DCMU: DC-Marvel Unlimited. A shared universe in which the characters of both DC and Marvel have always coexisted. Featuring new adventures and a few old ones, re-imagined...
The Spider and the Bat
The guard made his rounds. His footsteps echoed through the long hallway.
He hated this place. He was grateful to have a job, but he hated this place all the same. It gave him chills, just knowing that the cells on either side of him contained the most notorious, bloodthirsty and all around insane criminals in the history of Gotham City.
He peered through the plexiglass window of the cell that had the name J. Tetch marked on the door.
The small man inside seemed harmless enough, sitting on his cot, idly sipping tea. However, the guard knew that a man known as the Mad Hatter, most likely didn't earn such a moniker by actually being harmless.
He continued down the hall, glancing briefly through the window of the next door. The room's usual occupant leaned against a wall, flipping a coin.
When he noticed the guard peering in at him, he sneered and turned his head to reveal the horrible disfigurement on the left side of his face.
The guard quickly moved on, passing the cells marked J. Crane and P. Isley, and stopped at the final cell. The maximum security cell. The one without a window. The one simply marked: Joker.
He stared at the monitor above the cell door that broadcast a live feed from the small camera mounted in one corner high above the cell inside.
The thin, almost gaunt, man inside with white skin and green hair lay on his bunk, doodling on some paper, an assortment of Crayons scattered beside him.
When he finished his masterpiece, he scrambled off of the bed and peered up at the camera.
"I'm going to show you my latest work." he called, tentatively. "Be honest. Brutally honest, if you must. I can take it."
He held up a childlike drawing of a stick figure Batman with a knife through its head and two crosses for eyes.
"Tell me...how much do you love it? A lot? A bunch? Bunches, even?"
He glared up at the camera, then ripped the paper in half and tossed it to the floor.
"I'm never going to grow as an artist without some encouragement!" he shouted, pointing at the camera. "How will I ever rehabilitate myself and rejoin society as a productive and well-adjusted citizen?"
The guard looked away from the monitor. He exhaled. God, that guy gave him the creeps.
He looked at the clock on the wall above. Almost quitting time. The guard looked forward to heading home and forgetting about this place for the rest of...
He heard a low rumble. Suddenly the floor began to shake. Small tremors at first, followed by increasingly larger ones.
Just outside of the building, the ground erupted in the large exercise yard of Arkham Asylum.
A large boring machine used to dig tunnels appeared from down below in a cloud of dust.
The giant machine, with a spinning cone-shaped drill, appearing very much like a tank on large treads, rumbled through the yard straight towards the building.
Warning sirens sounded as the guards in the watchtowers fired rounds from their rifles which were harmlessly deflected by the machine's metal hull.
The vehicle crashed into the building, boring a hole into the Joker's cell.
The rotating drill on the front of the machine slowly spun to a stop and the hatch on top opened.
A woman with a white painted face, wearing a red and black harlequin costume appeared from below and threw her arms in the air.
"Hi Puddin'! Did ya miss me?"
"You have no idea, my dear Harley!" the Joker exclaimed as he scrambled onto the machine. "These philistines have little to no appreciation of the arts. Now I know how Picasso felt!"
They both descended into the machine and Harley Quinn closed the hatch. The vehicle rumbled back out of the building and then disappeared into the hole from which it had appeared.
Seconds later, a beam of light shot across the night sky, flashing the silhouette of a large bat on the evening clouds.
New York City.
Three weeks later.
Throngs of people lined the street as they clamored to get a look at the Empire Circus parade as it made it's way through Manhattan. Elephants slowly marched ahead of happy clowns and acrobats as a pipe organ on a flatbed truck played a festive tune.
Everyone loved the circus parade. Almost everyone that is, except for one Peter Parker, rookie photographer for the Daily Bugle, New York's premiere newspaper for celebrity gossip and other innuendo as well as whatever news can be squeezed onto the back page.
He'd been stuck with this assignment after three other photographers had passed on the opportunity to earn the grand sum of fifty bucks. Peter wasn't complaining really, after all he needed the money. Going to college and helping to support his Aunt May had really taken a toll on his wallet. He was grateful for the opportunity. It was just that, when he had pictured himself as a photographer, he envisioned himself doing grander things than snapping shots of elephants relieving themselves in the street.
