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Batman: Fear Itself Mass Market Paperback – February 27, 2007
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About the Author
Steven-Elliot Altman is a bestselling author, screenwriter, television writer-producer, and most recently a successful videogame developer, having won multiple awards for his new massively multiplayer online role playing game 9Dragons. His novels include Captain America is dead, Zen in the art of Slaying Vampires, Deprivers and The Irregulars. Steve is also the editor of the anthology The Touch and a contributor to the acclaimed Sherlock Holmes meets H.P. Lovecraft anthology Shadows Over Baker Street. As a young boy he frequently confided to others that his secret identity was indeed Batman.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Trust the night.
The sensei had told him that, not long after he had gone to Japan to study under the old man’s tutelage. He’d no idea at the time—he still didn’t—how Master Yoru had divined his intention, his purpose . . . his Plan. But somehow, he had. Bruce Wayne had known that from nearly the first day they’d met, in the peaceful dojo of lacquered wood and painted shoji, and he knew that the martial arts master had known he knew.
Eighty years old, at least, and nearly blind in one eye, judging by the cloud of cataract tissue that had spread across it. Yet he’d still been able to move like water between rocks, strike like iron against rice paper. No one in the dojo could touch him. Bruce doubted that any- one in the East could touch him.
He had learned much.
Trust the night.
The phrase always flickered like heat lightning through his mind as he entered the shadows. He quickly descended the rungs of rusted and verdigris-crusted iron, his cloak draping him. The tunnels were almost large enough to stand in upright; the storm drains and sewers that snaked below Gotham City rivaled those of Paris or Vienna in their size and complexity. They—and the rooftops—were by far the quickest and easiest way to get from one area of the city to another.
He moved swiftly along the relatively dry embankment. The sewer stench didn’t bother him; he was used to it, plus he had daubed mentholated salve beneath his nostrils before leaving the car. It was a practice he had learned watching coroners and forensics investigators working over cadavers.
The darkness was nearly total, but his footing was sure, despite the occasional patches of slime and offal on the wet concrete. The wafer-thin white gallium arsenide plates that hid his eyes were Generation Five light amplifiers, developed, as was so much of his personal arsenal, by the R&D staff of Wayne Technologies. Their primary clients were the armed forces and private security firms. Their customer satisfaction quotient was high, largely because he field-tested most of the prototypes himself.
There were occasional cryptic combinations of numbers and letters stenciled on the curving walls, or at intersections; often these were nearly obliterated by decades of water and mold. They spoke, to those who could read them, of drainage levels, basin and sub-basin locations, outlet control junctions, and the like. They also gave directions. Following these, he turned left at a T-intersection, left again at a branching conduit. Eventually he was stopped by a rust-weakened iron grid, which one thrust of his booted heel easily reduced to chunky powder.
He was now in what the city infrastructure plans called the North Corridor Project. This had been originally intended as a linking commuter line, but had been abandoned in the late 1960s, when it was decided to put the Diamond Express Line in at a deeper level. The corridor now served as an emergency runoff drain during severe storms.
It would also, in this case, serve as an emergency access to the runaway train.
A small heads-up display blinked on just above his left eye plate, summoned by a subvocalized command. Along with a compass, temperature gauge, and air toxicity sampler, it gave him a digital time readout.
He had less than thirty seconds.
From one of his belt compartments he took a small quantity of plastic explosive and quickly molded it in a three-foot-wide circle in the center of the corridor’s floor. The material was another WayneTech development—it had a TNT equivalence 20 percent higher than C4, and a brisance factor of thirty thousand feet per second. He moved back ten feet, shielded himself with his cloak, and triggered the built-in soft-circuit detonator.
The flash was dazzling, even with the Gen-5 polarizers. The audio circuitry in the cowl dampened the sound of the blast, and the shaped charge directed most of the concussion wave downward. Even so, it was not an experience he cared to repeat anytime soon.
Through the mist of aerosolized concrete and masonry he could see a ragged hole, its circumference punctuated by torn rebar. The eighteen-inch-thick floor of the drain was also, at this juncture, the ceiling of the Diamond Express tunnel.
Even as he stepped forward, he could feel the vibration beneath him begin to build, could see the faint light of the approaching train.
He would have only one shot at this.
He gathered the cloak around him, stepped forward, and dropped through the hole.
Trust the night.
For nearly five years now it had been his best ally; better than the R&D team, with their white lab coats and their computer modeling and their solemn expressions; certainly better than the GCPD, by turns brutal and blundering, with one of the lowest credibility ratings of any city in the country; even better than Alfred Pennyworth, esq., that irreplaceable and irrepressible butler who was also a certified field medic, a fair mechanic, a passable cook, and many more things, not the least of which was surrogate family and confidant without peer. It was the truth, pure and simple; he could not have done any of this without Alfred’s help and support. He wasn’t sure the butler would take that as a sterling character recommendation, but it was true nonetheless.
Yet even so, the darkness remained his first and foremost ally. It sheltered him, created and maintained the fear his enemies felt for him—even, in an odd way, nourished him. After all, he had lived with it for so long . . . ever since the age of eight.
Now, as he dropped through the hole, the darkness once again welcomed him. He landed lightly, one foot on either side of the third rail. The light was increasing steadily, as was the vibration. He leapt quickly to the narrow maintenance walkway that ran the length of the tunnel.
