Contagion is a Batman crossover storyline that ran through every Batman Family series in 1996. It was written by Alan Grant, Chuck Dixon, Dennis O'Neil, Doug Moench, Garth Ennis, and Christopher Priest, with illustrations by Vince Giarrano, Tommy Lee Edwards, Mike Wieringo, Jim Balent, Dick Giordano, Barry Kitson, Kelley Jones, Graham Nolan, John McCrea, Matt Haley, and Frank Fosco. It's published in Azrael, Batman, Batman Chronicles, Catwoman, Detective Comics, Robin, and Shadow of the Bat. The story involves a virulent strain of the Ebola virus sweeping across Gotham City, forcing Azrael, Batman, Catwoman, Huntress, Nightwing, and Robin, to deal with a threat they cannot see. This plot is later continued in the Legacy crossover. Eventually it becomes one of several storylines including Cataclysm that lead into the No Man's Land event.
Batman receives a video tape from Azrael warning him that the Order of St. Dumas is sending a plague to Gotham City. They are unable to receive help from the GCPD, as corrupt Mayor Armand Krol has replaced Jim Gordon with the incompetent Andrew Howe. Batman infiltrates a U.S. Military base and discovers that it's a deadly strand of Ebola called the "Apocalypse Virus" or "The Clench." The virus kills in 12 hours while mutating the victim until their eyes bleed. The carrier is Daniel Maris, an agent of St. Dumas who does not know he's been infected. Maris is a chairman at Babylon Towers, Gotham's most exclusive luxury apartments, and they decide to seal themselves off from the plague he tells them is coming.
Maris begins dying, and Gotham's billionaires realize they've sealed themselves inside with the plague. He reveals that there was an earlier plague in Greenland, and a survivor named Kendall Stuart might be used to create an antidote. Catwoman and the Penguin are hired to track Stuart down, while Batman sends Robin to find him in Toronto. The virus begins spreading through the servants released from Babylon. The military is sent in and Gotham is placed under quarantine.
Robin meets Catwoman and reluctantly teams up with her, although she is only in it for the money. They're attacked by Penguin's mercenary Tracker, but Azrael bursts in to save them. Kendall Stuart's cabin is assaulted by the Order of St. Dumas, who want to make sure there is no antidote. Stuart is shot dead and Robin returns to Gotham with a blood sample. Azrael and Catwoman learn of two more survivors, and they team up with Tracker to find them. They pursue a gangster named Fong in San Francisco, but he believes himself immortal and commits suicide. Batman attempts to make an antidote with Stuart's blood. Poison Ivy is released from Arkham to deliver it into Babylon, and she tries to extort money from the dying billionaires. The GCPD officers Hardback Bock, Harvey Bullock, and Renee Montoya, conspire to replace Howe with Gordon. Robin helps Nightwing and Huntress deal with rioters, and he's infected when a diseased looter spits in his face.
Poison Ivy begins mind-controlling the infected to do her bidding after she discovers the antidote doesn't work. Gordon takes over the GCPD and leads them through the streets, putting down looters. Batman enters Babylon to stop Poison Ivy, and Gordon follows him to help. The two men share a heart-to-heart for the first time since Bruce's replacements during Knightquest and Prodigal. Nightwing takes Robin to the Batcave where Alfred can treat his disease. Batman and Gordon escape from the burning Babylon with Ivy by using a make-shift zip-line. Krol is infected, and the governor quarantines Gotham using martial law. Batman and Nightwing drive through a National Guard blockade and are chased by tanks when they drive back to Wayne Manor. Hitman helps the military take down a bio-weapon named Thrax. Huntress struggles and fails to save one of her dying students. Alfred attempts to treat Robin, who experiences vivid hallucinations about his family members while dying.
Catwoman gives Leanore to Batman, but he explains that survivor blood is useless and Gotham is doomed. Azrael investigates the virus with Brian Bryan and Sister Lilhy. They realize that "Ebola Gulf A" is a weapon called "Sin Cleanser" by the Order of St. Dumas. Brother Rollo realizes one of his underlings released the virus, and has Brother Zoo execute the man for betrayal. Lilhy figures out a cure, while Azrael protects their house from Biis and other Dumas agents sent to kill him. Azrael fights through the military barricade and delivers the cure, which has a 100% success rate. It's revealed that while Azrael was storming the gates, Brian simply faxed the cure to every hospital, and the city is saved. Krol is removed from office and replaced by Marion Grange, who removes Howe and reinstates Gordon. Robin briefly teams up with Catwoman to take down rioters, then happily returns to his parents.
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat #48 -- Part One: The Apocalypse Plague
- Detective Comics #695 -- Part Two: The Gray Area
- Robin (Volume 2) #27 -- Part Three: Natural Born Healer
- Catwoman (Volume 2) #31 -- Part Four: Flesh and Fire (misprinted on the cover as part 5)
- Azrael #15 -- Part Five: Requiem for an Immortal (misprinted on the cover as part 4)
- Batman #529 -- Part Six: Tears of Blood
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat #49 -- Part Seven: Angel of Death
- Detective Comics #696 -- Part Eight: Babylon Falls
- Batman Chronicles #4 -- Hitman • Huntress: Exposure • Beggar's Banquet
- Catwoman (Volume 2) #32 -- Part Nine: Fever Pitch
- Azrael #16 -- Part Ten: Contagion
- Robin (Volume 2) #28 -- Part Eleven: Bitter Dregs
- The covers to "Azrael #15" and "Catwoman #31" incorrectly state them as respectively parts "4" and "5," although in reality it is the other way around.
- The final issue of this storyline is a shocking cliff-hanger! Robin returns home, and makes a surprised expression when he sees Ariana Dzerchenko in the doorway. This has nothing to do with the plague, and the next issue reveals that she simply bleached her hair blonde.
- Batman Recommended Reading
- Batman (Volume 1)
- Batman (Volume 2)
- Batman (Volume 3)
- Batman and Robin (Volume 1)
- Batman and Robin (Volume 2)
- Batman Confidential (Volume 1)
- Batman: Gotham Knights (Volume 1)
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight (Volume 1)
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat (Volume 1)
- Batman: Streets of Gotham (Volume 1)
- Batman Incorporated (Volume 1)
- Batman Incorporated (Volume 2)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 2)
- Batman/Superman: World's Finest (Volume 1)
- Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 1)
- Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 2)
- The Brave and the Bold (Volume 1)
- Detective Comics (Volume 1)
- Detective Comics (Volume 2)
- Superman/Batman (Volume 1)
- World's Finest (Volume 1)
Links and References
|Batman Family Storyline|
This event or storyline is specifically related to Batman, or to members of the Batman Family. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the Batman Storylines category.
The events from this issue are related to the Contagion crossover that went through the Batman Family Titles in 1996, in which Gotham City had an epidemic of a mutant strand of the Ebola virus. The events of Contagion lead into Batman: Legacy, Batman: Cataclysm, and ultimately No Man's Land.