"Peter! Hey, Peter!" he heard a sweet, familiar voice calling to him.
Peter turned to see Mary Jane Watson smiling at him as she made her way through the crowd. He ached inside whenever he saw that beautiful face that he had been so enamored of since elementary school.
"Fancy meeting you here, Mr. Parker." she beamed, standing before him, a slight breeze tousling her long red hair.
"Yeah, um." his voice cracked. "The Bugle sent me down to get some pics of the parade, ya know. Everybody loves the...uh, circus, right?"
"I know I do. I haven't been to the circus since my aunt took us when we were kids." she giggled."Remember that, Petey? That clown scared you so bad!"
"Well, I'm not scared of clowns anymore." he said. "Years of therapy have cured me. I think."
She laughed and folded her arms.
"You're so funny, Pete. Well...I was just on my way to an audition. I should get going..."
Do it, Parker, he thought. Just ask her out. Ask her to the circus. She already gave you an opening when she mentioned it. Don't be a wuss.
"Hey, MJ? I was wondering if..."
She looked at him and he melted.
"Would you like to-"
Suddenly that tingling feeling that he knew all too well gripped him.
"Peter? What is it?" Mary Jane asked. "You look like something's wrong."
Something was wrong. Or it was about to be.
Peter focused on a green and purple VW bus that suddenly stopped in the middle of the street. The doors swung open and a small army of men wearing clown masks suddenly stepped out.
Then Peter's senses nearly overloaded.
The clowns pulled machine guns from under their coats.
"MJ, I think we'd better go." he said urgently.
"What kind of clowns are those?" she asked. "I mean guns aren't funny at all-"
The clowns fired into the air, scattering people in every direction. Mary Jane screamed.
"MJ! Run!" she heard Peter say, but when she turned around he was gone, swallowed up by the crowd.
The gunfire frightened the elephants and one of them rared back and charged towards the crowd.
The clown car exploded and a green cloud billowed up into the air. Suddenly, those people who couldn't clear the street fast enough began to laugh uncontrollably and collapse.
One of the elephants charged straight for a small girl who had been separated from her mother.
"Becky!" screamed the little girl's mother, watching helplessly as an adult African elephant thundered towards her seven year old daughter.
Just as the elephant was about to trample over her, the large beast flipped backwards and slammed against the pavement.
The frightened little girl looked up to see Spider-Man standing on top of the dazed elephant which was secured to the street by a massive web. He waved to her.
"Don't worry, Jumbo here's just gonna take himself a little nap."
The girl's mother scooped her up and sobbed.
"Thank you Spider-Man!"
Before he could tell her to take cover, three of the clowns unloaded their machine guns at him.
He leaped in the air and as they whirled around to fire again, he swung down on a web line and smashed into the clowns, scattering them across the street.
"Good grief!" Spider-Man called as he landed on his feet. "Where did you guys learn to fire a gun? The Stevie Wonder Shooting Range?"
He heard the crowd laughing behind him and turned to face them.
"Look folks, I know I'm funny, but you really should be running for your lives right about...oh no." he felt sick when he saw that the people who had been laughing had begun dropping to the pavement.
Spider-Man leaped the fifteen foot gap to the fire hydrant on the corner. He ripped the cap off of the hydrant, spraying hundreds of gallons of water at the van, extinguishing the fire and dissipating the deadly green cloud.
He twisted the heavy cap back onto the fire hydrant's iron shell, shutting off the water's flow.
"No no no! You've ruined my fun!" a voice squealed from behind him.
Spider-Man looked up to see a white faced figure with green hair and bright red lips, standing in the street wearing a purple suit, flanked by ten more armed clowns.
"I've got a bone to pick with you, Ronald." Spider-Man called. "I love your happy meals and all, but the quality of the toys has been severely lacking lately! I mean, no more Hot Wheels? What's that about?!"
"Oh, I've heard about you, Webs!" The Joker called, pointing at Spider-Man with his walking stick. "You fancy yourself a comedian? Well, I'll show you what comedy really looks like! Fire, boys!"
Spider-Man watched as the phalanx of clowns leveled their machine guns at him.
