- I never had a choice - but only because this is what I want, more than anything. And I was going to do this. I've told you that, again and again.
Synopsis for "Black & Blue"
The Mad Hatter's mind-controlling nanovirus has infected a significant portion of Gotham City's population - including Batgirl, Red Robin, and Red Hood - and he sets them to work building things for him. Harper Row, meanwhile, is determined to save both Red Robin and her brother Cullen, and to that end, she has donned the garb of a costumed vigilante.
Unsure of whether she'll survive her rescue attempt, Harper activates her voice recorder, and explains the scenario aloud. The Hatter's machine is meant to ensure that everyone loves him. Her suit, fortunately, is designed as a barrier against nanobots. She hopes it will prevent her from being infected - but maybe it won't.
Stephanie Brown, meanwhile, wakes with confusion in her own bed to find her mother standing over her. Her mother explains that they have a lot to talk about - admitting that she didn't expect Steph's father to go to such great lengths to see her killed. It was she who sent Killshot to find and collect Stephanie. She hopes that now that she has Steph back, they can leave town in the morning.
Harper makes her way inside the Hatter's warehouse, and upon her first encounter with the infected, she sees that her suit is helping her avoid being infected as well. Unfortunately, it can't protect her from gravity, and when one of the infected knocks her from a catwalk, she falls hard onto the floor, where the Hatter discovers her quickly. She ignores his insistence that she become infected and locates her brother, happily hugging him, though he doesn't seem to recognize her. He attacks her as well, and soon Red Robin and her other friends are grabbing her and holding her back.
The hatter prepares to infect her by force, insisting that all must love him. She counters that she already thinks he's cool. His technological prowess is impressive - she just wishes he'd use it better. He softens his approach, allowing her to use his vulnerability and kick him in the head. She then unleashes a high-voltage shock into her captors, and grabs the Hatter's discarded hat, placing it on her own head. Using its abilities, she destroys his antenna device, freeing the infected from his control.
When Cullen recovers, Harper gives him a big hug. The Hatter, meanwhile, attempts to scramble to his feet, only to have the Batman drop down, demanding to know who he's working for. Under duress, the Hatter admits that he was told to build the antenna to make the whole city hate Batman - he had just altered those instructions to make people love him instead. In the Hatter's pocket is yet another invitation to the "devastation of Gotham." Seeing his own allies are already present, Batman wonders how they found the place, and Red Robin explains that it was through Harper's influence. Looking over, and seeing her in uniform, Batman comments that they have a lot to talk about.
Afterwards, Red Robin approaches Harper and reminds her that many people are safe and sound thanks to her. She had thought he'd be mad at her for what she did, but he responds that he owes her an apology. He feels like he forced her into this life, and getting himself and his friends caught didn't help keep her out of danger. Harper comments that she finds his perspective somewhat insulting. She makes her own decisions - and she had never had the choice he'd claimed she had, because this was what she had wanted from the beginning. She was always going to be part of this life.
Stephanie, meanwhile, wakes in the middle of the night, looking for a drink in the fridge, and hears a thump. She follows the sound to find her mother's been tied up and gagged. As she attempts to free her, she is grabbed from behind, and chloroformed by Selina Kyle - who has been looking for her for some time.
Appearing in "Black & Blue"
- This issue is reprinted in Batman Eternal Vol. 3.