NIGHTWING: SHADOW OF THE BAT
BY: KEVIN GARCIA
A SHORT SEQUEL TO:
BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT
GOTHAM CITY, A MONTH AGO
This is how it happened. This is how the Batman died. Ten months ago, Joker was cremated. He had died from an overdose of a chemical codenamed “Titan.” Then, nine months later, on Halloween night, Scarecrow threatened to release a bomb filled with his latest strand of fear toxin. The explosion would’ve been big enough to cover the entire East Coast of the United States in fear toxin. There was really only one man who could save us. His name was Bruce Wayne, and he was my mentor. Until that night, everyone knew him by a different name: Batman. Scarecrow intended to turn Gotham into a city of fear. If his plan had succeeded, Two-Face, Harley Quinn, the Penguin, the Riddler, and the Arkham Knight would’ve ruled Gotham. But it didn’t.
After long hours of combat, Scarecrow had captured Robin and Jim Gordon, two of Batman’s greatest allies. To free them, Batman was forced to take off his mask and expose himself to the entire world as Bruce Wayne. Scarecrow injected him with some of his toxin, but Batman had nothing left to fear. He overpowered Scarecrow, stopped the other criminals, and locked them all in the Police Department’s holding cells. Then, he came to me. Bruce told me that it was the last time that I would ever see him. Then he left. He told Robin the same thing.
Bruce went back to his house, his armor completely removed, and when he entered the house, it exploded. As the entire world stared in disbelief, Wayne Manor slowly burned to the ground, the bricks toppling down like building blocks. I couldn’t believe it. The Batman, Gotham’s Dark Knight, had fallen. Now, who would protect Gotham? I wondered about it. I thought that perhaps Robin could protect the city, now that Batman was gone, but he was too immature. Selina was too corrupt to protect Gotham. After all, she’s Catwoman. There was only one real option left: me. My name is Dick Grayson. Only my friends know me by that name. Everyone else calls me Nightwing. If Batman hadn’t rescued me from the Joker years ago, I wouldn’t be alive. I was the first Robin. I was the Batman’s true successor. I knew it was a big responsibility, and I had already been protecting Bludhaven, the city where I had been born. Who would protect it, if I protected Gotham? I concluded that it didn’t really matter, because despite its name, Bludhaven was actually a very safe place. It had the lowest crime rate in the state. I supposed that I could protect Gotham instead.
Then, the real nightmare began. One of the villains that Batman captured was Man-Bat. His name was Kirk Langstrom, but one of his experiments went wrong and transformed him into the Man-Bat. Bruce had given him an antidote that cured him. However, the cure wasn’t permanent. He transformed back into the Man-Bat, and broke out of his holding cell, releasing the other criminals as well. Bruce had captured 1,500 criminals that night, not counting the ones that were already in prison. Everything that Bruce had done to lock away the criminals now meant nothing. Every last criminal (except for Scarecrow, since he was in shock) that was in the GCPD holding cells was set free. I knew I couldn’t handle them alone. Catwoman came to me and told me that she could help. Robin was still recovering from being shot by Scarecrow, so he wouldn’t be able to help us. I guessed it was just the two of us. It couldn’t possibly be that hard to capture 2,000 criminals. After all, Bruce had done it. But then again, he was the Batman.
ONE DAY LATER…
Apparently, I had been wrong. Capturing 2,000 criminals had been harder than I had previously anticipated. Bruce had trained for two decades, and he was trained by the League of Assassins. I had only been in training for eight years. If only Bruce had been there. It would’ve been so much easier. Catwoman was already worn out, after being held hostage by the Riddler. I told Selina to take out as many of the thugs that she could handle, and I would deal with their leaders. Slade Wilson was the first one on my list. He goes by Deathstroke, and he was to command the Arkham Knight’s militia after the Knight had been incapacitated by Batman. I still remember him from when he and I had our first fight. Slade was old. About 60 years old, I’d say. You could tell from his hair and by the wrinkles on his face. His fighting skills, however, demonstrated otherwise. Slade fought as if he were Bruce’s age. He was missing an eye from being shot with an arrow by the vigilante in Star City. Regardless, he was still one of Batman’s most worthy enemies.
I knew where he was. He never changed his hideout. Deathstroke was usually in Gotham Casino, which had been closed down for as long as I can remember. I had beat him multiple times by myself and with the Teen Titans, so I thought taking on Slade again wouldn’t be hard at all. I went to Gotham Casino, smashed the door open, and Slade was there, just where I thought he’d be. “Not you again,” said Slade. “Where’s Batman?”
“Don’t you watch the news?” I asked, “Batman’s gone.”
“What do you mean he’s gone?”