He leaped in the air and fired his web-line at the fourth story ledge of a nearby office building.
The clowns attempted to follow, shooting randomly in his direction.
He let go of the web-line, did a twist in mid-air and landed on the gang.
With lightning quick agility, he punched and kicked the clowns, sending them flying in every direction. At the same time, he used well placed shots from his web-shooters to yank the machine guns from their hands.
When all of the clowns had either been knocked unconscious or webbed together, Spider-Man turned his attention to their boss.
"Well that's what I get for hiring mental patients!" the Joker chuckled. "I guess you get what you pay for. I should be happy they didn't soil themselves this time!"
"Play time's over, Bozo!" Spider-Man called. "I've heard of you too, Joker, and this isn't Gotham city. You're in the Big Apple now and we don't put up with riffraff here! That's what Jersey's for!"
"But I thought New York welcomed everybody! That's why I've chosen to take a little vacation in your fair city!" the Joker laughed maniacally. "Gotham just doesn't do it for me, anymore!"
He pulled a pack of razor sharp playing cards from under his jacket and flung them at Spider-Man, who dodged them easily by leaping and performing a mid-air limbo.
"What can I say? It's been a gas, but Daddy's got some business to attend to!" the Joker shouted as he pulled a hand grenade from his jacket and hurled it towards a small crowd of people who were too terrified to move.
Spider-Man fired a line from the web shooter on his wrist and caught the grenade. He swung the line over his head once and released it, sending the grenade flying off into the sky where it exploded harmlessly.
When he returned his attention to the insane clown, he was gone.
Several NYPD patrol cars arrived on the scene with sirens screaming.
"Hey, right on time, fellas!" Spider-Man called as he swung into the air.
"The Joker, Alfred. He's in New York." Bruce Wayne tossed an evening copy of the Gotham Gazette onto the table beside his dinner plate.
"Millions of dollars in telecommunications available to you and you learn the Joker's whereabouts from...a newspaper?" mused Alfred, Bruce's trusted butler, as he stood beside the table.
"He's been off the radar since he escaped from Arkham three weeks ago." Bruce ignored Alfred's quip. "That makes me think he's planning something. Something big."
"Shall I summon Master Timothy from his trip abroad, Sir?"
"No. Tim needs a break, Alfred."
"Ms. Gordon, then?"
"No Alfred. I think I can handle this on my own."
Bruce pushed back from the table and crossed the room to the large picture window that overlooked the grounds of Wayne Manor.
"Alfred, do you still have that RSVP to the Maria Stark Foundation benefit?"
"Indeed, I do Sir."
"I was going to send a check and my well wishes. Perhaps I should deliver them in person."
Bruce moved the chime on the antique grandfather clock, then swung it open to reveal a darkened doorway.
Alfred removed the plate of uneaten filet mignon.
"I'll start packing now, Sir."
"Good man." said Bruce as he descended into the Bat-Cave.
"Perfect! Just perfect!" J. Jonah Jameson grumbled as he marched through the offices of the Daily Bugle. "Another costumed creep terrorizing the city! Green Goblin? The Vulture? They're not enough? Now we've got some clown killin' people in Mid-Town! Ya know who I blame for this Robbie? Do ya? Huh? Do ya know who I blame?"
Robbie Robertson, the Bugle's Editor In Chief stared back at Jameson with a tired expression
"Spider-Man!" Jameson called, chomping his cigar as he dropped down behind his desk, propped up his feet and clasped his hands behind his salt and pepper crew cut. "It wasn't until after he showed up that all of these other costumed super-villain creeps started showing up and wreaking havoc on the city that I love so dear! Curse that wall crawler!"
"That's not fair, J.J.!" Robbie snapped back. "I told you, Spider-Man's one of the good guys! He helps people! And there have been plenty of superheroes floating around this city already! What about Iron Man or the Fantastic Four? "
"Yeah, but we know who they are! They don't hide behind a mask like the Web-Head does."
"Iron Man wears a mask."
Jameson stared at Robertson.
" Get Parker in here."
Robertson walked out of Jameson's office shaking his head.
"You're up, Pete."
Peter gathered his backpack and books and made his way into the office of his employer.
"You wanted to see me, Mr. Jameson?"
Jameson sat up and placed his hands on his desk.
