"Night of the Owls: First Snow": When Victor Fries was a boy, he and his mother would enter Lowell, Nebraska's snowman contest every year at the time of the first snow. His mother, an immigrant, insisted that they use the old count
- You claim to act out of love, but I don't think you even understand the meaning of the emotion! Love requires empathy. Sympathy. Compassion. There's nothing inside you but ice and hate.
- -- Batman
Appearing in "Night of the Owls: First Snow"
- Batman (Flashback and main story)
- Dr. Kearney (Dies)
- Lucius Fox (Flashback only)
- Nora Fields (Flashback and main story)
- Jeremiah Arkham
- Lorraine Fries (Dies in flashback)
Synopsis for "Night of the Owls: First Snow"
When Victor Fries was a boy, he and his mother would enter Lowell, Nebraska's snowman contest every year at the time of the first snow. His mother, an immigrant, insisted that they use the old country's method of creating the snow man's whole face out of a single apple, as they trudged along a frozen lake toward the competition grounds. However, as Victor walked on, he began to realize that his mother was no longer with him. When he turned around, he discovered that she had fallen through the ice. Fortunately, the ice preserved her until help arrived - but she was never the same.
Now, Victor is an inmate in Arkham Asylum, where he must be kept in a refrigerated cell. He has recently been returned there after having become involved with the Court of Owls, and freezing a large section of Chinatown. He had been asked by the Court to help them produce a formula that would revive all of the preserved Talons for its attack on Gotham City.
Dr. Kearney is required to use an alcohol based crayon, as all other writing implements would freeze, or could become a weapon. Fries demands to have the crayon, but his doctor refuses. In response, he snaps his doctor's neck and takes it. He then uses the crayon's wax as an insulator to rewire his cell's cooling system. As it happens, the building's emergency systems are set to use the excess cooling from Fries' cell to cool the other inmates' cells in the event of a blackout. Unfortunately, Fries has rigged the temperature of his cell to keep dropping and dropping, while causing a blackout by shorting out the electrical system. As a result, Arkham will soon become very, very cold.
Fries kills several guards, freezing them solid by ripping one of the coolant hoses from the wall, and directing its sub-zero gas at them. He then sucks some of the fluid into his mouth, and spews it at some other guards who hoped to prevent him from getting to his suit. After acquiring the suit, Mister Freeze escapes in a food service truck.
A short time later, he crashes that truck through the doors of the Iceberg Casino, causing the patrons to scatter. The Penguin is somewhat put out by the damage that Freeze's arrival has caused, so Freeze suggests feigning a robbery, as the police will readily accept that Freeze's appearance there is an extension of his perceived fetishization of ice. In any case, Freeze has come for his Cold Guns. Penguin provides him with his weapons, and demands that the scene be made to look like a legitimate robbery, as Freeze complies by freezing Penguin's entourage to death.
Before he can leave, Mister Freeze needs to get revenge against the man who took his beloved Nora away from him: Bruce Wayne. Wayne had recently returned from his travels around the world to Wayne Enterprises, where Victor Fries had already been working for some time in the field of cryogenics, having developed an obsession after his mother's experiences with extreme cold. Wayne was somewhat disturbed to find that Fries had kept up with his attempts to revive cryo-preserved humans, rather than to branch into such things as organ vitrification, as he was ordered. Fries managed to convince his benefactor that he could pursue both fields at once.
Now, the lab Fries worked in still exists as it was, but Nora is nowhere to be found. He swears to get vengeance on Wayne, but he is accosted by Nightwing and Robin. Nightwing manages to knock the man to the ground, but he fails to escape the icy touch of Freeze's hands, sending ice up through the floor to encase his body in ice. His companion trapped, Robin leaps on Mister Freeze, only to be grabbed by the wrist, his arm freezing cold in the ice man's wrist. Suddenly, Bruce Wayne's voice comes over the intercom, inviting Freeze to the penthouse of Wayne Tower.
Years ago, Victor Fries had finally created the cure he hoped would revive his beloved Nora from her cryogenic sleep. When Bruce Wayne discovered that Fries was obsessed with bringing Nora back to life by administering an experimental cure that she could not possibly consent to receiving, he shut the program down. In anger, Fries had thrown a chair at his employer, but Wayne dodged the projectile, and it ruptured a pipe, catching Fries in the blast of coolant chemicals. Fries was revived by a miracle of science, but his need for vengeance was still very strong.
Nora's capsule stands in the penthouse, but Bruce Wayne is nowhere to be found. Suddenly, the Batman bursts in through the window, and commands Freeze to surrender. He dodges the cold blasts from Freeze's gun, and uses red-hot gauntlets to unleash several hard blows on his enemy.
Despite Freeze's claims that Nora is his wife, Batman sternly refuses to let him leave with her. He won't allow it because, for all Freeze's claims of love, he has never actually met Nora. Her real name is Nora Fields. She was diagnosed with an incurable heart condition at the age of twenty-three in 1966. At the time, she was engaged to be married to a young lawyer. Her family decided to put her under a new and controversial treatment in the hopes that she could one day be allowed to live in a future where she wouldn't need to die at twenty-five. She was the first to undergo cryogenic stasis. Victor Fries had written his doctoral thesis on her case, and grown so obsessed with her that he believed he loved her. His attempts to steal her back, time and again, have been a farce. She's old enough to be his grandmother.
Even after hearing all this again, Freeze professes his love. Batman is forced to attach a heating agent to Freeze's suit, which eventually renders him immobile.
As he stares helplessly at the woman he loves - however misguided that love is - Freeze remembers his childhood again. After a year of being confined to a wheelchair, Victor's mother had accompanied him to the snowman competition again. She had suffered brain damage as a result of the sever cold, and her dementia was a drain on her son. They travelled by the same route that they had taken a year before, and there, Victor allowed his mother to fall through the ice once more, and drown.
- This book was first published on May 30, 2012.
- This story retcons much of Mister Freeze's history, as it was established by "Heart of Ice".
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