A Very Craggus Christmas Special: A Justice Carol

Title image by Rekdit159.

A Justice Carol

by The Craggus & Charles Dickens

STAVE ONE

Superman was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk (not Kent), the undertaker (not the wrestler), and the chief mourners (WB shareholders). Bruce Wayne signed it: and Wayne’s name was good upon ’Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Kal-El was as dead as a Doomsday-nail. There is no doubt that Superman was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.

Wayne never painted out the Last Son Of Krypton’s symbol. There it stood, years afterwards, on the roof of the house where those flood victims had waited bloomin’ ages for Superman to quit posing in the sunlight and actually save them. Wayne’s firm was known as Wayne Enterprises and sometimes people new to the business called Wayne Wayne, and sometimes Bruce, but he answered to both names, and oft times to Batman. It was all the same to him.

Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Batman – especially when sharpening his battarangs! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old exerciser! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as a Bat-oyster.

External heat and cold had little influence on Batman. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him, because he was BATMAN. No wind that blew was bitterer than he for the criminals of Gotham, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty.

Once upon a time—of all the good days in the year, on dark and foreboding eve—old Batman sat busy in his Batcave. It was cold, bleak, biting weather: foggy withal: and he could hear the citizens of Gotham throughout the city, go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to warm them, for he had not dismantled the listening device network as he had promised Lucius Fox he would. The city clocks had only just gone ten, and it was quite dark already—it had not been light all day—and on the monitors, lights were flaring in the windows of the offices, like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog came pouring in at every chink and keyhole, and was so dense without, that although the streets were of the narrowest, the buildings opposite were mere phantoms.

The door of Batman’s cavernous sanctuary was open that he might keep his eye upon his butler, who, in a dismal little cell beyond, was ironing thermal Bat Underwear.

“A Merry Christmas, Mr Wayne! God save you!” cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of his butler Alfred, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach, despite being the world’s greatest and most swole detective.

“Bah!” said Batman, “Humbug!”

“Christmas a humbug, Master Bruce?” said Alfred, setting down a tray of Lobster Thermidor. “You don’t mean that, I am sure?”

“I do,” said Batman. “Merry Christmas! What right have we to be merry? What reason have we to be merry? Gotham is gripped by sightings of winged daemons.”

“Come, then,” retorted Alfred gaily. “What right have you to be dismal? Remind me, Master Bruce, what is your superpower again?”

“I’m rich,” growled the Dark Knight. Alfred raised a sardonic eyebrow and Batman, having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said, “Bah!” again; and followed it up with “Humbug.”

“Don’t be cross, Master Bruce!” said the butler.

“What else can I be,” returned the Caped Crusader, “when I live in such a world of crime as this? Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas! What’s Christmas time to villains but a time for preying on fools with their money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your deeds and having every item in ’em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I could work my will,” said Batman indignantly, “every idiot who goes about with ‘Mistah J’ on her lips, should be locked up in Arkham with her own puddin’, or buried in the Mehrangarh pit with nought but shattered vertebrae for companionship.”

“Master Bruce!” pleaded Alfred.

“Alfred!” returned the uncle sternly, “keep Gotham safe in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”

The next day, Bruce Wayne was brooding in his office in Wayne Tower there came a knock at the door which opened to admit two well-dressed fellows. They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now stood, with their hats off, in Wayne’s office. They had books and papers in their hands, and bowed to him.

“Wayne Enterprises, I believe,” said one of the gentlemen, referring to his list. “Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr Thomas or Mr Bruce Wayne?”

“Thomas Wayne has been dead these past thirty years,” Bruce replied, instantly falling into a lengthy and detailed and tediously familiar remembrance of the exact sequence of events which led to his parents’ demise. “He died thirty years ago, this very night. As did my mother…MARTHAAAAAA.”

“We have no doubt their liberality is well represented by their surviving heir,” said the gentleman, presenting his credentials.

