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|"The Mask of Ashes"|
|First Published:||March 13, 2013|
|Previous Issue:||Batgirl #17|
|Next Issue:||Batgirl #19|
"The Mask of Ashes"Edit
An arsonist called Firebug has been targeting buildings in Gotham City, and has killed three police officers. James Gordon, Jr. watches his sister Barbara save lives from the burning buildings as Batgirl with interest.
As she pursues the arsonist, though, the building she is in collapses, killing its residents, and burying her under debris. To James' surprise, the people whom she managed to save begin advancing on the smouldering wreckage, hoping to return the favour and find her. Thanks to their efforts, she pulls herself free, but her quarry is gone. James, meanwhile, is thankful, because he could not abide her dying by any hand but his.
Meanwhile, their father, Commissioner Jim Gordon is busy with the Gotham City Police Department's efforts to round up the remaining Joker gangs. He is interrupted by a message from Batman, calling him up onto the roof. There, he can see right away that something is wrong. Batman is looking far more haggard than usual.
After hearing Batman's news, Jim is overcome with emotion and worry, and calls his daughter. He tells her he loves her, and that she means a lot to him. He has just learned that Damian Wayne has been killed. His death means bad things for Gotham, and Jim couldn't help but think what he'd do if he lost her. She reassures him, holding back her own tears, and makes a call to Dick Grayson to talk about the bad news. Unfortunately, he is too busy to talk to her about it at the moment, and promises to call her later.
Suppressing her emotions, Barbara returns to work, attempting to analyse the accelerant used in the fires. It is likely military grade, and if she can figure out its component parts, she may be able to track down the arsonist. Her analysis is interrupted by another call, this time from James, Jr. He expresses pleasure that she didn't die that night, if only because he intends to kill her soon. Angrily, she challenges him to come at her any time or place - she will be ready. He promises to be right over.
Despite her injuries, Barbara puts on her armour, preparing to face both James and this Firebug - but she must choose which to track down first. She hopes that her decision to chase the arsonist is the right one.
James, Jr., meanwhile, goes to the hospital where his mother is meant to be resting with intent to kill her - except she isn't there. Confused, he demands to know where she went, and is told that she checked herself out only minutes ago.
She tracks him to an military surplus store in an out-of-the-way location, and surprises the man at his workbench. After beating him into submission, he warns that the men he works for will never let him do time for his crimes. However, she has already called the police, who are eager to capture him after he killed their fellows.
Turning her attention to James, she tracks his phone signal to an abandoned house in a poorer neighbourhood. A broken window on an upper floor alerts her to his likely presence there, and though she expects them, she finds no traps waiting for her. There is merely a soft beeping sound coming from the downstairs, which she follows to a room where James has pinned a bat to the wall and written in blood "Hello Barbara. Nice Try," tying his abandoned phone to the bat's legs. As prepared as she thought she was, Barbara has no idea where her brother really is.
James, meanwhile, is in the house across the street, watching Barbara. From there, he calls their mother, who admits that she saw him coming and checked out of the hospital to escape him. Annoyed, he gives her a location to meet him, with the ultimatum that if she does not meet him, he will kill Barbara, and make their father eat her.