- "You will be a curse upon Gotham. Children will wake from sleep screaming at the thought of you. Your legacy will be death and madness."
- —Paul Cicero to his son Jerome Valeska[src]
The Cult of Jerome, also known as Jerome's Followers was an underground movement inGotham City who were dedicated to Jerome Valeska. After Jerome's second and final death, the cultists followed his brother Jeremiah Valeska. Currently, all members of the Cult are either incarcerated or were burned to death by Jeremiah.
Jerome Valeska was one of several Arkham Asylum escapees who were busted out by Theo Galavan and were part of a group known as The Maniax who caused chaos in Gotham City, which included an attack on a school bus and an attack on the Gotham City Police Department which left many officers dead. Jerome acted as the charismatic leader to the group, and during the attack on the police department recorded a video accusing the citizens of the city of being "prisoners" and that their "sanity" was just"prison in [their] minds that stops [them] from seeing that [they're] just tiny little cogs, in a giant absurd machine". He then urges them to "wake up" and be "free, like us". As backup arrive, Jerome ends the recording shortly afterwards. Jerome met his end after he took a charity ball hostage which was raising money for the Gotham Children's Hospital. On that night Jerome was betrayed and killed by Galavan, who had done so to convince everyone he was a hero as part of a bigger scheme he had for the city. Even though his chaos appeared to be over, several individuals across the city began mimicking Jerome after seeing his recordings on the news. Two men went as far as to stab a homeless man to death, before one of the men turned on the other and killed him, continuing to let out a laugh.
The followers of Jerome went from mere individuals and into an underground movement. A nightclub owner named Jeri opened up a club dedicated to the Maniax, with the large followers donning straitjackets similar to what Jerome wore as well as wearing clown makeup. Bruce Wayne (a surviving victim of Jerome) stumbled upon this nightclub when going to see Jeri. Jim Gordon (who had originally arrested Jerome for the murder of his mother) arrived at the club to prevent Bruce from carrying out a mission to take revenge on his parents' killer Matches Malone, only to be identified as a cop by Jeri and lynched by the hoards of people. Gordon managed to hold his own against them, and brought Jeri into custody.
The Jerome followers began leaving graffiti across the city, which consisted of eyes and a "HAHAHAHAHA" painted in red under it in the shape of a smile.
Jerome's corpse was kept by a man named Dwight Pollard, who kept the corpse frozen in a container. Dwight was employed as a scientist at Indian Hill prior to its closure and there he partially learned the methods of bringing back the dead, something of which Professor Hugo Strange was able to perfect. After Indian Hill's closure, Dwight led a movement devoted to Jerome and began experimenting on how to revive the dead. He got a job working at a morgue, and first experimented on a woman named Melanie Blake who was murdered by her boyfriend a few days before. Melanie ended up walking out of the morgue but died again with her body being brought to the Gotham City Police Department where her body was examined by Lucius Fox. This absurd situation (although not out of the ordinary in Gotham) drew both Gordon and his partner Harvey Bullock to the morgue and they questioned Dwight. Although he denied any knowledge and feigned surprise that her corpse was no longer in the morgue.
As Dwight works to revive Jerome, it appeared to be a failure. Gus tells Dwight about Officer Andrew Dovetipping them off about Gordon and the police converging on the power station and suggest they abandon the project. Dwight uses an electrical wire to zap Gus and then proceeds to cut off Jerome's face to wear as a mask for his Plan B. Persuading Jerome's followers that they are Jerome, Dwight leads them into taking Channel 9 hostage as he broadcasts his message. This attracts the attention of a revived Jerome who makes his way towards Channel 9. Gordon and the police raid the building after Leslie Thompkinsgot answers out of Andrew Dove about it. Most of Dwight's followers are either killed or arrested in the ensuing conflict. Despite Dwight being apprehended, Jerome kills the police officer with him and makes off with Dwight. After Jerome staples his face back on, he doesn't seem to be mad at Dwight. During Jerome's broadcast, Dwight is shown strapped to some explosives. Before leaving the power company, Jerome states to Dwight that he wasn't pleased with his face being cut off. Before Gordon can arrange for a helicopter transport, the explosives go off killing Dwight and plunging Gotham City into a blackout.
