March 6th, 2009
And so ends part one of our batbook. I hope you like it. I can’t tell you how fun it is writing this stuff, and in my not so humble opinion, it’s a million times better than most superhero comics out there. But then, like all fan-fic people, I’m writing it because it’s what I want to see. This one over-runs by a few pages, but hopefully the book’ll be so popular by the time we get to the fourth installment DC editorial won’t mind! I know I should’ve reigned this monster in, but I want you to be able to read the uncut version. And I wasn’t ripping off Grant – I wrote it before…. YOU KNOW ALL THIS……
There’s lots of fighting this time. Some secrets are revealed. Others will have to wait. There is an overall arc to this stuff.
the whole page is bordered with blue snakes eating red snakes, in a chain.
Dr. Fate is mumbling into the air, arms outstretched and floating like in the previous ish. His eye-slits glow red. A blue snake floats by him, seemingly whispering in his ear. He’s surrounded by nothing but whiteness.
DR. FATE: (telepathic) RNGRNGRNGRNGRNGRNGRNGRNGRNG
CAP (script like the book in the previous issue) BATMAN’S GREY CASEBOOK, VOL 3, OCTOBER 12TH 2015. IT WAS THE ALTERNATE DR. FATE OF REALITY B WHO FIRST TRACED THE SOURCE OF THE BLAST.
CAP: IT’S HARD TO DISAPPEAR AN ENTIRE UNIVERSE WITHOUT ONE OF THESE MAGICAL TYPES NOTICING.
The white in the last panel bleeds into the rest of the page. There are no more panel borders. Batshapes, like mini bat signals, close in from the margins. Slowly.
CAP: OF COURSE FATHER ALWAYS HATED THE OCCULT.
CAP: BUT MANY OF ITS PRINCIPLES ARE VERY SIMPLE.
SFX: (in red, below *action*) DRING!DRING!DRING!DRING!DRING!
The bats close in around each other, like a glass shattering in reverse.
CAP: THE STEPS FATE TOOK WOULD BE OBVIOUS EVEN TO A CHILD.
SFX: (repeated as before) DRING!DRING!DRING!DRING!DRING!DRING!
The bats are forming a picture. Is that a hand? A red phone?
CAP: IF GOTHAM’S IN TROUBLE….
It is, and a bald man’s placing the receiver to his ear.
PHONE: (electronic. large.) I’ll clap my hands and you’ll come out of the trance….
(2): 3… 2…..
Full page. Damian, naked, seated, facing us, in the circular, black domed cockpit of some kind of vehicle. It’s filled with spooky glowing buttons shaped like sephirotic symbols. The controls appear to be made out of flesh, wood, metal and bone. This is a vehicle used to navigate the occult spheres. Something Damian prepared earlier. He stares intently out at us, speaking into the batphone perched on the centre of the dash.
CAP: CALL THE BATMAN.
DAMIAN: YES, COMMISSIONER. DON’T WORRY.
(2): I’M ON MY WAY.
He puts on his batmask.
CAP: OBVIOUSLY AFTER ALL I’D BEEN THROUGH, I WAS A LITTLE CONFUSED TO BEGIN WITH.
CAP: BUT I HAD TO GET MYSELF TOGETHER.
He grabs the control stick, holding his finger over a button. It’s the symbol for Malkuth.
CAP: THE MAGICK I WAS ATTEMPTING WAS FAR MORE COMPLICATED.
CAP: LUCKILY FOR ME I’D SPENT YEARS MEDITATING ON THE BAT-YANTRA.
He hits the button.
CAP: SO WHEN FATE IGNITED THE SIGNAL IN THE DARKNESS….
We pull right out. Damian is commandeering a bat-ufo shaped like the bat signal. His black cockpit is in its centre. Darkness all around.
It starts to spin rapidly.
It zooms down a tunnel of comic panels depicting the hell he’s been in, all taken from the previous issues.
CAP: I USED IT TO REINTEGRATE MYSELF AND PLOT MY COURSE HOME.
ROBIN: (tail-less speech bubble) OKAY, STORY TIME’S OVER. IT STARTS TO GET SERIOUS NOW.
Robin closing the book on OUR page.
