted gothem city because the Wayne family owned most of it and would hurt the most from what the joker does. And from the jokers dad being screwed over his family was poor which made his dad turn to alcohol and when drunk he became a very cruel man. (Like we have heard from the joker in the dark night movie) now I also like to believe that he is the youngest of three brothers and was very close to them but as most babies of the family, was picked on a lot in a brotherly way. I like to think that maybe his mom or brothers or even dad would have a saying for the brothers like the middle brother always saying “out of the three brothers i am the ace and you are the joker because you are completely useless” or his mom saying “your the joker because you trump all” or his dad calling them “the three jokers” or something like that but he never liked being called the joker it always infuriated him and maybe when he finally went mad and made his first kill some one out of fear look at him in disbelief and asked who are you? And he looked up with a nutty smile and bloody hands and said “I’m the joker” then hysterically laughed in a laugh never heard before the only kind of laugh that could strike fear into the hearts of people. These are my theories like I said I am most likely way off. But I like to believe that he was once a normal guy and “life dealt him a bad deck of cards and made him the joker”

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    • i really like this theory to and would love if this was the story line

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  20. Three people were given credit for the creation of joker. So with that being said maybe it’s not a stretch to think all three of them have a different origins story for him. Maybe that’s where the 3 names come into play. Just a thought.

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  21. Forename, middle name and surname. 3 names

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  22. forgive me if it’s been suggested already, but maybe the joker are triplets.

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    • Mabel there are actually three jokers literally

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      • It would be an insane plot twist!

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  23. I have formulated a thought. Perhaps “The Joker” is actually some sort of parasite or sickness that passes from one host to another upon death or by some sort or ritual. Like you can catch it. Maybe that’s what we saw happening with the jokers had attacks? Idk but besides that I think the Batman going back in time to become the Joker is actually a really bright idea

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    • Shoot, i meant to say his gas attacks. The ones that would turn people insane. Like maybe he is searching for another suitable host.

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  24. I think Joker might suffer from dissociative identity disorder and that’s how there is three of him.

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  25. Maybe his name is “there are three”

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    • It should be in caps then, There Are Three

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  26. can it not be as simple as the man has three names, first, middle, last

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  27. According to the new Gotham is the Jokers name now Jerome?

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    • Gotham isn’t canon though.

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  28. I think that the jokers real name is joe chill because in the top comic it says joe chill

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  29. i think the joker is the show gotham

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  30. Batman by telltale games explains this all

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    • Just the joe chill shit tho

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