KNIGHTFALL PART 9 - DIE LAUGHINGAfter seeing a news report following Batman's apprehension of Firefly, claiming that the Batman is looking particularly haggard, Joker suggests that he and Scarecrow take the opportunity to kill their enemy. Scarecrow is against the plan, though. Meanwhile, Batman speeds to Mayor Krol's mansion to search for clues to his abduction by the Joker and Scarecrow. Detectives Bullock and Montoya are already on the scene, and despite the fact that twenty officers were killed by an explosion in their last attempt to find Krol, Bullock decides to go in without the bomb squad's go-ahead. As he opens the front door, he discovers that he has tripped a wire, and Batman swoops down to save him moments before the building explodes, leaving no clues behind. Joker and Scarecrow have already left, dragging Krol with them to the Gotham River Tunnel. They use an ice cream truck rigged with explosives to destroy the toll booth and restrict traffic, as they head into the tunnel on foot. Once inside, Joker forces the mayor to call Commissioner Gordon, and request that the National Guard be sent to the tunnel. Meanwhile, Bullock and most of the Gotham City Police Department are already on the way, given the explosions at the tunnel's entrance. Elsewhere, Bane admits that with more discipline, the team of the Joker and Scarecrow could easily take over Gotham City. However, he still believes that Batman could stop them, and once he does, he will be forced to run Bane's gauntlet. Bullock and the Commissioner argue over how to proceed into the tunnel, but Batman states that he will find Krol alone. Despite the fact that it is obviously a trap, he realizes that it's more important to save the mayor's life than to avoid the trap. Inside, Batman encounters the Scarecrow, but he is too late to prevent himself from being affected by Scarecrow's Fear Toxin. He has horrific visions of the Joker savagely beating his former partner Jason Todd with a crowbar. He forces himself to ignore the effects long enough to knock out the Scarecrow, but his anger over Jason's death makes him lose control, and he violently beats the Joker, all while screaming Jason's name. Scarecrow uses a missile launcher to fire at Batman, which compromises the structural integrity of the tunnel. Batman is forced to choose between rescuing the mayor and capturing his insane opponents. With little real choice, Batman drags the Mayor from the tunnel with a wave of water rushing after them.Continues in DETECTIVE COMICS #663.
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