She stands above the crowd of Elves, Sprites and Beasties looking grave. Autumn has come to Toytown. Suddenly the sky is the colour of polished stone, leaves on the trees have turned golden brown and are floating off with the breeze and the flowers are withering.
ROBIN: LET ME SHOW YOU WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.
A note on the layout of this page. Robin’s audience sit in the foreground, backs to us, watching the show. Robin herself is in the middle foreground turning to her audience, but about to charge into the action at the left hand side of the page. Damian, in the Bat-form we saw in the first issue, is swooping INTO the fourth frame. The panels themselves are like a film Batman and Robin are plunging into.
For clarity – not because its really important but it is an incidental detail – this panel depicts the entrance to Gotham town hall. I suppose what we should see of it (I imagine these being thin panels) should look suitably wood-panelled, marbled and grand. But the main focus of the frame is a guy who looks just like the modern (read: WHITE) take on Jesus. He’s got the long blonde hair, the beard, the robes and that faraway look in his eyes that saints have, but his eyes are blood red and he’s performing a kata, preparing for combat.
ROBIN: THE SENSEI SENT FOUR MEN OF DEATH TO GUARD HIS BOMBS. LIKE END OF LEVEL BOSSES.
This panel describes the steps leading up to the GCPD. In the centre of a frame is a ninja with about twenty arms – all of them holding a weapon: a chainsaw, an axe, a grenade launcher, a bow and arrow, swords, morning-stars. He’s a one man army and he’s taking out police left, right and centre.
A small red child stands in the middle of a sea of bodies, glaring with gritted teeth up at the camera. He has very, very long fingernails, like knives. He’s wearing his judo kit with a black belt tied around it.
This panel is the scene beyond the crowd in Toytown. We should feel as though the audience could walk into it. The day’s still on the turn; black, pixellated clouds roll in. The Sensei’s guardian in this panel is a huge many headed hydra. One of the heads is the Sensei’s and it appears to be laughing. The hydra’s *scales* are like holographic plates – shimmering with colour and lovely to look at. It snaps at its enemy.
ROBIN: THE ONE GUARDING THE BOMB IN TOYTOWN WAS THE WORST.
BATMAN: WE ONLY HAVE MINUTES BEFORE IT EXPLODES…..
Notes shoot like razors out of Robin’s mouth and take out some of the hydra’s heads. They shatter like diamond. Batman dodges out the way.
The hydra drives one of its heads into the ground. Think of a plunging stake and you get the idea. Robin dodges out the way, stop-motion transforming into her robin avatar. Batman sinks his fangs into one of the *snake’s* throats.
ROBIN: (still talking to her audience) TOYTOWN CAN BE EXPLAINED AS A FULLY IMMERSIVE VR INSTALLED IN A BREATHABLE NANITE MIST COVERING GOTHAM, BUT IT HAS SOME WEIRD PROPERTIES SCIENCE FINDS IT DIFFICULT TO ACCOUNT FOR.
Bats is grabbed by the Sensei head. His wings crumple in its mouth.
ROBIN: PEOPLE CAN GET LOST.
(2): YOUR DEPARTMENT HUSHED IT UP, BUT WHEN THE PLACE WAS FIRST OPENED AT LEAST THREE INDIVIDUALS WERE FOUND WANDERING IN WONDERLAND WHO CLAIMED THEY’D BEEN THERE FOR YEARS.
It starts to gulp him down, like a Boa Constrictor. Robin looks on, aghast (if a robin can look aghast), still narrating.
ROBIN: SOMETIMES PEOPLE RETURN FROM THE SHOPPING DISTRICTS WITH GOODS THEY’VE ORDERED BEFORE THE COMPANY MAILS IT TO THEM IN REAL SPACE.
(2): THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN HARD AND SOFT BODIES COLLAPSES.
BATMAN: DON’T JUST STAND THERE! DO SOMETHING BEFORE IT…
Robin looks out the page, addressing the audience/reader. The snake swallows Batman. All its heads are now focused on Robin.
HYDRA: (big, cartoony) ULP!
ROBIN: AND I KNOW YOU MUST HAVE HEARD THE STORIES IN PRELIMINARY TRAINING ABOUT PEOPLE JACKING IN AND VANISHING FOREVER…. THAT’S 101.
