- Did DeWettering really trust Bruce Wayne? Or did he have an inkling of my other dimension? Did he choose the Guardian of Gotham as the new Guardian of the Grail? I only hope he chose well.
- — Batman
Batman: The Chalice is a one-shot with a cover date of December, 1999.
Synopsis for "The Chalice"
After foiling one of Two-Face's escapes from Arkham Asylum, Batman returns to the Batcave with a gunshot wound in his leg. There, Alfred Pennyworth tends to his wound, though it is beyond his skills to safely remove the bullet, as it is too close to his femoral artery. Despite the pain, Bruce falls asleep on the operating table.
The next morning, Alfred interrupts Bruce at breakfast with a package. Both are suspicious, as neither heard a delivery van, and neither signed for it. In addition, the package isn't addressed to Bruce - it's addressed to his father. The mystery is compounded by the fact that the address is hand-written, and the package is bound with calfskin.
Down in the cave, Batman and Alfred examine the package's contents. An old book from the early middle ages. Inside, they find a list of names. The first several names are written in the same hand, and next author seems to have begun in 1050 AD. The first name in the book is Josephus, while the last name in the book has an address listed as well; an address in Gotham City.
Somewhere, Ra's al Ghul's training is interrupted by his agent Shuram. Shuram informs his master that the 'Cup of the Lamb' has turned up again. Ra's is excited and orders that he and Ubu must travel to find it.
Bruce travels to the address in the book, the home of a Lord Winsleygate. The Lord's assistant welcomes him, and noted that they had been expecting someone younger, which confuses Bruce, as they had been expecting his father. Winsleygate is exceedingly old, and is kept under a canopy among numerous medical devices to prolong his life. He introduces himself, and notes that he knew Bruce's grandfather, Solomon Wayne.
With Thomas Wayne dead, Winsleygate explains that the task falls to Bruce. The Wayne family are descendants of the medieval knight geVain, whose line has been tasked with protecting the Holy Grail for centuries. Winsleygate's assistant passes Bruce a box containing the artifact, and before Bruce can ask what he is supposed to do with it, the lord dies. As he leaves, the assistant tells Bruce to guard the artifact with both his life and his faith.
After Bruce has left, Winsleygate's assistant makes an effort to take care of her master's remains, but she soon realizes that someone has come in search of the grail. Though she attempts to protect herself with a gun, she is shot down.
In the Batcave, Batman and Alfred prepare themselves to open the chest. Inside, they are surprised by how unremarkable the small drinking bowl they find inside is. Batman explains that it is supposed to be the bowl from which Jesus Christ ate lamb during the last supper, and then it was used to catch Christ's blood at the crucifixion. Though it was expected to have been lost for centuries, legend tells that it was rediscovered by the Knights of the Round Table, and passed down along the line of one of those knights, according to the grail book they received.
Alfred wonders what Bruce intends to do with an object of such power. Batman responds that while he could do a great deal of good in redeeming Gotham, using the object's power, he was given the task to guard the grail and not to use it. While he can't be certain, Batman has a few ideas about who they can assume they are guarding the grail from.
The thugs who broke into Lord Winsleygate's manor commune with their superior; a man named Chaval. They determine that Winsleygate sensed their intentions, and gave the grail to someone else. After hearing a description of a silver Bugatti leaving the manor, Chaval realizes that as one of the only people in Gotham who can afford that car, Bruce Wayne must have been chosen to keep hold of the artifact. He tasks his men with retrieving the artifact from the young billionaire or face death. As they leave the manor, the thugs set it ablaze. From the flames emerges Ubu, and he beheads them before they can realize what's happened.
In the cave, Bruce marvels at just how ordinary this miraculous object appears to be in terms of molecular structure. It appears to have no special properties or unusual features. It is merely carved from stone in the Galilee region, nearly two thousand years ago. Alfred wonders if the grail's special properties might be of a spiritual nature, rather than a scientific nature. Bruce, on the other hand, suggests that it may be a fake.
