"A Tragedy": ===Prologue===
- There must be a way out! Somehow, I'll beat this demon! I'll become an ordinary man again!
- -- Bruce Wayne
Appearing in "A Tragedy"
- Gotham City Police Department
- Martha Wayne (mentioned; fictional)
- Thomas Wayne (mentioned; fictional)
Synopsis for "A Tragedy"
In Gotham City, an old man is mugged by several armed thugs wearing wolf masks. The demon Etrigan appears and slaughters them all. He warns the old man not to tell anyone what happened, and leaps away into the night cackling.
Chapter One: Secrets
Alfred Pennyworth wakes Bruce Wayne in the morning at Wayne Manor. Bruce explains that he's having violent nightmares again, the same ones he's had since his parents were murdered. Doctors have been unable to cure him of this or his allergy to moonlight. Alfred finds Bruce's clothes in tatters, and suggests that he has been sleep-walking again.
Commissioner Gordon looks over the mutilated gang members in the morgue. The witness has been driven insane, and it's explained that Arkham Asylum is filled with similar men. Gordon insists that the killer is a man and not supernatural. They speculate that it might be Killer Croc.
Bruce Wayne's girlfriend Glenda Mark arrives at Wayne Manor, while searching for a cure to his mysterious allergy. Glenda is unsettled by the portraits of his ancestors as they all look exactly like Bruce. She reveals that while doing research at City Hall, she was unable to find a record of his parents. Bruce assumes this is bureaucratic incompetence. They visit Ivy's, a medicine shop run by the healer Poison Ivy. Ivy senses an evil emanation around Bruce, although he does not believe in the occult, and gives him an herbal cure. Glenda hopes that this will allow Bruce to have a normal life so they can be married. He drinks the potion before going to sleep.
Chapter Two: Lies
The following night, Etrigan is attacked by Catwoman while murdering Croc's henchmen. He is shown to be connected to the sleeping Bruce Wayne. Poison Ivy's potion weakens Etrigan, allowing Catwoman to nearly defeat him. Etrigan runs away to avoid being killed. Then he hunts down Ivy to murder her so she can no longer help Bruce Wayne.
Alfred wakes Bruce the next morning, who has a vivid memory of Etrigan's fight with Catwoman. Bruce insists that something strange is going on, and he believes that Alfred knows the truth. Alfred reveals that this is not the first time Bruce has discovered the truth. It's explained that Bruce Wayne is the human cage for an evil supernatural bat-demon called Etrigan. Bruce insists on learning about his past, and Alfred tells his story.
Chapter Three: Life
Alfred explains that a thousand years ago, Gotham was a primitive city steeped in magic and superstition. They were under siege by Metropolis, and the city was nearly destroyed. The city council asked Merlin to save them by conjuring a demon from Hell. Merlin initially refused, but there was no other option and he released Etrigan. Etrigan annihilated the opposing army, but could not be sent back to Hell as he was banned for being too evil. They could not banish him, but they could contain him. Bruce Wayne was the councilor who ordered Etrigan's release, and he agreed to become the demon's host. He has contained the demon for a thousand years, and Etrigan is only released at night. Because Etrigan's fury is tempered by Bruce's virtue, he only attacks evil-doers. Alfred explains that Bruce is immortal as long as he cages the demon. His moonlight allergy is a lie, and his parents were a false memory implanted by the wizard. Etrigan was able to kill the good Poison Ivy because he grows stronger when Bruce gets closer to discovering the secret. Alfred reveals that he is actually Merlin in disguise, and has dedicated his life to serving Bruce Wayne as penance for condemning him to a life of horror. Bruce swears that he will destroy Etrigan, although Merlin explains he has tried and failed several times before.
Chapter Four: Death
Bruce Wayne visits the murder scene of Poison Ivy as Commissioner Gordon is examining her. Gordon explains that he plans to set a trap for the killer. Bruce tells Glenda that he can't see her for awhile, but hopes they can be together again soon. He has Merlin cast a spell that will allow him to remain conscious during Etrigan's rampage. Bruce is unable to control Etrigan, and Etrigan escapes into the night.
Chapter Five: Conflict
Etrigan tracks down Catwoman during a bank robbery and easily defeats her without Ivy's potion. He beats her to a bloody pulp, then breathes fire and burns her head to a crisp. Killer Croc arrives to help Catwoman and orders his men to open fire on Etrigan. Etrigan shrugs off their crossbow bolts and burns them alive. Etrigan defeats Croc in combat, but they're both ambushed by Gordon and his men. Etrigan uses Croc as a shield, and Croc is killed by the police. Then Etrigan turns his flames on the police and slaughters all of them. Etrigan decides to attack Glenda next. Merlin explains that the only way to save her is casting the forgetfulness spells again. This means losing his memory of her, and going back to his sad lonely existence. Bruce insists that they must, and Merlin casts the spell.
In the morning, Alfred wakes Bruce Wayne who claims to have slept well. Alfred explains that there were a slew of murders in the night. They know somebody killed Killer Croc, Commissioner Gordon, and a woman named Glenda Mark. Bruce tries to recall where he's heard Glenda's name before, and concludes that he does not know her.
- Alan Grant previously wrote the one-shot Batman/Demon, and this is a spiritual sequel.
- This story presents an alternate version of Gotham City. They have modern technology such as guns, but the architecture and clothing are distinctly medieval. There is also a full moon every night, which is explained as an "orbital eccentricity."
- The story is book-ended by two famous quotes about tragedy.
- The world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.
- A perfect tragedy is the noblest production of human nature.
- The armies of Metropolis use a Superman logo as the crest on their shields. This is only seen half-covered in one panel, and there are no other references to Superman in the story.
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