She looks up the snake about to strike, a strange smile playing on her lips.
ROBIN: THIS IS A GOOD BIT, GUYS.
Batman blasts out of the thing like a bullet, bursting it from the inside, holding a fizzing bomb in his mouth. Snake flies everywhere, a couple of pieces headed right towards the camera.
SFX: (exploding like in the sixties TV show) POW!
On the ground, blowing the fuse out.
ROBIN: (off panel) TOYTOWN’S HEAVY USERS DON’T UNDERSTAND THE CODE THAT CONSTRUCTS THE PLACE IN THE SAME WAY YOUR PROGRAMMERS DO.
The bat turns to the robin. Behind them a hole has opened up in Toytown’s woods leading to the tunnel we saw in the first panel of the first issue.
BATMAN: OKAY THEN.
(2): YOU READY TO REJOIN OUR HARD COPIES IN THE SEWER AND PUT A STOP TO THIS?
This panel is an exact match on the first panel of issue one.
BATMAN: TO THE BATMOBILE! GO!
ROBIN: (again, from off panel, or should I say more ABOVE it) THEY REFER TO IT AS STORY.
We pull out. The first few panels of the first issue are the plates of a wriggling snake in a hand.
Robin, from above, still in Toytown, holding the snake. We can’t see much else.
PIXIE: (from off panel) SO YOU’D DESCRIBE THE SENSEI’S VIRUS AS A STORY BOMB, MISS ROBIN?
Large panel. We pull out further and the view encompasses Robin’s audience and the rest of the glade. We never left. And what a sight! The ground, the trees – EVERYTHING – is smothered in red snakes, wriggling, biting and devouring. This is the aftermath of the Sensei’s bomb. Toytown is being consumed.
ROBIN: MORE LIKE A STORY NUKE.
(Panels 2, 3, 4 and 5 are in a row, like the links in a metal snake.)
Teddies immolated by a fireball.
ROBIN: (tail-less) I…I DON’T KNOW HOW WE TRIGGERED IT. BUT THAT WAS IT. NO MORE HAPPY ENDINGS.
A glowing Toytown scimitar made of serpents.
ROBIN: DEATH MADE RADIANT.
Batman being scythed in two, but this time the colours are all Toytowny.
ROBIN: (extending into panel 5) GOTHAM’S HEROIC SPIRIT SLAIN IN ITS SLEEP BY THE SILENT ASSASSINS.
A citizen jacked into a *safe* toytown terminal, brain fried, his eyes smouldering (literally).
Low angle. Robin’s hand with the snake perched on it is in the foreground at the bottom of the frame. She stares down at it, her eyes glowing. Electricity sparks from her hand into the snake turning it blue. We can just about see the panels with Dr. Fate on them.
ROBIN: SO I REACHED INTO A SHARD OF THE MAGGOT BLAST AND REPLACED IT WITH A STORY OF MY OWN.
She leans down to address it. It now wears a batmask.
ROBIN: LITTLE SNAKE, GOTHAM’S TRAPPED IN A STORY WHERE BATMAN ISN’T REAL.
From behind. She releases the snake into a last patch of white in the sky……
ROBIN: YOU HAVE TO PROVE TO HIM WHY HE HAS TO BE!
She turns to us, her mouth and hollowed out eye-sockets swarming with snakes.
ROBIN: FIND HIM!
A Bedroom in Gotham. Two lovers are slumped over like in the panel with the fried toytowner.
CAP: BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.
A safe terminal for a child’s entrance to Toytown. The same. Shocked parents.
A street scene – the square Batman’s fight with the robot took place in. Dreamers slumped everywhere. Quiet devastation.
Close up on a woman slumped over a car.
THE SENSEI: (off panel) THEY WERE MAKING LOVE IN CRYSTAL LAKES, PLAYING IN GOLDEN FIELDS, BOMBARDED WITH ADVERTS ON THE WAY TO WORK.
A scythe slices her head off.
THE SENSEI: (off panel) ILLUSION!
The Sensei is now front and centre in the panel, turning to Agrat. The shadows hang back behind them, armed with swords and sais.
AGRAT: IT WAS ALL SO EASY. EVERYTHING I SAW IN THE LOOKING GLASS IS COMING TO PASS.
