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Batman fires Stephanie Brown as Robin for disobeying orders. To prove her usefulness, she steals one of his contingency plans to put Matches Malone in charge of the Gotham Underground. However, she does no

Quote1 This war was a mistake. It began as a game -- an exercise in planning and strategy that was never meant to happen. But now it has. The result? Thousands injured. Hundreds dead. Police... gangsters... civilians... friends. As things got worse, I kept playing the game. I knew the pieces. I knew the board. All I had to do was play the right moves... or so I thought. But war is not a game. It's an abomination. And this must be stopped... tonight! No more games. This is war. Quote2
Batman src

War Games is a Batman crossover that spanned every Batman Family title being published at the time. It was written by Devin Grayson, Andersen Gabrych, A.J. Lieberman, Bill Willingham, Dylan Horrocks and Ed Brubaker, with illustrations by Ramon Bachs, Pete Woods, Brad Walker, Mike Lilly, Al Barrionuevo, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Sean Phillips, Paul Gulacy and Kinsun Loh. It's published through the titles Detective Comics, Legends of the Dark Knight, Nightwing, Gotham Knights, Robin, Batgirl, Catwoman and Batman. This story follows the events of As the Crow Flies, Pushback, The Randori Stone, Road to Nowhere, The Secret City and Unmasked!. It's followed by the storylines City of Crime, Fresh Blood, Human Nature, Riddle Me That, Three Piece Suit, Under the Hood and Year One.


Batman fires Stephanie Brown as Robin for disobeying orders.[1] To prove her usefulness, she steals one of his contingency plans to put Matches Malone in charge of the Gotham Underground. However, she does not know that Batman is Malone, and most of the city's gang leaders die in a shoot-out at the meeting she organizes.[2] This power vacuum plunges the city into a violent gang war.[3] Tim Drake's friend Darla Aquista dies in a shooting at his school. Batman carries her body out, and is caught on film for the first time by reporter Arturo Rodriguez.[4] Tim disobeys his father and becomes Robin again.[5] When Batman realizes the crisis is one of his war games, he decides to use Orpheus to unite the gangs. However, Black Mask kills Orpheus.[6] Black Mask tortures Stephanie to learn Batman's plans.[7] Then he disguises himself as Orpheus to take his place.[8] Batman accidentally unites the gangs under Black Mask, and Commissioner Akins orders the GCPD to shoot all capes on sight.[9] Batman finds Spoiler dying and brings her to Leslie Thompkins.[10] Black Mask infiltrates Gotham Clock Tower, believing it to be the Batcave, and Oracle is forced to blow up her own headquarters. In the aftermath, the city has lost trust in its heroes. Stephanie Brown dies of her injuries in a hospital bed.[11] Leslie is revealed to have let Stephanie die.[12]

War Drums

Batman grows darker, and he nearly kills a drug dealer, on the day Jason Todd would have turned 18.[13] He's forced to deal with the Hill Gang when they begin working with Mister Freeze and their leader Capo Siegel is killed. Leslie Thompkins reminds him of the sanctity of life when they're forced to choose between saving a pregnant woman or her unborn child.[14] Tarantula arrives in Gotham, tracking a cockroach monster called the Mugre. Batman has Orpheus take over the Hill Gang while they're weak and looking for direction.[15] He helps Tarantula, then makes her leave his city. Orpheus is too inexperienced for his mission, so Batman recruits the ex-assassin Onyx as his bodyguard.[16] They stage a fight in the Iceberg Lounge to give him credibility, solidifying both Orpheus and Onyx as major players in the Gotham Underground.[17]

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Stephanie Brown becomes Robin

Stephanie Brown struggles to continue her career as Spoiler since Tim Drake quit. When she catches Tim getting kissed by Darla Aquista, she gets upset and sews her own Robin costume. Stephanie sneaks into the Batcave, where Batman agrees to train her despite Alfred's protests. The assassin Scarab carries out her mission to kill Robin by systematically murdering every prospect in Gotham.[18] The first villain they go after is Zsasz, on a murder spree in the subway. He captures Stephanie and nearly kills her, but she defeats him and escapes. Batman chastises her for using force that would've killed him, but explains this is why he's teaching her.[17] Tim learns of his replacement and tries to talk to Steph, but she continues avoiding him. Batman gains respect for Stephanie when she takes down Tiger Moth, and they go after Scarab together.[19] Scarab beats them both the first time, but Stephanie places a tracking device on her. In their next encounter, Batman wears an exo-skeleton and orders Stephanie to stay in the Batplane. She jumps out to help him anyway, allowing Scarab to take her hostage and steal the plane. Batman fires her for disobeying orders after 71 days of being Robin.[20]


