|"The Case of the Chemical Syndicate"|
|First Published:||January 8, 2014|
|Previous Issue:||Detective Comics #26|
|Next Issue:||Detective Comics #28|
DC Entertainment presents this mega-sized issue featuring an all star roster of Batman creators past and present! Plus, all new stories "Twenty-Seven" by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy, "Better Days" by Peter J. Tomasi and Ian Bertam, "The Sacrifice" by Mike Barr and Guillem March, "Rain" by Francesco Francavilla, "Old School" by Gregg Hurwitz and Neal Adams, new art by legendary Batman writer/artist Frank Miller and more!
"The Case of the Chemical Syndicate"Edit
Bruce Wayne has thrown a police fundraiser at his home, with all of the GCPD in attendance. Naturally, he has used the opportunity to have their cars bugged. When Jim Gordon's facial expression changes, Bruce is has more than intuition to thank for the knowledge that someone's been murdered. The victim is Victor Lambert, who was stabbed and whose body was found by his own son. Lambert was one of four private shareholders in A.C.E. Chemical. With Alfred Pennyworth's help, Bruce learns that Lambert called his wife, his son, his mistress, and a Mr. Steven Crane in the last twenty-four hours. The latter of whom received thirteen calls.
Bruce's interest in police matters stems from his childhood. Ever since his parents were murdered before his eyes, he has been driven to see that no one ever has to go through what he went through by beginning a crusade against crime. It helps that he comes from old money, and therefore has the means to do so in an extraordinary way. After all, criminals are a superstitious and cowardly, and having become the Batman, his extraordinary measures are highly effective.
As Batman, he pays a visit to Steven Crane's apartment, and finds him dead, with his murderers in the process of hurriedly burning files and evidence from A.C.E. Chemicals. He catches them in the act, and takes them down, looking over the few files left intact. What he learns from them disturbs him.
At the A.C.E. Chemical plant, the remaining two of the four partners in the company realize that they may be next following the murder of both Victor and Steven. Thinking they might be better off going to the police directly and together, they make an exit. On the way, though, Alby Stryker turns on Paul Rogers and locks him within an aerosol chamber. The other three had been planning to edge him out of his holdings, and he seeks revenge. Fortunately, Batman arrives in time to save Paul, but with only one rebreather, he finds himself locked inside with the toxic gas, and likely to die. Determinedly, though, he smashes through a window, and chases down Stryker.
He corners him on a catwalk, just as Jim Gordon arrives, and orders both men to freeze. Stryker pulls a gun, and instinctively, Batman leaps at him, accidentally kicking him into a vat of chemicals beneath the catwalk. Batman is forced to drop a smoke bomb and rappel away before Gordon's backup can shoot him down. Fortunately, Rogers explains that Batman saved him, and Bruce gets away cleanly.
Unknown to all, Stryker survived his fall.
While chasing some crooks through a circus, Batman and Robin incur the ire of the man running the Hall of Mirrors, and they lose the crooks in the process. Fortunately, Batman captures their license plate with a camera in his Utility Belt, but they must still explain to the man that while they may have done some damage to the Hall of Mirrors, they were chasing men who robbed the till.
Later, at the Batcave, Batman finishes developing his photos, and reveals the license plate they missed, vowing to pass on the information to Commissioner Gordon. Soon, they learn that the plate was registered to an abandoned warehouse, where it soon becomes clear that the thugs are keeping their loot. Unfortunately, the Penguin gets the jump on them, mockingly warning that they will have to evolve to survive. They recover quickly, but the Penguin escapes in a jet, and the afterburn from it will surely burn them to a crisp. Fortunately, their capes protect them to the extent that they survive, but not without beginning to melt right off of their bodies, revealing newer, sleeker costumes.
Within moments, though, they are attacked by The Scarecrow. His fear gas causes Batman to relive the horrific murder of his parents over and over. He finds himself in a comic book shop, surrounded by his enemies, who warn that the never-ending battle with them is his immortal burden; to bear the weight of their sins and fears.
Screaming with horror, Batman wakes suddenly at his own 75th anniversary party, surrounded by smiling faces, and he wonders whether any of these people know what he's been through.
It is Bruce Wayne's 75th birthday, and he is happy to be surprised by a party thrown by all his extended family, who have chosen to wear their costumes, despite their advanced ages. Even his son Damian, who said he would not attend any more such childish occasions, has come.