The Sensei smiles.
THE SENSEI: YES. WE HAVE DECIMATED WHAT PASSES FOR THIS CITY’S SOUL.
(2): AND NOW, AGRAT, WE MUST TURN TO ITS BODY.
He wanders towards the darkness trailing behind them. A huge figure is stepping out of it.
THE SENSEI: UBU!
THE SENSEI: IS ITS CONSTRUCTION COMPLETE?
Ubu, still a giant bat-creature, towers over the Sensei, who suddenly resembles an evil Yoda. The lights go up on the assassins behind him.
UBU: YES, SENSEI.
The Sensei directs him with the stick of his bloody scythe.
THE SENSEI: THEN RAISE IT UP OUT OF THE WATER, THAT THOSE WHOSE EYES ARE STILL OPEN MAY STARE THEIR DESTRUCTION IN THE FACE.
Back in Reality Snake B and the JLARC is buffeted about by a violent electric storm. The sky is black. Purple lightning ionizes the air.
CAP: REALITY SNAKE: B
Inside, and Fate’s still beaming those rainbows, but people are looking pretty freaked out.
Batwoman and Robin are on the bridge with Mr. Miracle, obviously panicked.
BATWOMAN: HOW LONG TILL WE GET CLEAR OF THIS STORM?
(2): PEOPLE ARE SCARED.
MR. MIRACLE: I DON’T KNOW. THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE SENSORS.
He looks at some kind of digital reading of the storm front on a screen projected on the cockpit window.
MR MIRACLE: IT’S A GOOD THING MOST OF THE TRANSPORTS HAVE ARRIVED AT THE SAFE ZONE ALREADY.
(2): THESE ARCS CAN’T TRAVEL AT SUPERSPEEDS, AND THEY’RE STRONG BUT THEY’RE NOT…
Lightning cleaves the transport in two.
Bodies falling through the blackness, but Robin, Batwoman, Miracle and a substantial proportion of the public are safe inside golden bubbles cast by Fate.
Robin and Batwoman are in foreground embracing in the golden gloom, in shock. The other bubbles, like Fate himself, are drawing closer together preparing to merge.
ROBIN: OH GOD.. OH GOD…
(2): I THOUGHT….. THIS IS IT, ISN’T IT? THIS IS REALLY IT!
The bubbles fully integrate and transform into one large, delicate structure (people are screaming, etc). It should have the quality of a washing up liquid bubble, ready to POP. Fate passes into it. Batwoman and Robin turn.
DR FATE: EVERYONE… EVERYONE! I HAVE SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT TO TELL YOU.
He addresses the frightened crowd.
DR. FATE: WE WILL NOT SURVIVE THIS. THE PURPOSE OF THIS UNIVERSE IS TO DIE.
Close up on Fate’s golden mask.
DR. FATE: DO NOT BE AFRAID.
The lovers’ from previous panels eyes blink open.
The jacked in children awaken. One hugs his sobbing mother.
CAP: FOR WITH OUR DEATHS A THOUSAND EYES FLICK OPEN.
Batman guns it down the corridor of comics panels, his eyes look deadly. All these panels featuring Batman are very thin – as though they’re happening in the gutters, or behind the action.
BATMAN: YOU’RE COMING THROUGH LOUD AND CLEAR, GOTHAM!
CAP: THE MESSAGE HAS BEEN RECEIVED.
Batwoman and Robin, arms round each other – she kisses him on the cheek. They’re holding hands with the two children we saw in the second issue. All eyes are on Fate.
DR FATE: (off panel) THE CITY IS SAFE.
Batman’s still racing along, but although he’s still seated the UFO has exploded around him, its parts suspended in the air.
In Toytown Robin picks herself up off the ground, fully healed.
ROBIN: OURGH! MY POOR HEAD.
ROBIN: UM..WHAT PAGE WAS I ON?
In the tunnel, all the pieces of the exploded UFO jigsaw have become the moving parts of a bat-cycle straight out of a Meatloaf album cover: a massive pair of wheels, bat-horned handle bars, engine blazing with hellfire, two gigantic batwings…..
CAP: CITIZENS OF GOTHAM PREPARE TO CHANGE STATE.
Robin comes to her senses.
