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"I'll Scratch Your Back...": As Batman heads toward the Willowwood Home for Children to face the escaped Arkham Asylum inmates, Julia Pennyworth can't imagine how her father could merely sit


Quote1 This thing? This conspiracy that started with a train and has snaked its way through ever aspect of your life? It's too big for you to understand. You can't see the shape of it. It's so vast and complex that even the great detective can't solve this riddle. Quote2
-- Scarecrow



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Synopsis for "I'll Scratch Your Back..."

As Batman heads toward the Willowwood Home for Children to face the escaped Arkham Asylum inmates, Julia Pennyworth can't imagine how her father could merely sit while Batman faced danger alone. Batman quips that Alfred had already watched his own daughter go off to war without him before.

Inside Willowwood, the Arkhamites await a meeting with Poison Ivy's contact, who promises the things they need to enslave Gotham. Scarecrow supposes that this was chosen as the location in order to make them insecure, with memories of their own broken pasts. In the mean time, he allows Ivy to keep thinking she's manipulating Bane, because they are both so egotistical that they will believe they're manipulating each other, and be open to his suggestions.

At Blackgate Penitentiary, Jim Gordon is disturbed to wake from his sleep to the image of his cellmate Rex "The Lion" Calabrese receiving a massage from an inmate called the manhandler. Rex comments that Jim has been looking at him funny ever since revealed his true identity, and Jim reminds that he usually does that with murdering scumbags - even ones who saved his life. Rex suggests that what really bugs Jim is that he's taking advantage of his fame in prison, which is perhaps detracting from his self-imposed penance. He knows well enough that Jim is innocent of the crime he's incarcerated for, and intimates that he could use his newfound fame to help get Jim out of jail. Jim refuses, insisting on using the system that failed him to get out legitimately.

Batman quickly and easily renders Joker's Daughter unconscious using chloroform - to which she is particularly susceptible, thanks to her skin transplant. From below, Ivy and Bane hear Batman's arrival and prepare the location where Bane intends to kill Batman once and for all. While they wait, Bane begins promising to marry Ivy in Pena Dura before he realizes that he has been affected by her manipulations angrily. She explains that she tricked him with the baklava he ate at the restaurant they'd been hiding out in. He threatens to kill her, but she warns that he would fail, because his years of Venom abuse have made him especially susceptible to her toxins. She disappears into the darkness, reminding that, like a plant, she will always bend toward the sunlight - and a new sun is rising. Suddenly, Killer Croc leaps out of the shadows to attack him.

Bane scoffs, having beaten Croc once already. Croc reminds that that was above ground - but now they're in his element. Bane reminds that he was raised in an underground prison, which isn't a far cry from a sewer. He lifts Croc over his head, preparing to break his back, but he is surprised when his victim bites through the tube pumping Venom into his brain.

Having taken down Mister Freeze, Batman uses the element of surprise to take down Clayface and Scarecrow, freeing the people they took as hostage. While Batman is distracted with that, Crane grabs another hostage and threatens to kill him if he isn't let to walk, and Batman fires lidocaine darts into the hostage's neck, revealing that the hostage was Clayface in disguise, and giving Crane no leverage.

Unmoved, Bane warns that he is more than just his venom, but Croc responds that he's not much more, biting into the man's arm. He complains of how he is often underestimated, and he has learned that Bane's only strong with Venom when it's still in his blood. So, what happens when Bane has no blood. He begins strategically slicing through Bane's veins and arteries in his extremities with his sharp claws. When Bane begs for death, he comments grimly that this isn't about killing him - it's about making an example of him.

Crane admits that Batman is right to think him addicted to fear - but he has some news for Batman. The conspiracy that has wormed its way into every aspect of his life is too big even for Batman to solve. Strongly hinting that it is the Riddler who can figure it all out. Annoyed, Batman knocks him out and has Julia file that information for later while he checks in on the other escapees. Sure that he faces a tough fight with Bane, he is surprised when he gets to the sunken tunnel below to find he has already been beaten and humiliated.

In the alley outside the Tartarus Greek Restaurant, Selina Kyle pays off Poison Ivy for her help, before returning to the families to announce that all of the freaks have been taken off the table, and their vacancies are open to be filled by their rightful masters.

At Blackgate, Jason Bard pays a visit to Jim Gordon, admitting his role in making the city the way it is; a war zone with a weakened Batman barely able to protect it. He needs allies now more than ever. Jim responds that if Jason wants to set things right, he has to do it by the book - but whatever he does, he has to get him out of prison.

Catwoman celebrates her victory by finally taking a nap, with Killer Croc providing a watchful eye for her.



Notes

  • This book was first published on December 24, 2014.
  • No special notes.

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