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Batgirl is investigating a series of art thefts and murders committed all over Burnside by her old enemy Grotesque, who has been robbing and murdering wealthy families viciously. Batgirl sneaks into a mansion owned by an old marr

Quote1.png It does not escape my notice that I'm rushing towards another chance to permanently disable myself-- physically and mentally this time. I'm not ashamed of my scars. I own them. I celebrate them. And if getting a few more is what it takes to stop Grotesque... that's a price I'm willing to pay. Quote2.png
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Art of the Crime is a 2018 Batgirl storyline, published in Batgirl (Volume 5). It was written by Mairghread Scott with art by Paul Pelletier.


Batgirl is investigating a series of art thefts and murders committed all over Burnside by her old enemy Grotesque, who has been robbing and murdering wealthy families viciously. Batgirl sneaks into a mansion owned by an old married couple, but unfortunately she's too late, and both spouses and even their pet dog have been murdered by Grotesque. Batgirl finds Grotesque when he's trying to run away and engages him, but Grotesque gets rid of her, and as jumping back on his bike, he claims he's doing Gotham a favor by killing the rich. Batgirl protests he has just murdered two innocent persons, but he just rides off. Batgirl plants a tracker on his jacket and rides after him and into Gotham City.

Batgirl chases after him all the way down to a luxury apartment building on the edge of Gotham River, feeling her fury fueled at Grotesque treating other people like the Joker treated her,[1] and ruining the last few beautiful things left in her city. Batgirl calls the GCPD for backup and enters the building. Grotesque is holding a man hostage but Batgirl kicks him away from the man. Batgirl and Grotesque fall in a fountain while fighting, and Grotesque gets to stab his electric baton in her wet back. The chip in Batgirl's spine is shorted by the blow, and Batgirl starts having trouble focusing and standing upright. Grotesque tries to escape via the elevator. Batgirl hurries after him, but all of sudden she gets dizzy. Several strange images flash before her eyes and all of sudden she is falling off the building.

Batgirl manages to slow down her fall and land in the river. Tired and aching, Batgirl crawls herself out the river and rides back to the building. She tries to remember what she saw in Grotesque's apartment, but her usually perfect memory is blurry. She recalls blueprints and enough gear to assault a military base. Batgirl makes it to the building and finds it is burning. Grotesque torched the evidence and escaped, and for some reason, the police never came.

The next day, Barbara slips in the GCPD Headquarters to gather more information and logs in a computer. She's caught by newcomer detective Evan Douglas but she feeds him an excuse and introduces herself. Commissioner Jim Gordon turns up while they're talking. All of sudden Barbara's head hurts. She suffers a seizure and faints.

Barbara comes around in a hospital bed. Her father is standing by her side, and he tells her implant seems to be malfunctioning, but Barbara is too dazed and worried about her failing perfect memory to pay attention. Barbara asks for her notebook and tries to note down what she remembers about Grotesque in shorthand, ignoring her father and her doctor who tries to explain her implant needs to be replaced and she needs to rest in order to prevent brain damage. Finally James gets her to listen he wants her to come home and rest until her surgery. Barbara doesn't like the idea but she pretends to give in.

Back home, Barbara goes up to her room. James tries and fails to cheer her up, so he leaves her alone. Barbara pores over Detective Evans' cloned hard drive and discovers he stopped looking for Grotesque weeks ago; but she also gathers a list of possible hideouts. Barbara realizes she is risking to disable herself for good, but she will not allow Grotesque to hurt anyone else.

Batgirl looks in different safe houses until she finds Phillipe Rianne's body stuffed in a fridge. Grotesque enters the room, and although he claims he never wanted to fight her, he confesses he stole Rianne's villain identity to deceive the police as he murders people and sells their art. Batgirl gleans he's working for the Dark Web and calls him out on his murders. Grotesque claims his victims deserved to suffer, as she'll do if she protects them.

