Pennyworth's Journal

3:05 A.M.

Trust your nose Alfred. It's gotten you this far.

3:14 A.M.

The city is quiet tonight. And in the Batman's white hot impotence he refuses to retire for the night until one nefarious skull is cracked. He's halfway to Blüdhaven and I'm busy tending to the car. Well, one of them anyway.

And there it is. That unfamiliar tickle wafts through the air for the umpteenth time tonight. I half expect a spectral hook to drag me off to a pie on a window sill. Knowing Gotham it would be the work of some nefarious twin terrors... The Bakers Squared.

3:17 A.M.

The Bakers Squared. I'll have to write that one down.

3:26 A.M.

Where on earth is the fragrance coming from? I daresay that this hollow slab of rock and metal hasn't smelled of anything but blood and guano since Master Bruce first decided to build his treehouse. And yet...

3:29 A.M.

I tramp down the cavernous staircase in Italian loafers against my better judgement. I cannot seem to shake the siren call that lingers just above my mustache. As a precaution I bring along torchlight and the Weatherby. All the while I have a nagging feeling that the rifle will do me little good. Perhaps a bouquet of flowers and box of chocolates would be more appropriate. Any lady below would certainly be more appreciative if...

Get a hold of yourself Alfie. There are pubescent boarding school boys who wouldn't have those thoughts.

3:36 A.M.

Lilac. It smells of Lilac.

I don't know why I find that so troubling.

3:43 A.M.

I have never proclaimed myself to be a botanist, but every gardener ought to know which plants are suited for his garden. And I certainly don't remember Lilac being suited to cool and dry cave walls that receive little to no sunlight.

And having racked my brain I fail to remember any instance of the plant growling. And yet...

3:44 A.M.

Perspective is an odd bedfellow. By all accounts this should be considerably more difficult. I am a man in the twilight of my years, serving a dissociative man-child and his questionably clothed underage acquaintance. My goal to lead each of them to some sort of cathartic salvation whilst simultaneously fighting alongside in their Sisyphean crusade against a city more corrupt than the devil's backside seems less possible with each tick of the clock. The responsibility of sweeping their titanic struggles against all that is evil under the rug falls to a geriatric slave of the 21st century whose libido was recently and quite shockingly reawakened. You would think the stress alone would cause the occasional cramp in the leg.

I however am bounding up the stairs with a zeal that would put Bambi to shame.

The giant carnivorous plant nipping at my heel may have something to do with this, but I'd argue that the Yoga is beginning to pay off.

3:45 A.M.

How overly loquacious of me. Let me explain. Upon reaching the base of the cave I encountered a monster that can only be described as a greenhouse mixed with a dogfight. Fortunately my wits stayed about me. Instead of using the torchlight to study the creature or my surroundings in an effort to assess the situation like some sort of fool, I bravely threw my single source of light at the beast in an effort to blind the thing. Stunned, the beast thrashed it's tentacles towards me, which I daresay resembled vines. However I managed to block the beast's attack with my head, protecting my loins with a ferocity that would make Alexander proud.

I managed to escape, fooling the creature with a shot from the Weatherby. And what a crack shot! I hit myself square in the foot.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't pause bask in the glory for just a moment.

3:56 A.M.

It seems my earlier euphoria is beginning to wear off. I am slowly realizing that I indeed have shot my foot while being chased by a rather chuffed flower bed and fantasizing of nubile red-headed women. As the fog clears it seems chased was perhaps a poor choice of words. Caught would be more accurate, seeing as how I am hanging downside-up over an underground canyon. I would be concerned with the nubile redhead below me, were she not kissing me whilst being completely naked. In fact I would say I am somewhat beyond apprehension at the moment.

4:15 A.M.

She is wonderfully easy to talk to. Her name is Pamela Isley. She loves flowers and plants. I seem to have butterflies in my stomach. I should ask her to marry me.

4:36 A.M.

Pamela often kisses me. Sometimes she asks me to smell the flowers that she grows. My head feels....

