- No harmony or integration. No speed or grace. My body knows what to do, but it's forgotten how. My back is healed, but the muscles are soft and lazy. My physical memory is short. I've lost far more than I realized -- basic skills, automatic reflexes. Got to pull my mind away from the end of my goal... stop thinking and exist for the moment, in the here and now. Relax and take each step in its time -- let each move flow from the last and into the next. Stay within myself at all times... expanding the ambition of each move only when and as my skills return. Learn to absorb acceptable and necessary losses -- to achieve every available gain... and to prevail, even poorly... but at least to prevail.
- -- Bruce Wayne
Appearing in "KnightsEnd, Part 1: Spirit of the Bat"
- Armless Master (First appearance; dies)
- Carleton LeHah (Flashback only)
- Ludovic Valley (In a vision)
- Saint Dumas (In a vision)
- Song Li (First appearance)
Synopsis for "KnightsEnd, Part 1: Spirit of the Bat"
Bruce Wayne has physically recovered from the night that Bane broke his back. His skills are not returned to their regular level though, and he is not yet ready to become Batman again or even wear the symbol. He must train himself again to challenge Jean-Paul Valley for the mantle, and the only instructor who can do it properly is Lady Shiva. She agrees under the condition that he learns to perform the leopard blow, an instantaneous killing maneuver. After weeks of training, he regains his competence but is still not as good as he used to be. When Bruce refuses to perform the leopard blow for his teacher, she instead decides on a new challenge for him to prove his worth.
Shiva wears a Tengu mask representing the spirit of the Bat, and she slays a great Sensei in his house of learning while wearing it. The Sensei is a great master without arms, and before their battle he explains that his seven disciples will attempt to avenge him, each of them great masters in their own right. This is exactly what she wanted.
At their next meeting, Shiva instructs Bruce to wear the Mask of Tengu and arrive at an address in Chinatown. He is immediately assaulted by one of the disciples, believing him to be the man who killed the armless master. Bruce defeats the man, but it takes a great deal of effort and every measure of his skill... this is the weakest of the seven he must fight before his training will be completed. Shiva murders the man when he refuses to after he has left. Bruce also fights the second disciple, and this man is more skilled, but the fight ends faster now that he is more used to physical combat. That night, he stands atop the highest tower in Gotham City and remembers his first night as Batman, when he leaped off into the abyss without fear... but he finds himself still unable to make the leap again, and goes back for further training.
Meanwhile Jean-Paul Valley is having struggles of his own... he is haunted by visions of Saint Dumas and his father, each calling him a failure for his inability to adhere to either the ideals of Azrael or Batman. Robin watches him from afar and records his strange movements, unaware of the hallucinations. Jean-Paul eventually rids himself of the specters, and tracks down some gun-runners to a warehouse. These criminals formerly worked for his old nemesis Carleton LeHah, the man who killed his father. Batman shoots them up and sets the place on fire with his flamethrower, then flies screaming off into the night determined to take his vengeance on LeHah. Robin runs after him to prevent him from doing anything exceptionally crazy.
- This issue is part of the "KnightsEnd" crossover.
- "KnightsEnd" continues in Batman: Shadow of the Bat #29.
- This issue is reprinted in the trade paperbacks Batman: Knightfall Part Three: KnightsEnd and Batman: Knightfall Volume Three: KnightsEnd.
- This story is continued from the conclusion to the Knightquest storyline in Robin #7 where Bruce Wayne and Tim Drake confronted Jean-Paul Valley about his murders, and attempted to take the cowl back from him. Jean-Paul physically overpowered him and condemned him for his refusal to kill, forcing him to begin his training again with a new teacher.
- Armless Master will reappear in a later issue set during the Year One period where it is revealed that he was once Catwoman's martial arts mentor, and also the instructor for Hellhound. Song Li was shown as his assistant back then as well.
- Jean-Paul Valley mentioned the criminal Jigsaw, whom he dealt with in Batman/Punisher: Lake of Fire. Due to his delirious state, the writers were able to get away with mentioning the the non-canonical crossover.
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|Knightfall Saga Crossover|
This comic issue is a part of the massive Knightfall crossover event. Knightfall consisted of three parts, Knightfall, Knightquest, and KnightsEnd. The trilogy involved Batman's back being broken by Bane, the debut and subsequent descent into madness of Bruce Wayne's successor Batman Jean-Paul Valley, and Bruce Wayne's recovery and reclamation of his former title, combatting Valley himself. This template will categorize articles that include it into the "Knightfall Crossover" category.