The Official Manga Where Joker Raises Baby Batman
If we told you there's a comic where Batman is de-aged into a baby and the Joker decides to raise him, you might (understandably) assume that it happened during the '60s or thereabouts, when every other issue was about Bruce Wayne marrying an alien princess to save Robin from being eaten by giant space hamsters. But no, this series came out in the year of our lord 2021 and is still going on.
If you don't trust our word (again, understandably), here's Batman's verified Twitter account pimping the first collected edition:
Yes, One Operation Joker is an official collaboration between DC Comics and Kodansha, publisher of acclaimed manga series like Attack on Titan, She's Adopted a High School Boy!, and That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. The fact that this comic is only coming out in Japan makes it slightly (but only slightly) less baffling. The story follows Batman as he accidentally falls into the same vat of chemicals that gave the Joker his permanent hair dye, which inexplicably causes him to get transformed into a tiny bat-bundle of joy.
Even more inexplicably, instead of chucking his nemesis into the nearest trash can, Joker decides that he must raise him "right" so that he'll grow into an upstanding citizen and they can go back to their usual good vs. evil routine. The "one operation" part of the title comes from the fact that Joker must raise the bat-baby all on his own (with some help from a loyal henchman). Most of the series is about the problems caused by Joker's inexperience as a single father, like when he buys a diaper size that would be more appropriate for Robin.
Or when he orders food while trying to put the baby to sleep, and of course, the doorbell rings the second after the miniature vigilante had closed his eyes. Never fails!
Joker is so stressed and sleep-deprived that, some days, he even neglects to put on his clown make-up. Truly, this comic has pushed the character to his very limits.
Also, he quickly starts running out of money to provide for the child, a problem compounded by his tendency to pile up all the cash he steals from banks and burn it. One multi-part storyline is about Joker trying to get the baby into a subsidized nursery school so that he'll finally have some time for himself. This results in this comic ending up with way more pages of Joker waiting at government offices and filling out forms than the average Batman comic ...
... only for him to be rejected anyway due to some bureaucratic detail. Luckily, the baby finally manages to get into a nursery thanks to a charity program started by billionaire Bruce Wayne, inspiring Joker to name the child after the (sadly missing) philanthropist. Naturally, the moment Joker begins relaxing with some friends, he has to bail on his henchmen and the tied-up Commissioner Gordon because the nursery school called to say little Bruce is sick.
But, all of these indignities are worth it when an amazed Joker watches baby Bruce start crawling or stand up for the first time, taking him one tiny step closer to swinging over rooftops once again.
One Operation Joker has published 11 chapters as of this writing, and Batman is still very much a baby, so it might take 28 or so years for the series to reach that point. Here's hoping they at least get to the issue where Joker and Harley have to explain the birds and the bees to teenage Bruce. Probably should stick to streaming if they ever want to take him to the movies, though.
Top image: DC Comics/Kodansha