We first learned about the nano-virus in issue #5. That means that this story has been building for 38 issues. 38. As a result, I think that it's reasonable that I was a little stunned when the reason for the virus wound up being so...uncomplicated. Apparently, it all was driven by the mastermind wanting the Mad Hatter to get everyone in Gotham to hate Batman. Really? It wasn't more nefarious than that? He wanted to gain total control over the population -- essentially an army -- simply to get people to dislike Batman? Plus, Jervis spontaneously decided to make everyone love him? Why would he do that? Doesn't he only care if Alice (whoever she is at the moment) loves him? Also, isn't he a good enough engineer to do both: have them hate Batman and love him? Plus, whatever happened to the guy that invented the nano-virus? Didn't Tim bring him from Japan to Gotham? (I could be mistaken on that front, but I'm not sure that I enough to look through 38 back issues to research it.) Also, why was it just children and teenagers? Why did the mastermind and/or Jervis only want them to hate Batman and/or love Jervis? Why not adults? Of all the ridiculous sub-plots that we've seen throughout this series, this one is that one that feels the most like the authors had no plan from the start of what it was going to turn out being. It just feels like they kept kicking the can down the road and now, with only 10 issues left, they had to resolve it in some way.
Similarly, it turns out Spoiler's mom was the one to hire Deadshot to kidnap her last issue, not Catwoman. This revelation could've actually been an interesting twist; Higgins certainly winks at us that Stephanie's mom is just as nefarious as her father and pulling a fast one on her. After all, if she really meant it when she said that they were going to flee Gotham together, why let Stephanie get a good night's sleep? Why not just get the FUCK OUT OF GOTHAM? It definitely seemed to confirm that her mom had an ulterior motive. But, we never learn that motive, since Catwoman appears her to...kidnap Stephanie. The whole interlude with her mom becomes completely pointless, with us winding up where we all likely thought we were at the end of last issue. It's just another potential development dropped with little explanation.
Finally, I know that Harper's "DON'T MANSPLAIN ME!" speech to Tim was supposed to be all "FEMINISM, ROAR!" but it fell completely flat, collapsing under the weight of bad narration. Let's just focus on her being a strong woman and not telling everyone that she is. It's perfectly reasonable for Tim, who lost everything due to becoming a superhero, wanted to protect her from that as long as possible. Also, we're also starting to push the boundaries of disbelief on how good she is. Sure, she has some difficulties with the physical aspects of superheroing here that the authors intend to show what a newbie she is. But, if she's going to be an interesting character, she has to have some struggles related to her real talent, namely her intellect and hacking skills. Every plan she has can't work perfectly. That said, she doesn't have to become a complete fucking idiot like Batman and now, apparently, Red Robin. (He absolutely should've anticipated the possibility of getting infected by the nano-virus if he's the character that we've always known him to be.) Both Bluebird and Red Robin need to be facing challenges that test their wits, but make it clear that they still have them; they shouldn't be reduced to the bumbling idiot like Tim is here.
Man, this series just has to end.
* (one of five stars)