Before we get into Knightquest, we have an event that I’d like to go through first – the tie-in issues to the Bloodlines annual event, as they’re generally set more or less around this time (with some overlap with the end of Knightfall).

Batman Shadow of the Bat Annual #1

Written by Alan Grant
Pencils by Trevor Van Eeden
Inks by Dick Giordano
Colors by Adrienne Roy
Lettering by Tim Harkins

We open on a dive bar, where a lady is chatting up a blond man with long hair and equally long face. The man lures her into an alley, mainly through his nervousness, then turns into a horse-faced monster and kills her.

Elsewhere, Batman (it’s not clear if it’s Bruce or Jean-Paul) is facing a man with visor sunglasses, who has a woman at knife-point. However, all is as it seems, as they’re boyfriend & girlfriend, and they’re trying to skip out with their gang bosses’ money, and are doing this as a ruse so at least one of them can get away.

This is what makes me think this is Jean Paul.

Batman isn’t fooled, and offers to let him go, provided he points them towards his boss, and then steals the guy’s shades.

Meanwhile, the monster takes the body of the dead woman to an island and dumps her body in a dark bunker, where they are holding several other live people prisoner.

This leads to our new character – a blond guy in mirror-shades, wearing a leather jacket with big fuck-off stars on the shoulders, and a US shield T-Shirt. We don’t get his name really over the course of the series, but he gets the code name of “Joe Public” later in the book, so I’ll just go with that. He has an internal monologue that feels like it would fit with an older Anarky.

It’s like if Anarky decided to dress patriotically.

The guy is preparing to move in to a drug deal on a boat, when Batman shows up in disguise. The Boss responsible for all of this is Happy Jack – a gangster with dwarfism.

Batman and Joe Public burst in on Jack at the same time – which actually distracts Batman, allowing Happy Jack to zap him with a ray gun and get away.

To quote “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” – ‘What the fuck are you doing here?” “What the fuck are you doing here?

However, Jack’s getaway is not clean. On the way out, the monster grabs the guy with the drugs, causing him to drop the briefcase, though Jack continues to flee, though he plans to come back later.

“I moved to Gotham to get away from this crap!”
This costume is… not great.

We are then (re)introduced to the character of Pagan. She appeared in a previous issue of Shadow of the Bat, and we see her here beating up a whole gang just as Batman arrives, after which we get a quick recap of her origin. In short, she’s basically Cynthia Rothrock in a low-cut (facepalm) leotard.

Batman is investigating a bunch of murders (caused by that monster – though he doesn’t know that yet), and he offers to team up with Pagan on this one, and she accepts.

At the beast’s lair, the prisoners try to jump the monster when it returns with another victim, without success.

Batman and Pagan’s investigation leads them to the body of Happy Jack’s goon, who he apparently didn’t take back to their lair. A block away, Joe Public and Happy Jack find the case, at which point Jack pulls his ray gun, and Joe Public spills his backstory – Joe was a PE teacher at Gotham High, one of his students took Ecstasy supplied by Jack and got a heart attack and died, so Joe decided to go vigilante.

Happy Jack is about to kill Joe Public, when all of a sudden…

The monster grabs both of them and flies off. Batman and Pagan see this – Batman grabs a hang glider, while Pagan follows by boat.

Joe Public gets stung by the monsters’ internal mandible, before it flies off to intercept Batman. Batman and Pagan try to fight the monster without success, and they flee with Joe Public (who is unconscious) through an air duct, only to end up in the monster’s bunker/larder.

The monster enters in their humanoid form and explains their plan to them – capture humans, hold them here to eat. At this, Joe Public’s new powers activate, and he draws strength from everyone in the room, literally, allowing them to drive the monster off.

Gives a whole new meaning to “Lend me your strength.”

Afterwards, Joe Public speculates that maybe he’s not cut out for this superhero thing, before returning to the city.

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