Helena Wayne was rather excited that the Gotham Opera House was honoring her late father by renaming itself the Bruce Wayne Center for the Arts. She posed in front of a mirror and frowned. This skirt is so short, she mused. Lawyers don’t run around in miniskirts.
Still, she had no time to reconsider her fashion choice, since the doorbell echoed, and the raven-haired beauty with the doe eyes ran to answer the buzzer. She pressed the button on the intercom and said, “Yes?”
The loyal and dependable doorman spoke in his nasal tones, “You got a visitor, Miz Wayne. He says his name is Bruce Wayne!”
She frowned and said grimly, “Send him up.”
Helena did not appreciate someone’s idea of a joke. Her famous father had been a legend in Gotham City for decades before his death. As a man about town, a benefactor, a onetime prizefighter, onetime policeman, even onetime mayor, and of course as police commissioner, Bruce Wayne had been a force to be reckoned with. No, more than that, he had been a name to be invoked for numerous reasons. He was what many men aspired to be. He had owned more and given more away than some small nations, and he had fought for justice in the last years of his life with a vigor and success that drew approval from those who cared for society, charity, and justice.
“Maybe some jerk needs to have his teeth handed to him for his bad taste!” she vowed. But she gasped in shock when the door swung open at her touch, only to reveal a handsome, elderly man with broad shoulders slightly bent with age, and wrinkled but similar features to her father.
“Helena, you don’t know me, but I received your photos with pleasure before your esteemed father, my cousin Bruce, died,” said the old man. “He was so proud of you, and with good reason. I need your help now, for the family honor — to preserve all he stood for!”
She stepped back. “You resemble him! Who exactly are you?”
“I am Bruce Nelson Wayne. Your father was named for me. I am his cousin, and he was my friend. (*) I’ve lived on the West Coast for most of my life. I was a private detective, and now I need your help for what may well be the biggest case of my career! Will you help me?” he pleaded as he grabbed her arm.
[(*) Editor’s note: Although a version of this story takes place on Earth-Two, the original story takes place on Earth-One, as seen in “The Other Bruce Wayne,” Batman #111 (October, 1957).]
Helena eased him to a chair. “I’m a lawyer. I’ll do anything for a family member. Daddy never talked much about his family, so this comes as a shock to me. As I said, I am a lawyer, and my skills are yours for the asking.”
Bruce N. Wayne looked at the daughter of the Batman with flashing eyes that still retained a cold, steel-like determination that sent chills of recognition down her spine.
“I don’t need a lawyer. I need the real you,” he said in a hushed tone of voice. “I need the Huntress — Batman’s daughter!”
A storm crashed outside the windows as lightning flashed and thunder shook the glass.
“Don’t play coy with me, young lady,” wheezed the old man. “I learned Bruce’s secret back in 1957 and allowed him to think that he had misled me. He didn’t. I was always a shrewd detective. Now, please help me before his proud legend is brought down in death and bloodshed.”
Helena turned away and abruptly made a decision. “You kept his secret for nearly thirty years, and I’ll trust you with mine,” she said. “I am the Huntress. What is this danger to Daddy’s legend that you speak of?”
“This is not the place for my tale,” said Bruce N. Wayne. “Take me back to where he fought his war so nobly. Take me to the Batcave beneath Wayne Manor! It is fitting that I share my story where he forged a legend.”
Helena nodded. “Come with me. I’ll have to miss the function in his honor tonight.”
“If we fail, there may not be a city left to honor him!” the old man said, nodding fiercely. “I need his other successor as well. I need Dick Grayson. He may be the one who can wrestle chaos back into order. I respect that man as well. The two of you are Bruce’s legacy, and in some ways, you two are in the greatest danger.”
A weird laughter seemed to echo in the stormy night, and Helena shivered. “Come on. Dick is at home. His young ward is away at the moment,” she explained.
The couple rushed off, and the evening edition of the Gotham News lay untouched on her table. Two feature stories were on the front page. One announced the fiery destruction of the Gotham Gazette, while the smaller heading told of a murder. Retired General Philip Gray had been found beaten to death in his home.
Thunder rang out as if to herald the unseen story.
Red Robin pulled his cape closer around him as wind and rain swept across the rooftop he knew so very well. The Bat-Signal blazed into the dark, threatening sky as he spoke to the slender man who operated it.
“Sgt. Hainer,” said the grim hero as he approached the frightened officer.
“Oh! You always surprise me, like your late partner used to do to my poor, departed father,” gulped Sgt. Harvey Hainer, Jr.
