- Saving your life is the most disgusting thing I've done in a long time.
- — Batman
Synopsis for "There's Nothing So Savage -- As a Man Destroying Himself!"
Two muggers named Roach and Spider brutalize a couple named Dick and Jane. Batman arrives and snaps both of their necks, killing them. He rides a motorcycle back to his garage, where it's revealed that this Batman is someone other than Bruce Wayne.
The real Batman responds to the Bat-Signal and swings over to GCPD Headquarters. Deputy Commissioner Barnes is waiting to arrest him for the murders, and the GCPD shoot at him as he escapes. Batman goes to visit the home of Jim Gordon, who explains that Barnes is trying to take over the department. A news report reveals that the two muggers killed were both murderers, previously released on a technicality. Batman tells Gordon to pretend to help with the manhunt so he can keep an eye on Barnes.
The next day, Bruce Wayne eats breakfast at Wayne Manor with Alfred Pennyworth and Jason Todd. Alfred investigates companies that sell Batman costumes, and finds that every one in the area has been stolen. Jason asks Bruce what's so wrong about killing criminals. Bruce tells him murder is a line they must not cross. Jason reminds him that he's killed before, and Bruce says this was in self-defense. "If we're no better than the lice who snuff out human life like it's worth nothing at all, then, well -- then it's time I hung up my cowl." Jason responds that he's still glad the crooks are dead, and Bruce says he is also but he's not proud of that.
Bruce Wayne visits a man named Howard Despond whose wife was killed by the muggers who died fighting Batman. He pretends to be there on Wayne Foundation business. Despond says nobody cared about his wife's death except the detective who took the muggers in.
More criminals are found dead the next night. This time it's an armed robber, who also previously escaped murder charges on a technicality. Batman poses as a reporter named Mr. Davis to ask Gordon questions about the murder right in front of Barnes. Gordon explains that all of the crooks who got off on technicality were arrested by a detective named Tommy Carma. Carma was once the youngest detective in the city, but his constant police brutality allowed many arrested criminals to go free. He snapped after his wife and daughter were killed by a hitman.
Batman goes out to pursue Carma, and tells Robin he must stay at home. He finds Carma's home address and meets his mother. She assumes that Batman is her son because he's wearing the same costume, and it's revealed that Tommy thinks he really is Batman. Tommy's mother tries to convince him that he's not Batman and what he's doing is wrong. Further inside, Batman finds a crime lab and a wall of newspaper clippings about Batman. Some of these clippings are about a man called the "Snuffer" who he believes was responsible for the death of Tommy's family. Gordon tells Batman where to find the Snuffer, who is currently about to go into witness protection.
Tommy Carma finds the Snuffer first and drops him out of a window. Batman arrives just in time to save the Snuffer. When the Snuffer thanks him he says "saving your life is the most disgusting thing I've done in a long time. Tommy hits Batman from behind and insists that the Snuffer does not deserve to live. They fight, and Tommy accuses Batman of being an imposter. Robin arrives and distracts Tommy, allowing Batman to knock Tommy out with a clean punch. Batman says he should be angry at Robin for disobeying orders, but he's glad they stopped Tommy before anyone else got hurt. The police arrive, and Batman decides to stay so he can clear his name. Robin asks why Batman didn't punch the guy out sooner, and Batman replies "It was hard to swing at him. After all, who am I but just another guy who thinks he's the Batman?"
Appearing in "There's Nothing So Savage -- As a Man Destroying Himself!"
- Tommy Carma (as Batman) (First appearance)
- Dick (mugging victim)
- Gotham City Police Department
- Deputy Commissioner Barnes (Single appearance)
- Howard Despond (mugging victim)
- Jane (mugging victim)
- Mrs. Carma (Tommy's mother)
- Roach (mugger)
- Snuffer (hitman)
- Spider (mugger)
- This story is reprinted in the Batman: Second Chances collected edition.
- The story of this issue doesn't have an actual title. Instead, the tagline on the cover is used as such.
- Batman mentions that he has killed before, but only in self-defense.
- This is the first issue of Max Allan Collins's run as writer on Batman.
- There is a young couple featured in this issue named Dick and Jane. Their names are a reference to the Dick and Jane series of children's books written by Zerna Sharp from the 1930s-1970s.
- Batman Recommended Reading
- Batman (Volume 1)
- Batman (Volume 2)
- Batman (Volume 3)
- Batman and Robin (Volume 1)
- Batman and Robin (Volume 2)
- Batman Confidential (Volume 1)
- Batman: Gotham Knights (Volume 1)
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight (Volume 1)
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat (Volume 1)
- Batman: Streets of Gotham (Volume 1)
- Batman Incorporated (Volume 1)
- Batman Incorporated (Volume 2)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 2)
- Batman/Superman: World's Finest (Volume 1)
- Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 1)
- Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 2)
- The Brave and the Bold (Volume 1)
- Detective Comics (Volume 1)
- Detective Comics (Volume 2)
- Superman/Batman (Volume 1)
- World's Finest (Volume 1)