Non Quis, Sed Quid = Latin for “Not Who, But What”
Superman could still remember the first time that he’d met Gotham’s infamous Dark Knight. In fact, Clark wouldn’t be surprised if that memory was, eventually, the last one left in his head.
All things considered it had taken a surprisingly long time for the “Last Son of Krypton” and the “World’s Greatest Detective” to meet face to face. Only a year separated Superman’s first public appearance and the night the Bat started to prowl the rooftops of Gotham. It had taken two years for Superman to meet Gotham’s caped crusader, when it usually only took him a month at the most to meet any other new hero.
While there had been other heroes before Superman, famous men and women who had done great and noble deeds, most people thought of Superman as the first “real” superhero. Seeming to come from nowhere, he’d taken center stage and it hadn’t taken long for others to follow him into the limelight. It didn’t take long for others to follow, and soon all manner of superheroes were fighting crime in dozens of cities.
Wonder Man, the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow… the list seemed to grow larger every week. It didn’t matter what city the new home called home, sooner or later, Superman met every single one of them, face to face. Before long it had practically become Clark’s job to introduce heroes to each other.
Eventually a sort of group, something like a social club, had emerged. The club had, over a few months, grown and morphed into what became the Justice League. The goal of the League was quite simple… give superheroes a way to call for backup.
When a new hero appeared one of the “big names” at the League would investigate. They would run a sort of background check, making sure they were dealing with a real hero, not a common vigilante or crazy person. After making sure of this they would actually contact the hero, giving them the opportunity to join the League.
Even Superman needed backup from time to time, so he was proud to be a member of a group that heroes could call if everything went to hell in a hand basket.
Since he was one of the biggest “big names” in the Justice League and due to his job at the Daily Planet, Clark was almost always one of, if not the first to spot new heroes. He’d seen the most unlikely people rise up to fight for what they believed in… but even he hadn’t expected a hero to emerge from Gotham City.
Gotham was a city that seemed to be tearing itself apart. For years crime and corruption had ruled over the twisted streets and the gothic architecture. There were streets where the light of day never quite managed to get to, places where a murder would never be noticed, police who were willing to do anything for money. Many people, both in and out of Gotham, believed that the city could not be saved.
No one even bothered to report on the corruption in Gotham, or the ever rising crime rates. No one cared, everyone knew and did nothing. Gotham didn’t want to read what it already knew and no other city cared… but then everything changed.
The first report from Gotham came from a man named Alexander Knox, a reporter for the Gotham Gazette. He tended to write small filler pieces for the back pages. On the night of March 25th he’d followed the police on a bust and found one of the cities’ biggest crime bosses tied to a searchlight. The man and his guards had rambled out a story to Knox, which he’d turned into his piece, entitled “GIANT BAT IN GOTHAM”. According to the crooks some sort of giant humanoid bat had been responsible for the arrest of one of the top mob members in Gotham.
Superman and the Justice league hadn’t known what to make of the events in Gotham. They just couldn’t tell if they were dealing with a vigilante or a hero. So they waited, hoping that more evidence would come to light, evidence that could explain Gotham’s “Bat.” They’d counted on news, counted on small stories of bravery, counted on stories that could testify, that could define the Bat as either hero or vigilante, as someone the League could help or someone the League needed to deal with.
But there were no little stories, no evidence gained slowly and steadily. One night there was no news and the next morning the world woke up to find that Gotham had stolen the headlines of every single paper.
Alexander Knox had one of the biggest stories, “WHO IS THE BAT?” which detailed the actions of Gotham’s Bat. An unknown group had attacked Gotham, with the help of Jonathan Crane, the head of Gotham’s Mental Asylum, Akrham. The “Narrows”, the area of Gotham where Arkham was located, had been attacked with some sort of chemical weapon that had driven thousands of people insane, and right in the center of everything was the Bat.
The Bat had supplied the police with an antidote to the chemical weapon and he had defeated the group behind it all, chasing after a speeding train in order to save millions of lives.
Along with Alexander Knox’s story there were the first pictures of Gotham’s mysterious Bat. The pictures were, quite simply, horrible. Dark, blurry and distorted by the movement of the Bat and the four men he’d been fighting. The photos had been captured by a security camera in the Narrows, and the mist didn’t help the quality of the images.
Even with the Justice League’s computers and image reconstruction software not much of the Bat’s costume could be examined. It was black, there was a cape and a cowl with stylized bat ears, and some sort of grapple which the Bat used to help him chase after the train.
Lois Lane had sensed that there was more to the story than Knox had managed to get, and so she basically annoyed Perry to the point where he sent her to Gotham to try and get an exclusive for the Daily Planet. Maybe he thought that the Bat Man would be as drawn to her as Superman seemed to be.
Clark had planned to, well spy on Lois from a distance, since he had to “stay” in Metropolis to cover Superman’s exploits in Lois’ absence. However the Justice League had needed his help with a minor crisis, so Lois had ended up going unsupervised in Gotham, alone with the most muscular photographer the Planet could supply (it was Gotham after all). And, as was usual for her, Lois Lane had found herself in the right place at the right time.
Before the Bat’s arrival, crime in Gotham had been controlled by the Crime Families. That had been the way of things for as long as anyone could remember. When the Bat Man (as the papers had started to call him) had emerged the balance of power had shifted dramatically, which had lead to the Falcone family making a move to gain control over the others. One small family, the Galante, had violently rebelled against the Falcone’s actions.
