SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for "Batman" #2, on sale now.
In Tom King and David Finch's "Batman" #2, we see not one but two new dynamic duos operating within Gotham City. But while both pairs claim to be there to save the citizens of the troubled city, neither one has proven themselves entirely trustworthy just yet.
We Are... Gotham?
First up is the new crime-fighting pair going by the names Gotham and Gotham Girl. On the surface, they're the new heroes in town. The masked duo can fly, have enhanced strength, ultra-vision (which Gotham describes as being able to "see through everything"), and by the looks of things invulnerability as well. We see them operate in the opening sequence of "Batman" #2 as they try to stop Solomon Grundy, even as Batman has to take down the hulking creature before an innocent bystander is hurt. We still know very little about them, other than they seem to be very new to crime-fighting.
At this point, their biggest purpose appears to be to serve as a new possibility for Batman as he looks to the future. It's brought to the forefront by King as Batman muses over the line of succession when he's inevitably gone; something that, of course, has been a reality twice over the past few years, between his "death" in "Final Crisis" and then his loss of memory for most of "Batman" #41-50. What's interesting is that Batman appears to believe that only Dick Grayson would truly step into the vacuum left by his absence (and which he indeed did for over a year after "Final Crisis"); there's no mention of any other members of the Bat Family, most notably Tim Drake, Damian Wayne, or new member Duke Thomas. Even Jim Gordon's brief tenure as Batman in the most recent period while Bruce was free of his memories is left unremarked upon by him, in terms of what will happen once Bruce is done.
When You're Strange, or Against the Wall
The issue reveals that there's another duo operating in Gotham City, one who also claim to be ready to save its people. Unfortunately, neither member of this power couple has been proven to be terribly trustworthy in the past: Dr. Hugo Strange and Amanda Waller.
Hugo Strange is one of Batman's oldest enemies, first debuting in "Detective Comics" #36 back in 1940. Initially a scientist who used technology to commit crimes, Strange soon created a growth hormone to transform normal people into "monster men" to aid in his plans. Post-Crisis, Matt Wagner retold this story in the, "Batman and the Monster Men" miniseries. Strange himself was re-introduced after "Crisis on Infinite Earths" as a psychiatrist in "Legends of the Dark Knight" #11-15 who became obsessed with Batman even as he successfully deduced Bruce Wayne's secret identity.
Aside from an appearance in Tony S. Daniel's run on "Detective Comics," though, he's been largely absent from the current continuity. With Bob Castro warning Jim Gordon that the monster men are coming, coupled with the final scene showing Strange having the ability to use cues to evoke emotional responses in a patient, it's apparent Strange is up to his old tricks, merging two strategies into one.
Amanda Waller is a more recent creation, appearing first in the post-Crisis "Legends" miniseries before going on to be one of the few consistent faces in the original 66-issue "Suicide Squad" series. Waller's most commonly depicted as the no-nonsense, down-to-business head of Task Force X (aka the Suicide Squad), using super-villains to engage in ethically dubious missions for the U.S. Government. She and Batman have much less of a history together, although one of the most memorable covers from the original "Suicide Squad" was Jerry Bingham's depiction of Waller backing the Dark Knight against a wall on "Suicide Squad" #10. As one of the few characters over the years to be depicted almost always with a strong force of will and no qualms about doing what she feels is right to achieve her goals, the fact that she's working with Hugo Strange should give readers pause.
"Batman" #2 has two pairs of relatively new faces to Gotham, but are either of them trustworthy? King and Finch are certainly teasing readers with the idea that neither pair is a good match for Batman's home. Fortunately, there's a number two that's good for us: It's just two weeks until "Batman" #3 gives readers the next piece of the puzzle.