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The DCFutures FanFiction Group recognizes that Batman and all related characters are property of DC Comics. These stories are written for no profit, but rather a strong desire to peer into the future of the DCU. The stories and concepts presented herein, however, are property of the author. So there.


Written and Directed by Erik Burnham
X has been replaced with Y. Don't ask Y, he won't tell.
Mucho Thanks to Jason Tippitt for the Bat-concepts I blatantly stole in homage to his original Bats DCF ideas...........


BATMAN created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger
BATMAN: DCF created by Erik Burnham

"Revelations Galore"




"Alucard. I know that name," Tim said, holding the dark-haired man in his sights. "It's a pun, right? 'Blah, blah, I vant to suck your blood?' Get out of my house." "YOUR house, Tim? Wayne Manor, Timothy Drake? Do we have some sort of identity crisis brewing?" "Hey, I just own the place; the name stuck. Now enough with the small talk, pal. Get goin'." "Tim, you have no idea how pleased I am that you are taking charge in such a manner. It really speaks wonders for the program." Program? Tim thought. The avenues his mind was taking in relation to Holmes' statement did not please Tim at all. It brought Wight's theory back to the forefront of his mind. Dammit, he wasn't programmed, hypnotized, or cobbled. He was a human being, not a computer. "Holmes, I understand you have this cloak and dagger thing going on, and I can appreciate that in some warped way. But I've had a rough day. I'm tired. You're trespassing. Get your goons and go. Now. Do we have an understanding?" "Faithful to your nature to the very end, Timothy! Beautiful. You are in this to see your will done, no matter what. But what if my 'goons' are preparing to slaughter your pregnant love interest, what then? Or what if we decide to leak to the world what the League already knows about Batman? Many independent parties would surely love you stuffed above their mantle, as it were... just as a keepsake. What are your options here, Tim? Think carefully before you answer. Believe me, rushing in where angels fear to tread is not always the best course of action." Tim Drake did consider Holmes' words, for several eternal moments. What could this man offer him that no one else could? Answers. What did Tim have to lose by seeking these answers? ...Hopefully much less than he had to lose by denying them. But first: one very important question. "Where's Shannon?" Tim asked. A smile spread over Alucard's lips. It looked unnatural on that face, to be sure. But it remained for more of those eternal moments Tim had come to hate. "Why, right in here, young Drake." Alucard grinned, motioning into the study and bowing ever-so-slightly. "Right in here."


Tim was relieved to find the unconscious Shannon laying comfortably on his sofa -- alive, unharmed, and unaccompanied.
"Where are the goons?" Tim asked in an absent-minded fashion as he sat next to Shannon, brushing some hair out of her face, saddened that he had brought her into such a situation.
"There aren't any, Tim. Not a one in the whole house, or the grounds, for that matter. There are no wires on my person, no transmissions of any kind to any of our little spycats. This is a private matter."
Tim nodded obliviously as Alucard took a seat unbidden and made himself comfortable.
"So," Alucard began, clearing his throat. "I'm sure you have many, many questions. Well, I'm at your disposal, Mr. Drake. I'm here to fill you in on the big picture."
"Why?" Tim asked, his suspicion blatant.
"Because, Tim, you're not complete. Not even close. This is a personal embarrassment to me -- you'll find out why soon enough -- and when running through a list of options, I came up with 'tell all' as my best bet. I'm sure you're curious, after all. Why are you the Batman, how is it you took to it so well? Is there some reason all of this is yours?" Alucard asked rhetorically, waving his arms about. "Any guesses to start?"
"Word has it I'm a real Frankenstein project."
At that, Alucard laughed until a tear streamed down his face. "Frankenstein," he chuckled. "Timothy, you have no idea how close to the truth that actually is." Alucard drew a deep breath and released the last of his chuckles. "But the story begins well before you were ever brought into the picture, Tim. Decades back, the saga of the Batman began, as you well know, with Bruce Wayne..."




Bruce Wayne was tired in body, but not in mind.
His years as the Batman were coming to a close, and he was too arrogant to admit it. He saw the signs, the slower -- but not by much -- reflexes, the shorter -- but not by much -- nights, the more painful -- but not by much -- injuries.
And he wasn't even fifty yet.
Had Bruce noticed any of these things in Dick, Tim, or even Selina, he would have pressured them out of the game. Pressured, manipulated, and ultimately forced them out.
But he was different. He had a cause, and not much else. He must be Batman, or what was he? And if there wasn't a Batman, where would his city be? How would his promise be fulfilled?
His promise. THE promise.
It had been made years ago, during a freak storm that decimated the fresh flowers Bruce had just placed on his parents' graves. He would rid Gotham City of the criminal element. He would fight the darkness with its own shadow.
...But he was just a man, after all. And time was no friend of his.
So Bruce began to channel his obsession into another route; a scientific one. He would create a means to live on in some fashion or another. He would ensure there was always a Batman in Gotham.
...But cloning was such an inexact science.
"Hold on, hold on, hold on..." Tim spoke up. "Clones?"
"Clones, young Drake. Bruce Wayne eliminated the option of passing the mantle on - it had burned him once under Valley's name and he would not force it upon Grayson. This was a battle for him, and him alone."
Bruce Wayne thus... acquired all of the latest information on cloning, adding a few of his typical innovations. Bruce had computers thieving bits of information from the Cadmus Project, STAR Labs, WayneTECH, anywhere that had anything to do with cloning.
And then, the time came. Bruce had all of the necessary information, as well as the necessary genetic sample he had lifted from one of his sometime-allies, the Catwoman.
"Why the Catwoman?"
"Why not? Bruce was hardly thinking at his rational prime at that point. Obsession had taken over."
After a month, the clone was patrolling the streets of Gotham city as Batman.
He was called Jace Kyle.