4:52 A.M.

A complete ass is harassing Pamela. We'll just see about that...

4:53 A.M.

Well it was worth a try.

9:15 A.M.

I'm told by Master Bruce that Ms. Isley was a botanist of some repute before she turned to a life of crime. Her modus operandi seems to involve toxins and pheromones in varying doses. As I was drugged I had little chance of acting of my own free will, according to Master Bruce.

I'll have to bite my tongue on this matter. I am far too proud to admit it that my downfall came at the hands of a self sustained gunshot wound and a susceptibility to hallucinogens. Nevertheless I am indebted to him. The Batman has saved me from the drug fueled carnal orgy with the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Instead I am once again free to live out the rest of my days as a servant to a billionaire playboy that is overly fond of bats.

Hooray

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Pennyworth's Journal

8:15 A.M.

Miss Vicki Vale. A notorious Gotham gossip columnist and socialite with an incredibly voracious appetite for scandal. This is one enemy of Master Bruce's that can't be beaten into submission. No amount of punching and kicking would solve his current predicament. Miss Vale smells blood in the water and she won't rest until she has truly sunk her teeth into the matter. The charade put up by the boys won't last long especially in those peculiar outfits. Miss Vale is a harbinger of doom on the verge of discovering the secret of the Batman.

You would then understand why it's so funny that she's standing three feet away from the Batcave.

It seems I have been tasked with hosting Miss Vale for the day. Much to my chagrin I was unprepared for her arrival. Otherwise I would have had time to slip into character. Well Alfie, let's show Miss Vicki Vale why you're the most prestigious actor this side of the Thames. Although that may be because of your dashingly good looks. We'll just have to wait and see.

9:00 A.M.

Apparently Master Bruce conceded to an interview with Miss Vale contrary to the suggestion of the company guru mister Lucius Fox. Why he would do such a thing I have no idea. Perhaps it has something to do with her fantastic breasts and her otherworldly buttocks. Although Master Bruce tends to stress his sociopathy as an armor against his baser instincts and all too human lust, no man on earth is that crazy.

But passion is a younger man's game. Even if it is with feigned reluctance Bruce is undoubtedly infatuated with the woman. And I can't even imagine what Richard will think. One look and he will dive into puberty head first. Once that happens I imagine the lime green lycra underwear will be the first things to go. Please dear god let this be true. I can't even glance in Robin's direction without feeling a distinct urge to call child protective services.

10:45 A.M.

Where on earth is Master Bruce? You can only tour Wayne Manor so many times. If I have to regale Miss Vale one more time on Solomon Wayne's architectural prowess I fear she may shoot herself.

11:15 A.M.

Space. How on earth did he get to space? I thought the rocket wasn't even functional.

12:00 A.M.

Miss Vale is clearly vexed by Master Bruce's behavior. As such she is becoming more and more irritable and less and less cooperative. She is attacking her cellular phone with a religious zeal. Sending off furious tweets and texts at a whim. Mark my words boy, social media will do more damage to your never ending war than the League of Assassins ever did. And given her latest string of expletives I'd wager seduction is off the table.

An ice cold chill runs up my spine when I see her eyes linger over the grandfather clock.

1:25 P.M.

After finally convincing Miss Vale to partake in my culinary vision we retired to the drawing room where I bargained Master Bruce's absence for my side of the story. Miss Vale is a clever reporter and a tactical interviewer. Her questions border on interrogation with just enough justification to compel an honest answer. No amount of thespian talent would protect me from her onslaught.

Luckily I was able to slip an obscene amount of horse tranquilizer into her luncheon.

It pained me to spoil such a wonderful quiche but it had to be done. About halfway into asking about my employment history with the Wayne family she lost consciousness. She slouched in such a way that her head rested on the coffee table while her legs remain pinned between the seat cushions, creating a horseshoe wedge between the sofa and the table. I simply can't bring myself to move her without crying from laughter. I'll let her sleep it off.

2:15 P.M.

Miss Vale is still unconscious. Thank Heaven.

