Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Knight After 1: Since U Been Gone

Regular readers of this blog (keep those e-mails and IM's comin', gentlemen) may be wondering what has happened to my batself after the "Knightfall" saga ended. The short answer? After a lapse of several months, it resumed and heated up again a while ago. I've been debating whether to continue writing about it here, or not--and, believe it or not, one of the main things that held me back was the absence of a good name for those adventures. I had already decided to retire the "Knightfall" title for entries on that subject, because that referred to a very specific era of my "career" as a masked (and then unmasked) crimefighter. I liked the idea of changing it to reflect a new chapter of my life, much as multi-part storylines in comic books now present themselves as miniseries. I just couldn't come up with the right one.

And then, a few days ago, the new series title presented itself to me. Welcome to the first installment of "The Knight After." And that pretty much sets the tone for the current era: like the hero of my "Beginnings" saga, I am rebuilding my career after a major blow that nearly ended it altogether. That process was quite slow at first, but after a few months back on the job, I can now say things are as busy as ever. The current cast of characters is larger, or at least different. Some familiar faces remain: a Tim Drake-styled Robin, a Dick Grayson-ish former sidekick who has changed his alias name and continues to work primarily on his own, and various superhero colleagues who still drop by from time to time. (Hello, Superman! Greetings, MotorMan!) But there are new arrivals, as well: on the hero front, we have a handsome Batman/Flash whose collection of superhero suits is truly astounding, sundry villains who pop in with threats every now and then, and one Jervis Tetch (batfans will recognize that as the nom de chapeau of the Mad Hatter) who is obsessed--like so many ne'er-do-wells before him--with capturing, unmasking, and enslaving me.

He'll have to take a number, though, because a relatively minor character from the Monk days (it was M who first introduced us, in fact) has come to play a relatively major role in the new era. Let's call him "the Ranger"--a name that reflects his past as a Good Guy, perhaps bearing a family resemblance to the Lone Ranger. If I remember correctly, M had assigned me to help him lead the onetime hero down the path of Eeeeeevil--and in the months since we'd last tangled, it looks like my old nemesis's mission was a roaring success. When we remet, the Ranger assured me he had cleaned up his act, gone straight, returned to the crimefighting biz...

... but this turned out to be a ruse designed to re-earn my trust. Once he had it, he mounted a fullscale attack on me involving an extraordinary arsenal of poison darts, mind-altering/will-demolishing gases, and the like. I fought back with every resource at my disposal, but he proved too smart for me. The turning point came when he captured me and worked me over during an on-camera session. I thought fast and used all his own weapons against him, ostensibly making him as submissive to me as I was to him. Moments later, when he ordered me to unmask, I resisted and made the same demand of him--and to my great surprise, he did as told. It was a brilliant strategy on his part: seeing my adversary remove his most treasured defense caught me off guard, and I was putty in his hands. More drugs came my way, and in no time I found myself unable to resist his next command to expose my face to him.

The rest, as they say, is history: a history of servitude to the Ranger. Whether I like it or not, I am his to be "milked" (easily the sexiest verb in the entire lexicon of superhero roleplay) whenever and however he pleases.

Okay, I realize this is all going to sound suspicious to longtime readers, but you'll have to take my word for it when I say this was not a fate (however temporary) that I freely chose for myself, but one that has been thrust upon me.The situation may similar to that with the Monk, but--and here's what makes this a worthy sequel--the circumstances are different enough to hold my interest. With apologies to Rod Stewart, the first cut really is the deepest, yet this new descent into enforced submission bears a couple of distinctive traits:

1. The Ranger has allowed me to continue to operate as Batman, and to make contact with other heroes and villains even as I agree to serve as his secret lover, and
2. He does not have the kind of taste restrictions that kept the Monk from interacting with my two key sidekicks (past and present).
Both of these cases mean that the situation will likely play itself out quite differently. (If it plays out at all--the Ranger has been mighty quiet of late, and it's possible he's lost interest in the scenario now that he seems to have won for the time being. Sometimes the battle is more exciting than the victory, you know.)

That's the backstory--what has happened between "Knightfall" and "The Knight After." I just wanted to get all that out before I discussed its significance, which I'll do soon. Meanwhile, you have my word that I'll keep you posted on future develoments as they occur.

To the batpole!

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