|Detective Comics #664|
|Gallery of Images · Main Discussion|
"Who Rules the Night"Edit
Continuing directly from the events of Batman #497, Bane triumphantly holds Batman's broken and battered body above him, basking in his victory over the Caped Crusader. As the horrified citizens of Gotham look on, he throws the Dark Knight down into the street, and escapes into the night. The police officers on the scene take immediate action, calling for an ambulance as well as back-up to hunt down Bane. As Officer Montonya comforts Batman, an ambulance from Mercy General arrives, and a paramedic (Alfred in disguise) steps out. The "paramedic" loads Batman into a stretcher, declines the officers' offer to follow along, and drives off.
Inside the ambulance (driven by Jean-Paul Valley), Alfred and Robin look over Batman's heavily-injured body. The Caped Crusader is barely clinging to life - he is in shock, has suffered massive blood loss, and worst of all, his spine had been broken. Robin is horrified, and demands that Bruce be taken to a real hospital, but Alfred refuses to do so. Tim continues to protest that Batman could die, but Alfred counters that being Batman is what Bruce lives for; if his identity were to be revealed in a hospital, it would be a fate worse than death. Reluctantly, Tim agrees, and Jean-Paul drives the ambulance back to the Batcave.
Back at the scene of Batman's "breaking", Commissioner Gordon arrives, asking Montonya to tell him where the ambulance took Batman. Montonya replies that the ambulance belonged to Mercy General, but Gordon snaps that Batman had not been taken there - or to any other hospital, for that matter. He goes on to scold Montonya for allowing the ambulance to take Batman away, reasoning that the people operating it could have been in league with any of Batman's enemies - even Bane. Bullock, however, counters that the ambulance could have just as easily been operated by Batman's allies. Left speechless, Gordon returns to his office.
Inside their hideout, meanwhile, Joker and Scarecrow have just gotten the news of Batman's defeat. Joker finds the irony of the situation extremely funny - all of Batman's rogues gallery had attempted to kill him, and it had been a newcomer who had finally beaten Batman. Scarecrow expresses disinterest, still angry about their botched ransom attempt, but Joker simply continues on goading him. Finally, Scarecrow is able to take it no longer, and sprays the Ace of Knaves with a canister of his fear gas. Joker falls to his knees, apparently terrified, but suddenly gets back up, completely unaffected by the toxin. Joker mocks Scarecrow even further, and beats him senseless with a chair, before ending their "partnership" and leaving the hideout.
In the meantime, Alfred, Jean-Paul, and Robin all carefully watch over Bruce's injured body inside the Batcave - he has been making progress, as his pulse has become more steady, but his temperature is still dangerously high, and he is still comatose. Tim urges Batman to fight the pain, to which Alfred responds that more than just willpower is needed if Bruce is to survive - the swelling in his spinal tissue needs to be treated with a drug known as Decadron, but it will only work if administered in the next hour. The Batcave lacks the drug, so Robin and Jean-Paul drive off into Gotham to search for it. Before they do so, however, Alfred confides a secret with Jean-Paul - without Decadron, Bruce will be paralyzed for the rest of his life, even if he does recover from all the other injuries.
As they drive into Gotham to search for Decadron, Jean-Paul warns Tim that he should prepare himself for the possibility of Bruce dying, but Tim refuses to discuss the subject, insisting that there will always be a Batman. The topic of the conversation shifts over to where Decadron can be found - it is a highly controlled drug, and not many places have a ready supply of it. Tim states that a minute ago, he had no idea how to acquire some, but now, he has just thought of a friend who might be able to help. The story then cuts over to Gordon, atop the police station and standing by a lit Bat-Signal in the vain hope that the Caped Crusader is all right. His wife, Lieutenant Sarah Gordon, comes onto the roof to comfort him, and tells Gordon that, despite her anti-Batman personality, she knows what Gordon is going through - the feeling of losing a friend.
In The Ventriloquist's hideout, meanwhile, Arnold's two "partners" (Scarface and Socko) are having an argument with "each other", eventually culminating in the two puppets shooting each other, leaving Arnold with bullet-ridden hands. Back inside the police station, Gordon is still plagued by Batman's recent "breaking", but a diversion soon arrives in the form of Robin appearing in his office. Robin explains that Batman is in dire need of Gordon's help, and informs him that they require Decadron. Gordon, ecstatic to be able to help, immediately orders a nearby hospital to donate some of the drug, and has Montonya and Bullock pick it up. Subsequently, the medicine is "accepted" by Jean-Paul and Robin, who take it back to the Batcave. Alfred injects the drug into Bruce's injured body, and states that now comes the hardest part - the waiting.