A Batman Day Story with Special Bat Villains, The Bookworm, The Riddler, and The Great Oz.
“Some villains are dangerous, some are insane, others, are just weird.” While several villains fit the bill, when Batman said this, he was referring to R. Ulysses Penman. Gotham knew him as the Bookworm.
R. Ulysses Penman was due to be released from Blackgate Prison on Friday. The day before, the guards went to wake him, only to find his cell was empty. Empty of Bookworm that is, but filled with eye glasses.
It made no sense. Even Joker wouldn’t normally escape the day before release. He was more likely to break into prison the day after going free. This one was a puzzle to everyone, including the other inmates.
Batman dropped in after dark for questioning, but was only concerned with one inmate. “Where’s your cousin Nigma? Where’s Bookworm?”
The Riddler spun around, with a far less sinister voice than normal. It was more the voice of a big brother than an arch villain. “Don’t say that. I’ve got a reputation to uphold. If people knew Rup was my relative, well it would cause problems.”
“Riddler, don’t pretend you don’t like him. You’ve protected your cousin most of his life. He admires you.”
“I know it. He’s likable, I can’t help it. Plus he needed protection, he’s always been a Bookworm. At the same time we have a rule, he keeps his distance in business.”
Batman his his grin with what he was about to say, just to aggravate Riddler. “You mean the family business don’t you? His persona may be books, but the pattern of clues, he got that from you Riddler. So why the sunglasses? Why not books?”
Now Riddler sounded sinister. “I don’t know! It doesn’t make sense, and it’s driving me crazy.”
He didn’t look back, Riddler knew Batman was gone. Riddler also thought he could hear a distant laugh from Bats, which made him angrier.
Elsewhere Bookworm was laughing his head off. “By now, Batman has asked my dear cousin questions, and they’re both angry at me. Batman because I did a seemingly senseless act of escaping the day before release. My favorite cousin because he can’t figure out the sunglasses, but I need him in the dark.”
Bookworm, in his full costume, was in place. His two new henchmen, Paper and Ink were in place. His fiancé Lydia Limpet was in place. Now for the fun to begin.
There was a roaring blast outside of Gotham Aqua Bottling plant. They quickly got in, grabbed what they needed, and got out. The next morning Commissioner Gordon and his men investigated the scene.
He called the number he had been given, and spoke the details in the phone. “It’s a bottling plant. No money, nothing damaged but bottling equipment. No sign of anything else, I have no idea what he wanted, but it was Bookworm. A copy of Robinson Crusoe was left on the owner’s desk.”
Bruce was asleep after a full night of investigation. So Alfred listened to the message and worked on a dossier for him to review later. “Bruce, you definitely have a strange group of playmates. Of course it’s better than that summer camp when you were fourteen. At least I don’t have forty teenagers to cook for every weekend.”
Alfred didn’t really mean it. He had loved the baseball camps Bruce was part of as a child. It was a little bit of normal in his son’s quest for justice.
Now, Alfred Tom naps at different times to be awake while Bruce was out, in case he was needed. Neither Alfred or Bruce got a full night’s sleep, except for three to four nights a year, on holidays. Alfred was a little better at hiding yawns than his son, as Bruce was famous for looking bored in business meetings. Of course Bruce was better as napping with his eyes open, also in meetings. Thankfully Bruce didn’t snore.
Forty minutes after Bruce woke up, Batman was spiraling towards the top of the Gotham Eye. It was the largest skyscraper in the city, and he believed, the location of Bookworm’s true plan. He called Commissioner Gordon.
“By now Riddler’s gone too. Though Bookworm will have kidnapped him, it wasn’t voluntarily. So Riddler isn’t guilty of a prison escape. Bookworm’s plan is a lot more clever than it looks. Is the virus reached every network yet?”
“He is, it has, and she’s working on containing it. Oracle says she’s having trouble getting into it, the code is pretty intricate. He’s as smart as his cousin, and just as arrogant. It has book references throughout.”
“Let’s hope he is, that may be exactly how to beat him. Tell Oracle the keyword is probably going to be something connected with a Hemingway story called Fifty Grand, maybe the character Jack Brennan.”
With that the call ended, and Batman launched out of the Batwing, and on to the top of the building. He defended himself against the pummeling the horde of Bookworm and Riddler thugs that seemed to come out of the woodwork.
The difference between a henchman and a thug, in Gotham, was thugs worked cheap and were expendable. You didn’t waste a lot on branding with them. Good henchmen were more expensive, and harder to replace. For henchmen you spent the money on similar costumes, one day you may need them to cover while you escaped from a bad plan.
When he reached the inside, after disposing of the welcome party, he faced round two. The almost Bane like henchmen Paper and Ink. They were tougher to expose of, but doable.
After a few somersault kicks, two batarangs, and their bloody noses, he left them on the floor. When he had reached the main party, Bookworm and his fiance were standing by a machine. Riddler was being held by a couple of thugs.
“You can quit the window dressing. I know Riddler wasn’t behind the prison brake, but he’s here of his own free will. Tell me Nigma, did your little cousin exceed your expectations?”
Bookworm laughed. “Nice try Batman. I am smart enough to realize both that my cousin cares for me, but he has a reputation to uphold. My criminal enterprise looks slightly more comical than his, but that is by design.”
