"Book One: Ordeal": It is dark in the Wayne Estate and Bruce Wayne finds himself walking towards a mysterious house that has never existed before. Lured by some mysterious and magnetic attraction, Bruce is tempted to enter the eerie place and he goes deep into the dar
- My present reality is not a pretty sight. It is a thing of agony and delirium.
- — Batman
Synopsis for "Book One: Ordeal"
It is dark in the Wayne Estate and Bruce Wayne finds himself walking towards a mysterious house that has never existed before. Lured by some mysterious and magnetic attraction, Bruce is tempted to enter the eerie place and he goes deep into the darkest corners of the building until he finds a trapdoor. As Bruce opens the door, Joker comes out of it and threatens to blow himself and the entire place with the bombs strapped around his body. Bruce can't stop the Joker, but the bombs turn out to be an April Fools joke. Bruce loses his temper and gradually transforms into the Batman, the angrier he gets. When the transformation is complete, Batman proceeds to brutalize the Joker before he picks up an axe and mutilates the criminal, ending his torment for good.
It is then that Batman wakes up from his nightmare, the same that he has had since he was captured and taken down to the sewers of Gotham City. Batman has been tied down and held prisoner for many days by lowlifes and homeless people, all of whom serve the mysterious man called Deacon Blackfire, the self-appointed leader of the cult. When the members of the cult notice Batman has awoken, they tell him the story of Blackfire once again and how he is supposed to be the mythical godly shaman from ancient times.
According to the acolytes, Blackfire tried to guide the Miagani tribe into the path of righteousness, but he was spurned and attacked by the tribesmen. Injured and agonizing, Blackfire was supposedly locked inside a cave and a totem was placed outside as a warning of Blackfire's false purposes. Centuries later, the Miagani abandoned the lands until they eventually disappeared, an event that the acolytes credit to the mystic force of Blackfire. Eventually, the land was found by the Dutch in 1906, when Blackfire was released from his prison inside the cave. Resuming his ungodly crusade for good, Blackfire then killed several of the immigrants, who he considered sinners, and he was never seen again... until now.
Batman has to sit through the story over and over and he realizes that this is all part of Blackfire's recruitment process, as he must be using the same technique on the homeless people of Gotham, who fall easily into his game as they haven't the strength or preparation to deal with such torment. With nothing to eat but the strange pudding the acolytes provide him, Batman suspects they are most likely drugging him and he knows that his mind and body are weakening after all the time that has passed and he cannot do much but remember the events that led to his capture.
A few weeks earlier, Batman learned from Commissioner Gordon about a series of murders. Each of the victims were criminals and this was part of the reason why the public assumed Batman was somehow responsible. Knowing the truth, Batman became determined to clear his name, but the mystery turned much more complicated when the homeless of Gotham started disappearing in numbers. After a few days, there were almost no homeless people in Gotham and even though the general public noticed, they didn't seem to care. Despite these incidents, the gruesome murders of criminals continued in Gotham, and eventually, Batman arrived at the crime scene in time to follow the trail of the killers back to the sewers. Not long after this, Batman was able to locate a crime in progress and he stopped a couple of thugs from killing a man, but his effort was not received gratefully, as the man he had saved shot him in the back and another thug soon joined him. Batman realized it was all a trap, but it was already too late, as his injury caused him to pass out, leaving him at mercy of his attackers.
Weeks have passed since the incident and the Gotham City Police Department have noticed Batman's absence. Robin often spends the nights at Commissioner Gordon's office trying to find a clue that would help them locate their missing friend, only to realize something major is happening in Gotham City.
Down in the sewers, Deacon Blackfire decides it's time to show Batman the light. Batman is introduced to Sally, a prostitute who was mutilated by her pimp and Blackfire tells Batman that his cult has already dealt with the criminal, in ways that Batman and the Police would never have. Blackfire explains that if treated as a normal criminal, the crook would still be out there, free to repeat his crimes. On his weakened state, Batman can barely disagree with Blackfire and he is then released from his shackles as he is taken to the final place where he will become part of the cult.
Blackfire uses a needle to inject a drug in Batman's system and Batman starts hallucinating. Blackfire and his followers then take Batman across the sewers until they reach a sacred place, where Batman finds the totem of the shaman from the story, but thanks to the drugs used by Blackfire, Batman imagines the totem to be much bigger than possible. Blackfire then convinces Batman that the totem has mystical powers and in his drugged state, Batman can't help but fall for Blackfire's lies and deception.
With Batman under his control, Deacon Blackfire prepares to unleash his ultimate attack on Gotham City and from now on, he will not only attack criminals, but every man that stands in his way to own and rule the entire city.
Appearing in "Book One: Ordeal"
- Batman (Narrator) (Flashback and main story)
- Deacon Blackfire (First appearance) (Flashback and main story) (Origin)
- Jake Baker (First appearance)
- Ratface (First appearance)
- Sally (Single appearance)
- Joker (In dream sequence only) (Dies)
- Councilman Holmes (First appearance) (Flashback only) (On a TV or computer screen)
- Don Perry (Only appearance; dies)
- Michelle Smith (First appearance) (On a TV or computer screen)
- Gotham City Police Department
- Officer Klaus (Single appearance)
- Sergeant Deleon (First appearance)
- Isidro Dominga (Only appearance; dies)
- Miagani (First appearance) (Flashback only)
- Chief Palebear (Single appearance) (Flashback only)
- Gotham County (1609) (Flashback and main story)
- Batman: The Cult is a four-issued limited series published in DC's prestige format. Each issue of the series features a raised cover.
- This issue is reprinted in Batman: The Cult.
- Part of the pre-Colonial history of Gotham City is revealed in this issue.
- The next issue features a note indicating that Todd Klein was incorrectly credited as the letterer of this issue. The actual letterer was John Costanza.
- On the last pages of this issue, there is a reference to Jack Kirby.
- Batman: The Cult (Volume 1)
- 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: 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)