Four issues into Tom King and David Finch's new Batman tale, the gloves are finally coming off.
Violent terrorist attacks. Emotionally unstable supermen. Batman, of course, looking to save the day from them both. Unfortunately, not even Batman can go up against a wannabe Superman and come out on top every time.
Spoilers for Batman #4 below!
This current arc has revolved around the new superhero Gotham and his sidekick Gotham Girl. The two Superman-esque heroes looked to be just the partners Batman needed to keep the city safe, and that might have been the case ... had Amanda Waller's Suicide Squad not gotten involved. As revealed at the end of the last issue, Hugo Strange and Psycho-Pirate have broken free from Waller's control and have a plan to destroy Gotham City, and it all revolves around manipulating Gotham to do the job for them.
That leads to a number of bloody encounters this issue. Gotham attempts to stop a suicide bomber and fails, and later snaps the neck of another after the man kills Gotham's parents.
Batman is powerless to prevent it all. Psycho-Pirate has used his emotion-manipulating powers to push Gotham over the edge. He decides that Gotham City can only destroy, and so, he vows to destroy it before it can harm anybody else.
The setup is all there for a final confrontation between the Dark Knight and Gotham next issue, and while issue #4 includes some great artwork and manages to rapidly escalate the tension, it does come off as a little confusing. Waller claims Gotham killed 27 of her men, but it's never clear exactly what scenario is being discussed. Readers get to see Gotham fail to stop a suicide bomber earlier in the issue, an individual who Batman says killed 27 men, yet Waller makes it seem as if Psycho-Pirate manipulated Gotham into killing Hugo Strange and Psycho-Pirate's guards so that the two villains could escape. Are these two events one and the same? Are they two separate events?
Even though Gotham failed to prevent the bomber, Batman, Waller and everybody else (including a vengeful Task Force X member who survives the bombing) seem to hold Gotham personally responsible for the deaths of the men, rather than blaming the man who committed the act of terror in the first place. Batman even says the men appear to have been killed by somebody with "Superman-level powers." Is Hugo Strange responsible for the bomber, and is Psycho-Pirate responsible for Gotham's inability to prevent the bombing? Even after multiple readings, the whole timeline and reasoning behind the issue's events is unclear.
Also random is when Batman detonates his destroyed Batmobile on a broken bridge, for seemingly no reason. Perhaps he didn't want it to fall into enemy hands since he couldn't drive it, but for the hero to cause further damage by essentially setting off a massive bomb just for fun seems odd.
Despite these narrative hiccups, the main beats of this arc remain strong. It will all come down to how King and Finch stick the landing, as Gotham and Batman go head-to-head.