Batman: Times Past: Sketches of the Caped Crusader, Chapter 4: 1964: Introducing the Darktown Defender

by Nadra Enzi

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Gotham City, 1964:

The Darktown section of Gotham City was where the city’s Negro citizens lived. Ironically, Gotham’s high crime rate didn’t discriminate, and criminals who didn’t live there somehow considered Darktown easy pickings.

Fortunately, recently Darktown had gained its own caped crusader — a masked mystery-man named Indigo Man.

As falling glass showered around him and the infamous Overnight Robbers crew he’d shadowed to a darkened Carver Municipal Savings Bank, Indigo Man couldn’t help but ask, “Here to make a deposit, boys?” as the trio he landed atop fell to the cold floor.

“@#$$$ nig–” the one closest to him almost said as a gloved fist smashed into his temple like a sledgehammer.

“Ah-ah! Don’t say the magic word!” the mystery-man quipped, charging his rapidly rising opponents. In later years, a more enlightened society would label this unmentionable phrase the N-Word.

Another figure entered the fray, shouting, “Freeze!” as his flashlight bathed everyone in its blinding light. A long-barrelled revolver filled his other hand, its muzzle steady.

“Thanks, brother,” Indigo Man said, kicking the one on the left while backhanding the last Overnight Robbers member with his other fist.

The two crooks fell to the floor, while Indigo Man turned to the uniformed security officer employed by the bank he secretly owned in his other identity and quipped, “What kept you?”

A bit embarrassed, the night watchman admitted, “Sir, I-I just stepped out to visit my new girlfriend…”

“…who these guys probably sent your way as a distraction,” said Indigo Man. “Well, Mr. Sanders, nobody’s perfect. Why don’t you give Gotham’s finest a call, and I’ll see what other fun our delightful Darktown has for me.”

Mr. Sanders was Indigo Man’s employee, and he also knew his secret identity, since they were both members of the Indigo Civic Club — a benevolent association dedicated to promoting both uplift and civic duty for Darktown residents.

Since Gotham City was largely segregated at the time, Darktown residents usually fended for themselves, with notable exceptions being donations from millionaire Bruce Wayne and color-blind crime-fighting from Batman.

“Nice work!” Batman said, swinging down from his perch on a nearby building, having observed the new crime-fighter in action.

Looking up, Indigo Man said, “Thanks. High praise from Gotham’s caped crusader.”

Smiling, Batman looked at Indigo Man’s cape and told him, “Looks like I’m not Gotham’s only caped crusader.”

“Touché. What’s on your mind?” Indigo Man asked, sensing an unvoiced question in Batman’s hooded eyes.

“Let’s get some altitude, and I’ll tell you all about it,” Batman answered, deftly hooking his bat-rope-trailing batarang around a streetlight and launching himself upward.

Shrugging, the Darktown Defender murmured, “OK, I’ll bite.” Tossing his own weighted line upward, he swung aloft after it was securely anchored.

“Indy, could I invite you uptown?” Batman asked, holding his rope with one hand while waving to curious passersby looking upward.

Laughing, Indigo Man answered, “For what — a lynching? Have you forgotten Gotham’s color line?”

Smoothly landing on a nearby building, Batman silently held out his blue-gloved hand and simply answered, “I can’t stop all the evil in Gotham City. But I can push it back where I can. Having you fight crime beside me uptown can help race relations a lot more than acting as bodyguards for visiting civil rights activists.”

Indigo Man nodded in agreement. “Good point. If I can knock crooks out who creep into my side of town, it’d be fun to do it in uptown. But the city fathers might get uptight about this. Your special commission with the police might get yanked.”

Batman grinned even wider and replied, “Brother, when I started this job, it was without a special commission from the police. What say you let me worry about that while we both worry about fighting crime and Jim Crow in our somewhat-fair city?”

Taking Batman’s offered hand, Indigo Man said, “Deal!”

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