"Savage City, Part Four": With the fate of Gotham City in his hands, Batman warns The Riddler that he has only one chance to put a stop to his plan before the entire city is destroyed by an air-strike. Mockingly, the Riddler offers Batm
- In the city today, Alfred, now more than ever, evil men, sick men, they step from the shadows to kill and terrify, and Batman will draw their fire. He will be the lightning rod. He will show the people of Gotham not to be afraid. It's the thing, Alfred. It's what makes me happy. It's all that makes me happy.
Synopsis for "Savage City, Part Four"
With the fate of Gotham City in his hands, Batman warns The Riddler that he has only one chance to put a stop to his plan before the entire city is destroyed by an air-strike. Mockingly, the Riddler offers Batman twelve chances to save his city by answering twelve riddles. Batman is trapped within an array of lasers, and if any of their beams is crossed, it will release one of the weather balloons filled with toxins into the air. For every riddle Batman answers correctly, the lasers will deactivate, and he will be able to advance one step out of the trap. Angrily, Batman warns that there isn't enough time for that many riddles. The jets are already on their way.
Having barely survived an attack by one of the Riddler's drones, Lucius Fox is recovering in his van when Jim Gordon catches up to him. Lucius explains the situation. They are relying on Batman to put a stop to the Riddler, as they have no means of calling an end to the air strike. Jim hopes, though, that he can delay the strike by sending up a flare. Lucius, though hurt, intends to try to stop the Riddler's signal blocker with the help of the tactical team's captain, who will try to reach Fort Robbins should Batman succeed before Lucius.
The Riddler poses his first riddle: a house without the head of head, knitted deep within the trees, a head that lies without its eyes, stitched silently to tease. He warns that this will be a battle of wits, not brawn. After a pause, Batman responds that the answer is a louse. The "head of head" - in terms of letters - is "H", so House without an "H" is "ouse". Lies without eyes is a phonetic clue to the letter L. Knit is a homophone for nit, which is a louse egg. And an offhand comment about a Calypso suggests the Nymph of mythology called Calypso, where lice emerge from eggs as nymphs. Entering the answer into his computer, the Riddler allows Batman to progress one step.
Elsewhere, Jim tries to get high enough to fire the flare gun and signal the jets, but he is startled by an owl, and drops it.
Playfully, the Riddler offers his second challenge: a single voice, a thousand throats, a tale sold for peanuts, but then... Batman interrupts his telling of the riddle to answer that it is a bee. They buzz with one voice and one mind. A bee's comb is made up of cells, and the queen's cell is shaped like a peanut. The Riddler enters the answer, and Batman takes another step.
In a nearby building, Jim searches for anything he can use to signal the jets, but hears them flying past and knows that time is running very short.
Batman presses the Riddler to give him the next riddle, and so he asks for what the greatest strength of strengths is to know its own worth, hugging itself tightly at every birth. Batman pauses for longer this time, and the Riddler goads him, suggesting that perhaps he doesn't know the answer - which is bad, considering how close the jets are. Rather than waste time on reasoning, Batman states that the answer is a blade, and insists that the answer be entered. Grinning, the Riddler shouts that the answer is wrong. There was a theme to all of his riddles. They were each famously unsolvable riddles of legend. The "Louse" riddle had killed Homer. The Bees riddle was part of Samson's impossible riddle. The answer to this one was knot - an answer that had eluded Alexander the Great.
Batman smirks, and steps through the lasers, stating that the answer to the riddle is a blade. When the Riddler's drones do nothing to attack Batman, he reacts with surprise, and Batman explains that when the conductor for his blocker was destroyed, he Lucius found a replacement in the Giant Penny. The Riddler's signal is blocked again. But the reason that the answer to the riddle is a blade is because of what happened after Alexander couldn't solve the riddle of the Gordian knot. He retrieved a blade, and cut through it. With that, Batman punches Nygma in the jaw.
Jim, meanwhile, locates a bucket of paint and a floodlight, and desperately attempts to create a makeshift Bat-Signal in the hope of catching the pilots' attentions. Fortunately, they spot it, and receive orders to pull back and await further instruction.