2:45 P.M.

Still unconscious, which allows time for the more pedestrian duties my job entails. Master Bruce has his utility belt, I have my broom.

3:15 P.M.

Still unconscious. Apparently a small titanium pod shot down from the sky with Victor Fries captive inside. At least I know what he's been up to.

4:00 P.M.

Still unconscious. I'm starting to worry.

4:45 P.M.

For a moment I had believed myself responsible for Miss Vale's death. If that were the case I would of course hand in my resignation. That is if I were legitimately employed and not the victim of indentured servitude for the 21st century. Taking part in a cover up for the most famous vigilante and urban legend in the entire world was not a part of my job description. Neither was attempted murder regardless of intent. Fortunately Miss Vale has written this incident off as a preexisting condition and gone to seek medical attention. The particular cocktail I whipped up was untraceable. I am in the clear as they say. Although I clearly don't have the stomach for it, I must admit I would make quite the serial killer. Perhaps a change of vocation would do me good.

But the piéce de résistance of this entire ordeal did not take place until Miss Vale's departure. She crossed paths with Master Bruce in the lounge and gave him the most spiteful slap I have ever seen in my entire life. Her words were even more precious.

"Do me a favor and lose my number!"

Perhaps there is a god. After all only a higher power could dream up poetic justice such as this. Effectively castrated in front of his errand boy. I should not take pleasure in such things but I must admit I enjoy humbling the great and terrifying Batman.

8:30 P.M.

Only three hours later and she's back. After an entire day of dismissal and a not insubstantial blackout she's back in his arms. To put things in perspective forty minutes earlier they were locked up in the bedroom. Their embrace is charged with passion and lust. How do you do it Bruce? Damn you and you're unrelenting libido. The most flagrant sexual deviant in the history of Gotham and you still manage to save the day and get the girl.

Robin's jaw is hovering just above the floor.

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Pennyworth's Journal

8:30 P.M.

Grayson looks ridiculous.

I can't believe that the scourge of the criminal underworld would throw a brightly colored orphan in hot pants at someone as vicious as Killer Croc. Without even considering the fact that "Robin" has all the upper body strength of an asthmatic amputee, putting a child in this position so soon after loss surpasses neglect and endangerment and simply becomes insane. He slowly becomes more and more irrational every day, devoting every waking hour to the war. Robin sees it too, but he is caught up in the adventure. Grayson does not yet see the path for what it truly is. But I hold my tongue as I have my entire life. It is not my place to judge. I am the servant and he is my master. But I am also his father and he is my son.

Bruce what are you doing?

9:45 P.M.

They've been in the cave for over an hour. I observe from the maintenance platform as they continue to trade blows. Master Bruce continues to hold back. He could snap Grayson's neck in an instant. But Robin is coy as well, hiding one last trick up his sleeve. For all the theater and absurdity they devote to the fight it is nonetheless real and all the more terrifying. Ever the acrobat, Grayson evades the Bat's thunderous blow and leaps for the roof of the cave. Master Bruce is too focused on his target and too relaxed with his surroundings. The home field arrogance is his undoing as Master Grayson knows all too well. The Dark Knight lunges after his squire and falls to the blackest depths below. Robin throws his lifeline and secures Master Bruce in the nick of time.

Perhaps I was too quick to judge. After all I can no longer tell which is the man and which is the boy.

10:30 P.M

Alone in a cold dark cave tending to the soft hum of the most advanced arsenal on the planet. After the dusting and sweeping there isn't much to do except reminisce. I remember when Master Bruce had the same vitality and whimsy that Master Grayson clings onto. I would be hard pressed to spot it now, but there was a time when he would smile, a time when joy filled his heart. Master Bruce wasn't strong enough to hold onto his childhood. He wasn't strong enough to hold onto love and hope and happiness. In time they were swallowed whole by the void, the darkness, the bat. Perhaps this is why he choose the boy. Richard Grayson is everything Bruce could never be... wise, compassionate, and loving. Bruce has at long last found his childhood in Robin, and he refuses to let it go.