With little other way to determine for certain, Bruce decides to test the vessel. He fills it with water, and pours the water from the cup over his wound with the bullet still lodged inside. Though he is shaken off-balance, Bruce's wound appears to have been miraculously healed. Convinced that it is genuine, Bruce endeavours to protect it from whomever may seek it.
Elsewhere, Ra's al Ghul explains to Shuram that he had nearly attained the grail on three occasions, only to fail each time. He first encountered it in Cathay, when it was being carried back after it was stolen from the court of Batu Khan. The second time, it was during a plague in Krakow. Unfortunately, it was spirited away before Ra's arrived. The last time was in Spain, when it was at the head of another man's army. However, it disappeared again, and in his rage, Ra's destroyed the city that protected it.
Shuram confirms that the cup is expected to be in Gotham. After Spain, the cup was rumoured to have gone to England. It was then thought to have been taken by the then Lord Winsleygate during his emigration to America at the turn of the century. However, Shuram cannot know for certain who the grail was given to before the Merivingians destroyed the Lord's estate.
Their discussion is interrupted by the appearance of Talia al Ghul. She wonders where Ubu is, and worries that he has been "replaced" again. Ra's assures her that he is pleased with Ubu's servitude, and has sent him abroad on an errand in the New World. Though she makes no question of it, Talia's suspicions are raised.
While tracking the movements of the Manklin gang and their leader Mooch Manklin, Batman is visited by Azrael. Batman warns that he will not let Jean-Paul have the grail, but his visitor professes no desire for it. Azrael warns that the grail's protection is a grave but very necessary task. However, he feels that those who seek the grail may be more than a match for the Batman. Grudgingly, Batman tells Azrael to leave him alone.
Meanwhile, at the Gotham City Police Headquarters, Hendricks hands in a triple homicide report to Sgt. Harvey Bullock of the Major Crimes Unit. Bullock is confused as to why the file has wound up on his desk until his partner, Renee Montoya inspects it and realizes that one of the victims - Lord Winsleygate - was more than two hundred years old, according to the autopsy. They got the case because it's a "freak" murder.
Elsewhere in Gotham, the Merivingian Mr. Chaval arrives, having begrudgingly come to complete the task his other brothers had failed. the Merivingians believe that they are the descendants of Christ himself, and therefore the rightful owners of the grail.
Batman has Oracle analyze the data he collected on grail, and all she can find is a collection of ones and zeros. Batman suggests that the object's healing powers could be used to heal Barbara, and allow her to walk again. She responds that she doesn't believe in Miracles, and ultimately, she doesn't want a miracle to be what gets her out of the chair. After signing off of her communication with Batman, Barbara admits to herself that the zeros and ones are a binary code that spell out a line from the bible's Mark Chapter 14, Verse 32 - "And they came to a place which is named Gethsemane..."
Having arrived in Gotham, Ra's al Ghul punishes Ubu for allowing the grail to escape him. However, Ubu reveals that the Merivingians who got to the manor first did not manage to get the grail either - it was given to Bruce Wayne before even they arrived. Ra's orders a two-pronged attack; one that will assume that Bruce Wayne is keeping the artifact under his civilian identity, and the second assuming that he has secreted it away as Batman. However, Ra's desires that his part in the plan be unseen. When the grail is recovered, he orders that Ubu should kill the Detective. Meanwhile, unseen by her father, Talia eavesdrops and makes her own plans.
Elsewhere in Gotham, the Penguin receives a visit from Catwoman. She has heard that he has a line on a big score, and hopes to be the thief to make it happen. Penguin is interested, offering five million to steal the grail from Wayne Manor, but he orders that nothing else be stolen, to her disappointment.
Batman drops in on Commissioner Gordon, who wonders whether Batman is involved at all in the murders that occurred on Winsleygate's estate. Batman asks whether Gordon is a religious man, but before the commissioner can finish answering, Batman has already left.
While Batman is busy investigating the Manklin gang, Catwoman breaks into Wayne Manor and feels like a kid in a candy store, seeing all of the valuables on display that she has been ordered not to touch. Finding nothing on the second floor, she returns to the ground floor and tries something different. She pours a vase out onto the floor and follows the natural flow of the water to the grandfather clock which hides the entrance to the Batcave. As she struggles to figure out what secret the clock holds, she finds a shotgun aimed at her back.
