"Ducks in a Row": The Orphan has pummelled Harper Row into submission, the horror of it sending her younger brother Cullen running. He mocks her efforts to stay alive, reminding that her life of hardship should have hardened her - and
Synopsis for "Ducks in a Row"
The Orphan has pummelled Harper Row into submission, the horror of it sending her younger brother Cullen running. He mocks her efforts to stay alive, reminding that her life of hardship should have hardened her - and her brother has now abandoned her as all family does. Suddenly, though, Cassandra Cain leaps through the window of Harper's apartment and slams her heel into the Orphan's spine, and then thrusting her fist hard into his face. While Harper tries to recover some strength, Cassandra identifies the many hoses going into the Orphan's face-mask as weaknesses, and tears them out.
Dick Grayson, meanwhile, finally receives a call from Matron of Spyral, who insists that Poppy Ashemore had checked out when she was recruited - and this Mother threat is otherwise unknown to Spyral. She suspects, as Dick does, that this has to do with his previous life as Robin or Nightwing. Dick is following that lead now, having identified Harper Row's name on the list he was given, and he now stands outside her apartment - where he sees a figure crashing through and upper window. Worriedly, he breaks communication until he knows where the leak is. As he makes his way up to Harper's apartment, leaping and swinging acrobatically up her fire-escape, he is witnessed by Stephanie Brown, who is a little more than impressed.
As Cassandra and the Orphan's fight continues, Harper manages to grab her stun-gun and fires a bolt of electricity at him, sending him falling over the edge of her fire-escape, past Dick, who instinctively grabs him on his way down. Looking up, he sees Cassandra looking down at her, and reacts with confusion - a hesitation that allows the Orphan to struggle free and escape. As Cassandra gives chase, she gestures that Dick should go back for Harper. When he finds her and discovers that she is also a costumed vigilante, he reacts with disbelief - only to be further taken aback when Stephanie crashes through the door as the Spoiler, warning him away from Harper. With surprise, she recognizes him as Dick Grayson - who is supposed to be dead, as far as the public is concerned. He urges her to ignore that fact and help him give Harper some medical attention. Applying pressure to her friend's wounds, Stephanie worries aloud that she smells something. Dick recognizes it quickly as the smell of Fear Gas.
Several years ago, he and Batman had been tracking the Scarecrow in a cornfield, and soon realized that sections of it had been stamped down, to deliver the message "I AM FEAR". Angered by the taunt, Batman called out that Dr. Crane had wasted his potential for greatness on his fear toxin. He could have been so much more, but he'd made a big mistake. Seeing the silhouette of a scarecrow ahead, Batman and Robin leapt upon it, only to find it was an actual scarecrow - a distraction. Crane appeared before them, and sprayed his gas in their faces. Through his horrific mask, Crane explained that the true mistake would be to think that he was anything but the Scarecrow. The mask was his true face. His gas, he promised, would show the truth about them. Dick was profoundly affected, expressing his own insecurities about being part of the legacy of Batman through taunts and jeers by familiar enemies.
Fortunately, Harper's bleeding ceases, and Stephanie has a moment to ask where Dick has been all this time. Batman is gone, and in his place is a robot who chases costumed vigilante teens from the streets. All Dick will say is that Batman had needed him for something else, demanding instead to know Spoiler's real name. He is glad to confirm that Stephanie Brown is not on the list he saw. They are interrupted by Red Robin, who admits that he bugged Harper's apartment, and therefore knew to come. Worriedly, Dick explains the list to Tim, warning that he and Jason Todd are also on it. This reminds him that he should check in with Jason before he too is attacked by an assassin. Snidely, Jason responds to Dick's call by asking what she looks like, having already cornered Cassandra at gunpoint.
Appearing in "Ducks in a Row"
- Agent 37 / Robin (Flashback and main story)
- Catwoman (Hallucination)
- Riddler (Hallucination)
- Scarecrow (Flashback only)
- The Joker (Hallucination)
- The Orphan
- The Penguin (Hallucination)
- Poppy Ashemore (Mentioned only)
- Fear Toxin (Flashback and main story)
- This issue is reprinted in Batman & Robin Eternal Vol. 1.