Snyder and Tynion get right to the point here, using Scarecrow's conversation with Mother in the past and Jason and Tim's raid on Gnosis, "the Secret City of St. Dumas," to reveal the next stage of Mother's plans.
It's been a while since we last saw Jason and Tim, so I had trouble remembering how they discovered the existence of Gnosis. But, given that they discovered everything relating to Mother during their raid on Santa Prisca, I'll buy the fact that they uncovered the Order of St. Dumas' secret headquarters. Tim bluffs his way into the city by pretending to have knocked out Jason as an offering to join the Order. Azrael is skeptical, but St. Dumas (the latest in a long line of them) sees Tim as his savior: he orders him and Azrael to fight to the death, punishment for Azrael's failure at Santa Prisca. If Azrael wins, he redeems himself and remains Azrael; if Tim wins, he takes over the role. Of course, it's all a fake. Jason escapes his confinement and makes his way through the complex, finally finding a guy to interrogate about something called "Ichthys."
In the past, Orphan encourages Mother to cut loose Scarecrow, since the Order is in the process of upgrading his fear gas into the Ichthys Formula. Mother ignores him, ordering Crane to Cairo and Orphan to prepare "the child." Elsewhere in Prague, Bruce receives Mother's instructions and takes Dick to Cairo, allegedly to chase Crane. In the present, Tim plays his hand: he engages an emp blast, disabling most of the Order's advanced technology. He tells Dumas that they're there to learn more about the Order's connections to Mother, particularly Project Ichthys. However, Tim is surprised to learn that Dumas is one step ahead of him. He reveals that he retains some control over technology, disabling Tim with an electric shock and announcing that he's going to kill him and Azrael. He also announces that Jason has already been exposed to the Ichthys Formula, and we see him starting to relive his death at the hands of the Joker.
This issue is mostly plot, but Lanzing and Kelly do a solid job of moving us through it in a way that feels mostly natural, even when Dumas begins his super-villain monologue. (We even get a great wise-ass remark from Jason. He confidently asserts his ability to break free from the pit where the Dumasian troops put him. When they put an iron seal on top of it, he quips, "Alright, that's trickier.") Moreover, the authors open the door to Azrael joining the good guys, as he hears Dumas dismiss him as a failure and pledge to kill him. But, it's the fact that all the other existing threads are coming together -- Jason and Tim's story in the present, and Bruce and Dick's story in the past -- that makes me anxious for next issue.
*** (three of five stars)