The story begins with Bruce and Alfred observing Damian training, with Bruce ruminating on his “new” role as a father … as well as (maybe a bit belatedly?) questioning his own failure in repeatedly exposing kids to the insanity of the life he has chosen. Of course, he then announces a new layer to his own disquiet: “For the first time I'm afraid, Alfred … Of dying. … Of leaving a black hole in Damian's life and … I'm afraid of what Damian could become without me around.” Well, it seems to me that Damian was doing just fine during the period when Bruce was presumed dead (I guess that's still part of continuity – his extended absence definitely is) and Damian was playing sidekick to Dick as Batman. The kid came a long ways during that period. Of course, having his real father ripped away from him a second time would be traumatic, I'm sure, but I suspect he would do just fine. Bruce then takes Damian out on a mission against some gunrunners they've been watching, at the end of which he has the opportunity to give him some typically understated Bruce-style praise for showing restraint: “Refusing to pound these felons with the excessive force you wanted to is commendable.” Which gives rise to a typically acerbic bit of Alfredian commentary: “Did you tell Damian you were proud of him?” – “Of course I did.” – “What exactly did you say?” – “I said his actions were commendable.” – “The words 'great job' or 'I'm proud of you' never crossed your mind?” – “What's wrong with 'commendable'? … It means even more than proud – it means admirable, praiseworthy.” – “->Hnnn<- … I'm afraid it means you have a lot of work to do.” Bruce apparently takes Alfred's words to heart … he eventually does tell Damian, “Nice field work tonight.” Ominously, however, although Damian has been inflicting millions of dollars worth of damage on their training equipment in an exercise in venting, to “keep his killer instincts in line” (as Bruce puts it), once his father is out of sight he snatches a bat out of the air, crushes it in his hand, and lets it fall into one of the Cave's chasms … as Alfred watches from the shadows with an expression of sad disappointment.
Obviously this book is very much centered on the relationship between father and son, as promised. Of course, there's also the subplot introduced in the first issue, where a mysterious figure took out (rather gruesomely as I recall) one of Batman's new international agents in Moscow, then proclaimed it time to meet Bruce Wayne. We see that meeting here, and find out there is some kind of history between said mysterious figure, named Morgan, and Bruce, evidently through Henri Ducard (whose comic history I'm not clear on, except I'm pretty sure he wasn't an alias for Ra's al Ghul as in Batman Begins). He has problems with the idea of “Batman, Incorporated”: “Yes, pushing your Bat brand across international borders was an indirect ultimatum that I couldn't let stand. … You've distorted the clarity of our mission, Bruce.” He further proclaims his appearance not to be an attack, but rather “an intervention” – before disappearing with the aid of a “flash-bang” explosive distraction. Next: Knight Moves!
“Cut Short, Cut Deep”
Barbara Gordon's return as Batgirl after three years as a paraplegic has left her in somewhat less than prime shape for the job – and she has now, in the cliffhanger ending for issue #1, made an enemy of the police detective whose partner was killed by the new villain, Mirror, who then caused Batgirl to freeze by simply aiming a gun at her long enough to kill his real target and make his getaway. Well, almost – Babs recovers and dives out the window after him, but her lack of recent training almost gets her killed again. Meanwhile, the incident at the hospital has brought the return of Batgirl to her father the Commissioner's attention … although whether he knows Batgirl is his daughter is unclear as yet.
Batgirl trails Mirror to a cemetery, where in another confrontation she manages to snare from him a list – that has her name, her father's, the family she shaved from the gang last issue … “All people who should have died recently, but somehow survived.” It turns out that Mirror is a grieving husband and father, a “Federal Agent and War Hero [who was] Sole Survivor of Holiday Crash,” who now believes he is doing other such survivors a favor by putting them out of the misery of this life they should not be living anyway. Exactly how his “mirror power” works, which supposedly shows the victim their “true face” before he kills them, works I'm unclear on – when Babs sees it, it looks to me like she's just seeing her actual reflection but maybe it's meant to be the shock on her face when the Joker was about to shoot her (although she didn't have the cowl on then – he shot her not as Batgirl but rather as Barbara Gordon).
There's also a bit more interaction of Babs with her new roommate, Alysia, who thinks she's a victim of some kind of domestic abuse from the beating she's taken, as well as Babs going on a date with her physical therapist and discussing – somewhat – how she suddenly – miraculously – recovered the use of her legs. It remains a mystery, even to her.
In the cliffhanger, Mirror reveals his plan to bomb a commuter train – killing hundreds to take out one of his targeted survivors. Next: Nightwing!
“Hydrology, Part 2: Infiltration”
After their “visit” from Jacob Kane, Kate basically gives Bette an ultimatum – she can't have both her cousin and her uncle in her life. “Better pick one of us soon, or I'm going to take the decision away from you.” She also reiterates how she's uninterested in being part of “Batman, Incorporated.” In her mind, the issues are linked – “I don't even want to think about all the Daddy issues that might imply...”
Meanwhile, Detective Sawyer has a visit from Cameron Chase, who [on behalf of the DEO] wants Batwoman … in fact is not convinced that Sawyer herself is not Batwoman.
Maggie Sawyer and Kate Kane have a date, then there's another crime scene investigation with Chase horning in on the action (and Sawyer demonstrating how good she is at reading evidence on the ground and imagining the sequence of events that left it). Batwoman formally rejects Batman's “invitation” into his “private army,” although the phrasing “haven't decided to join … yet” means I'm sure she'll end up in it anyway. He does warn her about Chase's tenacity, as well as the dangers of having a sidekick: “Keep Flamebird out of the Weeping Woman case until you know what you're dealing with. Murdered sidekicks tend to come back from the dead. … As super-villains.”
That “Weeping Woman case” continues … culminating in Batwoman breaking into Sawyer's office and finding some a lead just as Maggie comes bursts in on her. “The boathouse … It sarted at the boathouse, didn't it?” Batwoman demands before diving out the window. … And Maggie calls Chase: “I know where you can find Batwoman...” She better get there fast, because the cliffhanger scene has Batwoman under said boathouse just as a wall of water hits her, sweeping her off her feet – “-- AAAHHH!” To be continued...
Cheers! ... and thanks for reading.