Batman Is Unintentionally Training His Next Wave of Villains

Could Tim Still Be Right About Kate?

Is their dispute over The Colony the issue that puts Tim and Kate at odds? If her resistance is what ultimately prevents Tim from enlisting her father's organization, does future Tim see that as some kind of setback? Does some calamity that is yet to be seen occur because Kate stopped Tim's plans? Or is that merely an opinionated view that Tim holds against her out of spite? This first dispute between the two might also merely be the first of many that leads to a wider rift between the two.

Of course, Kate did once have a strong relationship with her father, so perhaps it is she who eventually allies herself with Jacob Kane's forces. If the Colony remains in opposition to Batman and the Gotham Knights with Kate standing at her father's side, Tim would have a solid case for pegging her as a villain. If blood really is thicker than water, Batman has been taking quite a chance by giving Kate such a prominent position on the team. As the de facto leader of the Gotham Knights, any betrayal by Batwoman would likely decimate the team. The loss of such a force for good in Gotham could certainly leave a void that might align with tomorrow Tim's dark future.

Spoiler Always Seemed a Little Iffy

Stephanie Brown's loyalty to Batman, and to the Gotham Knights, has always been somewhat dubious. As the daughter of the villain known as Cluemaster, Steph's allegiances might have been called into question, although she ultimately adopted her Spoiler identity to try and stop her father's activities. She had also fallen under the sway of the villain Anarky, though she stood against him in the end. Additionally, Stephanie was once wooed by the plight of the Victim Syndicate, and even threatened to expose her allies at one point.

With the Victim Syndicate again staging a move, Stephanie's sympathies for their movement are restoked. She also admits that she was not totally forthcoming to her teammates regarding the Syndicate's intentions. Steph has repeatedly waivered from her commitment to the team, but has historically stopped short of opposing them. Can she maintain her faithfulness to her allies, or will her inner conflict eventually lead her to face her mentor Batman in battle?

Clayface Already Was a Villain, After All

And then there's Basil Karlo, who had long been a member of Batman's rogues gallery. Clayface has plausibly been given a place in the Belfry, but his inherent instability has always made that position somewhat uncertain. And face it – seeming moral transformation or not, Clayface just doesn't look the part of a superhero.

Nowhere is that truer than at the end of this issue. The Syndicate's Glory Griffin, who was disfigured as the result of a past confrontation between Batman and Clayface, has triggered a horrific change in Karlo. Losing the mental capacity that had allowed him to keep himself in check, Karlo is transformed back into Clayface's villainous incarnation. In fact, this transformation arguably appears to elevate the villain's threat level. Now finally looking the part of a top-tier Batman villain, a reinvigorated Karlo might mean his days as a Gotham Knight are over.

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At this point, at least Orphan seems loyal, Azrael's been going with the program, and Batwing is Lucius Fox's son, so his loyalty seems assured. But Batman's other proteges seem on the verge of taking everything they've learned from him and turning it against him. Part four of "Fall of the Batmen" continues in Detective Comics #972, on sale January 10.

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