This is an in-universe article with out-of-universe material.
The story begins as a moustached man walks into a laboratory at night. He has his eye on a special chemical of some sort and he plans to take it. Openning the case, an alarm starts sounding. The man panics and scolds himself for doing that. Since there's no turning back, he takes the material and ruSeconds is an episode of season 4 of The Batman. It premiered on February 10, 2007.
Appearing in "Seconds"
- Batman (Dies in alternative timeline)
- Francis Grey (Flashback and main story) (Origin) (Single appearance)
- Gotham City Police Department
- Security Guard
- Beth Grey (Flashback only) (Single appearance)
- Matthew Grey (Flashback and main story) (Single appearance) (Dies in alternative timeline)
- Gotham City
Synopsis for "Seconds"
The story begins as a moustached man walks into a laboratory at night. He has his eye on a special chemical of some sort and he plans to take it. Openning the case, an alarm starts sounding. The man panics and scolds himself for doing that. Since there's no turning back, he takes the material and runs outside. A security guard however spots him and a chase begins. The chase is not long, however, and the moustached thief trips over a bucket of water. The guard laughs at the thief as the thief mumbles to himself exactly what he did wrong on the mission. The guard, confused, asks what the man is doing. Time stops and rewinds back to when the thief is about to open the glass. As he is about to open it, he stops himself, remembering the mistake he made last time, and cut a hole in the glass. He walks out with the container and no alarm. The guard, simply walking around, still manages to notice the thief and chase him. The robber walks casually and, this time, walks over the bucket he had tripped over last time. The guard is not so lucky and trips on the very same bucket. The thief taunts the guard, walks out the door, and vanishes as the backround fades to black. The clock is the only thing showing and it is set to 12:25.
The setting shifts to Wayne Manor where Alfred is fixing the grandfather clock, Grayson is playing video games, Wayne is reading the newspaper, and Gordon is sitting on the couch. Alfred mentions how Grayson hasn't done anything but play video games for days since Gordon gave him that game for Christmas. The sidekicks begin to start an argument, but Alfred quickly stops it by changing the topic to New Year's resolutions. Wayne says his resolution is the same as every year: help Gotham. Just as Pennyworth is about to fix the clock, it moves to the time 12:25 and breaks again. Suddenly, the bat signal goes off and the team gears up.
In the Batcave, Batman reads that another chemical lab has been robbed, this time it was Gotham University. Wayne suggests the team split up and each check a different lab to cover more ground. They move out.
All at different labs, no body sees anything, except Batman. He sees the mustached robber and he knows that the thief. Who else would go to a chemical lab in the middle of the night?
Inside the lab, the thief notices a similar container to the one he stole at the university. As he's about to grab it, Batman jumps in and quickly pins the thief to the ground. The villain suggests they "try that again" and time rewinds to when Batman jumped in. This time, the man avoids Batman's first attack but falls after an unexpected roundhouse kick. Time rewinds again. The thief dodges the first attack then the second. Batman notes the thief's reflexes. The man tries to run and sees a red button that connects to a large machine. However, Batman punches him and cuffs him before the man can use it. Time rewinds yet again. The man pushes the red button but it doesn't work and he is punched again. Time rewinds. This time, the thief pushes the black button directly under the first. It releases several barrels that crush the dark knight under them. The man stands victoriously over the Batman and says a cheesy one-liner. He states how cheesy it was, rewinds time, and says a more clever line. The man then walks out of the lab with the container.
Back in the Batcave, Batman reviews the camera footage from the chemical lab that night. He mentions how the fight felt odd. Staged almost.
In the thief's secret lair, he is building a gadget when the clock bell dongs. He gets up and the room is showed to be filled with hundreds of ticking clocks. He looks at a picture of a blonde woman holding a baby. He tells the picture that it's almost done. He mentions that someone will pay for taking them away from him.
The thief flashes back. He is holding the boy in the picture in his arms and calls him Matt. The woman, Beth, is looking at the bills she says that they can't afford. The man holdings the woman and lovingly tells her that he's going to fix everything.
The man, still in the flashback, is working in a clock store. His co-worker leaves to go home as the man looks at a pocket watch concealed in its own glass case. He remembers what he told to Beth and takes the watch. An alarm goes off and panics. He rushes out the store, only to bump into a cop. The moustached thief runs past the cop and bumps into a hot dog vendor. The runaway hot dog cart ends up in the street and causes three major accidents and a truck to fall down. The truck ends up collapsing a telephone pole that falls on a street shop. The destroyed shop catch fires and explodes the nearby crashed cars and truck. The cop catches the thief and handcuffs him. The man, now given the name Francis Grey, shouts that he can't do anything right. He is taken to jail and sentenced to jail time.
