We get into another, more significant member of Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery this issue.

Batman #490

Written by Doug Moench
Art by Jim Aparo
Colors by Adrienne Roy
Letters by Richard Starkings
Edited by Scott Peterson & Denny O’Neil

Bruce Wayne has woken from a sedative induced sleep – not rested, and the Bat Signal is up.

Near the GCPD HQ, Azrael & Robin are trying to decide if they should respond, and how they should fool Gordon – at which point Batman shows up and explains Gordon won’t be fooled. Batman sends Azrael home – he’ll finish off his shift.

Tim Drake here feels a lot like the Batman: The Animated Series version of Dick Grayson.

On the roof GCPD, Batman apologizes for his tardiness, and Gordon hands over what he has – a riddle. Robin sets to work on the riddle itself, while Gordon and Batman discusses the delivery – it’s unsigned (not The Riddler’s usual MO), but it’s got his prints all over it – literally.

Across the way, Bane & Bird discuss The Riddler. Bane isn’t impressed with him, considering him a joke (referring him as a “jester” – and no, Bane you haven’t met the real “jester” yet.) Bird says he’s more of a mental challenge for The Bat than a physical one, to which Bane basically responds “Por Que No Los Dos”.

Elsewhere, Robin discusses his encounter with Bane with Batman. After Robin brings up Batman’s… problems, Robin is benched as well.

As Batman cruises through the city he has a flash and solves the riddle – Riddler is planning to blow up the clock tower of Gotham City Hall. However, before Batman gets there, Bane shows up and hits the Riddler with darts that dose him up with Vendom.

Consequently, once Batman arrives, The Riddler is enough of a physical threat that he is able to keep Batman busy long enough that he is forced to let The Riddler get away so Batman can disarm the bomb.

Bane finds Bane’s darts on the ground, and returning to the Batcave, analysis finds Bane’s updated venom on it. While working on this, Bruce gets a call from Dr. Kinsolving – where Bruce discusses how the tranquilizer helped (or didn’t). Dr. Kinsolving mentions that a Wayne Foundation scholarship put her through med school, and she’s surprised to learn that wasn’t why he picked her – he isn’t involved with selection for scholarships so he wouldn’t know.

After that, Batman collapses in sleep at his desk, if he wasn’t going through the emotional wringer already, I noticed here that throughout this issue Batman has been wearing the Black S-Shield armband (like Azrael & Robin were the last issue), marking this as being contemporary with Superman’s funeral, so he’s got his friend’s death weighing on his mind.

Later, The Riddler hacks GCPD and forces the computers to display a new riddle, but it’s fairly easy. So easy that Bane sends his Lieutenants to handle The Riddler, with the side threat that if they aren’t smart enough to solve the riddle then they can’t cut it with him.

The Riddler’s plan is to poison the fish of Gotham City and thus, indirectly, the people of Gotham. Batman takes on Nigma, and once again The Riddler holds his own. The only thing that really stops him is when Bane’s crew rolls up, and opens fire on The Riddler, taking him out of action, and allowing Batman to stop the plot – with the clear motivation for this being that they don’t want The Riddler to wear Batman down too much.

However, Bane still wants something more formidable. Bird has just what the doctor ordered – Doctor Arkham that is.

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