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|As a result of the New 52 in 2011, the entire line of DC characters was relaunched, incorporating properties belonging to the company's imprints: Wildstorm, Milestone, and Vertigo. As such, elements of this character's history have been altered in some way from the previous incarnation's. For a complete list of all versions of this character, see our disambiguation page.|
Arthur Brown, also known as Cluemaster, is a former game show host who became a Gotham City criminal whose schemes revolved around leading clues that led to himself.
Arthur Brown was the host of a celebrity edition of the program benefiting the Zero Year reclamation fund, which included Bruce Wayne as a contestant. In that episode, Arthur Brown grew increasingly frustrated with a particular contestant's stupidity that he blew up on camera, causing scandal for himself. He had been unemployed and broke, angry that the intellectually inferior got rich while he had to scrape by on food stamps. So, he became a thief calling himself the Cluemaster. He had been so sure he was smarter than everyone else that he left clues - and he was never caught until the Batman proved he was smarter by catching men like the Riddler, a villain who didn't leave clues.
Early Criminal Career
During the second year of Batman's career, Cluemaster participated in the "War of Jokes and Riddles" between the Joker and the Riddler for the right to kill Batman. Cluemaster joined the Joker's side and worked with him for weeks in a city-wide fight against the Riddler's army. However, Brown was eventually caught by Batman, who was forced to side with the Riddler in order to get the fighting to stop. Brown crossed paths with Batman a few more times in his career, including after he had taken on his first Robin.
Arthur always managed to escape with his secret identity intact, until the day he returned home and was caught by Batman there, who only let him go without harm due to seeing his young daughter, Stephanie, and a family to provide for.
By the Night of the Owls, Arthur had been following the clues leading him to the Court of Owls for two years, eventually leading him to their hideout. However, when he arrived, he only discovered the poisoned corpses of their leaders. Approached by their killer - Lincoln March - Brown pitched an idea he had for the fall of Batman, noting that he just needed the resources to achieve such a plan. March, seeing his vision, agreed to set Cluemaster's plan into action.
In order to facilitate the plan he had once thought of, Cluemaster engineered events to destroy Gotham City, sending messages to the entirety of the upper echelons of Batman's rogues gallery that they were "invited to the destruction of Gotham City" (knowing Batman would concentrate his efforts on them and ignore the C-listers) as well as causing the manipulation of Commissioner Jim Gordon with some basic Mad Hatter technology to get Batman off balance from the onset, working more in depth with the lower criminals, including the likes of Lock-Up, Ratcatcher, Prankster, Firefly, and Signalman.
In one such meeting, he was found out by his daughter. However, in the attempt to kill her for what she knew, Cluemaster let her go free, likely not in accordance with his plans. He later tried to have her assassinated upon being told of her whereabouts by his ex-wife, Crystal, but was not successful. This assassination was demanded by Hush, on the consequence of failure being Arthur's death instead. Though information was reported otherwise by the thugs he hired, he noted that she was in fact still alive, considering she was not listed among the dead or injured in the murder reported by the news, and the fact that she had been blogging about him to any who would listen. In light of this, and with his daughter's blogging still not making a serious impact on the community due to his low threat level as a villain, he sent a mail bomb to the house of the friend of his daughter, hoping to kill Stephanie, but ended up only killing said friend due to Stephanie not being at the house at the time.
As Arthur reported to Hush shortly thereafter, his plans with the lower-tier villains were in full swing at this point. Signalman was embedded within Gotham's infrastructure, using the traffic system to cause a gradually worsening gridlock. Ratcatcher was weakening the water system, preparing to introduce pathogens to the pipes at a moment's notice. The Prankster was causing rolling blackouts in the city, cycling them through the worst neighbourhoods in town and timed to interrupt community events. These plans together were intended to create mass anxiety in Gotham that would likely lead to street riots. Upon Hush leaving, Cluemaster revealed that he was aware that his daughter, now a masked vigilante aimed to take him down, was present, ambushing her with a gas grenade. He explained that he hoped they could have been partners, but that hope was crushed by her meddling. Though he tried to explain his motivations for going along with this plan, she cut him short by lobbing a wrench at his head and escaping on his motorcycle. He recovered and gave chase on another motorcycle, speeding dangerously through the streets of Gotham while lobbing explosives at his daughter. By the end of the chase, Arthur's motorcycle had crashed six miles outside of Gotham City, with Stephanie able to watch as the state police, whose jurisdiction the father and daughter had entered and whom she had called during the chase itself, arrested him.
