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Howard Branden was a corrupt and psychotic SWAT officer in Gotham City during Batman's first year on the job. He was a rival of the more noble and honest James Gordon and the two opposed every decision the other made. He was also the quaternary antagonist of Batman: Arkham Origins.
Branden first appears in Batman Year One about to storm a house where a dangerously unstable man with child hostages has taken refuge. Knowing that Branden's reckless actions will get the hostages killed, Gordon stops him before he can enter with his men and manages to save the children and incapacitate the lunatic. His pride clearly wounded, Branden complains to the equally corrupt Commissioner Loeb that Gordon "made a fool of him".
Branden is later ordered by Loeb to kill Batman, and with his men tracks him down to a dangerously dilapidated building. Attacking with complete disregard for the safety of innocent civilians, Branden and his men corner Batman but are nevertheless outwitted and defeated by Batman, with Branden being hospitalized for his injuries, including internal bleeding.
Branden's last appearance in the story is his aiding Loeb and the Falcone family in their attempt to kill James Gordon and his family, only to again be foiled by Batman. Though Branden's fate in the comics is unknown, in the animated movie adaptation he is shown to have been imprisoned, with Gordon referring to him as Loeb's "sacrificial lamb".
Batman: Arkham Origins
Branden reappears in the video game Batman Arkham Origins, still a corrupt SWAT officer and under the command of corrupt Commissioner Loeb but is also now seeking the bounty placed on Batman's head by Black Mask. Despite his best efforts though, he and his men are unsuccessful in their attempts to kill Batman. It's unknown what happened to Branden after the events of Arkham Origins. It's likely that after James Gordon became Commissioner, he fired Branden and all the corrupted cops in the GCPD.
- "What's going on down there?"
- "Sound off! The Bat just took one of you down."
- "Officer down! Stay on you're toe."
- "You kidding me?"
- "Officer down! Officer down!"
- "How long can you keep this up, Batman? You're outnumbered and out gunned. It's over."
- "You're through, Deathstroke . You hear me? Through."
- "You're through, assassin."
- "You should've turned yourself in when you had the chance. Alright boys! Get the trash outta here."
- "Hm, not much to look at up close. Don't know why everyone was so afraid of him..."
- "Looks like justice has finally been served, fellas. Now, to see what's under that mask..."
- "They call this one Deathstroke, correction, huh they called this one Deathstroke."
- "You're life ain't worth the dirt you lie on. Get this sorry excuse for an assassin outta here."