The fight...the fall...it doesn't make sense. Bruce hasn't fallen down since he was eight years old. Perhaps he wanted Robin to win?

2:40 A.M

It's been three days since I've slept.

4:00 A.M.

Young Master Grayson comes home scarred. Not a scar of flesh or bone but one of the soul. He was witness to the downfall of Gotham's shining knight. Harvey Dent is dead, only Two-Face remains.

The Batman seems....untroubled.

6:35 A.M.

The 24-hour news cycle is curiously tardy. Word of Batman's protege was not spread until early this morning. Lieutenant Gordon fields a barrage of questions from the Gotham Gazette and dismisses them in turn. "With no actual proof that the Batman himself exists, how likely is it that his side-kick is any more real?"

Gordon, the only honest police officer in the whole of Gotham having to resort to outright lies. If I had any sense of irony it would be tickled.

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A Different Type of Superhero

I'd like to take a moment and reflect on a recent finding. I realize that I might be a little late to the party, but Shaun Tan has absolutely amazed me with The Arrival. It's a beautiful piece of work and is exemplary of what I believe is the distinction between a comic book and graphic novel. There are many books which follow suit and by transcending themselves they become literature as opposed to entertainment (don't get me wrong, I love me some entertainment). Watchmen, Batman: Year One, All-Star Superman, The Dark Knight Returns, V for Vendetta and more all deserve accolades for the validation they've brought to the genre. But The Arrival holds a special place in my heart.

And let me tell you why.

It's a work of narrative imagination that doesn't limit itself to words. And by that I mean it doesn't have any words. This so brilliantly encapsulates everything Tan is trying to convey in his story. Words would be a limitation and a separation from emotional catharsis. We are just as lost as the protagonist in the story, we cling to him as like clings to like and we feel his emotional highs and lows. Both the reader and the hero might be scared of this new page bound world they've entered, but we are too enamored with our surroundings and in love with the aesthetic to be afraid. There is no room for fear, only wonder. There is however room for agitation, anxiety, joy, grief, adventure, fascination, determination and everything in between. And Tan accomplishes all of this without a single word.

Perhaps I should take a moment and explain the premise of the Arrival. The Man (who is never named-similarly neither are any of the other characters) is shown packing his belongings and going on a great journey to a distant land, while leaving his family behind. While it would be incredibly easy to dismiss him as a deadbeat father and philandering husband, Tan conveys throughout understated expression and subtle objects of house and home that this man loves his family. He is traveling to provide for them and can't bear being away from them for long. A classic immigrant story, which only becomes more and more outlandish while sticking firmly rooted to the earth. We as the reader are able to discern the protagonists intent and each and ever obstacle he has to overcome in order to provide for his family. As a male this note struck particularly true to me, seeing as how I won't be able to fly anytime soon. My super-heroics will instead shine through in how I treat my family and provide for them. Therefore I can obviously relate in theory to the protagonist. Even if I can't relate in practice, it's still more than enough for me to truly care about this hero's journey. As a lover of literature, the immigrant motif and homage to history as well as fiction made me giddy with excitement. The amalgamation of two such interesting narrative concepts was more than enough to hook me in. I was so engaged while reading I started to contribute to the backstory myself.

Not to mention Tan is a brilliant artist. I've seen his other work as well and there is a consistently surreal reality to the world's he displays. I recognize every facet of the landscape his imagine can come up with, no matter how beautifully distorted they are. His imagination borders on the universal, and his perception of time and place is breathtaking. His New York for example is a combination of a 1930's radio serial, steampunk imagination, Norman Rockwell and Salvador Dalí.

Once again New York is never specifically named. It is important to remember that this is a universal immigrants story. I've even heard that the book was supposed to be the story of an immigrants arrival in Australia, Shaun Tan's home. Whatever the case may be it is stunning and very descriptive of the shock and awe many immigrants must experience when entering a new land. Not necessarily on account of majesty or grandeur (which Tan provides plenty of) but more because of the certifiably insane cultural and topographical differences between the new and old.