Red Robin smiled and patted his shoulder. “Your father was a good friend to us all those years that he took care of the Bat-Signal. I miss him. You need never fear anything from me. I’m always eager to answer that summons.”
Sgt. Hainer grinned. “He died the same year that Batman and the Commissioner died. A sad year for Gotham law enforcement.”
Red Robin noted, as he had before, that to most young Gothamites and especially cops, Bruce Wayne was recalled as the Commissioner now. They remembered him with the awe and respect that had formerly belonged to the late Jim Gordon in his own glory days.
“Is Commissioner O’Hara around?” asked Red Robin.
“Here I am, laddie! The old gout slows me down these days!” said the smiling old Clancy O’Hara.
Red Robin smiled and shook hands with the burly old cop he had known for so many years. “What can I do for you, sir?” he asked.
“Well, son, we face a number of murders,” said O’Hara. “Bloody and brutal beatings of prominent citizens, all about the same age, but not connected to one another in any other manner.”
Red Robin frowned as he read the names. “Philip Gray, Dave Fells, Ted Blakely — I see a pattern. Get men out to the addresses of Sam Olson and Harry Vincent fast! I think they’re in deadly danger!” shouted Red Robin as he swung off.
O’Hara turned to Sgt. Hainer. “The lad is more like his mentor every day — that is a good thing for poor old Gotham!”
He slowly walked down the steps and smiled ruefully at the thought of trading his infirmities with the master of disguise False Face, who had once impersonated him. “Let that devil have me rickety old bones on a night like this,” he muttered.
Red Robin jumped out of his sleek car and and raced toward the apartment of Harry Vincent. Poor O’Hara didn’t know the connection between the dead men like Gordon and Batman, and I would have, he thought. I only hope I’m not too late to save Vincent and Olson.
When no one responded to his knock, he picked the lock. He frowned as he entered the apartment, adjusting his night-vision lens, then found a body in the darkened room. It’s what’s left of Vincent, he thought. Someone literally pulped him. That requires super-strength like Kara’s, or… maybe not. He gazed closely at the crushed form. He wasn’t beaten to death, and I’ll wager neither were the others. Their bodies merely appeared to have been pummeled so severely, when in truth something broke them from within. Batman taught me enough about bizarre forensics to see that now. I’d say something shattered their bones from within — intense vibrations!
He learned soon enough that Olson had also met such a fate.
“Forensics confirms your theory, although our own lab men would never have come to that theory on their own,” added the Gotham police science chief. “That kind of powerful inner movement was like… well, laughter!”
Red Robin nodded. “Five good men were murdered with a method that could be akin to laughter. It simulates laughter like the rictus grin left by some toxins. I’d say the Joker is behind this!”
That same night found him back at the Batcave where he was greeted by the Huntress and Bruce N. Wayne.
“Mr. Wayne!” said Dick Grayson. “It’s been years. What brings you here? I can see from the fact that Huntress brought you to the cave that I need not play any games about who we are beneath our masks.”
“He knows all, Master Dick,” replied a worried Alfred Beagle as he entered the cave.
“Dick, someone is killing all those who have any tie to Batman and destroying all his properties,” said Bruce N. Wayne. “You know that back in the ’40s at Superman’s request, Bruce appointed his then-powerless associate Johnny Thunder to act as a well-paid travelling troubleshooter. Well, he proved to be remarkably successful, although I think Bruce meant the gesture as charity and nothing more. I took on a role like that after Bruce’s death, and that’s why I’m here. Batmanor was blown to bits, and Lee Collins was almost killed in his own car by a weird vehicle like a saucer!”
“Collins made the first batarang,” explained Red Robin. (*) “Batmanor was a Scottish castle given to Batman by a dying eccentric.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: Although a version of this story takes place on Earth-Two, the original story takes place on Earth-One, as seen in “The 100 Batarangs of Batman,” Detective Comics #244 (June, 1957); see “The Lord of Batmanor,” Detective Comics #198 (August, 1953).]
“So someone is trying to wipe out all traces of Batman’s legacy,” concluded the Huntress. “That could even explain the fire at the Gotham Gazette.”
“But since the Gazette was owned by Bruce, and the other places were associated with Batman, that would mean that whoever is doing this knows Bruce was Batman!” said a grim Red Robin. “That’s not all. I can tell you that five men Bruce and Gordon named collectively as the Secret Star have all died by methods linked to the Joker’s M.O. They were five good men appointed by Gordon and trained by Bruce and I to act as possible replacements for Batman should he ever be hurt. (*) They helped out once or twice but were never really needed, I’m glad to say. I am the only living man to know their secret role. Not even their families were ever told.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Secret Star,” Batman #77 (June-July, 1953).]
