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DC's New Batman Villain Wants To Be The Next Joker

*Contains spoilers for "Batman" #134 by DC Comics*

A new Batman villain has just made his intentions clear about what dark role he wants in the Multiverse. In "Batman" #134 by Chip Zdarsky, Mike Hawthorne, Adriano Di Benedetto, and Clayton Cowles from DC Comics, the Red Mask reveals his desire to become the next Joker. In a bizarrely contrived way, the Multiversal foe of The Dark Knight is trying to create an origin story where he becomes the Clown Prince of Crime and takes over the sinister moniker in the main DC Universe.

In Zdarsky and Hawthorne's current "Batman" run, Bruce Wayne's final battle with Failsafe resulted in him being sent to a different reality, where Gotham City is not what it looks like in his usual world. While Robin looks for Batman across the Multiverse, the hero has already encountered alternate versions of his usual rogues: Punchline, The Riddler, Selina Kyle, and Two-Face. However, his most significant threat is Red Mask, a former scientist named Darwin Halliday who has used his vast resources as the owner of Halliday Industries to experiment and infect everyone from Lex Luthor to The Flash with his fear toxin. When Batman finally confronts Red Mask face-to-face in the issue, he reveals his true plans with the toxin, as he's hellbent on ensuring he becomes the newest Joker.

Red Mask is deliberately trying to turn into the new Joker

In "Batman" #134, Batman makes his way through the sewers and caves of Gotham City, where Red Mask keeps his victims. Shocked at the size of the prison, the Caped Crusader estimates thousands of people were experimented on by him so he could learn more about the Multiverse. Upon reaching the Red Mask, the villain removes his helmet and shares his plans.

Red Mask tells Batman about his history on his Earth and how he spent his early life building up Darwin Halliday Industries as a chemist, continually trying to learn more through scientific discoveries. But, after one of his experiments exploded in his face (which might have been sabotage for pushing his employees to their limits), Halliday received a vision where he was the Joker. 

Halliday shares with Batman that the threads across the Multiverse connected him with the Joker, and since seeing the world through his eyes, he's eager to take his place. Not only does Red Mask want to be the new Joker, but he wants to become him upon his inception by traveling back in time. Unfortunately, Batman's arrival in the alternate Gotham City helped Red Mask. Red Mask used his presence to confirm the coordinates to enact his plan, gathering the needed multiversal energy via his toxin to create a conduit from those he's infected. Before Batman can stop him, Red Mask sics one of his most impressive soldiers at him, as the Ghost-Maker variant, Ghost-Breaker, slices off his hand in their ensuing battle.

Red Mask wanting to become Joker was hinted at before

While Red Mask wanting to become the Joker might seem like a surprise, the current "Batman" arc has dropped some major hints about who he could become. 

First, his design (by Jorge Jimenez) and the Red Mask name hint at a Multiversal version of the Joker. Famously, in his classic origin, the Joker used to sport the moniker of the Red Hood, wearing a similar (albeit longer) red mask to the new villain. In the iconic Alan Moore and Brian Bolland "Batman: The Killing Joke" storyline, Joker was revealed to wear the mask to commit crimes to help his pregnant wife and family before becoming the monster readers know today. Jason Todd took Joker's "Red Hood" name when he became an antihero to reclaim the mantle. Red Mask's look seems to be a variation of both.

Secondly, in "Batman" #132, Bruce Wayne couldn't help but notice Darwn Halliday's resemblance to the Joker, immediately recognizing him as a potential Clown Prince of Crime of the alternate Gotham City. It turns out Batman's initial feelings and reservations towards Halliday were spot-on, with the billionaire scientist's ultimate goal to transform into the new Joker. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Red Mask can rewrite the timeline to become the newest Joker, but considering his resources, control of Gotham, and continued rising knowledge of the Multiverse, it certainly seems like a takeover is a real possibility.

Red Mask's origin and Joker obsession unfold in "Batman" #134 by Chip Zdarsky, Mike Hawthorne, Adriano Di Benedetto, and Clayton Cowles from DC Comics, which is in comic book stores now.