Lois had found herself trying to take shelter in a shop’s doorway, caught in a brawl between the Falcone and Galante. She and her photographer probably would have died… but then the Bat Man had showed up.
Despite the very real fear that he and Lois would die, the photographer did his job and started taking photos of the hero, though most of those photos, since they were being taken in the middle of a violent fistfight, were only slightly better than the ones which Alexander Knox had managed to get. It just wasn’t that easy to get picture of someone who dressed in black in a dimly lit alley at night.
However Lois and the photographer saw what the camera didn’t catch, what it couldn’t catch. For someone who couldn’t see past Clark Kent’s glasses, Lois had sharp eyes, and she managed to notice something which no article about the Bat had ever mentioned.
When the last criminal fell to the ground and the Bat turned to leave, Lois stood up and pleaded with Gotham’s vigilante. She didn’t stop shouting, didn’t stop begging for one picture, just one picture, to show the world the truth. The Bat had stopped, glanced back (one of the two good pictures) and then turned to face the reporter from Metropolis.
As soon as the photographer took the shot the superhero had vanished, as if he had never been there at all.
But that didn’t matter to Lois Lane. She didn’t care how quickly the Bat managed to get away: She had her scoop and she had a photo to back up her almost unbelievable story. As images went it wasn’t anything remarkable. Gotham’s hero stood, lit from behind, but this time the image was clear .
With a lucky break and one amazing photograph Lois Lane proved what the criminals of Gotham knew (or at least suspected) but would never admit to police or reporters.
The Bat was not Batman… but Batwoman.
GOTHAM’S BAT A WOMAN the article screamed. The world was astonished, but that was nothing compared to the reaction in the superhero community. The few stories which had gotten out about Batwoman were not the sort of tales people were used to reading about female superheroes, no matter how powerful they were. Actually most of the stories about Batwoman weren’t the sort of stories that people were used to reading about heroes of any gender.
Of course, at that point no one knew what abilities or powers Batwoman had, so most heroes assumed they were dealing with a meta. One of the more junior members of the Justice League had even asked Clark if it was possible that Batwoman was Kryptonian.
The members of the Justice League and heroes in general assumed that all would make sense in time, forgetting the old saying regarding assumptions.
When Lois came back to Metropolis Clark had done his best to get as much information about Batwoman as he could, but it didn’t amount to much. There weren’t many details to be had, and Lois quickly forgot how amazing it was to have another female hero. Instead she began to echo the concerns of several prominent citizens of Gotham, asking if the Batwoman was really a hero and not just some vigilante.
It didn’t take long for similar fears to spread. All too soon Police Commissioner Loeb publicly announced that Gotham PD would be treating Batwoman as a criminal and would be conducting an ongoing investigation into her real identity.
To Clark it made sense that Gotham was wary of their new hero. The city had been under the control of crime and corruption for far too long to just accept a hero like Metropolis had accepted Superman. It didn’t help matters that Batwoman dressed all in black and stalked the darkest hours of the night. Superman and other heroes like the Flash had created this image of what it meant to be a hero, a sort of modern day knight in shining armor. Batwoman didn’t fit this model; she was a different sort of hero.
Batwoman wasn’t the hero that Gotham wanted, but perhaps she could become the hero they needed.
Slowly more information came to light about Batwoman; slowly she was seen more often around Gotham. Each article added new information, new exploits, new criminals captured. Then a young writer from Gotham, Vicki Vale, got a little creative. The remains of the crime families had been attempting a major heist at a Wayne Enterprises business. The Batwoman had swooped in and left the criminals tied up for the police, and a new photograph had been released to the public.
Wayne Enterprises had some of the most advanced security cameras in the business world. So when they released a screen cap of the heist, it had been a pretty high quality photograph.
The image was from a camera mounted on a high fence that surrounded the parking lot of the business complex. It showed Batwoman leaving the scene after she’d fought off about a dozen criminals and left them, handcuffed and dangling from the ceiling, for the police to find. In the pictures Batwoman was flying off, apparently using some sort of grappling hook, similar to what Green Arrow used to get around. What made the image visually striking was Batwoman’s costume.
In Lois’ photograph Batwoman’s arms were spread, holding back her black cape so that the rest of her outfit could be seen. The Justice League had thoroughly investigated these photographs to try and learn something about Batwoman’s suit. It appeared to be some sort of armor; if not Kevlar, then something similar. The suit looked like it had been originally designed with the military in mind. The armor didn’t try to hide Batwoman’s gender, but neither did it flaunt it. The amour just fit her properly.
In this new photograph the cape was the most interesting part of the whole outfit, at least to the Justice League. Lois had told Clark that Batwoman’s cape never seemed to get in her way during a fight, but if she stood still or walked the cape closed around her and seemed almost to seal itself at the front. Superman was willing to bet that this helped Batwoman to vanish, since the black cape would easily blend into the dark alleys of Gotham.
In the new photograph the wind and movement of the grappling hook had made the cape fly out behind Batwoman, much like Superman’s cape did when he was flying. However the cape had a sort of ragged bottom, which seemed to be purely cosmetic, making it look like Batwoman had demonic wings.
What had made Viki Vale’s piece amazing was the title of the article she’d built around the picture. “GOTHAM’S DARK KNIGHT.” Every reporter who had written anything about Batwoman had gotten tired of saying her name over and over again, so they instantly accepted the new title for Gotham’s mysterious masked woman.