While Batman is fighting Kobra terrorists, Spoiler is back on the streets trying to prove herself to him. She observes a big meeting by all the major heads of Gotham Organized Crime. They quickly turn on each other and there's a shoot-out, leaving many gangs crippled and leaderless. The victims include Able Crown, Akahara, Hellhound, Junior Galante, Kwan Lin, Lew Moxon, Manuel Escabedo, NKVDemon, Otero, Silver Monkey and Victor Kosov. This leaves a power vacuum in the Burnley Town Massive, Escabedo Cartel, Five Families, Latino Unified Gang, Lucky Hand Triad, Odessa Mob and Yakuza. The survivors flee the scene and Spoiler blames herself for the massacre.[2]

Act One: Outbreak

Batman investigates the shooting and finds that there were 8 survivors out of 21, Deadshot, Mr. Fun, Onyx, Orpheus, Penguin, Ventriloquist, Zeiss and Escabedo's bodyguard Franco. The gangs quickly turn to violent retaliations and in-fighting. Batman deals with the warring Escabedo Cartel and Odessa Mob, Batgirl goes after the Triads and the Yakuza, and Orpheus tries to stop fighting between the Hill Gang and the Latin Unifieds. Reporter Arturo Rodriguez attempts to follow the action, believing he can prove the existence of Batman.[3] Orpheus attempts to take control of the Yakuza under Batman's orders, but their new leader Niko tries to kill him and shoots Onyx. Batman turns to his secret Matches Malone identity so he can get better knowledge on the street. The Penguin knocks over a military shipment and begins selling guns to the warring gangs.[21] Nightwing arrives in Gotham to help, still reeling from his recent trauma. Tarantula follows him, and Batman lets her take control of the Latin Unifieds to protect them.[22] Hush is approached by Black Mask and the Penguin, both of whom unsuccessfully try to recruit him. Penguin tries to sell firearms and metahuman soldiers, including Electrocutioner, Firefly, Killer Croc, Lynx, Pistolera, Suicide King, Trickster and Vicious. Odessa's new leader Alexandra Kosov fakes a merger with the Burnley Town Massive, then betrays them to start a partnership with Scarface.

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Darla Aquista was shot and killed

Batman asks Tarantula to merge the LUG with Orpheus' Hill Gang, but she refuses.[23] Darla Aquista is targeted by the Odessas and the Ventriloquist, who begin shooting up her school. Tim Drake struggles to deal with hitmen in his civilian identity, but is unable to stop Darla from getting shot.[24] Batgirl tries to deal with Odessa hitmen targeting families, and tells Spoiler to go home when she catches her. Batman calls everybody to the emergency at Louis Grieve High School.[25] Catwoman tries to control the East End and is forced to bring injured children to Leslie Thompkins. The mafia pays Mister Freeze to slaughter Odessa soldiers on her turf, and she's unable to stop him in time. Catwoman catches the distressed Spoiler, who confesses the entire gang war is her fault. She enacted one of Batman's contingency plans to unite the city's criminals, but did not realize that key figure "Matches Malone" is actually Batman himself.[26] Batman, Batgirl and Nightwing converge on Tim's high school. Tim helps them take down the killers inside, but Darla is still in critical condition. Batman is caught on film for the first time when he carries her body outside. Rodriguez and other reporters assume that Batman is responsible for her injuries.[4]

Act Two: Tides

Batman asks Commissioner Akins to let him control the GCPD for eight hours. Tim Drake breaks his promise to his father and becomes Robin again. Darla dies and Aquista puts a hit on Kosov, who teams up with Black Mask for protection.[5] Jim Gordon gives counsel to Akins, and lectures Batman on dealing with law enforcement. Batman uses "Matches" to determine which puppet master is pulling his strings. Diego Escabedo is tortured to death by Black Mask.[27] Mask begins killing and torturing his way through gangleaders, taking Ventriloquist under his control. The GCPD puts a curfew in effect. Penguin causes a blackout and tries to sell power.[28] Tarantula is sent to tell Penguin that he's exiled from Gotham. Batman realizes that he designed this crisis as a contingency scenario, and Orpheus is needed to complete the wargame. Spoiler rushes to find Orpheus, but finds his throat slit by Black Mask.[6]

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Spoiler vs. Black Mask

Black Mask tortures Spoiler until she tells him Batman's plans. Tim confesses to his dad that he's become Robin again, and his dad begrudgingly understands. Jack Drake and Dana Winters volunteer at the Thompkins Clinic.[7] Batgirl protects Thompkins Clinic from the Ghost Dragons, and Lynx is killed in the crossfire. Leslie angrily tells Batgirl to leave.[29] Catwoman protects East End from the Ravens. Batman takes over the GCPD airwaves, and orders them to herd all violence into Robinson Park.[30] Black Mask disguises himself as Orpheus to Batman, and Batman explains that he will unite the gangs in the park. Arturo Rodriguez demands on TV that Batman be held accountable for his actions.[8]

