"The door flew open, in he ran,
The great, long, red-legged scissorman." - "The Story Of Little Suck-a-Thumb"
Choosing a costume is possibly the most important thing one can do upon becoming a hero or villain. Oh, certainly it's important to save the world from giant killer alien robots or threaten the world with instant nuclear death if you don't get a Twinkie right now. But without a costume that says I am awesome, I am the best there is, and don't you dare cross me, no one's ever going to pay any attention to you. (The attention you want, at any rate. Dressing up as Henry the Happy Hamster will get you lots of attention, though it might be difficult to achieve your goals when you are armed solely with cuddly fur and mighty cheek-pouches.)
And when your powerset is virtually empty - no super-strength, no otherworldly control of plants or animals, no insanity keyed at just the right point to cause the maximum amount of trouble for everyone but yourself - really, the costume is all you have, so it had better be great.
Some villains spent weeks on their costumes, or at least paid someone to spend weeks on it for them. Some villains labored for years to continually update and modify their gear so that they would always be ready for anything. But some villains just didn't care. Having a costume meant that Gotham cops were more likely to leave you alone until they got some vigilante reinforcement. So some villains, playing the odds, merely slapped some half-hearted decorations on a second-hand jumpsuit and deemed it to be good enough for Gotham.
Of course, this strategy only worked if you were lucky enough not to cross Batman's path. Unfortunately, tonight's aspiring villain had managed to attempt a break-in on a penthouse located directly on one of Batman's many patrol routes.
Batman ducked as another carelessly bundled set of scissors sailed through the air at his head. The open blades skittered across the fabric of his cape, leaving a little trail of broken threads as they tumbled away. A second set arced down from the sky and landed against a pointed Bat-ear, slicing through the protective outer layer and severing a handful of wires before bouncing off into the alleyway below.
The Scissor Man, Batman thought in disgust. He was intensely familiar with a very large selection of poetry, courtesy of the Riddler, and the poem featuring the Scissor Man had never been one of his favorites. He supposed he should be grateful that this Scissor Man wasn't following in the red-legged footsteps of his namesake. Batman knew for a fact that the targeted penthouse contained no children or thumb-sucking adults - just loads and loads of gems in the lady of the house's jewelry collection.
As well as the missing motivation, this Scissor Man had also bypassed the traditional 1800's knee breeches in favor of a bright red jumpsuit covered with glued-on scissors. Long, sharp fabric scissors gleamed on his arms, while his torso was covered in shining kitchen shears that had been disassembled for maximum coverage. A few sets of bright red safety scissors filled in the gaps, completing the outfit in the traditional "hastily-thrown-together-with-no-budget" look that was so popular among new rogues in the past few years.
The sharply dressed Scissor Man desperately flung himself across an alleyway, leaping from rooftop to rooftop like a rabbit with malfunctioning hindquarters. "Cut it out, Batman," he cried, his tone trying for Evil All-Powerful Villain but stopping short at Terrified Fugitive. "You'll never catch the Scissor Ma-aaaaaaaaaohohohOOF!" The clangs and cracks of various bits of his costume connecting with the ill-placed fire escape were accompanied by a descant of fervent swearing.
Batman came to a slow, deliberate stop and reached one-handed into the pile of aspiring rogue. He lifted the slight man by the back of the neck as if he was holding a recalcitrant cat. The man kicked wildly at him. One of the sets of scissors glued to his shoes fell noisily to the ground. Batman shook him admonishingly. "Playtime is over," he growled softly.
"No it isn't! No it isn't!" the Scissor Man yelped. "What about this?" On cue, his scissor-bladed hands snicked out and clawed wildly at Batman's cowl.
Many people had tried to cut off the cowl, thinking it was mere fabric or rubber. Unbeknownst to them, the cowl was lined with enough armor, wiring, and advanced technology to make it into a tiny fortress atop Batman's head. Batman ignored the man's flailing and pointedly dropped him back onto the fire escape.
Wham. "You..." the Scissor Man mumbled, "...are not nice." He shook his head sharply, not noticing a pair of nail scissors as they dislodged themselves from his hood. Batman reached down again to haul the man onto the rooftop for the traditional post-chase handcuffing.
As his black-gloved hand reached for the disoriented criminal, the man yelped and scooted backward. His rear end dangled helplessly in midair as his scissor-coated head whanged into the safety railing on the fire escape.
