Shocks and revelations abound in “Batman” #5, Tom King and David Finch‘s conclusion to their “I Am Gotham” arc. Still fully immersed in the Psycho Pirate’s emotional manipulations, Gotham, the super-powered and now-crazed hero, seeks to spare Gotham, the city he not long ago helped protect, from further pain by attempting to paradoxically destroy it himself. Outmatched and out-powered, Batman seeks help from some surprising allies.
The first such ally is Alfred; not in his traditional hands-off, Penny One-type support role, but in a decidedly hands-on capacity; that is, hands firmly planted on the Batmobile’s steering wheel, as he puts Bat-pedal to Bat-metal and steers the vehicle directly into the rogue Gotham himself as a stalling tactic, awaiting Batman’s arrival. Alfred even dons the cape and cowl, perhaps to hide his fear as much as his identity, making him the most surprising supporting cast member to assume the role of The Bat, albeit only briefly, since, well, earlier this year.
Alfred’s courageous move buys time for Batman to show up, who then tries to finish taking down Gotham by first blowing up the Batmobile behind him, which fails, and subsequently dropping the Batplane on him, which also fails. Meanwhile, Gotham Girl, also victimized by the Psycho Pirate by way of paralyzing fear, demonstrates bravery of her own by simply getting out of bed and interacting with Duke in the Batcave. Seeking comfort in Duke’s arms, a potential emotional bond between the two is established, the depth of which shockingly is addressed later in the issue.
Failing to stop Gotham by blowing him up, Batman tasks Alfred with calling in the big guns; namely, The Justice League themselves, for a more direct, hand-to-hand confrontation. When the League demonstrates no better success and are easily dispatched by Gotham, Batman implores Duke to get Gotham Girl to reveal how her brother can be defeated. Her explanation reveals the nature of the duo’s powers, and how they’re inversely proportional to their own life forces; the more powerful they become, the shorter their eventual lifespan. However, she stops short of revealing from whom their powers were obtained.
Recognizing that only like powers at this point can stop her brother and save Batman, Gotham Girl overcomes her fear to leave the cave and arrive on the scene, where she appears to kill Gotham. Overlaying the sequence is a future narrative by Gotham Girl, which not only confirms her brother’s death, but also gives a glimpse at the long game King is playing by revealing that at some point in the future, she and Duke get married — and Gotham Girl is somehow responsible for the death of Batman. Hmm…
The final page hints that at least some of these developments will be explored in the upcoming “Gotham Girl: Year One” story arc, which kicks off in “Batman” #6.
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