|"Dark City, Part One"|
|First Published:||October 9, 2013|
|Previous Issue:||Bane #1|
|Next Issue:||Batman #25|
"Dark City, Part One"Edit
As far as many of the Red Hood Gang's members are concerned, the Batman is an urban legend, but rumour has it that some of their number were caught by him recently. While a group of them are busy stealing oxygen canisters, they are surprised when the Batman silently captures each of them, and makes a spectacle of them. This leads the next morning's papers to prominently demand to know what Batman wants with Gotham on the front page - a headline which amuses Red Hood One greatly.
He, meanwhile, has been reading about the Mayor's plan's to develop the Seaport area - an initiative made possible by the development of a new silica-based concrete that dries much faster and is much stronger than normal concrete. He is more interested, though, in how it tastes, as he pours it into the mouths of those gang members who failed him, and kicks them into the bay to drown.
Batman is growing frustrated, as he can't immediately see a pattern in the crimes that the Red Hood Gang commits. While bigger crews are stealing chemicals, smaller crews are taking all kinds of things from paint to ice cream powder. From his perspective, these crimes are too random to be random. Perhaps the smaller thefts are meant as a cover for the larger ones. Batman is sure that Red Hood One has an endgame, and he worries that it was his interference that sped it up.
Seeking some perspective, Bruce visits his uncle Philip, revealing that he was not killed in the explosion that destroyed his brownstone, to the older man's delight. Embracing Bruce, Philip apologizes for all the trouble he caused. Bruce forgives him, but insists that he needs to know what Philip knows about the Red Hood Gang's plans. He believes he can stop them, if he only knew more. Though Philip doesn't know anything, he may be able to help by telling what was taken from him. Philip explains that the magnetic signatures by which he could track what was stolen from the company were disabled - but he can at least hand over the keycard Bruce will need to access the tracking system. What's worse is that the Red Hoods recruited him to their ranks as #347, and he doesn't know what to do about it. As Bruce pockets the keycard, he invites his uncle to stay at the manor for safety, but Philip refuses, musing that Bruce's decision to give up the opportunity to remain legally dead must have been under Alfred Pennyworth's influence.
In the caves below the manor, Bruce continues his study of the Red Hood Gang, noting that nearly every Wayne depot in the city has been raided - but a prime target has been left conspicuously untouched. Suddenly, both he and Alfred realize what the Red Hood Gang is planning to do, and Bruce suggests that the best way to stop the criminals might require Bruce Wayne's contributions more than Batman's.
At GCPD Headquarters, Commissioner Loeb is surprised to hear news that Bruce Wayne is appearing on the news with claims that he knows something abotu the Red Hood Gang. This comes doubly as a surprise because Bruce is supposed to be dead. Eager to spare himself the headache, Loeb sends James Gordon to deal with it.
At his press conference, Bruce asks the viewers at home what it is that they love about Gotham City, noting that the city rarely does them much good. The truth is that only each individual knows why they stay; why they tolerate Gotham. While he only recently realized why he came back to Gotham, he reveals that the reason he loves the city is that it is a city people come to in order to become more than what they are. Gotham is a transformative place where its residents are challenged to succeed against the odds. And in Gotham, the odds are against the average person - but Gotham doesn't just draw in average people. Some people have the potential to walk through the fire and become heroes. Since he came back, though, Bruce has seen the city changed from a place of challenge to a place of terror because of the Red Hood Gang. It will be up to the city to stop them, and the city's challenge begins at the Ace Chemical Processing Plant, where Bruce believes the Red Hood Gang is planning to create a radioactive, flesh-eating poison that will explode at different locations around the city, as early as tomorrow night.
As Bruce begins to explain that he knows his claims are true because of what he heard from Red Hood One, Jim Gordon catches sight of a group of Red Hoods preparing to fire rockets at the news crews, and he rushes forward, warning everyone to get down as the vans and cars around them blow up. Bruce, though, uses the explosion as a distraction, rushing inside the plant - not long after, Jim spots the open door, and leads his men inside as well.
Not long after Bruce gets inside, realizing that his suspicions are worse than he thought, he is caught at gunpoint by Red Hood One. Grinning, he orders his men to shut the police out as he applauds Bruce's detective skills - particularly for having realized that they were going to enact their plan tomorrow, on the anniversary of the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Meanwhile, there will be nobody to resist them as they take what they can of the chemical cocktail out the back tunnels, and dispose of Bruce and what little police force is on hand as the plant explodes. All of this will serve to punctuate the ugly truth - that the world is nothing but random meaninglessness.
Coolly, Bruce responds that Red Hood One's philosophy is bullshit. His parents deaths may have been meaningless, but their lives were beyond meaningful. Any person's death may come at any moment, but what's important is what they do before that. The life that the Red Hood leads is an abomination; an evil man pretending to have a cause. Annoyed, Red Hood One decides that maybe it's time to close the loop, and kill Bruce. Suddenly, though, the power goes out, giving Gordon a chance to get through the plant's doors, and confusing the Red Hood Gang. Police choppers overhead are surprised to see that the blackout has covered only part of the city, and the pattern of the darkness shows a bat in relief.
