CREDITS: Written by Kelley Puckett; art by Mike Parobeck and Rick Burchett.
REVIEW: Wow, shockingly violent cover. Under it is a superb story often told without dialog - one of the series' strengths - that manages to surprise often, and deliver a lot of heart as well. The second Batman is Olympic medalist Tom Dalton, who puts on the cowl after his wife is killed in a gangland drive-by. The memory is revisited with a muted, pinkish color palette that's just gorgeous, and Dalton does survive the wound seen above.
What Batman does is the real surprise (or perhaps it isn't). He feels for this man. Obviously, there is a shared experience there. But he only feigns wanting to train Dalton to become a crime fighter like him. What he's really doing, and it's clear enough to the reader, it needs not be spelled out overtly, is making Dalton nostalgic for being an athlete again. One who cares about breaking records, for example. Dalton is well on his way to finding his groove back and not taking up the obsessive and self-destructive life Bruce Wayne chose for himself. Batman is saving him from that life, at the same time heading to South America to bring Mrs. Dalton's killer to justice.
Except - another surprise - the killer has returned to Gotham and when Dalton sees him, he's captured. The setting for the climax is a triumph. A half-demolished building the creative team use to the hilt, for atmosphere, and for interesting fight gags. It almost ends in tears when Dalton aims to let himself fall to his death, bringing the killer with him. Batman offers him his hand (thankfully, he's missed his plane), and on the next page, that hand is accepted over his wife's grave. Cool transition, bringing us to the coda, and back to Batman's mission, and the fact it keeps his rage at bay. Dalton's next move isn't told, but one hopes he'll take a page from Batman and focus his life on something positive.
REREADABILITY: High - A real beauty of a story, full of surprises, not the least of which is Batman leading with his empathy.