by Ben Sloane
The next morning, the headlines read, Second Batman Dies For Gotham.
A week later, Jimmy Gordon stared at that headline in his father’s office. Mercy Graves stood behind him, her hands on his shoulders.
“I don’t know how, but Red Robin fixed it so that nobody knows your dad was Batman II,” she said. “Everybody will think he died in a skiing accident in Switzerland.”
“But Red Robin won’t help me with the important stuff,” said the boy. “He made me promise to never become Robin again.”
Jimmy Gordon turned to his friend and confidante. “So I won’t.”
“Jim,” Mercy began. “What are you thinking of?”
Jimmy stood and retreived a plain cardboard garment box. He opened it, revealing a black kevlar tunic and a necklace with a small yellow bird symbol.
“Dad always loved Edgar Allen Poe,” said Jimmy. “A Raven can fly just as well as a Robin, don’t you think?”
“I have to! I have to do this for my dad!”
“But after what happened…”
“Exactly,” said Jimmy, stone-faced. “After what happened, I have to do this. There’s no other path for me.”
Mercy sighed sadly.
“Will you help me?” Jimmy asked. “Please say you’ll help me.”
“I’m not wearing a costume.”
“You don’t have to. Just teach me how to fight.”
“I’ll teach you to protect yourself.”
“Fair enough. Partners?”
The two shook hands, then embraced.
“Look out, Harley Quinn!” Jimmy said. “Here comes the Raven!”
Helena Wayne walked the hallways of Arkham Asylum, accompanied by the facility’s latest director, Noah Arkham, great-grandson of the asylum’s founder.
“So you’ve seen no improvement at all in Paul Sloane?” asked Helena.
“Some, Ms. Wayne,” Dr. Arkham replied. “With mania of this intensity, any movement in a positive direction, no matter how slight, is a victory.”
“But Sloane still only speaks of himself in the third person, as though Paul Sloane is a separate personage?”
“Yes, I’m afraid that’s the case, but again, our doctors have made some progress with his situation.”
Dr. Arkham and Helena reached a gated corridor. A uniformed officer rose to allow them access to the farthest depths of the asylum. They passed through the door and heard the disconcerting sound of bolts being latched into place behind them.
“What kind of progress, Doctor?” Helena asked as they walked.
“As you know, after Harley Quinn sprayed that acid on the unscarred side of Sloane’s face, he ceased referring to himself as we or us. He acted as though Paul Sloane had died, and he went through normal stages of mourning — denial, bargaining, anger…”
“I’m familiar, Doctor.”
“He seemed to be stuck in the anger phase. While we were unable to convince Sloane that his true persona still lived, we did happen upon a way for us to communicate with Sloane through the Two-Face — or One-Face — personality.”
“And how was that?”
The pair arrived at a cell door marked Sloane, Paul.
“Here we are, Ms. Wayne. You can see for yourself.”
Helena peered into the padded cell. Although a prison for the criminally insane former actor, the asylum had provided Sloane with comfortable furnishings, old movie magazines, a television set, and cassette player. Helena heard they tried to get Sloane to watch some of his old movies, in hopes of reconnecting him with his former life.
Sloane sat with his back to the doorway.
“Who is it?” he called. “Who’s come to see the monster?”
“It’s your lawyer, Mr. Sloane,” Dr. Arkham replied. “It’s Helena Wayne.”
“I see,” the scarred man said. “You haven’t come to visit me, but Paul.”
“I’ve come to see you, too,” Helena said.
“Oh, it’s all right. I don’t expect I have many friends in the world. Let me wake Paul for you.”
Sloane turned to the doorway. In his hands, Helena could see he carried a small form, about the size of a toddler. Suddenly, he whipped the body upright, facing Helena. It was a ventriloquist’s dummy. It spoke.
“Ms. Wayne!” the dummy cried, in Paul Sloane’s voice. “You must get me out of here. I don’t belong here! Not in here with him!”
In shock, Helena’s eyes darted from the wooden grin of the dummy to the torn and frozen face of Paul Sloane. Sloane’s mouth was drawn into a hideous rictus, his teeth clenched as he provided the dummy’s voice. His lips didn’t move.
Of course his lips don’t move, Helena thought. He doesn’t have any.
“Dr. Arkham…” she said aloud.
“I thought you came to see Paul!” Sloane yelled, interrupting. “Here he is!”
Sloane rushed forward, slamming his body into the plastic partition separating him from the doctor and Helena Wayne.
“Don’t you want to talk to Paul?” he yelled. “You want to see Paul, don’t you? Well, the only way to get to Paul is through me! If you want Paul Sloane, you’ll have to deal with Scarface!”
Sloane screamed his new name over and over again, punctuating each shriek by pounding the dummy’s head against the plastic wall. Dr. Arkham summoned a pair of attendants who rushed in to sedate Sloane. As his energy faded, the sound of his screaming echoed down the hallways, the name Scarface repeating again and again.