The roar of the wheels against the track grew louder. The cowl’s circuitry automatically dampened anything over eighty-five dB but could do nothing about the bone-jarring vibration. The light filled the tunnel with stark, flowing chiaroscuro. He estimated the train’s speed at better than sixty miles per hour. Faces in the windows flickered by, less than eighteen inches from him, a magic lantern of terror.
The timing had to be perfect; he wouldn’t get a second chance.
The instant the last car shot past, he jumped.
His fingers locked around the rear guard railing; his feet found the plate. His cape snapped out to its full length behind him. The network of aramid polyfibers woven into his suit tightened in response to the sudden stress and kept his shoulders from being dislocated, although just barely. He pulled himself forward, fighting the momentum of the train. In situations like these, the cape was more a hindrance than a help, although it was light enough not to seriously impede him.
He tried the door but, not surprisingly, it was locked. He could see through the car’s rear window that the interior was empty, save for an old couple huddled in one of the forward seats. He motioned to them, gesturing that they should let him in, but it was obvious that they were too frightened to move.
The train’s momentum and sway made it impossible to try to cut or force the door open; the same applied to the reinforced window. He had to find another way to stop the hurtling juggernaut.
There was but one way, insane though it seemed. He had to reach the front of the train, and only one route was even remotely possible.
He reached up, seized the edge of the car’s roof, and pulled himself up. Another moment and he was spread-eagled on the convex surface.
He kept himself flattened out as much as possible; there was less than two feet of clearance between the top of the car and the tunnel ceiling. Emergency light boxes mounted at regular intervals narrowed the gap even more.
He inched forward.
There were six cars; it felt like sixty. He crawled toward the lead car with agonizing slowness, acutely aware of the light boxes, piping, and other obstacles whizzing by so close overhead. Occasionally he glimpsed large, illuminated signs marking emergency exits flashing by. It seemed incredible to him that thrill-seeking teenagers would voluntarily seek out situations like this, yet he knew they did. “Subway surfing,” they called it. A boy had been killed only last week on the Opal Line, his head crushed to a red ruin when he had misjudged the clearance.
He wondered why the system fail-safes had not automatically applied the emergency brakes when the routing computer first logged the runaway. He recalled that there had been a collision last year due to a switching mistake. The computer had applied the emergency brakes; the system had worked, insofar as programming went. Due to city budget cutbacks, however, the signal spacing and safety parameters—set back in 1907 when trains were slower, shorter, and lighter—had never been updated. The emergency brake system had not been able to stop the train in time, and thirty-six people had died. Perhaps something similar had gone awry this time.
Or perhaps there was another, more sinister reason for this.
Top Customer Reviews
This story was very well crafted and the descriptions were terrific. I found it very heard to put this book down. All the characters were desribed wonderfully. Unlike some of the other novelizations I have read, you don't need to know all that much about Batman to figure out what is going on in this book. I highly recommend this book!
2. Now truly, I am all for expanding vocabulary, but I didn't enjoy having to reach for a dictionary every few hundred words or so. It was distracting, broke the rhythm of reading.
3. But...dynamic between Bruce and Alfred is good, believable (unlike some novels). There is a particularly good scene where the Batman pops in one evening on a lady who's withholding evidence. Best scene in the entire book...really conveys what the Bat can do, without laying a finger on you...
Batman: Inferno had trumped Batman: Dead White by leaps and bounds but Fear Itself is an entirely different animal devoid of the money-shot moments from Inferno. I admit I'm usually a little biased in favor of Joker stories but this book was more what I'll call passively satisfying - a very real world with nothing too over the top, very believable.
Fear Itself is a toned down, flat black story. As with the previous books, it is set in a kind of post-Batman Begins continuity that blends some flavors from the modern Batman comic. There is a constant mention of "The Quake" which rocked Gotham - very reminiscent of Cataclysm/No Man's Land story line. Other ingredients of modern Batman include the familiarity with a long list of various martial arts Bruce has studied, mention of Joker, Two-Face, Riddler, Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy and the introduction of an improved grappling gun, resembling the current mono-filament grapnel in the comics.
This book does a little better job of the previous 2 in the series in making you feel in a very familiar world to Begins. You have Lucious Fox's involvement, plenty of Wayne Enterprises involvement, new gadgets, & a very healthy dose of the Bruce Wayne side of things. The ratio of Bruce Wayne to Batman in this book seemed like 85% to 15% to me and that's not a bad thing at all so don't let is scare you. It's done very well and taps into what they were trying to do in Begins since it is such an interesting side to the story.Read more ›
Even if you're not interested in the horror genre, try this book anyway, you may still like it.
A writer of horror novels is losing readers and market share, which is not a healthy combination to hold onto a career. Enter the Scarecrow, who has a concoction to keep readers frightened until their bitter end. And add to the brew a news reporter - Maggie Tollyer - who is quietly lurking like a cat while on the trail to solve the macabre mystery of a deadly terror for book readers and Batman/Bruce Wayne, who both must "Trust the Night" to solve the crime contained in the pages of terror.
The action develops slowly - and, at times, the text reads like a movie script - but it ultimately builds to a conclusion that emerges out of the deep shadows that haunt the soul.....no matter if one is a superhero or despised villain.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A Batman adventure written by and for a Batman fan. This is the Batman book I have been waiting to read for a long time.Published 1 month ago by Kelly Burkett
Impressive. Another chapter in The Dark Knight's history that deepens his mystique.Published 13 months ago by Reggie Williams
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This is not a comic book nor is it a graphic novel. its just a plain ol' book. Personally I hate book versions of comics but if your into that stuff maybe you'll like itPublished on February 25, 2013 by Awesome101
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