"Disinfect": Despite his mentor's annoyance with Red Robin setting up bases in Gotham City due to concerns about his refusal to connect with the Batcomputer, he has done so anyway, following the recent train crash that killed more
- And you thought "Oh, Hey, I'm going to just talk to the scariest-looking bastard in the Narrows and see what he thinks"?
Synopsis for "Disinfect"
Despite his mentor's annoyance with Red Robin setting up bases in Gotham City due to concerns about his refusal to connect with the Batcomputer, he has done so anyway, following the recent train crash that killed more than one hundred people. Batman is focused on the coming gang-war, which gives Tim the opportunity to pore over the minutiae of the case. For example, Batman hasn't noticed that something unusual is going on with the children who were hospitalized after they were attacked by Professor Pyg on the night of the crash. The strangest thing being that they weren't infected by Professor Pyg at all. Their illnesses predate the attack. The commonality in each case was a Wayne Restoration project in the heart of the Narrows - the Philip Kane Memorial Projects.
That location happens to be the home of Harper and Cullen Row. Cullen is sick, and he is concerned that Harper shouldn't be going out and playing super-hero while the tension between gangs is so high. That, of course, is exactly why Harper feels the need to get out there. Resigned, Cullen begs her to promise she will only observe, and not intervene.
Meanwhile, at the offices of the Gotham Gazette, Vicki Vale bemoans the fact that her Editor-In-Chief - Mario Ito - is running her paper into the ground by requiring her to paint Jim Gordon as responsible for the train crash, despite a lack of evidence. She is overheard by Warren Spacey, the Crime Editor, who broke the original Joker story. He reminds that she shouldn't give up hope just yet, but both of them are disappointed when they encounter Joey Day, a much younger intern, who has already had the chance to break a story about Deacon Blackfire without having to work for his byline. Confidentially, Vicki guesses correctly that Warren has a story lead that he's keeping to himself. Seeing that she obviously doesn't want to be working on the Gordon story, he offers her the chance to be part of some real journalism, reporting on the gang war, and how hard it's about to hit the Narrows. He suggests that maybe she can even take Joey with her, and see if he learns something.
That night, Tim visits one of the afflicted children in the Narrows, and is interrupted by Batman who reminds that they should be working together. Batman guesses that this child isn't one of the ones from the Aviation Museum, but that the symptoms are identical. Tim confirms it, explaining that the source of the infection is local. Whatever caused this in the children, it happened before it was supposed to. Batman determines that they have been afflicted with a nanobot swarm - something much more complicated than Pyg is capable of. Something about the design is familiar, but Bruce chooses not to share it, instead making for to leave, reminding that he is needed to intervene in the gang war. Tim comments that this distrust and awkwardness between them has been there ever since the Joker attacked. Batman claims that his need to leave is more about the city than it is about the family - which Tim points out is exactly the problem.
Arriving in the Narrows, Vicki is forced to remind Joey that the fact that the location is unsafe is exactly why they are there. To his horror, she walks right up to a group of unsavoury characters, and introduces herself - and offers fifty bucks in exchange for a few answers about the Roman. Threateningly, one of the men pulls a knife and warns that it was a dangerous question to ask. Nobody is supposed to be nosing around about that yet. As he attacks, he suddenly collapses in spasms as Harper Row zaps him with her Taser. Exasperatedly, she warns the pair of reporters to follow her, lest they end up getting beaten to pulp.
Meanwhile, Tim tries to decode the language of the nanobots' programming, and calls on his own computers to home in on the signals of all nano-technology in the building. At that moment, the infected child sits upright and calls on the bots to eliminate the threat.
Harper drags Joey and Vicki to her own apartment and has Cullen make them some coffee. In the meantime, she chastises Vicki for thinking it would be a good idea to outright accost a Narrows thug. These types of people have never even seen the Penguin or Falcone - but they still claim each others' territory in the name of those men. Vicki explains that she came for just that reason - and in any case, who was Harper to feel safe on the streets with nothing but a cat-suit and some tricked out Tasers? Suddenly the same thugs from before crash through the door, and prepare to get their revenge.
Unexpectedly, though, Red Robin crashes through the ceiling, under attack by the nanobots. In their confusions, the thugs try to attack the swarm surrounding Tim, only to be targeted as threats themselves. Fortunately, Tim manages to extricate himself, and execute a command to make the swarm go dormant, but while all that was going on, everyone fails to notice that something is wrong with Cullen. His eyes light up with an inhuman glow, and the Swarm wakes suddenly, instantly filling Cullen's body until he collapses. Worriedly, Tim calls emergency services for him.
With the thugs unconscious on the Rows' floor, Vicki borrows one of Harper's Tasers and threatens one of them with it, warning him to answer her questions, or get quite a shock. Within days, her story on the gang war is out in the Gazette - and a man in Tokyo learns that the nanobots were activated ahead of schedule.
Appearing in "Disinfect"
- Professor Pyg (Mentioned only)
- Deacon Blackfire (Mentioned only)
- Joker (Mentioned only)
- Carmine Falcone (Mentioned only)
- Warren Spacey
- Jim Gordon (Mentioned only)
- Nightwing (Mentioned only)
- Penguin (Mentioned only)
- Damian Wayne (Mentioned only)
- Teen Titans (Mentioned only)
- United States of America
- This issue is reprinted in Batman Eternal Vol. 1.