Angrily, Batman demands to know how to turn the city back on. Deliriously grinning, despite Batman's violence, the Riddler responds that that is the question. He explains that the first question mark, according to the history, was shaped like a lightning flash, back in the eighth century. He tears open his shirt to reveal an electrode on his chest bearing the image of that ancient symbol. It acts as a battery set to his heartbeat. If the electrode comes off, his computer systems will die, and the city will truly lose power. However, a shock of a thousand volts, perhaps, might reset the system, and bring the lights back on - if Batman can survive that jolt himself. Grimly, Batman simply removes the electrode.
He knocks the Riddler unconscious and places the electrode on himself, locating an emergency defibrillator. As the jets receive orders to re-engage, Batman hurriedly places the leads on his own chest, remembering how he had once undergone electroshock therapy, some years back. Hopefully, he activates the current, and sends a massive shock into his body. Collapsing, he feels his heart stop, and realizes that he has failed.
With a gasp, he wakes to the sound of his friend Alfred Pennyworth begging him to wake up as he performs chest compressions to resuscitate Bruce. As his heart restarts, so too does Gotham City. The lights return, and seeing this, the pilots turn back, relieved to be allowed to belay their orders. Weakly, Batman asks how Alfred knew where to find him. His friend reveals that he was already there. He'd followed Lucius some time ago. While he doesn't always agree with Bruce, he had promised to always be there to patch him up. Today was no exception.
One month after the Riddler's defeat, Bruce Wayne holds a press conference to explain that he sees the city of Gotham as growing and evolving. The Riddler had thought that Gotham was over - that's what his Zero Year had been about. The city's evolution is both wonderful and terrible. Fears will continue to haunt Gotham, but its people face them together - because this moment in Gotham's history belongs to them. Now, the Zero of the Zero Year represents the blank slate that the city has. Bruce intends to help lead the way in shaping the city via Wayne Industries and with the help of his friend Lucius Fox.
After the conference, Jim Gordon thanks him for the invitation, and Bruce jokes that he had to invite the new police commissioner, whether he wanted to or not - not with all his unpaid parking tickets from the last year. He wonders if Jim has been to see the Riddler since he was caught. Jim admits that Nygma has been placed at Arkham Asylum, since it wasn't safe to put him in Blackgate Penitentiary. The hope is that Arkham will get accustomed to holding a criminal madman until he can face trial - with the further hope that they won't have to do it again. Before taking his leave, Jim can't help but mention that he noticed his coat had been replaced with a new one - an exact match, but new. Though Bruce won't admit it, Jim knows that the young man did it to absolve him of the bribe Bruce had witnessed him take, if unwittingly, in his early days on the force.
Alfred interrupts to warn that a girl named Julie Madison has come to see him, claiming that she and Bruce had dated briefly in school. While Bruce accepts that it won't hurt to reconnect, he warns Alfred that he won't ever quit being Batman. Alfred knows he means it, but brushed it off, joking that when he was twenty-five, he had thought he'd be an actor forever. Bruce stops him, admitting that he has a secret to tell his old friend.
Early after his parents died, Bruce had trouble handling it. He couldn't function, seeing their faces everywhere he went. So, he paid someone to pretend to be Alfred and had the doctors at Arkham arrange to erase his memory with electroshock therapy. But seconds before the current was to pass through his body, he called it off. He knew he had to find a way to fight through it - he had to find the crazy thing that would keep him from going crazy. As Batman, Bruce will draw the fire of evil and insane men like a lightning rod, and show the people of Gotham that they don't have to be afraid. That is the only thing that makes him happy. Alfred responds that there are joys yet to be experienced; deeper types of happiness. Bruce states that these are not for him to find. He leaves the decision to reintroduce him to Julie up to Alfred.
Alfred imagines that Bruce might reunite with Julie, who would admit that she just moved back to Gotham - even after what had just happened. She would have seen Bruce on television during the Red Hood Gang's attack, and felt compelled to come home. They'd have drinks, they'd get married, they'd have several children and grow old together - happily ever after. But despite this fond thought, Alfred knows it cannot be. Wryly and resigned, he informs Julie that Bruce is spoken for - by Gotham City.
Appearing in "Savage City, Part Four"
- Batman (Flashback and main story)