Nightwing has him cut his cake with a Batarang, and Bruce serves a slice to Barbara, expressing his gladness that she took over her father's old position as police Commissioner.
The celebration is cut short, however, by the Bat-Signal's call, leaving only Bruce and Alfred Pennyworth behind. Of course, Alfred is a very old man, and he falls asleep - leaving nobody at all to stop Bruce from going out to answer the call as well. As painful as it is for Bruce to be out at his age, he loves it, and he has nothing to prove to anyone but himself.
Upon his return, Alfred has wakened, and offers him a new cane, after he emphatically snapped his in two upon deciding to go out. Soon, the others return, suspicious at how many felons managed to get arrested that night. Smirking, Bruce claims that he was not responsible.
Five years ago, Batman spotted a car crash outside Gotham City, and pulled the driver and her son from the wreckage. Woozily, the woman thanked Batman for saving her son again. Confused, Batman had little time to respond before the car exploded. Determinedly, he told them to wait behind while he sought help. In his determination, he failed to notice that the crash victims were Barbara Gordon and her son James, Jr.
On the anniversary of his parents' deaths, Batman is visited by the Phantom Stranger, who shows him a vision of the past on that very night. This time, though, instead of being killed, Thomas Wayne punches the mugger in the face, leaving everyone alive - and allowing Bruce to see the consequences of his greatest dream come true.
While he has a family with his living parents, his wife Natalya Trusevich, and their son, Thomas Wayne II, Gotham City is overrun by crime, resulting in Commissioner Gordon becoming a quadriplegic, nursed by his daughter Barbara. Meanwhile, Ra's al Ghul has conquered nearly one quarter of Europe, with thousands of casualties in his wake. Richard Grayson, meanwhile, has been put on death row for the murder of Tony Zucco.
Sadly, Bruce tells his young son to share his love with the rest of his family before begging the Stranger to send him back to his own reality with the knowledge that sometimes, a sacrifice is necessary. Solemnly, the Stranger reminds that the measure of the Batman is not merely that his parents were sacrificed, but that he made a great sacrifice to become the Bat as well.
Poison Ivy wanders the streets of Gotham City in broad daylight, warning of the impending destruction of the world due to the toxins and poison of places like Gotham. When no one seems to understand her warnings, she lashes out violently. Fortunately, Batman and Catbird are soon on the scene to demand her peaceful surrender.
As the guardian of one of the world's safest cities, Batman cannot stand for someone attacking his city, noble though her cause may be. Ivy claims, though, that she is trying to save it, capturing him in her vines and leaning in for a kiss. Angrily, Catbird intervenes, warning that kissing Batman is her job, and threatening to slice her apart for it. Breaking free of the vines, Batman holds Catbird back, warning that with Ivy incapacitated, the threat is neutralized, and there's no further need for violence. They pass Ivy off to Commissioner Sionis before continuing their patrol for the morning.
Later, they meet with Bluebelle and Brightbat at City Hall for a commendation from Mayor Cobblepot following a 90% drop in crime over the previous months. That is, apart from Ivy's attack that morning or the potential suicide that Harvey Bullock calls Batman away to.
Bullock explains that Clayton Parker was recently engaged, recently promoted, and won $130,000 in the lottery, giving him no reason whatsoever to attempt jumping to his death. Even so, Parker seems intent, and leaps from the ledge. Batman rappels up to save him, but as Parker is escorted to a police cruiser, he grabs one of the officers' guns and shoots himself in the head. This makes three dozen suicides in the past week, with no obvious explanation as to why. With crime at an all-time low, suicide is fifteen times the national average in Gotham.
Catbird suggests that Bruce has been working too hard, and needs something - or someone - to take the edge off. Alfred Pennyworth returns with a toxicology report, explaining that whatever caused the victims to take their own lives was of their own volition - not a chemical influence. This strikes Bruce as wrong in some way, and he excuses himself for some air.
Sighing, he heads out into the gardens of Wayne Manor, confused as to why he feels so angry. Things are going well for him - in his life and in Gotham. Perhaps it is time to give up the Batsuit. Suddenly, he feels a prick on his neck, and discovers one of Ivy's poisoned thorns caught in his suit. Even more suddenly, he realizes that a tree has appeared at his family's grave site that wasn't there a moment ago, and inexplicably, he feels even angrier.
