Dark Knight: McGinnis: The Dark Knights riseWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When last we left our Dynamic Duo, Batman and Robin were faced with their most perilous peril yet! The fiendish Egghead had locked them in a room with a most confounding contraption — an Alternate Universe Bomb! This horrific horror threatens to destroy not only our Heroic Twosome, but the very fabric of the universe itself! Will our Precarious Pair of crime-fighters be able to stop this Fiendish Fiasco? Tune in tomorrow! Same Bat-Time! Same Bat-Ch … oh, wait! My bad! The adventure actually continues now!
“Holy exposition, Batman!” Robin said. “You have to deactivate that Alternate Universe Bomb or the world — maybe even all of existence — might be obliterated!”
“Yes indeed, old chum,” Batman said as he removed the cover from the egg-shaped explosive. “Which is why it’s very important that I not have any distractions right now. Like, say, a young ward yelling about how everything has some kind of religious significance.”
“Holy hidden meanings, Batman! I’m not quite following you, but I’m sure you’re right!” Robin said. “Can you see the wires?”
“Yes, there are many wires, Robin. Luckily I brought my trusty Bat-wirecutters for this very occasion. A quick snip here,” he said as he began to cut. “A quick snip there, tie these two together, lift this panel and … yes!”
“You’ve done it, Batman!” Robin exclaimed.
“Indeed I have, chum! Thanks to that clever maneuver, I now know that there are three seconds left before this bomb goes off,” Batman said.
“Three seconds! Holy limited time frame, Batman! How will you be able to diffuse —”
The pair lay stunned under a small pile of debris. Slowly, Batman stirred. “Robin? Robin, are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” Robin finally said. “Lucky that this pile of cardboard boxes broke our fall!”
“Indeed!” Batman said. “When will the villains of Gotham City learn to stop building their hideouts in abandoned warehouses?”
“Oh, it’ll be a while yet,” a new figure said.
The Dynamic Duo’s heads turned with a start toward the new arrival. “Holy surprise entrances, Batman!” Robin exclaimed as he struggled to his feet. He looked in the direction of the voice. “Who are you?”
A figure slunk in from the shadows. He wore black head-to-toe, the ears on his cowl coming to an abrupt point. His cape flowed easily behind him. He stared at the Dynamic Duo as though they were from another planet.
“It’s not who I am underneath,” he explained. “But what I do that defines me.”
“That’s a bit … cryptic, stranger,” Batman said. “I am Batman, and this is my sidekick Robin, the Boy Wonder. What is your name?”
“… I’m Batman.”
“Holy dual identity, Batman! He says he’s you!”
“Yes, old chum, I heard that.”
“Does he always repeat the obvious?” the new Batman asked.
“You have no idea,” the first Batman replied. “I think we’re seeing the aftereffects of Egghead’s fiendish Alternate Universe Bomb! Don’t you see, Robin, this stranger is me … albeit a bit younger and wearing a cop-out rubber suit with fake muscles built in!”
“Cop-out?” Batman Bale asked. “Listen, grandpa, if I took off this costume I’d still be twice the man you are. You ever plan to hit the Bat-Bowflex one of these days?”
“Hey, leave the guy alone,” a voice said from the darkness. “We can’t all afford personal trainers, Mr. Oscar-Winner.”
Robin wheeled toward the new arrival. “Who are you?!”
The figure lunged toward Robin. He, too, was clad in a rubber Bat-costume, but one that was more muscular in tone. He grasped Robin by the shoulders and lifted him to his face.
“I’m Batman,” he said.
“No, he’s not,” said Batman Bale.
“Hey!” shouted Batman Keaton. “You’re one to talk, ‘Terminator 4.’ Run out of interns to yell at this week?”
“That’s enough!” shouted a new entrant. Soaring in from the rafters, the new arrival looked superficially similar to his ’60s counterpart, but considerably more … two-dimensional.
“Who are you?!?” Robin yelled, still in Batman Keaton’s grasp.
“Robin, please stop asking that,” ’60s Batman said. “It’s plain to see …”
“He’s a cartoon!” Batman Keaton said in surprise. Stunned, he released his grip, and Robin landed with a thud. “Where are those cardboard boxes when I need them?” Robin groggily thought.
“Cartoon? Cartoon?!? I am animated, I’ll have you know. And considering how shallow all your depictions of me have been, my history is considerably deeper than any of yours,” Animated Batman said with a sneer.
