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Authors: Craig Shaw Gardner

Batman 2 - Batman Returns

BOOK: Batman 2 - Batman Returns
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BATMAN RETURNS

THE BAT
THE CAT
THE PENGUIN

Batman™ versus the criminal element. In Gotham City,™ good and evil never sleep. Today, a new danger is born—in the guise of a villainous figure with an umbrellaful of savage tricks. He's The Penguin.™ He's out to dominate the city. And he has a confederate. She's sinuous. She's mysterious. And she's got nine ways of evading death. She's Catwoman.™ This time, Batman faces the showdown of his life at high midnight . . .

WARNER BOOKS EDITION

Copyright © 1992 DC Comics Inc.

All rights reserved. The stories, characters, and incidents featured in this publication are entirely fictional. All characters, their distinctive likenesses, and all related indicia are trademarks of DC Comics Inc.

Cover photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Warner Books, Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

A Time Warner Company

Printed in the United States of America

First Printing: July, 1992

ISBN: 0-446-36303-0

Contents

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

CHAPTER THIRTY

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE

CHAPTER FORTY

CHAPTER FORTY-ONE

CHAPTER FORTY-TWO

EPILOGUE

BATMAN RETURNS

PROLOGUE

G
otham City isn’t safe anymore. It’s crowded, noisy, dirty, filled with garbage. And I’m not just talking Styrofoam hamburger holders and discarded needles and deadly chemicals that just happen to fall into the river; I’m talking human scum, too. Grifters and drunks and addicts, hookers and dealers and petty thieves. Guys who will mug you if you step into the wrong street and shoot you if you try to call for help. And sometimes, things are so busy and crowded and noisy that you can’t tell the scum from the rest of your neighbors.

Gotham City isn’t safe anymore. Why can’t somebody clean it up? If only it could be like it was yesterday, when everybody had bright, smiling faces, and believed in the American Dream and the value of a dollar. Back in the fifties, when people knew their place and kept their problems to themselves.

Let’s go back to those days: the early fifties, a happier time. Let’s go back to the happiest time of all, Christmastime.

Our story opens a few months earlier, in a big house on a big street, owned by big people who must have big money. And they have more than that to be happy about today, for this man and woman are having a baby.

But there’s a problem.

Father paces back and forth on a landing large enough to house three whole families farther downtown. He nervously puffs on a cigarette. In the other room, we hear the mother’s labor pains. The baby’s almost here.

Then the moans stop. There is nothing but silence. A moment passes, and a new voice cries out. But there’s something about that voice, something about those goos and gahgahs that isn’t right.

The door opens. A nurse staggers out, her face blank, as if what she has just seen was so horrendous that her emotions cannot yet comprehend it. Somehow, she manages to put one foot in front of the other and wanders down the hall. Next comes the doctor, and his face is bone white, as if this man who has witnessed death a hundred times has finally seen something worse.

Father can bear it no longer. He rushes by the ashen doctor into the room that holds his wife and child.

There is another moment of silence. But after that, the house is filled with father’s screams.

But I promised you Christmas, and Christmas it will be. So we skip forward a few months. The house is all done up for the holidays, no expense spared, with lights and tinsel and a fine, big, decorated tree. The radio is on, brightly playing the music of the season, as father and mother share a little seasonal cheer.

And baby is there, too, in that playpen. Well, maybe it looks less like a playpen and more like a cage, but baby mustn’t get into mischief. Baby looks out at the bright lights as the radio plays.

“He knows when you are sleeping—”

What is that in front of the cage? That nasty family cat is slinking by, but not fast enough for baby.

“He knows when you’re awake—”

One good grab, and the cat is gone. A single feline scream, and the cat will never bother baby again.

“He knows when you’ve been bad or good—”

Baby chirps with happiness. Mother and father are careful to quickly finish their Christmas cheer, and maybe even have a little more.

But you can’t have baby cooped up forever.

So later that very same night mother and father decide to take baby for a walk. It’s a beautiful winter night, a few snowflakes, perhaps, but nothing to worry about. If you listen, you can hear Christmas carolers. Another pair of happy parents wheel a carriage filled with their tiny bundle of joy through the park, and call out to mother and father. “Merry Christmas!”

Somehow, father and mother manage to smile as they pass, but the smiles leave their faces as soon as others can no longer see them. They wheel their carriage with a grim purpose. But look at their carriage, would you? It’s a large wicker monstrosity, with leather straps to keep baby exactly in place. Most of all, it looks like something to keep prying eyes away and those weird noises muffled inside.

On go father and mother, on to that storybook bridge overlooking the babbling stream. Father and mother look to the left and look to the right, but it’s late, and they are all alone. Without another word, they pick up the carriage together and toss it from the bridge into the roaring stream.

The carriage falls through the freezing air to land in the rapidly running water, where it is carried away, through the open park and trees and hedges of the suburbs, down into the bricks and cement and walls of the city, down to where the stream meets the sewers and goes beneath the great metropolis, where the sweet water joins the murk of Gotham, and the stars no longer shine.

BOOK: Batman 2 - Batman Returns
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