Since the blackout, Gotham City descended into chaos as the GCPD worked to detain any acolytes that they catch while enforcing a curfew for innocent civilians to stay off the streets. It was also mentioned that they took over different locations at Gotham City like Anders Park, Gotham Cathedral, the zoo, theHillside Conservatory, the courthouse, and the Boardwalk Circus. With Jerome alive again, he took over as the leader of the cult and led his new followers into raiding Wayne Manor in order to abduct Bruce Wayne. While Jerome made off with Bruce Wayne, he left some of his followers behind to do away withAlfred Pennyworth. Jim Gordon managed to arrive where he helps Alfred kill the followers. Jerome brings Bruce to the Boardwalk Circus where his followers are torturing the people there like having them do "Whac-a-Mole," throwing darts at the balloons on them, making them ride the carousel at gunpoint, and placing them in a dunk tank filled with piranhas. For the final event, Jerome in ringmaster attire has a cannon filled with a cannonball and knives where he will have it fired at Bruce Wayne in front of his followers. When Jim Gordon, Harvey Bullock, and Alfred Pennyworth arrive with the Strike Force, Bruce uses one of the staples Jerome put on his arm in order to undo the handcuffs which he manages to do before the cannon goes off. While Bruce fights Jerome in the funhouse, Gordon, Bullock, and Alfred fight the followers. When Bruce emerges victorious and reunites with Alfred, Jerome also appears and Gordon punches him into unconsciousness enough for his face to come off. After Jerome is arrested and having his face reattached by the doctors before being sent to Arkham Asylum, the remaining followers of Jerome are either being rounded up or have surrendered to the GCPD.
Several months later, Jerome breaks out of Arkham Asylum with Jonathan Crane and Jervis Tetch. He goes to see his uncle, Zachary Trumble for the location of his twin brother, Jeremiah Valeska.
After Jerome's suicide, the Cult of Jerome gathered for a wake at his grave in Gotham Cemetery. They were interrupted by Mummer, who brought them a recording, apparently posthumous instructions from Jerome, telling them to dig up his corpse and rampage GCPD headquarters. While part of the cult did so, several others lay in wait at the cemetery until Bruce and Jeremiah Valeska appeared. After the two were seized, it was quickly revealed that Jeremiah had orchestrated the entire thing, disguised as Jerome. He had become his brother's successor after being sprayed with his insanity gas, and took command of the Cult in order to carry out his own plans.
Jeremiah had the loyalty of the cult until Jim revealed that Jeremiah had failed to kill him. The cult started to turn on Jeremiah until he revealed he can still detonate the bombs. However, when he tried to detonate the bombs, it didn’t work; and, the cult accused him of being a liar. Jeremiah yelled at them to shut up, and started laughing quietly after they listened. He told them that he found their fickleness quite hurtful and also very predictable. Jeremiah then ran out of the room and sealed the door as the cult yelled and banged on the door. Jeremiah pressed the purge button that started the incinerator that burned all of the cult members to death.
- Jeremiah Valeska (leader)
- † Ecco (loyal to Jeremiah)
- † Dwight Pollard (leader)
- † Jerome Valeska (leader)
- Two Unnamed Male Murderers (one deceased)
- † Gus
- Andrew Dove (Dwight's mole in the Gotham City Police Department)
- Unnamed Security Guard
- † Jongleur (leader)
- Multiple unnamed members (incarcerated)
The Joker himself (whom Jerome is based off and acts as a precursor to) had a similar following in the Batman: The Animated Series spin-off Batman Beyond, which saw groups known as Jokerz operating in Gotham City decades following the Joker's disappearance (in reality, he was dead). When Joker made his "return" to the city in the feature length film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Joker ended up recruiting some of the Jokerz members to assist him in his schemes.
Like Jerome, the followers appear to act as possible candidates for the Joker who in the comics doesn't have an established identity or backstory.