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|"Assault on the Court"|
|First Published:||June 13, 2012|
|Previous Issue:||Batman #9|
|Next Issue:||Batman #11|
"Assault on the Court"Edit
Maria Powers returns to her penthouse at the top of the Powers Hotel to find that it's been ransacked. Seeing this, she rushes back into the elevator and buzzes security. As the barred door closes, a hand stops the outer doors from giving Maria the added protection. To her horror, Maria Powers is greeted by the sneer of the Batman. He holds up an Owl mask, and Maria denies that it belongs to her husband. Batman already knows that the mask is actually hers. Joseph Powers is missing, and so is his mask. The Batman wants to know where he is. She dismissively responds that her husband is out of the country, and warns that the Court of Owls is not beaten yet.
After Batman leaves, he hears from Alfred that, as expected, Mrs. Powers has contacted her husband since the encounter, and he can piggyback a tracking signal on her call. However, Mr. Powers' phone seems to be within a deadzone, in which his exact location cannot be determined. This zone is in the south side of Gotham. Batman has already found his way there. He is overcome by a feeling of remembering - of remembering a part of the mystery that he somehow overlooked. The piece of the mystery which makes all of the others fall into place: Harbor House. As a boy, he had investigated it, hoping to find clues about his parents' deaths. Then, he had found nothing, but now - he will not come away empty-handed.
In his determination, Batman marches into the old building, ready to overcome any trap - any obstacle - in pursuit of his goal to bring down the Court of Owls. He is therefore taken aback, when he steps into a well-lit dining hall to see the Court sitting around the table silently. They are dead; every one of them.
By morning, Bruce is left puzzling over why the members of the Court would simply kill themselves like that. His thoughts are drawn to his parents' deaths, and he fidgets with the bullet casings that he has kept from their murder, all this time. Alfred tries to discourage him from dwelling on it, but Bruce's confusion turns to determination. The Court's death seems more like a setup to him than an act of despair at having lost to him. The dead members' money was siphoned off to another account, suggesting some kind of betrayal within the Court. As Bruce puts on his Batsuit he ponders over his parents' portrait, still unwilling to dismiss a connection between their deaths and the Court. Suddenly, he spots something that gives him a rush of understanding, and he realizes who was behind the Court's deaths.
Batman sneaks into the morgue, and opens a certain drawer, only to find a note reading "Follow me down the Rabbit hole?" Batman is only too willing. He next journeys to Kane County, where the only sinkhole in Gotham caused the destruction of the Willowwood Home for Children. This was once the place where children suffering from mental illnesses and neurological disorders received treatments. Eighteen years ago, though, the sinkhole swallowed the orderlies' quarters. In the days following the catastrophe, it became clear how much abuse and neglect the patients there were suffering at the hands of their caretakers.
As he walks the hallways cautiously, Batman is suddenly captured in a net. The man whom Batman once thought was Lincoln March stands over him, demanding to be told just who he is. Batman responds that Lincoln March, at least, does not exist. He is merely a paper man, set up by the Court of Owls. This man is a traitor and a thief. He betrayed the Court, just as they were faltering. He took their money, and then he poisoned them. He took the Talons' serum to survive the death that the Court prepared for him.
The man admits that the Court will certainly come for him again - but he is not so easy to kill anymore. He casually explains that before the serum he stole was developed to revive the Talons, there was talk of creating another Talon - one who could rival the Batman. Regardless, he wants to be told who he is, not what he did. As he asks this, he begins putting on a suit of armour from a nearby chest.
Batman goes on to deduce that his adversary was once an inmate of Willowwood. He explains that criminals leave clues because they are egotistical. Telling the story of the sinkhole while he was in the hospital was Lincoln March's dare to Bruce look deeper into his past. This truth inside the lie is exactly what motivated Lincoln to become what he now is. When he had watched Bruce Wayne get attacked by a Talon, and he had turned out to be so much more than a mere business man - he knew what he had to become. When the Talon had attacked him too, he had seen that the Court was just as duplicitous. That attack was no mistake.
Again, Lincoln asks who he really is; why the Court took him in. He hints that it wasn't because of who he could be made into - it was because of who he already is. He puts another question to Bruce: what tipped him off as to who he was after? Why look for Lincoln March at the morgue? After some hesitation, Batman responds that it was the pin he had mentioned in Wayne Tower. In the car accident that had apparently killed his mother, he had seen his mother wearing a pin - a misshapen heart made of clay. Lincoln had concocted the story after seeing a picture of Martha Wayne wearing that same pin.
Lincoln responds that that too, was truth in the lie. The pin was only given to mothers of children who lived at Willowwood. Gleefully, he announces that he is Bruce Wayne's brother, Thomas Wayne, Jr. Bruce responds that he hasn't got a brother. Lincoln explains that an accident had caused him to be born early, and Thomas and Martha Wayne had hid him away at Willowwood to heal. Bruce claims that this is merely a fabrication by the Court of Owls, but Lincoln goes on to explain how the hospital had been a good place for children, until the funding dried up. When Thomas and Martha Wayne - the hospital's biggest donors - died, so did the spirit of Willowwood. Lincoln blames Bruce for their deaths, and he wants revenge.
So, he invites Bruce to face him at last - Wayne to Wayne, brother to brother, Owl to Bat.
"The Fall of the House of Wayne, Part II"Edit
As Jarvis Pennyworth struggles to evade the Talon sent to kill him, he recalls how he feels a responsibility for the danger unleashed upon both Thomas and Martha Wayne and their very legacy.
Martha had been working to build a school for Gotham City's underprivileged and forgotten children. She believed that through the school, she could shape the city into a better place for her son Bruce, and for the second child that she still carried in her womb. She was nearly due, but she continued to work tirelessly to build the school while Jarvis looked after Bruce. Bruce was quite gifted, and Jarvis hoped that one day his son Alfred would grow to love the boy as he had.
One day, Martha had called Jarvis into her office to tell him to put Bruce to bed, but he had overheard her on the phone with the mayor, annoyed that someone claiming to be representing the city had threatened her away from building her school. The mayor disavowed any knowledge of the threats or those who made them. Angrily, Martha had hung up, not imagining that the threats could have come from somewhere other than City Hall.
Jarvis hides in a shed, but the Talon follows him, and rather than seek him out, he spreads gasoline all over the building. Jarvis recalls that he had once been warned never to push a Wayne towards greatness. Happiness was a much better goal. He had failed to take that warning seriously.
One day, he had received a mysterious phone call instructing him to bring Martha Wayne to a secluded corner of the docks, under false pretenses. Naturally, he refused, but the voice warned that if he failed to comply, things would be unpleasant for both he and his masters - past, present, and future. Suddenly, Jarvis was startled by the sight of an owl flying determinedly into the window next to him. Its broken neck was as much a warning as the voice on the phone.
Jarvis told Martha about the call, but she was determined to see her good work done. She had planned to take Bruce to see the school's grounds, and Jarvis failed to prevent them from doing so. He should have known better. He had known when he saw the owl who was targeting the Wayne family. He had understood that the Court of Owls was real. As he drove Bruce and Martha to the new school, the car was suddenly caught in an explosion, and flipped right at the intersection of Lincoln and March.
Now, Jarvis' fate is sealed as he burns to death in the shed.
"Assault on the Court"Edit
- Alfred Pennyworth
- Court of Owls
- Thomas Wayne (In a photograph only)
- Martha Wayne (In a photograph only)