Jace Kyle was everything his 'father' had hoped for.
But Bruce and his precious computer programs had not foreseen the ramifications of the genetic tampering. Jace had one adventure as the Batman before he simply withered away... of old age.
The physical exertion of one night in Gotham turned him into an old man before Bruce's eyes. It was heartbreaking.


"Bruce Wayne attempted a few more experiments in recreating the Batman, to no avail. As old as he was, Wayne still donned the cape and cowl, relying on a prototypical, more powerful form of Ambrosia to retain some semblance of an edge, and massive amounts of hardware to complete the ruse that he was, indeed, still the most dangerous mortal on earth."
Alucard smiled and rose, looking out the window that had, more than a century before, provided Bruce Wayne with the inspiration he required to become a creature of the night.
The moonlight played through the ancient trees and across the grounds, making everything seem magical.
"But he could not last forever, even with the Ambrosia. So he retired. He retired as the Batman and allowed himself to 'age' through tricks of makeup, although he was addicted to the Pre-Ambrosia and the youth it brought. Enough to thrive as a man, but not enough to remain a god. Bruce threw himself into the life he had so long forsaken, trying to drink away the weight of a broken promise...
"And that's when a new Batman came onto the scene, a creation of a man calling himself Justice." Alucard turned from the window, smiling. "To make a long story short, Justice has a very static view of how the world should be. There must be a Batman in Gotham, a Superman in Metropolis, a Justice League protecting the world, and law and order will prevail, be there a God in Heaven or not."
"Justice had more resources at his disposal than even Wayne. How he got them, I still don't know -- but the man got things done. And it did Wayne's heart good to see a Batman protecting his city, easing the burden of his promise. It made him feel so good, when combined with the Ambrosia, he managed to keep himself from asking too many questions.
"But Justice's first Batman fell through after not too long. No real problem, the big man had backups. Disposable vigilantes. No one ever noticed. This went on for years. By and by, the quality of the clones improved. At one point, thirty or so years ago, Justice actually created a clone from Wayne himself. Got hold of some of Wayne's memories as well... that Batman was the last before you."
"What happened to him?" Tim asked. The story was beginning to mesmerize him, like it was all that really mattered. Tim had even forgot Shannon, who dozed quietly beside him.
"He gave it up to lead a quasi-normal life before Justice found another use for him. Or, I should say, me."
"That means you're..."
"Bruce Wayne, in a roundabout fashion." Alucard smiled. "The name is a pun I've been particularly proud of. Alucard, 'Dracula' backwards. He's always been identified with bats. Holmes, the greatest fictional detective known to man. My own personal little joke."
"If you're Wayne, then, why... why give up the mantle?"
"I'm not Bruce Wayne, Tim. I'm a clone. I'm a different person. My parents were never killed, at least, not where I'd have witnessed it first-hand. My memories are based on Wayne's. Not all of them came through in stunning clarity. My career as Batman lasted all of a week, it was pathetic. I mean, after all -- I do have the heart of a playboy within me. And women were plentiful."
"So that's what you did with your life?"
"No. I was drafted into the upper echelons of the League by Justice and charged with creating a new Batman. The first thing I noted was the accelerated process of cloning created imperfections -- too many imperfections. Some of the constructs aged too quickly. Others were poor martial artists. The body but not the mind, the mind but not the body, and -- when Wayne was finally used," Alucard smiled broadly, "there was no drive. Accelerating the process was the first thing I dropped. You, my friend, are an all-natural construct."
"Construct? No... no, I have a father, and the journal, I..."
"Tim, let me make this plain. We needed you to take over the mantle. Your backstory was set up twenty-five years ago. First, we needed a tie-in to the legacy. Mark Grayson was ruled out by Justice. Tim Drake was dead, but his son -- his son was around and married. Perfect. The first thing we did was... discreetly impair his ability to have children. And then, just as discreetly, we implanted you within your mother, for a natural incubation."
"Yes. You were born, and immediately began responding to your programming. You picked things up quickly, Tim -- ever wonder why? Why you were so interested in the martial arts when other kids were playing baseball? Why you had the photographic memory? We gave you the complete package, Tim... plus an added bonus to make sure you'd make the perfect Batman."
"NO!" Tim leapt at Alucard Holmes, or whoever the hell he really was, with a fury that surpassed any he had experienced before. But Holmes, in his template's impeccable manner, easily dodged, saying something to Tim as he sailed by.
The younger man's body froze immediately.
"A safeguard, Tim. Remember who I'm based on -- Bruce Wayne planned bathroom breaks two months in advance." Alucard grinned again as he propped Tim up on the couch.
"Comfortable? You can speak, you know. You can't move, but please -- if you have any questions, feel free... now where was I?"




