"Endgame, Part Four": With Duke Thomas in his arms, Batman glides toward Foundry Square, the neighbourhood in which Jim Gordon keeps his apartment. Jim had chosen it because of its history - how it had reta
Synopsis for "Endgame, Part Four"
With Duke Thomas in his arms, Batman glides toward Foundry Square, the neighbourhood in which Jim Gordon keeps his apartment. Jim had chosen it because of its history - how it had retained its heritage over more than two hundred years. Right now, though, Foundry Square is as over-run by victims of Joker Venom as any other part of Gotham City.
Batman finds Jim with a hatchet lodged in his chest, but still alive - albeit a little delirious. He explains that despite firing a kill shot at the Joker, the clown had gotten back up and survived it. Batman sends Duke to the bathroom for a first aid kid, but the boy freezes, finally realizing that his parents have been infected too. Batman promises him that he'll find a way to help them, and begs him to help with Jim, for now, but he is surprised when Jim pulls the hatchet from his own chest and brandishes it at Batman, clearly a victim of the venom as well. Before Jim can swing the weapon, two tranquilizer darts pierce his neck, and he collapses, thanks to quick shooting from Julia Pennyworth, who ignored orders to remain in the Batcave. She explains that she received bad news that made it seem important to come to him with it: the virus causes cellular degeneration. It is fatal. Worriedly, she hopes that despite all the bad things she's heard about Gotham, this must be a worse day than usual.
Duke returns with the first aid kit and assures Batman that he will save everyone, like he always does. Batman smiles and accepts a fist-bump before asking Julia to take Duke to the safety of the cave. In the meantime, he'll secure Jim and find whoever helped the Joker produce a toxin so virulent.
While searching, Batman takes a call from Dick Grayson, who explains that the sample he was given contains something regenerative, similar to the chemicals within the Lazarus Pits - but not that chemical. This compound is stronger. Dick's worst fears are confirmed when Batman admits that the sample was from the Joker. The Joker cannot be killed. As he keeps dodging the mad victims in the streets, Batman begs Dick to compare the virus sample with the blood sample. He has a hunch about the decay factor of the virus in relation to the regenerative factor in the Joker's blood. Dick confirms that they are the inverse of each other. Whatever is giving the Joker life is the opposite of the virus that will kill Gotham's citizens - opposites like love and hate.
Before Batman can go on, he is attacked by an infected soldier in a tank, and barely escapes its artillery with his life. While trying to disable the gunner, he explains to Dick that Arkham Asylum must be the key. Someone there had helped him - and it had to be one of three scientists. These three had been part of the same bio initiative set up by Philip Kane when he ran Wayne Enterprises. Dr. Karl Helfern had worked in bones, Dr. Hugo Strange had worked in regenerating neural matter, and Dr. Paul Dekker had worked in soft tissue. Covering bones, brains, and bodies, Philp coined them as the Doctors Three. Helfern is dead, and Strange has been out of Gotham for years, which leaves Dekker - who was confined to Arkham himself until he was released eighteen months ago by none other than Eric Border - the identity the Joker had assumed after his defeat.
Uncomfortably, Bruce admits to Dick that the Joker knows who he is. With the knowledge that the Joker is now essentially un-killable, Dick resigns that their mission is now, effectively, over. The virus is deadly and has consumed the city, the Joker can't be taken down, and he knows Bruce's identity. There is no way out of this. Batman insists that he will find one. Dick offers his help and the help of the other family members, but Bruce warns him away. He must admit that he hasn't formed a plan at all, yet.
Bruce thinks back to Paul Dekker's work, recalling something called "the healing stitch" - a medical thread coated in a cellular matrix that would cause cells in contact with it to become omnipotent - reverting to an undifferentiated state. Essentially, it erased a cell's generative history, and turned it into a stem-cell. As genius an invention as it was - Dekker was also insane. In Dekker's old lab, he is attacked by Dekker himself. Taking cover, Batman calls out that he only wants to know what the virus was made of. Dekker responds that the virus wasn't made in a lab - it is something much older that he found thanks to the Joker. It was a chemical compound that was the stuff of legend - legends which pointed to something real. When he discovered it, he named it Dionesium, after the Greek god of rebirth, Dionysus. The compound, he believes, is native to the Earth - and legends of men who have encountered it persist to this day. The Savage who encountered its rawest form in ancient times. The Demon who keeps pools of it in secret around the world. And the pale man who laughs, who discovered it sometime before Gotham's rise.
