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A History of Renee Montoya – Part IV: Losing Face

Art by Diego Olmos

Renee Montoya’s story picks up again in May 2006, in the year-long weekly comic 52. Written by a staff that included Gotham Central co-scribe Greg Rucka, the series detailed the exploits and adventures of DCU characters in a year without Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.

Montoya’s story begins in a bar, where she’s unemployed and trying to drink away her miseries. She’s lost Cris, she lost Daria, and she’s doing her best to lose herself. But the Question has other ideas. First, he disrupts her drinking by shining a modified Bat-signal through her window, then interrupts a one night stand, leaving behind a mysterious note with an address — 520 Kane St.

Montoya puts down the bottle, and takes up the note, meeting the Question at the address provided. After a brief tussle, he hires her to keep watch on the building for which he’s provided the address, then disappears mysteriously. When next we see her, in 52 #4, she’s been keeping an eye on the building for two weeks, with nothing to show for it, aside from a wino urinating on the door. The Question appears suddenly in her back seat, admonishes her for smoking, then reassures her that something will be happening with the building.

He’s right. The next night, she follows in a large character in an overcoat, and finds herself being followed by the Question. She deftly trips a trap door and she and the Question find themselves falling in on a large lizard-alien loading boxes. While the Question grapples with the creature in vain, Montoya pulls an advanced looking gun from a crate and blows off the lizard-alien’s head.

Maggie Sawyer drops by Montoya’s apartment with a warning: though she believes Montoya’s allegations about what happened at the building, all she has to go on for evidence is Montoya’s broken arm. Sawyer warns Montoya that she’s on to something big, and something dangerous, and that she’s no longer a cop, so she’d better be careful.

Montoya spends some time trying to figure out why she was watching the building, or who the alien was, or why she has an advanced tech. gun, but the lead she finds has to do with the address. Turns out the street shares a name with an old acquaintance, the wealthy and still-closeted Katherine Kane, who shares a past romantic history with Montoya. After taking a punch in the face, Montoya asks Kate for her help in figuring out what’s going on at 520 Kane.

Montoya is surprised when she’s approached in a lesbian bar by a man, and even more surprised when she recognizes his voice and enigmatic questioning. He introduces himself as Vic, but says his friends call him Charlie.  She follows him outside, and asks who he is. He triggers the gas that affixes his mask to his face. She asks how it works, and he says, “See? Questions, that’s good. That’s why I like you.” He tells her that what they found was only the groundwork for an invasion of Gotham.

Montoya and Charlie meet Kate Kane in the park, and as Charlie tries to convince her not to smoke, Montoya tries to convince herself that she’s over Kate. Kate supplies them with information on who leased the building during the time of their alien encounter, and Charlie connects the company to Intergang. He also insinuates that Montoya shouldn’t feel so sorry for herself: “Allen was your partner, and he was your friend, and it had to be answered. You owed him that much. So you hunted down Corrigan and you wanted to kill him. And you didn’t do it. And that’s why you hate yourself, Renee Montoya…because you did the right thing.”

The two track down the leaders of the Intergang in Gotham, Whisper A’Daire and Jack Abbot, but are caught trying to break in for information. Things look dire until a Batarang comes zipping through the window, but Montoya is surprised to find that it’s a Batwoman that’s helping them. The next week, Montoya goes to talk to Maggie Sawyer, who chastises her for acting without the authority, and blowing any potential leads they might have had. Montoya heads for home, where she finds Charlie meditating. He comes up with an answer: They have to go to Kahndaq.

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