"Most of your life was mapped out for you, Tim. I realize the conspiracy behind all this, but we have to be careful in such sensitive matters.
"We were searching for a good way to bring you into the world. When I was made aware of Tino Merani's plans for Commissioner Grayson via the Kangaroo Court, I knew it would be perfect for you. Simple.
"There was the problem of how to get you into the game in such a way that you'd be hard pressed to do anything BUT take up the mantle. That's when we came up with your grandfather's faux journal. We gave it to your father to give to you, I'd say about a week before the virus we slipped him took full effect. The cobbled video of Tim the first was a bit harder to plant due to that damned ADM, but..."
"I'm going to kill you."
"Understand, now, not everything was charted. There were surprises, Tim. You're a bit more... free-spirited than we'd have expected. That brief film career of yours, for example. Really."
"I'm going to kill you."
"And your temper, my goodness, I'd hoped we could do better with personality traits. But, emotional makeup was always an inexact science as far as genetics.
"Now, as to your physical makeup... that was easy. We could program all the right things in: optimal height, weight, frame... everything. But would you be in the shape to handle everything that would be thrown at you? Who can tell? And twenty-five years is a long time to wait. So... we cheated."
"As soon as I can move."
"You always were single-minded, Tim. Another of those emotional flaws in your make-up. Or an asset, I suppose, depending on how you look at it. Now, you're the closest thing we've come to a success. You are at about 80% of what we desire. Your detective skills are a bit lax, but... we've taken care of that, with the next generation." Alucard winked at Tim as he traced a finger down Shannon's cheek.
Tim screamed in frustration. He wanted to punch, maim, kill the man sitting only a few feet away. But his body wouldn't respond. He was in hell, he was in hell, he was in hell.
"Oh come, now. That's no way to act! Don't tell me, dear Timothy, that my daughter's not good enough to carry your child..."
"Your own daughter? You sick bastard..."
"Excuse me? Sick? Whatever makes you say that? Because I was responsible for a child? I told you I was prone to Wayne's playboy urges..." Alucard had a twinkle in his eye.
"Your daughter... impregnating your daughter with my child..."
"I'm sorry for my manipulation, Tim... but who she was the perfect candidate -- and you responded in kind to her charms, completing the ruse. Or perhaps you're just worried about some inbred monster, Tim? Don't! We're not from the same source, you and I." Alucard laughed. "I swear, your parents were so much easier to manipulate..."
Another scream, but different. Tim could feel his fist clenching out of Alucard's sight. Hope shined through the rage, only to be swallowed hole and incorporated. And then...
...Tim Drake stood.


Alucard Holmes was not prepared for that. Tim Drake was supposed to be completely incapacitated. His mind should not be able to operate his body.
Was his will that strong?
Had Alucard gone to far in his tauntings?
It would appear so, on both counts.
"I made you a promise," Tim said, his face a mask of death.
"You're not a killer," Alucard said.
Tim Drake leapt at Alucard Holmes. The old guard vs. the new guard. Alucard caught Tim in midair, but the sheer ferocity of the attack bowled both men over. Tim was on top of Alucard, pummeling the older man for all the pain he'd suffered in life, for problems which could have been coincidence, or could have been part of a carefully orchestrated plot.
For the session with Hugo Strange.
For the premature death of his father.
For the interruption of his life.
For a million and one other things that all poured from his mind to his fists in nano-seconds.
And then, Tim paused, realizing something as the rage subsided.
If Holmes was a clone of Wayne, and indeed at one time the Batman, shouldn't he be putting up a better fight?
That's when it hit Tim. Holmes couldn't put up a fight. He had made Tim better than himself. Tim's fists were flying faster than Holmes could have blocked.
Was that the cheat? Tim wondered. Oh, Lord... could that be what it was?
Timothy Drake stood up, his world shattered. All his abilities, all his achievements... meaningless. They were unearned.
The realization wounded Tim, wounded his ego. All of his accomplishments, truly amazing feats for a normal man, were based on a cheat he never knew he'd used. It wasn't fair. Maybe he wasn't as good as he'd always thought. And he'd never know.
A new realization then hit Tim. Holmes had said that they were 'not of the same source.'
Tim wasn't a clone of Bruce Wayne. He didn't share any genetic bond with Bruce Wayne. But neither was he a child of the Drake family.
He had no identity.
He needed to know.
But when Tim turned to ask Holmes about that final mystery, he found himself alone.
Holmes was gone, utilizing that age-old vanishing trick Batmen so loved to use.
And he had taken Shannon with him.
Tim cursed himself for his preoccupation as he raced to the grandfather clock and set it to 2:44. He wasn't going to let this go. Adrenaline sparked within him as he hopped down the stairs, three at a time. Curiosity, excitement, and leftover rage mixed within as he pulled the costume on his body.
And finally, an unearthly calm took hold of him as he climbed into the Batmobile.
...Time to get some answers. His way.
Tim Drake was done playing the puppet.




NEXT ISSUE: Batman, Batman, where for art thou, Batman?

Hey, wait a minute! Isn't this the space where Going Batty usually sits? It is! What's going on here? Well, that's easy to answer, dear readers. This is a very special issue of Batman... it's the flagship title of the DCF, our very first ongoing series, and the only 'founder's book' that's still around. Crazy how things can change, huh? At any rate, in celebration of this 25th issue, we've got some back-up stories for your reading pleasure by some of the DCF's grand old stable of writers!


Sandman: DCF
By Bryan Hall

"Liam Concord! Oh Liam!"
The last person Liam really desired to see was Katherine Jasmine. This little charity dinner he was throwing at the Sunset, he had hoped, would be devoid of media attention. 'Since when has anything I've done been devoid of 'media attention'...?' Liam pondered.
But, despite his dislike for the majority of the press, Liam slapped on a simplistic smile, turning back to Katherine and answering.
"Why hello, Ms. Jasmine! It's a pleasure to meet you, as always."
Katherine gave a light giggle to accompany the red streak currently occupying her cheeks. "And a pleasure to see you again as well, Liam! This is a lovely dinner you're hosting. What was it for again?"
"It's for the Gotham City Police Department. The police need all the help they can get, you know," Liam responded with another grin.
"Oh, but they get plenty of help already, Mr. Concord! You know who I'm speaking about!"
"The Sandman?"
A puzzled look crossed the features of the older woman as Liam spoke his answer. "The who?"
Liam didn't know if he should be insulted or elated at that comment. "Ah... nevermind. I suppose you're speaking of Batman, right?"
"Of course I mean the Batman!," Katherine exclaimed, grasping her hands together in a sign of delight. "Why, I think he's a godsend! What do you think of him, Liam?"
"Oh, well..." Liam had to choose this answer quite carefully. No doubt if they were ever to do a story on this Batman, his sound bite may be used. And if he were to call him, say, a menace to the preservation of society, he didn't much want this man in black stalking him outside his window. So...
"...I believe Batman is a great help to Gotham City. He's really a remarkable man, taking his life into his hands just for the protection of people like us."
This appeared to be the response that Katherine desired, as her smile grew wider and she spoke once more. "Thank you ever so much, Mr. Concord! Always a pleasure! Always!" And Katherine proceeded to annoy the rest of the guests.
...As Liam breathed a sigh of relief.

