Elseworlds: The Legend of the Batwoman

Elseworlds: The Legend of the Batwoman

By C.W. Blaine (darth_yoshi@yahoo.com)

DISCLAIMER: Most of the characters portrayed in this story are © 2001 by DC Comics, a Time-Warner company. They are used without permission for entertainment without profit by the author. Use of these characters without the express permission of DC Comics Inc. is a violation of the copyright. However, copyright holders may choose not to exercise their rights under the law, but this should never be construed as an endorsement.

This original work of fiction, as well as any original characters, are © 2001 by C.W. Blaine. All comments, concerns and questions may be directed to the e-mail address above. Please, if you wish to archive this work, contact the author. As of the writing of this story, no requests have ever been denied.

Elseworlds – stories, situations or events involving familiar characters in unfamiliar settings [a paraphrasing of the official DC definition)…

JUSTICE SOCIETY DISBANDS

New York City, April 27, 1949 – Before a stunned crowd today gathered before the Empire State Building, Justice Society chairman Hawkman announced that the famed super-team, formed just a year before the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, would be disbanding permanently. Citing the recent congressional investigations into the private lives of many members of the so-called "super-hero" community, the Winged Wonder went on to thank the members of the team, most of whom were not present, for their years of selfless and dedicated service. The announcement was then followed by a quick question and answer session in which none of the members would elaborate on their future plans. Perhaps Starman, the hero of Opal City, summed it up best when he stated that the members would "pursue other interests and leave law enforcement to the police".

Tensions between the JSA and the government began early last year when California senator Lex Luthor began hearings meant to investigate charges of abuses of power by the super-hero community. "It is of the greatest importance that we ensure, especially after the past few years, that no other 'master race' attempt to exert it's influence over the general populace," the Senator went on record as stating. Members of both the Justice Society and the All-Star Squadron, though it was officially disbanded in 1945, we called before congress to testify. The defining moment came this last December when the Green Lantern refused to provide his real name to the congressional panel (he was the first to be asked to do so). Cited with contempt, Green Lantern forced his way free of the congressional chamber and has not been seen since. Feeling pressure from congress, President Truman ordered the Justice Society to arrest Green Lantern.

Speaking for the entire team in January, Hawkman indicated that, in good conscience, he could not follow the President's directive. With that, congress voted last month to revoke the official charter of the Justice Society, thereby eliminating the arrest powers of the active membership. Spearheading a movement to have all members of the super-hero community provide their secret identities to the government, Senator Luthor pushed through the Superhuman Registration Act one week ago. The law, which many believe cannot be enforced, requires all so-called super-heroes residing within the United States to submit their identities to congress.

Only three days ago, it appeared that there had been a shift in the super-hero community as several costumed adventurers publicly revealed their identities to the world: Johnny Quick (Jonathan Chambers), Liberty Belle (Libby Lawrence), Tarantula (Jonathan Law) and the Flash (Jay Garrick). Garrick's revelation was thought to be the harbinger of more members of the Justice Society stepping forward. However, today's stunning announcement has ended all speculation, as it appears that most super-heroes would rather retire than trust their private lives to Senator Luthor.

"You have to remember, most of these guys were very close to President Roosevelt, and had come to expect that they were somehow above the law," stated New York congressman Maxwell Zeus, a supporter of Senator Luthor's efforts. "They thought of themselves as veritable gods looking down upon us. If we learned anything from the war, it was to ensure that we know exactly are and who our enemies are."

The short-term effects of the disbandment of the Justice Society, according to law enforcement officials, were an immediate rise in crime. Gotham City, the home city of the Green Lantern, has been especially flooded with calls for assistance to the local police. Without the Emerald Gladiator keeping watch, citizens have to fend for themselves in some parts of the city. Whether this trend will spread to other cities remains to be seen.

*****

Gotham City, United States of America June 24, 1949

Living is the hardest part of accepting your loss.

