I usually try not to blatantly use someone else’s idea. In this case, it was simply irresistible.
Colin Liotta had a brilliant idea in 2012. Before the ultimate fate of Walter White was known, Liotta posited that the character could warp into a Nolan-verse version of the classic Batman villain Mr. Freeze. At first, I was skeptical, but, as Mr. Rogers taught us, things tend to grow in the garden of your mind.
I’ve been impressed with much of Mr. Liotta’s other work. He has a respect and understanding of the Nolan version of Batman that matches my own. With my longstanding desire to write something about a John Blake Nightwing and the possibilities implied with the nexus of two great franchises, I thought I’d take a crack at writing a prologue, just to see what develops.
Here I present a work in progress.
The gloves were still the strangest part. Gloves weren’t a common sight in Albuquerque and he’d felt odd having to wear them ever since the accident. Gloves and long-sleeve shirts, it was the only way he could think of to keep his latest mistake from being noticeable.
That was the real trick. In New Mexico, there was enough open space and enough distance for a man to not feel like he was constantly being watched, but, the further east he went, the more eyes he felt watching him. It was nothing more than a feeling, a sense of social claustrophobia. The southwest had been his home for so long that he’d almost forgotten about the east-coast style of living.
As he drove through St. Louis, he wondered if that paranoia would ever really vanish. Over the past couple of years, he’d been driven through every emotional state that a man could have, or so he thought. Many men had known what it was to become famous, fewer had known what it was to be infamous, but lesser still were those who had both built an empire and seen it crumble.
He gassed up at a station outside Indianapolis. He discreetly pulled up his sleeve. The blue pigment was halfway to his elbow. If it continued at this rate, he’d have less than a year before his entire body was saturated.
That would be a problem for another day.
Through Pennsylvania he’d managed to find a bit more calm. Despite the desperation that he felt, he was quick to remember that things could have been so much worse. Junior was safely ensconced in a solid California university. Skyler showed signs of stabilizing, though her prognosis was still not good. That the threat from Hank had been neutralized still made him cringe. He lamented the lack of elegance in how that had been handled. Still, when there are no good options, one had to make do with the best of the bad ones.
Looking beyond all the troubles that he’d left in the west, he was able to focus on the most comforting thing he currently possessed: a plan.
Gotham was still reeling from the chaos that it had experienced in the last decade. The culmination of the madness had been a neutron bomb exploding only a dozen miles off-shore. The local populace was still greatly frazzled. They had begun to climb out from their hiding spaces like every timid mammal does after great events wreck their home. The first bridge to be fully repaired had been completed only three weeks previously. The city was going to come back to its former self and Walter knew that a thriving drug trade would be as much a part of the new Gotham as it had been in the old.
What had given him a few million in New Mexico, he hoped to use to greater effect in the new Gotham. It was going to be an uphill climb, but he had both desperation and experience on his side. Used in conjunction, he had no doubt that he would be able to do what was necessary. Skyler’s condition must be dealt with. Holly would be cared for. The cost of Junior’s education would never burden him. These were all absolutes and the solution to all of them was just a matter of money.
Money: that’s what Gotham represented in his mind. It was a city that had been built on finance, had been blackened by crime and had been shaken through terror. The perfect recipe for a river of dirty money. And with the downfall of their celebrated vigilante, he felt nothing but potential as he neared his new home.
He took the black pork pie hat from the passenger seat and put it on. An emperor shouldn’t enter his city without his crown. Traffic was terrible at the Tri-Gate Bridge. He sat in a molasses stream of cars inching their way towards the skyline beyond the water. To his left he could see the docks. To the right, the skyscrapers at the heart of the city. He gazed for a long moment, looking for one in particular. The fog broke just right and he spotted it: Wayne Tower. That distinctive W that marked the city like a brand. He tipped the black hat in a silent salute to the Wayne family. Their empire had risen and fallen much as his own had. Though he was determined to see his rise once again.