Slade looked at me with a face of disbelief. I couldn’t believe it either. “That’s impossible,” he said, “I didn’t kill him.” I didn’t answer. Slade looked at me and shouted angrily: “I WAS SUPPOSED TO KILL THE BATMAN!” Deathstroke pulled out his gun, pointed it at me, and then he fired thrice. I dodged all three bullets. He made the mistake of shooting them all in the same direction. I threw one of my Batarangs at his gun, and it knocked Slade’s gun from his hand. He pulled out his sword, and I pulled out my staff. We began to fight. At one point, Slade cut me on my arm. Had it been the first time being cut with a sword, I might’ve felt pain, but I had repeatedly been cut with swords by Deathstroke, ninjas, and members of the League of Assassins and the Court of Owls, so I had already been used to it. I managed to overpower Slade, then I delivered a hard blow to the head, instantly knocking him unconscious.
I took him back to the holding cells at G.C.P.D. Catwoman had managed to take out Two-Face and Harley Quinn. I wasn’t surprised, as Selina and Two-Face had a strong rivalry, and Harley Quinn missed the Joker too much to put up much of a fight. Selina and I worked together that night to take down all of the henchmen, and then we started hunting down their leaders. We found out that Riddler had left to Metropolis. Maybe the alien could take care of him instead. When we tried to hunt down the Penguin, all we found was his dead body. I looked at Selina angrily. I told her not to kill any of them. “I didn’t kill him,” she said.
“You must’ve killed him,” I said, “There aren’t any other heroes left in Gotham. Robin’s incapacitated and Gordon’s taking care of his family.” Then I looked at Penguin closely, and I found a bullet. I had seen the same kind of bullet before. It was from the Arkham Knight’s handgun. “This doesn’t make any sense,” I told Catwoman, “Why would the Arkham Knight kill Penguin?” Selina hadn’t been paying any attention to me. She was focused on the man behind us. We had never seen him before. On his head, he donned a red hood and a mask. He wielded two pistols, one in each and, and he wore a red version of Batman’s logo on his chest. “Who are you,” I said, “And what do you want?”
He took his mask off. When I saw him, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was Jason Todd. He was the second Robin. How was it possible? I saw the Joker kill him. “Jason?” I said, “But, you’re dead.”
“That’s exactly what Bruce said when he found out I was the Arkham Knight,” said Jason. It took me a while to fully process what he had said. Then, I realized what must’ve happened. Bruce must’ve found out that Jason was the Arkham Knight, then convinced him that he had been brainwashed by the Joker. He told us that he had killed the Penguin, and he also took care of Deacon Blackfire, a crazy old “deacon” who believed that he was the Messiah and was told by God to cleanse the world of evil by killing them. I had completely forgotten about Blackfire, so I never thought about trying to capture him.
We went after the others. Man-Bat, Professor Pyg, Hush, Firefly, Azrael, and Bane. Selina told me that she would take on Man-Bat and Hush, Jason said that he’d take care of Pyg and Firefly, so I volunteered to take care of Azrael and Bane. I wasn’t exactly happy about having to take on Bane. Of all the villains that Bruce ever fought, Bane was the only one who succeeded in defeating him, by breaking his back. Azrael claimed to be a knight to the Order of St. Dumas, however there’s no evidence that a saint by that name ever existed. He was dressed in chainmail armor with a white cloth over the armor. He wore a hood with red arrows. Bruce had found out that a microchip had been implanted into his brain, which allowed the “Order” to manipulate his memories. He tried to convince Azrael about that, but he wouldn’t listen. He tried to kill Batman, but Bruce was anticipating that. He locked Azrael up in the holding cells. Obviously, he was free now. I decided to go after Azrael first, because I admit that I was a bit frightened about taking on Bane. I didn’t want to be the next one with a broken back.
Azrael was not as easy to find as Deathstroke. Well, at least, not until I remembered that Batman had placed a tracker on Azrael in case he ever broke free. I was able to track Azrael to the ruins of Arkham Asylum. The Joker had detonated a bomb there before he died, and Bruce had been unable to stop him. The asylum hadn’t been repaired ever since. The inmates had all been moved to Blackgate Prison. Azrael was kneeling on the floor when I walked in. I assumed he had been praying. “What are you doing here?” he asked.
“I’m here to take you back to prison, where you belong.” Azrael laughed.
“Do you know who I am, boy? I am Azrael, knight to the Order of St. Dumas. I will cleanse the world from evil by stabbing my blade into the hearts of wrongdoers. You are no match for me.”
“Michael, the Order is manipulating your mind. Can’t you see? They’re using you. They’re using you to carry out a dark reckoning against the criminals of this city.” Azrael was once a sane man, Michael Lane. He was the best football player I had ever seen, and he became a policeman. But that was before the Order came to him. “You’re better than this, Lane.”