"Nice work on the circus parade job. Great photos, all of 'em. I particularly enjoyed the shots that showed Spider-Man duking it out with a gang of clown school dropouts. That's front page stuff, there! Simply outstanding!"
"But, I didn't take any pictures of Spider-Man fighting the clow-"
"That's right, Parker! I was being facetious! How in the name of William Randolph Hearst can you be front and center for a battle between Spider-Man and the Joker and not have one, single, solitary picture to show for it?!"
Peter could have told him the truth. He could have told him that he was Spider-Man and that he had been just a little too preoccupied at the moment to snap a few awkward pictures of himself, because of a silly little thing like trying to stop a psychopath from killing any more people than he already had.
Instead he just cleared his throat.
"Uh...I'm sorry, Mr. Jameson. I just got...swept up in the crowd of people who were trying to escape and by the time I got back, Spider-Man was gone. And so was the Joker."
Jameson pointed at him with his chomped and withered cigar.
"You're a good kid, Parker. I like you, but I'm firing you. Nothing personal. Ms. Brant will cut you a check on the way out."
Peter felt sick. Once again his personal life was headed into the gutter because of Spider-Man.
"But, Mr. Jameson..."
"Wait. Strike that." Jameson, said, shuffling through a mound of papers on his desk. "I need a photographer tomorrow night for the Stark benefit. A hundred bucks American and all the hors' d'oeuvres you can stuff in your pockets. You in?"
"Done. Ms. Brant will give you the address. Now get lost. I have to find a picture to splash across the front page of tomorrow's edition. Robbie! Do we still have that picture of the baby born with horns?"
"I told you, that was Photoshopped, J.J.!" answered Robbie from outside the office.
"Well...is it a bad Photoshop?" Jameson called back.
Peter got the necessary info from Betty and headed towards the elevator. What happened at the parade yesterday had continued to gnaw at him. People were killed in front of him by the Joker and he couldn't stop it. The Joker escaping was salt in the wound. He felt like a failure. He felt as if he let down the people of his city, the people that he had sworn to protect. Deep down, he knew that he couldn't catch every villain in the world. He also knew that one way or another, he was going to catch the Joker.
Meanwhile, a small motorcade consisting of several police cars and an armored truck made it's way from Riker's Island toward the courthouse where Norman Osborn was soon to stand trial for his crimes.
Osborn, known more familiarly to the NYPD as his other persona, the Green Goblin, sat shackled on a bench in the armored transport.
Two armed officers sat across from him. Staring at him menacingly.
"Are those shotguns really necessary, officers?" asked Osborn. "I mean, really, now. What threat could I pose to anyone in my current state?"
The officers stared back in icy silence.
Osborn had been captured a few months earlier after a lengthy battle with Spider-Man who had tracked him down after Osborn had gone on a rampage against the board of directors of his own corporation.
It had been over a year since Osborn ingested a serum of his own devising that enhanced his physical strength and intellect with just one pesky side effect: it drove him insane. He adopted the character of the Green Goblin and set out to wreak havoc, basically for havoc's sake.
The only things that kept him incarcerated were the indestructible shackles designed by Stark Enterprises and the high tech, maximum security cell built by SHIELD that he now lived his life in.
Osborn had once been a captain of industry, one of the world's wealthiest men and he was now reduced to this unbearable existence. He glared at the guards who glared back.
Suddenly, the armored transport was violently knocked on it's side, sending the guards and Osborn tumbling. Even though the van had been overturned, it was still being pushed through the streets by the semi truck that had collided with it, plowing the vehicle into the police cars that had been its escort.
Suddenly the truck, the van and the damaged police cars came to a rest.
The rear doors of the van slammed open and someone fired a gun inside, killing the guards.
"Today's your lucky day, Normy!" Harley Quinn sang as she stepped into the overturned van with a still smoking pistol.
Osborn, having injured his head during the collision, and his ears still ringing from the gunshots, passed out.
End of Episode 1
All characters featured in this piece of fiction are the copyrighted property of their respective creators and owners. Believe me, if I did own these characters, I wouldn't be sitting here writing fan fiction because I would be rich. No, seriously. Like, filthy rich. I would have a pet tiger. Maybe a llama, too.