More importantly than the general aesthetic of The Arrival is particular flavor Tan provides to each locale and persona we meet along the way. The old country is as different from the harbor as the harbor is different from downtown. This all interplays with the Man and how he reacts in this new country. Tan's talent for expression and emotion should be noted as well. It seems incredible that an artist who can redraw an already unreal reality can also draw the slightest of facial tweaks, the most visceral sense of dread, or the most understandable sense of frustration. His tone ranges from the bombastic to the stoic and never misses a beat. The Man is a template, while simultaneously becoming a character all his own.

is the last time I visit Ellis Island.

And all the while we remember the Man is fighting for his wife and child. A noble quest that speaks to me personally as I'm sure it speaks to many other young men and women. Fantasy and Science Fiction stand in his way but he pays them no mind. And his is not the only story told. Other immigrants he runs into share their tales. Some are whimsical, some are horrible.

All of this without saying a word. Shaun Tan is truly an amazing contribution to literature, comic books, and storytelling the world over. The man's eventual reunion with his family is a tearjerker. This one tangible and universal bond holds true even in the strangest and most fantastic of worlds. Love and determination to preserve that love is one theme out of many. All of which are imparted either consciously or unconsciously upon the reader. And it only leaves us wanting more. To realize that this is a book written for children is to reevaluate what it means to be a child and what it means to be wise. The end leaves us with The Man's own child welcoming a new generation of immigrant into her home. The story comes full circle. This is what a graphic novel should be, truly inspired.

What is a "graphic novel" for you? What makes it better or worse than other forms of comics? What are some of your favorites?

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Artists and Character Aesthetic: A Match Made In Heaven

Every now and then I come across an artist's run on a particular title and think it simply cannot get better than this.

But let me clarify that this isn't the result of any particular artists or any particular characters, rather it's the product of the two which makes something really spectacular. We all know that every artist has their strengths and weaknesses. Facial expression may be passed over for an excess of action poses or vice versa. Likewise characters too have their particular pros and cons. One man's Dark Knight is another man's Crazy Quilt. But an truly great artist utilizes any strengths or weaknesses in their drawing ability and uses them to complement strengths or weaknesses in character mythos. I'd like to share a few of my favorite examples and ask for a few of yours.

1) I'd like to start with one of the headlining articles on the Vine today. the First Look at Carnage U.S.A. reminded me just how perfect Clayton Crain is when it comes to drawing symbiotes.

Crain's Carnage

There are almost too many reason why I love this particular Cletus Kasady. Let me start out with the obvious. Crain has done some great work here when it comes to portraying Carnage's ferociousness. Let's start off with his pose. He is almost swooping down onto his intended victim akin to a hawk or eagle. Working with the raptor analogy Carnage is sporting ferocious talons that are thin tendrils capable of ripping flesh, bone, and steel to shreds. Even the shape of his head resembles the open maw of a great bird of prey with fangs to boot. (The fangs could also indicate a nod to vampire culture and lore which symbiotes have been intertwined with throughout much of their history. The raptor motif could easily signify vampirism as well). Moving on to the body, Crain has abandoned traditional comic bulkiness for a lean, sinewy, and muscular villain. At times Carnage's body appears to be coming apart at the seems, barely kept in check by the flowing tendrils and tentacles which writhe disgustingly from his body. In fact Kasady seems to be constantly followed by the human circulatory system in motion which Crain uses to great effect. He also seems to refelct Kasady's true nature in his depiction of Carnage: monstrous, inhuman, predatory, hungry with blood lust, serpentine, and viciously strong.This is truly the last thing you'd want to run into in a dark alley. This iteration of Cletus Kasady is so true to the character it's almost eerily scarier to seem him and his actions without the symbiote.

Crain seems to have cornered the market on lethality in Marvel titles. I also highly recommend his run on Uncanny X-Force.

2) Next up is a pretty big change of pace from Clayton Crain and Carnage. Let's see if you can keep up...