“That fiend!” said Alfred. “He haunts us constantly! How could he have learned Master Bruce’s secret?”
“I would guess that he’s not alone in this one,” said a grim Red Robin. “The craft that tried to kill Lee Collins and the method of death used on the Secret Star members speaks of advanced science beyond even his twisted mind.”
Bruce N. Wayne coughed and said, “That is what I’d think, too. Whoever is behind this knows all of Bruce’s secrets and could be gunning for you three or O’Hara even as we speak.”
The Huntress slammed her fist down. “I won’t let anyone destroy all Daddy built during his two careers.”
Red Robin held her close and said, “I’ll die before I allow anyone to hurt Bruce’s legend. I’d say we can guess the possible next strikes — Batman Island, the Batman Law-Enforcement Museum, the other living Waynes, and maybe even odd choices like Batman Jones, Batboy, and Betty Kane.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: The Earth-One version of these stories, upon which the Earth-Two versions are based, are “The Secret of Batman Island,” Batman #119 (October, 1958), “The House of Batman,” Batman #102 (September, 1956), “The Career of Batman Jones,” Batman #108 (June, 1957), “The Adventures of Batboy,” Batman #90 (March, 1955), and “Bat-Girl,” Batman #139 (April, 1961).]
“I must say I’ve never even heard of Jones or Batboy,” said the Huntress. “But what about Mount Gotham’s Batman head like the ones on Rushmore or the Batman Lighthouse?” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: The Earth-One version of these stories, upon which the Earth-Two versions are based, are “The Fantastic Dr. No-Face,” Detective Comics #319 (September, 1963) and “The Batman Lighthouse,” Batman #126 (September, 1959).]
“Perhaps even Tom Bolton, John Vance, Sam Strong, and the town of Batmantown could be in danger!” said Alfred. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Cop Who Hated the Batman,” Detective Comics #65 (July, 1942); the Earth-One version of these stories, upon which the Earth-Two versions are based, are “Batman, Junior,” Detective Comics #231 (May, 1956), “The Ballad of Batman,” Batman #95 (October, 1955), and “Batmantown, U.S.A.,” Batman #100 (June, 1956).]
“Even heroes he trained, like Wingman of Sweden, could be targeted if our enemy knows so much,” said Bruce N. Wayne. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “A Partner for Batman,” Batman #65 (June-July, 1951).]
“We need help on this one,” said Red Robin. “There are simply too many people and places to cover. I’m calling in the JSA. Batman saved them all countless times, and I’m sure they’d be glad to help him now.”
Soon, in the JSA Brownstone, Red Robin addressed his allies.
“So someone is targeting everyone, or almost everyone, with ties to Batman or Bruce Wayne,” he said. “I’d say Helena and I and the manor have escaped harm thus far because whoever this is is deliberately playing a cat and mouse game with us. He obviously knows who we are. I need all of you to guard the people and places Bruce loved so this madman can’t harm them in some evil bid for revenge.”
Superman spoke for them all. “I’ll stop this fiend and stand beside you, as will all of us. Batman was a founder, and none of us can pay him back for all the things he taught us or how he inspired us by his mere example. He was my best friend, and I owe him that much!”
“Gosh!” shouted Johnny Thunder. “I’d like to get my hands on the creep who is trying to hurt poor Batman’s legacy.”
“Batman once saved Myra, as you know, Robin,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. (*) “I’ll help.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Doctor Mid-Nite: Times Past, 1953: Bring Me Myra Mason.]
“There’s no need to debate,” said Hawkman. “The JSA looks out for its own. We’ll divide up.”
“Right!” Hawkgirl agreed. “I’ll go to Betty Kane’s and check on her.”
“I shall preserve the safety of the Batman Lighthouse,” said Doctor Fate.
“I’d like to meet this Sam Strong,” said Wonder Woman. “Steve loved his old records.”
Thus it went, with every member except the absent Spectre agreeing to guard a person or place somehow related to the world’s greatest detective.
Power Girl kissed Red Robin when the others had departed. “Don’t worry, we’ll get the Joker or whoever is doing this. You look like you’re going to explode.”
Red Robin frowned and said, “He was a father to me, and I take all he stood for very seriously.”