"A Candy Full of Spiders"
Despite their having gone underground for years, Batgirl finds herself required to thwart the Whittaker Mob while they overtly rob people crossing the bridge into the city. All the while, they repeat the number "338" over and over, to the point that they demand only three dollars and thirty-eight cents of their victims. But, the danger is real, as they plan to kill anybody who can't pay.
Batgirl leaps down and intervenes, but while she fights with the younger Whittakers, their father shoots all of his sons dead unexpectedly. Batgirl watches, bewildered, as Mr. Whittaker wanders toward the edge of the bridge and prepares to throw himself off, as if in a trance. Batgirl has only a moment to wrap her Batrope around him before he falls to his death. Unfortunately, she can barely manage to hold his weight as he dangles over the Gotham River.
The problem is compounded by the appearance of a strange woman; the apparent puppet-master in the Whittaker mob's behaviour. The woman lands a heavy punch on Batgirl's jaw, introducing herself as Gretel, and hinting heavily that she feels no pain. The force of the hit causes Batgirl to lose her grip on the rope, but she is surprised to see the couple who were initially the Whittakers' victims rush to grab the rope and keep the man aloft.
Batgirl struggles to fight Gretel, given that her assailant can't feel any of her counters. Suddenly, however, Gretel is overcome by a euphoric air, and simply leaves. Batgirl is forced to choose between following the strange woman or helping the couple whose grip on Mr. Whittaker is slipping. Naturally, she helps the couple pull Whittaker up onto the bridge. The ordeal has left Batgirl shaken, having watched three men shot right before her eyes, and she wanders away awkwardly. She struggles to understand what could make a father kill his sons.
Earlier that day, Barbara had received a visit from her estranged mother. Rather than invite her in, Barbara takes her out to a coffee shop for a muffin - stress makes her want to fill up on carbohydrates. Her mother mistakenly refers to the cause of Barbara's paralysis as an accident, and Barbara feels no less bitter as a result. They talk briefly about her father, but Barbara refrains from mentioning how hurt he was when her mother left.
Barbara's mother announces that she is moving back to Gotham City, and while she knows her daughter can't forgive her, she hopes that they can be friends. Barbara abruptly excuses herself, cruelly responded that she could have used a mother recently, and demanding that she call before visiting next time. Barbara takes no joy in watching her mother's face crumple.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Gordon places a call to Detective Mel McKenna, informing her that he thinks she's ready to return to work after the ordeal which forced her to take bereavement leave. Gordon assigns McKenna the Gretel case, warning that Batgirl is involved. Unbeknownst to the commissioner, McKenna has developed a vindictive obsession with Batgirl.
After her encounter with Gretel, Barbara returns home and watches a newscast in which hundreds of protesters are crowding around a downtown Gotham area in anticipation of Bruce Wayne's press conference to explain his plans for an urban renewal project. Barbara's eye is caught by the image of the address at which Bruce's press-conference will be held: 338 Green Lake Drive. Realizing that it can't be a coincidence, Barbara prepares to come to Bruce's rescue.
Meanwhile, Bruce is on his way to the conference when suddenly, his driver falls into the same trance that Mr. Whittaker did, crashing the car at a construction site. Again, Gretel is behind it, and she has the driver go after Bruce with a crowbar. Fortunately, Batgirl arrives before Bruce has to blow his cover, and though the driver seems to feel no pain either, she manages to incapacitate him through effective use of pressure points.
Unfortunately, Gretel's contingency plan is Bruce Wayne himself, and now Batgirl must defend herself against one of the world's foremost martial artists.
"A Candy Full of Spiders"
- James Gordon
- Bruce Wayne
- Barbara Eileen Gordon
- Whittaker Mob
- Gretel (First Appearance)
- Melody McKenna
- Alysia Yeoh