Act III, Scene II

The Daily Planet building. Lois enters Perry's office. Perry, on the phone, motions for her to take a seat. She does so.

PERRY: Send him up, then, if he's insisting on it!

He slams the phone down and sighs heavily with his head in his hands before raising his eyes to take in Lois. She frowns.

LOIS: What's up, Chief?

PERRY: The Planet owners. They're threatening to pull the plug. Our numbers are so bad and with Superman gone...(he waves his hands helplessly)they're threatening to sell.

LOIS: Sell? Sell to who? Who's gonna buy a newspaper in a time like this?

Perry's eyes flit away from Lois and out of his office. Lois follows his gaze and sees a man exit the elevator and scan the newsroom before him with an evidently unimpressed result. He catches sight of Perry through the office windows and begins to walk in their direction.

LOIS: No. Morgan Edge? You're joking, right? The guy's a creep! And he's dirty!

PERRY: Prove me something I don't know.

Edge reaches the door and opens it, without waiting to be invited in. He walks inside and regards Lois and disregards her an instant later, walking past her and to Perry's desk so he can loom over the editor-in-chief more efficiently. We see Lois lean to the side so she can see past Edge's body and to Perry, who glowers up at the newcomer.

EDGE: Perry. Fire that receptionist will you? It's not every day a billionaire finds himself told he needs an appointment to see a newspaper editor. Particularly when he's a few hours and a handshake from becoming that editor's new boss.

PERRY: Sit down, Morgan.

EDGE: I prefer to stand, if it's all the same to you. I won't be staying long anyway.

PERRY: (very insincerely) Oh. Really? Shame...

EDGE: I'm here to ask for you to give the board your recommendation that they sell to me. They will eventually anyway, but there has been some dithering, and I know your approval will move things along. Can I count on it?

PERRY: Can you count to zero?

Edge's face darkens. It is not a nice transformation.

EDGE: Don't be naive, Perry. My Gotham Tribune is outselling you worldwide five to one. My WGBS network gets more ad revenues in an hour than you pull in in a month. Without Superman, you have nothing to offer, no USP. Joining Global Network under my banner will be a challenge. Of course, if you, if the Planet isn't up to that challenge...well, business is business. Survival of the fittest.

Perry gets up from his chair and stands toe-to-toe with Edge. Lois watches all of this, spellbound.

PERRY: This paper has existed since 1775. George Washington wrote a guest editorial for its first edition. No-one had heard of Superman, Batman, or anything remotely resembling them. And by God, so long as there is strength in my body and so long as I have access to a printing press and to talented writers (he glances at Lois) there will be an edition of the Daily Planet hitting the newsstands across this great city until you, me and Superman himself are distant memories. Now get. The hell. Out. Of my office.

EDGE: You'll regret this, Perry. Believe me.

He turns and walks out, taking a moment to wither Lois with a poisonous glance in her direction. As he walks out the door, slamming it behind him, Lois jabs out her tongue at his retreating back. She turns to Perry.

LOIS: That was amazing, Perry! You sure-

But Perry looks far from triumphant. He's slumped in his chair. As Lois trails off, he raises his head to look at her, hopelessness in his eyes.

PERRY: Save it, Lois. He's right. I just couldn't bear to let him see that I knew it.

LOIS: No way, Chief! Look. Do what you can to stall the owners making that sale. Clark and I have a lead on Superman.

PERRY: (sitting bolt upright) Great Caesar's Ghost! Why didn't you say so?!

LOIS: Because it's only a lead. But it's something. Clark's off...investigating. But I have a few ideas of my own. Hang in there, kay?

PERRY: Hang in there? Let me simplify this for you, Lane – you underling, me editor. Now get out there and get to work!

LOIS: (rolling her eyes) Sure thing, Chief. Good to have you back.

She exits Perry's office and scans the newsroom floor, eventually finding what she's looking for.

LOIS: Jimmy!

Jimmy Olsen is standing before her in moments. He looks nervous, but also waiting to be disappointed, as he was before when called into the meeting room to fetch the pastries order.

JIMMY: Yeah?

LOIS: I have a big job for you.

Jimmy sighs. He fishes out a notebook.

JIMMY: Black? White? Latté? Jelly? Sprinkles?

Lois puts her arm around his shoulders. Jimmy's eyes bug.

LOIS: Undercover...

Act III, Scene III

Gotham. Mayor Garcia's office. Commissioner Gordon is there, and he's not happy. Not even a little bit. He paces around the room as he talks, while Mayor Garcia sits calmly and impassively as he listens to what Gordon has to say.

GORDON: It's absolutely out of the question.

GARCIA: I fail to see why, Commissioner. The CCTV footage proves Batman's innocence. It's all over the news.

GORDON: Yeah. Amazing sources those news guys have these days.

GARCIA: Astonishing. But given the footage, why can't we scale back the manhunt, the arrest warrant, to...uh...(he coughs delicately) previous levels? Say, before the Joker killings levels?