Martha "Matty" Wayne had never felt such pain in her entire 27 years of life as she stared at the two coffins before her. The larger of the two seemed titanic against its brethren, but she knew it was only a trick of her anguished mind. Still, the other coffin seemed so small…

And then the tears began to flow from her eyes once again, stopped only by the addition of another handkerchief handed to her by loyal Alfred. The priest was continuing through his sermon, but Matty was not paying attention. She kept staring at the little coffin, the one that held her Bruce, the star of her life. Losing Thomas had been bad enough, terrible in fact, for he was a unique man; but Bruce was actually a piece of her, created in her womb. When he had died, then a little part of her died as well.

Had it only been two days before that her, Thomas and Bruce had gone to the movies downtown? She could still feel his little hand in hers as they walked along the darkened streets, trying to find a cab. Poor Alfred, he was beside himself with grief. His first night off in weeks and this had to happen. She reached up and put her hand on his, which was resting on her shoulder. She knew that some members of the gathering, those who considered themselves the royalty of Gotham society, were probably aghast that a servant was daring to touch the body of his employer so…warmly, but Matty didn't care. Alfred was as much a member of the family as Thomas or Bruce had been.

The sound of his name going through her mind brought on another torrent of salty tears and she shook her head. The boy had stepped in front of her, to protect her. Before she could move, the woman holding the gun had fired, putting a bullet through the young lad's heart. Thomas had roared, his handsome features twisted into a mask of rage that actually had made Matty afraid, even as she tried to save her son's life. Another shot and the back of Thomas's skull was splattered all over her face. The woman with the gun had laughed and aimed at Matty, but the gun jammed.

The blonde-haired woman had run off into the night, screaming and yelling, like a banshee of legend.

And that was how Matty's life had ended, with the screaming and the blood and the rain and the pain and the death and the stench….

Alfred gripped her shoulder, indicating it was time to say good-bye. Matty attempted to compose herself, trying to create an air of dignity, just as she had been taught. Originally from New York State, where she was related to former president Roosevelt, she had been 18 years old when she had fallen for the 32-year old Thomas Wayne, who had recently left the army to start private practice. Two months later, the young debutant and the charming doctor had married. A month later, she was pregnant with Bruce.

The war started for the United States and Thomas was called back to active service, leaving her alone with the baby in the huge confines of Wayne Manor. Only a few days after he had shipped out, Alfred Pennyworth had arrived. His father had served Thomas's father and, after being wounded during the Blitz, Alfred had come to America, seeking employment. To Matty, he was an angel of deliverance.

Had it not been for Alfred, she would not have survived the war with her sanity. Bruce had been a bundle of energy, crawling around, and then walking away. Her formal upbringing had not prepared her for the world of teething and dirty diapers, but Alfred had proved to be a competent teacher. More than that, he became a surrogate father for her, dispensing advice or even "disciplining" her when she did something silly or foolhardy.

Now, he was by her side again for a final task, that of burying her husband and child. Her grief was almost overwhelming and she felt herself shaking. It wasn't fair that she should lose everything so quickly, so suddenly, all to some madwoman's gun! In that instant, she felt a red hot fury build up in her and, without thinking, she smacked a fist onto the little coffin.

By God, she swore, this will never happen to anyone ever again!

The entire assembly became quiet, as if the sound of fist hitting wood had somehow drained their voices from their throats. Quizzical eyes stared at her, waiting for her next move and she responded by turning white and fainting into the waiting arms of Alfred.

"Mr. Ted Grant and Mr. Alan Scott to see you, Madam," Alfred said from the doorway. It had been a few hours since the funeral, and many of the attendees were still milling about the grounds of Wayne Manor, remembering the dead and speaking of the living. Matty had retired to the sitting room in the Manor. In this room, she had taught her son to read and she was examining the sofa she was sitting on with interest. There were stains in the dark fabric that had resisted all efforts to remove them. She was thankful they had been so resilient, because the boy had caused many over the years and she found herself remembering the events surrounding each and every one. "Shall I send them away?"

Matty stood up and smoothed out her black dress. "No, please, Alfred; Ted is a very good friend."

With a short bow, he turned and exited from the room. Matty waited patiently and used another handkerchief to dry her swelled eyes. Years ago, as a teenage girl, she had developed a huge crush on Ted Grant, a few years her senior, who had been hired to train one of her cousins in boxing. Ted was a former champion, who career had been cut short by a gambling scandal. To know that he was here, that he had cared enough to show up, meant very much to her. They had developed a warm friendship years ago, before he disappeared during the war years.

