What The Hell is Under Joker's Serving Tray?
Right now the comic world is dangling on the edge of a tremendous cliff as we await the conclusion to Batman: Death of the Family. The Joker is back in Gotham and has discovered religion to boot. He has systematically torn the Bat-Family apart in a quest to free Batman, who he considers Gotham's God-King, from all Earthly constraints in order to ascend to his perfection. Having been five steps ahead of The Dark Knight, each of the various issue #16s involved in the storyline have ended with Joker revealing something hidden under a bloody serving tray.
Presumably we'll find out what this month when Batman #17 hits shelves, but the message boards are alight with speculation. While some of the suggestions are compelling, none really seem to fit what we know of Joker and his plan.
The prevalent theory at the moment is that the tray contains the head or other remains of Bruce Wayne's loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth. This is born out of an earlier issue where Joker called Bruce to let him know he had kidnapped Alfred and blinded him with ammonia. Gruesomely killing Bruce's surrogate father figure would admittedly be perfectly Joker. Alfred is the heart of the Bat-Family, even Jason Todd likes him, and the loss of another "parent" could be the catalyst Joker needs for Bruce to become an even more frightening and legendary version of Batman.
Unfortunately, it just doesn't work in context. Oh sure, if Joker showed Alfred's head to Batgirl or Nightwing they would react with horror, but Joker has also revealed it to Two-Face and Penguin. Both the supervillains also reacted with extreme shock, and there is simply no reason why they would. Though Joker apparently knows Batman's secret identity, Dent and Cobblepot don't. Alfred is meaningless to them, yet they react not unlike the rest of the Bat-Family.