Absolute Vigilance by Red-Rum-18
Years ago, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Italian crime boss Salvador Maroni and his pregnant wife Maria Kane-Maroni were attacked outside a movie theater they were leaving. The attacker, a thug working for the rival Falcone Family, killed their bodyguards and then slew Salvador in cold blood. The killer then started to rape Maria, but he was then shot by a surviving bodyguard; the trauma from the rape and her husband’s slaying caused her to go into labor, and she gave birth to her son, whom she named Bruce Wayne. Confirmed to the hospital, Maria and her attending doctor, Dr. Thomas Wayne, fell in love and married a year later. Young Bruce Wayne, inheriting a fortune from his biological father’s will, shared it with his mother and step-father, who dissolved Salvador’s crime syndicate. When Bruce was seven, Maria Wayne was diagnosed with HIV-related syphilis, which she contracted from her rape and caused neural degeneration in a matter of months. No longer able to maintain a grip on reality, poor Maria was confirmed to one of the best hospitals on the East coast, the Elizabeth Arkham Institute of Mental Health. There was a mass breakout of the more dangerous patients while Bruce and Thomas visited her one evening, and they killed both parents in a bloody brawl. Bruce’s life was saved by a young psychology student named Hugo.
Orphaned at the tender age of 8, Bruce was taken in by his uncle William Kane, who became the sole trustee of his parents’ money. The tragedy of his parents’ death impacted Bruce in his teen years, and he promised himself that no-one else would suffer like he did. Instead of taking on the money he was set to inherit at age 21, Bruce set off to become a self-made man, earning the money himself through working 3 jobs at a time to pay for college and martial arts training. While attending the University of Pittsburgh and majoring in computer programming, he made friends with Al Pennyworth, a native of England here on a student visa, and Barbara, daughter of James Gordon, Associate Deputy Director of the FBI. Using their combined talents for computer programming, they started hacking the web infrastructures of corrupt politicians and megacorporations, bringing them down from within and exposing their corruption. Other hackers from across the country were inspired by these cyber-vigilantes, and joined their cause to undermine the immoral and unethical men who abuse their power; this invisible crusade became collectively known as the Matchstick. The FBI arrested nearly 100 of these hackers claiming to be Matchstickmen, and many of them also claim to be the leader, but the three originators have yet to be linked to their cyber-vigilantism campaigns.
When several Chinese-produced shipments of food and children’s toys killed several Americans citizens due to being tainted by lead, Bruce had his sights on taking the responsible parties down. When it became clear that their computers were unhackable, it was time for a human manifestation of the vigilantes' goals and worldviews to spring forth, complete with the strength, ingenuity, training, and weapons capable of bringing justice to the criminal element. Wearing an armored costume and using various tools, Bruce stowed away on a Chinese cargo plane to Hong Kong, where he extracted a recorded confession from the officials of the company responsible for the poisoned exports.
Returning to the States, Bruce fully adopted the costume and greatly modified it, basing it on the physical appearance and superstitions of bats. Now a powerful real life vigilante as well as an online one, Bruce began a one-man war against all sorts of criminals, from notorious gangsters and drug dealers to serial killers and rapists. His legend spread throughout the land and he was called... The Batman!
* I used the hypothetical idea of Bruce not growing up with lots of money as the basis of Absolute Batman. I figured that without his fortune, Batman will solely rely on his unbreakable spirit to accomplish anything he sets his mind to. That is what a real Batman is to me: an indomitable will that can see him through any crisis and accomplish his mission.
* Without money, Bruce now scavenges advanced technology from the criminals he fights and incorporates them into his batsuit. His suit contains numerous pockets throughout to contain his tools and weapons (such as circular throwing razors with his symbol carved into them). There is a scanning system in his visor that can sense heat and heartbeats, and it connects to the computers inside his gauntlets.
* For transport, the Batman uses a jet-black motorcycle and his cape can adhere to his suit to become a wingsuit, which adds surface area to the human body to enable a significant increase in lift.
* I decided to go with real life cities standing in for the usual fictional DC cities, with Pittsburgh, PA instead of Gotham City.
* The idea of making Thomas into Bruce's stepfather instead of biological father just came to me.
* Changing “Martha” to the more Italian-sounding “Maria” sounded better for the widow of a crime lord and will cut out the confusion regarding Martha Kent, the wife of John Kent aka Absolute Superman.
* When the Maroni crime syndicate was dissolved, the members went to prison; those who escaped justice were hired by an up-and-comer named... Roman... something... I can't remember.
* The word “Asylum” has long been associated with poorly-managed and frightening-looking hospitals that are unclean and packed with immoral doctors that perform cruel and unusual experiments on the patients. In this modern retelling, I changed Arkham Asylum to the Arkham Institute, and intend for it to be much more advanced, hygienic, and orderly. I also got rid of “Criminally Insane”, because it's too negative.
* “Hugo” is indeed Prof. Hugo Strange.
** Hugo's son, Adam Strange, later became an astronaut who was onboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. Though the new hero known as Wonder Woman saved the entire crew of the doomed craft, Adam Strange was injured and sent into a coma...
* Bruce's uncle “William Kane” is a reference to Bill Finger and Bob Kane, the comic artists who came up with Batman.
** Uncle William has two daughters: Katherine and her younger sister Bette.
*** Other Kane or Cain-named characters, like Cassie Cain, will be on hold for now.
* Bruce learned several styles of western and oriental martial arts from MMA fighter Ted Grant. Another student of Grant was a young prostitute named Selina Kyle.
* Al's full name is Alfred.
* The Matchstick network is this world's version of Anonymous. The name has a double meaning: it mainly refers to Matches Malone, a commonly-used alias by Normal Batman, but it can also refer to the small fire that could have ignited the gunpowder barrels and destroy British Parliament in 1605. Guy Fawkes, the famed rebel synonymous with the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, inspired the Alan Moore graphic novel V for Vendetta, which inspired the Guy Fawkes masks used by Anonymous members when protesting in real life.
** Many of Batman's allies in the normal comics are Matchstickmen hackers, but they don't use screen-names based on their superhero identities in the normal comics.
** One famous incident involving the Matchstickmen were protests again the Church of St. Dumas, which is based on both the Church of Scientology and the Westboro Baptist Church.
* The Batman's first adventure is based on the 2007-2008 Chinese exports incident.
* While the Batman and Matchstick are hunted by the FBI and feared by the public in Absolute DC, one of most evil villains from comic lore is quite the opposite here: The Joker, enigmatic and highly-lauded, is a renaissance man with great influence over the worlds of entertainment and art. Constantly reinventing himself through extreme body modifications, Joker seeks to “free humankind from the prison of fear”.
* I don't have a Robin right now, but I do have Nightwing...