Ted entered the room and Matty had to catch her breath. It was as if he hadn't aged and the sight of him caused her to briefly remember happier times than the present. He was dressed in a dark blue suit that did little to hide the athlete's shoulders and biceps. The man next to him looked around nervously, as if he was afraid he was being watched. She knew his name was Scott and that the name should mean something to her, but given the circumstances, she couldn't bring herself to concentrate. Ted walked over and gave her a hug. "I'm so sorry, Matty…"

They broke apart and she felt herself about ready to cry again. "Thank you, Ted." She turned her attention to Alan, who took her hand and bowed slightly. "Thank you both for coming."

"I'd like to offer my condolences as well, Mrs. Wayne," Alan said. He looked as if he had more to say, but he mentally bit his tongue.

"Thank you, Mr. Scott."

"'Matty, I know this doesn't seem like the right time, but have they found the attacker?" Ted asked in a hushed tone.

She shook her head. "No. They've assigned an Inspector Gordon to the case and he seems to be a capable man, but there are so very few clues. I didn't really see her face, only saw her hair and that awful laughing…"

Alan was looking down at his feet. "It's a terrible thing…a terrible thing…"

Matty sighed. "We should have known better, what with the increase in crime since the Green Lantern and Black Canary retired…"

Alan looked up. "Do you think that really had something to do with it, Mrs. Wayne?" There was a serious look on his face and Ted reached out and put a hand on Alan's shoulder.

"No, Mr. Scott, I don't…not really. Unlike most people, I appreciated everything they did for this city. The shame comes from the criminals that still didn't learn, that continued to…" She began to swoon again, and Ted reached out for her. When he caught her, she had already passed out. Effortlessly, he picked her up and carried her over to the couch.

"What the hell was that about, Alan?" Ted asked, the anger rising in his voice.

"What do you think it's about? I could have prevented this if I'd get off my high-horse for a second!"

"Bullshit!" Ted said, grabbing a magazine to fan air around Matty. "The decision had to be made, regardless of the consequences. We knew what would happen if we complied with the government…the lives of our loved ones wouldn't be worth spit! I can't believe that Jay put Joan in that kind of danger or Johnny and Libby…"

"We could have protected you other guys," Alan offered.

"For how long? How long until either you or the Spectre or Dr. Fate killed someone defending us non-powered heroes? Luthor was out for blood, man, don't you see that? He would have used our secrets against us or somehow prevented us from being able to wear our costumes."

Matty started to wake up and the two men ended their private conversation and turned their attention back to her. She sat up. "I'm so sorry, I'm just so upset…"

Ted smiled and patted her hand. "You don't have to apologize to me; we're old friends remember?"

She smiled and gave him a peck on the cheek. Then she turned to Alan. "Mr. Scott, I don't mean to intrude, but did you know my husband?"

Alan put his hands in his pocket. "No, but his death as well as your son's deeply affected me. I hope you don't mind that I came. Ted and I are old friends as well and when I saw him here, we sort of hooked up."

Matty looked Alan over. He had the air of an intellectual, but he wore a suit that indicated money. She had noticed his hands were calloused when they had greeted, which meant he actually worked for a living. A scientist perhaps. He was handsome and appeared to be in reasonable shape, though nothing like Ted. Where on Earth the ex-boxer had found this scientist, much less became his friend, was beyond her. "I see; well, again, thank you for coming. Do you have children, Mr. Scott/'

Alan looked as if he couldn't come up with the correct words, though a simple "yes" or "no" would have done. "My private life is, well, complicated."

Matty smiled and nodded her head slowly, wondering if that was how she would respond from now on when asked the same question.

*****

Gotham City, United States of America September 3, 1950

"You're fucking crazy!"

Matty's eyes went wide at the swearing directed her way by Ted Grant. "Is that how you talk to women? No wonder you can't get married."

Ted ran a hand through his light brown hair and Matty noticed that he was starting to go gray at the temples. Undoubtedly, she was the cause of that. She took in a deep breath and looked over to Alfred, who stood in the corner, appearing oblivious. He nodded slightly and she continued. "Look, I know you're Wildcat, the JSA member…"

Ted pointed at her. "You don't know shit, lady, got that? Anything you think you know, you need to forget."

