As promised, Gotham Girl just showed up in “The Price” crossover that started in Batman #64, but surprisingly, so did her brother.
And that puts a whole new spin on the revelation that Bane is manipulating Batman. In fact, it’s possible he’s been in control of Batman’s life since the beginning of Tom King’s run.
On the final page of issue #64, which is the first part of a crossover event called “The Price,” it was revealed that Hank Clover, the hero known as Gotham, is being pumped full of Bane’s Venom, which is apparently reviving him.
Gotham was introduced in Tom King’s first issue of Batman along with his sister Claire Clover, who used the name Gotham Girl. The two young heroes had purchased themselves superpowers because they were inspired by Batman, and the Dark Knight decided to train them to be the new heroes of Gotham City.
Things went wrong, however, when Psycho Pirate’s abilities were used against the superhero siblings. Gotham ended up going berserk and fighting the Justice League, with Gotham Girl eventually having to kill her brother to stop his murderous, superpowered rampage.
But now Gotham has returned, apparently. Or at least, Gotham Girl says he is being “saved.” And with all kinds of Venom being pumped into his body through tubes, he looks almost like a puppet, although one with bulging muscles and seemingly empty eyes.
Taking place in The Flash #64-65 and Batman #64-65, “The Price” is being written by Joshua Williamson with art by Rafa Sandoval and Guillem March. The crossover falls in the middle of the current Batman storyline, “Knightmares,” but according to an editor’s note in issue #64, the story actually takes place before “Knightmares” began in Batman #61.
Batman #64 also featured scenes where Batman was dealing (poorly) with the aftermath of Wally’s death in Sanctuary. In fact, he was suffering from hallucinations that seemed tied to stress, but might be part of something bigger.
Another scene in Batman #64 featured Bruce teaming up with Barry Allen/Flash to help the victims of an attack on the Flash Museum. During their discussion, it was revealed that Batman believes Gotham Girl was behind the attack, and this isn’t the first time she’s done it.
“It started in Gotham City,” Batman told Flash. “Random incidents … At first it was small attacks. Mostly symbolic. No one hurt. But clearly, they’re escalating.”
The revelation of Gotham Girl trying to save her brother with Bane’s Venom calls into question several things from King’s Batman run:
- Is this why Gotham Girl is secretly allied with Bane? She was shown among the villains surrounding Bane at the end of Batman #50. Is Gotham Girl working with Bane and these other villains because he promised to revive her dead brother?
- If Bane is so instrumental in the manipulation of Gotham and Gotham Girl (since way back when Gotham died), how far back does his control extend? Was he behind them even getting superpowers in the first place?
- Just how much of King’s run was actually part of Bane’s overall, manipulative plan? Was Gotham Girl’s five-day healing process in Arkham all a sham? With the Ventriloquist revealed as a Bane ally in Batman #50 as well, was the trip he (and other villains) took with Batman to Santa Prisca to save Gotham Girl all part of Bane’s set-up? Did she even need saving?
- Is it still even conceivable that this story will lead into an eventual relationship between Claire and Duke Thomas, as was teased early in King’s Batman run?
For the next few issues of Batman, readers should at least find out more about how far back Gotham Girl’s part in the plan extends. And as The Flash and Batman work together to deal with Bruce’s former protege, the Wally’s death will continue to dominate the story’s subtext.
One more scene worth noting from Batman #64: Batman was shown, for just one page, trying to begin his autopsy on Wally West. But he was emotionally affected, and he walked away before even making one incision. This might become important later, as the last issue of Heroes in Crisis revealed that Wally West’s body is actually from five days after the murder, something this story may be explaining why Batman hadn’t noticed yet.