Last time, Jean-Paul Valley took on the Mantle of the Bat. This time he takes on his first member of the Rogue’s Gallery.

Shadow of the Bat #16

Written by Alan Grant
Pencils by Bret Blevins
Inks by Mike Manley
Colors by Adrienne Roy
Letters by Todd Klein

At Gotham University, a sign has been posted on the quad asking people for volunteers for a “harmless psychological experiment” – and anyone who has been living in Gotham for any length of time would know it’s a trap – but two boisterous dude-bro students goad their bespectacled friend Herold into volunteering with them. However, the narration makes it clear that there is something sinister at work.

If only this trap was by someone innocuous, like Jadeite.

The students walk into a classroom where they are presented with virtual reality helmets.

At Wayne Manor, Jean-Paul is standing on a balcony in the Batsuit with the cowl off. Robin reproaches him, and Jean Paul announces that he’s Batman now, so he’s doing things his way, and if he’s going to patrol without Robin, then that’s what he’ll do.

Elsewhere, Anarky breaks out of Juvie, finds his stashed costume, and zaps two muggers who try to jump him.

At Gotham U, Professor Marlon Stopes comes into the rented classroom – and he’s The Scarecrow. The bespectacled student recognizes him immediately because his father was murdered by The Scarecrow. So, Scarecrow gasses the kids, and the staff member who rented the room to him, and then starts the experiment.

J’Accuse!

After an interlude of Jean-Paul beating up some muggers, we see the fresh hell the students are put through.

Blevins does such good nightmare fuel.

Anarky, elsewhere, has found the hideout of two goons called the “Hood Brothers” (because they wear Red Klansman hoods) and as they and their crew are heavily armed, Anarky sends up a flare to draw Batman’s attention, followed by Tear Gas to shake up the goons.

Back at Gotham U, Scarecrow’s program has finished, and he’s indoctrinated his subjects (and the staff member) to a point where they will kill – or die – for him.

As Anarky watches Batman II fight the gang, he comes to the conclusion that all the evil in Gotham is Batman’s fault, because villains want to challenge him.

I’ve always found this line of thinking questionable – Aliens don’t invade Earth because Superman is here or because we have a Green Lantern, while it’s not exactly the same as with Batman, when you’re dealing with a world that has those characters, that has those invasions, and indeed were one of the planet’s major cities is due to be destroyed by an Alien invasion in the Reign of the Supermen event, it’s a valid comparison to make.

Elsewhere, Crane and his forcibly indoctrinated followers are preparing, basically, a series of terrorist attacks as the issue ends.

Interesting note – panels from Jean-Paul and Robin’s perspective have a conventional square layout – Anarky’s are slightly canted in the lines but the panels are oriented normally, whereas Scarecrow is straight up using Dutch angles.

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