This is pretty amateur, but here goes.
I've had this idea in my head for a while, and I'll share with you a brief outline of it.
30 years after the emergence of Batman in Gotham City.
The city, its citizens, heroes and villains have gone through a lot.
No longer is just crime an issue, social upheaval has taken place thanks to a lot of elements. Picture something like America in the 60s, the Civil Rights and Vietnam Era of protests and riots. Only slightly different. There's not as much blowback from a repressive Government. Not really any. The revolution, so to speak, is successful.
Leading that revolution is Joker and his wife Harley. They're both huge celebrities and social heroes a long the lines of let's say maybe John Lennon.
Thanks to some philosophical revolution too, came up with by Hugo Strange, in more of a Freudian or Aristotle role, now, in the history of Gotham. In this, I place him as having lived and died at least a hundred years before the birth of Bruce Wayne. So, he's more of a symbolic figure. One that Harley took the teachings of and popularized a long with her cult icon Joker.
The philosophy is basically the whole free your mind stuff of the sixties and not to blame people for their inhibitions, for example letting the Joker off the hook for his crimes and anarchic obsessions. Saying that it's in us all. Something many residents of Gotham always wanted to hear.
The real blame, now, is put on the elites of Gotham's upperclass, including Bruce Wayne, and vigilantes are dismissed as just another group of people with psychological problems. Only they're less liked, somehow, because they seem repressive and fascistic.
The rogues gallery of villains in Gotham is now seen as having a huge amount of charisma. The public falls under their spell. Arkham closes down and Wayne enterprises is bankrupted by boycotts and losses in civil court.
A decade before the events of 30 years later, Wayne manor mysteriously burns to the ground and many believe the "coward" Bruce Wayne either died in the blaze, though no remains were found, or escaped with hidden money to live in some foreign paradise. The remains of the Wayne estate lie in ruins and locked behind rusted gates.
Commissioner Gordon is long dead from having complications from liver disease due to alcoholism stemming from depression over the loss of Barbara in a riot she was attempting to calm. She was knocked from her wheelchair and trampled in a clash between cops and protesters over alleged police brutality.
In the new Gotham, there's lesser need for cops now. That is not to say that it's any Utopia or Dystopia, for that matter. It's just people seem to do as they please, and no one gets into anyone else's business. Petty and violent crime seem about the same. The numbers being nothing near astronomical, and about as much as any other major city. People seem more wrapped up in themselves. Their cult of personality, and the people like Joker whose charisma and enlightenment seems to appeal to them. Nothing too extreme, though. Joker is always quick to remind everyone he's no Jesus Christ and Harley is no Virgin Mary. They're lovers and lovers of the self and want everyone else to be too.
Much more appealing than any cape and cowl wearing BoogieMan could ever be. They have the people believing.
Somewhere in the shadows of Gotham, the Batman still exists. He's become more of a silly superstition and less of a hero.
There's not much of an authority system to turn criminals over to, and the public wouldn't accept him laying his hands on the bigger fish of villains, anyway. The concept of villainy is an old cliche in this new Gotham.
So, that is the setting.
It's a rainy night, as Joker, Harley, and their young son walk quietly down the streets of what was once referred to as Crime Alley. They joke about how beautiful the decay is, as they eat cotton candy and pop balloons to scare the homeless warming themselves beside barrels. Harley and Joker then begin to debate why there's still scant pockets of poverty in their new Gotham. They agree that it's probably just a few alcoholic former "pig" cops who can't get over the fact that they can't still be putting the boots to Gotham's accused criminal youth.
There's an uneasy feeling they're being watched. Stalked, almost.
A junkie approaches them, twitching, and holding a gun. They pause.
Behind them, a shadow rises up out of the firelight next to an alley wall. Throwing off a dirty hooded trench coat and revealing coveralls, a blood stained utility belt, and gruff salt and pepper beard under a cowl, Batman rushes past the Joker family, with his torn and tattered cape flying about. He tackles the armed man and wrestles loose the gun, gripping him by the neck and picking him up against the wall. Why?, he asks the guy.
He can't say anything. He's choking.
Harley cries out for Batman ease up. Unappreciative, already, for his saving them.
Joker begins laughing hysterically. He reveals that the whole thing was a prank he meant to pull on Harley and even their son was in on.
He remarks how horrible Batman is looking after having not seen him in years and accuses him of stalking him and jealousy over his role as new hero of the masses and great family man.
His feelings more hurt than anything, Batman resolves to chalk it up to everything being out of his hands in this new terrible nightmare of a society he's found himself in.
He's stopped by the laughing of Joker's son. He focuses in on the young boy and begins to see himself many years earlier crying in Crime Alley over the dead bodies of his parents.
He snaps. He lunges for Joker's face. He begins ringing his shirt, as the Joker continues to laugh. Batman in full rage mode now reaches and snaps jokers jaws completely apart killing him from the trauma.
Everything is getting hazy, he can hear Harley and Joker's son screaming. Joker's friend muttering how crazy Batman is. All of them repeating the words "You killed him! You killer!"
