Batman as written by Neal Stephanson, or: Bat Crash

The Batman is an urban legend, an underworld myth. He’s got vendetta up to here. Right now, he is preparing to carry out his third patrol of the night. His batsuit is black as the night his parents were murdered, filtering the very hope out of the air. A bullet will bounce off the armored plate on his chest like a thug hitting a brick wall, but excess perspiration wafts through it like a breeze through a freshly napalmed forest. Where his body has bony extremities, the batsuit has Wayne Tech armorgel: feels like gritty jello, protects like a stack of telephone books.

When he took on the job, he made a batarang. The Batman doesn’t want to kill anyone, but sometimes he might want to hurt someone anyway – might want to put out an eye, or slice a hamstring. The batarang is tiny, aerodynamic, lightweight, the kind of a blade a an assassin would be proud of; it flies through the air straight and true as an SR-71 spy plane, and when you get done using it, you just leave it for the crime scene guys, so they can know you were there.

The Batman never pulled that batarang in anger, or in fear. He pulled it once in Crime Alley. Some punks in The Bowery, a crime-ridden hellhole, wanted themselves a lady’s purse, and they weren’t asking nicely. Thought they would impress the Batman with a baseball bat. The Batman took out his batarang, aimed it in is thumb and forefinger on that poised Louisville Slugger, let fly. The metal blade flew silently, as though the weapon had its own leathery wings. The middle finger of the baseball batter turned into a fountain of spurting plasma, spraying out of his hand like a fire hose. Punk ended up holding his broken hand with blood pouring out his knuckles. Terrified look on his face. Didn’t get nothing but trouble from the Batman.

Since then the Batman has kept the batarang on his utility belt and relied, instead, on his expertly trained fists, which have always been his weapon of choice anyhow. The punks in Crime Alley weren’t afraid of the batarang, so the Batman was forced to use it. But fists need no demonstrations.

The Batmobile has enough potential energy packed into its batteries to fire a pound of bacon to the JLA Watchtower. Unlike a GCPD squad car or the Joker’s goon vans, the Batmobile unloads that power through gaping, gleaming, polished sphincters. When the Batman puts the hammer down, shit happens. You want to talk contact patches? Your car’s tires have tiny contact patches, talk to the asphalt in four places the size of your tongue. The Batmobile has big sticky tires with contact patches the size of a fat lady’s thighs. The Batman is in touch with the road, starts like a bad day, stops on a peseta.

Why is the Batman so equipped? Because he has to be. He is the night. This is Gotham City. People do all sorts of horrible fucking deeds every day, you got a problem with that? Because the Batman does. And he has trained for years and no one can fucking stop him. Still, this city has one of the worst crime rates in the world. When it gets down to it – talking migratory demographics here – since we’ve brain-drained all our honest cops into other cities, since things have gotten worse, they’re arresting supervillains in Metropolis and psychopaths in Keystone City and sending them here – now that our violent but sane mobsters have been made irrelevant by evil acid burned maniacs and serial killers that will carve up anyone from infant all the way to grandmother for a laugh – once Arkham Asylum has taken all those petty thugs and mixed them in with the worst of the maniacs who get their jollies with poison gas that scares or laughs you to death – y’know what? There’s only four things we do better than anyone else
millionaires (playboys)
vigilante justice
The Batman used to be a playboy. Still is, sometimes. But if life were a mellow elementary school run by well-meaning education Ph.D.s, the Batman’s report card would say: “Bruce is so athletic and cunning but needs to find an outlet for his searing rage.”


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