Batman is currently immersed in the “Knightmares” storyline, with the title character experiencing vivid nightmares linked to his deepest fears. But the story by writer Tom King is taking the title closer to a final confrontation with Bane, who’s been manipulating the Caped Crusader since the beginning of King’s run.
The extent of Bane’s scheme was revealed on the final page of the high-profile issue Batman #50, when a group of surprising characters were shown to be allies with Bane. The villain’s entourage included the Riddler, Joker, Psycho-Pirate, Holly Robinson, Gotham Girl, Ventriloquist, Flashpoint Batman, Skeets and Hugo Strange.
It’s been eight months since the group was revealed. And although there are still mysteries surrounding why some of them were there (like, what’s up with Skeets?), DC has explained a few of the other ones.
While Bruce Wayne is unconscious for a bit, we gathered the names of Bane’s scheming entourage and listed them here, summarizing what’s been revealed about their presence on the team manipulating Batman.
The role of Selina Kyle’s friend in the plan was obvious at the end of Batman #50. She used her influence over Catwoman to make sure the feline character’s wedding with Batman didn’t happen.
However, the larger implication of the group being together for this announcement was that the marriage itself was also something Bane manipulated into existence. Would Selina and Bruce have even declared their feelings for each other if Bane hadn’t (seemingly) manipulated them into doing so?
We’ve also learned that there’s more story coming for the Batman-Catwoman romance. King has indicated that Batman #75 and the events of that issue are important for Selina, and the story kicks off a major story arc for Batman. Will Holly continue to play a role in their relationship? Is it possible their romance will be rekindled? And will Holly’s betrayal be discovered?
Riddler and Joker
The Joker is probably part of the group because he played a role in Batman’s wedding being canceled, something we can now guess was part of Bane’s plan from the beginning.
And the Riddler and Joker were both important elements in Tom King’s run during “The War of Jokes and Riddles.”
The Riddler’s current role isn’t clear, but his powers of manipulation have been highlighted during King’s run, so it’s possible that he helped to guide the grand scheme from the Gotham side.
The solicitation for June’s Batman #72 talks about Bane’s “army of villains taking over” Gotham City. So the role of the Riddler and Joker going forward will probably be more related to the city’s fall into the hands of Batman’s rogues later this year.
Psycho Pirate’s powers of emotional manipulation have been utilized previously by Bane, so it’s pretty obvious that his presence as part of this group is tied to those powers. But so far, King hasn’t revealed just which characters are being manipulated. Are all the villains surrounding Bane being controlled by Psycho-Pirate somehow?
It’s also probable the current “Knightmares” story arc, in which Batman is unconscious but is experiencing vivid dreams, is related to Psycho-Pirate’s powers. As a future solicitation says, Bane is “invading Batman’s mind to expose his most terrible fears.”
The character was seemingly on Batman’s side during the “I Am Suicide” storyline, acting as an important part of Batman’s Suicide Squad. While it’s unclear what his role in Bane’s plan might be now and going forward, his presence implies that Bane already knew about Batman’s entire mission against him.
In “I Am Suicide,” Ventriloquist was revealed to be a character who couldn’t be manipulated by Psycho-Pirate or the Riddler. He’s allegedly only controlled by his alter ego puppet, Scarface. But with the revelation of his role on Bane’s team, can that information be trusted? Or is that tied to his actual role on this team, as a sort of insurance policy that Psycho-Pirate doesn’t manipulate Bane?
This Batman villain has been around since the very beginning of King’s run on Batman and was instrumental in the set-up for Batman’s confrontation with Bane. With Batman #50’s final page, it was revealed that the mental manipulation of Batman was going on much longer than readers expected. So his role in Bane’s future plans may be less important.
As we learned during “The Price,” Gotham Girl was manipulated into fighting against Batman and The Flash, magnifying their disagreements about the death of Wally West at Sanctuary. There was also a clue pointing toward her possibly going through treatment at Sanctuary.
At the end of “The Price,” in The Flash #65, Gotham Girl nearly died and now claims that she doesn’t remember what happened. She was apparently taken to the Batcave for recovery, although there’s been no indication of her current whereabouts.
Thomas Wayne, Flashpoint Batman
As solicitations have revealed, Thomas Wayne joined Bane’s team because he’s on a “quest to get Bruce to hang up the cape and cowl” — something the character tried to tell him to do during “The Button” crossover.
But how did Thomas Wayne survive the collapse of his universe in “The Button,” and why would a father go to such dangerous extremes to manipulate his own beloved son? Future solicitations promise that we’ll learn the answers to these questions soon (specifically, in Batman #70).
Currently, Thomas Wayne has already taken action in Bane’s plan. He’s the reason Batman was overpowered in the Batcave at the end of issue #60. And he’s the reason Batman is currently trapped in the “Knightmares” storyline, in which he’s apparently unconscious but experiencing vivid dreams.
After the end of the “Knightmares” storyline, Flashpoint Batman is one of the key characters in “The Fall and the Fallen,” the storyline that starts in Batman #70. And that’s when readers will begin to find out the full extent of Bane’s influence over Batman’s life during the King run on Batman.
Booster Gold’s sidekick being part of Bane’s villainous group is perhaps the most mysterious part of the Batman #50 page, although its explanation might be as simple as “The Gift” storyline being orchestrated by Bane.
But there’s a possible alternate theory, and it’s related to all the time-jumping that occurred in “The Gift” storyline. It’s possible that there’s an alternate timeline version of Skeets that was damaged during the events of that story, and it’s also possible that he’s been taken over by Bane.
That conspiracy theory seems far-fetched, however, as do the theories about Skeets being party to the mass-murder at Sanctuary. However, Skeets has been a problem character before, specifically in the surprise conclusion to the weekly series 52. So his role in both Heroes in Crisis and Bane’s manipulation of Bruce Wayne in Batman may be larger than anyone suspects.