She pleaded with him. "Ted, I need you to train me."

He looked as if he was going to explode, literally, as his head turned blood red. She had invited her friend over to request his help in her new mission…a mission of justice, to bring peace back to this city and to her soul. In the year since the death of her husband and son, Matty had pondered what it was she was to do to find closure. Inspector Gordon, despite a valiant effort, was never able to identify, much less capture, the woman that had destroyed Matty's life.

At first, she had found solace in the bottle, turning to drink as the women in her family often did. Alfred, loyal as ever, had quickly put a stop to that, and so she had tried volunteer work. As the months went on, and she did more and more work at the Gotham Mission, she began to see the dark side of humanity. She saw people with absolutely nothing being victimized by criminals and she witnessed depraved acts of inhumanity in the streets of the once proud city. There had been rumors, more like prayers, that the heroes would return, because they were the only one strong enough to stand up to the criminals.

There was a force working behind the scenes in Gotham, a malevolent force guiding the efforts of the criminal underworld and the police were utterly helpless. Corruption ran rampant through the department, and many times, Inspector Gordon had confided in her he felt like quitting. He needed a more effective weapon besides a good heart if he was going to try and change the city.

But Matty knew that you didn't change Gotham City, it changed you.

It had only been a week before, as she lunched with Kathy Kane, a good friend, that she had brought up the subject of the missing super-heroes. Betty had laughed and made a comment about how Matty should be the authority on super-heroes. When she only seemed puzzled, Kathy leaned over and whispered into her ear. Kathy was a good friend, a true friend, but she was also a woman of scandalous morals and it was she that informed Matty that an ex-lover, a mutual friend, was secretly the Wildcat, a former member of the Justice Society of America.

At first, Matty had been furious that Ted had hidden the knowledge from her. He would have known where Green Lantern was and he could have prevented…

Then reality set in. As brave and noble as the heroes had been, Matty knew they couldn't be everywhere. In fact, they had faced the same problems that poor Inspector Gordon was facing: corruption and a lack of resources. Still, the idea got her thinking. Maybe if Green Lantern got some more help, he could overcome the corruption in the government. Thankfully, it appeared that communists and not super-heroes were now the targets of the over-patriotic congress. Even poor Alan was being subpoenaed before congress.

Alan?

She then realized how it was that Ted and Alan had become friends; Alan was no doubt a member of the Justice Society as well, but Matty couldn't figure out whom at first. The Flash was already well-known, and Hawkman was far more…muscular, was that an appropriate word?…than Alan. Perhaps Dr. Fate or Hourman, though Alan did not seem mystical or powerful. In fact, the two of them had begun dating a few weeks before. He was a simple man, though incredibly intelligent. He had admitted to two failed marriages in only a few years, while building an entertainment empire. He owned radio stations, movie studios and television stations, which had made him a target of congress, since many of his employees were admitted or suspected communists.

Alan did not care about politics, quoting the Constitution and the freedom of speech. He was gentle, kind and compassionate and Matty felt safe around him. Even Alfred had approved, which was the final test for Mr. Scott. Alan was simply a good man who radiated power, almost like he was surrounded by one of those force fields the Green Lantern had around him…

It was too ironic to think about, that she had always wondered what had happened to Green Lantern and only to discover that she was dating him. She had immediately confronted him about it and she could see the pain in his eyes as he explained the Justice Society's vote not to comply. The fear was that some rogue element in the government would use the information to force super-heroes to do unlawful things. While the more powerful members were not afraid, other members like Wildcat, the Atom and Johnny Thunder could easily, with the proper amount of force, be used as weapons. "Better surrender than defeat," he had finally said.

He had cried that night, apologizing for not being there for Thomas and Bruce, but stating that he couldn't have done anything.

He had destroyed his power ring and power lantern, sent them flying into the sun to ensure they could never be used for evil.

Afterwards, he admitted, he had realized what a great mistake he had made. In a moment of rash judgment, he had truly changed the course of history. Matty asked him why he didn't become a super-hero like the Wildcat, and he had said it wouldn't have been the same. He needed his ring. "I'm Green Lantern…that's what I do."