Batman can't believe himself. He's broken his own code. He snaps to. He can't hear any police sirens. He can however hear cries out of the news going over the streets of Gotham. Person to person.
Knowing there's a mob forming, he flees off over some fences and through some abandoned buildings, finding his way out onto the edges of Gotham, near the woods.
Stumbling through the forest, breathless, and still not being able to accept what he's done, he comes out at the opening of the Batcave. He goes in. It's dark.
Lighting a torch, he finds his way to an old desk where he lights a lantern and begins shuffling through some old files til he finds his notes on Joker. He tries to convince himself that his mistake of code only rid the city of its most notorious madman whose string of atrocities were far worse than what he did to him.
He can't however rid the image of the shocked face of Joker's son. He goes back and forth between the images of that and his own memories of the night his parents were murdered. He stumbles over to a chasm in the cave. He peers down. He wonders if he should just fall into it.
He begins to recall Alfred. He wishes he was there to comfort him or lend advice. He remembers how lonely Wayne manor was after Alfred's death.
His thoughts change to how good life was when Selina moved in with him and made the place feel like it did when his mother was alive. The warmth and womanly aspects she brought to the estate. He regrets having not been there the night she died in childbirth for their daughter. He'd been away preventing Joker and Harley from making a Lamaze class fight each other to the death.
He recalls how difficult it was being a single father those first few years until their young daughter mysteriously disappeared. How he went as far as he could, back then, only stopping at the edge of not killing every enemy, of his, that he'd ever known.
Only to have his own daughter show up years later, inside the Batcave, a trained member of the League of Assassins, joined by Ra's al Ghul, and now attempting to take his life.
He sees her remembering Bruce as her father and refusing to allow Ra's to kill Bruce and taking his sword blow, instead, and pulling Ra's with her down into the chasm that Bruce is staring in now.
No, Bruce knows that he must allow for "justice'' for Joker and Harley, in this case. He's lost everything that he's ever had, always. His life means nothing at this point.
There's no fear. Only sorrow. He knows how it will be.
The same fate as Tim Drake, The Red Hood.
He was beaten and killed by a mob, and his body was dragged through the streets of Gotham and strung up in a tree with barbed wire.
Back in crime alley, a mob stares at the headlights of a decrepit looking Batmobile as its engine sputters. Its armored hood pulls back and Batman is sitting there.
It's eerie and quiet. Something hits the side of his mask. At first, he expects it to be a rock. He braces for impact. A stoning death, he assumes. No, it's too squishy. Water balloons?! Is this some joke?, he wonders. No, again. No joke. They're filled with gasoline. he can smell it now. His senses kick in. He resists the urge to both fight and flight. He accepts it.
Harley stands on the hood, and reads out a list of alleged crimes Batman has committed upon Gotham. The crimes, including Joker's death. Joker's young son steps up on the car. He says that he didn't give two craps about his dad, before tonight. He wasn't a hero to him like he'd become to all of the public of Gotham over the years. He was just another dumb wacko hippie like everyone else. But he was still his dad, and he wouldn't let some bastard vigilante take him from him or those people out there in the crowd who also admired him. Bruce remembers how much he looked up to his dad and remembers how his dad was nothing like Joker, and even with the incidents of crime that took his parents from him so soon, his Gotham was still nothing like this. There was real justice and due process.
Still, he sees this all as no more tragic than anything else that's ever happened tragic in Gotham.
From the crowd, something is handed to Harley. She holds it up. It's Drake's "Red Hood" mask. The crowd roars. She asks her son to do the honors. He lights the mask on fire. Harley tosses into Batman's open hands.
He's drenched in gasoline, he goes up in flames. The pain is blocked out. He doesn't know why. He didn't prepare for it by taking anything. He meant to face it full on.
It's quick. The legend is no more. We leave Gotham.
No, not in the Biblical sense. More in the Hell of your own making sense. Somewhere in between. A cold place of nightmares and flooded failures.
That's where Bruce awakens under the barren tree where cobwebs and the skeletal remains of Tim Drake hang.
Bruce begins to wonder through this land. It looks sort of like Gotham and an overcast grey skied desert combined.
He tries to take off his cape and cowl, but it is melted to his charred flesh.
He sees a courthouse. He approaches. In the real world, this was the place where his enemies stood trial before being sentenced.
He goes in. Down a long hall to the main courtroom. But there's no door. Just a split in the wall. He squeezes in. A room full of sand, and a mummified corpse in a once nice suit sitting against the wall with an axe in its forehead and a scarred coin in its hand.
He sadly recalls the night Drake went too far and planted an axe in Two Face's skull, saying he meant to split the two sides of him in half.
He wonders why he failed Drake, why he failed Gotham and so many others.
I have some more ideas. I'm no writer. This is just some kind of sketching. I'm trying to picture what other parts of his past he'd come up upon in this hell and how he'd interact with them. If there would be comic book like confrontations or if it would be something more a long the lines of something from a Vertigo comic like Sandman or Swampthing.
Oh, well. Thanks for reading.
*Yes, I switched Todd and Drake around with their stories. Just to be a little different like in other adaptions of Batman where say Gordon takes on Alfred's role and vice versa.