“At this festive season of the year, Mr Wayne,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the criminally insane and villainous, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many are in want of common henchmen; hundreds of are in want of hideouts and weaponry, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Bruce Wayne.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Asylums?” demanded Wayne. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. All very busy, sir.”

“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Bruce. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“A few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Arkham inmates some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when want is keenly felt, and abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Batman (for it was really he, but disguised in his everyday persona of billionaire Bruce Wayne) replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?”

“I wish to be left alone,” he said. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle criminals merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned—they cost enough; and those who are badly behaved must go there.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“If they would rather die,” said Wayne, “they had better do it, and decrease the criminal population.”

Returning to Stately Wayne Manor that evening, Bruce Wayne presently found himself in front of the large oak doors of his palacious abode. Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing at all particular about the knockers on the door, except that they were very large. It is also a fact, that Wayne had seen them, night and morning, during his whole residence in that place; also that he had as little of what is called fancy about him as any man in the city of Gotham, even including—which is a bold word—the Commissioner and Chief O’Hara. Let it also be borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one thought on Superman, since his last mention of his frenemy’s passing the previous evening. And then let any man explain to me, if he can, how it happened that Bruce Wayne, The World’s Greatest Detective, having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without its undergoing any intermediate process of change—not a knocker, but the face of a callow youth, bemasked in scarlet and surrounded by lightning speed force.

As Wayne looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a knocker again. To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stranger from infancy, would be true, BECAUSE HE’S BATMAN. But he did tremble slightly as he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished, turned it sturdily, walked through the door and closed it with a bang.

The sound resounded through the house like thunder. Every room above, and every cask in the wine merchant’s cellars below, appeared to have a separate peal of echoes of its own. He fastened the door, and walked across the hall, and up the stairs, without lighting any lamps.

Up Wayne went, not caring a button for that. Although not born to it, darkness was something he had adopted and Wayne liked it. But before he shut his heavy bedroom door, he walked through his rooms to see that all was right. He had just enough recollection of the knocker face to desire to do that.

Suddenly, he heard the cellar-door fly open with a booming sound, and then he heard the noise much louder, on the floors below; then coming up the stairs; then coming straight towards his door.

“It’s humbug still!” said Wayne. “I won’t believe it.”

Through the door stepped a shadowy figure, hooded and cloaked. A glimpse of armoured thigh revealed this apparition’s true identity: Diana of Themyscira.

The same face: the very same. Diana with her ponytail, usual waistcoat, tights and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling. The briefcase she carried was the very same one he himself had sent her like a cash boss: only containing a single photograph but hand-delivered by two goons in an armoured van after being flown to Paris on a private jet because bitches love that OTT shit.

“How now!” said Wayne, caustic and cold as ever. “There’s an invasion coming.”

“Not coming,” Diana said, her distinctive Themyscarian accent forcing the rest of her people to have to try and replicate it. “Already here.”

“We are to be haunted,” resumed Diana, “by three Mother boxes.”

“Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Diana?” he demanded, in a faltering voice.

“It is.”

“Without their plot McGuffinery,” said Diana, “we cannot hope to shun the path ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice’. Expect the first reshoots tomorrow, when the bell tolls One.”

“Couldn’t we do ’em all at once, and have it over with, Diana?” hinted Bruce.

“Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third upon the next night when the last keystroke of fan twitter has ceased to vibrate. Look to see me later; and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us!”

When she had said these words, Wonder Woman took her sword and shield from the table and bound out the window. Bruce Wayne followed to the window: desperate in his curiosity. He looked out. The air was filled with parademons, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Whether these creatures faded into mist, or mist enshrouded them, he could not tell. But they and their spirit voices faded together; and the night became as it had been when he walked home.

Wayne closed the window, and examined the door by which Wonder Woman had entered. It was shattered into splinters and, remembering a recent incident at a London bank, he resolved to teach Diana how to open doors patiently and carefully. And being, from the emotion he had undergone, or the fatigues of the day, or his glimpse of the Invisible World, or the dull, repetitive conversations of whether he would continue to be Batman in future movies, or the lateness of the hour, much in need of repose; went straight to bed, without undressing, and fell asleep upon the instant.

