The mystery thickens as Batman fights for his life and an unlikely ally emerges from the past. As always we begin with the cover, there is a showdown between Batman and James Bard in a network of telephone lines. James Bard is holding a pistol and an assault rifle in each hand. This is a very bad way to hold guns. The recoil of the assault rifle needs to be countered with a second hand on the weapon. In general it is an interesting cover and easily sets the mood for the issue.
We start the chapter in the lair of Red Robin where Harper Row talks to her unconscious brother. About time we find out what this character has been up to. She is a very interesting character and yet it has been ten to fifteen issues since we last saw her. Red Robin walks into the room to tell Harper Row that he is going to help Batman. Like we have seen before in previous issues, Harper tries to go with Red Robin to help him. You all know how that should work out. Red Robin knows that she is not ready for this kind of mission and she should stay behind.
We cut to Julia as she watches Batman falls towards his death in the batmobile. Julia gets an epiphany from looking at her sleeping Father. I don’t get how she got the idea. I think I have either forgotten or missed something. Question: if your boss dies, does that mean you are fired? On top of the GCPD the cops look down at the explosion of the batmobile in horror. After watching, Harvey Bullock and most of the cops there walk out on James Bard. Are they quitting because from the dialogue it sounds that but they don’t say that straight out? I like the fact that Harvey Bullock finally had enough of this guy. It made me think that by the end of this story all the characters will be either on Batman’s side or James Bard’s side.
We learn more about James Bard’s past as we continue the conversation with Vicki Vale and the bartender in Detroit. We learn that one night James Bard had an encounter with a Batman copycat that went horribly wrong. We know from past stories that Batman copycats have existed but don’t hear much about them due to the fact that they are usually unmasked in the same issue. Those who have Batman’s approval are part of Batman Incorporated.
As the bartender’s story continues, we learn that James Bard was approached by a man after the incident and got the transfer to Gotham. The mysterious man almost looks like James Corrigan but if it is him, it makes no sense. Outside the bar, Vicki Vale calls James Bard and breaks up with him. She has had it with James Bard’s lies and I don’t blame her. She is angry that his only aim was revenge. Vicki Vale has her own skeletons in her closet. As the story progresses, I assume that Vicki Vale will at least start on the path to redemption.
After the phone call ends, James Bard turns around to see Batman behind him. This starts a fight scene with the bad guy being James Bard yelling “I lost everything because of you”. I have seen it many times and got the t-shirt. The fight scene is very one-sided on Batman’s benefit which is expected since Batman surprised the heck out of James Bard. After Batman beats the crap out of James Bard, he walks away only to have James Bard try to arrest him. Is James Bard an idiot or just so full of rage that he can’t think straight? The rest of the Bat family shows up to help Batman out leaving James Bard helpless. They leave James Bard with a threat which is the only thing they can really do because of Bard’s position. We also get a quick look at Batgirl’s new costume which I don’t understand because she is supposed to get this new costume after this story.
In the batcave, most of the Bat family have a reunion to let reassure that all are alright. What about Batwing? Last we saw of him, Batman was saving him from being covered in rubble. I hope we soon get an indication that he is alright too. As the Bat family tries to lighten up the mood, Batman goes into Hush’s cell and violently interrogates him. Like we have seen in the past, Hush is not fazed by it and taunts Batman. I am not sick of it. I enjoy it more and more every time. I knew that we weren’t done with Hush at all and we probably won’t be really done with him until the end of the series.
Julia fires a tranquillizer gun at Hush while Red Robin tries to stop her. He thinks it is a real gun. As much as I would like to see Hush die, the Bat family needs him alive for information. Are we seeing Julia starting to break under pressure? After everyone calms down, Batman tells the rest of his team that Hush and James Bard are just pawns. As the reader, we know all this information and didn’t need a whole scene of Batman describing what we already know.
Julia comes up to Batman after the group talk and apologizes for her lack of control. I like this character and approve of the character development progression. I would like to see more so that Julia can stand on her own as a feature character. Batman goes to his computer and tries to figure out who is behind this conspiracy while Hush taunts in the background. Hush never knows when to shut up and makes me want to give him shock treatment. That is what makes a good villain.
We end the story learning that another party is trying to unravel the conspiracy. The person is none other than the Riddler. Why does the Riddler of all people want to help Batman? And does this information come with a price? This issue gives us more questions than answers. It seems like the writers have left us with a riddle.