Fumbling in the dark, the Red Hood Gang begins equipping night-vision goggles in order to see. Spotting Bruce Wayne trying to escape, they are surprised to see the Batman swoop down and take Wayne away. Just as quickly, Batman orders the lights be turned back on, instantly blinding those wearing the goggles. While his gang struggles to regain their bearings, Red Hood One removes his helmet and lays his eyes, for the first time, on the Batman. Replacing his helmet, he orders that his men kill the Bat, while Alfred warns Bruce that he may not be able to block the trucks full of chemicals from leaving without more time.
As Batman fights his way through the Red Hoods, he fails to notice that Red Hood One has a high-calibre pistol trained on him, despite the fact that Alfred attempts to warn him, albeit over a bad connection. Unexpectedly, Red Hood One's aim is thrown off when one of his own gang fires a shot at his head, which ricochets off of his helmet. The man calls out that the madness needs to stop, and angrily, Red Hood One shoots him dead. Batman discovers, too late, that the man who saved his life was Red Hood #347 - his Uncle Philip. As Batman rushes to Philip's side, Red Hood orders his men to get to the trucks, but finds that the distraction was just long enough for Alfred to gain control of the bay doors, preventing their escape.
With the plant beginning to explode around him, Bruce removes the mask, and sees with finality that his uncle is dead, but his horror is interrupted when Jim Gordon catches up to him and places him under arrest. Seeing that the Liutenant does not intend to stand down, Batman launches his grappling gun into the man's chest, knocking him over, which saves him from being crushed by a falling girder, and then escapes into the fire. Annoyed, Jim orders his men to evacuate the building instead - the Batman can wait.
Batman gets to the roof in time to see Red Hood One escaping on a helicopter, but determinedly, Batman wraps his grapple line around his enemy's ankle, yanking him from the aircraft, and sending them both plummeting through the weakened roof of the chemical plant. Batman struggles to stand, hurt by the fall, and is in worse shape when Red Hood angrily slams a metal pipe into his chest. In response, Batman breaks the man's ankle, only for both of them to be knocked aside as one of the chemical vats below them blasts its lid off, smashing through the catwalk on which they were fighting. Grinning, Red Hood One realizes that the Batman is the same vigilante who had thwarted him several times before. Batman, realizing that the catwalk won't hold their weights much longer, begs the criminal to take his hand and get to safety, putting an end to this madness. Still grinning, Red Hood insists that this is only the beginning, releasing his grip on the fragile catwalk railing, and tumbling down into the boiling vat of chemicals below.
Days later, Bruce has since connected the cave to a secret entrance in the study of the Manor. Alfred muses that it was quite clever of him to loop and overlay a feed of Bruce's image in the Wayne-Tech night vision goggles that the Red Hood Gang had stolen in order to make it seem as though he was still on the catwalk at Ace Chemicals. With that, Batman's rescue of Bruce Wayne begins the legend, and cements their separation in the foundation of his mythos. Even so, Bruce worries that it will only be a week before somebody figures out that he and Batman are one and the same.
Meanwhile, the police claim to have discovered the identity of Red Hood One, but Batman is not so sure. The police discovered the remains of a man called Liam Distal in a barrel of Lye outside Amusement Mile - and the lye essentially dissolved most of the body, effectively making it impossible to date or place the death. Bruce can only say for certain that, at some point, someone murdered Distal, and took his place as leader of the Red Hood Gang. So, there's no way of knowing whether the man he faced at Ace Chemical was a patsy or the same man whom he had faced many times before.
Reminded by the confusion about the Red Hood's identity, Alfred suggests that Gotham may have more trouble than Bruce thinks linking him to the Batman. His past on the stage led him to learn that when he was afraid of being found out as merely an actor, he failed to realize that the audience wants to believe he is the character he plays. They're not trying to find him out. Similarly, the people of Gotham will want to forget who is under the mask, because of the passion of Batman's performance. they want to be transported to a world where Batman could be real; a symbol that defies the rule of logic.
Sighing, Bruce apologizes to Alfred, but the older man insists that he knows Thomas and Martha would be proud of their son. Their moment is interrupted suddenly by a news broadcast in which Edward Nygma introduces himself to the city by name and by nom-de-plume - The Riddler. He explains that he has come to make Gotham smarter - and he will begin with a riddle: There are two sisters. Each gives birth to the other. Who are they? Watching from two different locations, both Bruce and Jim Gordon realize that this is the lesser known second riddle of the Sphinx. Grinning, Nygma hints that one sister says "I am the Day," and the other says "I am the night." Finally, he finishes by saying, "so bring on the dark, dark night!" just as a massive EMP blast knocks out power to the entire city - except his broadcast, which ends with a final challenge to meet his challenge.
"Dark City, Part One"Edit
- Alfred Pennyworth
- Red Hood Gang
- Philip Kane (Dies in this issue)
- Gotham City Police Department
- Vicki Vale
- The Riddler
- Sebastian Hady (In a photograph only)
- Harvey Dent (Mentioned only)
- Elizabeth Kane (In a photograph only)
- Jacob Kane (In a photograph only)
- Gotham City