"Better Than He Does Himself": Ascolat has been making building contracts in more and more of Gotham City's neighbourhoods, and through them, Black Mask has ceased territory from Selina Kyle and the united crime families. Ascolat
- Too bad you forced me to kill Nick. He was the one in the family who was big on second chances.
- -- Selina Kyle
Appearing in "Better Than He Does Himself"
- Calabrese Family
- Catwoman (Eiko Hasigawa)
- Gotham City Police Department
- Sons of Forster Lane
Synopsis for "Better Than He Does Himself"
Ascolat has been making building contracts in more and more of Gotham City's neighbourhoods, and through them, Black Mask has ceased territory from Selina Kyle and the united crime families. Ascolat is run by a man called Aiden Mason, who, at their last meeting, claimed that he was Selina's brother, though she doesn't dare believe him. Together, he and Black Mask have bought up all of the real estate near the Docks in Gotham that doesn't belong to the Hasigawas - which suggests that the Hasigawas have joined them. Selina's only move can be to try to counter Ascolat's charitable front with her own, by making hefty donations to important programs. Letting Ascolate become the face of the new Gotham will cost her more in the long run.
Meanwhile, at his meeting with his own allies, Black Mask promises that it is possible to depose Selina Kyle. He points out that she still has great enough influence to ensure that only the lieutenants of the other families have come to his meeting. Eiko Hasigawa wonders why Mason hasn't attended the meeting, and Black Mask warns that he is merely an employee, before putting the assassination of Selina Kyle to a vote - which results in a unanimous yes. After the meeting, Lewis - the representative from the Sons of Forster Lane - makes a call to Detective Tammy Keys to report the attempted murder of Selina Kyle.
At the announcement of the donation, where both Selina and Ascolat are to be honoured, Selina notes that the event has drawn a prestigious crowd including Bruce Wayne. However, she spots Tammy Keyes among the many faces, and knows something's up. During the announcement, a Falcone goon pulls a gun, and Bruce warns Selina to duck. She safely hides behind the podium, and the shooter makes a run for it with Keyes and Antonia close behind. By the time they catch up with him, though, he's already been shot by someone else.
Afterwards, Selina worries that they have lost the Falcones to Black Mask. Ward suggests that they might still have some allies in the family - but it only takes one to turn them. They'll have to declare war in the face of the insult, in any case. Selina suggests that she's more interested in finding out who killed the shooter, and declares her intent to investigate. Antonia prepares to go with her, but Selina fires her, explaining that she wants Antonia to get out of this mess - and this is the only way she can think to ensure that it's her.
Selina meets in secret with Aiden Mason, who claims to have had nothing to do with the assassination attempt. He had intended to be part of brokering the deal between Selina and Sionis - not to see her killed. Through that deal, he would regain access to the Calabrese family - of which Selina still isn't convinced he is truly a part. He begs her to step aside and let him see this through without any further bloodshed - this is her second chance. Grimly, Selina makes her exit, warning that he shouldn't have made her kill her cousin Nick - he was the one who was big on second chances.
Meanwhile, Keyes has Black Mask taken in for questioning in the shooting in front of City Hall. The move surprises her partner, Carlos Alvarez, whose borderline obsession with Selina Kyle has seen him removed from any case involving her. Unfortunately, their superior officer warns them both to drop the issue, and not to ask Sionis any questions unless forensics turns up evidence to implicate him.
Selina receives a visit from Eiko, and agrees to speak alone, despite her rightful concerns that she knew about the assassination attempt before it happened. Selina admits that if she were smart, she'd hold Eiko for ransom - but tonight, she'll allow Eiko to go. After seeing Eiko leave, Ward warns that Selina should be careful where she shows mercy in the coming war. Worriedly, Selina wonders what happens if she gives in to Aiden's deal. Ward responds that the Calabreses will fade to become a minor family in someone else's legacy - but if they don't take the deal, Gotham will burn.
That night, Eiko confronts Lewis demanding to know who he's working for besides the Sons of Forster Lane. He refuses to tell her, promising that she'll know soon enough - but he can't tell her. Even so, she suggests that when things come crashing down, he can call her for help. Afterwards, she returns home to her father, who is worried that Sionis was arrested earlier. He warns that whatever sympathies she has for Selina, their allegiance to Mason and Black Mask means that when the war comes, they will be against the Calabreses - and Eiko should be prepared to make herself useful.
With this news, Eiko returns to Selina as Catwoman, who warns that if she doesn't want to be made a hostage, she should stop giving her opportunities. Eiko warns that war is going to be declared on the Calabreses, and she won't be able to help after this, begging Selina to be careful. In response, Selina kisses her. Confused, Eiko wonders if the kiss was for her, or for the catsuit. Selina responds that she doesn't know, and goes back inside - admitting to herself that she might like to find out which, when this all blows over.
After being released from jail, Black Mask warns Aiden to put more pressure on whoever they own at the GCPD to make sure it doesn't happen again. Aiden responds that their man didn't know until it was too late - which means someone else lost the forensic evidence. Black Mask is disgusted to learn that the one who saw to that was The Penguin, whom he now owes.
Carmine Falcone sends his nephew to apologize to Selina on behalf of the family, claiming that he'd had no idea that one of their own was conspiring with Black Mask. Selina doubts the sincerity of the apology, and has her men take the Falcone emissary hostage. She has Ward send word to the Falcones that if they want this man back, they'll have to have Black Mask send Mason to come and get him. If he is willing to make a business deal, things will be fine. If not - it will show that Black Mask has betrayed his own right-hand. As far as she's concerned, if they think she's going to back down now, they're going to see what it looks like when Gotham burns.
- This book was first published on February 25, 2015.
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