|First Published:||June 1993|
|Previous Issue:||Batman #493|
|Next Issue:||Batman #495|
As Robin is dragged through the sewers of Gotham City by a strong current, he struggles to find a way to avoid drowning. While passing under a narrow archway, he stretches his staff across the gap to keep from being sucked further into Gotham Harbour. However, in order to keep from simply drowning there instead of elsewhere, he uses his Batrope to grip a nearby walkway and pull himself to safety. Meanwhile, both Bane and Killer Croc are swept away into the harbour.
Elsewhere, serial killer Cornelius Stirk prepares to eat the heart of a recent victim, hoping to get a taste of the fear induced nor-epinephrine that it would be infused with. He receives a knock at his door from the Joker, bearing an offer to partner in a plan to take control of the whole city.
Bruce Wayne cancels his therapy appointment with Dr. Shondra Kinsolving for the fifth time in a row, claiming to be faced with a series of dire emergencies. Dr. Kinsolving is doubtful, and somewhat hurt. She begins to realize that she bears some romantic feelings for her patient. Their call is ended suddenly when Tim arrives home at last, having had to walk home, wet from the sewer. Despite his chill from being in the cold water, Tim is more concerned about Bruce's health. Bruce ignores the fact that Bane is obviously trying to wear him down, instead remaining obsessed with the need to recapture the remaining Arkham Asylum escapees. Robin offers his help and that of their associate Jean-Paul Valley, but Bruce responds that Bane is only seeking Batman, and that as long as he can stand, it will be his business. Bruce dons his Batsuit and leaves to face his enemies.
After having dealt with Mister Zsasz, Batman is reminded of another serial killer: Cornelius Stirk. He performs a computer trace on sightings of anomalous historical figures, knowing that Stirk's hypnotic abilities often convince people that they are seeing historical figures. The computer returns results indicating that Stirk was last seen in Gotham's Hub District.
Elsewhere, Scarecrow bursts into the 8-Ball bar, and tortures one of the Joker's former gang members with his fear toxin. The thug spills that the Joker plans to use Stirk's abilities to kidnap and control Commissioner Gordon into fouling up the Gotham City Police Department, and run the city into the ground.
Batman discovers bodies of Stirk's victims in a dumpster, and when he hears the sound of the cart Stirk uses to carry around the bodies, he follows it to the killer's apartment. When he gets inside, Stirk has already left, but an open notebook indicates that Commissioner Gordon is the target. Batman rushes to Gotham City Police Headquarters, as the Bat-Signal shines in the sky.
Commissioner Gordon has been warned by Mayor Krol that unless he gets a handle on things, his career will be destroyed. Now, standing next to the lit Bat-Signal, he is greeted by Batman. Suddenly, Batman punches Gordon, knocking him to the ground. It is revealed that the Batman was actually a hypnotic illusion by Cornelius Stirk, who proceeds to attack the Commissioner with a knife. From above, the Joker watches grumpily, noting that he wanted to kidnap the commissioner, and not kill him. The Joker is further exasperated by the arrival of the real Batman. Batman easily apprehends Stirk, despite his exhaustion related clumsiness.
The Joker wonders why he bothered to partner with Stirk, when he is confronted by the Scarecrow, who wonders the same thing. The Scarecrow is jealous and offended that Stirk was chosen to partner with the Joker rather than himself - a master of fear. Joker seems open to cooperation, and agrees to the Scarecrow's new plan to terrorize the mayor in order to gain control over Gotham, rather than kidnapping Gordon.
Batman helps the Commissioner to his feet as his wife Sarah Essen-Gordon arrives on the roof, and admonishes Batman for once again placing her husband in danger. Jim is still plagued by Stirk's manipulations as she carries him away. Later, the Joker and Scarecrow arrive at Mayor Krol's mansion, filling his bedroom with fear toxin, and manipulating him into using his citywide influence for their benefit.
- Sarah Essen
- James Gordon
- Cornelius Stirk
- Killer Croc
- Alfred Pennyworth
- Armand Krol
- The Joker
- Jean Paul Valley
- Shondra Kinsolving
- Lucius Fox
- Leslie Thompkins