This week’s issue opens upon the roof of Beacon Tower where we see Batman strapped to the batsignal. As Cluemaster walks forward and cuts the symbol from his chest, he notes that he is a man just like everyone else…and can easily bleed. As Cluemaster continues to mock the Dark Knight, he again asks if he remembers his name. Batman responds that he does, and then begins to comment that he is “a second rate Riddler knock-off.” To which Cluemaster responds by punching him in the face. As he begins to remove Batman’s cowl, Cluemaster states that Riddler hasn’t come as close to defeating Batman…not even back in Zero Year. Finally removing the mask, Cluemaster continues to mock Bruce.
Throughout Gotham, we see the various Bat Family members saving different people throughout the city, with Julia continuing to direct them from the Robin’s Nest. At the Egyptian Casino, Selina meets with some crime family members and they discuss whether they will take part in the ransacking of the city. After having to reprimand one of her lieutenants, Selina decides to sit out of the battle.
Back atop the Tower, Cluemaster begins to explain how the various villains get together…the ones who don’t make the A-List. And he reveals that one night they were watching Batman battle against Joker aboard a giant blimp, and Cluemaster had commented that with Batman distracted the other villains could essentially take whatever they wanted. Taken as a joke, Cluemaster never forgot what was said. He then reveals that all that was needed was to cause a change in the status quo in order to spur the various bad guys into a combined effort against him…gaining some second rate Mad Hatter tech, Cluemaster caused Commissioner Gordon to get thrown in jail, and then proceeded to invite the villains to torture Gotham. Ultimately Batman would believe some major villain was the culprit…not even considering the lowly C-List baddies. As he finishes his monologue, Cluemaster reveals that Batman probably never believed that someone like him could accomplish this…that he had bought too much into the “myth” of the Dark Knight. However he is cut short when Batman frees his arm and punches Cluemaster in the face.
Back at GCPD, Gordon and the other cops get ready to help out and defend the city. Jason Bard expects Jim to take back his former position, but Gordon seems to have other plans and leaves Bard in charge of the officers. Across town, Bluebird ends up coming across a fleeing Spoiler who is dead set into leaving the burning city. As Harper attempts to convince Stephanie to stay and help, the two have an argument over what it means to be a hero. As Bluebird swings off to help someone else, Spoiler can be seen riding her bike out of the city.
Returning to Beacon Tower, Cluemaster and Batman continue to punch each other. Down on the ground the other villains guarding the entrance are suddenly knocked out by gas as a mysterious figure enters the Tower. Up above, Cluemaster seems to have knocked Bruce down and pulls a gun on him. He comments that it is poetic that he will go out just like his parents did. As he pulls the gun, a knife comes out of the dark and slits Arthur Brown’s throat. As he tumbles to the ground, Cluemaster mutters that this wasn’t a part of the plan. As the figure walks past him he states that this wasn’t about his plan and that he has always kept his own. Our final panel shows the figure fully revealed as Lincoln March wearing his Talon armor as he asks Bruce “are you ready to end this?”
Well…I have to say that this issue has definitely made up for the reveal from last issue. I think I may have preferred one giant issue between last and this week’s rather than having to wait. Overall the reveal of Lincoln March was something expected and at the same time somewhat of a letdown. As I have stated before, there were WAY too many red herrings for my liking in this series and I am almost half expecting another big bad to show at the end of next issue and revealing that he was the one manipulating Lincoln March.
So I guess the major talking point is Cluemaster so I’ll get right down to it.
After reading the issue a few times I have to admit that Cluemaster…has a point. Not a point that I whole heartedly agree with, but he makes sense. As with our own assumptions, we never believed that someone of Cluemaster’s status in Batman’s Rogues Gallery would be able to pull off a plot of this magnitude…and if Batman (and the reader) was busy looking elsewhere, the real villain could cause as much mayhem as they wanted. This is where I start to deviate. Although I acknowledge the points made by Cluemaster (and I really enjoyed reading his massive monologue) I don’t think I can be onboard with a Batman that gets duped by a villain of the likes of Cluemaster.
I have never wanted to utter this sentence but, “that’s not my Batman.”
To me, Batman is an extremely smart detective that has tangled with the likes of Joker, Ra’s Al Ghul and even Darkseid…it seems almost like a slap in the face for him to be beaten by Cluemaster. Some comic readers may not even know about the character in general and it seems almost insulting that the Dark Knight could be torn apart by a group of villain wannabes. But, as Cluemaster stated…have I been caught up in the “myth” of Batman??? After all, he is just a man…no super powers, no cosmic energies, no galaxy spanning quests. Just an ordinary man that chooses to do extraordinary things.
So I guess that ultimately I am torn. On one hand I have the diehard Batman fan that can only see a world where Batman comes close to near death at the hands of his most deadliest enemies; on the other I have someone who actually realizes that depending on what gets thrown his way, anything could end up toppling the Dark Knight…even a villain that misdirects his true intentions.
And this brings us around to Lincoln March…although I was still holding out that Earth 3 Owlman may be the big bad, I was glad to see Lincoln step out of the shadows. With a quick slit of his throat, March reveals that he was only going along with Cluemaster and that ultimately this was all about the final showdown between March and Bruce. And that is something that I am looking forward to next week.