DI: You’re a dick.
B: And you’re stupid. What are we doing here?
DI: You’re insulting me, apparently.
B: Oh, and you’re ugly.
DI: Quit it. My point was you’ve developed a reputation for being… strident.
B: You just called me a dick. Why are you trying to walk it back now?
DI: I’m not, it’s just that I bought a thesaurus and want to justify my purchase through the gratuitous use of synonyms.
B: I don’t know if ‘strident’ is quite right.
DI: My thesaurus had no suggestions for ‘bite me.’ But you’ve got a habit of being frank.
B: Only when I get tired of being Bruce.
DI: So the one time I actually want to talk about you being a jerk, you’re doing shtick? Which I guess is pretty dicky. Kudos. But that kind of forthrightness, before I knew you were Bruce Wayne, I always figured it was from social ineptitude. But see, in your day to day, you’re witty, charming, personable- you know how to socialize, you just don’t like to. So where did that come from?
B: Well, when I first started out, it wasn’t a thing to put on a costume and punch people- I mean, outside of specific brothels that catered to that sort of thing in Amsterdam, anyway.
DI: Wait, are you saying you’ve frequented S & M clubs in Amsterdam?
B: Just that I’m familiar with them. Personally I’ve never had the time. Being the CEO of a multibillion multinational company, plus my preference for staying close to Gotham-
DI: Talk about that.
B: My parents were killed because of crime. My alter ego we’ll call him, was created to fight crime, to cut the odds of that ever happening to another little boy or girl. Every night that I stay outside of Gotham, is an opportunity for that to happen again. I can’t stop every crime- but if I was out there, on the streets, then I did my best. But if I wasn’t there because I was doing whatever in Holland- it’s just not even a choice for me.
DI: Okay. But as you were saying.
B: Right. When I first started training, there weren’t really superheroes- outside of the pulp stories, you know, the Phantom, the Shadow, Zorro. I think by the time Alfred had finished sewing my first costume Clark was flying around in that garish unitard, but he and I were the first on the scene- at least, the first we knew about. Later we met some of the older, retired heroes, your Jay Garricks and your Alan Scotts- the ones who came and went before our time.
DI: Should you be using their real names?
B: Well, the funny story there is, they were the original Flash and Green Lanterns. But later on, others took up their monikers. But they continued being personalities, particularly in the campaign for elderly rights, working with the AARP and the Justice Society, under their real names.
But Clark and I were the first in a masked man renaissance. Pretty shortly after we met Diana. And it wasn’t too long before we formed the Justice League, which I know Clark has talked about at length.
DI: And which we’ll have to, at some point.
B: But most of the people we met, they weren’t like Clark or Diana. They made me nervous, because they were both so powerful, yet so inexperienced. But they had carriage; almost from the start I always assumed they would both remain on the up and up.
But that didn’t go for all of the others we met. I don’t like shaming people I worked with, but Plastic Man is an idiot. He knows it. And despite any and all my efforts to get him to mature, just a little, he’ll probably always be an idiot. And I don’t suffer fools lightly. It might have been a game to people who suddenly found themselves with the power to alter matter, but for me, I was a normal person, easily damaged, as were most of the people we were working to help.
Or maybe it’s just that I watched my parents bleed out on a sidewalk. I was as intimate with the consequences of failing at our task as anyone could be. Even the idea that I might be made responsible for that happening to someone else made me see red. I still get a little pissy about it, honestly. It’s not a burden required of any of us, but once we took it up, we owed it to those we were trying to save to be professional and do what we could.
DI: So you were like the drill sergeant whose harsh, but only because he really cares?
B: I don’t know if I’d characterize it exactly like that.
DI: Okay, here’s your chance to define yourself, then. Do you think you’re a dick?
B: I think sometimes it makes sense to be terse. I think sometimes it’s helpful to have someone willing to make an unpopular decision.
DI: So you are a Dick- in the vein, no pun intended, of Dick Cheney!
B: I think the difference between me and the former Vice President is that I don’t relish it. I don’t go out of my way looking for reasons to be a dick.
Working in the league, there were a lot of people who didn’t have a military or police background, people who would have benefited from some formal training. Sometimes I had to come down on them, hard, before they managed to screw up in a catastrophic way, in public.
DI: So you’d say you lean more towards Darth Vader, then. Without the child-murdering, back-stabbing and general evil, obviously.
B: Then what’s left? My penchant for wearing black?
DI: And the heavy breathing. Kidding. Though you do have an almost James Earl Jonesy voice when you’re pissed off. Say, “Come to the dark side.”
DI: How about, “Simba, you must bite your uncle.” Damn- I thought I’d remember something more specific from the Lion King.
B: If I admit to wishing I could force-choke people on occasion will you stop?
DI: Yes. Maybe.
B: I find your lack of clarity disturbing.
DI: Awesome. Chills. And goose bumps. Want to feel them?
DI: Fair enough.