WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Batman #48 by Tom King, Mikel Janin and June Chung, in stores now.
Ever since the Joker first showed up in Gotham City, Batman and the clown faced villain were positioned as polar opposites, as good and evil, order and chaos. Over time, the two fought, many, many times, with each confrontation further cementing the pair as eternal fixtures of a dark city whose soul is constantly pulled between the two. Whenever the Joker pushes, Batman arrives and shoves back. Virtually every major Batman creative team left its mark on the Batman and Joker relationship, from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in The Killing Joke, to Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers in Detective Comics, to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo in Batman, and more. They all explored the nature of the Joker, and redefined his role in Gotham City.
In this week's Batman #48, writer Tom King and artist Mikel Janin continue their ongoing Batman saga, which has already featured a few Joker appearances, mainly in the flashback story "The War of Jokes and Riddles." However, in the most recent issue of the series, on the cusp of Batman's wedding to Catwoman, the Joker once again gets the Dark Knight's attention -- and, as he does so, the relationship between the two is given a whole new wrinkle yet again.
The issue, as is the case with much of King and Janin's work together, is haunting. It starts with Joker murdering a bunch of people in a church, only to get Batman's attention. But when the Dark Knight finally shows up, Joker does what he wanted to do: talk. He talks about the wedding, about his mother and about religion. It's clear that this Joker is hurt and that he's lashing out because of it. Batman choosing to get married signals an important step forward for the character, and the Joker doesn't wish to get left behind.
As the villain talks about his mother, he shares a story she used to tell about Augustine. The Saint, who was once a Manichean before converting to Christianity, used to see two forces in the world -- good, and evil. But over time, he came to the realization that there was only one divine power in all of reality, and that the rest was just chaos. Only one power pulled you in: The omnipotent power of God.