Immovable Object

HAS GOTHAM’S TRAITOR GIVEN UP ONCE AND FOR ALL?

WHERE IS THE CAPED CRUCIFIER OF COPS?

Impressive headlines, these. Ones I read to work every single day. Today, as Alfred drove me to Wayne Tower, I sat back and thought – what does Batman mean to this city anymore?

I hate to admit it, but Joker was right, “… they need you right now but when they don’t, they’ll cast you out like a leper.” Gotham was opportunist and selfish.

Alfred took a look at me from the rear-view mirror. “Thinking about that clown, are you?” I just smiled at him. “He actually could have been a good companion to you.”

“Yeah Alfred, and I probably wouldn’t have needed you.”

By the time Alfred could respond to my jibe, we reached Wayne Tower. Fox was waiting for me at the entrance.  “Good morning Mr. Wayne. Nice to see you back at work.”

“Lucius, as you are aware I do not have any other job at the moment, so I’d better hold on to this one.” I laughed at my own silliness.

“Mr. Wayne, have you read the morning papers?”

There was something amiss about the news? “I haven’t gleaned much from it. Why?”

“Joker has escaped.”

I know no one will believe this – but I was almost relieved. Lucius showed me the headline in the paper.

“Tell me what else you notice about this piece of news.”

I scanned it. Standard headline, BATMAN’S ARCH ENEMY ESCAPES. Broke out of Major Crimes Unit (again), took out 4 guards. The usual Joker MO. There was a paragraph suggesting that I helped him escape. I pointed that out to Fox, but he shook his head.

The last line.

The Joker was helped by a band of men in black cloaks and masks. They sprayed gas all over the MCU, which caused most guards to go insane and shoot each other. Forensics says that the gas is some kind of hallucinogen.

 

And then, the picture. Some graffiti on the wall that said, “Back from the dead.”

My worst nightmare. Could it be…?

“As you can see, Mr. Wayne, this news appears on Page 7.”

I was jolted out of my thoughts. “Huh…?”

Indeed, it was on Page 7. Just a quarter page. The Joker escapes, probably with the help of the most dangerous man on Earth. And the front pages want to talk about Batman. Not that I was complaining, but this was no time for Batman-bashing.

“Fox, what do the TV channels say?”

Lucius sadly shook his head. “Nothing at all. Their main news is Wayne Enterprises’ healthy bottomline even in the face of a global economic slowdown. They ‘assume’ that we’re doing something illegal. That’s why the taxmen are here to see you.”

Oh no. “Right now?”

“I’m afraid so, Mr. Wayne. I know you were looking forward to a quiet day at work, but…”

As I walked to the conference room, my mind was restless. Had the world’s most chaotic criminal joined forces with the world’s most dangerous assassin? What’s the deal with the fear toxin? Is Scarecrow part of the plan?

And now that Batman was no longer part of Gotham’s plans, how the hell were they going to be stopped?

I opened the conference room door. Six men were seated around the table. There was a man seated at the opposite end, whose back was turned to us.

“Gentlemen, Mr. Wayne.”

“All right, let’s get this done over with really quickly. Do you have a problem with our progress?”

The man at the end of the room finally turned to us. I thought I was dreaming.

“We don’t have a problem with your company’s progress, Bruce. We have a problem with yours.”

I told Fox to run from the room.

Now I know why that big story was shunted down to Page 7…

Criminals thrive on the indulgence of society's understanding
... is he back?
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