|First Published:||May 8, 2013|
|Previous Issue:||Batman #19|
|Next Issue:||Batman #21|
"Nowhere Man, Part 2 of 2"Edit
In the R&D lab at Wayne Enterprises, Clayface has cornered Bruce Wayne with intent to kill him. He explains how he has used his newly evolved ability to absorb the exact genetic makeup of his victims has given him a leg-up in blackmailing Wayne's friends. He can place their fingerprints at any crime scene, and this threat has been a welcome and constant stream of money for him. That was until Brian Wade failed to pay up, and he had to die. Unfortunately, that drew the attention of the Batman, so he now intends to fully absorb Bruce Wayne's DNA by eating him, so that he can get close enough to the Batman to touch him, get his DNA pattern, and frame him for some crime.
Seven minutes after swallowing Bruce, Clayface spews his body out into a garbage room designed to crush abandoned technological prototypes. Lucius Fox is already there, alive, though Bruce himself does not appear to be. Clayface takes Bruce's appearance and leaves, claiming that Bruce will be blamed for both of their deaths. Once Clayface has gone, Bruce suddenly gasps for air, alive. Not long after, though, the crusher begins to activate, and its fail safes have been overridden by Clayface using Lucius' DNA. Desperate for a way out, Lucius realizes that they may be able to use one of the rejected prototype suits to aid them. Bruce insists on putting it on, despite Lucius' concern for his safety - completely unaware that Bruce is, in fact, the man intended to wear the suit in the first place. With the enhanced strength of the suit, Bruce crashes through the wall with Lucius in his arms. Once to safety, Bruce has Lucius call Batman, while he calls the police.
Meanwhile, Clayface gets himself into a motorcycle chase with the Gotham City Police Department as Bruce Wayne. When he evades them and returns to Wayne Tower, he is surprised to find Batman waiting there, prepared with a special suit to help him. Batman explains that he has already alerted the police to the changes in Clayface's physiology, which eliminates his ability to continue his blackmail scheme. He douses Clayface with hydrogen fluoride, hoping it will be effective against the mud-man, but to no avail. He tries a coolant instead of the solvent, and it doesn't work either. Finally, he tries an electrical charge, exhausting his suit's reserves of energy in the process. Unfortunately, it barely fazes Clayface, and he cracks the glass on Batman's protective helmet, preparing to unmask him.
At that moment, though, Commissioner Gordon and the GCPD arrive on the scene. Undeterred, Clayface decides to reveal Batman's identity to them as well, and is surprised - but not shaken - to learn that the man under the mask is Bruce Wayne. The police are merely confused by this, as Clayface has not actually removed Batman's mask; he merely read his DNA by touching his skin. As Clayface steps away from Batman, Batman calls on Lucius to drop a containment field from the ceiling around Clayface.
Batman explains that he has coded the field to be opened only by the one man he knows Clayface doesn't have enough DNA code to replicate: Basil Karlo's. Himself. Batman reveals that he put a film containing Bruce Wayne's DNA over his own skin in order to trick Clayface, (though, of course, he is Bruce Wayne).
Before Batman leaves Clayface to the police, Karlo calls out to taunt him by complaining of how Bruce Wayne doesn't care about anyone but himself - not even his own son. He transforms into the appearance of Damian Wayne, which sends Batman into a rage. It takes Jim Gordon's intervention to calm him down again.
Afterwards, Alfred tends to Bruce's wounds, and assumes that Bruce will be forgoing dinner again in order to watch the recordings of his adventures with Damian. Sadly, Bruce explains that he doesn't intend to lose himself the way he did when Jason Todd died, but he is still not ready to let Damian go. Taking a different tact, having grown quite attached to the boy himself, Alfred asks if he can watch with Bruce. Together, they sit in the Batcave and watch the recording and remember the son they lost.
"Ghost Lights, Part 2 of 2"Edit
After discovering that a group of young people in the Narrows have used a summoning circle to call on some kind of demon, and wound up becoming Ghosts, Batman and Superman are forced to contend with the aftermath. Unfortunately, the summoned creature is magical in nature, which means that even Superman's strength is no match for it.
Batman warns that they can't break the summoning circle, or the creature will lose its tether to this place, and escape into the world. So, they have to buy time. He turns to the ghostly girl, and begs her to recall how the creature was summoned. She explains that the summoning was read from a page from an ancient manuscript, but that their bodies were moved since then, and she can't remember where it is. Batman points out that Superman came to help him merely because he cared enough to try to help him through something that has been hurting him, and hopes that the girl, whose name is Becca, will help. Sadly, she responds that the one who had the page died in a corner on the other side of the room.
Batman finds the page, but realizes that it's written in ancient Gallic - which he is not entirely fluent with. As the creature begins to sap his life-force, Superman sputters the word for "expel," so that Batman can reverse the incantation. Batman reads it out just in time to save Superman's life, and with the completion of the spell, the creature is gone.
As Becca begins to fade away, Batman thanks her, and she apologizes for starting the whole mess. She turns to Superman and asks him to take care of Batman, and he jokes that he will take it into consideration as she disappears.
Sadly, Bruce explains that he is not yet ready to talk about Damian's death, but he does thank his friend for coming - adding that if he wants to stay for the rest of the patrol, he would be agreeable to that. Superman turns around to find that Batman has already left, and grumbles about it as he flies over the city looking for him.