Alfred orders Catwoman to step away from the clock, but she throws off his aim with her whip, causing him to accidentally fire of a shot. Before they can resume their stalemate, both hear the sound of breaking glass. The Merivingians have found their way to the manor, and for the time being, Alfred and Catwoman decide to join forces against the invaders.
While making his attack against the Manklins, Batman is thrown off by the appearance of some of Ra's al Ghul's men, who kill all of the Manklins. Ra's al Ghul's men deliberately avoid shooting at Batman, and instead, they herd him toward their master. Not wanting to know just what Ra's has planned for the grail, he vows to himself that regardless of what happens to him, the grail will never belong to the Demon's Head.
Alfred and Catwoman fight through the crowd of men, defeating all but Chaval, who manages to get Catwoman into a headlock. With a gun to her head, he warns that he will kill her unless they give up the grail. Alfred tries to explain that she doesn't know where it is, but that she is the only thing that keeps Chaval alive. Becoming frustrated, Catwoman stomps on Chaval's foot, and then disarms him, knocking him unconscious. Alfred wonders why she didn't save herself beforehand, and she admits that she was hoping that Chaval's taking her hostage would convince Alfred to unwittingly tell her where the grail is. With the sound of sirens on the way, Catwoman and Alfred agree that she will leave empty-handed and he will not pursue her.
Forced out into the harbour, Batman is dragged underwater by Ubu. Despite having to fight the servant underwater, Batman is the more skilled of the two, and he drags Ubu ashore to find Ra's waiting for him. Batman deduces that Ra's doesn't want the grail for himself, but for Talia. Despite his own feelings about immortality, Ra's loves his daughter, and wishes for her to join him in immortality forever. During their battle, Batman breaks his opponent's sword, and angrily, Ra's thrusts the broken blade into Batman's ribs.
They are suddenly startled by automatic gunfire peppering the waters around them. They turn to see Talia there, who warns that she will not hesitate to kill them both if they do not stop their childish behaviour. Talia admits that she knows about the grail, but she warns that while she would die for her father, she will not become immortal for him. Having lived her life in his company, the attraction of eternal life has worn away from her. She would prefer to live each day of her life as a precious one. Reluctantly, Ra's consents to his daughters wishes, and takes Ubu with him. Before leaving, he warns that the grail is something not of this world. It belongs to a being that even he bows to out of respect. He warns that others, worse than he, will seek it.
Nearby, Montoya and Bullock investigate the shootings where they find the dead Manklin brothers, and the unconscious bodies of Ra's al Ghul's men. Recognizing their tattoos, Bullock realizes that what went on there has nothing to do with the Manklin gang.
Back in the cave, Batman refuses to have his stab wound treated, as there isn't enough time before the grail is in danger again. He decides that he must pass it off to someone else who can keep it safer than he.
In a diner outside the city limits, Bruce brings the artifact to a booth where his contact is waiting. Bruce admits that he couldn't protect the grail on his own, and that is why he is passing it on. Clark Kent accepts the artifact and promises that he knows "just the place" to keep it hidden and no one will come looking for it so long as he has it.
Appearing in "The Chalice"
- Alfred Pennyworth
- Talia al Ghul
- Gotham City Police Department
- League of Assassins
- Brotherhood of Merivingians
- The Penguin
- Mooch Manklin
- Knights of the Round Table (Mentioned only)
- geVain (Flashback only)
- Peter DeWettering, Lord Winsleygate and Earl of Grambling (Dies)
- Clark Kent (Cameo)
- Gotham City
- China (Flashback only)
- Krakow, Poland (Flashback only)
- Badajoz, Spain (Flashback only)
- Chuck Dixon dedicates the book to "Father Johns, the only priest at St. Andrew's who read the Sunday funnies from the pulpit."
- John Van Fleet dedicates the book to "Paige and Grace."