"Secret City: Part One": Six years ago, Gotham City was in shambles. The subways system had flooded, and Duke Thomas was trying to survive by catching the fish swimming within those tunnels. Despite successfully bagging one, he was soon targeted by a gang, and f
- I was traveling, Alfred. Training. For this. And I can't tell you what it means to have you by my side here. But I'm not bringing Bruce Wayne back to life.
Synopsis for "Secret City: Part One"
Six years ago, Gotham City was in shambles. The subways system had flooded, and Duke Thomas was trying to survive by catching the fish swimming within those tunnels. Despite successfully bagging one, he was soon targeted by a gang, and forced to run for his life. They had nearly caught him when the Batman appeared, knocking the pursuers unconscious. As he returned the boy's fish to him, the boy warned that the man who brought Gotham to its knees thinks the Batman is dead, and had been telling everyone so. Batman responded that this meant that they wouldn't see him coming.
Five months earlier, Bruce Wayne had been working under cover in an attempt to bring down the Red Hood Gang. Unfortunately, he had now found himself at a standoff with them, partially unmasked and piloting a truck carrying six men; a truck he had stolen from the Red Hood Gang. Though Alfred warned him not to, Bruce began speeding the truck toward his enemies, filling the Red Hood himself with surprise and intrigue. Against further warnings from Alfred, Bruce used his new grappling cannon to hook the truck to an over-hanging construction crane, just as the truck sped over the ledge of the tall building on which it had been parked. As the tension on the rope thanks to the weight of the truck and its passengers caused it to snap, Bruce and his rescuees were thrown from the vehicle, landing in the bay. Looking up to where he had been, Bruce spotted the leader of the Red Hood Gang and flipped him the bird.
Bruce believed that the Red Hood Gang was comprised of blackmailed individuals from the middle and upper classes of Gotham; all under the thumb of the gang's central figure. They did not know each other's identities, let alone their blackmailer. Though he must have had a core of real followers, the gang could be comprised of anyone, so long as he had a way to control them. And unlike the street crime that Bruce had seen when he left Gotham years ago, the Red Hood Gang stood for something different - something viral and hidden.
Despite having returned some time ago, Bruce had not yet gone public with the return of Bruce Wayne, having decided that it would be best to remain legally dead. This, against the advice of Alfred, who had to admit that he had agreed to help in Bruce's crusade merely as a facilitator for talking some sense into his ward. Bruce insisted that he would be more able to take down the Red Hood Gang by himself - without the distraction of having to be Bruce Wayne.
In the meantime, Bruce explained that the men that the Red Hood had planned to execute were all lower-level executives who had refused to join the gang. Hopefully, by watching these men, they would lead him back to the identity of the Red Hood. Still concerned, Alfred demanded to know why Bruce was doing all of this. Frustrated, Bruce turned on him, snapping that he wanted to ensure that no one else would have to go through what he had endured on Park Row - where Bruce had taken up residence in a brownstone. Eager to get back to work, Bruce shrugged his guardian off, intending to drive himself, but was surprised at the door by the appearance of his uncle Philip Kane.
Philip explained that he had been trying to keep tabs on Bruce since his initial disappearance. Though he had caught wind of a few sightings all over the world, he hadn't really been able to keep track of Bruce until he realized that the better strategy would be to follow Alfred. He knew Bruce had returned when Alfred took up residence in Crime Alley. Philip asked just a few moments of Bruce's time, and Bruce obliged, though impatiently.
Philip drove Bruce downtown to a tall building which he explained was the home of the new Wayne Enterprises. Since Bruce had left, Kane Chemicals and Wayne Enterprises had merged, and thanks to that merger, Kane Chemicals had been able to continue research on tissue growth, sonic deterrents, and had become a world leader in so-called protective technology, which Bruce noted was code for weapons, non-lethal or otherwise. Regardless of all this, Bruce admitted that he didn't care about the company. Philip replied that he didn't want the company to be his alone. He had had Bruce declared dead so that he could take control of the company and build it into something with a legacy. But that legacy would not stand under the already tarnished Kane name. The popular Waynes were trusted by Gothamites, and it would be a powerful symbol for them to see a Wayne back at the head of the company.
Realizing that Bruce had no intention of entering the building with him, Philip got out of the car and drew Bruce's attention to a Giant Penny, whose forging he had overseen himself. He had studied to be a geologist as a younger man, but when his father Roderick was heard to be dying, he had given up that dream to take up the responsibility of running the family business. Despite this story, Bruce responded that he had not come back to do the same thing Philip had done. That wasn't who he was now.
Bruce recalls that, years ago, he had found his father working on fixing up an old Lincoln in the garage. Thomas had called him there to ask what it was about Gotham that Bruce loved most. He had to ask, because he had learned that his son was sneaking off to the city after school. Bruce had become upset to learn that his father had him followed, and explained that he had been sneaking off because his family's fame made him stand out. In Gotham, he could be anyone. Understanding, Thomas expressed his pride, and then showed Bruce a special device that he and Lucius Fox had designed. It was a kind of visual mapper that used a 360 degree camera to map terrain, for use with first responders at disaster sites. Before he could tell the boy more about it, Thomas was called away for work at the hospital.
That night, Philip Kane reported to his strategist that Bruce did not seem inclined to play ball. He had hired this man despite a questionable past, and though he had been helped to take the company to new heights, growth had stalled. Meanwhile, Gotham hated the Kanes for their building projects, and the Red Hood Gang was intent on stealing from the company. At the centre of a web of crisscrossing strings and notes, Edward Nygma explained that despite the seemingly complicated nature of Philip's problems, this was all just a riddle to be solved, and riddles often have deceptively simple answers. And, the simplest answer in this case, would be to kill Bruce Wayne.
Appearing in "Secret City: Part One"
Synopsis for "Where the Hell did he learn to drive?!"
At the age of 19, Bruce Wayne had spent the last six weeks learning stunt-driving with a man named Miguel in Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately, the lesson of the day was more difficult than previous ones, as it eschewed all of the lessons he had learned about colour cover and crowd ducking in favour of an overt, high-speed police chase in a very conspicuous car. Grinning, Miguel had explained that when the police see a car like this, they would fail to catch the driver because, deep down, they wouldn't want to. They'd want to chase, but not catch.
Despite selecting Miguel as his teacher, Bruce did not approve of the man's penchant for thievery. In this case, he had stolen some heavy artillery, and intended to test it out on the otherwise innocent police officers who were chasing them down for that theft. Rather than let Miguel kill anybody, Bruce switched gears suddenly, and smashed the car through the front doors of an opera house. As the car stalled in a heap, Miguel swore he would not be trapped, quickly regretting his decision to train Bruce. This was just as well for Bruce, who laid his now-former teacher flat with a punch. Miguel had killed twenty-three police officers in thirteen countries over the last three years, and now he would face justice at last. Meanwhile, Bruce escaped without garnering any notice.
Appearing in "Where the Hell did he learn to drive?!"
- This issue is reprinted in Batman: Zero Year - Secret City and Batman: Zero Year.
- In July of 2013, a "Director's Cut" edition of this issue was released including pencil art and sketches by Greg Capullo and Rafael Albuquerque, and the full scripts from Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV.