DC's big Batman summer event for 2020 will be the "Joker War" story arc, and in Batman #93, writer James Tynion IV makes some major game-changing moves to set the stage for that battle. The "Their Dark Designs" prelude finds Batman finally coming face-to-face with new villain The Designer, a criminal mastermind who once tutored Batman's oldest rogues (Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman). Batman is challenged to guess what The Designer's master plan is really all about, and in solving that mystery, Batman unwittingly stumbles into a much bigger trap. Thanks to the ultimate fake-out, Joker has managed to become the richest man in Gotham City!
Warning: Batman #93 SPOILERS Follow!
As Batman deduced from the events of "Their Dark Designs," The Designer's ultimate scheme was turning Gotham City into a fully-functioning untouchable criminal empire machine, using the Batman rogues as his instruments. Riddler was supposed to bring the city to a standstill, and coerce the police to become his agents. Penguin was supposed to secure the political and business wings of Gotham, through bribery, coercion and election fraud. Catwoman was supposed to rob the Wayne fortune and become Gotham's most powerful criminal banker. And Joker? Well, his job was simple: he would be the one who killed Batman and Robin.
Unfortunately, Designer's criminal master plan had just one major flaw: Designer didn't know The Joker, at all. Joker was also smart enough to discern what The Designer was planning, and in true Joker fashion he had just one reaction: take it all for himself. Batman discovers that The Designer he's meeting is just a corpse animated remotely by Joker - a smokescreen to keep Batman busy while Joker executes his grand design: making his vision of Designer's plan a reality.
Thanks to his manipulation of both Batman and Catwoman, Joker successfully gets the latter to untangle the intricate knot of Wayne Corp's massive fortune. Bruce tied up all his money in shell companies and offshore holdings in order to cover his Batman funding - but as soon as Catwoman pulls the money together, she loses it all. Joker's new sidekick Punchline puts a bullet in Catwoman (after slitting Harley Quinn's throat), and has the Wayne fortune transferred over to Joker. The issue ends with Joker getting a big LMFAO moment, as Punchline delivers the one... er, punchline that he's always wanted to hear:
"Joker: you are now worth over one hundred billion dollars."
With Joker now the richest man in Gotham, he's poised to carry out the rest of Designer's plan. Joker doesn't even need crime or coercion to influence cops/lawmakers, politicians, and businessmen (both legal and criminal)- with the money he now has, he's able to cause all kinds of havoc completely free and legally. And since we know Joker doesn't really care about money, there's all kinds of anarchy he can cause with unlimited cash at his diposal.
Gotham City is about to get wild.
"Joker War" unfolds in Batman books this summer.
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.