Who do you go to when you’re facing an impossible mission? Why, Amanda Waller, of course!
In “I Am Suicide,” Batman seeks the aid of Waller so that he can covertly infiltrate the island prison of Santa Prisca. It’s a deadly mission to retrieve Psycho-Pirate from the clutches of Bane in the hope that the mind-altering baddie can repair the damage he’s done to the city’s newest hero, Gotham Girl. “I Am Suicide” is a tense, exciting storyline that kicks off in today’s BATMAN #9 and once again reunites Grayson’s Tom King and Mikel Janin. It’s the second act in King’s multi-part Batman tale that began with the launch of Rebirth.
If you missed the first part—“I Am Gotham”—you’re really going to want to pick up the trade collection when it’s released early next year. But to get you up to speed so that you can start reading “I Am Suicide” today, we’ve recapped the entire “I Am Gotham” storyline below. Enjoy, but be aware that it contains plenty of spoilers!
Batman: Rebirth #1
By Scott Snyder, Tom King, Mikel Janin and June Chung
Batman faces off against the terrifying Calendar Man, who has infested Gotham with deadly toxic spores and installed a machine that can accelerate the changing of the seasons. The Dark Knight’s on a ticking clock: find Calendar Man’s machine and disable it before Spring returns at the end of the week or watch his city die. Luckily, he’s not without help. Duke Thomas, the former leader of the band of Robins that patrolled Gotham in the pages of WE ARE ROBIN, has accepted Bruce’s offer to train under him. Now outfitted in a new black and yellow costume, Duke fights alongside Batman to track down Calendar Man’s machine and put an end to his plot. As the dust settles, Duke observes that the victory doesn’t feel all that sweet—villains always seem to come back stronger and smarter and Calendar Man will return eventually with a whole new plan. Bruce, however, is undeterred. The evil in Gotham may always be evolving, but so are they, and they’ll be always be ready for it.
Unforgettable Moment: The last few panels feature Duke and Bruce training as they slowly work to kick down a tree on the grounds of Wayne Manor. This might look a little familiar to fans of Frank Miller’s BATMAN: YEAR ONE.
By Tom King, David Finch, Matt Banning and Jordie Bellaire
A Kobra operative has shot a plane out of the sky above Gotham and Batman has mere minutes to save not only the passengers but also any civilians in the impact zone. Wasting no time, Bruce jettisons himself from the Batmobile to land atop the plummeting aircraft. While clinging to the hull, he plants remote controlled booster engines along its exterior to reroute the crash to the bay rather than the city skyline. Doing so will save the passengers, but there is no way for Bruce, still maneuvering the wreckage from the outside, to survive the collision with the water. Undeterred, Batman is prepared to sacrifice himself for the good of the passengers. He relays his goodbyes to his family for Alfred to pass along, but the impact never comes. Two flying, super strong heroes catch the plane inches above the water. They call themselves Gotham and Gotham Girl, and they’re here to save the city, whether Batman wants them to or not.
Unforgettable Moment: As Bruce radios what he believes are his final goodbyes to Alfred he asks if this, if saving these people on this plane, should be considered a “good death”—if it would make his parents proud. Alfred, unflinching, does not hesitate to say yes, they would be proud, as proud as he ever was. It’s a poignant moment of vulnerability for a traditionally stony Dark Knight.
By Tom King, David Finch, Matt Banning, Danny Miki and Jordie Bellaire
The city descends further into chaos with the appearance of two new metahuman heroes calling themselves Gotham and Gotham Girl and an attack from a recently escaped Solomon Grundy. Batman supervises this new dynamic duo as they take down the undead madman, but pulls no punches in his assessment: Gotham and Gotham Girl might be superhuman, but they’re going to need to be more than that if they plan on protecting the city. Later, a stranger who casually admits to freeing Grundy visits Jim Gordon in his office at the GCPD. He explains that he didn’t have a choice – “the monster men are coming” – and kills himself as Gordon watches, helpless to stop him. Gordon summons Batman with Gotham and Gotham Girl in tow to brief them on the case, but none of the vigilantes are able to provide any immediate insights as to who or what the “monster men” could be. Meanwhile, Professor Hugo Strange conducts experiments while Amanda Waller looks on, pleased with his results. Apparently, Strange’s work and Waller’s efforts have just “saved Gotham.” But how, and to what end?
Unforgettable Moment: When Gotham and Gotham Girl introduce themselves to Gordon and proclaim that they’re here to save the city, he responds, “Well, thank the lord. Don’t know how we got along without you.” Apparently, all these years working both beside and behind the cowl as Batman have made him almost as hard to impress as Bruce himself.
By Tom King, David Finch, Danny Miki and Jordie Bellaire
Batman digs deeper into the truth of the city’s newest super-powered duo, Gotham and Gotham Girl, to uncover their civilian identities as Hank and Claire Clover. The brother and sister team were inspired by a childhood encounter with Batman to become heroes in their own right, working as volunteers with charity organizations both within the city and abroad. At some point, on a venture out of the country, they contacted their parents to ask for a considerable sum of money, and a month later, returned to the city. Shortly afterward, Gotham and Gotham Girl made their first appearance. Before Bruce can dig any further into the nature and source of Hank and Claire’s metahuman abilities, a suicide bomber, chanting about the Monster Men, attacks the Vincefinkle Bridge. At Batman’s direction, the rookie heroes come to the rescue and save the civilians caught in the fray. The two of them do good work, but there’s no rest for the weary in a city like Gotham. They barely have time to pause before yet another bomb goes off. This one might be a little more than a routine rescue operation, however. When Gotham and Gotham Girl arrive at the scene they come face to face with Professor Hugo Strange, standing beside a surprising alley: Roger Hayden, the Psycho Pirate.