From The Private Journal Of Eve Tresser:
(Hacked By Jason Tippitt)

Batman. Tim Drake. The same coin, two sides. But it seems to balance on its edges...
If Tim Drake is Batman, and he operates out of Wayne Manor, then it's only logical to conclude that billionaire industrialist/philanthropist Bruce Wayne must have been the original Batman. Computer searches show no descendants of Bruce Wayne, so one must assume that the Batman of twenty years or so back was Tim Drake's father, Richard Drake. That is, if one were to also assume that the sickly Mr. Drake was merely playacting through his many bouts of illness.
Richard Grayson was Bruce Wayne's ward. This would suggest he was the original Robin and the masked hero Nightwing. I'd also venture to guess that perhaps he was behind the hood during a period in the late Twentieth Century when Batman began to act irrationally, permitting the death of a criminal named...
Oh, who am I kidding? This analytical report is just an effort to dodge the obvious. Somehow, Tim Drake got through my defenses. In my attempt to get to Batman, Batman got to me.
When Batman single-handedly took out Mercury and Captain Atom on top of police headquarters, I couldn't help but admire the man's skill. Now, his presentation made Punch and Jewelee look like portraits of somber repose, but the cunning behind this facade...
That's why Batman is the best. He seems to have this ability, almost a metahuman power, to get to the root of any situation and figure out the best course of attack. Tripping Mercury. Provoking Captain Atom to lose his temper. Kissing me...
And what a kiss it was. Ollie can never find out about what happened that night. Mercury has told me I owe him big for his silence. I don't know if I can plead not guilty by reason of pheromones, but that's the answer that keeps me sleeping at night.
I wish I could have added the Bat to my list of resources. But at the same time I know that if I had done so, I might be paying for it right now.

Midnight Blue and...that would be telling, in
"Next Caller..."
Written by Daniel Ben-Zvi

