"Victims": Batman arrives at a murder scene and talks to Commissioner Gordon. There have been several killings lately in the "South Heights" district of Gotham City. Young women are being abducted, butchered, and left in dumpsters. The
- It's easier when the victims are strangers, merely names on a police report, accompanied by an out-of-focus snapshot. That way the emotions don't get in the way of the job. Your judgment stays clearer.
- -- Batman
Appearing in "Victims"
- Dumpster Slasher (Behind the scenes)
- Frank "Cutter" Thompson (Single appearance)
- Cindy (little girl)
- Gotham City Police Department
- Kate Babcock (social worker) (Only appearance; dies)
- Maureen Lopez (bystander)
- Morton Babcock (businessman)
Synopsis for "Victims"
Batman arrives at a murder scene and talks to Commissioner Gordon. There have been several killings lately in the "South Heights" district of Gotham City. Young women are being abducted, butchered, and left in dumpsters. There are no forensic clues.
Batman leaves Gordon to help with a fire several blocks away. Inside he saves the life of a woman named Kate Babcock and a young girl Cindy. Kate is a social worker who apparently ran into the building and saved several lives before getting trapped. Batman offers to escort her home because of the dumpster killings, but she insists she can take care of herself. Later, Bruce Wayne runs into Kate again at a business dinner held by her father Morton Babcock. They run into each other socially several times and become very pleasant acquaintances.
A woman named Maureen Lopez witnesses another woman being kidnapped into a blue van. Batman overhears Lopez making a police report, and drives around looking for the van. There is another dumpster killing, and he's horrified to see that Kate was the victim. Batman does his best to hide his anger from Jim Gordon.
Batman broods in the Batcave, thinking that it's so much easier to solve crimes when the victims are strangers. His emotions don't get in the way of his judgment. He develops a hunch that the killer is Frank "Cutter" Thompson, a drug dealer he saw watching the fire he rescued Kate from. Batman hunts down all of Cutter's known acquaintances for information, and also discovers that Thompson owns a blue van. He learns that GCPD detectives are planning a drug bust involving Cutter, and asks if he can provide backup.
Batman continues to patrol South Heights, and notices a red van crossing his path several times. He begins to suspect this might be the blue van with a new paint job, and he pursues the red van. He is interrupted by an armed robbery on the same block. By the time he is finished dealing with the hoodlums, the red van has escaped.
Batman later arrives at the drug bust, where Cutter is planning to rip off his buyers and kill them. Batman sees Cutter pull a knife, and he snaps thinking about Kate's mutilated corpse. He leaps into action quickly taking down all of the thugs, and ends by snapping Cutter's arm. He continues to brutally beat Cutter until Gordon tells him to stop. Batman tells Gordon to investigate Cutter's van for traces of the murder victims.
Later in the Batcave, Batman receives a call from Gordon. It's revealed that Cutter was in jail when Kate Babcock was murdered, and therefore could not have done it. There has also been another dumpster killing since Cutter has been in custody. A witness saw a red van driving away from the crime scene. Batman is furious at himself for letting his feelings and his obsession with Cutter cloud his judgment. A fifth woman is dead and he believes it is his fault. He swears that when the killer slips up he will be there to take them down.
- This story is reprinted in the Batman: Second Chances collected edition.
- The "Dumpster Slasher" trilogy continues in Batman #421 and concludes in Batman #422.
- This issue has an interesting moment involving Batman's relationship with killing. He thinks to himself "Almost beat Cutter to death. Wouldn't have been any big loss. Still, it would have been tough to live with."
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