Unforgettable Moment: Fans of Tom King’s OMEGA MEN will be familiar with his use of nine panel grids, and this issue features a particularly masterful one: a deconstructed call back to the original Bruce Wayne origin story, told with a slightly different bent. Hank Clover and his family were very nearly the victims of their own similar tragedy before Batman stepped in. It’s a sequence that is immediately recognizable even with this new spin.
By Tom King, David Finch, Sandra Hope, Mat Banning and Jordie Bellaire
After being attacked by Hugo Strange and the Psycho-Pirate, the Gotham twins have found themselves in chaos. The Psycho-Pirate’s emotional manipulation has left Gotham Girl shell-shocked and terrified while Gotham himself has spiraled into a murderous rage that has cost twenty-seven soldiers their lives. Batman means to stop him before the casualties mount any higher, but first he has to figure out just what, or whom, he’s up against. With the help of Duke Thomas, he’s able to track the origin of the murdered soldiers to Task Force X, Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad. From there, the rest of the pieces fall into place: Waller and her task force enlisted the help of Hugo Strange and the Psycho-Pirate to enact a final solution on the problem of Gotham’s violence and villainy. But the plan went south when Hugo Strange went rogue and took the Psycho-Pirate with him, leaving Batman to stop the still emotionally manipulated Hank Clover before he can hurt anyone else. He may already be too late. One of the task force soldiers escaped Gotham’s initial rampage and, enraged and unbalanced after watching his comrades die around him, decided to exact some revenge. The soldier hunted down and murdered Hank and Claire’s parents, just moments before Hank was able to arrive on the scene.
Unforgettable Moment: Fans of ALL-STAR SUPERMAN will recognize a reference to the famous page of Clark talking a troubled teen down from the ledge of a building in Gotham’s attempt at talking down a troubled man in much the same position. Unfortunately for Gotham, things don’t pan out for him the way they did the Man of Steel.
By Tom King, David Finch, Sandra Hope, Matt Banning and Jordie Bellaire
Unhinged and unmoored by the manipulations of the Psycho-Pirate, Hank Clover has begun a rampage to destroy the city of his super hero namesake. In his eyes, the only solution to the suffering Gotham has wrought is by wiping it cleanly off the map—something he can actually do, thanks to the metahuman powers that he and his sister purchased from Amanda Waller. But like most deals with the devil, there was a cost: Hank’s abilities will scale to the exact level of whatever threat he’s facing, but at the cost of literal years of his life. The more power he uses, the shorter his lifespan becomes, and in this moment, self-preservation is the last thing on Hank’s mind. Bruce calls in the Justice League as backup, but even they are unable to truly stop the rampage. Gotham Girl, still overwhelmed by the Psycho-Pirate’s manipulation which left her cowering and terrified, sees from the monitors in the Batcave that her brother is about to kill Batman, and is spurred to action despite her fear. She flies to the scene, knocking her brother away with only seconds to spare. She’s in time to save Bruce, but unfortunately, too late to save Hank, whose powers have burned him out completely by the time they touch down.
Unforgettable Moment: We’ve always known that Alfred Pennyworth is loyal, but this issue really put that to the test. In a brief, desperate moment, the butler makes a bid to slow down the rampaging Gotham by donning his own version of the bat suit and racing to the scene. Luckily for him, Bruce makes it in time to relieve him before any fists start flying.
By Tom King, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, Scott Hanna and Marcelo Maiolo
With the immediate threat of an unhinged Hank Clover handled, Claire is left to pick up the pieces and saying she’s not doing well is putting things lightly. In the space of a few days, she’s lost her parents, her brother and her sense of purpose. Add to that the manipulations of the now missing-in-action Psycho Pirate and the experimental superpowers that are slowly sapping her life away and you’ve got all the ingredients for yet another tragedy. Thankfully, this is a recipe that Bruce is quick to recognize and a course he is set on correcting. Feeling a profound sense of trust for Gotham Girl after her heroics against her brother, Bruce allows her to know his true identity and opens up about his own past, using empathy to help course correct Claire before she implodes. Now, with Claire no longer at risk to herself, there’s still the mystery of Hugo Strange and the Psycho Pirate’s plans for the city to be solved. Luckily Bruce has a lead through Amanda Waller who has been pulling the strings in the background from the very start. She’s willing to help the Dark Knight, but he has to understand, this next mission just might be suicide.
Unforgettable Moment: During Claire’s slow downward spiral, she faces off against some of the city’s more...colorful costumed villains. You know, the extra terrifying ones, like Colonel Blimp and Kite Man (“Kite Man. Hell yeah.”). At least no one can say that life in Gotham is ever boring.