December 25, 1996 –

“Do you ever wonder if we made the right decision?” Mattman asks stoically as he and Mattgirl take an aerial view of the crime ridden Ghost Town from atop a tall skyscraper.
 “What do you mean?” Mattgirl asks with noticeable confusion as she surveys down below through her binoculars.
 “Well here it is, Christmas night, and we’re spending it on top of a building wondering if evil clowns or titanium filled muscle maniacs will try to attack some unsuspecting citizen in hopes that it will lure us into a trap to reveal our secret identities and eventually kill us.”
 “Part of the job I guess,” answers Mattgirl.
 “But is our job even worth it?” Mattman asks.  “I mean, I couldn’t save your father.  He’s dead.  I couldn’t save Nalfred, and now he’s dead…”
 “Nalfred died of a heart attack…  I don’t think that can be blamed on you.”
 “Yes, a heart attack killed him, but who knows how long he was waiting for me to come home and call an ambulance for him.  Or to perform CPR.  He was my family, and I couldn’t save him.  Instead, I was out dressed in a cape and cowl hunting down the former Chief of Police turned masked villain.  If I was just some normal citizen, I could have been there to save him.”
 “It wasn’t your fault, these things just happen sometimes.  And no, you couldn’t save my father, but you did save countless other people.  Who knows how many people would have been murdered if you were not there to save them?”
 “So you’re saying you never have doubts?”
 “Of course I do.  I have doubts about everything.  Sometimes I wonder if I should have worn the blue sweater instead of the red one.  It’s natural to have doubts about any decision you make.”
 “Yeah, but this is a little more serious than deciding what color sweater to wear.”
 “I know it is,” Mattgirl admits.  “Yes, I do have doubts.  Right now I’m engaged to John, and between me secretly being Mattgirl and him now being a secret agent, this has to be the most dishonest, unhealthy relationship possible.  Of course I wonder if things would be easier if I was just some ordinary woman.  But that wasn’t my calling.  It wasn’t yours either.”
 “I should hope not.  I wouldn’t make a very good ordinary girl.”
 “You know what I mean…”
 “I know,” Mattman says softly.
 “Listen, I know you’re having a tough time dealing with Nalfred’s death.  It’s not something that you’re going to get over in a matter of months.  You remember what I went through when my dad died.”
 “Yeah, you blamed me…” Mattman says with a half smile.
 “See, so it’s natural to go a little crazy.”
 “Yeah, I guess so,” Mattman answers quietly and unconvincingly.
 “Bruce…” Mattgirl begins to say before getting interrupted.
 “We should probably try Falcon and Blue Jay to see if they see anything unusual.”
 “Are you going to be okay?” Mattgirl asks.
 Mattman looks deep into her eyes, but does not say a word.  Finally, his mouth opens, as if he is about to speak.  Mattgirl anxiously awaits his response.
 “Falcon, how’s it looking over there?” Mattman says into his walkie talkie. 
Mattgirl sighs, disappointed that she is unable to have a breakthrough with her friend.
“So far it’s clear,” Falcon responds as he and Blue Jay observe the snow covered town beneath them.
“What exactly are we waiting for?” Blue Jay asks Falcon.
“We got a tip that Yoker and Giggler may be trying to break into the bank.”
 “They can’t take the holidays off?”
“They never do.”
The two superheroes continue their surveillance while, unbeknownst to them, the Demented Duo—the diabolical team of the Yoker and the Giggler—are already inside the bank.  The lone security guard sits tied up on a comfortable office chair, as Giggler attempts to hack through the computers in hopes of finding the combination to open the safe.  While Giggler does the brain work, Yoker taunts the guard.
“Well Gerald,” Yoker says as he grabs hold of the guard’s name tag, “is this how you expected to spend your holiday?”
The Yoker’s ghastly and demonic laugh echoes through the empty building.  The security guard remains silent, which seems to upset the murderous villain.
“What’s wrong Gerald….cat got your tongue?” Yoker asks.
The disgusted—but still noticeably nervous—Gerald spits in the Yoker’s face.  There is a moment of silence as Yoker’s head is turned away.  Slowly he faces Gerald, with a horrifying smile on his face that extends from one ear to the next.  In one swift movement Yoker grabs Gerald’s face with one hand, and stuffs his other hand down Gerald’s throat, and grabs hold of his tongue.
“I guess I get to beat the cat to the punch,” Yoker says as he grabs a metallic envelope opener and slices Gerald’s tongue off, forcing him to spit blood all over Yoker’s lavender jacket.  “Well that wasn’t very nice,” Yoker says as he looks at his bloodied jacket.
“You better hope he wasn’t going to talk,” says Giggler, in reference to the combination to the safe.