“Lane is dead. I am Azrael, and I will do whatever I must to complete my mission. I will not fail my masters.”
Azrael instantly rose and leaped towards me, with his sword in his hand. I hadn’t been prepared, but I dodged the blade just in time. Azrael and I fought for quite a while, but eventually, I was able to break his sword and stun him with the electricity from my staff. I placed handcuffs on his hands, and took him to the GCPD. When I arrived at the holding cells, I found that Hush, Firefly, Man-Bat and Professor Pyg were already in their cells. Selina and Jason were there waiting. I told them I’d be back as soon as I finished off Bane.
Bane was hiding in a toy factory next to Wayne Tower. He was obsessed with stuffed bears, God knows why. When I tried to open the door, I felt Bane’s unforgiving strength for the first time, as he kicked me in the chest, knocking me down instantly. I had never faced off against Bane, but I knew how dangerous he was. Compared to me, he was a giant. He must’ve been taller than three times my height. Bane’s strength was given to him by a drug called Venom, which also drove him insane. That might explain his addiction towards stuffed bears. Bane looked at me straight in the eyes, and I looked back at his. His eyes were glowing green, as if an LED light had been implanted behind his eye. We began to fight. I feared that I wouldn’t be able to defeat Bane, and unfortunately, my fears were right. After a few minutes of combat, he broke my staff. Bane grabbed me and threw me halfway across the factory. In a single minute, I experienced more pain than I had ever endured in my entire life. I could barely move. When Bane reached me, I closed my eyes, waiting for him to deliver the final blow.
Suddenly, a dark figure came flying out of nowhere, and destroyed Bane’s backpack, which contained the Venom that gave him his strength. Within a few seconds, Bane was reduced from a hulking giant into a scrawny little man. The dark figure finished off Bane, and then turned to me. He spoke: “You still have a lot to learn, Dick.”
I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was Bruce. He wasn’t dead after all. He explained to me that he was the one who set off the explosion at Wayne Manor, and that he had done it to protect me, Robin, Catwoman, and everyone else he loved. He took off his mask and spoke in an ominous tone: “Dick, I can’t do this anymore. It’s time for someone else to be the Batman. You are my heir.”
I thought about what Bruce had just said. He had just invited me to become the next Batman. He continued speaking. “Dick, you’ve been a great friend. The best I could ever ask for. You’ve stood by me through my darkest hours and I’ve done the same for you. You were there at the beginning, and now, you get to see how it ends.” Bruce took off his armor and handed it to me. “The world needs a new Dark Knight.” He took the grapnel gun from the utility belt, aimed it at the sky, and fired. The rope that came swirling from the gun attached itself to the Batwing above us, and Bruce soared up into the air. That was the last time anyone ever saw Bruce Wayne. I took off my suit, and put on Bruce’s armor. It fit me perfectly. I took the grapnel gun from my own utility belt and attached it to the belt of the Batsuit. I shot the grapnel towards a nearby building, soared up into the air, and spread by new cape. It was a little hard to navigate with the cape at first, but I had gotten the hang of flying rather quickly. I had used a cape during my time as Robin, but it had been years since then. I looked to my left, and I could see the Batwing flying off in the distance. “Goodbye, Bruce,” I said quietly.
ONE MONTH LATER…
I stood on a gargoyle high above the streets of Gotham. I had never seen the city from such a high distance from the ground. It was so beautiful. I had given the role of Nightwing to Robin. I hadn’t really thought about who would become Robin after Tim Drake. I think that Stephanie Brown might be able to do it. She was one of the most talented gymnasts in Gotham, and she was also a vigilante. She went by the name “Spoiler.”
No one else knew about the talk Bruce and I had last month. Heck, no one knew that he was still alive. When Bruce and I met for the first time, I had asked him why he dressed as a bat. He gave me a pretty reasonable answer: “Criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot. You’ve got to give them something to be scared of.” Now, I represent the Dark Knight’s legacy. I am the one who strikes fear into the hearts of criminals. I thought about what Bruce had told me for the first time in what seemed like forever. Criminals really are a cowardly and superstitious lot. What will happen when they have nothing to be scared of? Who will protect Gotham when the legend of the Dark Knight ends?
It didn’t really matter now. It likely won’t matter for many years to come. From the gargoyle where I had been standing, I leaped and spread my cape wide, gliding above Gotham City. I am the new guardian of Gotham. I am vengeance. I am the night. I am Batman.
After the events of "Batman: Arkham Knight," the Batman has died, and the villains that he had captured have escaped. With Robin incapacitated, Gordon unavailable, and Oracle recovering from her kidnapping, it's up to Nightwing to defeat the villains and save Gotham. Spoilers from "Batman: Arkham Knight" ahead.