On the anniversary of the death of Bruce's parents, Batman sadly sits in the Batcave. Alfred asks if he's okay, and Batman claims that he's tired. Alfred points out that Batman hasn't eaten or slept for a while but Batman says the problem isn't his body, but his spirit. He checks the newspaper and discovers that Penguin's conviction was overturned due to a technicality. Seeing this only makes Batman wonder if he's really doing any good. Alfred assures him that he is, but Batman claims that in spite of what he's done, the war against crime continues. Alfred gives Batman a package and sadly watches as his boss leaves.
Meanwhile, a young boy asks a couple people for some bus fare which he receives. Taking the money, he happily walks away claiming, "It works every time." As he walks along he sees a child wearing a Batman costume and scoffs at it. To this boy, Batman is a joke.
Out in Crime Alley, Leslie Thompkins accompanies Batman to place roses on the spot where his parents were gunned down. Batman tells her that he keeps wondering if it should be the last time. Leslie tries to assure him he's doing the right thing but Batman still argues against it. Meanwhile, the boy, Wizard, is assaulted by a couple thugs that demand payment for allowing him to work the corner. Wizard claims that he doesn't have the money so the thugs prepare to kill him. Batman stops them with ease but Wizard is ungrateful and one of the thugs falls on the roses left in memory of Bruce's parents. Angered, Batman takes Jimmy and hands her over to Leslie to take him into the Mitchell Street Mission. Unfortunately, the fight makes Batman late for a police raid that turned out to be a setup and in the battle that takes place Gordon is severely wounded by mob-boss/gunman Jimmy "The Jazzman" Peake. Although Batman apprehends him, the damage has been done: Gordon's life hangs by a thread.
Gordon is taken to the hospital and Batman visits him feeling guilty over his failure to make it to the crime scene first. Barbara Gordon doesn't blame Batman for her father's condition, but Harvey Bullock does. Sadly, Batman decides that Bullock's words are the ones he should listen to.
Returning to the Batcave, Batman destroys his forensics equipment and screams in despair.
While Batman is wallowing in his self-pity, Jazzman is sentenced to Stonegate Penitentiary till his case can go to trial. Jazzman is not at all happy about this and knows that there's more than enough evidence against him to convict. A flunky of his tells him that there's a way out of prison and Gotham but Jazzman doesn't want out of Gotham until he takes his revenge on Commissioner Gordon: the man who caught him once before.
Worried about Bruce, who has been moping around for three days, Alfred calls Dick Grayson to try and comfort him. Dick tries to talk to Batman, but his despair is too great. Batman wonders about whom else he'll fail and when he'll die. As far as Batman's concerned, if he dies, there is no regret, but if someone else dies as a result of his failure to protect them, it's unforgivable. What's worse is that he's become little more than a marketing item for the tourist trade. Caught up in his despair, Batman decides that it may be time to quit.
Things take a turn for the worse when the Jazzman escapes from Stonegate through the sewers and heads for the hospital to finish Gordon. Learning that Jazzman has escaped, Dick goes to see Barbara and her father. Barbara is worried but Dick insists that only Batman can save Gordon. However, when he tells Bruce about it, Bruce refuses to even respond. Dick, fed up of his pleas falling on deaf ears, suits up as Robin to hunt the Jazzman down, but Batman comes to his senses at the last minute after realizing just how much danger his friend is in, and stops Robin, preferring to go after the Jazzman himself. The Jazzman arrives at the hospital (with a gun), and knocks a window cleaner out to steal his platform. He raises it until he is level with the window of Gordon's room, and prepares to finish the sleeping commissioner off with another gunshot. Fortunately, Batman arrives just in time and a violent fight ensues. Batman throws the Jazzman through the window and into the hospital room, where he pushes Barbara and the security guard aside and raises his gun once more. Barbara shields her father with her own body, but Batman throws a batarang directly into the gun just as the Jazzman fires, causing the bullet to backfire and destroy the gun, injuring the Jazzman's hand. Just before Batman and the Jazzman can resume their fight, Bullock bursts in with more guards, and the Jazzman is re-captured just as Gordon wakes up, much to Batman, Barbara and Bullock's relief.
Gordon tells Batman that they have to keep fighting and cannot give up. He tells Batman that he wanted to be like him, a hero. Batman tells him that he is a hero and leaves with a renewed spirit.
On his way home, Batman bumps into Wizard again, only to learn that the crook has reformed and is now heading back home, mostly because of what Batman did for him, and thanks the Dark Knight warmly.