“I don’t think we have to worry about him doing any talking.”  Yoker tosses the tongue to the carpeted floor and struts over to his partner in crime.  “Any luck with the combination?”
After a brief pause as he strokes the keyboards, Giggler fittingly giggles happily and turns the computer screen to the Yoker.  Displayed on the monitor is the combination to the safe.  Both rogues grab their sacks and rush into the now unlocked safe, and quickly pile in as much money as possible.  Just as the tandem is about to exit the safe, suddenly the alarm starts blaring.  Yoker and Giggler stop in their tracks and stare at Gerald, who had just rolled his chair to a desk and had hit the alarm.
“That,” the Yoker begins to say as he reaches into his inside breast pocket and reveals a long-barreled shotgun, “was a grave, grave mistake.”  Just as the villain is about to fire, the sound of a window crashing gets his attention.
“I didn’t interrupt anything, did I?” Mattman asks.  A second later, Mattgirl swings through another window.
“You two could have saved the bank some dough by crashing through the same window, you know,” the Yoker notes.
“Coming from the psycho who just stole hundreds of thousands of dollars…” Mattman replies.
“It would have been millions had our tongue-less friend here not done something very, very stupid,” the Giggler says.
“Enough small talk, lets get this over with,” commands Mattman.
Giggler then reaches into the inside of his belt and reveals a small shotgun.  “How about we make this interesting,” he says as he points his gun at Mattgirl.
“Who are you going to save?” Yoker asks as he continues to point his gun at Gerald.  “The innocent security guard, or your superbuddy?”
“I won’t have to,” Mattman answers.  In an instant, both Giggler and Yoker feel a blunt object hit them in the back of their heads.  They release both the sacks of money and their weapons as they dropped to the ground.  Standing behind them are Falcon and Blue Jay.
“The numbers game usually isn’t on our side,” Mattgirl notes.  “I’m starting to understand why all these villains team up against us.”
“Lets tie these two up,” Mattman orders as he reaches into his utility belt and takes out some rope.
Just as the Superheroes begin cuffing the Yoker and Giggler’s wrists together, the front door of the bank obliterates, and standing at the archway is the mammoth Titanium.  Standing at nearly seven feet tall, Titanium is not a force many people would want to reckon with.  The fact that at the touch of a button, titanium armor spreads throughout his body beneath his skin—protecting him from anything from punches to bullets—making him pretty much invincible, does not help matters either.
“Great,” mumbles an already crabby Mattman.  “Blue Jay, finish tying up those two,” orders Mattman as he points at the Yoker and Giggler, who still appear to be unconscious.  He then turns to Falcon and Mattgirl.  “Let’s take out the muscle man.”
Mattman, Falcon, and Mattgirl storm towards Titanium, but he easily brushes them off.  The massive maniac sets his sights on the sacks of money lying beside Yoker and Giggler.  Although his mask covers it, Titanium smiles as he stares at his prize.  If anybody is walking away with a fortune tonight, it’s going to be him.  The moment is interrupted when Mattman jumps onto the villain’s back, but the much bigger and stronger foe effortlessly throws him across the room, crashing through another window to the pavement outside.  Seriously dazed, Mattman rolls over onto his back, but is unable to stand up.  Falcon and Mattgirl attempt a second front, but Titanium’s gargantuan hands grabs onto their heads and smashes them against each other, knocking them both out.
Blue Jay is trying to tie up the two remaining villains as quickly as he can, but his efforts are useless when, out of nowhere, he is suddenly snatched by the neck.  With ease, Titanium lifts Blue Jay up into the air, and tosses him across the bank and against the metallic safe door.  Titanium peaks down at the sacks of money on the floor, and goes to grab it.
“Not so fast, big man,” a bloodied Yoker says as he points a gun at Titanium.  “I know this won’t kill you, but I’m sure it hurts like hell.”
“Try it,” dares Titanium.  Yoker contemplates the move, and thinking quickly, directs the gun towards Titanium’s crotch.
“For some reason, I doubt that has a titanium shield.”
Suddenly nervous, Titanium is forced to think quickly as well.  Doing what he always does, he uses aggression.  He goes to make an attack on the evil clown, but is stopped before he can make his move.
“Careful there,” Giggler says as he points his gun at the giant masked villain.  “My associate and I came planned this heist for quite some time.  We’re not going to let some jock asshole just stroll in and walk away with the big prize.”
“Do you really think the two of you can stop me?” asks Titanium.  “I just easily took out those four heroes.  The same heroes that left the two of you lying in a puddle of your own blood within seconds.”
The Yoker prepares to fire his gun.  “Say goodbye to Mr. Peepers.”
“And his two little friends, too,” Giggler says as the two of them rise to their feet.  They grab the sacks of money, but never take their eyes off their target.