STAVE  TWO

When Batman awoke, it was so dark, that looking out of bed, he could scarcely distinguish the transparent window from the opaque walls of his chamber and he once again ruminated on the irony that having claimed the identity and attributes of a Bat, he really had none of their famed proclivity for functionality in low light situations. He was endeavouring to pierce the darkness with his ferret eyes, when the chimes of Wayne Manor’s bell tower struck the hour with a deep, dull, hollow, melancholy One. Light flashed up in the room upon the instant, and the curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them. It was a strange figure—not a child: yet more a young man. He wore a protective mask and tactical suit of festive crimson and on his chest a lightning bold in gold.

“Are you the Mother box, sir, whose coming was foretold to me?” asked Wayne.

“I am not!”

“Who, then, and what are you?” Wayne demanded.

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Fast.”

“Am I not to eat or drink?” inquired Wayne.

“No. As in fast. I am The Flash, and I am here to aide you in your fight with Steppenwolf. I bring the gift of pushing and running away!”

It would have been in vain for Batman to plead that the weather and the hour were not adapted to pedestrian purposes; that the Batmobile was warm, and the thermometer a long way below freezing; that he was clad but lightly in his Bat- dressing-gown, and nightcowl. The Flash, though, was right, and their journey must begin.

“I am a mortal,” Batman remonstrated, “and liable to fall.”

“Bear but a touch of my hand there,” said The Flash, laying it upon his heart, “and you shall be transported through the Speed Force with me!”

As the words were spoken, the seemed to vanish, proceeding with much haste past the rooftop of Gotham where Commissioner Gordon had hung out the Batsignal with care. They passed above streets and houses, rainbows climbing high. Everyone could see them smiling, over the sky. Back they travelled, through walls, through steeples, through churches and peoples until they stood on a football field, amidst a game already underway. They followed the star quarterback, through his accident to the fateful point where his father, desperate to save his son, fused him with the power of a Mother Box.

“Good Heaven!” said Batman, clasping his hands together, as he looked about him. “I remember this as if it were only last year.”

“It is,” replied The Flash mildly. “Let us bring Cyborg and his Mother box with us and see another Christmas!”

Back through time they zoomed at the words, and the world became a little darker and more dirty until they found themselves in a rural Kansas graveyard. While Batman went off to discuss tactics with Diana, The Flash and Cyborg set themselves to digging, despite their combined technological and metahuman powers, slowly and deliberately with shovels.

STAVE  THREE

Startled in their dig by a prodigiously loud clunk, The Flash, Batman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg seemed surprised and disturbed by the fact they had reached a coffin, even though it was the very thing they were digging for. Losing no time, they struck out for Metropolis and its top secret military research station which inexplicably remained situated in the centre of the city, the cornerstone of a municipal park. Batman hoped that, somehow, they could harness the McGuffinness of the Mother Box to revive Superman. He felt that he should be restored to consciousness in the right nick of time, for the especial purpose of holding a conference with them on defeating Steppenwolf but finding that he turned uncomfortably cold when he began to wonder how the veil would be drawn back.

Now, being prepared for almost anything, Batman was not by any means prepared for nothing; and, consequently, when the nearby bell struck One, and no shape appeared, he was taken with a violent fit of trembling. Five minutes, ten minutes, a quarter of an hour went by, yet nothing came. All this time, he stood at the edge of the puddle of Kryptonian goo. At last, however, he began to think—as you or I would have thought at first; for it is always the person not in the predicament who knows what ought to have been done in it, and would unquestionably have done it too—at last, I say, he began to think that the source and secret of bringing Superman back might be in the convenient conjunction of the powers of all the league. This idea taking full possession of his mind, he asked The Flash to poke the unspeakably powerful alien technology with lightning while it was submerged in liquid.