Act Three: Endgame

Batman organizes all of the street gangs in Robinson Park to be united under the leadership of Orpheus. Orpheus is revealed as an impostor when he commands the gangs to kill Batman. There's a huge riot in the park and Batman is trapped in the middle of hundreds of thugs trying to kill him. The GCPD open fire on escaping super-villains with rubber bullets, killing Carnivora and Tweedledum. Commissioner Akins announces that Batman has placed all their lives in danger, then orders his men to switch to real bullets and shoot anything in a mask.[9] The gangs disperse throughout the city and Batman is blamed for the public threat. He fights his way through the crowds and learns that Orpheus is Black Mask, but Mask escapes with Scarecrow. It rains and Batman rallies his allies, admitting that he made a mistake and it's time for them to end this war.[31] They split up and Batman assigns everyone to part of the city. Nightwing takes down Firefly, but cops shoot him in the leg and take him out of the fight.[32] Spoiler fights Black Mask again and beats him, but he shoots her with a hidden gun and kicks her into a cellar. Robin takes down Mr. Fun, the Ravens, and Trickster, then takes a rest and spends it with his dad.[33] Tarantula and her adopted Arañas are pinned down by SWAT teams. Akins orders them brought in at any cost, because the GCPD needs a public victory. Batman finds Spoiler mortally wounded and brings her to Leslie Thompkins.[10] Batgirl rescues Onyx from an execution. Black Mask assembles his criminal army, the cops, and Arturo Rodriguez, at what Hush told him was the Batcave. Oracle is horrified to realize this is her headquarters in Gotham Clock Tower.[34]

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Batman vs. Black Mask; the final battle

Zeiss approaches Catwoman for a rematch, and she beats him unconscious. Black Mask infiltrates the Clock Tower on live TV, using gang members and the Scarecrow as fodder to bypass security.[35] Batman bursts through the window to take down Black Mask. Oracle sets the building to self-destruct, forcing Batman to stop killing himself and save her. Scarecrow turns into Scarebeast and begins attacking cops, forcing the other heroes to intervene. In the aftermath, the cops try to arrest them, but realize it would waste time that could be used saving lives. Batman returns to the dying Spoiler in Thompkins clinic, and talks her through her final moments. Rodriguez blames vigilantes for the crisis on TV, but Batman insists that they will never stop fighting. Black Mask takes complete control of Gotham Organized Crime, and makes the boss of each syndicate pledge their loyalty to him.[11]

In the epilogue, Alfred serves bourbon to Bruce and Dick as they brood on their failures. Dick recovers from his broken leg and his involvement in the death of Blockbuster. Bruce dwells on telling Tim about Stephanie's death, and hearing Crystal Brown blame Batman at her daughter's funeral. Onyx takes over the Hill Gang to keep out Black Mask, remodeling its thugs as a force for good with Orpheus as their martyr. Bruce's family insist that he can't blame himself for Stephanie's death, but he does anyway. Despite this, with the GCPD ordered to shoot him on sight, he vows that he will continue to be Gotham's protector.[36]

War Crimes

Batman takes retribution against those responsible for the gang war, beginning with Alexandra Kosov. Arturo Rodriguez gets his own talk show and interviews a man named Aaron Black leading the "campaign for culpability." Black brings Stephanie Brown's death to public attention, revealing that she was Robin and her condition was stable when she entered the Thompkins Clinic. Batman investigates Leslie Thompkins and finds she's gone missing, with her partner Vera Cesares dead. Black is confronted by Batman, but they're both interrupted by the Joker.[37] It's revealed that Black Mask is posing as Batman to frame him, and the Joker escapes while Batman pursues Mask. Aaron Black goes on TV calling himself "The Reformer" to accuse Rodriguez of being in Batman's pocket and trying to kill him.

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Joker and Black Mask fight for supremacy

Batman investigates Stephanie's clinic stay and finds that she was withheld treatment.[38] Learning the Reformer's location from Winona Chen, Batman confronts him. It's revealed that he's Cluemaster, Stephanie's father believed to have died. Crystal Brown is interviewed by Rodriguez and attacked by Black Mask as Batman on live TV. She tears up Stephanie's medical files, insisting that it "doesn't matter" and she's tired of blaming. Joker appears and reveals that Black Mask was his target the entire time.[39] Joker explains that he wants Black Mask dead for killing Robin, which should be his job. Batman hands them both over to the GCPD, where Joker is sent to Arkham and Mask kills several escaping custody. Kosov is sent to jail, and Rodriguez is arrested for helping Black Mask. Batman sets Chen up with her own news program for helping him, and an interview with Superman. Bruce reveals to Alfred that he knows who Stephanie's real killer was, and goes to confront Leslie in Africa. Leslie explains that she let Stephanie die in hopes that it would stop Bruce from perpetuating the cycle of violence and putting more lives in danger. She breaks down into tears and asks him to kill her. Bruce tells her to never visit America or practice medicine anywhere again, as he will come after her if she does.[12]





  • Gotham Central #25 is an unofficial aftermath issue dealing with ramifications in the GCPD.

Recommended Reading

Links and References

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