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|First Published:||November 13, 2013|
|Previous Issue:||Batman #24|
|Next Issue:||Batman #26|
The Gotham City Police Department is in hot pursuit of the Batman, and they believe they have him flanked when he enters the 5th Avenue tunnel. They are wrong. In his new car, Batman is actually accelerating toward them. Unexpectedly, the car leaps into the air, and clings to the roof of the tunnel, speeding right over their heads, and out of their reach. Angrily, Commissioner Loeb hopes aloud that the crime scene he left is, at least, not too disturbed.
From the scene, Lt. Jim Gordon reports that the Batman was at the crime scene, but apparently only to look. The scene itself is disturbing more than it was disturbed. The victim's bones appear to have been twisted and broken by some kind of injected poison. This was actually the second victim. The first was a Dr. Kelver, and the Batman had been at that scene, too. Jim isn't convinced that Batman was involved, despite Harvey Bullock's arguments to the contrary. With a terrorist having blacked out the city and a super-storm on the way, the city has become a devil's playground - especially since Loeb keeps focusing man-power on capturing the vigilante instead. In the meantime, though, anyone helping - even someone dressed as a bat - acts as a welcome light in the darkness.
Returning to the crime scene at hand, Jim restates the scenario: a Doctor Paji was a speculative botanist for Wayne Enterprises, and was victim to a fatal injection of something that appears to cause bones to grow unnaturally, like vines. There was only one witness: Pamela Isley, a research assistant. She claims to have seen someone she didn't recognize enter the building with a valid pass before the body was found. She had said the man looked skeletal.
Meanwhile, in his Batcave, Batman has designed a kind of signal jammer which he hopes will prevent any further electrical surges that will put the city in a blackout. He suspects that once power is restored, Edward Nygma - dubbed "The Riddler" by the press - will attack the grid again, as if it was another riddle waiting to be answered. In the meantime, though, Bruce has isolated the formula that was used to kill Doctors Kelver and Paji. It is advanced biochemistry - more than he can understand. However, he has learned that it forces the bones to grow out radically until the subject is practically ripped apart from the inside. The most interesting thing about it, though, is that it was developed at Wayne Enterprises by a Dr. Karl Helfern - a former employee. The only similar cases Bruce has found were experiments gone awry, where lab animals were ripped apart by their own skeletons. Whomever is or was responsible earned the nickname Dr. Death.
As Bruce prepares to leave the cave, Alfred Pennyworth suggests that he inform the police of what he has learned, but Bruce refuses. Despite having given the force a fleet of dirigibles - with the ulterior motive of using the aircraft to spy on them - he doesn't trust the GCPD. It had, since he came back to the city, shown no signs of becoming less corrupt. To date, he feels that there isn't anyone on the force worth a damn. As he climbs out of the well leading to the cave, he finds himself face to face with Jim Gordon, who overheard that last remark, but ignores it to commend Bruce for standing up to the Red Hood Gang at A.C.E. Chemical. He begins to say that he thinks Bruce's parents would have been proud, but Bruce brushes him off. Frustrated, Jim calls out that despite Bruce's anger at him for what he did, there are secrets about his part in the Waynes' death that Bruce doesn't know. Coldly, Bruce warns that he knows all the things that Jim covered up about that day, and warns the Lieutenant not to speak of it with him again.
Acquiescing, Jim asks only one more question: what lies down the well from which Bruce just emerged? Despite Alfred's obvious worries, Bruce dares Jim to have a look for himself, and when the man peers down into the hole, Bruce secretly activates a device that causes a swarm of bats to fly out, startling the man. Bruce lies that he and Alfred have been keeping the generators down there, but the sound attracts bats. Having incurred a scratch on his face from the encounter, Bruce suggests Jim get medical attention, and leaves him behind.
Later, Bruce finds his way into the Gotham University School of Engineering, where Lucius Fox is working late. Initially startled, Lucius is happy to see his old friend, despite having been fired by Bruce's uncle Philip Kane. Bruce admits that he has come for other reasons than to merely visit. He wants to know about Dr. Helfern. Lucius explains that Helfern was part of a group he'd hired when Philip first took over the company - including Paji and Kelver. Helfern, though, had been the genius among them, working in nano-medicine with a vision of creating a serum that would bond the bone's cellular matrix and make the fibers reactive. In essence, the serum would cause bones to harden upon impact, preventing breakages, and potentially even protecting one's brain from a bullet. The serum, though, was unstable and uncontrollable - as Helfern also became. Once fired from Wayne Enterprises, he began shopping his serum research around to unsanctioned development labs.
Lucius warns, though, that there is one more thing that Bruce needs to know: the serum was as much his project as Helfern's. With that, he thrusts a syringe into Bruce's neck, squeezing the contents inside into his blood stream. Regretfully, Lucius explains that Doctor Death is coming and neither Bruce nor anybody will be able to stop him.
"People in the Dark"Edit
Harper Row and her brother Cullen have been struggling to survive the blackout with their absentee father. He had promised to find a way to put on a light for little Cullen, who is afraid of the dark, but now, his only concern seems to be having a drink with his friends, leaving Cullen to fend for himself.
After their father leaves in anger, Harper tucks Cullen into bed, reminding him of what she had told him when his flashlight went out while camping some time ago. She had said that the darkness was in his head, which is why it was so scary - because he couldn't see her. She admits that while the dark is scary, she is there. Now, the whole city is in the dark, and everybody is scared, but there are people there who are helping; people who are standing up to the bad things hiding in the dark. Even though neither she nor Cullen can see those helpers, out there, they're there. Back in their tent, Harper herself had been too scared to find their way back to their grandmother's house in the dark, but Cullen had remembered the way. He'd been able to use what she told them to be strong like those people helping now.
All the while, as she tells him this, Harper manages to wire the lamp beside Cullen's bed to a battery, and she flicks it on, finally. After hearing what she said to him, though, Cullen has the courage to sleep with the light off. Sighing, Harper turns it off, kisses him on the forehead, and tells him she loves him.
- Gillian Loeb
- Alfred Pennyworth
- James Gordon
- Harvey Bullock
- Dr. Paji (Appears as corpse only)
- Pamela Isley
- Doctor Death
- The Riddler
- Philip Kane (Mentioned only)
- Martha Wayne (In Flashback Only)
- Thomas Wayne (In Flashback Only)
- Lucius Fox
"People in the Dark"Edit
- Marcus Row
- Harper Row
- Cullen Row
- Jason Todd
- Green Arrow
- Killer Moth
- John Stewart
- Dick Grayson
- Barbara Gordon
- Luke Fox
- Barry Allen