There was a crash of drums, a flash of light, a red and blue blur raced out of sight. Colours faded into darkness, Batman was left alone. In the sky, haloed by the setting sun, hung a furious looking Superman.

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Reshoots (and the spirit of moustaches not present),” said Superman. “Look upon me and despair that I am not wearing my black suit!”

Batman reverently did so. Superman was clothed in blue, red and gold, somehow brighter and more colourful than the very clothes he had worn on the day he died even though they were ostensibly the very same garment. Someone had even mended that massive tear that Doomsday’s claw would have left, probably after they got it in to soak straight away otherwise the blood stains would have been hell to shift. Unfortunately, not a one had reckoned on the fact that when Superman had died, they hadn’t been on very good terms.

Christmas is synonymous with many things: holly, mistletoe, red berries, ivy, turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, meat, pigs, sausages, oysters, pies, puddings, fruit, and punch. It was this last one that Superman did visit upon all his friends, until they wheeled out the ghost of bath time make out sessions past in the form of Lois Lane. Thus distracted by the only thing on Earth Kal-El actually seemed to care about – the ridiculous pussy game – was peace restored and in fellowship and joy the heroes could stand around like complete donuts while Steppenwolf basically strolled in and collected all the Mother Boxes which were absolutely vital to his plan – whatever it might be – and so therefore might, perhaps, have been worth guarding more closely and intently. Staring at Steppenwolf, Batman spoke up.

“Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,” said Batman, looking intently at Steppenwolf’s digital robes (all the better to avoid making eye contact with his unconvincing and vaguely Grinchy face), “but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw?”

“It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,” was Steppenwolf’s sorrowful reply. “Look here.”

From the foldings of his robe, he brought two withered figures; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

They were yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, bug like and hastily rendered in post-production; but prostrate, too, in their humiliation. Where graceful shading and skilful animation should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.

Batman started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine creations, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.

“Are they your allies?” Batman could say no more.

“They are the Warner Brothers,” said Steppenwolf, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing for critical and commercial success. This first one is ignorance of plot logic and characterisation. The second is greed and impatient short-term thinking. Beware them both, and all of their meddling, but most of all beware of obsequiously pandering to Snyderista internet trolls, for on their forums I see that written which is doom for the DCEU, unless the reshoots be erased from the canon and a Director’s Cut is released to milk the last drops of money from this. Deny it!” cried Steppenwolf, stretching out his hand towards the sky. “Slander those who tell it like it is on Rotten Tomatoes! Admit the lack of care and understanding of iconic characters and make it worse in desperate pivot after desperate pivot until all hope is lost.”

With a rumble of thunder and a special effect which looked an awful lot like the Bifrost to Asgard from the “Thor” movies, Steppenwolf was gone. The bell struck twelve and Batman looked about him for his allies. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the prediction of Diana and, lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn group, well solemn except for the now conspicuously jolly – as if overcompensating for something – Last Son of Krypton. Before they faced Steppenwolf once again, Batman realised, there was one more visitation to endure.

STAVE  FOUR

The journey to the remote fishing village in Alaska, I guess although it could be Norway for all the difference it might make, was uneventful as all journeys on horseback (for some reason) across frozen tundra tend to be. Batman arrived to find the villagers relying heavily on the help of the third ghost, whom they paid in alcohol and waiving coastal littering fines.

“I am the ghost of Christmas Wet to come,” boomed Arthur Curry aka Aquaman, for it was he who, desperate to key a low profile, stripped off on jetties and dived topless into the icy, stormy waters in full view of anybody and everybody.

