"A Night on Earth": In one of Rio de Janeiro's slums, a young boy who has been forced into slave labour, assembling toys, struggles to keep moving in the mud and suffering from his exhaustion. Angrily, one of his captors threatens him with a gun. Suddenly, a rope wraps around the
- None of us Robins were ever as good as Batgirl. We knew it. Drove us all crazy. She's got the legs of a ballerina... and the brains of a librarian... But that's not all. It never was, Batwoman. I think it was because she didn't do what she does for revenge. Not like ol' dead Nightwing or me. She doesn't fight for some ghost. She fights for someone alive.
- -- Red Hood
Appearing in "A Night on Earth"
- Gotham City
Synopsis for "A Night on Earth"
In one of Rio de Janeiro's slums, a young boy who has been forced into slave labour, assembling toys, struggles to keep moving in the mud and suffering from his exhaustion. Angrily, one of his captors threatens him with a gun. Suddenly, a rope wraps around the gunman's chest, and he is yanked away by Batgirl. Using his broken Portuguese, Red Hood explains that he, Batgirl, and Batwoman need him to remain where he is while they infiltrate the factory and try to find the man they believe is responsible for framing Jim Gordon.
Back in Gotham City's Narrows, Lt. Jason Bard makes face time with people in the Crown Point area, and Batman is suspicious. Alfred suggests that maybe Bard really is as good as he says, and deserves to be in the front-running for the role of Police Commissioner in Jim Gordon's stead, as the Gotham Gazette seems to think. Unsure, Bruce asks after Alfred's daughter Julia, whom Alfred is pleased to announce has gone out for "high tea." Thinking they at least have a taste for tea-time in common, he is blissfully unaware that the High Tea Club is a punk-rock hangout. Speaking of dinner, Bruce admits that he won't be home for it, as he spots something going on down on the street.
A man carrying an injured woman hurries into a nearby alley, catching Jason Bard's attention as well. In the alley, the man yanks the lid off of a storm drain and begins climbing down, and Jason is bemused when he enters the alley, and finds the man gone. Batman appears behind him and notes that Jason went unresponsive for several seconds after entering the alley, and wonders what happened. Jason fails to explain coherently just what he saw. Batman responds that he may be suffering from an acute stress reaction, and suggests he go home. Batman leaps down the hole, and asks Alfred for schematics, only to be interrupted by Jason, who comments that these are his people, too, and since Batman followed him, it's only fair that he follows him now.
Soon, the pair discover the man's body, face down in the water. Upon investigation, they discover that his face has been eaten. Nervously, Bard recalls that his uncle had warned him about a cannibal hiding in Gotham's sewers when he transferred. Ignoring him, Batman knocks Jason out of the way hurriedly as Killer Croc charges out of the darkness, complaining that he's been called a cannibal again. Angrily, he turns on Batman, demanding to know where he was when Bane was breaking his people, and throwing him to the dogs.
Struggling to his feet, Jason attempts to place Croc under arrest for kidnapping, brandishing a boot that he thinks is his gun, for a few seconds too long. Croc grabs him, explaining that those people came to him for shelter and leadership, adding that the man on the ground - Logan - was not killed by him. Angrily, he decries the GCPD for simply blaming the "Cannibal Croc" rather than doing actual police work. While Logan and the girl Jade were his friends, Jason is not, and he has no qualms about eating his face. Batman leaps onto Croc's back and grunts that he knows he's innocent - and he knows what Croc did do.
At Blackgate Penitentiary, Jim Gordon's shower is cut short so that the other "celebrity inmates" can shower away from the general population. Carmine Falcone and The Penguin are waiting in line as one of the guards with whom Jim has got close escorts him back to his cell. As he sits back down on his bunk, his cellmate Leo Leone remarks snidely that Jim has got himself a fan. Jim grumpily reminds that one man out of an entire city of people who want to see him roasted on a spit is hardly an upper.
Derisively, Leo remarks that Jim's humility is rare in police. He points out how the prisoners of Blackgate are treated like they're not people. And similarly, in most cultures the name for the people is the same as the one used for the name of their tribe - meaning that failing to belong to the tribe means you're not a person. Since the gang war ended and both sides were imprisoned, men who were part of gangs, who might once have been old friends now see each other as non-people - as faceless enemies.
Alfred provides Batman with the maps he requested, offering all of Killer Croc's last known locations. Batman explains that he and Bard are seeking a young woman whom he believes were abducted by people of the Gotham Underground, and Croc himself is guiding them. Uncomfortably, Jason tries to make small-talk with Killer Croc, who dismisses his questions, warning him to focus his energy on seeing what's hiding in the dark. There are worse things in the shadows now than him.
In Brazil, Batwoman is forced to remind Red Hood again that there is to be no killing - despite their moral outrage at the enslavement of children. Batgirl insists on a stealthy approach, but Jason reminds that Batman sent him to ensure that they don't do things her way. She is, after all, compromised by her emotions. Barbara scoffs that Batman had other motives for sending him, but leaves the decision instead to the impartial judgment of Batwoman, who has no stake in the family. Annoyed, Batwoman decides that they will use stealth, and they will split up.
Despite this, Jason modifies the plan, allowing Batgirl to go in uncovered, as he explains to Batwoman that she doesn't need it. She is better than all of the Robins in every respect. He attributes this largely to her motivations. It wasn't revenge she wanted, it was to fight for the living. The only person she ever had to fight for consistently was her father. She would do anything for him. She trusts him in a way that Jason cannot understand. All this is just to say that Batgirl doesn't need their protection from anyone except herself.
Batgirl, meanwhile, makes her way into the office of the man she has sought, only to become hypnotized by him. Soon, she is attacking Red Hood and Batwoman, and Jason realizes that they might also have to protect each other from her.
- This book was first published on August 6, 2014.
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