Inside the County Correctional Facility, Stephanie interrupted her father watching television. She admitted that she had been visiting everyone she saw at the gathering that night when she'd caught him planning his crimes. She had been learning their parts in Hush's plan, and she wanted to be sure she could look her father in the eye when she posted her findings onto the internet. As she tapped her smartphone's screen to make the post, she showed the screen to her father, who grinned widely when he saw that somehow, someone had over-written her post by placing a hundred-million dollar bounty on her own head. Stephanie would have to start running, and never, ever stop.
Some time later, Cluemaster, along with several other criminals who had been previously incarcerated in both Blackgate Penitentiary and the since-destroyed Arkham Asylum along with crime bosses Carmine "the Roman" Falcone and Selina Kyle, came together at a meeting in Gotham's streets to outfit Batman's enemies with technology secured from Wayne Enterprises.
Later, when Stephanie was about to leak information on Cluemaster's true plans to Vicki Vale, the window smashed as Cluemaster launched a grapple through it, hooking it onto Spoiler's cape and dragging her out into the night, but not before Spoiler could toss her USB stick full of evidence to the reporter. Despite continued attempts to get her to join him, Stephanie refused, and, taking the controls of the helicopter he had used to take her away, she manipulated them so that she could jump away to a nearby rooftop.
Inviting Batman to Beacon Tower to witness the destruction of everything he holds dear, Cluemaster waited there with the Bat-Signal. Upon the arrival of Batman, he mockingly explained that the Bat-Signal had once been an exciting sight - but the truth of it was that it represented Batman's mark, a symbol that he owned Gotham. Amused that Batman still could not recognize who he was, Cluemaster laughed, "jolting" his memory with thousands of volts of electricity. As Batman collapsed, Cluemaster crouched over him, warning all that he needed to do to understand the plot from the beginning was follow the clues.
With Batman strapped to the Bat-Signal, Cluemaster taunted him, explaining that for all Batman's posturing, the symbol on his chest was only another mask to hide the fact that beneath it, he was just a man - not an idea. In that respect, he was no different from the second-stringers he had ignored for years. Cluemaster wondered if Batman even remembered who he was, and Batman responded that he knew well that the Cluemaster was Arthur Brown - a second-rate Riddler knockoff who could never have pulled off a scheme like this. Angrily, Cluemaster reminded that the Riddler never got the better of Batman like this even during the Zero Year, ripping away his cowl to reveal the face of Bruce Wayne - which only served to bolster his case that Batman thought he owns the city, considering the Wayne name was all over it. But now he had nothing. His allies were beaten, his city was burning, and his identity was known. That said, Arthur threw the cape and cowl off of the rooftop to the burning city below. After Arthur exposited over what his plan had been from the start, and proclaimed that he would finally kill Batman, Bruce broke one of his wrists free of the chains holding him, and punched Arthur in the face.
Bruce beat Cluemaster to the ground, though his opponent rightly noted that his exhaustion, including several entire days without sleep, had made him weak. Though Bruce fought with the last of his strength, Cluemaster revealed that he did not intend to win by fighting. He pulls out a revolver, admitting that it was not elegant, but there was a kind of poetic justice to it, given how Bruce lost his parents to a gun, just two miles away on Park Row, similarly to a nobody. As he prepared to pull the trigger, Lincoln March appeared behind him and cut his throat. Grasping to staunch the bloodflow, he sputtered that this wasn't according to plan. His killer responded that it was not according to Cluemaster's plan, but it was according to his own.
- Cluemaster was created by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino, first appearing in Detective Comics #351. However, in the Prime Earth continuity Cluemaster first appeared as part of the New 52 DC Universe in Batman Eternal #3 by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Jason Fabok.
- 25 Appearances of Arthur Brown (Prime Earth)
- 3 Images featuring Arthur Brown (Prime Earth)
- 2 Quotations by or about Arthur Brown (Prime Earth)
- Character Gallery: Arthur Brown (Prime Earth)
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Batman Eternal #11
- ↑ Grayson: Futures End #1
- ↑ Batman Eternal #52
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Batman Eternal #51
- ↑ Batman Eternal #3
- ↑ Batman Eternal #4
- ↑ Batman Eternal #8
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Batman Eternal #24
- ↑ Batman Eternal #10
- ↑ Batman Eternal #13
- ↑ Batman Eternal #26
- ↑ Batman Eternal #39
- ↑ Batman Eternal #40
- ↑ Batman Eternal #48
- ↑ Batman Eternal #49
- ↑ Batman Eternal #50