"A House Made of Spun Glass": Bruce Wayne has apparently fallen under the influence of a woman called Gretel, who controls minds, causing her victims to repeatedly utter the trigger numbers "338." Of course, [[Barbara Gordon (Prime Ear
Appearing in "A House Made of Spun Glass"
- Boss Whittaker (Flashback only)
Synopsis for "A House Made of Spun Glass"
Bruce Wayne has apparently fallen under the influence of a woman called Gretel, who controls minds, causing her victims to repeatedly utter the trigger numbers "338." Of course, Batgirl knows that Bruce is Batman, and she worries that if he has truly fallen under Gretel's influence, his superior fighting skills could end up getting her killed.
Batgirl hopes that Bruce has actually resisted the mind control, and is merely faking it in order to hide his dual identity. It's hard for her to tell, because he is coming at her with such ferocity. Pleading with him to stop, she ends up landing a heavy kick to his head, knocking him to the ground. Responding spontaneously, Bruce's assistant Wendy rushes over and hits Batgirl over the head. Batgirl tries to explain that she didn't mean to do it, but she has little time to go on, because Bruce recovers and resumes his efforts to hit her with a crowbar.
Batgirl contemplates using a Concussion Batarang, with the knowledge that it brings messy results. She recalls how when she first started out as Batgirl, she was at odds with Batman. He didn't want a new partner, and she didn't want to be his sidekick. After being shot through the spine by the Joker, Barbara had expected Batman to chastise her for being careless enough to let it happen to her. Instead, he had come to see her in the hospital, and simply held her hand.
Rather than use the Batarang, Batgirl tries to appeal to Bruce's reason, reminding him of his history and the death of his parents at Park Row. This seems to snap him out of it, and he drops the crowbar to the ground. Batgirl notices that in the meantime, Gretel has run off. She wonders why the mind control doesn't seem to affect women. Neither she nor Wendy fell under Gretel's control.
Bruce embraces Batgirl, thanking her for the for saving him. While he is close to her, Batgirl whispers that she hopes he was just faking being under Gretel's influence. He responds that he was, and tells her something important: she was always meant to be Batgirl. With that confidence boost, Batgirl redoubles her effort to catch Gretel.
In a nearby alley, Gretel is aware that Batgirl will soon be coming for her. She was once Lisly Bonner, an up-and-coming investigative journalist for the Gotham Flame. She went undercover to report on the Whittaker crime family. However, her personal recorder was discovered, and Boss Whittaker himself shot her three times with a .38 calibre weapon. Twice in the gut, and once in the head. Some kids found her floating in Gotham Bay, and she was rushed to hospital. Despite the head wound, she managed to survive. She woke in a hospital bed with the new-found ability to control the minds of men.
Barbara deduces that the trigger that Gretel uses to activate her hypnotic suggestions is related to the type of gun she used. Before she can think on it further, she arrives home only to be dragged into the kitchen by a distraught Alysia Yeoh. As it turns out, Barbara's mother has come over and spent the entire day baking. Barbara is bitter, and wonders whether this is simply an attempt to make up for abandoning her and her father and brother years ago. Turning down her favourite muffins, Barbara asks whether her mother has contacted her father yet. The woman promises that she will soon.
After sneaking away two muffins for herself, Barbara returns to her research. Gretel had said that she only had three bullets left in her .38 revolver - 338. She manages to discover the case of Lisly Bonner, who was shot three times with a .38 revolver. Barbara calls up Bruce Wayne to tell him that she found Gretel's identity. Bruce reports that in the meantime, Gretel broke into the hospital and shot Boss Whittaker dead. Knowing that Gretel wants Bruce Wayne dead, Barbara suggests that they use him as bait.
The next evening, Bruce has an engagement to defend his plan to demolish a dilapidated building and replace it with affordable, but attractive housing. Batgirl watches from afar as Bruce begins his speech, but she soon realizes that the Gotham City Police Department officers at the front of the crowd have fallen under Gretel's influence. She leaps down just in time to save Bruce from the torrent of machine-gun fire, as the officers shout "338" over and over.
Batgirl spots Gretel up on a crane above the press conference, but before she can chase her down, Detective Melody McKenna attempts to place her under arrest. Batgirl tries to explain that she isn't responsible for the death of McKenna's partner, and that she needs to go after Gretel. McKenna won't hear any of it, but Batman steps in and states that she will have to arrest them both if she will be arresting any of them - just not now.
The duo rappel up to the crane as Barbara asks Batman to go easy on Gretel, feeling sympathy for her story. Batgirl tries to establish trust by explaining how she knows what it's like to have a bad man turn her life inside out. Now that she has vengeance on Whittaker, she should let it go. Gretel responds that now that she has power, she won't give it up. Calmly, Batman sneaks up on her and, though he avoids hurting her, Batgirl senses that eventually, someone's going to fall off of the crane if they keep fighting.
Grabbing Gretel, she leaps off of the crane, tethered to it by her Batrope. The fall causes Gretel's wig to fly off, and she begs Batgirl to just let her fall to her death rather than be depowered and put away in Arkham Asylum. Batgirl can't promise anything different, but she won't let her die either. She drops Gretel down with Detective McKenna.
Barbara reflects that in her darker times, she had people who loved her and helped guide her away from the abyss. She was taught that revenge never heals what's broken, and Batman knows that too.
- This book was first published on February 8, 2012.
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