Salty by nature and saltier by attitude, Aquaman was quick to refuse Batman’s invitation to join the team, instead determining to travel to Atlantis where the last precious Mother Box was guarded by a couple of mermen and that Caribbean crab from The Little Mermaid in a fan-teasing crossover cameo. Unfortunately, the combined efforts of Aquaman’s girlfriend and some bored security guards weren’t enough to overcome Steppenwolf and once he learned of the Mother Box’s theft, Aquaman decided to join the gang after all, digging Bruce’s Bat costume and bringing a healthy dose of brotastic humour and an altogether less offensive vague smell of fish into the fight with Steppenwolf.

Finally, the stage was set. Having selected Russia as his base of operations on the recommendation of his good friend Donald, Steppenwolf prepared to combine the three Mother Boxes into the Mother Boxset, which would allow him to binge on Earth, turning it into an Apokaliptic home from home.

Battling Steppenwolf was difficult for the heroes, but they were left with little alternative as they didn’t get on with their Realpenwolf. The battle was finely balance for some time, until everyone remembered that Superman has, previously, literally punched holes in reality itself, and so Steppenwolf was defeated not by cleverness and cunning, but by lack of stakes and a power set so imbalanced as to be almost laughable.

STAVE FIVE

Much later, Bruce Wayne wearily lowered himself into bed, content that his work – for now at least – was done. But a glance to the open doorway informed him it was not. Framed in the ethereal light was a creature more soul-crushing than the very worst bits of “Suicide Squad”. The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently, approached. When it came near him, Batman fell down upon his knees; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery.

It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. But for this it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded.

He felt that it was tall and stately when it came beside him, and that its mysterious presence filled him with a solemn dread. He knew no more, for the Spirit neither spoke nor moved.

“I am in the presence of the Reviews yet to come?” said Batman.

The Spirit answered not, but pointed onward with its hand.

“You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not happened, but will happen in the time before us,” Batman pursued. “Is that so, Spirit?”

The upper portion of the garment was contracted for an instant in its folds, as if the Spirit had inclined its head. That was the only answer he received.

Although well used to ghostly company by this time, Batman feared the silent shape so much that his legs trembled beneath him, and he found that he could hardly stand when he prepared to follow it. The Spirit paused a moment, as observing his condition, and giving him time to recover.

But Batman was all the worse for this. It thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror, to know that behind the dusky shroud, there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while he, though he stretched his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap of black.

“Ghost of the future audience reaction!” he exclaimed, “I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another actor from what I am now, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me?”

It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed straight before them.

They scarcely seemed to enter the Warner Brothers lot; for it rather seemed to spring up about them, and encompass them of its own act. But there they were, in the heart of it. The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of production executives. Observing that the hand was pointed to them, Scrooge advanced to listen to their talk.

“No,” said a great fat man with a monstrous chin, “I didn’t understand much about it, either way. I only know it’s terrible.”

“When was it good?” inquired another.

“The Flash stuff’s sort of okay, I believe. But Superman…”

“Why, what was the matter with him?” asked a third, taking a vast quantity of coke out of a very large coke-box. “I thought he’d died.”

“God knows,” said the first, with a yawn.

“What has he done with all the money?” asked a slick-haired, dead eyed empty corporate suit.

“I don’t know,” said the man with the large chin, yawning again. “Spent in on filming unusable grim/dark sequences which will further put audiences off. That’s what I heard.”

This unpleasantry was received with a general laugh.

“It’s likely to be a very costly reshoot,” said the same speaker; “for upon my life I don’t know of anybody who could pull this one out of the fire. Shall we just get the Avengers guy to patch it together and push it out the door so we can cash out bonus cheques before the shit hits the fan?”

“I don’t care as long as my bonus is paid,” observed an executive wearing obnoxious braces and a power tie from the nineties.

As the conversation trailed off into a debate over whether to create a Blade Runner cinematic universe, the Phantom pointed, motioning Batman to proceed. He joined it once again, and wondering why and whither he had gone, accompanied it until they reached an iron gate. He paused to look round before entering.

