|Batman: Holy Terror|
|Publisher||Elseworlds (DC Comics)|
|No. of issues||1|
|Written by||Alan Brennert|
Batman: Holy Terror is an Elseworlds one-shot comic published by DC Comics in 1991. The story is written by Alan Brennert and illustrated by Norm Breyfogle. The graphic novel is significant in that it was the first to bear the Elseworlds logo.
The story is an alternate history whose point of divergence came in 1658. Oliver Cromwell recovered from his attack of septicaemia, and lived until 1668, consolidating the Protectorate of England and its sister theocracies in the Colonies. In the late 20th century, the analog of the United States of America is a "Commonwealth" run by a corrupt theocratic government. World-building is established in an expository scene at the beginning of the novel, wherein newscaster Victoria Vale relates geopolitical events peripheral to the plot. In 1991, the Commonwealth is waging a war of conquest across South America, under the command of General North (possibly Oliver North), and Brazilian President Jorge Amado has committed suicide as his country was being overrun. Back home, industrialist Oliver Queen has been hanged for publishing forbidden "pornographic" works by Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Twenty-two years after the death of his parents, Bruce Wayne is planning to join the clergy when he is visited by his friend James Gordon. Gordon was the inquisitor who investigated Thomas and Martha Wayne's murder at the hands of Joe Chill, and has come to tell Bruce the truth about what happened. Their deaths were not a random mugging, but a state-planned execution. Despite Thomas' position as physician to the Commonwealth Privy Council, both were anti-government radicals who ran a clinic for the many victims of the government's brutality and brainwashing. Those they treated were men and women who were subjects of experiments to alter their sexual orientation, women who tried to perform abortions on themselves, and prostitutes psychologically scarred by aversion therapy. Bruce consults his father's coworker Dr. Charles McNider, who confirms the truth about his parents, and that of many others killed by the state. McNider, a broken man who lost both his wife and his eyesight, tells Bruce about a government conspiracy called "the Green Man", but warns Bruce that nothing good has come of fighting the system.
Bruce starts a crusade to hunt down those who killed his parents. After his ordination as a priest, Bruce discovers a demon costume his father once wore in a morality play: a garb shaped like a bat. Hacking into government files, he hunts down one of the Privy Council members for information, and learns that the ones who arranged the death sentence were actually the Star Chamber, the highest court in the government.
Bruce finds the Star Chamber's location, as well as a government testing facility filled with human guinea pigs. He helps free a man with super-speed named Barry Allen, and learns that the others are men and women who were unsuccessfully put through the same gene splicing process that gave Barry his speed abilities. Among these is Arthur Curry, who has been rendered nearly catatonic. The two are attacked by a witch converted to the state, a woman who pronounces spells backwards. During the scuffle with this witch, a test subject is killed by collateral damage, and Barry is killed by the head scientist, Dr. Saul Erdel, who has developed a means of negating the protective aura that allowed Barry to run at superspeed without being destroyed by the friction. Erdel has another of his agents, a man named Matthew Hagen who has clay-like abilities, capture Bruce and bring him to see "Project Green Man". This was an extraterrestrial child found in a rocket ship by a couple in Kansas, who was raised by the state and studied. The older he became, the stronger and more difficult to control he became, until they had to kill him with an irradiated green rock that was found in the rocket ship. Bruce is filled with an overwhelming sense of sadness when he sees this dead alien, as if the world's greatest hope was destroyed. Enraged, Bruce breaks free and attacks Erdel. Bruce tricks Hagen into falling into a spray of liquid hydrogen, causing him to freeze solid, at which point Bruce smashes Hagen to bits with a hammer. Erdel tries to shoot at Bruce, but the bullets ricochet off the alien's corpse, killing Erdel.
Bruce enters the Star Chamber, and confronts its caretaker about his parents. But the man tells him that everyone ever sentenced to death by the Chamber were put to death by secret ballot, with no records kept of each individual vote, as a means of 'assuring' the members that the state is the source of their power. Bruce no longer finds a reason to kill the caretaker, because it was the system that was responsible for the deaths of his parents. He vows to bring it down once and for all, no matter how long it will take.
With a new cause, and motivated by God, Bruce continues to fight against the government as the Batman and serving the church, but wonders if everything might have been different if his parents had truly been the victims of a random mugging, all those years ago.
IGN said: "Though there are some interesting points about how the state attempts to mimic God's will, there's far too much exposition and far too little intrigue... While Holy Terror won't go down as the worst Batman Elseworlds tale, it certainly won't be making any "Best" lists. The cover makes for an awesome poster, but the interiors fail to excite the imagination".