- You think you can fool me? You think so? You can't. Because I know all the tricks. Hell, I invented them. And sooner or later... I will find you. Wherever you are... you can't hide from me. Hide in the dark. Because I live here... in the dark... in Gotham. It's my city.
- -- Batman
Appearing in "The Court of Owls, Part Five: Face the Court"
Synopsis for "The Court of Owls, Part Five: Face the Court"
After eight days, Commissioner Gordon still won't consider turning off the Bat-Signal. Though Batman seems to be missing, he leaves the light on for all of those who need to be reassured; the criminals who need to be warned, and the loved ones who need hope that the man behind the mask is still out there.
Batman is trapped in a giant maze deep beneath Gotham City. After eight days of finding himself in the same rooms over and over again, his resolve and his sanity are starting to dwindle. He winds up in a room with a massive fountain in the shape of an Owl, and though he is thirsty, he is reluctant to drink, lest the water be drugged by the watching Court of Owls.
He returns to the maze to find himself in another room he has seen before. It is a room full of portraits of people who have been killed in this maze, driven mad in the same way that he is being driven mad. Each portrait is the haggard face of an enemy of the Court of Owls, driven to madness and starvation by the maze. In the centre of the room stands a camera waiting to take Batman's photo, but angrily he destroys it and runs back into the maze.
Thinking he sees his captors at the end of a hallway, he rushes at them only to find that it was a hallucination. Unseen by Batman, the Talon watches his every move.
Batman stumbles into a room with thousands of names carved into the walls. He thinks this room is meant to tell him that the Court of Owls has been there much longer than he has; that their claim on Gotham is more worthy than his. He surmises that the names on the walls must be people who were used, or members of the flock, or enemies they killed. Regardless, Batman is still determined that Gotham is his.
He works his way to a new room he hasn't seen before full of caskets embedded in the floor. Each casket has a photo of a child on it. He deduces from the carving of a talon on the wall that each of these children was warped into becoming the Court's assassins. He finds one of the caskets open, but stops himself before he investigates it much further.
Eventually, he finds himself back in the photo room, the camera set up again, and a portrait of him already on the wall. He assures himself that Gotham is his city, and that this is his story before moving on again.
Further down the halls of the maze, he feels eggs crushing underfoot as he sees an elderly couple wandering ahead of him. When he catches up to them, the couple introduce themselves as his parents, somehow still alive after all these years. He embraces them happily until they suddenly turn into bloody owls, and he realizes that he's hallucinating again.
Again, he finds himself in the fountain room. Frustrated, he claws one of the tiles from the floor to reveal a hole, and leaps down it. However, once again, he ends up in the portrait room, with yet another photo of him on the wall. Angrily, he covers his ears and shouts out that he won't listen to the story that they are trying to tell him. In his madness, he fails to notice the Talon sneaking up behind him to thrust his blade through Batman's gut.
Atop Gotham City Police Headquarters, the bulb in the Bat-Signal has exploded, and the lamp has gone up in flames. Gordon and Bullock wonder what to do about it when they hear the voice of Robin. He tells them to replace it as soon as possible. He is visibly shaken by the omen this portends.
- This issue is reprinted in the trade Batman: The Court of Owls.
- Unlike the other comics in the series so far, the reader must rotate this comic after every certain amount of pages. This is meant to represent the Batman's confusion and ascension into insanity because of the maze.
- In the panel when Batman is stabbed in the back by the Talon, one can see Batman's hand suddenly turn furry and gray.
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