Batman was uncomfortable.
He liked it, when crime was obvious. Though robberies might be chaotic, it was rather easy to tell, who was innocent and who was guilty.
But the streets of Gotham had gone quiet. There were still dubious characters roaming the night.
In the entrances of dark alleys drug-dealers sold various narcotics or hallucinogenics.
There were still prostitutes offering themselves on the roadsides.
Bouncers in front of doors in run down neighborhoods indicated illegal gambling.
All that had changed was a man, that turned Gothams underworld from an equal-opportunity-machinery that had turned many into greedy monsters, into a single racist entity.
It was sudden. Bruce Wayne was at break-fast, when the headline of the newspaper read:
“A warlord takes over?
Without any known explanation, the South-African Warlord Peter Graeber landed yesterday afternoon at Gotham-International-Airport. According to our experts, the best explanations are either, that he uses a financial institute in Gotham for money-laundering, or, that he plans to open an American branch of “dhidi wanaharakati co.”, the official source of his income.
The reason, why especially the latter would be reason for concern, is Graebers ability, to get rid of competition.
He was born as the son of a minor West-African warlord, that reigned over a single mine of blood-diamonds and some acres. The reasons, why he has South-African citizenship are unknown. When his father died, his territory expanded rapidly.
Even though he doesn’t hold any office, everything from Nigeria to South-Africa is firmly under his control. According to unproven claims, his influence reaches up to Egypt and even into the isolationist Khandaq. He now controls 98% known sources of diamonds and destroyed the international food trade. Despite all this, any attempts to sentence him at any International Court had failed, because there never were any objective proof of actual crimes against any laws, being it international human rights or Congo traffic-laws. Not even eyewitnesses could be persuaded to testify against him.
The international efforts to stop him appear to concern him very little, as his arrival in the United States shows. But even prior, he would give an interview to anybody that dared to tread into his territory with nothing but a press card and a voice recorder. While he would supply photographs of armed children and the atrocious work conditions in his mines, he obviously never allowed somebody to bring a camera....”
Bruce Wayne stopped reading the news-article, to do his own research on this possible threat.
Batman knew the ruler of Khandaq. He and Black Adam had clashed in the past, but he knew, that the man was a reliable ruler and protector of his realm. If the rumors about Graebers influence were true, he could tell him details.
“Gotham will change and there will likely be no more place for you. You are unable to stop him.”
“So he is a threat. Can I count on your help to fight him.”
“He is no danger to Khandaq and he works in ways I would be defenseless against. When I first heard of him, he had made sure in seconds, I could not attack him, but he also promised, not to attack me. My arrangement with him so far had been more beneficial than I could have anticipated. My advice to you is: Do not fight him, you will only increase your loss.”
“You think he could win against the Justice League?”
“Do not be foolish. Your friends have work of their own. You would not ask for their help, before even knowing what you would lose.”
“We’ll see. I’m not the only one watching over Gotham.”
The rest of his research didn’t look good either.
The position of a warlord was normally inherited by the most brutal member of the gang. Peter Graeber just finished his academical career after failing to become a professor in social sciences at the University of Dresden at only age 25. Since he had not fled his father's territory in time, it had to be expected, that he would die. Instead a few man, that had wanted to be leaders had died, and only a few weeks later, he had gotten rid of all his former neighbors and taken over their businesses.
Humanitarian missions into his borders were regularly declared failures, and the deficits of the countries he operated in skyrocketed, but closer inspection of the facts showed a surprising picture.
Refugee-numbers went drastically down, food imports did as well and reading the actual reports of the humanitarian missions fully, revealed that the physical and social infrastructure had improved to the level of an east-European country like Slovakia or the Czech Republic.
The answer to this miracle was pretty simple. Graeber took the funds of the governments and any foreigner he could find, and used them, to do all the things, normal warlords wouldn’t do.
Since neither his income, nor that of his men decreased, he stayed in command, and thanks to his investments, the citizens considered him as good man instead of a cruel criminal and made sure, to present him to any spectators exactly the way he wanted to be seen.
Comparing the numbers of the international diamond trade, the technological infrastructure, satellite images of his acres, the international food trade statistics and the pictures which allegedly originated from him, made it highly probable, that they did not show the truth.
Either somebody had faked all of Batman’s sources of information, or Graeber´s pictures of child-slaves were as real North-Korea’s videos of nuclear weapons.
Now, only weeks later, the only drug served in the penguin´s iceberg-lounge was alcohol and the bouncer was no longer armed with an assault-rifle.
The penguin himself did no longer dare, to use his whole pride as a headquarter.
Only the biggest of the old families, like the Falconies were still around at all.
The prostitutes had bruises from self-defense-classes instead of pimps. The port was practically closed to any drug, that was not African cocain.
And the candidate for the upcoming city-council election was not a US-Citizen.