Dini, Kramer and Faucher return for an enjoyably twisted Joker story in Detective 826 (Feb. 07).
One of the story’s charms is its directness. With little preamble, we are into the action as Robin dives into a helpful car, being driven by the Joker.
The Joker binds Robin, and promises to free him after they go for a ride – which consists of hitting as many pedestrians as possible. The Joker also kills his way through a drive-through.
The Joker does intend to kill him. He is Robin, after all. But the boy takes the opportunity he has to speak, and quotes the Marx Brothers, which gets the Joker into enough of a conversation that he is distracted, and Robin can turn the tables and boot the Joker out of the car.
Batman does appear on the last couple pages of the story, confirming that the Joker has escaped.
The Penguin re-opens the Iceberg Lounge in Detective 824 (Dec. 06), by Dini, Kramer and Faucher.
Batman pays him a visit, and the Penguin insists he is on the side of the angels, but still doesn’t want him anywhere around. However, the Penguin did invite Bruce Wayne to his big opening gala that night. Lois Lane is there, covering it for the Planet, and winding up getting a scoop from Wayne’s drunken starlet date. The Riddler also shows up, a respectable entrepreneur himself now.
The Penguin winds up the victim of the night, as some gamblers, in league with a crooked magician, are fixing a game and taking the casino for thousands. Bruce calls Zatanna for a bit of help on the case. Their relationship is shown as friendly and casual, which is surprising considering this is Batman. Dini will expand on the history between these two later in his run.
In the end, Batman winds up saving the Penguin from ruin, as he returns the money the crooks took him for. He’s not happy about it, but the money belongs to the Penguin more than anyone else.
The Riddler switches teams in Detective 822 (Oct. 06), by Paul Dini, Don Kramer and Wayne Faucher.
Bruce Wayne gets implicated in a murder investigation, and the Riddler is on the scene as well, hired by the secretary of the victim. He is playing to cameras, but sincerely seems to be doing his best to solve the case. He has shed his old persona (although not the outfit), and decided to use his wondrous brain for the common good. And for fame and fortune, the legitimate way.
The police are embarrassed. Bruce Wayne was never a serious suspect, they just needed information about a photograph he appeared in – which turned out to be of a double.
Batman allows the Riddler to join him as he works on the case. He does not seem to either really trust or distrust Nigma, but keeping him close seems to be the wisest bet.
Nigma makes big press solving the case, but Batman sees that he has merely found the solution the actual murderer intended him to find. Batman confronts the secretary, and explains her intricate murder plot.
But the Riddler still gains fame, and respectability, even though his solution was wrong. Edward Nigma continues to be a supporting player in Dini’s run.