"Savage City, Part One": Years ago, Bruce Wayne snuck up to the window of his friend Julie Madison's dorm room, breaking the rules against being at the girls' dorm at night. She was playfully admonishing, but he won her over when he explai
- Gentlemen, meet my friend... The "$%$^! Psycho in a Batsuit". No offense.
Appearing in "Savage City, Part One"
- Bob Chee (Dies)
- Julie Madison (First appearance)
Synopsis for "Savage City, Part One"
Years ago, Bruce Wayne snuck up to the window of his friend Julie Madison's dorm room, breaking the rules against being at the girls' dorm at night. She was playfully admonishing, but he won her over when he explained that he'd got her everything she'd need to go on a tour of the countryside of Kane County with him on his motorcycle - and several volumes of a manga she liked. When she began climbing out of her window, though, Bruce was disturbed to see her bleeding heavily from her face.
Bruce wakes from a long sleep in an unfamiliar place, with an IV drip attached to his arm. Freeing himself of it, he leaves his room to find a young boy doing a crossword puzzle. He explains that Bruce is in Apartment 31J of Bell Towers, residence of the Thomas family. He is Duke Thomas, and Bruce has been unconscious since the new year. This confuses Bruce, because it was summer last he remembered. Duke responds that the calendar has changed, along with a great many other things, gesturing to the window for Bruce to see for himself. Peering out, Bruce is taken aback by just what's happened to Gotham City. It is over-grown, and The Riddler's insignia looms on a tall building downtown. Duke welcomes Bruce to the so-called Zero Year - as the Riddler calls it. In it, there is only one rule: get smart, or die.
Jim Gordon, meanwhile, climbs to the roof of one of the many abandoned and derelict buildings, waiting for his companions to get into position - but there is no reply from anyone else. They may miss their chance on this.
Borrowing Duke's phone, Bruce dials a special number to circumvent the Riddler's controls, and reaches Alfred Pennyworth in the Batcave. Bruce explains that he survived the crash of the balloon - barely - crawling from the wreckage and burning his uniform. Soon after, he must have lost consciousness. With a tear rolling down his face, Alfred admits that the city was lost. The entire border of the island on which it sits was irreparably damaged. The city-center was overgrown, and the Riddler controls all that remains somewhere from the inside. There is no way in or our of the city, with tunnels flooded and crossings rigged with explosives. As an added deterrent, he Riddler has filled Gotham's skies with weather balloons filled with deadly chemicals. Any attempt to breach the city will result in the unleashing of the cloud of death hiding within those balloons on the entire city.
Confused, Bruce can't imagine how Riddler managed to do all of this. However he did it, the city now belongs to the Riddler. He stole Dr. Pamela Isley's research, and disseminated her formula via the flood, rendering the streets a savage wilderness. Though many tried to stop him at first, few try now, as the death trap the Riddler made of their city broke their spirits. A scant few remain who even have the will to fight.
Sadly, Bruce realizes that he failed his city. The Riddler had beaten him twice to this point, and each time with worse consequences. If he loses a third time, there will not likely be another chance. Alfred suggests that if there is to be a third attempt, Bruce could do better to base himself from Wayne Manor and act as himself. The escape passage from the Brownstone at Park Row to the waterways is probably one of the only ways out of the city and back to the Manor. From outside the city, he can build support and resources to save the city. If he tries to take on Nygma as the Batman again, he may fail again and die - then the Batman's example is wasted.
Sensing Bruce's intent to leave, Duke turns down his guest's offer to go with him; to help from outside the city. He explains that he has family to take care of there - and he has a plan of his own. Every night, the Riddler appears at sunset to challenge the people of Gotham to present him with a riddle he can't answer. If anyone can do that, he will give the city back to the people. That is why he is working on the crossword puzzle. He intends to challenge the Riddler himself. After all, it's only a crazy plan if it doesn't work. In the mean time, though, he needs a six-letter word that can mean "hit or miss"...
From his hiding place, Jim is disappointed to see a small group of men parachuting down to him. Angrily, he complains that he risked his life and his family to find a blind spot so that a real team with resources could be brought in. Instead, all he got was a small tactical team of five men. Sternly, they warn him to watch his tone. This is their job, and from what they've heard, he is just a cop who's allied himself with a psycho in a bat-suit.
As the sun sets, the Riddler appears on the big screen above the city and issues his challenge. When none come forward, he reminds that he is only trying to make Gothamites into the Prometheans the world needs. After all, it is the human brain that is what allows them to survive where other animals have fangs and claws. All he has done to Gotham is reduce it to its inevitable future in a world with too many problems to resolve. Gotham is now a riddle that even he cannot solve, and that is why it falls to a hero who can answer that riddle, to prove his worth and save his people. From in front of the Brownstone on Park Row, Bruce Wayne listens to this message, and determinedly crawls down a storm-drain, and into the tunnels below. The Riddler goes on to explain that if someone can prove he is a smarter man than he, he will remove the looming question of how to save the city from their lives - until, of course, it inevitably reverts this way by dint of their failure to solve it for themselves.
Finally, a man steps up to challenge the Riddler - Bob Chee of Powers Industries, who had been laid off as their lead strategist in order to make room for the Riddler himself. Before Chee can even finish reciting the riddle that he concocted, the Riddler provides the answer. He explains his deductive reasoning, based on his knowledge of Chee after taking over his office. With his failure, the Riddler punishes Chee with death, opening the grate from beneath his feet, and dropping him into the tunnels below. The Riddler responds to the public's protests by reminding that they knew the rules before they started. Even so, he senses that somewhere in the city, someone is trying to break his rules.
Soon, he zeroes in on Jim Gordon and the tactical team, and demands that they explain themselves. The tactical team's leader explains that all they have come to do is declare that the Riddler has won. They've brought a suitcase filled with fifty-million dollars in untraceable cash. Realizing that they had never intended to help legitimately, Jim curses the men who failed him. The Riddler responds that there will be no deals - but there will be a game; a game of dominoes. As he says this, he causes a wrecking ball several blocks away to strike at the foundations of a nearby building. Jim watches, stunned, as that building's collapse triggers an adjacent building's collapse, and that building's another, and so on. Soon, it becomes clear that the chain reaction is heading their way, and eventually they'll be crushed to death. While he waits for that, the Riddler offers a different game; the key to winning it will be being fast pupils. He explains that he has programmed the Riddler-bots surrounding them to detect motion. They will have enough time to get off one-shot against the bots before they return fire.
Jim and his tactical team begin motionlessly arguing about the best way to handle this before Batman shouts down at them that they have to shoot the robots in the eye, reminding of Nygma's hint. Ignoring the tactical team's warnings, Jim aims instead for the camera-drone trained on them, and shoots it down. The drone's crashing attracts the motion detectors of the other bots, who fire at it, causing the other bots to fire at them. Batman warns that so long as Jim and the others don't move, they will make it out alive - if the impending destruction of the building doesn't get them first. To aid this, Batman shoots down the water-tower on the top of the building, causing it to bridge the gap to the next building over. Hurriedly, Jim ushers the team across, and they survive by a hair's breadth.
Elsewhere, Alfred seeks to pull Batman up out of the river, only to find a note from his ward, explaining that he'll catch the next boat.
Finally, Jim reveals his ally - the Batman - to the tactical team, and demands to know what took him so long. Smirking, Batman responds that he got stuck on a crossword; trying to figure out a six letter word for "hit or miss." Taking Batman's hand in friendship, Jim responds that the answer was "strike".
- This book was first published on April 16, 2014.
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