The Fastest Man alive has never looked better. Thanks to the combined efforts of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, Barry Allen is back! I first got hooked on their Flashwork just before the arrival of the DCNU. During Brightest Day their run on the Flash took my breath away with what I might describe as Modern Classic. Both Central and Keystone City are sleek and streamlined much like the Flash himself. Colors are bright and vibrant and always catch your eye no matter how fast you're going. And Manapul's artwork is cluttered with the unnecessary. Everyone is rendered to be simplistic aesthetically, but always tasteful and unique. Looking at the Flash in the cover above we see a sleek runner's body perfectly poised to run faster than the speed of light. His pose is dynamic and is running straight towards us. Barry has his eyes locked on us not unlike a charging bull ready to steamroll over us and emerge into our reality. Perhaps most importantly...he crackles. I can actually hear the lighting that flows around him. In this shot he is unstoppable. And the colors are absolutely gorgeous. The bright red is offset and complemented by the otherworldly yellow with just a hint of his electric blue eyes. I mean how cool is that! I cannot give enough praise to Manapul and Buccellato for their interpretation of Barry. The renewed our faith that we don't need to be gods or extra-dimensional entities. All we need is a sense of justice and lighting in a bottle to go really really fast. Check out civilian Barry and his new armored DCNU costume, each captures the essence of Barry Allen without the need for words. And I'd also like to recommend their run on Adventure Comics. The dynamic duo's style translates extremely well into the small town setting of Smallville and it's alumni Superboy and Superman.

3) Barry Allen is great and all. But lets try another type of lightning, and maybe a little thunder....

Pasqual Ferry blends science and magic with every brushstroke. I think he's one of the best and most innovative artists out today. Everything from his run on the Ultimate Fantastic Four to Ender's Game. He consistently exudes creativity and his run on Thor may be the best example to date. Ferry's Thor has a raw elegance to him. Roughly drawn outlines are softened with color and light until a contradictory and surreal image appears. Thor's pose is a graceful ascent to the peak of fallen Asgard. His mystic hammer is saturated with otherworldly magic which flows into Thor himself. The cape blows violently in the wind but only adds to the grace and perfect of the Asgardian god. No earthly power can affect him. The background is a beautiful scene. Purple dominates the sky as an almost celestial wound while the morning sun rises over Asgard's bones. But Thor does not weep. Instead he looks out onto the horizon. Searching for the next battle to be fought and the next villain to be bested. He will never stop, he will never tire. His armor glints with sunlit hope while his muscles are tensed ready for anything that might befall him. Ferry perfectly combines elements of the cosmic with the mystic and thus perfectly portrays Thor. Check out his interpretations of the refugees of Yggdrasil as well as the other Asgardain gods. Heimdall and Kelda in particular are beautiful. And I love me some Storm Giant.

Now keep in mind these are only a few and I have lots more to come. For instance I'm a big fan of Jim Lee's Batman, Coipel's Thor, Quitely's Superman, etc...

But I'm more interested in what you have to say? When has an artist truly captured the essence of a character for you and why? Please comment with some of your favorites. Scans are always appreciated. Thanks for reading guys.

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Pennyworth's Journal

2:30 A.M.

There was an incident.

While attending the Hayley Circus Master Bruce witnessed a horrible crime. The Flying Graysons were gunned down in the in front of the crowd. Police suspect the crime boss known as Zucco. Naturally Master Bruce has taken it upon himself to avenge the victims and their orphaned son. He no doubt sees himself in the child. He is currently in pursuit...something about a hideout by in Gotham harbor.

The boy is in the cave...this changes everything.

4:30 A.M.

Master Bruce has not returned. Young Grayson hasn't said a word. Perhaps he is taken aback by the surreality of the situation. But he is not afraid, far from it in fact. He is simply biding his time, assessing the situation. But grief holds sway over his body. It blankets him as the smog blankets Gotham, slowly choking him from the inside. I offer my condolences and services. He quietly thanks and accepts. He looks at me with wisdom far beyond his years. He looks at me with sadness tinged with hope.