The flashback ends and it's back to current day Gotham. Batgirl reads on the computer that Grey had just recently been given parole after seventeen years in prison. She continues reading that his wife left him while in prison. Batgirl stops reading and talks to Batman who is on the Batcomputer. He's looking at his clock, which is usually perfect to the millisecond, is off by three minutes. He switches topics and mentions that the chemical Grey stole is used to make a poison gas and that he needs only one more component. In Gotham, there's only one place that has it and that's exactly where the team is headed.
The three arrive at a facility known as the PKD. Batman suddenly feels like he's seen all of this before. He continues inside the chemical plant.
Inside the plant, Francis Grey is already there extracting the chemicals he needs out of a pipe. Robin leads in and calls out the thief's name. Surprised that they know his name, he then knows that they know his prison sentence was unfair. Batman begins finishing Grey's sentences. Wayne now knows Grey's power. He can manipulate time.
Grey goes back into a flashback. He remembers how, in his seventeen years in prison, he was hired to fix all of the guards' clocks. He was suddenly surrounded by time. His cell filled with clocks of every sort. Grey became so frustrated with the time he was losing that he went insane. That's when he realized he could stop time. He then continued to concentrate and actually turned back time by a second. Grey practiced his power for fifteen years but he still could only turn back time by twenty seconds. He could not go back twenty years.
Back in the present again, Grey avoids every attempt to hit him from each of the three heroes. Grey shouts out the heroes attacks almost before they even throw them. Batman, Robin, and Batgirl become so tired and confused that they almost give up and Grey walks out with the chemicals he needs.
A car chase begins between Grey and the team. He is easily outrunning them in a cheap sedan but Batgirl doesn't understand how it go that fast. She realizes that he just keeps replaying each situation so that he knows how to do everything better than them.
The three eventually catch up to Grey. His plan is now clear. His invention is inside the ball that is going to drop at midnight. When the ball hits, it will release the deadly toxins Grey has been collecting recently. Robin and Batman fight Grey, but his power is too strong. Robin tries to stop the ball from hitting but he becomes electrocuted and passes out. Batman continues to fight Grey and ends up laying a few punches on the villain using the Déjà vu he continues to feel.
Grey hits both Batman and the arriving Batgirl with a metal pipe, leaving both incapable of fighting anymore. Just as the ball is about to hit, Grey's long lost son, Matt, arrives and asks what's wrong with his father. The ball hits and explodes the deadly gas, killing everyone including Robin, Batman, and Batgirl. Grey only had one gas mask that he planned to use on himself but, as his son lay dying from gas in front of him, Grey puts the mask on his son. It's too late though and his Matt dies.
Grey cries in agony and time rewinds once more. This time, his power actually rewound seventeen years just like he hoped it would. He stands in front of the stop watch that he stole those many years ago. This time, Grey doesn't take the watch.
The scene switches to modern day when the team was in Wayne Manor. Robin is, again, playing video games, Wayne is reading the paper, and Gordon is sitting on the couch. What's different this time is that Alfred is no longer fixing the clock; Francis Grey is. Wayne offers the clock repairman some eggnog, but Grey politely declines. He says he has his own family to get home to. Grey walks out of Wayne Manor to a van that reads "Grey & Son Repair." His very own son Matthew is standing in a blue uniform identical to his father's right next to the van. Grey ruffles his son's hair and the two drive off as the story ends.
- No notes.
- This episode appears to be loosely inspired by "A Thief In Time" from World's Finest #11
- The main villain of both stories, Francis Grey and Rob Callender respectively, share similarities. They're both petty thieves, who through different means stumble upon the means to time travel, using it to their benefit. They both have some experience with chemicals, Francis Grey uses chemicals to attack Gotham, and Rob Callender is laboratory worker who accidentally sent himself back in time with chemicals. Despite both being petty criminals they are both merciful in some manner. Rob has a distaste for violence so he denies his hired gangsters from harming Batman and Robin or any bystander, and he only gets involved when he's provoked by Batman. Rob uses artificial darkness and paralysis guns that do no indefinite harm. Francis spares his victims and returns to a normal life, after he nearly ends of the life of his son. By the end of both their stories, they return to the time they came from.
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