WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Batman #76 by Tom King, Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea, Norm Rapmund, Tomeu Morey and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
Gotham Girl, a powerful young hero who briefly worked with Batman, made her return last issue, fighting on the side of Batman's foe Bane in Batman #75. In Tom King and Tony S. Daniel's Batman #76, part two of "City of Bane," she shows exactly what she's capable.
In an awesome display of strength, Gotham Girl just took down Captain Atom. Easily.
While she's always been known to be powerful, she's never been this powerful, and she defeated the atomic-powered Captain Atom, one of the DC Universe's most powerful metahumans who has even beaten Superman on occasion, before he could even throw a punch.
Captain Atom Gets Owned
Gotham Girl doesn't defeat some watered down version of Captain Atom, either. This is the classic Captain, seemingly ignoring the events of 2017's The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom by Cary Bates, Greg Weisman and Will Conrad. Atom is back working at the behest of the U.S. Government – only now that government is under the control of Lex Luthor and his Legion of Doom, as seen in "DC's Year of the Villain" event.
However, Captain Atom is still a hero, so he pays a visit to Bane's off-limits Gotham to lend a hand to its heroes, not to act on the behalf of Luthor's Legion. Gotham Girl, though, is under Bane's control – or more specifically, Psycho Pirate's. So when Atom approaches Gotham Girl, he doesn't find the ally he expects.
He also doesn't expect the butt-kicking he gets, either. Captain Atom wasn't just surprised that Gotham Girl is working for the enemy, but he was also surprised at the sheer magnitude of the beatdown he suffers at her hands. Atom can't even land a single punch, and Gotham Girl hoists the defeated Atom over her head like a trophy and hurls him into Gotham Bay in short order.
Later, a hospitalized – and power-dampened – Captain Atom professes the significance of his defeat to Tim Drake, Red Robin, citing that Gotham Girl was like no one he'd ever faced before. The magnitude of the situation isn't lost on Tim, who later relays the same to the current Robin, Damian Wayne. The ever defiant and impulsive Damian wants to take on Gotham Girl himself, but Tim convinces him of the futility of his emotional plan.
Gotham Girl's Been Holding Out on the DCU
Atom's defeat at the hands of Gotham Girl is nothing short of a defining moment, both for Bane's chokehold on Gotham and for Gotham Girl herself.
While Gotham Girl, Claire Clover, is known to be powerful, the true extent of her powers remains unknown, as do her powers' origins. Her smackdown of Captain Atom demonstrates her strongest abilities yet, but she still might not be at peak power. Atom's defeat shows that she could probably hold her own in a fight against Superman, but it's not clear if she could take on other powerful characters, gods and cosmic entities like Shazam, Darkseid or Perpetua.
Without knowing the source of her powers, there's no way to understand their limits, short of seeing her in action against one of these beings. Have her powers been boosted by something scientific, cosmic or even magical? Is there a limit to her powers? Does Bane likely understand what kind of power he believes he controls?
Every time Gotham Girl uses her powers, they drain her lifeforce, which was a cause of deep concern for Batman and the rest of the Bat-family. Gotham Girl just exhibited some pretty impressive displays of those powers, however, and doesn't seem to have aged at all. If her powers really are bringing her closer to her end, it just isn't happening very fast.
That could indicate Claire Clover might no longer simply be an otherwise normal human. Her brother Gotham, Hank Clover, died expending his lifeforce against an enemy far less powerful, implying that Claire's powers and their relation to her lifeforce might be different. Either Gotham Girl underwent a different process from her brother to gain her powers, or her powers have been somehow augmented since then.
How Did Claire Clover Get Her Powers, Anyway?
Bane has his venom, keep in mind, which has enhanced his own powers throughout his career of villainy. In fact, Hank briefly endured a kind of macabre resurrection thanks to the venom, before again burning out his lifespan via overuse of his powers. Perhaps a still-living Claire is seeing benefit from a lower and safer dose of Bane's venom to enhance her powers, and extend her lifespan.
Alternatively, perhaps Psycho Pirate has found a way via his emotional manipulations to enable her to find additional strength – both emotionally and physically. Outwardly in terms of her powers' capabilities, and inwardly to keep those powers from excessively drawing on her. Some emotional "coaching" on his part might be fueling her abilities – like a coach pushing an athlete mentally in order to excel physically.
There could be an outside, still-unrevealed force at play, as well. Batman's longtime foe KGBeast (now The Beast) was revealed to have received training from one of Darkseid's minions. Maybe Gotham Girl has gotten some Apokoliptian enhancements of her own along the way.
There are all kinds of pieces of alien science, arcane mystic artifacts and probably a few scraps of dark metal lying around the DCU. Gotham Girl was absent for awhile, so there are plenty of methods enabling her to get a power upgrade while no one was looking. While Captain Atom recovers from a first-round knockout, Gotham Girl is still Bane's loyal follower for the moment, and there's no telling how strong she truly is.
"City of Bane" continues in Batman #77, on sale August 21.