Batman faces Ghost-Maker in the latest issue of Batman, and the two enter into a duel that calls back to their secret history.
Warning: spoilers for Batman #102.
Batman must engage in a duel with his new rival Ghost-Maker – with the fate of Gotham City on the line. The events of “Joker War” have shaken Gotham City to the core, and they have left Batman in a weaker position than ever before. He has lost his fortune, and he’s now working with limited resources.
Worse still, the sad truth is that Batman has failed Gotham City. The people of Gotham have grown tired of the constant escalation, the battles between Batman and his rogues’ gallery that just seem to get worse every time. Of late, Batman’s enemies have gone so far as to target Gotham itself, with Bane taking the city over and then the Joker plunging Gotham into chaos for a time. Gotham has even gone so far as to embrace a new, brutal vigilante named Clownhunter who is killing off the Joker’s old goons.
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And now a new vigilante is making his presence felt in Gotham City. Ghost-Maker has history with Batman, having trained under several of the same teachers, and he clearly considers himself Bruce Wayne’s better. Historically Ghost-Maker has apparently left Gotham to Batman, but he considers the “Joker War” to prove the Dark Knight’s time is over. He’s moved into Gotham to become its new protector, and he intends to take a far more lethal approach than Batman. His first target is Clownhunter himself.
Fortunately for Clownhunter, Batman himself arrives on the scene to save his life. “This city is rotting from the inside out,” Ghost-Maker accuses Batman, “but you still won’t do what must be done to save it. Why is this boy still on the streets, Batman? You could have locked him away, or incapacitated him. Instead, you’ve left him free to kill again. Even a city as awful as Gotham deserves better than you.” Having made his accusation, Ghost-Maker presents Batman with a challenge. In the past, they dueled for the right to learn from one of their mentors. Now, they must duel for the fate of Gotham itself. If Ghost-Maker wins, then Gotham is his.
Oddly enough, Ghost-Maker does have a strong argument in the case of Clownhunter. Batman knows exactly who this kid is, and it really wouldn’t be hard for him to bring him in. Instead, the Dark Knight appears determined to try to redeem Clownhunter, as though to prove there is more to his campaign than an endless cycle of violence. In the meantime, that does indeed afford Clownhunter the opportunity to kill, and kill again. Indeed, Ghost-Maker intervened just before Clownhunter could launch a rocket at Harley Quinn’s room. The truth is that Batman is compromised after the events of “Joker War,” making some highly questionable decisions, and lives may be lost as a result.
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