GORDON: You want us to work with him again? (shakes his head) No. And it's not easy for me to say that. I supported him more than just about anyone, and you damn well know I did. But things have changed.

He produces a folder and drops it on Garcia's desk. Photos tumble out – photographs of corpses and injured, some with necks broken, some covered in horrific burns.

GORDON: I had a guy give himself up last night. Crawled into the nearest precinct, left a trail of blood for six blocks. A mugger. Said Batman stopped the mugging he and his partner were about to commit.

GARCIA: That monster! Well, I'm convinced! (lifts his phone) All units! Arrest the Batman at once!

GORDON: Not content with stopping the mugging, Batman insisted he and his partner kneel before him. And when his partner hesitated, Batman did this-

He produces another photograph, of the dead mugger in the alley, his neck broken in several places, his body contorted in the rictus of death. Garcia looks at the picture, and replaces the phone.

GARCIA: Is there any proof? That Batman did this?

GORDON: Proof? After what he did to those gang members?! Most of them were lucky to make it out alive!

GARCIA: All of them were armed to the teeth with weapons they were hellbent on using to bring this city to its knees, Commissioner. Weapons you and your unit had done little to stem the tide of.

GORDON: I'm telling you something is wrong. Very wrong. A week ago if you'd told me Batman would be the hero of Gotham again I'd have been the first to raise a glass. But not now. Inviting him back into the city's good graces is a mistake.

GARCIA: I disagree. And I'm asking you once again – drop the manhunt. Call off the dogs.

GORDON: And I'm telling you again. My answer is no.

GARCIA: Duly noted, Commissioner. I expect your letter of resignation on my desk by this time tomorrow. We're done here. Thank you for your time.

He gestures to the door. Gordon looks at him with disgust and walks toward it, stopping as he walks through only to say-

GORDON: Keep the pictures. We'll have plenty more before long.

He walks away. The door clicks shut, and Garcia is alone in his office. He smiles to himself, shakes his head, and retrieves some papers from the top of his 'In' tray, gets a pen, and begins making notes and signing his name. He pushes Gordon's photos into a pile and to the far edge of his desk to give himself room to work.

There is a breeze. The curtains to his office's window flutter for a second. Garcia doesn't glance over, doesn't give it a second thought.

Until the shadow falls across him, across his desk. The shadow with pointed ears. The nib of Garcia's fountain pen shatters as his hand reflexively constricts. He takes a breath before looking up, and as expected, Batman stands in his room, imposing, silent and invincible.

GARCIA: It's an honour to meet you-

BATMAN: We've met before.

GARCIA: I don't think so...

BATMAN: I was someone different at the time.

GARCIA: Someone...different?

BATMAN: At the time I was convinced I needed to hide behind a 'normal' life. That's changed. I have nothing to fear now. Now they fear me.

GARCIA: Y-yes, I can definitely see why they-

BATMAN: Speak to Gotham. In time I'll do it myself, but these things take adjustment.

GARCIA: Speak to Gotham? You mean make an address? Saying what?

BATMAN: Telling them that crime won't be tolerated.

GARCIA: Yes. Yes, excellent. Faith in the police is at an all-time low, and your endorsement-

BATMAN: I'm not talking about the police. Gotham has no need for the police. Or prisons. (pause)Or Arkham.

GARCIA: (laughing nervously) I don't know what you-

BATMAN: At 8pm tomorrow night, you and your authorities will arrange for every single prisoner in Gotham Penitentiary, every single inmate of Arkham, to be set free.

GARCIA: Are you insane?! The entire city would be overrun with lunatics! We'd have anarchy on our hands! No...no, it's crazy!

BATMAN: Do it. Or I will remove their bonds myself. It seems you forget that Gotham and its people have me to protect it. When you make your address, tell the people that. And tell them that crime will not be tolerated. Anyone who violates the law will be dealt with.

Garcia's eyes flick down to the pictures spread out over the desk. The broken corpses. The burns. The mugger with the snapped neck. He licks suddenly dry lips.

GARCIA: Dealt with?

Batman picks up the photo of the mugger. His eyes glow red. Twin streaks of heat vision lance out and incinerate the photograph, going right through it in an instant and striking the wall behind Garcia. He shoves himself out of the way of the heat vision, scared witless.

BATMAN: Dealt with. Make the address. 8pm tomorrow. My rule of Gotham begins then.

GARCIA: (numbly)Your rule…

He is gone out of the window in a second, leaving Garcia shaking and staring at the wall where the heat vision blasts hit.

On the wall is written, in scorch marks –

HELP ME.

KILL ME.

Garcia walks unsteadily over to the desk phone. He picks it up.

GARCIA: Commissioner Gordon just left my office. Get him back. Now. And book me in for a public address. 8pm tomorrow night. (snaps) Do it!Get Gordon back here now, do you hear me!

He cuts the call and leans over his desk, sweating, only to be confronted with the photographic evidence of Batman's brutality that he had scoffed at and ignored mere moments earlier.

With a heave, he flings the entire contents onto the floor.