He is so different from Bruce.

6:30 A.M.

The Bat returns. Zucco has been located but the shooter remains elusive. He would track them to the gates of hell if it would ease the child's pain. But he knows from his years that nothing will bring them back. There is nothing left to do but fight he tells the child of the circus...

"You have been thrown into a never ending war that we are destined to lose. We will fight and we will die and it will mean nothing. Nothing even to the many lives that we save. But they are a cowardly and superstitious lot and we will make them afraid."

The boy looks up at the legend before him. Tears stain his face as he locks eyes with the dark spirit of justice and retribution. He gazes into the abyss and says...

"Yes"

Sometimes I wonder what Thomas would say.

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Pennyworth's Journal

1:30 A.M.

Master Bruce has returned with unsettling news. Apparently he isn't the only one in Gotham with a flair for the dramatic. First the hateful harlequin, then the strange psychiatrist, and now another costumed killer is climbing out of the woodwork. This one has a penchant for puzzles...

Four men sat down to play, they played all night 'till break of day.

They played for gold and not for fun, with separate scores for everyone.

When each one came to square accounts, they each had made fair amounts.

Can you explain this paradox? If no one lost, how could all gain?

This particular enigma will require a sharp wit, dogged determination, and about five more hours of sleep for those of us not accustomed to titillating twilight trapeze acts. Look at him. The boy can hardly tear his eyes away from the page for he knows whoever these four men are it will surely mean their lives if he doesn't succeed.

1:33 A.M.

With the roar of the engine he leaves as quickly as he came. Alerting me to his discovery of the intended victims.

Sometimes I think he is just showing off.

4:30 A.M.

Musicians! Damn it the answer was on the tip of my tongue. Well this explains the fire at the Opera House...

5:15 A.M.

When he returns he reeks of ash and cinder. Blood that may or may not be his own crawls across his chest into the gaping hellmouth of the beast the resides in his bosom. He's managed to remain upright this time.

He's getting better.

5:20 A.M.

Another clue, another question. This time the world's greatest detective is given pause. He is not certain of the answer as if a heavy fog has clouded his mind and dulled his senses. Head trauma tends to do that. I order him to bed and administer what feeble help I am able to provide. For him it is enough. While he rests I seek my revenge and glance at the riddle that lies before me. If I solve it before he does...I'll take the day off. And perhaps I'll remind him that even the world's greatest detective doesn't know everything.

The clue:

The victim next I do conceal, but where he lies I shan't reveal.

Embraced inside our mother's womb, I serve as jailer or I serve as tomb.

I truth I am bound to disappoint. This man's life to make a point.

Tailored and trimmed for his demise, I seek to elude you with a pack of lies...

The man who made me doesn't want me for his use. The man who bought me doesn't need me save for abuse.

The man who needs me doesn't need me yet. But by that time he'll be dead.

Why on earth this chap gives away every detail of his nefarious plot I'll never know. Seems rather counter-productive if you ask me...then again nobody does.

9:30 A.M.

Thank God he's finally managed to sleep. Now I can focus on the sweeping of Wayne Manor. Larger than life with just as much dust inside. Do you know how butlers the world over have managed to keep a clean house for lords and ladies these past thousand years?

They cheat. I myself sweep most of the rubbish into that ridiculous cavern of his and hope the rats finish the job. And when the cave is not an option I find other hiding spots that the surreptitious sleuth couldn't hope to find in a million years. The east wing lavatory hasn't been used in ages and if someone were to venture in they would no doubt soil themselves in more ways than one.

It's my way of getting back.

11:00 A.M.

Floors are cleaned, food is prepared, appointments are made, explosives are ordered, and costumes are mended. The things I get done while the boy sleeps in. Perhaps a short break is in order...

11:30 A.M.

For that rubbish? The price is certainly not right.

12:00 P.M.

I should have guessed he was the father.

12:30 P.M.

