Hey Dateline's Keith Morrison! You take this one!
Batman's solution? To remove, one at a time, each cook from the kitchen, and to place them in an asylum...some might call it a "prison," some might call it the dark soul of a city gone mad...all too familiar to those world-weary residents of Gotham City: Arkham. But what happens when Arkham itself becomes the scene of grisly and unspeakable murders? Where, then, does Justice go to roost? At what soil will Justice now claw and scratch looking for seeds and bugs to snatch with its righteous beak of punishment? Where does Justice go to clutch its chicks when the fox has found its way into the hen-house?
Tonight, we'll take a dramatic look into the hunt for a killer as we follow the steps of The Batman as he tries to save the city. This is just a small glimpse through a glass darkly of this man's entire world.
It all started on a night like any other. A night where two orderlies on break in the basement of Arkham Manor were sharing in a secret drink. Oh, to be sure, drinking on duty was not allowed. But who could blame them? Their job was stressful enough on normal nights, here in the mad heart of Gotham. But tonight...oh, tonight would be so much worse. So who could fault them if they happened to be caught unawares while taking a moment to relieve a little of their stress with a harmless sip of the devil's drink? Especially when it would wind up being their last.
An inhuman monster stalked the halls that night. But...where was The Batman? Ah, now, that's a tale in itself. He was hunting an all-too-human monster: an unknown murderer who had nearly killed the man simply known as Victor Zsasz, serial murderer and, as some might call him, and rightly so, "the bogeyman."
On the night in question, amidst the chaos and confusion caused by the monster known as Clownface as he, laughing his soul-shriveling laugh, rampaged throughout Gotham's home for the most fragile of its residents, a woman named Sybil Silverlock escaped the..."prison". Her story, though, is far too long to interrupt tonight's tale of depravity and sensationalism, so we'll leave her trudging through the snow, her mind consumed with thoughts of her daughter.
Inside Arkham, The Batman could not have known that he would be fighting for his very life that night. He was ill prepared to deal with a monstrosity as twisted as Clownface. He knew, if he were to have even the slimmest hopes for surviving, he would be forced to call on help. You might be thinking, safe in your well-lit room, shoving too salty popcorn ungracefully into your drooling maws, "What, Keith, could be so hard about calling for help?" Well, then, there's the rub. The Batman was used to working alone. Some might even go as far as to say he had issues with trust. But then, seeing your parents shot down in cold blood before your innocent eyes can have that affect on a person. But The Batman's struggle to save his city was based on those events, so if he needed to call for help, well...call for help he would. And to a most unlikely of sources.
So, The Batman had made a fateful decision. Would Mister Freeze be willing to help him stop the insane spree of Clownface so that The Batman could get back to the real heart of tonight's mystery and find The Man Who Stalked The Halls of Madness? That was the name of tonight's show which probably should have been said much more dramatically earlier on. Pretty catchy, right? Anyway, if you're interested in that mystery, it'll probably be shoved off into a second part since I've written a lot of dramatic lines concerning this Clownface character which will take up most of the rest of the program. Which will return after this short message.
The Batman and Mister Freeze had only one chance to stop Clownface's spree of utter horror and hilarity. Everybody's fate rested on one small can of liquid nitrogen and Mister Freeze's aim. I wish I could say things had turned out differently. I wish I could say it didn't end the way that it did, so quickly and without harm to anybody. But it did. No gruesome deaths for me to exploit in the name of journalism. No revelations of marital infidelity that would allow me to characterize another human being as a monster or a home-wrecker. No crazed fits of jealousy that would allow me to ponder the possibility of the existence of true and tangible evil. No, tonight the good guys won in a very undramatic fashion. Ratings might suffer but, I suppose, we should take solace in the knowledge that sometimes we are allowed to believe in the possible existence of a loving and merciful God.
Now that the inhuman threat had been taken care of, frozen like so many small children at the bottom of the lake covered in cracked and broken ice, The Batman had other business at hand: The Man Who Stalked The Halls of Madness. When we get that graphic, can we make sure it drips a little blood? Maybe insert a child's scream under the voice over as the title is read?
At last, The Batman could return to the case that brought him to Arkham in the first place. And he knew who he hunted, having faced him down in the arteries of the heart of Gotham. It was a crazed madman known as The Spelunker. And it would take every weapon at The Batman's disposal to bring him down. Or, probably, just one well-placed Batarang. Would The Batman be successful? Would more grisly murders be found? People with holes drilled into their brains? Cut-off limbs scattered about rooms where the walls dripped with melted fat and rent intestines? The answers will have to wait and be revealed next week on part two of The Man Who Stalked The Halls of Madness!
Arkham Manor Rating: +1 Ranking. I wish Keith Morrison were my father!