Never do anyone a favor. It is the oldest goddamn rule in the book. Do a favor for someone and they will turn around and screw you over.
Which really doesn't explain why I'm sitting in the studio, taking calls from every freak and loser who has the baseline intelligence to operate a teleline, seriously considering injecting that rocket fuel that Maria swears is just cafe cubano into my veins.
I guess I better start at the beginning, huh?
My name is Melissa Bloom. Under normal circumstances, I handle the afternoon drive shift on WGHT FM, the premiere radio station in Gotham City, thank you very much. Under normal circumstances, I would be nowhere near the studio at.... g-d, is it 1 am *already*?! I would, instead, be at home, in bed, asleep, with the hunky, good looking stud du jour giving me a backrub (okay, that last part is complete fantasy but, hey, a girl can dream, can't she?).
Anyway.... back to the subject at hand. Russell Adams came to me about three weeks ago, utterly desperate. Wife's about to have a baby (that makes 8 for the Adams family now.... hey Russell, ever heard of CONDOMS!), really needed to take some time off, no one willing to cover his shift for him, would I do him the biggest favor in the world, yadda yadda yadda... Me, being the idiot that I am, said fine, thinking that it'd only involve a couple extra hours work as Russell handles the shift before mine. What Russell had neglected to tell me, conveniently enough, was that Jason Cole, station manager and all-around asshole, had demoted him, busting him down to the graveyard shift.
Officially, it was supposedly because of some major infraction or other (which lead some of the dumber station employees to mutter for about a week on the subject of why the hell *I* still had a job). Unofficially? I met Russell's replacement the day after I agreed to do him this favor. Body which smacked of the best cosmetic surgery known to man. Legs which stretched out longer then some men's torsos. And breasts which looked as though someone had surgically implanted bowling balls in her chest. It wasn't a question of who she was fucking as much as who she *hadn't* fucked by now.
Which is the short version of why poor, stupid me is now sitting in the studio, slapping myself on the arm every two seconds to stay awake, listening to some *serious* cretins babble on about matters I could care less about.... I *knew* I should have chosen a topic for the evening.
Oh well, not *too* late to make the best out of a bad situation.
"...and we're being monitored all the time. You know that, don't you? The UN has listening devices planted all over the place. Even in people's bodies. My back molar's been itching like crazy for years now..."
"Look, I'm sure you find this all terribly fascinating..."
"Zeke. But at this hour, everyone who could possibly give a damn about what you have to say is glued to their holovision sets watching reruns of Paranoia Theater on the Oldies Channel. So, BUH-BYE! Now, before I take any more calls, I'm announcing a little change in this evening's entertainment. No more calling up about whatever strikes your fancy. No, this time I'm actually introducing a *topic*, boys, girls, and others. The topic for the rest of this evening is that caped crusader for justice, that defender of the innocent, mister funky in the black and red fetish suit. Yes, folks, we are talking about Batman. Batman is our topic for the rest of the evening. Thoughts, feelings, stories, rumors, anything you have to say, we wanna hear em. The number is, as you know by now, 555-WGHT. And as we've still got two more hours to kill, I *really* wanna see you people call in."
The monitor board in front of me lights up like a Christmas tree. We've got calls backed up two, three deep on every line coming in from the city. Looks like a lot of you have tall, dark, and kinky on your minds.
"Looks like I hit the right button! City Central, you are on the air!"
"This Batman we're talking about?"
"Yup, that's the man."
"Lemme tell ya something, the man ain't nothing but a menace. Cops should be dealing with people like him, going around beating up people for no reason. Just two weeks ago, he stuck his nose into a little disagreement my woman and I were having..."
Asshole. "Yo, word of advice, jerk. Next time a woman tells you "Stop!" or "You're hurting me!", she *means* it. Next caller!"
"That Batman, he scares me. I've heard he does weird stuff."
"Define "weird stuff"."
"I heard he rips out people's hearts and drinks their blood. Some people say he's not even human, that he's some kind of freak..."
"Lemme guess, rec.soc.metas?"
"Um.... alt.soc.superheroes."
"For the record.... Blockbuster is not a drug addict, Superman is not a magical fairy, and Aquaman only *talks* to fish. Next caller!" I swear to g-d, unless I get someone normal on this call, I'm plugging in 'N Sync Boys on continuous loop for the next two hours.
"Am I on the air?"
"Ma'am, I hope so, or I'm wasting my time. Do you have anything to say about tonight's topic?"
"Yes. Yes, I do. I'd like to thank Batman for helping me out when..."
My headset is suddenly filled with this loud, shrieking noise. I'm having a hard time thinking. Imagine standard mike feedback amplified back at you times 100. That's nowhere near how bad this feels. And just when I feel like I'm gonna black out, it stops.
I take a minute to regain my composure before I look up again. And there it stands, right in front of me on the monitor board, large as life:
"Jerry?!" Jerry's right where he should be, in the control booth. Unfortunately, Mike, the security guard, is most definitely not where he should be as he should never, at any time, be holding Jerry in a chokehold and pointing a laser pistol at his head. Especially not when he looks like he's blissed out on Nirvana and could vaporize Jerry's head any second.
I believe a holy shit is in order here.
"I do apologize for the crudeness of my actions, Miss Bloom, but when one is under reduced circumstances, one does what one must."
"I'm sure." Where the hell is this call coming from? The monitor board isn't telling me jack, just repeating that same damn message over and over again. "Do you have something to say about Batman, caller?"
"You know, one does have to wonder about someone like Batman. What could drive someone to dress up in a mask and cape and go around pummeling criminals? Deep seated sociopathic tendencies? Response to childhood trauma? Dementia?"
"Probably tired of listening to armchair psychiatrists like you try to dig into his brain."
"I'm disappointed in you, Miss Bloom. Someone of your... reputation... I would have assumed would do a far better job in the area of wit."
"I'm absolutely crushed I'm disappointing you. And, as neither of us actually knows Batman, it's be kind of pointless for us to take this discussion any further..."
"LISTEN CLOSELY! I am in the position of power here, Miss Bloom, not you. So I would advise you not to lie. Not to me. You see, I'm well aware we both have something in common. Two things, in fact. We've both had our dealings with the vigilante. And we both have the same favorite time of day. Midnight."
Megashit. He *knows*! "I'm sure I have no idea what you're talking about."
"I told you not to lie to me."
Jerry's brains are splattered all over the control room before I can even turn my head. As I watch, Mike turns the laser pistol around and shoves it down his throat.
It's currently taking all my will power not to throw up.
"Are you still there, Miss Bloom? Miss Bloom?"
"YES! What do you want?!"
"Just the simplest of favors. I want you to relay a message to him."
"I don't know how to reach.."
"I know he listens to your show. So, I want you to turn the volume up nice and loud so he can hear this. In fact I want the both of you to hear this. The Doctor Is Back *IN*, Children."
The line goes dead, the buzz filling the room. I trigger the silent alarm under my desk. Cops'll be here in about five. I sink down back into my seat, trying really damn hard not to let that psycho have the satisfaction of hearing me cry, or barf, or....
I can't get Mike's face out of my mind. What he looked like at the end.
That damn *grin*....

Playboy's 20 Questions: Ennis Hobbs
Interviewed by Mortimer Claudius Slovak VI

Ennis Hobbs is not an easy man to reach for an interview. He declined two previous attempts, saying he felt an interview with this publication would not reflect well upon his company's image. Finally, however, he agreed to a phone interview while visiting New York City on business, under the condition that he could address the reasons for his previous reluctance. Playboy agreed to this condition. Playboy: Mr. Hobbs, we had an easier time getting the UN to allow an interview with Hourman. Why the reluctance?
Ennis Hobbs: Well, Mr. Slovak, to be honest, there are many reasons. (pauses) First, I felt -- and still do -- that an interview with a publication which, let's be honest, exists to sell naked photos of women reflected poorly on Drake Industries' image. You have some talented political analysts and arts reporters, but let's call a spade a spade, if I may use the term without irony. Secondly, two African-descended Playmates a year, with an Asian or Hispanic thrown in every once in a while, does not constitute the society I see around myself.

PB: So why did you choose to do this interview?
EH: My boss told me to. (Drake Industries CEO) Tim (Drake) found out from you, at a party for Ms. Mitchells, that I'd been ducking your phone calls. He threatened to fire me.

PB: Really?
EH: Yes. (chuckles) But he was joking. Tim jokes a lot.

PB: About Mr. Drake and Ms. Mitchells, there were rumors that she was spotted coming from a medical clinic. The term "pregnancy" has been tossed around.
EH: My answer to that is, no comment. (pauses, then his voice gets slightly louder) And if you persist in that line of questioning, you will also be getting tossed around.

