"Hearts in Darkness"Edit

Temporarily stunned into paralysis by the Joker's toxic petals, Bruce is dressed in his "best cape," placed into a coffin and buried alive just outside of Arkham. The Black Glove's plan is to let the air run out of the coffin and leave Bruce without oxygen just long enough before raising him in a near brain-dead state. Then the evil society plans to disfigure the permanently brain damaged Wayne to look like his greatest enemy - the Joker.

But while the Black Glove members have placed wagers on witnessing the death of Bruce's noble spirit, that greatest enemy is actually betting otherwise. After spending his entire life being out-maneuvered by the Dark Knight Detective, the demented green haired criminal has little doubt that soon Batman will come and bring justice to the evil doers. Before slinking away into the night, the Clown Prince of Crime suggests that perhaps the society would want to take a second look at the so-called 'Bat-Radia' they had taken from the crazed Batman before his burial.

Opening up the back of the radio, the members are shocked to find that Bruce had converted the radio to send instead of receive. Tampering with the unit causes it to send a signal to the Bat-Computer in Bruce's downtown penthouse Bat-Cave initiating a security override sequence within the Arkham computer systems. As the Asylum slips out of Hurt's control things are only getting worse for Le Bossu and Scorpiana. After having his face reconfigured by the Joker earlier, the scheduled lobotomy for Nightwing is delayed. By the time Le Bossu arrives on the scene, the drugs have worn off and Nightwing springs forth from the table and delivers a beating to the criminals.

Outside, Batman is awakening from his paralytic coma and begins digging himself out of his grave. It seems as though the Joker was right - Bruce had been out-thinking the Black Glove the entire time. It was during the Thogal ritual when Bruce retreated into the depths of his mind that he noticed the subliminal programming placed in his brain by Hurt. After a cautious force of habit helps him narrowly escape an attempt on his life by one of the Nanda Parbat monks working for the Black Glove, Bruce created the Zur-En-Arrh backup operating persona. Based upon something his father once said about Zorro having to be placed in Arkham if he were to really exist, Bruce created the backup personality knowing that the Black Glove would try and attack his mind and patiently waited for them to make their move.

Elsewhere in Gotham, Robin finally takes care of Swagman and the Mime with help from the Batmen of All Nations. The mantles of the Dark Ranger and Wingman have been passed onto their respective next generations and the League is operating at full capacity as they split up to attend to the rioting henchmen all over town. While Robin takes off towards Arkham, Alfred and Damian are headed in the same direction. Along the way, a reckless Damian crashes the Bat-Mobile into the Joker's escape vehicle. Using the same shock absorption technology that had allowed Bruce and Tim to stop the "Green Vulture" days earlier, the Batmobile forces Joker's ambulance off the road crashing into the waters below.

Having dug himself out, Bruce begins to take care of the Black Glove alongside the recently freed Nightwing. Bruce reveals that he also knew that Jezebel was working for the Black Glove. Although he did initially fall for her, Bruce had also taken the liberty of countering Jezebel's offenses by finding an item very dear to her heart and holding it at ransom. Enraged, Jezebel shouts at Bruce that he'll never love anyone or trust anyone. Bruce replies that any affection she may have seen from him was nothing more than an act coached to him by the world-class thespian Alfred Pennyworth-Beagle.

Having dealt with his former "love," Bruce chases after Hurt as he attempts to flee the scene using a helicopter. While the pilot, Officer Lane (the third-Batman) is taking off, Hurt tries to convince Bruce that his real identity is Thomas Wayne. Bruce refutes his claims and says that Hurt is actually the actor Mangrove Pierce, once framed for murder by John Mayhew. Hurt denies that he is Pierce and calls himself the "piece that can never fit, there from the beginning."

Hurt threatens to flood the media with the doctored photos he had sent to the Mayor unless Batman swears an allegiance to the Black Glove. Bruce refuses and as the helicopter is taking off, Bruce tosses aside his cape and cowl and jumps onto the helicopter. Unable to shake Bruce, Officer Lane crashes the helicopter into the water below. Talia, Damian, Alfred, Tim and Gordon all arrive just in time to witness the fiery explosion of the helicopter into the bay. Unable to find Bruce, Talia swears retribution against those responsible as she sends her Ninja-Man Bat army to swarm Jezebel Jet's aircraft as she flees Gotham.

Six months pass and the night at Arkham was the last time anyone had for sure seen Batman. Deciding to stay behind in the city of chaos, Le Bossu has taken up a hobby of abducting and torturing police officers. Suddenly the room fills with a familiar light as the Bat-Signal shines into Le Bossu's den and the hunchbacked criminal is left frozen in his tracks.


"Hearts in Darkness"Edit