SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Batman” #6
In a moving epilogue to the “I am Gotham” arc, Tom King and Ivan Reis display a softer side of Batman while showing just how hard he can be when the mission calls for it.
After the Psycho Pirate toyed with the minds of new superhero siblings Gotham and Gotham Girl under the direction of Hugo Strange, Gotham went on a rampage throughout the city. Eventually, Batman was able to direct Gotham’s anger at the Dark Knight, but as using their powers shaves years off Gotham and Gotham Girl’s lives, Gotham burnt up all of his life force in his Psycho Pirate-induced rage, finally dying in his sister Gotham Girl’s arms after she stopped him from killing Batman.
As King and artist David Finch showed throughout the series’ opening arc, Batman feels a huge responsibility toward these heroes, whose origins also involve the death of both parents, a sense of responsibility that only deepens after Gotham’s death. Following up on that, “Batman” #6 is light on action but nevertheless full of conflict, as Gotham Girl, still shattered by the Psycho Pirate’s influence, continues her crusade to protect Gotham at the expense of her own life.
The first half of the issue features Gotham Girl tackling a number of C- and D-grade villains (Kite Man!), making the city of Gotham just a bit safer all while carrying on a conversation with her deceased brother. When Batman catches up with her, he offers to help. After Gotham Girl refuses, Batman turns to Alfred for advice on helping someone who is grieving, but Alfred notes that, since young Bruce decided to spend his time dressed as a bat and fighting crime, “Do you really think I helped you?”
The next night, Batman tries a different tack, asking Gotham Girl to help him, by explaining why she is defending the city. He then unmasks, and tells her about the night Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered, and revealing that he spoke to his mother as she lay dead.
While Batman — or, rather, Bruce — is able to comfort Gotham Girl, his mission is not yet complete. He needs the Psycho Pirate to cure the young hero of the enhanced fear playing havoc with her mind. But it seems Psycho Pirate has now passed into the employ of Bane, and extracting him will be no small feat.
And that is how Batman joins the Suicide Squad.
Once Harley Quinn established herself as a core member of the Squad — and certainly after this summer’s movie featured not only Harley but also the Joker and Batman himself — it was perhaps inevitable that the “Suicide Squad” comic would align itself more closely with the Batman line. Actually placing the Dark Knight in Task Force X, though, should create an interesting mission dynamic while adding another wrinkle to the recently-announced “Justice League/Suicide Squad” crossover — how will Batman’s experience with the black ops team inform how he approaches them with the League?
The other intriguing question here is how, and if, Batman’s mission with the Suicide Squad relates to Gotham Girl’s narration at the end of the previous issue. At the climax of her confrontation with her brother Gotham, she says in the captions, speaking from some point in the future, “After Bruce did what he did, after he died how he died… After I… After I killed him, I mean.” She also suggests that “the origin of Gotham Girl” is synonymous with “the Death of Batman.” Significant pieces of her origin have already occurred, including the death of Gotham — if Gotham Girl’s narration is to be trusted, the twist at the end of this issue would indicate that these events are coming sooner rather than later.
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