After finishing with Robin, we’re moving closer to Knightfall with a storyline from Legends of the Dark Knight.

Legends of the Dark Knight #16

Written by Denny O’Neil
Layouts by Trevor von Eeden
Pencils by Russell Braun
Inks by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez
Letters by Willie Schabert
Colors by Steve Oliff
Edited by Kevin Dooley & Andy Helfer

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We opened at an unspecified time, earlier in Batman’s career – with a child, Sissy Porter, who was kidnapped and held bound in Gotham’s sewers. Batman found her, but not before a collapse cut him off from where she was being held, and being just a man, he did not have the strength to clear the rubble before she drowned.

Batman struggles at the rock while Sissy struggles for life.

Quick aside – the layout for this does a great job for building tension.

After this, Batman returns home, upset. All his skills, all his training, led him to where his girl was held, but did not grant him the strength to save her.

However, there’s one more job to do before the night is over – Batman heads to Sissy’s father to give her the news. Dr. Porter – her father, does not react how you’d expect – and circumstances may have put Batman off his guard, as he doesn’t catch it either. It’s like how you’d expect Gendo Ikari to react to news of Shinji getting hit by Truck-Kun.

Not suspicious at all.

Dr. Porter says, when asked, that the kidnapper wanted to be paid not in cash, but drugs – in particular a super steroid that Porter was working on, and Porter brings up that if Batman had them, Sissy wouldn’t have died.

Totally not suspcious

Just then, the kidnappers show up, one coming in guns blazing. Batman takes him out quickly, and then leaps on to the kidnappers’ truck. He tries to hold on, but he just can’t keep his grip, and slides off.

In the Batcave, Bruce tries to lift a barbell that weighs about as much as that last concrete block did, and not only fails – he tears his deltoid.

I checked, and the current Olympic record for weightlifting is 582.02 lbs.

Bruce looks into the truck – which was apparently recently painted, and with some help from the DA – Harvey Dent (which gives us something of a timeline). Alfred suggests he take time to recover, but Bruce refuses – he’s taking the kidnappers on tonight.

The attempt goes… poorly, with Batman barely escaping with his life. The kidnappers want to chase after Batman, but their employer insists they wait.

In a delirious state, Bruce imagines being taunted first by Superman, then Sissy, then Alfred, and then he wakes. Bruce puts the Suit back on, but not to go after the kidnappers again.

Bruce Wayne hallucinates Batman, than Sissy, then Alfred.
Not quite a Breyfogle nightmare, but it will have to do.

Instead, he returns to Dr. Porter’s house, and accepts the pills, taking one. He easily lifts the barbell, and then goes and just as easily pummels the kidnappers. And then he laughs… and it’s terrifying.

This is a generally good start to the story. Setting this earlier in Batman’s career, and giving the inciting event some trauma does help explain why Batman is missing cues that the reader can easily pick up, though it’s not without issues.

Batman breaks out in laughter.
The original Batman Who Laughs.

We have some advertisements this issue as well – promotional material for the Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale Challengers of the Unknown miniseries,

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