“So, you’re saying your show was the first to give Batman any depth? Yeah, right,” a grizzled voice said sarcastically. “Give me a break.”
A new Batman emerged, this one considerably older and more weathered than the others. “Who are …?” Robin began to ask as he rose to his feet.
The latest arrival backhanded Robin across the face, sending him sprawling again to the ground. “I’m the goddamn Batman,” the Frank Miller creation growled.
“Hey hey hey,” ’60s Batman protested. “There’s no need for that kind of language; this is a family newspaper.”
“Look at you all,” Batman Miller said, disgusted. “Mass market pansies. No one would have taken a gritty Batman seriously if I hadn’t come first.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Batman Bale said. “The millions and millions of viewers we got would never have happened if it hadn’t been for the, oh, hundreds or so you roped in, right?”
“Hey! Wait a second!” Robin said, climbing to his feet once more. “Why are there only Batmen showing up, here? Where are the Alternate Universe … Me’s?”
“I never had a Robin,” Batman Keaton said.
“Me neither,” Batman Bale added.
“Part-time,” Batman Animated said.
“She couldn’t make it,” Batman Miller said.
Robin looked down, dejected.
“Hey, don’t be so glum, chum” ’60s Batman assured him. “Could be worse, at least none of them are dead or anything.”
The other Batmen exchanged uneasy glances, then silently agreed not to say any more.
“Well, anyway,” Batman Bale said. “I think I’ve hung out with the golden oldies long enough. I have a movie to release, a Bane to beat, millions of dollars to make, you know how it is…”
“Hey! I haven’t liked your tone one bit since you arrived, young whippersnapper,” Batman 60’s said, clenching his gloved fists. “Now you better quiet down that mouth or I may have to BIFF! and POW! you into oblivion!”
“Biff? Pow?” Batman Miller said, with disgust. “Is that what you think comic book punches sound like? How idiotic.”
“Now who’s disrespecting their elders, you ‘gritty’ gasbag?” Batman Animated said.
“Who are you calling an elder, paint slick?” ’60s Batman retorted. The assembled Batmen began to argue incessantly, with Robin acting as a default, ineffectual referee.
Suddenly, the chatter stopped. Something had changed in the room. Every Dark Knight knew it. They turned to see a new figure in the doorway. He was unmistakably a Batman, but there was something…different.
Silence enveloped them for several long seconds. Finally, ’60s Batman spoke. “You can say it now, Robin.”
“Who are you?” Robin asked the new arrival.
“I am the prime.”
“You’re a Transformer?” Robin asked. ’60s Batman shot him a glare.
“No,” the new arrival said. “I am the prime. The alpha. I am the first Batman.”
A stunned silence continued to persist among the group as he entered and walked among them. “All of you evolved from me,” Batman Prime continued. “And I must say, none of you are anything like what Bob Kane envisioned when he created me.”
He paused. The group considered his statement. Then, Prime added, “I think that just shows how remarkable we all are.”
He glanced around the room. “Look at every one of us. A figure of his era, and yet timeless. You each changed into what society needed you to be.”
“We were the heroes our eras deserved,” Batman Bale said. “But not the ones …”
“Let’s not overdo the quotes, here,” Batman Prime interrupted. “You’re all so different. And yet, at your core, you were still me.
“It didn’t matter if you were campy or serious, live action or animated, on a big screen, small screen or printed page. Each of you — and many more Batmen that may not have made it here due to space constraints — were exactly what was needed in your time.”
He glanced at ’60s Batman. “Although the Bat-Shark-Repellent was a bit much.”
“What the hell is a Bat-shark?” Batman Keaton asked.
Prime looked at each of their faces in turn. “For someone, somewhere, you were all Batman. You were their Batman. You played a part in their childhood, their life, their world. And while time marches on, a part of you will always remain with them — and they with you. And that, my friends, is the greatest superpower of them all.
“So leave behind your differences. For at our core, each of us was, is, and forever will be a hero for someone. Because we are … vengeance.”
Animated Batman smiled, slightly. “We are the night.”
“We … are … ” the group said in unison.
A loud clatter was heard, interrupting the reverie. In rushed a man wearing a strangely designed blue outfit.
“Sorry I’m late,” Batman Clooney said. “Did I miss anything?”
A pause. “No,” Batman Prime said.
This column was inspired by a suggestion by fellow TFP columnist Jim Beard. Thanks, Jim!