PB: You said that Mr. Drake jokes a lot. So you're saying that his public persona of the easy-going, wise-cracking social animal is accurate? That, say, his making a job offer to Liam Concord's personal secretary is an example of this, and that even in the office, he's a cut-up?
EH: Sometimes it feels like the hardest part of my job is getting Tim to be serious. I mean, he's brilliant. One need only look at his academic credentials for proof of that. But there's a time and a place for everything. Recently, we met with (LexCorp CEO and rumored rival Alexi) Luthor, and I don't think Tim would mind my saying, I had to coach him a little bit on not being quite so flip. (chuckles) Of course, having Leandra (Luthor, Alexi Luthor's daughter) in the room had him showing out a little. There's a bit of the peacock in him, but he's a good kid.

PB: So you're saying that he and Ms. Mitchells are not an exclusive--
EH: (interrupts) That's my finger hovering over the 'Off' switch, Mr. Slovak. Nothing about Tim's personal life.

PB: Okay, so, do you have any theories about the identity of the Batman? Surely someone in as high a station as yours would know.
EH: I disagree that I'm in a "high station." A lot of money passes through my hands, and I sign a lot of papers, but I'm not the police commissioner or the mayor or a UN overseer. A few months back, Geraldo Chung asked me if I was Batman. (laughs)

PB: Are you Batman?
EH: Watch his holovision to find out. And before you ask me if Tim is Batman, which is about the silliest thing I've ever heard, the holovision has proof of that, too. Tim Drake and Batman have been seen in the same place at the same time. Next question?

PB: What do you think is Batman's motivation?
EH:> What's the motivation of anyone who puts on a suit and then goes out and puts his life on the line? Batman's motivation is the same as most rank-and-file Justice Leaguers, but he does it solo; and it's the same motivation as our police officers, firefighters, doctors, soldiers. The Batman, whoever he is, has talents and skills that can be used to help other people. So he does it, because he knows that sitting on his ass -- I assume I can say that word in a publication that shows off women's bodies like pieces of meat -- that sitting on his ass and complaining about the state of the world won't accomplish a damned thing! (pauses, then speaks again, more quietly) Batman's motivation reminds me of what Robert Kennedy once said about you don't save the world by looking at what the situation is and asking, "Why?", but rather by looking at what it could be and asking "Why not?"

PB: So, what do you do to help save the world?
EH: (pauses) I sit in a high position of a company that makes a profit but strives to do so without creating anything too destructive. There are, perhaps, things that could be done above and beyond the current level of commitment, but I challenge you to find a major corporation that is not a work in progress.

PB: Well, that's a nice statement of what Drake Industries is all about. But what about you personally?
EH: (laughs) I was afraid you'd trap me there. Alright, personally... Personally, I help out the best I can. I didn't grow up in the best of neighborhoods, and I try to give something back. I've been a member of the Habitat for Humanity board in Gotham for five years. I oversee some grants programs for children of African descent trying to attend college. And I'd rather not say more than that, because, frankly, I don't do it for attention. (chuckles) I doubt many people buy this magazine for the articles, anyway.

PB: What's it like being a black man in the heights of the corporate arena? You're one of a very few, still.
EH: I know, and that troubles me. Things are improving though, year by year. Maybe not as fast as I'd like, but the attitudes are considerably different now than they were when I first took this position. On a recent trip to New York City, someone mistook me for a bellhop, and that angered me. (laughs) But then one of Tim's friends, (Warriors owner) Guy Gardner, taped a "Kick Me" sign to the man's back later when we ran into the same man at Warriors, so it balanced out.

PB: So you don't feel race, by and large, plays a role in job advancement, salaries, and so forth, in the year 2112?
EH: It depends on where you are. (pauses) As we all know, the Ku Klux Klan has returned to some extent further South, hanging homosexuals and killing underground abortion doctors -- even alleged abortion doctors, because a few of them were, from what investigation has revealed, innocent. I suspect that I would not have risen to this level in a corporation based in Atlanta, or Jackson, or Nashville. Maybe Memphis, possibly. But I'm no starry-eyed fool, either; I realize how lucky I am to be with a firm as historically progressive as Drake Industries, and its semi-predecessor, Wayne Enterprises. (Wayne Enterprises founder) Bruce Wayne had a black man in a prominent leadership role back in the Twentieth, a man named Lucius Fox.

PB: You attended college under the Lucius Fox Memorial Scholarship, didn't you?
EH: Yes and no. I was the last person to receive that scholarship, because the companies in which the trustees were investing took a nosedive. However, that is also the name of the scholarship I help oversee today. Hopefully we can avoid similar mistakes.

PB: Sorry about the mix-up.
EH: That's okay. Just do your homework next time! (laughs)

PB: How do you want people to remember you?
EH: (chuckles) Do you know something about my health that I don't? My age isn't as old as it used to be! (pauses) I don't know... being remembered at all is an honor in and of itself. Hopefully, all in all, the people I will have angered will be people who deserved it; and the people I help will be people who went on to help others. When you get down to it, that's the best legacy possible; anything more is vanity, I think. I'm too busy to be vain.

PB: You're sure you can't answer any questions about Tim Drake and Shannon Mitchells?
EH: My, look at the time...

PB: Come on, just one question?
EH: Each time you ask that is one question closer to twenty. This made #18.

PB: How do you get that?
EH: I counted your apology earlier. You sounded as if you were asking a question, looking for approval. If so, I apologize, but you have one left.

PB: Come on, are you serious?
EH: Yes. That made #20.

PB: My boss is going to kill me...
EH: Good. Then you can go work for a real newspaper; I know someone at World's Finest. (laughs)

PB: Oh, well, thank you for your time.
EH: Thank you.