Daytime television, my guilty pleasure. But seeing as the boy is awake I best end it there for fear of losing my last shred of dignity. Of course I was the one who managed to solve the puzzle and will indirectly be responsible for saving the next victims life. I serve as jailer or I serve as tomb... a little on the nose for my taste. I just wonder how Master Bruce will be able to tell which coffin he is buried in.

2:30 P.M.

After continued deliberation, condescension, and (much to my chagrin) acceptance of my correct answer Master Bruce has gone to the city cemetery under the pretense of visiting his parents. Anyone who knows the boy would be able to tell you he hasn't been able go back since that fateful night. No doubt he will somehow stumble upon the victim all the while exuding his insincere nonchalance and ennui. I'm not sure which mask I detest more, that worn by night or that worn by day.

4:30 P.M.

Edward Nigma couldn't resist proving his superiority to the rest of the world. He is much like Master Bruce in that way, only Master Bruce always wins in the end. In this case Nigma wasn't even shown the courtesy of defeat by the Dark Knight. Instead it was the drunken playboy who had been handed the world on a silver platter who caused Nigma's downfall. Master Bruce had inadvertently delivered police straight to the Riddler's hideout as he was preparing his next clue.

Lives were saved Alfred. Remember that. No matter how hard you try to deny the boy his mission and his purpose just remember....that he was right.

I mock his purpose, but I will always love him. He is the savior we all deserve....I need to sleep.

11:00 P.M.

Another day, Another war

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Pennyworth's Journal

7:30 A.M.

Damn. The third morning in as many days I've overslept. Four hours should be more than enough. The master's recent nocturnal habits have certainly started to test my resolve. A change of schedule is certainly in order. Well first things first...

Piping hot Earl Grey with honey and lemon, naturally. It soothes the nerves.

Bugger! Apparently it soothes the nerves and scalds the tongue. I must make note to vent my frustration in the cave later today. Master Bruce won't mind of course, he'll be too busy playing dress up. Of all the...I wanted to set up a foundation in their honor and bring politics and integrity to this city but you had a pathological need didn't you?

There, that's better. A quick scone with the rest of the tea and I'm off to tend to the bullet wounds...again.

8:15 A.M.

He's still unconscious, but stabilized. If he keeps this up he's going to turn into a patchwork quilt before year's end. No, never mind. I believe Crazy Quilt has been spoken for. Although the moniker is just as arbitrarily insane as the one he has decided upon. So perhaps I'm splitting hairs. Although when one decides underwear must be worn outside the leggings another wonders what the man must wear in private.

Ha!

A little bit of gallows humor....

I imagine it's what keeps me going these days. I look at this man both broken and bloodied and all I see is the boy I loved with wounds that will never truly heal.

And as is my duty I will tend to the boy. I will give in to the fantasy and I will protect the fragile heart that lies within by providing the armor, by providing the mask, by providing the darkness in which he will hide. I do this because it is my duty. I owe too much to this boy and to this family to do otherwise.

8:45 A.M.

Still unconscious

9:30 A.M.

He awakens. Just when I am ready to give up all hope and pronounce him dead. When I am ready to denounce his terrible secret to the world. When I am ready to accept responsibility for every life he saved and every life he endangered, he wakes. The boy is going to drive me into an early grave.

I force Master Bruce to his feet. He has brought this on himself. The next task is not one to be taken lightly, even if it preceded by emergency surgery. It requires unearthly stamina and courage to face head on. It is only draining to his will and detrimental to his faith in this self righteous mission of justice. Perhaps the most terrifying and monumental obstacle he must overcome. Yet without this the facade he...*ahem* that I have worked so hard to cultivate will slip through his fingers and leave only the darkness for the world to see. The greatest challenge yet...

The Swedish Bikini Team.

Oh the humanity.....

10:00 P.M.

He has spent the last twelve hours frolicking, flirting, and building up sexual tension with six of the most beautiful women on the planet and his first instinct upon his return is to don a leather mask and tights and beat men half to death with his fists...

I'll have to look into the matter.

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