|"Zero Year: Dark City, Part Four"|
|First Published:||January 22, 2014|
|Previous Issue:||Batman #26|
|Next Issue:||Batman #28|
"Zero Year: Dark City, Part Four"Edit
Someone has set the Batman up for murders committed by Dr. Death, and now the GCPD is hot on his trail, fully intent on charging him for the crimes. Unfortunately, the police seem to be aware of his every tactic, and with each move he makes, they are prepared to counteract it. This problem is compounded by his inability to get any communication signal from the Batcave. In an effort to make a quick getaway, Batman makes for his Batboat, only to learn that it has been rigged to explode. With both his identity and his health at risk, Batman desperately tries to outrun the police snipers' bullets. He is forced into the Gotham River, where he encounters a lone Jim Gordon in a police dingy. The Lieutenant promises that he will save Batman's life and protect him from Commissioner Loeb's men. Reluctantly, Batman accepts his helping hand.
Jim insists that Batman should remove his cowl before the acid that was sprayed on it burns through his eye, offering up his prescription glasses as a show of good will in maintaining the vigilante's secret. Of course, Batman must be his eyes, lest they crash the boat with the storm still approaching the city rapidly. Jim admits that it was the Riddler who sent the department information about the Batman's methods, claiming that they were estranged partners. Given that, Batman wonders why Jim would help him. The lieutenant explains that he has not met many men who would save others' lives without thought. Batman had saved his life at A.C.E. Chemical recently.
Batman asks why he should listen, and Jim responds that he should listen because of Bruce Wayne. Ever since Wayne returned to Gotham, something had changed in him. He had met Bruce once after he'd skipped school, and he was called to bring him back. On the way, they stopped to check in with shop owners as part of their usual rounds, and Bruce had seen Jim accept a gift - a coat. He had told Bruce that it was a gift of thanks for his help, but the look of hope on the boy's face drove him to worry that maybe Gotham wasn't any better than Chicago. Maybe Gotham was just as corrupt. The feeling motivated him to return to one of the shops on the route that night, just to be sure.
He was horrified to discover that a dog-fighting ring was being run out of the establishment. Dan Corrigan, his own partner, was there, breaking bread with criminals. When Jim threatened to go to Loeb with this, he was disturbed to learn that the Commissioner was in on it too. Realizing that he wouldn't play ball, they threw him in with the dogs. It took him a moment, then, to realize that they wanted the dogs to tear him apart. When it was all over, it turned out that Corrigan was the only one who had bet on him to live. Jim had wanted to kill him, but instead, he decided to walk his beat, shut his mouth, and stay out of it.
That night, though, when he walked his route up Park Row, he heard two gunshots, and discovered Bruce Wayne again, crying over his murdered parents. After seeing him so hopeful that afternoon, he couldn't face Bruce. The next day, an anonymous present came for his daughter Barbara. It was a pit-bull puppy - a reminder. So, Jim still wears that coat he'd received as a reminder to them that he hasn't forgotten what they did either. Sometimes, though, he wonders if he doesn't just wear it out of shame. Since that awful night, though, Jim feels that maybe there's a chance things can get better in Gotham. Bruce Wayne came back to fight. The Batman is helping to change crime. Maybe, together, they can fix the city. Batman calls for Jim to stop the boat, and finding his glasses surreptitiously replaced in his front pocket, Jim puts them on. By then, the Batman has already gone.
Alfred Pennyworth finds Bruce working on the jammer he built to counter another EMP attack by the Riddler. Unfortunately, tests cannot pinpoint the location of Dr. Death's lab, and so with no leads, Alfred suggests it is time for Bruce to eat - or rather drink - his breakfast smoothie, commenting that lately, he has had to feed Bruce through an IV, with all the injuries he's incurring. He suggests that Bruce might benefit from some help - like that offered by Jim Gordon, who appears to be one of the few good cops in the city. Meanwhile, Alfred himself wishes to help.
Alfred explains that there was a time when word got out that Bruce was sighted before he returned to Gotham, and Philip Kane had endeavoured to go and collect him. Alfred had used his old military contacts, spending all of his savings in an effort to get word of Philip's plans to Bruce first. He got a courier to put a phone in Bruce's hand, and he waited on the other end of the line for the sound of his lost charge's voice, but nothing came but silence. Even though he tried to rationalize that the courier had lied in order to get the payment, Alfred knew that Bruce was there, and that he'd refused the call. He had told himself that with his reputation for having reported Bruce for truancy as a boy, reporting that behaviour to his parents, Bruce would have no reason to trust that he'd help him escape.
Now that Bruce is back, though, Alfred sees the truth. It wasn't that Bruce didn't trust him. It isn't that Bruce doesn't trust Jim Gordon, either. He is just angry with them for failing to be there for him when his parents were killed. Nobody was there, and so part of him is angry at the entire city. Being Batman is, in part, a way for Bruce to punish the city for failing him, by making them bare witness to his success. By being now what they could not be, then, he shames them all. Letting the past be what drives Batman will cause him to fizzle out, eventually, though. And having seen his example, the people want to help. Bruce cuts Alfred's heartfelt pleading short, explaining that he has determined where Dr. Death's lab is.
Batman enters the city's catacombs, pointing out to Alfred via radio that the catacombs cannot be a tourist attraction during a blackout. The multiple DNA sources of the sample they tested is explained by the dust from bones and decayed remains from within the catacombs. In any case, the catacombs stand as a monument to the idea that the essence of a person can be carried on through his or her bones - which plays into Dr. Death's flair for the dramatic. It isn't long before Batman discovers the lab, but what he finds there disturbs him. He realizes that Helfern's killings aren't revenge, they're a smokescreen for his theft of the victims' research materials, with which he intends to build some kind of doomsday device. Of course, this wasn't Helfern's plan - it was his master's. And that master is the Riddler.
At that moment, the Riddler's visage appears on Helfern's computer monitor, and he calmly remarks that the deaths of thousands is his intent. The world is throwing more disasters at humans all the time, and the only way they will survive is with intelligence. He proposes that if he forces humanity to get smarter or die, it will prepare them to face destruction, and evade it. Batman though, he says, is not smart enough to survive his plans. A sudden explosion causes the catacombs to flood, and the last thing Batman hears before being swept under the water is that Gotham City will soon belong to the Riddler, and the time of the self-styled detective is over.
"Zero Year: Dark City, Part Four"Edit
- Gillian Loeb
- James Gordon
- Dan Corrigan (In Flashback Only)
- Parra (In Flashback Only)
- Lynch (In Flashback Only)
- Marts (In Flashback Only)
- Alfred Pennyworth
- Barbara Gordon
- The Riddler
- Coming Soon