Our investigation began shortly after the Narrows Attack in the fall of 2006. It was then that the theatrical murderous criminal who called himself the Joker first became known, starting with armed robbery and double homicide. Serious crimes to be sure, but not exceedingly notable, considering the general crime state at the time.
Since Gotham City DA Carl Finch was killed during the events directly preceding the Narrows Attack, Roger Garcetti was elected to act as DA. Along with Rachel Dawes, a new hotshot lawyer named Harvey Dent completed the prosecution team as Assistant District Attorney. Dent immediately began work cleaning up police corruption in the city with help with the GPD's Internal Affairs Department, inspiring Gotham citizens to make the website Ibelieveinharveydent.com in May 2007.
Soon after, a mysterious figure made his own website mocking the Dent support, defacing Harvey Dent's image at Ibelieveinharveydenttoo.com. By inviting online participants to submit their email addresses, he gradually revealed himself on the site as the Joker. When this was done, he erased everything on the page, save for an encoded message: "See you in December."
In July, the Joker emerged again at the San Diego Comic Con, looking for recruits to cause public havoc. A massive scavenger hunt across the city began as a group of participants, wearing clown makeup and working with accomplices online, wandered across San Diego and wreaked havoc, as per the Joker's directions. The game ended when someone standing in for the Joker was driven away, possibly by gangsters, who murdered him shortly thereafter. We believed that the threat was eliminated then, but the Joker assured his followers that he was alive and well.
On Halloween, the Joker prepared a new recruitment game by having hopefuls look for prominently displayed letters on buildings across America to discover his motto: "The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules." He then encouraged participants to take group photos of themselves dressed like him in public for his amusement and to terrorize bystanders.
As a reward for participating in the photo contest, the Joker sent all participants a copy of The Gotham Times. In it, the reader learned about the growing mob war in Gotham, Harvey Dent's actions to curb police corruption, and Batman's ambivalent place in Gotham society. In the newspaper itself, the Joker publicized a recruitment email address in a classified ad (email@example.com), and made a parody website of the newspaper at Thehahahatimes.com.
By submitting tips to Harvey Dent's police corruption website, the online public became privy to a classified sting operation involving Jason McCree and Karl Breitup, two GPD officers who were then caught in the act of accepting bribes. The operation went horribly wrong and a shoot-out occured, in which Breitup died. During McCree's recorded interrogation afterwards, it was clear that many of our fellow GPD officers felt threatened by Harvey Dent's actions to crack down on corruption, as well as the pressure of working in such a crime-ridden city.
In the meantime, the Joker was once again making his presence known throughout Gotham, inviting participants into more games via the email address that he publicized in the newspaper. Undoubtedly, he was cluing them into his intentions for his more serious acts later in the summer of 2008. The fall games culminated in December 2007, in a final recruitment exercise in the guise of a carnival game, which whittled down the field to 22 recruits on the ground carrying cell phones, awaiting the Joker's future orders. He invited all other hopefuls to "meet him," keeping his promise of seeing them in December.
As the Gotham City elections in June approached, the support for Harvey Dent escalated at Ibelieveinharveydent.com. Dent himself called each one of his supporters, asking them for help in the Gotham DA election. Fellow supporters were asked to spread the word by giving away campaign materials and submitting photos and video of themselves campaigning.
They were rewarded with copies of a new issue of The Gotham Times. In it, Harvey Dent officially announced his candidacy for Gotham District Attorney, opposing incumbent Roger Garcetti (who played dirty politics) and Gotham Victims Advocate Foundation president Dana Worthington. In addition, there were yet more articles about the ongoing mob war, various GPD mob-related investigations, and the cumulative effect of such violence on Gotham citizens, even including widows of the involved mobsters. There were also updates to events which occurred between the two issues. Batman had found some ardent support among civilians, and Karl Breitup's death continuted to resonate with his family as well as his company. Finally, it was clear that the effects from the Narrows Attack had not faded in time - Arkham Asylum was under fire and many inmates who escaped the asylum during the confusion have never been found. Still, most of the focus was on the upcoming race for Gotham DA.
Not long after, a huge bombshell was dropped: a group calling itself Concerned Citizens for a Better Gotham released testimony from GPD officers that Harvey Dent bribed and blackmailed them into testifying against innocent cops. However, the founder of CCFABG.org, Joseph Candoloro, seemed to have shady ties of his own, possibly connected to the police as the corruption in Gotham's police department seemed to run deeper. On his campaign website, Roger Garcetti called for Dent's withdrawal from the race due to allegations that he bribed decorated GPD officer Francis Notaro to falsely testify against his fellow officers. Dent denied all allegations, but his support was waning. Even though a few familiar believers still stood by him despite the negative attacks, moves had been made to prevent their voices from being heard.
Amid the political mudslinging, owners of the Joker cell phones were contacted and given "secret letters." This led to a new recruitment exercise on April Fool's Day that involved the retrieval of bowling balls and cell phones from bowling alleys around the world. Once all were found, the Joker asked his minions to hack into the website of Acme Security Systems. But this proved to be a trap: our very own Jim Gordon proceeded to call those who attempted to hack into the system and told them had a choice: help the police or face jail time.