(Mortimer Claudius Slovak VI is the author of, among other works, Hiding Behind the Mask: When Secret Identities Lead to Infidelity and Hero Worship: How Costumed Adventurers Damage Self-Esteem in Adolescents. His web site is www.mortmortmortmortmortmortandcounting.com)

On The Street - REAL MEN: DCF
By Thomas Hancock the Prolific

"Who...who do you think you...are?" He mops at the blood pouring from his mouth in a steady stream like Bloody Mary spilt from a glass. His eyes want to focus on me, to tear at me like my fists ripped at him, but they can't, their lids pounded into plum colored swells. "Fuckin...Batman?"
I smile, wiping his blood from my knuckles all over the custom-made Keravin suit coat he'd worn into my office. "Nah, I don't have to hide behind a mask to deal with scum like you, Drew."
Former Councilman Eli Drew laughs, air whistling through the new gaps in his dental work. "Sure you don't. But you're not making the name the new Bat is. You'll always be Boone Duncan, two bit private cop who can't make enough credits to keep his car and whose name only appears in net-news when the NYPD raids some whorehouse."
"Least I only pay for mine," I kick him hard in the head, knocking the bastard back to the floor. "I don't feel like I need to dress them out like fresh game and take a hand home for a souvenir."
Drew manages to raise up, pushing himself up on one knee. His back to the door, he spits blood at me. "You have nothing on me, Duncan. You get lucky with a big name case, some distraught society mother hires you to find her little girl. You find her in some cannibal's meat shop in an alley on the waterfront. And suddenly I'm your suspect. You're just after a big name catch, hoping to ride the glory like those cops who caught Martin George last April did." He finds strength in derision, like most Councilmen, and stands up, his wiry frame quivering with an exhilarating mix of fear and pain.
"Not me, Drew. I just do what I have to do to get paid. Leave the headlines and one-liners to the guy playing Batman over in Gotham."
"You're all garbage." Drew staggers, his head heavy after all the work I did on it. "You because you think your fists and gun lets you walk all over people like me. And the Batman because he can't stay out of things. Has to play dress-up to feel like a man."
I take two quick steps, nearly chest to chest with the whiny bastard now. "And you, Drew, you attack wives of working men and kill them, then butcher them. You feel like a man doing that?"
He grins, his left eye barely opening, even though I know it's hurting him like hell. "I'm a man more than you and that freak in Gotham ever could be, Duncan. He prances around in a suit and plays with those Two-Face freaks and feels good about saving the shit that rises to the street in his fair city." He pauses, takes a wheezing breath, snickering. "And you, you and that pansy ass Do-as-you-tell-him friend of yours, Rane, you catch me with all those hands in my damned car... and you just beat me half to death in your office. I killed twelve women, Duncan, and you can't even kill me! I killed them because I wanted to! I deserve to die and you can't kill me."
"I don't kill, Drew," I say, looking behind him, and stepping back, "when it's not worth it."
"Oh yeah?" He's shouting now, over the edge he's teetered on for years. I turn my back to him. "And I bet that you think that high set of morals and ethics makes you a big hero, don't you, Duncan? You and Batman, fucking pals! Well," he steps once toward me, "You know what all your damned high and mighty restraint makes you, don't you, Duncan, what it makes you, and Batman, and your gun happy flunky, Rane? DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MAKES YOU?"
The shot is a whisper in a graveyard, slicing the air with surgeon's precision, cutting into Drew's head. I feel the warmth of his blood on my back and it's not nearly as hot as Rane's reply from the doorway.
"Yeah, you nutbag," he says in his distant, rumbling thunder, "It makes us real men. But even real men can only take so much."
I tap the button on the desk, slapping the telescreen until the NYPD dispatcher's picture comes up. I tell her to get a hold of Donvan Bradley, tell him what happened, then slap it off. Turning to look at Rane, I glance back over my shoulder. "You got blood on this new coat, Dammitt. Now I have to change before we go meet the others at the funeral parlor."
Rane smiles, that wide, white grin that too many women have fallen for and too many men have watched grow wider as they died. "Just throw on your cowl and cape." He laughed out loud. "You and Batman. Hell."

(For more of Boone Duncan and Rane.. and some of their.. companions. Stay tuned to the DCF for the debut of REAL MEN:DCF.. coming eventually, we swear!!)

From The Private Journal Of Jonathan Bolander:

Batman, indeed! The Dark Knight is rolling over in his grave somewhere right now. A Batman who cracks jokes? Come on!
Five'll get you ten that he had something to do with that damned 'Wonder Woman' prank Mercury pulled on me a few months back. Granted, I was nowhere near Gotham when that happened, but rumor had it that the Suicide Squad *was* in Gotham at that point. Put a wise-cracking excuse for Batman with a psychopathic speedster, and you get one pissed-off Justice Leaguer whose colleagues still laugh behind his back.
I hope I get a shot at the guy. Oh, yeah. I'd like to land just one right hook on that red bat-target the bastard wears on his chest.


Letters! Here we go! (Keep 'em coming!)
From:"R. B. Sizemore"
To:"Erik Burnham" darvey@rocketmail.com
Subject: Batman: DCF #24
Date:Sat, 5 Dec 1998 12:41:52 -0500
Another day, another great Batman:DCF issue. I realize they don't REALLY come out that often, but it sure feels like it sometimes. I have a feeling, though, that it's gonna feel like forever before the next issue comes out. There're too many cliffhangers here for the anticipation not to kill a person. Is Alfred alive? If his body dies, is that the end of Alfred? Or does he have a back-up consciousness somewhere? Will Clark get to meet 'Superman'? Is Shannon's baby Tim's? If it is, will she use that fact just to make more money? What are Alucard's plans for 'his' Batman? ARGH!!!

My only complaint about this issue -- it was too short...