"Train you? Train you for what?" Ted asked, bringing her out of her memories. "Being a super-hero is not a game; it's very dangerous and requires years of training. You don't have the time, lady! Forget this shit and go shopping or something."

"Shopping? Is that what you think I want to do with my life? I lost my husband and my son because the law failed them!" she screamed back. She willed the tears back into her eyes; she would not cry.

"So, you want to take the law into your own hands? That's not what it's about, Matty! That's why we quit, because we couldn't follow the law!"

"The law is wrong! People are suffering! What good are laws when children are dying? Tell me, Ted? Is your secret identity worth the life of one child?"

She had won the argument and she knew it. She heard his teeth grind and his knuckles turned white. He turned and stomped out of the room. "Fuck!" After a few moments, he came back in the room. "Alright, little girl; you think you have what it takes? You think you'll change the world? We'll see…but you better understand one thing, missy: you can't quit. I don't want to hear anything about being tired or that you're cramping or any bullshit like that. You give me less than 200% of your effort, I'll personally kick your ass!"

After he left the room, Matty turned to Alfred, who was smiling. He didn't totally agree, in fact, he strongly believed she was foolish, and he was assuming she would quit when the going got tough. She smiled back at him, realizing just how wrong he was, but so happy that she was finally getting a chance to do something for him…for Thomas…for Bruce and all of the people she had ever loved.

*****

GOTHAM KINGPIN IDENTIFIED!

Gotham City, July 7th, 1951 – Chief Inspector O'Mally, the number 2 man at Gotham City Police Department, announced today that warrant had been issued for so-called super-villain Harley Quinn today. Quinn, whose real name is unknown, is believed to be the head of the Gotham City underworld where crimes such as robbery, arson, prostitution, gambling and even murder are commonplace. Based upon evidence gathered by the Detective Division of the GCPD, District Attorney Harvey Dent presented his case before the grand jury.

Quinn, who is normally seen dressed in a red and black jester's outfit, is specifically named in an indictment handed down by the grand jury. According to the indictment, Quinn is charged with the murder of former mob boss Oswald "Penguin" Cobblepot. While suspected of other crimes, only the first-degree murder charge was specified in court papers. Immediately after the indictment was handed down, an arrest warrant was issued for the person or persons using the Harley Quinn alias.

Quinn has been dubbed a super-villain by the local press because of her demonstrated great strength and endurance, evidenced in several physical confrontations with police. It is believed that with these abilities, she was able to secure enough henchmen and followers to allow her to challenge Cobblepot's reign over the Gotham underworld. Many who remember Cobblepot in his heyday state that he was a gentlemen's gangster, much like Al Capone in Chicago. The recent escalation of violence in certain areas of the city has been attributed to Quinn's policy of ensuring no witnesses to any crimes.

Once captured, Quinn may also face federal charges of failing to register her secret identity with congress. Under federal law, "..any person (s) that knowingly and consistently demonstrate abilities beyond the reasonable normal capabilities of the average citizen, and makes a conscience effort to prevent knowledge of their true name and identity from being revealed, must register with a duly authorized federal registrar…".

The Superhuman registration Act, now nearly three years old, was passed in an effort to ensure that subversive persons did not try to gain the public trust through false means. The bill, sponsored by Senator Lex Luthor, has met with some renewed criticism in recent months, especially by members of industry. Since the passing of the bill, the number of active super-heroes in the United States has gone down to almost nothing. The disbanding of the Justice Society of America essentially sounded the death knell for super-heroes in this country. Some heroes have relocated to other countries where such laws do not exist.

Former JSA chairman, Hawkman, along with All-Star Squadron member Hawkgirl, both now operate freely in Egypt. The Shining Knight (a British citizen) formed the Seven Soldiers of Victory in England and includes former American heroes Amazing-Man and Robotman. Currently, only the Flash, a former member of the All-Star Squadron and the Justice Society, is active in the United States. Other heroes, even though they complied with the law, have retired, including Liberty Belle and Johnny Quick, who are expecting their first child.

End Chapter 1