Batman braced himself for the villain monologue. He had heard it a thousand times before, but was also buying time. Oracle would need it to dismantle the computer virus.
“Book covers sell books, and yet, the cover very often is nothing like what’s inside. On the outside they see a comically dressed villain, with a penchant for libraries. While in some ways true, I do love a well designed fiction section, it hides most of the content.”
“Such as a doctorate in computer science, combat experience including explosives, and an engagement to a beautiful and brilliant lady. These make for surprise endings, much like a novel.”
Oracle had just sent Batman the signal as Bookworm finished. “A Hemingway novel to be exact. The computer virus was designed, not to disable Gotham’s computer network, but to prove it couldn’t be done.”
Bookworm beamed. “Lydia’s Dad paid me quite well to convince the public of the security of his software. A software that was donated by him to be used by all of Gotham’s libraries as a means to service their ebook customers. It was also my back door.”
Batman looked out at Gotham. You used the virus as a distraction, or cover for your real plan. The sunglasses, the bottling plant, the Gotham Eye all part of a massive plan to elevate your status in the criminal community. You wanted everyone to see how intelligent the Bookworm was.”
Riddler spoke up. “Riddle me this Batman, when does a book not have letters? Answer, when it’s a blank book. He used the damage at the bottling plant to conceal the fact, he was putting something in rather than taking it out.”
Batman looked at Riddler. “Yes, it’s how he got passed the Gotham Eye’s security system. The same family firm designed for both companies. He hacked into their network and gained control. Now he can take over all of Gotham’s airwaves. The question is, what are you going to do with them?”
Bookworm laughed. “My cousin grew up financially poor, my Dad is a rich and successful businessman. The Great Oz they called him. He is brilliant, at blackmail. He learned secrets and still manipulates them.”
“I don’t intend to share the secrets I’ve recently lifted from the cloud accounts of the powerful of Gotham, but I want them to see that I can. The virus you’re operative has obviously disarmed by now, shows what I can do to the criminal world. The emails certain people received with their secrets let them know I can.”
Riddler laughed. “Impressive cousin. How are you going to stop Batman from stopping you? This is usually where he pulls a surprise.”
The Bookworm walked to the edge of the platform, laughed, and dropped off the edge. His fiancé looked at Riddler. “The difference in a paperback and a hardback, is one is a republished edition of the other.” She jumped off after doing so.
A few minutes later, a helicopter with the same bookish theme flew away. Riddler started laughing again. “He’s already broadcast. You thought you were stalling him, he was bluffing you.”
Then suddenly Riddler stopped laughing. He ran as past as he could and jumped off the edge. Batman was already gone. Then Gotham Eye began exploding. Bookworm had rigged the top studio to blow. Riddler now knew why Bookworm had insisted he have his rocket boots on.
A few moments after Riddler was on the ground his cell rang. “I had a man standing by with a jet pack if need be cousin, but it had to look real. Your cut is 50,000,000.00 in your Swiss account. I just need you to do one thing…”
Bookworm had blackmailed the rich, the famous, and the infamous. Everyone from Gotham’s most famous politicians, to its deadliest citizens. He had went from a comical criminal to being mutually hated.
Riddler boarded the ship as incognito as he could. He had performed Bookworm’s task, and planned a long evacuation from Gotham. He thought he would relax once in his cabin until they were at sea.
Batman was on his cabin’s deck when he walked in. Riddler wasn’t surprised. Instead of fighting, or running, he started walking towards the deck sighing. “Welcome to Gotham, home of relatives and flying rodents.”
“Who was the target? Who was the one he couldn’t hack. The mark he needed big cousin to get too? It had to be big to cause you to leave Gotham. You didn’t run this fast when you made Freeze mad.”
Riddler grinned. “Riddle me this Bats, whose the second most hated man in Gotham. I’m not staying around to deal with him.”
“He went after his own Dad? What can he take from The Great Oz? Penman is untouchable.”
Riddler laughed. “The one code he couldn’t crack, was his Dad’s safe. Uncle Oz told him, if he could steal from him, he’d give him the one thing he could never get, his Dad’s respect. Uncle Oz will congratulate Bookworm, he’d kill me.”
Batman looked at Riddler. “For once, you didn’t do it for the money did you? You’re still looking out for him.”
Riddler frowned. “He’s likable. Besides I need a vacation, or I needed one. Let’s go Bats.”
Batman looked at him. “The money is no longer in your account, it’s back in Penman’s. You didn’t break out of jail, and you we’re also scheduled for early release the next day. Besides I’d rather see you run from Oz.”
Batman left to Riddler laughing. He did need a vacation. Besides this Oz didn’t have any flying monkeys to chase him, he didn’t think. Just in case, Riddler slipped back in the cabin.
Bookworm and Lydia were celebrating their honeymoon in Paris. They thought they were safely hid from Batman, until returning from breakfast. He wasn’t in the room, but a first edition of The Wizard Of Oz was there, with a bookmark, and a sentence highlighted sentence, “Look out-here I go.”
At that point he zip lined through the window and arrested the couple. Bookworm couldn’t help but laugh. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
Even in Gotham the dangerous can be human, the insane can be predictable, and the weird can outsmart them all. Happy Batman Day!