Batman swooped forward, attempting to grab the man as he slithered backward into empty air. "Nononononononoooo..." the Scissor Man wailed, clawing wildly at whatever he could reach. Batman dropped to the metal floor of the fire escape as ten razor-sharp blades whipped through the air, biting deep into the back of his armor as the terrified rogue tried his best to hold on to whatever he could reach.
Many things are important to take into consideration when designing a working outfit. In this case, the Scissor Man should probably have taken into account the fact that most of Gotham was made of metal or concrete, and that plating oneself with metal meant that one would lose a lot of traction very quickly.
Fortunately for him, the fire escape was only a mere three stories above ground. And, even better, there was a dumpster below full of nice soft garbage to cushion his fall. Best of all, it would take Batman a whole fifteen seconds to catch up with him!
The Scissor Man was obviously not in an optimistic frame of mind. He scrambled out of the garbage and immediately took off down the street, trying his best to ignore the bits of rotten food and other detritus that had speared itself on his costume like a cocktail weiner snuggling around a toothpick. Batman followed close at his heels, wrinkling his nose slightly at the redolent scent of filth that wafted in the Scissor Man's wake.
With a deer-like bound, the Scissor Man leaped onto the back of a pickup truck. The blades on his fingers shrieked as they scraped across the hatchback. He pulled himself into the truck bed, whirling around just in time to see Batman's incoming feet aimed directly at his exposed chest.
Batman tended to do well against knife fighters. For one thing, in order to hurt anyone with a knife, the fighter in question would have to be right up close - and no one wanted to get up close and personal with Batman.
No one, that is, except an overconfident rogue with some mild head-trauma-induced delirium. "The great tall tailor always comes to little boys that suck their thumbs!" he yelled, striking an offensive pose as best he could while trying to stay upright in the bouncing truck bed. Batman allowed himself a short, sharp sigh of irritation and braced a foot on the hatchback in preparation for a leap forward whenever the jittering Scissor Man made his move.
And this would all have been very dramatic, had it not been for the fact that Bat-brawls tend to make a lot of noise, attracting the attention of certain pickup drivers who instinctively slam on the brakes at the sight of a metallic madman and a brawny Batman duking it out in the back of their vehicle.
The Scissor Man and Batman, obeying the laws of physics, catapulted over the roof of the truck and rolled down the hood, wrestling to get the upper hand before they hit the ground. Brakes screeched around them as vehicles skidded to a halt in order to see this once-in-a-lifetime battle in the middle of the intersection. Pedestrians elbowed each other out of the way to get a better view.
The Scissor Man, on the bottom of the heap of Bat-fury, lashed out wildly with his hands, scraping hopelessly at Batman's back. The fingerblades caught in a crease in the cowl's neck. The rogue hauled on his hand, cursing as Batman's knee caught him in the stomach. He pulled desperately.
The cowl, weakened from a night of being cut, shredded, stabbed, scraped, and mutilated, made an odd whirring noise. Sparks flew from wiring that had been severed by lucky scissor strikes. And then, like the seal being broken on a jar of pickles, the cowl detached itself neatly from Batman's neck just in time for the Scissor Man to give one last gung-ho pull to free himself.
The Scissor Man skittered backward, eyes wide in horror. Batman grabbed him by the throat and pounded him into the pavement. A cold wind blew across the back of his sweat-drenched neck.
He froze. Cold. Neck. He looked at the ground around him for just long enough to determine that his cowl was clutched in long, sharp steel fingers. Shit. His cowl was off, his face was fully exposed, and he was in the middle of a crowd of onlookers. Shit. And they were all armed with those thrice-damned camera phones, all clicking away like he was a celebrity on the red carpet.
His cover was completely blown, his compatriots' identities were about to become public knowledge, and life as he knew it would never be the same. At least the Scissor Man was no further threat - suffering an accidental punch to the trachea meant that the most villainous thing he'd be up to for a while would be fighting to breathe properly. Batman secured the feebly kicking rogue to the nearest immovable object, scooped up the remains of his cowl, and disappeared into the night.
There was a moment of unsure silence in the street, punctuated only by the labored wheezing of the man handcuffed to the lamppost. Then, as if the end of the era had been officially declared, thumbs raced across tiny keypads. The air filled with a chorus of gentle beeps as the pictures of Bruce Wayne in Batman's armor exploded into Gotham.
(to be continued)