SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Batman #64, by Joshua Williamson, Guillem March, Tomeu Morey and Steve Wands, on sale now.
In July, fans were fully prepared to witness the nuptials between Batman and Catwoman. Sadly, though, it just wasn’t meant to be, and instead, readers saw Selina leave Bruce with a Dear John letter – all part of a carefully orchestrated plot by Bane to break the Bat once and for all.
Of course, Bane wasn’t alone in his endeavor. As he sat upon his throne of skulls, the luchador-masked villain was flanked by The Riddler, The Joker, Psycho-Pirate, The Ventriloquist and Scarface, Hugo Strange, Skeets, Flashpoint Batman/Thomas Wayne and Gotham Girl.
For the most part, the characters that chose to align with Bane made perfect sense. After all, the majority of them are villains in their own right. However, some were certainly conspicuous by their inclusion.
Now, in Batman #64, it appears we finally know the motivations for at least one of them.
After the Flash Museum is attacked, the Scarlet Speedster discovers that his fellow Justice Leaguer Batman is already on the scene. As the pair begins to investigate, though, Flash questions how, exactly, the Caped Crusader knew the attack was going to happen in the first place.
As Batman explains, he’d already been looking into a series of steadily escalating incidents in Gotham that have now clearly expanded beyond the city limits. This led him to the realization that the culprit was his former protégé Claire Clover, aka Gotham Girl.
Meanwhile, Gotham Girl is speaking to someone off-panel, explaining that what she’s doing is heroic and that ‘No one, not Batman or The Flash, will stop [her] from being a hero.”
It isn’t Bane she’s talking to, though.
“Especially if it means… saving you, Brother,” she says.
The issue then ends with a splash page featuring Clair preparing to embrace an incapacitated Hank, aka Gotham, who’s being pumped full of Bane’s highly potent Venom.
While it isn’t explicitly stated, it would seem that Bane was able to coerce the fragile-minded Gotham Girl into aligning with him by promising to help bring back her brother, who died in his battle with the Justice League in Batman #5. This could also explain why Bane recruited Hugo Strange and Psycho-Pirate, since they were both key players in the original manipulation of the superpowered siblings.
And speaking of superpowers, could it have also been Bane who was somehow responsible for granting Claire and Hank their abilities in the first place? We know the pair “bought” them, but it was never revealed whom they bought them from.
If that were the case, it would further cement just how much thought writer Tom King has put into his planned 100-issue Batman run.