Dekker admits that he had once thought Batman was one of these men. He had become Crazy Quilt with the sole intention of meeting him. But he had been so disappointed when he realized Batman was mere flesh and blood. Angrily, Batman thrusts Dekker through a window, dangling him there. He demands to know where the compound he'd synthesized for the Joker is being kept. Grinning, Dekker responds that the substance in the virus is not something he synthesized. It came from the Joker. He'd taken a sample from his spine, having manifested in a case of catastrophic damage - thanks to his deadly fall in the Batcave. Whatever Batman thought about the Joker he is wrong. The Joker has existed for centuries; the true Dionysian man. After all, Dionysius is also the god of madness - and tragedy too.
Batman is interrupted from his interrogation by Julia, who warns that she's learned the virus may kill all of its victims within just 24 hours or less. Worse news is this: she had tried to debunk Dekker's claims by running facial recognition in photos throughout Gotham's history - and he was everywhere. If they're fakes, they're very convincing fakes.
Dekker calls out, claiming that the Joker has given him the opportunity to become one of the Dionysian men as well, and gleefully injects himself with a syringe, despite Batman's warnings. Almost immediately, Dekker's tissues begin to decay and rot from his body, and he drops from the window into the waiting crowd of infected, who tear what remains of him to pieces.
Looking out the window over Gotham, which has fallen into madness and destruction, Batman swears that it can't end this way, and decides to do something he never thought he'd do: confront the Court of Owls to talk about some history.
Appearing in "Endgame, Part Four"
- Court of Owls
- Jim Gordon (Jokerized)
- Ra's al Ghul (In a photograph only)
- Vandal Savage (In a photograph only)
- Blood Tribe (In a photograph only)
- Batgirl (Mentioned only)
- Doctors Three
- Red Hood (Mentioned only)
- Red Robin (Mentioned only)
- Gotham City
- Foundry Square
Synopsis for "Heart"
Mahreen Zaheer attempts in vain to try to ground the Arkham Asylum patients who kidnapped her in reality as they drag her through the sewers. One of them, Cassidy, believes that they are headed for the heart of the city. Believing he sees a sign from the Joker, Cassidy tells of how he was sent on a secret mission in the military. All of the others on the mission were from Gotham as well, and he sensed that the mission was some kind of test. When he discovered a Batarang in the desert they'd been driven to, he realized that they were training to become Batman. When they returned to the base, he snuck into the computers and broke into a locked file that confirmed it to him. When he was found out, he was ejected from the military.
He then began digging, and found old, heavily redacted documents from the Zero Year, about Batman and soldiers who were sent to the city. About how the military was involved in the reconstruction of Gotham - in bed with Wayne Enterprises who had been a military supplier until the Zero Year. He knew, though, that the real secret was that the military was building a secret base in the heart of the city, housing an army of Batmen.
In his obsession, he dressed himself as a bat to show the government what he could have been, and when they laughed at him, he beat a man to death. When he was placed in Arkham, the Joker appeared to him and claimed that he was the first of the Batmen until he saw the joke and changed what he'd been. When he heard that Cassidy had found his last batarang, he knew he'd found someone who could handle the truth. The joke is that nobody wants to hear the truth - that there is a heart down in the middle of the city. And that is where he wanted Cassidy to go.
Despite Mahreen's protests, they drag her through a door with graffiti of a heart over it, and promise to show her the truth.
Appearing in "Heart"
- Cassidy (Flashback and main story)
- Joker (Flashback only)
- Batarang (Flashback only)
- This issue is reprinted in the Batman: Endgame collection.
- The credit box on The Flash 75th Anniversary Variant Cover is mistakenly credited to Bob Kane by artist Tony S. Daniel. The cover is a recreation of the one featured in Batman #9 and it was drawn by Jack Burnley.