Detective Comics #995 – “Ring Them Bells”
Story by Peter J Tomasi
Art by Doug Mahnke
Last issue, Dr. Leslie Thompkins was exposed to Joker Toxin. This issue opens with Batman racing to the Batcave to try to save his adopted mother from the effects of the ghastly poison. Batman calls ahead to Alfred, who is prepping antitoxin, per Bruce’s request. After several antitoxins are administered, Bruce and Alfred both observe that none of them are working and Alfred concludes that this must be a mutated toxin variation, nothing like regular Joker Venom.
Leslie remarks to Bruce “who knew that when I helped a young boy I would help save a city? But be careful..the war you’re waging to keep Gotham alive…is also a war you wage against yourself.” These are Leslie’s final words to Bruce. Bruce tries to revive Leslie with a crash cart. Every attempt to resuscitate Leslie is met with a memory of Bruce and Leslie together over the years. Alfred stops Bruce’s valiant attempt at saving Leslie as she is gone. Bruce asks for a moment alone. Alfred goes upstairs and sheds a tear for the fallen doctor and friend. The doorbell rings and the voice verification states its Commissioner Gordon. Alfred opens the door and is met by a man dressed as Zorro holding a foil. This masked man uses his rapier to stab Alfred in the chest.
As Bruce stands over Leslie, bells are heard ringing throughout the mansion. Bruce runs toward the sound and Alfred remarks,” I believe I heeded this bell much quicker than you.” Bruce stops the bleeding and Alfred self-diagnoses himself with a punctured left lung. Alfred requests young master Damian come to the mansion to operate on him. Bruce promises once Damian arrives and Alfred is out of danger, the house will on lock down and Batman is going out.
Meanwhile, Dr. Arkham is working in an office at his namesake asylum when Batman appears in the darkness of the room. Batman is there to conduct interviews. Batman goes down the corridor of the inmates’ cells (featuring a plethora of Rogues including Two-Face and Riddler, to name a few) and says he is looking for cooperation and information this evening and anything else will be problematic. Batman ends the issue by saying, “this place is like a carnival funhouse tonight- the only monster in here with you- is me!”
I woke up Wednesday January 2nd to a news story on my phone about a Batman supporting character meeting their demise. I avoided all spoilers throughout the day and read this issue at home and I was sad to see it was Dr. Leslie Thompkins. She has seen a resurgence in popularity thanks to Gotham and her portrayal by Morena Baccarin. Dr. Leslie Thompkins, along with Alfred, helped a young boy become a man after the death of his parents, to find the light and positivity in life instead of dwelling in darkness.
This issue features another callback to the night of the Waynes’ murder. Alfred is attacked by a man dressed as Zorro. “The Mark of Zorro was the film that the young Bruce Wayne had seen with his parents at a movie theater, moments before they were killed in front of his eyes by an armed thug. Zorro is often portrayed as Bruce’s childhood hero and an influence on his Batman persona.”
Alfred is the latest victim of the mastermind hunting down friends, family, and allies closest to Batman. In the 5 stages of grief, Batman is fired up with anger, ready to dole out some fists and punishment to any of the Rogues at Arkham who are unwilling to help the Caped Crusader get to the bottom of this mystery. An enraged Batman is also one who doesn’t think clearly or logically. Can Batman put his emotions aside to keep his friends and family safe? Can Batman thwart the unknown villain before it’s too late? Any guesses on the mystery bad guy (or gal)?
Detective Comics 996 – On Sale 1/16/19 -In the catacombs under Paris, Henri Ducard is not going to sit and wait for the death that’s coming for everyone who helped to train Batman…he’s going to wrestle it to the ground and put a bullet between its eyes! Good plan—but what if it just gets right back up? Can even Batman save him then?