****Thanks a bunch, pallie. Before I go into anything else, let me extend my condolences to you and yours... on to your questions, Yes, yes, sort of, no, and you should have just found out! Sorry the issue was too short... heh heh heh...****

Date:Sat, 5 Dec 1998 15:48:33 EST
Subject:Comments of Batman DCF #24

Wow! This was a very shocking issue. That's bad news the Justice League know in fact who Batman is. I wonder how Tim will get out of this one. I'm also suprised to see that Tim may have had some programming done at an early age, very much like Azrael and pretty cool! I'll be looking forward to the Next issue and I also wanted to thank you for the help you've given me with a submission I'm working on.

Mike Rehor
Hopeful Future DCF Writer

****Who says Tim gets outta this?****

Date:Tue, 08 Dec 1998 23:11:38 -0500
From:Matthew mervson@users.qual.net

I once again enjoyed this issue. I look forward to #25 and Timequake. Clark is Superman and Superman is someone else, of this I am sure, I have long held that the Superman is the Martian Manhunter but I guess we will have to see. I think bat girl is bat mite and that we are all in for a big surprise.
The baby is going to be baby doomsday. And all of the past 12 issues have been a dream of Tim's making. Just idle speculation.
PS if we send in tshirts will the characters where them?

****What have you been smoking? And Alfred wears a large, thank you. He's partial to loose fit.****

Date:Sun, 13 Dec 1998 17:10:04 -0500
From:Brandon Coomer
Subject:Great Work!!

Hello. I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy the work you have done on DCF: Batman. I recently went back and read all the previous issues. They were better the 2nd and 3rd time! One question though. When will Justice's identity be revealed? I think it is Bruce Wayne or Hal Jordan. I haven't made up my mind yet. Any hints you could give me? I'd love to know who it is.

Brandon Coomer

****I really appreciate the letter, Brandon! Getting some completely unexpected note always makes one feel good... and it's nice to know the work stands up after one read. Justice's identity will be revealed eventually, yes. And your guesses are good - very logical. I'd make the same guesses myself if I didn't know for sure! As for hints, Justice likes cocoa puffs and believes that 'tastes great' outweighs 'less filling.'****

From:"Matthew Bevilacqua"
Subject:RE:Batman #24
Date:Tue, 12 Dec 2000 14:32:37 -0500

I'll keep this short... Wow. This was an awesome issue... the Shannon pregant thing was wonderful... Batman, going to the Joker for help? Not exactly original, but beautifully handled. I look forward to next issue!

****Batman's gone to the Joker for a psychiatric evaluation before? Drat.****

From:"Kao chang"
Subject:about Batman DCF and Clark Kent
Date:Fri, 18 Dec 1998 16:42:53 GMT

Dear Erik,

I'm a fan of Batman DCF and was wondering if I could get a few answers to some questions.

1. Will Clark ever regain his full powers in time to come?

2. Since Tim has some kind of mental programming, will he be able to break, and become the Batman he could be?

3. Does the First Batman (Bruce Wayne) have any kids before he passed away?

4. Will Tim's skills be ever tested like Bruce Wayne's skills when certains happened he had to go to the ultmate of his skills in issues in the regular comic series?

Please e-mail me back the answers to my questions.

I thought that Tim Drake II was not the right person to fill in as the shoes as Batman, but I kinda figured he was meant to fill it. He is a great character who was just given the mantle and he learning very well about being Batman. Thanks and continue on this great saga about the Batman of the 22nd Century.

Kao Chang

****I just got your email, Kao - sorry for the delay! Looking at your questions: 1 - yes, albeit slowly. 2 - His programming is part of what makes him Batman... it's a part of him that he'll never be able to completely shake... not to say he's not going to try. 3 - Not that we know of. 4 - Yep. In short, I'm glad you're liking the series and hope you keep on enjoying!****

Date:Fri, 18 Dec 1998 14:35:53 +0000
From:Alex Cook hazard44@hotmail.com
Subject:Bats #25 letter...


Batman:DCF has received my glowing praise on the DCF posting board many times. You write Tim Drake in such an interesting manner, layering different personalities on each other to create this vibrant hero of the night. Plus I laugh my ass off at some of your jokes. As always Erik, great work!


****Blush. He likes the jokes. 'Ray!****

Date:Thu, 17 Dec 1998 22:43:04 -0500
From:DANIEL BEN-ZVI israel@bridge.net
Subject:Letter for Batman #25


Geez, has it really been 25 issues already? It doesn't seem like all that long ago when I first stumbled across the DCF and decided to try my luck at joining up with you guys (and Carrie, of course). And I know it's gonna sound like a terrible cliche, but Batman was a big part of that decision. Batman let me know that this wasn't going to be a group of people who were slavishly reliant on the past, who allowed their writers the freedom to explore new avenues and new possibilities. And the writing.... geez, Erik, you almost scared me off. I didn't think I was good enough to be in the DCF when they had people like you around. There are times I still don't. :) Well, enough of my wibbling. Time to raise a glass and make a toast. To Tim Drake and all of the wonderful supporting cast he's had so far (yeah, even MB)....... Here's to the future!

Dan Ben-Zvi

****Well geez, boy - I'm glad I didn't scare you off! But thanks for the sentiments, Dan. As you well know by now, we never let the DCU versions of characters dictate how we portray ours. I mean, look at Guy Gardner, f'r cryin' out loud! The first time he met Batman - he cried! But still, I'm just happy Bats has lasted this long. And just you wait until you get issue #26 in your mailbox, Dan. That's a threat. Heh.****

Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for continuing to read my meager scribblings. I thank you for reading the works of other DCF writers. I thank you for helping our site thrive and survive for over a year. And yes, I also thank you for the checks you're surely sending.

One more thing, and I hope it's not out of place - in light of the season, I'd like to thank God. He's given me a modicum of talent, the time to use it, and the avenues to express it. May your Christmas be merry, everyone, and your New Year phenomenal. (Not that I won't have a new issue out by then.)