“As of now I’m a vegetarian. And this is Bat-Cow.”
Batman and Robin find themselves dodging bullets in a Gotham slaughterhouse as a would-be assassin called Goatboy seeks the bounty Leviathan has placed on Damian’s head.
Make yourselves comfy, because this is going to be a long one.
Spoilers ahead; read at your own discretion!
We open in a graveyard on a rainy night. A defeated-looking Bruce tells Alfred to put out the word that Batman is over. A crowd of Gotham cops, including Gordon and Bullock, surround them, guns raised.
A month prior to the opening scene, Batman and Robin are hot on the trail of a gunman who wears a goat’s head mask. The gunman runs into a slaughterhouse, which is still full of workers and cows waiting to be butchered…and more men wearing goat masks. This new terrain proves somewhat helpful to the Dynamic Duo, as the hanging cow carcasses make good shields, but the floor is covered in blood, and the art tactfully suggests how slippery the surface is (more on the art below). It’s quite a brutal fight, with both Batman and Robin inflicting some serious injuries on their opponents.
On the other side of Gotham, Leviathan hosts a dinner party with Gotham’s lesser-known criminals. Everyone dines on slabs of what appears to be raw beef. It’s a merry crew for the most part, and we know this isn’t going to end well.
Back at the slaughterhouse, Damian tackles one of the masked men in a pool of blood. To Damian’s surprise, the man commands an unseen person to shoot, and as Damian lifts the man’s body to interrogate him, a bullet, fired from a nearby rooftop, tears into the man’s back, killing him. Batman dives to push Damian out of the way as another bullet rips through his cape.
Goatboy’s narration fills us in on the details of the mad scene as he flees. We learn that Goatboy is a down-on-his-luck, newly widowed father of a ten-year-old boy. In dire need of money to support his son, he answers Leviathan’s call for Robin’s assassination. He feels bad about the fact that Robin is obviously a young child, but he has to do what he can for his own kid.
With the remaining criminals rounded up in the slaughterhouse, Damian stops a worker from stunning another cow. Batman backs him up and points out that this cow, along with others, has been branded with the Demon Star and is contaminated. Damian christens his rescued bovine Bat-Cow.
Turns out that a member of Leviathan’s dinner party, one of the criminal Brothers Grimm, isn’t willing to relinquish his hold on the West Side to Leviathan, foolishly not realizing that Leviathan has given an order, not a request. His absent brother, he claims, would be able to explain it better. To the man’s horror, Leviathan reveals that the meat on Grimm’s plate was actually his missing brother. Ninja Man-Bats appear behind Leviathan, ready to do her bidding.
In the Batmobile, Robin feels that Batman is lecturing him too much about not killing criminals. Damian reminds him that by killing Otto Netz (see Leviathan Strikes! for details), he saved both Batman and the world. Perhaps chastened a little by Damian’s acidic words, Bruce compliments his son for fixing Waynetech’s finances. Then, true to form, he orders Damian to take his signature hood off as Damian gets back to work. Disabling a Lone Star truck marked with the Demon Star, Damian explains the link between the symbol and the al Ghul family. Their conversation is cut short when a pair of ninja man-bats drops Grimm, head-first, several hundred feet onto the pavement right in front of them. “Looks like your mother’s trying to get my attention again,” Batman says, and father and son exchange a rather helpless look.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco (talk about a scene change), a man walks into a BDSM supplies store, picks up his custom “perv suit”, and steps into a dressing room… which turns out to be an elevator. Arriving in a massive, cave-like room below, he reveals himself as the Hood and receives a warm welcome from the Dead Heroes Club. Turns out that several members of Batman, Inc. who’d appeared to die in the title’s first volume actually faked their deaths. With Leviathan no longer targeting them, they can continue work on Batman’s cause. Their boss, an armored figure called the Wingman, seems to run a tight ship, and I’m sure the reveal of his identity will be quite a big deal in the future.
Back in Gotham, Batman and Robin find another group of criminals with marked Lone Star trucks, unloading more of the contaminated beef. Shaken by his accidental killing of his partner but still determined, Goatboy has followed them. He takes aim at Robin, but is interrupted from firing by Batman.
Sometime later, a very bruised Goatboy stands before Leviathan, alongside another would-be assassin. Leviathan orders the Heretic to kill the other man, prompting Goatboy to claim that he has killed Robin. He presents his cell phone, on which is a picture of Batman screaming as he holds Damian’s corpse.