ROBIN: OH YES….
Robin fires herself through a hole in the grass that’s opened up to the night sky over Gotham, like clouds parting. Some of the elves and whatnot peer through in after her.
The pieces of the bike have coalesced. Batman revving it through the underworld.
CAP: WE ARE ABOUT TO BECOME A WEAPON.
The Sensei overseeing the finishing stages of his Robot (from the first issue) being hauled out of the harbour by hundreds of assassins. He rubs his hands with glee. Agrat smiles too. A rare and unpleasant sight. There is an electric glow in the corner of the panel.
He turns, startled.
Low angle. Robin, like the wrath of God, blazes with crackling energy above him. She’s properly pissed off.
Assassins charge in around the Sensei who directs the attack.
THE SENSEI: KILL HER!
Batman, from behind, closing in on what looks like a spiky portcullis at the end of the tunnel. Think of the shots of the Dark Knight riding the batbike in the film and you’ve got it.
Large panel divided in three, but one image really. Robin in stop motion ploughs through the assassins. The first wave, including Ubu, she sends flying with a swipe of her hand (Sauron on the battlefield in the first Lord of the Rings film), the second row she spears with her arms. She performs a flying kick out of the panel…..
….and the Sensei has his hands around her throat.
THE SENSEI: (off panel) THAT’S QUITE ENOUGH, CHILD.
Large panel. Low angle, from behind Robin, who is brought to her knees. The Sensei smiles evilly down at her as behind him the Robot stands in the water, scimitar in hand. The end of all things.
THE SENSEI: GOTHAM’S DOOM IS HERE AND WHERE IS YOUR DARK KNIGHT NOW?
She looks up at him triumphantly.
Batman smashes through his father’s huge mouth, wheelieing into the void and sending his rotten jaw flying.
(2): SORRY, FATHER!
The Robot raises his weapon.
ROBOT: (same font as in the first issue) PARADISE IS IMMANE….
A lightning bolt strikes Fate’s bubble. It smashes like a glass bauble.
PAGES 22 & 23
Splash. Title page. A huge electric blue snake (still wearing its batmask) comes bursting out of a manhole, Batman hurtling from its viciously fanged mouth, trailing fire. This is the Meatloaf album cover. The wheel of the bike rams into Agrat, as Robin, with a flick of the wrist, sends the Sensei flying. Assassins go down like dominoes. Behind the bat-bike, three snakes shoot out of the ground. One is plunged through the robot, one has its throat in its teeth and the other smashes the scimitar with a flick of its body. This is the money shot. The bad guys have had it.
BATMAN: I WAS JUST SAYING MY GOODBYES TO DEAR OLD DAD.
TITLE: BATMAN 666 – BAT OUT OF HELL
The Sensei goes sailing past Batman who, along the way, chops his arms off.
BATMAN: NOT SO FAST!
Robin gets to her feet, dusting herself down. The batbike is perched on top of Agrat. Assassins flee while the Sensei, recovering, looks down at his arms in horror. Batman’s smiling.
ROBIN: THERE YOU ARE, BOSS.
(2): I WAS STARTING TO GET WORRIED.
The Sensei mutters to himself.
THE SENSEI: MY ARMS… YOU…..
(2): MY PLANS….
He lunges at Robin.
THE SENSEI: I CAN STILL KILL… KILL…
Batbolas wrap round his legs tripping him up.
THE SENSEI: HHK?
Batman and Robin stand over the prostrate Sensei.
BATMAN: SILLY OLD MAN. I SHOULD’VE KNOWN IT WAS ALL NONSENSE THE MINUTE YOU RAISED THAT RUSTY SCYTHE.
(2): I’M NOT BRUCE. YOU NEVER COULD TAKE ME IN AN UNFAIR FIGHT.
THE SENSEI: BUT WE POISONED YOUR CITY…
He tries to use his stumps to crawl away. Gross. Robin watches him. It’s a little cruel. Batman smiles down benignly at a little blue snake curling up his leg.
(2): NOTHING A LITTLE BAT-DISINFECTANT COULDN’T SORT OUT.
The Sensei heads towards the shadows. Nearly there.
