"Little Big Man"

Damian Wayne sits in the Batcave, watching the security footage that caught the Joker savagely beating Alfred Pennyworth with a hammer. Unlike his father's other adoptive children, he has sided with Batman. They are more less willing to let him handle the Joker alone, given the threat - which Batman claims is false - that the Joker knows who they all are. While part of him knows that his father wants him sidelined for his own protection, Damian feels that his compatriots are the ones who need the protection. He is well trained. After conferring with his dog Titus, Damian decides that it shall be his duty to find Alfred.

He decides to start at the scene of the abduction - at the front door of Wayne Manor. Despite a complete lack of physical evidence pointing to the Joker, Titus manages to sniff out a patch of ground where there is hyena urine.

Garbed as Robin, he sneaks into the Gotham Zoo, disturbed to see the ravenous hyenas tearing at what appears to be a human body that he hopes is not Alfred's. Fortunately, his light shows that it is merely a guard. When he opens the cage, the animals attack him violently, one of them biting his hand. After getting to safety, he realizes too late that the animals somehow dosed him with something, and he falls through a skylight, and into the darkened bird sanctuary.

Opening his eyes, Damian realizes that he has fallen into the side of a massive egg, in a nest made of human bones. The Joker stands over him, gleefully mocking him with his face on upside-down. Grunting, Robin asks where Alfred is. Rather than answer, Joker hints that he has already bested Nightwing, and is eager to do the same to Damian.

Damian realizes that he was dosed with Joker Venom by the hyenas, and the madman admits that it was a milder version, so they could talk - if the young Robin is open to learning a few things about Batman. Before that, however, he intends to make the boy scream. Robin warns that if he isn't told where Pennyworth is, he will make Joker scream. This piques Joker's interest, as he begins to suspect that the old butler may have more than just a passing value to the bat-family. He proudly shows Robin the video he made of himself burning Alfred's eyes with ammonia. Seeing that, Robin responds that he will break his solemn vow for that - he will kill him.

Killing is not on Joker's agenda just yet. He has things to say. He claims that Robin and the other bat-children are like the moon that blocks out the Batman's sun during an eclipse, preventing him from shining on his Joker. He is sure that Robin knows this already, that he thinks all the others are leeches while he is the only one Batman needs. This, Joker claims, is not the case. How, after all, could having a ten-year-old boy nipping at his heels improve the Dark Knight's vigilante career?

Joker decides he has finished talking, and then buries Robin under a torrent of insects and worms - a robin's favourite meals. Returning, Joker notes that it always struck him as strange that a bat and a robin could work together when they work during opposite times of day - like the pairing was doomed from the start. Getting up close to Robin's face, Joker claims that the boy must have only one true fear - that he will be responsible for Batman's death. Naturally, Batman's fear is that he will be responsible for Robin's.

To wit, Joker places Robin in a battle to the death against a Venom infected Batman.


"Little Big Man"





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