Returning to the Batcave he asks for a toxicology report on the thorn, and then goes out on patrol. Upon arriving downtown, he receives word from Alfred about the thorn - which is strange to him. Alfred would never have sent him that information under normal circumstances. He had asked for an analysis of his blood, not the thorn. Neither of them appear to be thinking clearly at present, but Bruce feels like he's finally beginning to. Even so, the report shows the well-known psychotropic property which causes the mind and body to see and feel only what they've been programmed to - and to cause a violent reaction when something contradicts that program.
Batman discovers that Catbird followed him, as she points out that he doesn't appear to be patrolling. In fact, he appears disturbed. Turning to her, Bruce warns that Poison Ivy's claims that everything is a lie were right. Her poison has altered their perceptions and memories. Their entire world is a fabrication of some kind of chemically induced mass hallucination. In accordance with the program, Selina's reaction to his truth is violent, and it doesn't help that she has called some friends to stop him.
Soon, Brightbat, Flying Fox , The Gothamite, Bluebelle and the Wings of Truth have arrived on the scene, surrounding him. Batman will have to fight his way out. Aware that they are not really his enemies, Batman defends himself while trying to reason out who masterminded the crime. Finally, he realizes that the best thing he could do is lose the fight - in order to win the war.
Soon, Catbird has brought Batman to the Crane Rehabilitation Center for Health and Wellness, where Dr. Jonathan Crane promises to take care of him. Inwardly, Bruce remembers that Jonathan Crane is the Scarecrow, and he may be behind this.
In fact, he is more right than he knows, now at the mercy of Scarecrow and the other Arkham Inmates.
Bruce Wayne wakes suddenly in the Batcave to the sound of an older man's voice. Confused, he looks at his surroundings, and is disturbed by how different the cave looks - and by this unfamiliar guest. When he receives little answer from the older man, he takes a run at him, only to be flipped onto his back by the armless old man with a cane. Grimly, the man responds that he is Bruce Wayne. They are both Batman. In fact, they are clones, created by the first Batman.
The first Batman existed for a long time, until he was old and tired, and the city no longer needed him. When it needed a Batman again, he was far too old to fight anymore, and so he began finding a way to make his legacy live on, renewed. Since then, there have been almost ten generations of Batmen to fight the new threats the city produced.
This is the 200th year of the Batman, and this new Batman doesn't remember any of it. This is because the clones were designed to wake up immediately after making the oath that began the Batman legend. Each clone appears to have about 27 years of effectiveness, and so, upon Year 25, if the cirt is still stirring, the program begins - taking two years to initialize. So, the elder of the two did just that, staying on only long enough to ensure that this new one gets off to a good start before being allowed to die.
It will now be the new Bruce's duty to burn everything in the Cave, and then learn for himself what waits for him out there - which allies, which villains. But, if he doesn't want that responsibility, he has only a little time to leave. The elder man points toward a ladder leading to the surface, and the younger makes a run for it, just as a police call comes through on the scanners. Halfway up the ladder, Bruce hears the call, and can't abandon the destiny he was designed to fulfill.
"The Case of the Chemical Syndicate"Edit
- Robin (In a dream sequence)
- Chip (In a dream sequence)
- The Penguin (In a dream sequence)
- Scarecrow (In a dream sequence)
- The Joker (In a dream sequence)
- Mad Hatter (In a dream sequence)
- Catwoman (In a dream sequence)
- Poison Ivy (In a dream sequence)
- Two-Face (In a dream sequence)
- Batman (Bruce Wayne)
- Alfred Pennyworth
- Batman (Damian Wayne)
- Red Robin
- Commissioner Barbara Gordon
- Outside of Gotham City
- Phantom Stranger
- Joe Chill
- Martha Wayne
- Thomas Wayne
- Natalya Wayne
- Thomas Wayne II
- James Gordon
- Barbara Gordon
- Ra's al Ghul (Appears on screen only)
- Richard Grayson (Appears on screen only)
"Gothopia, Part 1 of 3: The Perfect Crime"Edit
- Poison Ivy
- Commissioner Sionis
- Wings of Truth
- Mayor Cobblepot
- Harvey Bullock
- Clayton Parker
- Alfred Pennyworth
- Flying Fox
- The Gothamite
- Killer Croc
- Mr. Freeze
- Professor Pyg
- Harley Quinn