"Escalate": Because The Penguin has been blackmailing her heist partner, Catwoman follows him to the High Hills Cemetery, where she watches him enter his family's crypt, and then leave. She picks out the crypt thanks to its shine;
- What's up with these guys? Are they mainlining tiger sinew and bull's blood?
- -- Catwoman
Appearing in "Escalate"
- Esther Cobblepot (Appears only as a corpse)
- Gotham City Police Department
- Roman Sionis (Prime Earth) (Mentioned only)
- Devil's Codex (Mentioned only)
Synopsis for "Escalate"
Because The Penguin has been blackmailing her heist partner, Catwoman follows him to the High Hills Cemetery, where she watches him enter his family's crypt, and then leave. She picks out the crypt thanks to its shine; disused crypts are covered in dust. The lock is easy enough to pick, but she is surprised to find that Cobblepot hired a guard to watch over the crypt. She recognizes him as a man she encountered in the Black Room, and quickly knocks him down, trapping him with her bolas. From there, she robs the crypt, as planned. Naturally, Cobblepot is displeased.
Later, at Selina's penthouse, she and Gwen Altamont watch the footage from the camera Selina planted in Detective Carlos Alvarez' office at the police precinct. On that subject, Selina wonders aloud who bailed Gwen out of jail there, after she was arrested, and who Gwen is paying off, given how much smaller Selina's cut of their jobs has been getting. Gwen won't tell her, so Selina dumps out the bag of heirlooms she stole from the Cobblepot crypt, suggesting that it was the Penguin's lawyers who got Gwen free.
That night, Catwoman meets up with Rat-Tail, the gang-leader who has been recruiting kids to protect their territory against a rival gang of men wearing suits. She suggests that he teach the kids something other than how to fire a gun, but all the same, she came for other reasons. She wants to know whether the rumours of Roman Sionis' loot, hidden under the city are true. He warns that if those rumours are true, he has heard that the loot isn't the kind of thing you can dig for with a shovel.
Meanwhile, Joe Pazzo, one of the Penguin's enforcers, has been possessed by the escaped demon Escalate, thanks to Selina's adventures in the Black Room, and that demon thinks its time Joe removed himself from his family. Having suspicions about the man she recognized, Selina calls back to Darwin at A.R.G.U.S., who reveals that the Escalate may be able to possess anyone who touches a page from the Devil's Codex that seems to have gone missing. From the window of a bar she is sitting in, Pazzo watches her. She orders a drink, and reflects on how trustworthy her friend Gwen could be, if she is giving some of her cut to the Penguin.
From his window, the possessed Pazzo decides that he needs to find a way to get Selina out of the bar so that he can get at her alone. So, Escalate uses his ability to escalate the lust in the bar's other patrons. Naturally, Selina's more than a match for three drunks, and Escalate becomes frustrated with their failure, busting through the wall and tossing Catwoman into the street. They fight their way to the beach, where he accuses her of having ruined his life - both man and demon. Awkwardly, she attempts to placate him, but to no avail.
Realizing that Escalate escalates the emotions he feels in others, Catwoman tries to get him to feel positive things, but this is not an easy task. As he becomes more and more negative, his feelings begin to make the patrons of the beach feel suicidal, and they all begin marching into the water to drown. Knowing they will not last long, Catwoman decides to use lethal force, and slits Escalate's throat. Unfortunately, this returns him to the form of Joe Pazzo, which makes those around her believe that she murdered an innocent man.
Suddenly, a helicopter appears on the scene and collects Pazzo's body, getting it back to the Penguin. There is still a chance he may be alive. Even so, the Penguin is incensed that one of his men has been injured by the woman who robbed his family crypt, and declares war on Catwoman's neighbourhood.
- This book was first published on May 15, 2013.
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