A churchyard. Here, then; some poor wretch lay underneath the ground. It was a worthy place. Walled in by houses; overrun by grass and weeds, the growth of vegetation’s death, not life; choked up with too much burying; fat with repleted appetite. A worthy place! The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed down to one. He advanced towards it trembling. The Phantom was exactly as it had been, but he dreaded that he saw new meaning in its solemn shape.

“Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,” said Batman, “answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of things that may be, only?”

Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood.

“Movies’ courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Batman. “But if the courses be departed from, or the endings (and beginnings and middle bits) will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!”

The Spirit was immovable as ever. Batman crept towards it, trembling as he went; and following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave four letters: DCEU. Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phantom’s hood and dress. It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost.

Yes! And the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own, the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the time before him was his own, to make amends in!

“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!” Batman repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. “Whatever happens, Warner’s will never let me go. Oh, Diana! Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for you! I say it on my knees, Diana; on my knees, perhaps we can save the DCEU!”

Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious! Glorious!

“You there, boy! What’s your name?” cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.

“Me, sir? Why Joss Whedon, if it pleases you” returned the boy, with all his might of wonder.

“What’s to-day, my fine fellow?” said Scrooge.

“To-day?” replied the Joss Whedon. “Why, sir, it’s six months from the theatrical release of ‘Justice League’.”

Said Batman to himself, “I haven’t missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can. Hallo, my fine fellow!”

“Hallo!” returned Whedon.

“Do you know the Cruel and Unusual Films production offices, in the next street but one, at the corner?” Batman inquired.

“I should hope I did,” replied Whedon, who had been working on script polishes for some months now.

“An intelligent chap!” said Batman. “A remarkable chap! Do you know whether they’ve still got the assembly cut which is a prize turkey that was hanging around up there?”

“What, the one as long and dark and depressing as ‘Batman v Superman’?” returned Whedon.

“What a delightful wit!” said Batman. “It’s a pleasure to exchange whimsical banter with him. Yes, my buck!”

“It’s waiting there now,” replied Joss.

“Is it?” said Batman. “Go and reshoot it.”

“Be serious!” exclaimed the ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ writer.

“No, no,” said Batman, “I am in earnest. Go and reshoot it, and tell ’em to rewrite it and bring in more jokes, brighter colours and a complete interdiction on facial hair. Come back with a cut of the movie that’s got likeable characters and I’ll give you a shilling. Come back with a cut that’s under two hours and I’ll give you half-a-crown!”

Whedon was off like a shot. He must have had a steady hand at a trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast. “I’ll fix every problem!” whispered the “Avengers” director, rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. “They’ll see the true glory of DC’s trinity on screen and all shall be well.”

Whedon wasn’t quite as good as his word. He did everything he could, but it needed infinitely more; and to Superman, who did not turn out to be the villain, he was a second chance. Superman became as good a friend, as good a man, and as good a hero, as he always should have been. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed to be freed of the angst and darkness which had plagues him: and that was quite enough for him.

Batman and Superman waited with renew hope for their new adventure to be revealed to the world, while their Super Friends hung their hopes on their solo films with care, sure of the box office bonanza soon to be there. And so, as the Warner Brothers Execs, cast and crew observed the Rotten Tomatoes score, it was left to Ben Affleck to exclaim, “God help us! 41?!”

🎄THE END🎄

🎄⛄️🎅Merry Christmas from What The Craggus Saw!🎅⛄️🎄

 
&am
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nt-size: x-small”>DISCLAIMERAll Justice League characters, character names, situations and plot devices are trademark and copyright of their respective creators and/ or DC Comics or Warner Brothers and are used here in a fictional work of parody which expressly does not constitute any claim or insinuation of ownership, entitlement or emolument on the part of the author. The works of Charles Dickens are in the public domain but remain, forever, Mr Dicken’s creations and genius and I thank him for his story without which so many progeny works would not exist. The story is entirely fictitious and is intended solely for entertainment, amusement and critical commentary. It is not canon and is presented in its entirety as written, no alternative cut or edit exists or ever existed.

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