THE SENSEI: (weakly) GOT TO GET… GET… TO THE SHADOWS…
BATMAN: OH, I WOULDN’T GO THAT WAY IF I WERE YOU.
(2): NU-GOTHAM HAS OTHER NATURAL DEFENSES QUITE APART FROM ME.
He starts to disappear into the darkness, trying to get to his feet. But are those shapes moving in the blackness?
THE SENSEI: GET HOM…..
A thick yellow arm has the Sensei around the throat. Faces start to emerge from the gloom.
THE SENSEI: …KKK!
BATMAN: AND I IMAGINE YOU’VE MADE THEM VERY ANGRY.
Large Panel. The darkness peels back. Crowding around the outside of the frame are the bizzare playing card soldiers we saw in issue 2. On either side of them stand Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and in the centre, clasping the defeated Sensei, is the Cheshire Cat. The closest thing I can imagine to this utterly terrifying figure is a Blue Meanie. Splice a bright yellow tabby cat with the bad guys from the Yellow Submarine and you’re getting there. His eyes are slits of malice, his red lipped smile reveals sharpened teeth. He holds one of his huge claws to the Sensei’s head, ready to break it like an egg. This is the Red Queen’s Court and they mean business. Batman and Robin bow and curtsie. Deferential. They know it’s unwise to interfere.
CHESHIRE CAT: (large, red, thin, shuddering lettering) MY QUEEN GREETSSSS YOU, KNIGHT.
(2): WE WILL TAKE IT FROM HERE…..
Batman and Robin look at each other. They’re probably outgunned.
Match on shot. He addresses the Cat,
BATMAN: AND SEND MY BEST WISHES TO YOUR MISTRESS, ALSO.
(2): TELL ME, DOES THE RED QUEEN DESIRE THIS ONE TO GO TO THE BLOCK?
Close up on the Cheshire Cat. He smiles and smiles, his claw still inches from the Sensei’s head.
CHESHIRE CAT: FOR HIS CRIMESSSS AGAINST GOTHAM AND IT’S OUTLYING….DISTRICTSSSS… HE SHOULD….
(2): HOWEVER…..OUT OF RESPECT FOR YOU SHE WILL COMMIT HIM TO THE TOWER.
BATMAN: (outside frame) BUT HE’S A SLIPPERY CUSTOMER YOU MUSN”T LET HIM OUT OF YOUR….
Robin draws his attention to the batbike. Agrat’s gone from under it.
He turns back to the cat.
BATMAN: …WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH..
They stare into the empty darkness.
BATMAN: I THOUGHT ONLY I WAS SUPPOSED TO DO THAT.
The camera begins to pull back as they trudge back towards the batbike, bickering. Batman’s trenchcape starts to turn red in tandem with the rising dawn.
ROBIN: I THOUGHT THE SENSEI HAD YOU THERE, BOSS. YOU’D NEVER HAVE GOTTEN FREE OF THAT NIGHTMARE IF IT WASN’T FOR ME…..
(2): I’VE BEEN PREPARING FOR THAT TULPA BUSINESS EVER SINCE I FIRST HEARD OF THE TEN-EYED BROTHERHOOD. I’M AT PEACE WITH THE IDEA THAT I MIGHT NOT BE REAL – IT WAS MY FATHER WHO WAS HUNG UP ON ABSOLUTES, ROBIN….
We pull back even more as they get on the bike – Batman in front, Robin at the back.
ROBIN: (in the distance) TT!
(2): IS THAT WHY YOUR CAPE ALWAYS CHANGES COLOUR? SYMBOLISM?
BATMAN: NO, GIRL, THAT’S CAMOUFLAGE. GOTHAM’S BRIGHTER NOW.
ROBIN: WHATEVER. AT LEAST THIS ADVENTURE’LL MAKE GOOD MATERIAL FOR THOSE TOYTOWN LECTURES I’M DOING WITH THE GCPD SPECIAL TASK-FORCE.
Batman turns the bike around revving the engine.
(2): BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY
They peel off as the sun begins to peek out from behind the buildings. A disco sunrise.
BATMAN: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE BIKE?
END OF PART ONE: SNAKE CHARMER
NEXT TIME: TOY GUNS! PETS!
WATERSHIP DOWN! SNOGGING! BRUTAL. FUCKING. MURDER.