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|"Zero Year: Dark City, Part Three"|
|First Published:||December 11, 2013|
|Previous Issue:||Batman #25|
|Next Issue:||Batman #27|
"Zero Year: Dark City, Part Three"Edit
Woozy from the drugs that were just injected into his system, Bruce Wayne demands to know why his old friend Lucius Fox would do that to him. When he looks up, though, he sees that Lucius is occupied with being taunted by his former colleague Karl Helfern, who now calls himself Doctor Death. Amid Lucius' screams, Helfern takes a syringe of his poison and thrusts its needle into the man's ear. Disgusted, Bruce leaps up and whacks Helfern's arm away with a length of pipe, only to watch the bone repair itself, and mutate. Helfern merely knocks him back, causing Lucius to beg Bruce to run for his life.
When Helfern realizes who he's got on his hands, he begins plaintively calling out to him, suggesting that he has a story to tell him that he will want to hear. It is a story about Bruce Wayne, and something terrible that happened a long time ago. Rather than hear it, Bruce sneaks away to the control panel for a jet engine in testing at the lab. When Helfern gets near it, Bruce activates it, causing the man to be sucked into the engine, and presumably, torn apart.
With flames beginning to fill the lab, Bruce and Lucius help each other out of the building as Lucius explains that what he injected Bruce with was his own crude vaccine against Helfern's serum. What he cannot understand, though, is why Helfern would inject himself with his serum. It ought to have killed him, but instead, it has given him the ability to survive even being sucked into the jet engine, as he begins his pursuit of them. When he catches up, he grabs Bruce by the skull and begins squeezing, hoping to crack it open along the seams. A sudden gunshot distracts him, as Jim Gordon appears behind them, warning the madman to step away. Angrily, Helfern runs away, as Jim and Lucius attempt to get Bruce the medical help he needs.
Bruce wakes in a hospital bed with Alfred Pennyworth at his side. He has been unconscious for the better part of a day, recovering from his cranial fracture. Bruce's intent is to get back to work on creating a jammer to prevent another EMP attack by the Riddler, not to mention finding and stopping Doctor Death. Alfred warns that with a broken skull, Bruce must understand the gravity and severity of how close he came to death - and how close to death he still is. Ignoring him, Bruce attempts to leave his bed, and finds himself chained to it by the ankle.
His outrage is stifled by the appearance of Jim Gordon, who insists that they need to talk. Grumpily, Bruce does not hide his animosity toward the man when he suggests that he go chase Batman instead. Jim admits that while Commissioner Loeb is obsessed with removing the embarrassment of a popular vigilante, there are more important things happening in the city. He, for example, is seeking Karl Helfern for reasons outside of his responsibility to his employer. Both he and Bruce want Helfern to stop targeting Wayne Enterprises employees, and if Bruce will not give up any information he has, he is obstructing justice. They must work together.
Through gritted teeth, Bruce ignores Jim's warning, and wonders pointedly where the man got his ubiquitous trench coat. Bruce remembers. Long ago, Officer Jim Gordon had pulled him out of a movie theatre for truancy. Together, Jim and officer Dan Corrigan had taken Bruce back to the station to wait for his parents, but they had made numerous stops on the way. When they stopped at a tailor shop, Bruce could no longer contain his curiosity, and asked why they kept stopping. Smiling, Jim had responded that they were just checking in around the neighbourhood to make sure that their patrol route was safe. This answer had made Bruce feel very safe, wanting to do something to thank Jim for his efforts. But when Corrigan returned from a stop at a tailor shop, he had returned with a gift - that trench coat. It wasn't until later that he realized that the trench coat had been a payoff - protection money. Jim had been racketeering; abusing his status.
Jim tries to explain that the past Bruce is speaking of is behind him, but the younger man angrily breaks free of his chains, and grabs him, reminding that something much more memorable happened later that night. Pulling Jim's gun from its holster, Bruce points the weapon in the policeman's face and explains that what he remembers most vividly from that night was the view that Jim has now - the view into a gun's barrel. Shoving the gun back into Jim's hand, Bruce warns that he will never trust Jim. As far as he is concerned, the lieutenant is just as crooked as any one of Loebs' men. With that, he marches away, demanding that Alfred get him his formal wear. As he watches Bruce leave, Jim receives a message from one of his officers. The Riddler has struck again.
As Batman speeds across the Gotham Bay toward the Newton Center, Alfred warns that the storm - Rene - is going to leave the bay impassable soon. Bruce assures him that he will be safe, and his travelling by sea is giving him an edge in protecting the remaining two Wayne scientists whom Doctor Death will likely target next. The Newton Center had been a front for one of his uncle Philip's weapons development projects. He had been trying to weaponize the weather under the guise of an everyday weather research facility. Upon Bruce's arrival there, he finds that he is too late to save the two remaining scientists. They have already been injected with Doctor Death's serum.
Further to his displeasure, he finds himself cornered by Commissioner Loebs and his men, who agree to lie that he committed the murders of the scientists, and that he pulled a weapon on them, giving them cause to open fire. Though he tries to evade them, Bruce is wounded.
"Zero Year: Dark City, Part Three"Edit
- Batman (Flashback and Main Story)
- James Gordon (Flashback and Main Story)
- Doctor Death
- Lucius Fox
- Alfred Pennyworth
- Dan Corrigan (In Flashback Only)
- Dr. Deeds (Dies in this issue)
- Dr. Brooker (Dies in this issue)
- Gillian Loeb