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"Zero Year: Secret City, Part Two": Flying over Gotham City, the Red Hood Gang hijacks a blimp in mid-air with the help of a helicopter. The blimp happens to belong to Oswald Cobblepot, who uses them to travel thanks to the l
- Is that supposed to be a riddle?
- -- Bruce Wayne
Appearing in "Zero Year: Secret City, Part Two"
- Bruce Wayne (Flashback and main story)
- Gotham City (Flashback and main story)
Synopsis for "Zero Year: Secret City, Part Two"
Flying over Gotham City, the Red Hood Gang hijacks a blimp in mid-air with the help of a helicopter. The blimp happens to belong to Oswald Cobblepot, who uses them to travel thanks to the low level of regulation on the vehicles in Gotham. He had been meeting with Luca Falcone at the time of the hijacking, but the Red Hood himself threw him from the blimp without a parachute.
The Red Hood comments that the Penguin has been using these blimps to smuggle illegal goods, such as the crates full of Waynetech sonic rifles aboard this one. Though the weapons are meant to be non-lethal, they can be modified to liquefy a target's insides. As he takes one for himself, the Penguin becomes angry and tries to yank off the Red Hood's mask, only to receive a heavy shock. His scream alerts the Red Hood to the fact that this is not Oswald Cobblepot at all. This is the vigilante who has been causing them trouble for weeks. This news actually amuses him, and after testing out the weapon's lethality on one of his own men, he offers the open position to the interloper. When he refuses, they decide it's time to unmask the vigilante.
Worried about his identity, Bruce Wayne bites down hard on his captor's arm, and hides his face behind a hostage. Still amused, the Red Hood offers to give Bruce his mask, but, revealing hidden spikes on his gauntlet, Bruce rakes them across the Red Hood's chest, and comments that he only needs the DNA to ID him. With that, Bruce leaps through the broken window, and swings underneath so that his new shoes can take purchase on the under-side of the blimp's cabin. From there, he crawls up into the hold and frees the real Cobblepot, only to come under attack by the Red Hood Gang again. Frustrated, Bruce grabs the Penguin and parachutes to safety.
Years ago, Bruce had tried to use his father's new 360 degree visual mapper to discover what lurked at the bottom of a well on his family's property. Unfortunately, he had fallen in after it, and was suddenly blinded by a bright light. Further to his horror, that light startled a swarm of sleeping bats, who began to swamp him with their beating wings.
Bruce must admit to himself that he feels as though he is losing his war on crime. While Cobblepot was a dead end, the DNA he got from the Red Hood was not on record anywhere. Now, the Red Hoods are taking over rival gangs where before they would only target non-criminals for recruitment using blackmail. Further, their crimes seem to be completely without pattern other than to make the city afraid of itself. Though he is reluctant to say, Alfred warns that Bruce will lose the war. Even if he does catch the Red Hood, someone else will come to take his place. Bruce responds that he can live with that. While the war may not be winnable, it is his war.
Alfred points out that it is not the war he takes issue with, but the cowardice with which Bruce fights it. Bruce's parents had fought injustice for Gotham in public. He fights as a ghost, letting the real Bruce Wayne rot and his legacy at Wayne Enterprises be run Philip Kane, a man whose only concern is glory, not purpose. Given that the Red Hoods are now using Wayne Industries weapons, Bruce should be able to see how he has gone wrong in this. Bruce parents, Alfred says, would be ashamed.
Angrily, Bruce lashes out, claiming that Alfred has done little with his own life, having done nothing but maintain the Manor in the years he was gone. Outraged, Alfred slaps Bruce across the face, and announces his intent to return to the manor and put this mistake behind himself. After venting some of his anger on a brick wall, Bruce sighs and calls his uncle to arrange a meeting. Philip, as it happens, intended to call Bruce as well, and asks him to meet him at the museum around midnight.
There, Bruce tries to convince Philip to stop operations until whoever the mole inside the company that is supplying the Red Hood Gang with Waynetech weapons is found. Philip will not consider that, but he begs Bruce to come back to the company so that they can discuss it further. Turning away, Bruce states that for reasons he can't explain, he needs to remain a secret. Bruce Wayne needs to stay dead. Seeing that Bruce will not listen, Philip turns on the lights. To Bruce's horror, the museum is filled with members of Gotham's media elite, who have come to witness the return of Gotham's lost son, Bruce Wayne. Philip explains that he had not wanted to give up geology when his father was dying. He had had to be dragged out of a cave, but it had been worth it. This, he claims, is his way of dragging Bruce from his cave. Angered by the betrayal, Bruce storms off.
In the hall, Bruce encounters a man called Edward Nygma, who introduces himself as Philip's adviser. Bruce coldly questions whether this ambush was at Nygma's suggestion, and the man amusedly remarks that he had advised something quite different. Even so, he offers that the exit is up ahead in the Aviary Wing. This piques Bruce's suspicions, because he is aware that the museum doesn't have an Aviary Wing. Apologizing, Nygma tells of how he has always been fascinated by the Egyptians' love of board games. One in particular that he'd liked was one that appeared like the Oroboros; a snake which eats its own tail. Smirking, he adds that Philip Kane is behaving in much the same way, but that if he keeps it up, he won't have any arms left. Bruce is not as confused as might be expected, correctly assuming that this has all been a way of saying that Philip himself is supplying weapons to the Red Hoods. Bruce demands to know what else Philip gave the gang, but Nygma will respond only that they have no more room.
Nygma appears to be referring to the paparazzi who have heard Bruce's voice, and are coming toward them. Quickly, Bruce begins climbing a reproduction of the Egyptian Sphinx, reasoning that as Nygma had said the exit was in the Aviary Wing and the museum doesn't have one, that because the Egyptian Sphinx is the only kind that doesn't have wings, the exit is up a head. Atop the Sphinx's head, Bruce can reach a skylight, and he escapes through it, warning Nygma to try harder next time. Nygma remarks to himself that there won't be one.
Bruce calls Alfred to apologize and explain that things are much worse than he thought, and require his action. Alfred fails to pick up, so Bruce returns to his Brownstone on Park Row. Inside it, he finds a banner and decorations welcoming him home. Soon after, the Red Hood gang appears outside the building, and detonates the explosives they planted in Bruce's apartment, expecting to kill him.
Appearing in "That One Time"
- Sergei Alexandrov (First appearance)
Synopsis for "That One Time"
For months, Bruce had been tinkering with building tools for himself under a master inventor named Sergei, whose prime had come during the Cold War. Bruce hoped that with these tools, he would be prepared for every eventuality. To test this, he would attempt to escape a closed room with limited oxygen supply, and nothing but these tools to aid him.
Unfortunately, somewhere in between now and then, his tools had been rendered useless - missing half of their components - and he was now trapped in said closed room. Now, the test would be figuring out how to improvise; how to devise a new tool using the remaining components. Sergei doubts he can do it, but he is surprised when Bruce emerges moments later having used the motor for his quake boots to overclock the sonic radar system of his eye-set, and built that into the gloves he'd designed. Using them, he broke through the stone wall, and dug his way out. Sergei urges Bruce to admit that the most thrilling moment of that escape was when he realized that he could stop mimicking his teacher, and invent something of his own. Bruce admits that it was empowering. Grinning, Sergei responds that power lies in the ability to do the impossible. That is the essence of the skill of invention.
He explains that this was Bruce's test. When he learns to wield the impossible, he will be able to create wonders.
- This book was first published on July 10, 2013.
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