Thursday, September 22, 2005

Things I'd Like To Write Someday, #2956837249438

(Or somewhere near that.)

I always thought that Frank Miller was really unfair to Superman. I mean let's face it--in a fight between Batman and Superman, giving Batman as much Kryptonite as he can carry really just evens the odds to the point where Batman might actually see Superman before he gets leveled. But in 'The Dark Knight Returns' (and its sequel, 'The Dark Knight Gives Superman A Wedgie' or whatever it was called,) not only does Batman get to beat up Superman, he also gets to seize the moral high ground. Let's repeat that--a man who regularly dresses up as a bat to re-enact his childhood revenge fantasies gets to seize the moral high ground over freaking Superman.

I think that needs to change. So I'd like to write a 'Dark Knight Returns' style comic, only done from Superman's worldview. (Not, I stress, show the events of 'Dark Knight Returns' from Superman's POV.)

In this story, Superman has retired--essentially, all the work he's done for humanity over the years has finally paid off to the point where he's not needed so much anymore. Weather control is a science, advances in agriculture and energy have resulted in abundance for all, which has substantially reduced the war quotient, all the super-villains are either reformed, imprisoned, or just generally gone for good--even Gotham's now relatively tame, although there are still parts of it you wouldn't walk into at 2 AM. Clark Kent is enjoying a relatively restful career as editor-in-chief at the Daily Planet, and a happy marriage to Lois.

Then his old enemies start returning. Braniac comes back, in defiance of several intergalactic treaties Superman helped negotiate. Metallo escapes. Doomsday returns. One by one, all the villains from the bad old days start coming back, and Superman has to return to the skies to stop them. And all the while, he's trying to figure out "Who's behind all this?" It can't just be coincidence. It's never just coincidence. He goes to former President Luthor. He hunts down Vandal Savage. He digs up Darkseid. And always the same answer: It wasn't me. Clark runs himself ragged trying to save everyone and discover the truth, but when he finds it, he wishes he hadn't: Bruce Wayne is behind all this chaos.

Ultimately, peace did what decades of ceaseless struggle never could--it snapped Bruce's sanity. Bruce has discovered that he never wanted to end crime, only to fight it. The only way he could stay sane was in being Batman, and without a purpose for Batman, Bruce had to grow up. It took a different kind of courage than dodging bullets and fighting the Joker, and Bruce just didn't have it. So he started breaking out the old villains, and deep within the Batcave, he was preparing to resume his illustrious career.

Superman isn't pleased. But Batman knew he wouldn't be.

The two of them have a final, apocalyptic duel on the Wayne estate, but Bruce finds out that all these years, all the times he's put one up on Clark, all the little battles that they've fought in an unspoken rivalry that went hand-in-hand with their close friendship...Clark always let him win. Those little victories had meant so much to Bruce, and the little losses meant so little to a man who could stand in the heart of a hurricane and wring diamonds out of coal. This time, when there's something real at stake, when innocents are in danger...Clark's not playing around. Bruce is just another bad guy now. And what does Superman do, if not beat the bad guys?

And the ending is just the opposite from 'Dark Knight', as well. There, Bruce digs in to expand his personal crusade to the armies of Gotham's underclass. He's looking forward to fighting for the rest of his life. Here, Clark averts the crisis and restores peace--and he's happy to do nothing more than set aside the cape and return to his normal life. He's always wanted the best for us, and ego doesn't enter into it.


Anonymous said...

Well, I for one wouold buy it.

Stuart Douglas said...

Never read a Batman or Superman comic in my life, but damn that sounds worth reading...

Anonymous said...

The opening to that is a lot like "whatever happened to the man of tomorrow" except that it's not Batman behind it.