Salvatore "Sal" Valestra was once the most powerful gangster in Gotham City.
Before the Bat
Sal Valestra ruled Gotham's underworld with an iron fist alongside chief lieutenants Chuckie Sol and Buzz Bronski for several years prior to the first known appearance of Batman. About a year before Batman came to be, Valestra's organization loaned a large amount of money to Carl Beaumont, a local businessman. Despite promises to the contrary, Beaumont could not pay them back, and he and his daughter Andrea fled to Europe once he managed to squeeze an extra twenty-four hours of time from Valestra.
However, Valestra bribed Arthur Reeves, one of Beaumont's assistants, to rat out his old boss. Reeves, who was short on funds for his election campaign for councilman, gave up the secret location that Beaumont had entrusted to him, not knowing that Valestra and his lieutenants wanted to make Beaumont pay with blood. Valestra then sent his top hitman to Europe with instructions to kill Beaumont, which was successful.
Years later, an aging Valestra was now facing problems with his criminal empire in addition to respiratory problems, giving to his life as a young smoker. His favorite trigger man had become a white-faced, green-haired psychotic and his businesses were being pressured by both the sharp new police commissioner James Gordon and a mysterious vigilante called Batman. To make matters worse, his two oldest and closest partners, Chuckie and Buzz, had been killed within days of one another—apparently by the Batman.
Realizing he could very well be next after reading about Bronski's death in the first page of the Gotham Gazette while drinking a cup of tea, Valestra turned to Reeves, but he thought that Valestra's fate was already sealed and that he was now an old man who couldn't cause any harm. Desperate, Valestra turned to the last person who could help him—his old hitman and current notorious criminal, the Joker. He offered to hire him to kill the Batman, but Joker was uninterested, citing he wasn't 'pest control'. In a desperate attempt to make the Joker understand the gravity of their situation, Valestra made the last mistake of his life: he grabbed a hold of the Joker while reminding him that he was more guilty than even Valestra. Enraged, the Joker, under the pretense that he wouldn't let anyone hurt him, killed Valestra with his signature toxin. The unfortunate mobster's grinning corpse was left as bait, and Joker was able to discover what Valestra would never know: the killer wasn't Batman, but rather Andrea, under the alias of the Phantasm, who was out to get revenge on the mob that killed her father. Valestra's corpse was then blown up when the Joker's bomb destroyed the penthouse.
- "Beware the Creeper" (Mentioned Only)