Batgirl and Grotesque battle, and Batgirl manages to take him down and tie him up. She can't get off his booby-trapped mask, but she calls the police. All of sudden, her implant malfunctions again and she starts getting dizzy and hallucinating. Batgirl stumbles her way in the fire escape and drops in a trash container. Batgirl loses consciousness for a while; then she climbs her way back to the apartment and finds Rianne's body is lying on the floor with one of her Batarangs sticking out of his chest, and Detective Douglas is urging two cops to arrest her. Batgirl escapes, reflecting that Dark Web's involvement means she will need to go to the net to fight them.

Meanwhile, Detective Douglas orders his men to try and track Batgirl down. He also tells one of them to head back to the precint and gather the task force up to ensure the success of Operation Swap Meet. After his men are gone, Douglas is contacted by Wyrm. Douglas doesn't like Wyrm, even though Wyrm reminds him that Douglas is stealing for him, and his phantasm technology helped him frame Batgirl. Douglas retorts that Wyrm will have his merchandise after Operation Swap Meet as long as Wyrm stops pushing him.

Batgirl stumbles her way back to James Gordon's house despite her dizziness, changes clothes and tries to sneak into her bedroom, but she is caught by her very mad father. After an argument, both Gordons make up and hug each other. James also mentions the GCPD is guarding an art exhibit opening at the Museum tonight. Grotesque's murder spree has driven wealthy Gothamites to donate their art, and Gordon guesses Grotesque may strike the Museum next.

James leaves and Barbara tries to get some sleep for a while, but at the end she suits up and goes to the Birds of Prey's old headquarters, the Gotham Clock Tower. Batgirl guesses Wyrm used a hologram to frame her. Since Dark Web is messing with cops to protect Grotesque, they must have hacked into Detective Douglas' computer.

Fortunately, Barbara copied his hard drive. She quickly deduces Wyrm wants to hit the exhibit. She also finds out Wyrm has already sold some stolen art pieces... including one statue she saw in Grotesque's penthouse and is being exhibited in the Museum right now. Distressed, Batgirl realizes Grotesque has already looted the Museum. He replaced the art pieces with fakes, and is staging a massacre to cover his theft up.

As Batgirl rides to the Museum to save everyone, she realizes Grotesque can't have orchestrated his plan from the outside. She deduces Grotesque is Evan Douglas, who is in charge of the security team. Given that the whole place will become a shooting gallery if she shows up as Batgirl, Barbara puts on a dress and walks into the building. As James Gordon shows her around, Barbara tries to spot Dark Web's agents among the cops and the public. When she comes upon Evan Douglas, though, he looks unexpectedly hesitant.

Barbara heads into the women's restroom, suits up and turns the fire alarm on. Then Batgirl goes to confront Detective Douglas. Batgirl reveals she can free him from Wyrm's control thanks to an inhibitor device if he repents, discloses the bomb's location and turns himself in. Douglas claims he can't and won't cross Wyrm and transforms into a Terminal. At the same time, several cops are forcefully transformed into Dark Web's mind-controlled Terminals.

Batgirl manages to take down several of them, albeit one Terminal punches her father out, and faces Grotesque. Grotesque has the upper hand, though, and as ranting over his victims deserving getting killed because they had better lives than him, he pins Batgirl to the ground. Claiming he isn't being controlled by Wyrm, Grotesque sets off the bombs, but he orders the Terminals to evacuate the cvilians before the ten-minute-long countdown is over. However, the Terminals go against his orders and block the emergency exits.

Batgirl exploits Grotesque's shock to sweep him off her and wrestle him to the ground. Then she gives him two options: dying together with everyone else or stopping the Terminals and getting back whatever is left of his self. Grotesque agrees; he blocks the signal controlling the Terminals and reveals where is the bomb. The Terminals turn on Batgirl but she fights her way past them while Douglas provides backup. Batgirl destroys the bomb, but the Terminals attack Douglas. All of sudden, Wyrm shows up and boasts that he is untraceable and still has the stolen art, and executes Douglas. Then he vanishes.

Later, Barbara is sitting by Commissioner Gordon's hospital bed when he comes around. She pretends she was trapped in the bathroom during the mayhem, and hints Douglas might have been involved but he tried to turn around and help. James admits sometimes he is upset and feels useless, and Barbara confesses she is scared about the surgery and him.

Three days later, James is watching how his daughter is being wheeled into the surgery.


Recommended Reading

Links and References

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