"Backward Masking, Conclusion": Sam Bradley is in a hospital arguing with a doctor. He wants to go into the hospital room with his father, but she insists he stay outside and let the doctors do their work.
- Black Mask isn't exactly the Riddler, is he? I know he's gunning for me. This thing has been brewing for years, in one way or another.
- -- Catwoman
Appearing in "Backward Masking, Conclusion"
Synopsis for "Backward Masking, Conclusion"
The doctors are horrified to discover a message for Catwoman carved into Slam's abdomen: "Hi, CW! The fun is just beginning."
Selina and Sam drink coffee in her apartment, discussing Slam's condition and safety. Sam says his father is a tough man who can survive this, but Selina is more concerned that he only has a singular guard outside his room, the most his friends on the force can afford him. Sam thinks Selina is in greater danger for future attacks, pointing to the message found on Slam's stomach.
Selina is unworried. Black Mask has been gunning for her for years, and besides, it isn't like an increased police presence is the solution to her problem. Sam agrees. He's seen the police reports, he knows she can take care of herself. In fact, if he weren't facing a suspension, he'd be obliged to arrest her himself. Selina would like to see that.
Selina goes to get her mail and finds a letter with only "Selina" written for the address. Inside the envelope are photos of Holly, some of them taken in Holly's own home. Selina runs to the deli where Holly and Karon are finishing up their meal. Selina is panicking, but Holly doesn't believe that anyone is out to kill her.
Jim Lenahan tells Sam that no one blames him for going after his father when he was in trouble, but he did screw over the Gotham City Police Department when he went in there in the Smart Bomb armor. One of Black Mask's men sold the story to the tabloids, and now the entire department is in hot water, all the way to the top. Someone has to take the fall, and it's Sam--and it won't just be suspension, he'll probably serve time in prison.
Lenahan has never liked Sam. He assumed he was a tight-ass prig coasting by on his father's overinflated reputation. But Sam doesn't deserve to be screwed by the GCPD for this. Lenahan thinks he deserves a warning... and a head start.
Catwoman watches, perched on a gargoyle, as Holly and Karon eat takeout with a friend. She knows Black Mask is only waiting for the right time to strike. She needs help, but who? Neither Bruce nor Holly have taken her recent concerns seriously, and Slam is in a hospital bed. The only person she can turn to is Sam.
Sam is reluctant to join forces with Catwoman, and even then, he can't do much for her when he won't even be a cop this time tomorrow. But Catwoman isn't asking him as a cop. He takes one look at his unconscious father before asking Catwomen when and where.
Catwoman receives another phone call while still on her gargoyle perch. No one responds when she picks up. Instead part of her conversation with Sam is repeated back to her, and she knows it's Black Mask.
The next day, Selina and Sam meet at Burger Czar. Selina is the one with the plan. She's been living outside the law for years, dealing with supervillains without a badge to protect her. She knows what she's doing. Sam doesn't know what that plan is yet, but he'll be the one who executes it. Slam is his dad.
Lenahan is furious. He risked his neck to warn Sam about what's happening, and Sam repaid him by swiping the Smart Bomb armor out of lockup. But Lenahan and Carl Worth are both drugged before they can stop him. Sam Bradley has an important meeting across town, and Angle Man is just covering all the angles.
Smart Bomb flies across the Gotham skyline as Catwoman watches, convinced that Sam made the right call in taking the suit. Then his jetpack malfunctions and he falls down, landing on a nearby building.
Catwoman is on her own. Which is fine, but there's one last thing she needs to do first: She goes to the hospital and hits Slam's police guard with a tranquilizer dart, knocking him out. She sits next to Slam and tells him everything that's happened. Then she says she's going to end Black Mask for good. She's learned a few things about herself that makes her think she can do it, and the only thing that can stop her now is if Slam wakes up and tells her not to. He doesn't wake.
Catwoman catches a ride on a GCPD blimp to Black Mask's apartment, and she enters with a gun brandished, walking towards where Black Mask is sitting, watching the TV. Only it's a false head on a stick, and Black Mask is really behind her with a tommy gun. She dodges the hail of gunfire, dropping her own pistol.
Black Mask says he's not going to kill Catwoman. He hasn't been living up to his potential as a Gotham-based villain, but now he will: He and Catwoman are going to be archenemies. Her friends will all die painfully, but she won't. She'll live a long, miserable life with him. How does that sound?
Catwoman kicks him, which starts another hail of gunfire. Black Mask assures her that he really isn't going to kill her. Everything in his apartment is replaceable except her. Catwoman disarms him and holds her own gun to his head, saying, "I'll kill you, I swear." Black Mask doubts that. He knows her.
Catwoman fires, killing him. No, he doesn't know her. Not anymore. Nobody does.
Catwoman is covered in blood and standing on the rooftop when a mystical force covers the entire place and the whole universe starts changing.
- This book was first published on February 22, 2006.
- This issue is reprinted in Catwoman: A Celebration of 75 Years.
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