DC's Infinite Frontier #0 drops this week, and along with reviving dead characters and announcing new series, the status quo-setting one-shot shakes up Gotham City with the apparent death of a big name villain, and the return of another.
Spoilers ahead for Infinite Frontier #0
In a scene set in Arkham Asylum, we follow a guard named Mahoney as he performs a "routine check" on Bane, who is incarcerated in the draconian facility. But things are anything but "routine," as Mahoney discovers Bane chained up to the wall (apparently as expected?), and the room itself full of poison gas and dead guards.
As Mahoney investigates, he discovers that Bane is not the perpetrator of the attack on the guards, but one of the victims. He pulls off Bane's mask to discover that not only is Bane apparently dead, but he's also been 'Jokerized' by the poison, which seems to be a version of Joker gas.
Mahoney initiates a lockdown as Arkham goes into panic mode, and word about Bane's death and an apparent new Joker attack sweeps across the city.
Barbara Gordon, once again in her Oracle role, directs her team of Batgirls and 'don't call them the Birds of Prey' heroines in response, while Grifter goes to protect Lucius Fox and his family in case Joker targets them.
Renee Montoya and the GCPD debate whether the attack has actually come from the Joker, given it's so soon after the recently concluded events of 'The Joker War' – but Montoya points out that the timeline may itself be part of Joker's plan.
Racing to Arkham, Batman works with Mahoney, apparently the last living person in Arkham, through purging the gas from the asylum with its specially designed defenses. But Arkham isn't actually empty – there are two nurses stuck inside who will perish in the flames that are about to sweep the building and wipe out the gas.
Batman arrives just in the nick of time to watch Mahoney escape and save the nurses, though he may himself be mortally wounded.
Through the climactic scene, an unseen narrator talks about how Gotham is about to change, and how those who think of themselves as heroes are no longer in control.
But rather than the Joker, the narrator is revealed as none other than Jonathan Crane, the Scarecrow, wearing a creepy new costume and speaking to fellow villain Simon Saint about his vague plans to terrify Gotham.
That's where the Gotham narrative is left – with Bane dead, and Batman and his allies debating whether the Joker is to blame, though it may actually be the first volley in an attack by the Scarecrow.
Bane is (or was?) one of the best Batman villains of all time.