"Natural Order": At Arkham Asylum, The Scarecrow has been sending out messages for days, hoping for help. Something came up from beneath the asylum and took control, and he has been on the run ever since. Unfortunately, he is sure his messages are not getting
- Sometimes you have to be a monster to stay on top when you're competing against serial-killer clowns and half-faced lawyers. You should never have come back to Gotham. This is my city.
Synopsis for "Natural Order"
At Arkham Asylum, The Scarecrow has been sending out messages for days, hoping for help. Something came up from beneath the asylum and took control, and he has been on the run ever since. Unfortunately, he is sure his messages are not getting beyond the asylum walls, and it will not be long before he is taken.
On the outskirts of Gotham, The Penguin is displeased to have been housed in such a grungy place as the Golden Lark Motel. Despite all of his legally earned money, the Penguin can't get his hands on any of it without risking his life, thanks to Carmine Falcone's machinations. He recalls how there used to be a mob boss called The Lion - Rex Calabrese - who was the first to terrify the police into going on the take. It was him who forced the other gangs to pay him a cut or die. He had said it was the natural order of things, that one day an alpha lion would get weak and a younger one would kill him and take the pride for his own. That younger lion had turned out to be the Roman, Carmine Falcone. But the time has come for the Penguin to rule. After killing one of his insubordinates to quell his rage, the Penguin receives word of the Roman's location.
At the Mayor's office, Lt. Jason Bard plays his tapped recording of Interim Commissioner Forbes conspiring with the Roman for Mayor Hady. Unfortunately, the mayor is not receptive, and Jason is well aware of why. He doesn't have the evidence yet to implicate the mayor, but he will. He has the story waiting to print in the Gotham Gazette, and it can contain Hady's name or not, if he'll give up Falcone. Nervously, Hady can only admit that he knows where Falcone is: at the "Roman Holiday Florist". Bard responds that while he won't bring him down today, he will be going through Hady's history, seeking chinks in his armor. Exasperatedly, Hady responds that Bard is just like Jim Gordon. Jason takes it as a compliment.
At Blackgate Penitentiary, Jim Gordon sits alone, thinking on his son's words to him, saying that he never stood for anything. His cellmate Leo Leone takes a seat beside him, though Jim warns that he doesn't want company. Leo admits that he saw some of the coverage of Jim's hearing that morning, and it seems he'll be stuck at Blackgate for some time. What concerns Leo, though, is what he saw the night before, when Jim was dragged from his cell by the man with the eye-patch. Jim shrugs it off, unhappily remarking that he is responsible for more than one hundred deaths. Leo challenges him to admit that he really believes that he's responsible. Jim responds that he doesn't know, but perhaps it's time for him to consider what options remain for him in this life, no matter how terrible they may seem. His son had warned him that he would have the opportunity to escape that night. Perhaps he'd take it.
At his hideout in the florist's, Carmine Falcone puts out the word that he will buy out the Penguin's lieutenants with the Penguin's own money if they swear loyalty to him tonight. He is distracted when he hears a knock at his door. Angrily shouting that he had ordered that he didn't want to be disturbed, he heads out into the hallways to find his guards dead. From an open door at the end of the hall, he hears Cobblepot warning that he never understood how Gotham worked. He had failed to see how the city was changing five years ago. The Roman dismisses Cobblepot as a coward, reminding that he had sent mercenaries to run him out of town those years ago. He challenges the Penguin to fight him alone. That, though, is exactly what the Penguin has done. Unexpectedly, the Penguin stabs Falcone through the wrist, and exclaims that the city made him what he is. He had to become a monster to stay on top. He had made a mistake in letting Falcone live five years back.
As the Penguin prepares to slice Falcone's throat, he is blinded by the camera flash of Vicki Vale, who has caught philanthropist Oswald Cobblepot attempting to cut the throat of a reputed crime boss on film. Grimly, Lieutenant Bard places the Penguin under arrest for both attempted murder and the successful murder of Falcone's men. Falcone himself is under arrest for criminal conspiracy and trafficking contraband. Falcone claims that Forbes will prevent him from going down, but Bard responds that Forbes himself will be going to Blackgate as well. He was arrested that morning.
That night, at the prescribed time, Jim hears the door of his cell unlock, and wanders cautiously out into the hall. As he stands before the exit, he feels the Batman's presence, and states that he only came to lock the door. He admits that he saw is son alive, and he had said some things that got under his skin. James, Jr. had claimed that Jim wanted to pull the trigger out of years of resentment for Gotham City. While he knows that's not true, he is getting old. He can't be the young man who leaps across buildings anymore, and that kind of foolishness is what got him into this mess - and people died as a result. Batman may believe he was framed, but there's still no evidence. If Jim himself could be tricked like that, it only goes to show how little he is up for this kind of thing anymore.
Jim wonders if Batman has ever heard of Rex Calaberese. Batman is well aware of The Lion. Jim reminds him of the idea of the natural order; the fact that Calabrese knew he wouldn't stay on top forever. Just like him, Jim is beginning to realize that his time on top is coming to an end. Gotham is no longer his - he deserves Blackgate. Batman disagrees, though he admits that Gotham still needs Jim to stay there at the penitentiary. With Falcone and the Penguin soon to be incarcerated there, it will become the most dangerous place in Gotham. Jim correctly guesses that it was Bard who caught them, and suggests that Jason could easily make a fair replacement for him as partner in the Batman's crusade against crime. Jim can't promise that he will survive much longer.
While flying over Gotham in the Batplane, Red Robin, learns of Jason Bard's success in killing the gang war overnight. Hoping to shave some time off of his trip, Tim has the computer run a diagnostic on his plane, knowing he'll be needed back home sooner than expected. However, the diagnostic reveals that the plane has two passengers on it. To his surprise, he learns that Harper Row has stowed away in his cargo hold.
On the roof of the GCPD Headquarters, Jason Bard is surprised by a visit from Batman, who admits that the Lieutenant's work is impressive, and hopes they can be allies. Jason admits that he wanted that all along, and extends his hand, but Batman leaves him hanging, explaining that Jim Gordon was never a perfect man, but he was good and moral. Batman never questioned his judgment, he trusted his moral compass. Much as he was impressed by Bard's actions that night, he read the police files en route, and learned that the Penguin was tipped off to the Roman's location, costing twelve men their lives. He traced the tip-off call straight to Jason Bard's cell phone.
Jason explains that everything he does is intended to make Gotham a better place, and he wants to do it with Batman's help. But if Batman won't trust him, that won't stop him from his course. And that course may cross lines that Jim Gordon and Batman never would have in the past. The city belongs to them now, and they will have to work together. When Jason turns around, he realizes that Batman left long ago.
Appearing in "Natural Order"
- The Penguin
- Carmine Falcone
- Mayor Sebastian Hady
- Interim Commissioner Jack Forbes (In a photograph only)
- Joker's Daughter
- Gotham City
- Bat-Signal (In ruins)
- This issue is reprinted in Batman Eternal Vol. 1.