November 1, 2011
Batman in the Garden of Eden
Here, the city is always in its first light, in Gotham’s most decadent vegetarian restaurant, the Garden of Eaten — past perfect tense because Eden is the perfect past. Tense as a mask, our hero hovers over the dinner crowd, whose dreads shrink and grow in the candle glow. “Batskin,” the maitre d’ batslangs, chill in his fig leaf, “Want to play God up on that stage?” On an emerald island of plywood hung with nylon vines, a waitress plays what must be Eve. Her name tag: the nothing she’s wearing, oh, and the python winding up her hips. Its coils glow like an alloy of grass and oil. That black blur is its tongue in her bare ear. “See,” whispers the Adam-ant waiter, “it’s a real python, but she translates its hiss as temptation, then tries to sell everyone on the Entrée of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” Batman’s blue fist divides the white of his wrist. “Adam, that’s the hiss of a cyber-python.” Then a scream. Eve can’t unwind it. From the speaker hidden in its throat: “Gothamites, this is Killer Croc, the villain who’s you minus evolution. Tonight’s menu: just dessert —Atamist. Breathe it in, and you’ll grow scales, like me.” Teal fog hisses from its fang-spikes. “Batman, save us,” the crowd shouts as one. A wave of his cape banishes them from the Garden. His batarang glitters into the mist, like the striking head of a dead snake. It hits, SNAKKK, flints only sparks from the metal coils. His arsenal can’t do this killer in. Must. Through killer mist, he sees Eve growing a lethal veil of emerald scales. He feels faint. Has a little trickled in through his gas mask? He’s in a field at the edge of Wayne Manor, thinking: At five, I ran through grass that dew made to green skin on my white feet. Back then, I loved Dad and the sun — the heart of one the other’s heat. Then he remembers: the bat-arc welder! Melts the head shut, forces vapor into its own motor. With a shove, he frees Eve, lets the creature explode, molting itself below the stage. At the entrance, the Boy Wonder waits like an angel, skewer of lit tofu in his fist. Batman’s thought balloon: NUMBNESS, I TAKE OFF MY COSTUME OF YOU.
EPIC WINS: SERIES INTRO by Matthew Battles | THE ILIAD (1.408-415) by Flourish Klink | THE KALEVALA (3.1-278) by James Parker | THE ARGONAUTICA (2.815-834) by Joshua Glenn | THE ILIAD by Stephen Burt | THE MYTH OF THE ELK by Matthew Battles | GOTHAMIAD by Chad Parmenter