"Zero Year: Secret City, Part Three": Having just been caught in an explosion, Bruce Wayne's mind is addled, and he remembers the moment his father had been trying to find him after he fell down into the well on their property years ago. Now, the leader of the [[Red Hood
- Yes, father. I shall become a bat.
Synopsis for "Zero Year: Secret City, Part Three"
Having just been caught in an explosion, Bruce Wayne's mind is addled, and he remembers the moment his father had been trying to find him after he fell down into the well on their property years ago. Now, the leader of the Red Hood Gang is searching for him as well, sifting through the flaming wreckage to find him. Arming themselves with the ancient weapons from Bruce's collection, the Red Hood Gang mercilessly beats him with them. As Bruce's vision blurs, the Red Hood mocks him, suggesting that the day Thomas and Martha Wayne died must have been the worst day of Bruce's life - until now.
In fact, the Red Hood admits, their death had changed his life too. When his parents had heard what happened to two pillars of the community - that they were shot by a nobody - it had taught them that what was most to fear in this world was the uncontrollable; the random. What's most to fear is the things that happen for no reason at all - and when you try to reason out those things, it can drive you mad. That is what the Red Hood Gang is about: being that meaningless horror. They wear the red hoods to court the wolf, so to speak. They dare the authorities to try and catch them all. Once in a while someone like the Batman will come along and try to figure them out, and it gives them all kinds of excitement, but the Red Hood assures Bruce - even the Batman will fall to them, one day soon. With the walls coming down in the fire, the Red Hood takes a large portrait of Martha and Thomas in front of him and thanks Bruce for the opportunity to provide him with a bit of symmetry. With that, he fires a shot through each of the faces in the portrait and into Bruce's gut. Weakly, Bruce struggles across the floor to activate the secret wall panel that leads to the hideout below, and from there into the underground tunnels where he'll be safe from the flames. Determinedly, he travels through those tunnels back to the the hole he fell through as a boy, and is forced to smash off the lock with a rock before making his way across the property to the front door of the manor, and collapsing on the floor.
Meanwhile, Philip Kane angrily confronts his adviser Edward Nygma, believing that it was he who set the Red Hood Gang after Bruce, and had his nephew killed. Nygma is unapologetic, explaining that regardless, it needed to happen. Because of his past, Bruce would have come back and taken the company out from under Philip. He would not have stood for the company selling weapons. Annoyed, Philip prepares to shoot Nygma dead, but he is warned that doing so would certainly incriminate him by mere association, if not the murder itself. Kane responds that he can erase any record of Nygma's employment there thanks to a powerful AC magnet in the floor that is activated by a password that only he knows.
Nygma adjusts his strategy, suggesting that Philip is no killer, but when Philip seems unlikely to change his mind, he simply says "Cain". Immediately, the magnet activates, and Philip drops to the floor as every metallic object on his person - including the plate in his skull - is attracted to the floor. He takes the opportunity to tender his resignation, bemoaning the fact that he could have done some real good for the company if he'd been trusted all the way through. From the floor, Philip grunts that for all Nygma's posturing, his nature as a strategist will always place him in the shadows. He will never know true fame for what he can do, he will only be an empty question mark. Smirking, Nygma closes the door on him.
Bruce comes to with Alfred tending to his wounds, struggling to stitch him up with only a limited proficiency. Though he is merely rusty, it is a lot of stitches. Bruce comments that he had only wished to die at home - he had not expected medical treatment. Alfred responds by telling of how he had been present at the hospital when Thomas and Martha were shot. The doctors had told him that even if they had been shot in the hospital, the wounds would have been undeniably fatal. Alfred himself had been a military medic, and he had seen men come back from certain death thanks to his handiwork. All this was meant to illustrate to Bruce that no matter how battered, he will be there to patch Bruce up.
That evening, Bruce wanders the halls of the manor he has not lived in since he returned to Gotham City. Going through his father's things, he discovers the mapping device he had borrowed as a boy, and holds it in his palm as he looks on a bust of his father's head. Sadly, he confesses to his father that he is failing. In fighting his war foolishly, he has squandered the life that his family built. He begs for some kind of sign or guidance in getting back to the right path. Suddenly, the mapping device activates in his hand, and recreates a three dimensional representation of the very cave he had fallen into as a boy. Standing at the open window, a swarm of holographic bats fly through it, and then through him. He takes this as a sign, and agrees with his father's posthumous guidance: he shall become a bat. Sitting down, Bruce lets the mapping device fall to the floor and smash, shattering the illusion of the cave. Even so, one bat - a real one - remains in the room.
Appearing in "Zero Year: Secret City, Part Three"
- Batman (Flashback and main story)
Synopsis for "The Pit"
At the age of 24, Bruce Wayne was training in Norway, involved in a death-match fight that had thus far lasted for 28 hours because he refused to kill. Every hour, they had added a new combatant to the fight, but they had eventually run out of fighters. Even so, there could be no end to the fight until the Queen running the fight could see the moment in his eyes where Bruce knew he would have to kill or be killed.
During a brief moment of reprieve, Bruce challenged that this was not the lesson he had discussed with the Queen. She responded that the lesson he really needed was to learn that the only way to win a war is to wage it with death. Without death, only battles can be won, and the opponents will always return, because they know he will never do what is necessary to stop them. To facilitate the lesson, the Queen tossed Bruce a weapon, but he defiantly broke off its pointed blade, using only the staff to beat each one into submission.
Eventually, there were no more fighters to face him, because after all of those hours of fighting, his skill and determination had frightened all of the Queen's men, and they would not go to fight him. Bruce had won.
Appearing in "The Pit"
- As Nygma leaves, he mentions the Powers family, possibly a reference to Derek Powers.