Wednesday, August 29, 2007

290. The omniscient narrator

"Nice digs," mumbled one of the lieutenants as HateMonger's entourage toured Scarecrow's immense laboratory.

"Ought to be," sneered another. "You know who's paying for the joint."

HateMonger himself seemed mildly bored by the endless rooms of test tubes and expensive-looking equipment. "You've shown me all this before, Crane," he said. "Cut to the chase. Bring them out."

"I'm getting to that," Dr. Crane hissed, audibly upset by his employer's tone. "Here, take a seat in the grand ampitheater."

The uniformed group--eight men in all--were ushered to a row of seats an enormous lecture hall.

The lights went down. Crane stood at a podium on the edge of the stage, illuminated by a small reading light. He made a show of clearing his throat and sipping from a complicated-looking bottle of water. "Ladies and gentlemen," he started to say--then caught himself. There were no "ladies" here, and arguably no "gentlemen" either. His audience was the eight highest ranking members of the Honest Men. They looked breathtaking in their uniforms, and Crane had fantasized about at least five of them during the long lonely nights he'd spent engrossed in his work lately.

"It is my honor to present to you the fruits of my labor: four former adversaries of ours, four men who once posed a serious threat to this organiztion, now effectively neutralized once and for all. Behold--"

As he said their names, individual spotlights switched on, bathing each captive in harsh white light as they stood, hooded and bound, on four separate pedestals.

"Green Arrow."

"The Magus."


"And, last and quite possibly now the least.... The Batman!"

Monday, August 20, 2007

289. Jonathan Crane

History will ask, as it has every right to do, how I pulled it off. The truth is, in retrospect, it was all quite simple. Most things are when you have an actual army at your disposal.

HateMonger will surely tell the world that he sought me out. He does love to take credit for things, doesn't he? But I remember something rather different: in my search for funding for my research, it was I who first approached him almost a year ago. Like so many others, he would have nothing to do with me--at first. But in time (aided by a rather effective demonstration of one of my lesser formulae) he came around, and within a month he and his organization had become the benefactors I so desperately needed.

It did not hurt that we shared a common enemy.

I wanted the vigilante who had killed my mentor. HM wanted a certain pest controlled. We both got what we wanted.

As I have said, the actual procedure was easy--much more so than anyone could have predicted. I would like to assume full responsibility for the facility with which four formidable opponents fell prey to my talents, but I must confess that I saw weaknesses in their group early on--weaknesses I of course exploited fully.

I created situations which further isolated the men from each other. Once one of them had fallen to me, I used him as bait to lure the next, and so on. I had studied each man from afar for weeks before I confronted any of them directly, so I knew exactly where his vulnerabilities--his fears--lay. Dr. Tanhoger's notes, rescued from the fire, were a tremendous help for the main two; the others were easy enough to unpeel.

And unpeel them I have. No scientist could ever have hoped for a more ideal situation: four subjects upon which to experiment for months at a time. Human-sized lab rats to be broken and rebuilt according to my whim (and, of course, HateMonger's rather more exacting instructions). They resisted at first, which was tiresome, but in time they each caved in, more or less simultaneously. Once again, with two of them, I had the benefit of Dr. Tanhoger's earlier meticulous research; I knew the precise triggers that would provoke a relapse to their earlier state of surrender. Here again, I used my success with those two to prove to the remaining pair that it was pointless to resist the inevitable.

I must wrap up these notes and make a few final preparations for HM's next visit. While he has toured my facilities on several occasions since the initial captures, only now am I ready to unveil the results of my months of work on the four.

I am quite certain that my benefactor will be pleasantly surprised by what is beginning to take shape.

Thursday, August 16, 2007



By Thomas Drury

Welcome to the inaugural edition of The Gotham Gazette in Exile. It may be humble--existing only in blog and photocopied form for now--but at the moment this is the only lasting legacy of one of the country's oldest and most respected newspapers. In the spirit of the New Resistance, we pledge to preserve that legacy and uphold freedom of the press with every power we can marshal.

As local readers are no doubt aware, the offices of the Gazette are no more, the victim of a bombing two months ago that not only destroyed the building but killed the publisher, editor-in-chief, and much of the staff. There has never been any question that this attack--quickly followed by similar bombings of all three local television stations and Police Headquarters--was the work of the so-called "Honest Men," the neo-Nazi organization that has effectively seized control of the city. The man known only as HateMonger now effectively rules Gotham, his every command enforced by a paramilitary organization of unknown size and scope, assisted by the latest costumed criminal to emerge in a town overrun by them: the Scarecrow, wielding the arsenal of psychoactive substances that have brought so many of the area's citizens to their knees.

The only questions that remain, in fact, are how all of this could have happened--a major American city under the iron grip of a self-styled citizens' militia--and why no one has come to our aid.

The silence of the federal government and national media has been alarming and disheartening, to say the least. While it is likely that no one who has directly witnessed the devastation of Gotham can understand just how dire the situation is, there is simply no way that outsiders could be unaware that something serious is going on here. Yet we have heard nothing from the President, the National Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, the 24-hour news networks, or anyone else.

On the local front, it has been more than eight months since the last reported sightings of the "Bat-Man" and the allies who at that point appeared to be working with him. We can only assume the worst: either they have been slain or--unthinkable though the prospect may be--they have simply given up the fight and abandoned Gotham at its greatest hour of need.

The Gazette in Exile vows to provide any and all news we can to the citizens of Gotham City for as long as we have access to equipment. The stakes are simply too high to do otherwise. We can no longer look to saviors from inside or outside the city limits to bail us out. It is up to each and every one of us, working alone and in coalition, to save ourselves.

To be blunt, we have no other options left.