In Dent's defense, an investigation into the Notaro allegations began, which implicated Joseph Candoloro, Albert Rossi (a deli owner with criminal ties), the mob, Francis Notaro, the GPD, and Garcetti's DA office in the cover-up in the murder of a possibly innocent man, in which Notaro received the Gotham Medal of Commendation for killing a dangerous criminal. A Notaro interview with Gotham Times reporter James Levine threatened to blow the top off of the whole affair. In fear of Internal Affairs as well as the mob, Notaro made plans to leave Gotham with his family. But after his partner Cisneros and his family were killed in a car bombing, Notaro snapped and took hostages at Rossi's Deli, causing a Harvey Dent campaign press conference to be canceled due to the police response. Before the situation could elevate into something more serious, Harvey Dent entered the building and successfully convinced Notaro to release the hostages and surrender himself peacefully to the GPD. Having nothing else to lose, Notaro told the GPD about the mob's involvement in the anti-Harvey Dent smear campaign.
With Concerned Citizens for a Better Gotham exposed as a mob operation, Joseph Candoloro (under the command of an unidentified person known only as "Iceman") ordered all officers involved to leave Gotham. In response, Jim Gordon launched "Operation Slipknot" to catch them before they could leave the city. The ex-Joker henchmen caught via the Acme sting were told to intercept care packages Candoloro was sending the dirty cops at the Gotham Intercontinental Hotel to try and find where they were fleeing to. Thanks to their efforts, 27 of the 30 missing officers were arrested. The combination of the smear campaign being debunked and the Rossi's Deli incident caused Harvey Dent's poll numbers to rebound tremendously. However, the Joker, having a currently unknown connection to the sting, was able to use the contents of the care packages to organize rallies for his minions in 12 cities.
Gothamcablenews.com, a new Gotham news site, reported on the popularity of Harvey Dent after the successful negotiation that ended the Notaro hostage situation. Still, the crime rate was increasing in the city, partially thanks to the ongoing mob war, and there was some public backlash against the neighborhood watchdog group inspired by Batman.
Even as their efforts were becoming more public, Citizens for Batman was fracturing. Despite the efforts of the moderator for the group's message board to ensure the organization's goals were only to support Batman and set up benign neighborhood watch programs, many of its members were leaving the group so they could take the law into their own hands.
As city-wide voting got underway, the Joker clued in his followers that he might once again emerge on Friday the 13th. Once the polls were closed, Harvey Dent won by a landslide. His first act as District Attorney was to indict Roger Garcetti with criminal charges related to his connections with mob boss Salvatore Maroni.
Voters were rewarded for their participation in the election with a new issue of The Gotham Times. Harvey Dent made the front page with his historic win, but it was Batman who made the headlines after a proposition that would have helped prevent his arrest failed at the polls. The city was becoming increasingly ill-equipped to fight the Fear Toxin, and the Joker's cake hunt led to the closing of several bakeries after it was found that the cakes were poisoned. Citizens of Batman was under fire from the GPD for harboring vigilantes, though group leader Brian Douglass denied the allegations.
Shortly after the election (on Friday the 13th), the Joker gave word that the Gotham City Pizzeria would distribute free pizzas across the country, ostensibly to promote the chain. But the pizza boxes also contained notes that, when pieced together, revealed a hidden forum on the Citizens for Batman website, unauthorized and not known about by its leaders, where some of its former members were planning to emulate Batman and become violent vigilantes. Shortly after the promotion ended, the Joker used the pizzeria's own website to hint that Harvey Dent may not have been all he claimed to be.
As Gotham Cable News continued to inform its viewers about events in the city, including Operation Slipknot's catching of two of the three missing corrupt cops and the revelation that Roger Garcetti was the "Iceman" who organized Concerned Citizens for a Better Gotham, the Joker continued to make himself known in the city's underworld. Leaving messages to his followers in the form of carnival games, he first revealed that he was behind the theft of a large supply of ammonium nitrate capable of making numerous bombs, then declared that he masterminded the death of two of Sal Maroni's goons, an incident which threatened to rekindle the gang war.
In reaction to the defeat of Proposition D ("Save Batman"), Citizens for Batman members began to use various means at their disposal to promote support for Batman. This culminated with the announcement of pro-Batman rallies, although these events were nearly cancelled due to a setback. At these events, CFB supporters projected Batman's insignia onto prominent buildings in New York and Chicago. But their true intentions may have been far different at the time: Brian Douglass himself had become a vigilante and led the group on their first crime-fighting run. However, he underestimated the danger of such operations, and their next outing led to tragedy.
Shortly after the Batman rallies, the Joker launched an all-out assault on law and order in the city, first vandalizing nearly every website in Gotham and then stealing $68 million from the Gotham National Bank in a robbery that left five of his henchmen dead.