“And we do mean little friends.  I wonder how big that target is now after all these years, ‘roid monkey,” Yoker states, his devilish grin now returning.
Yoker and Giggler back their way out of the bank, as Titanium angrily watches on.  He was outsmarted, plain and simple.  He will still get his prize, though.  There’s a safe full of money that those two freaks left behind.  He’ll get his revenge on them sometime, though.
Yoker and Giggler get outside the bank and begin to make their escape.  Their attempts are not too fruitful, however, when a fist to Giggler’s face courtesy of Mattman takes him out of the game.  Yoker looks at his partner in crime—once again lying on the floor unconscious—and then at his long-time nemesis in front of him.
“Fuck it,” Yoker says as he begins to make a run for it.  Mattman quickly ties up the Giggler and takes his gun, just in case.  He then begins tailing the Yoker.
Inside, Titanium walks into the still-opened safe of the bank.  The place is a mess from the theft that occurred moments earlier, but there’s still plenty of money left inside.  He begins grabbing as much money as he can, when suddenly he hears a loud slam.  The safe door is now closed.  He is trapped inside.
Blue Jay, Falcon, and Mattgirl—now awake—hold the door of the safe closed.  They wind the lock a few times to ensure that it’s locked.
“That should hold him until the police arrive,” says Falcon.  They then hurry over to Gerald, who is still bleeding from the mouth.
Yoker is frantic and out of breath as he runs as quickly as he can from the Hero of Justice.  His head is still throbbing and bleeding.  He looks behind him to see if he’s still being followed.  No sign of Mattman, thankfully.  He turns back forward, and is shocked to see Mattman standing before him.
“Shi…” Yoker begins to say when he is interrupted with a punch in the face, knocking the sack of money out of his hand.
“It’s over, Yoker,” Mattman says.  “Giggler is in police custody by now.  It won’t be long before he starts talking, and we’ll find out where you two are hiding out.  You won’t be able to run away from this.”
Yoker quickly takes out his gun and recklessly points it at Mattman.  “I’m not going back to that asylum.  You can’t make me go back there.”
“Don’t make it go down like this,” Mattman warns.  Despite dedicating his life to stopping those that do evil—and Yoker is undoubtedly the most evil of all—Mattman never wants to take another life, no matter how despicable it may be.
“I’m not going back there,” Yoker repeats.  He leans down and grabs hold of the sack of money.  He prepares to pull the trigger of his gun.  In retaliation, Mattman grasps the gun he had confiscated from the Giggler moments earlier.  “Merry Christmas, Mattman,” Yoker says as he pulls the trigger.  Mattman dives back—avoiding the bullet—takes out his gun and fires at the Yoker.  The bullet hits him in the stomach.  Yoker drops his gun and the sack of money.  He grabs hold of the bullet wound.  He stares at his dark blue glove, now stained with blood.  He is unable to speak as he gasps for breath.  He looks up at Mattman, and then back down at his fatal wound.
“You….killed me….” Yoker says with a shortness of breath as he staggers backward.  He looks up at Mattman one final time, before falling back over the ledge of a bridge down into the ice cold water below.  Mattman rushes over to the railing of the bridge and looks down beneath.  There is only heavy rapids of water—no sign of the Yoker.

“Tonight Ghost Town got perhaps the greatest Christmas gift of all,” David Grayson—secretly the Falcon, but publicly the anchor person for Channel 6 News.  “For the first time in several years, every single serial criminal is now either behind bars or in a mental asylum.  Viewers remember nearly two years ago when Birdman lost his life when Ghost Town’s guardian angel Mattman prevented him from committing yet another crime.  Tonight, Mattman was able to thwart three more roguish citizens—the Yoker, Giggler, and Titanium.  The Yoker was killed in the midst of the battle, finally putting an end to the life of Ghost Town’s most evil crime lord.”
 Bruce Basilo shuts off the television as he sits in the Mattcave.  He’s heard enough.  Everybody praised him for being such a hero when he killed Birdman.  Few people realize that Birdman asked for redemption in his final moment of life.  He had to sit above a man he fought for years and watch him die.  In a way, part of him died that night as well.  For a while he fought with a new passion, but before long he realized the truth—that he no longer had a passion to fight.  He feels that more than ever right now.  Another death.  Sure, Yoker killed many innocent men and women, possibly even kids.  He even killed Charles Morton, the police Commissioner and father of Matilda Morton, otherwise known as Mattgirl.  But does taking his life make Mattman a greater hero?  No.  It just makes him feel less human.
 “Hey Bruce, have a beer,” Jason Bleu—the true identity of Blue Jay—says as he walks down to the Mattcave.  Jason tosses Bruce a can of beer, which he quickly cracks open.
 “You shouldn’t be drinking this stuff,” Bruce tells his not-quite-legally-aged sidekick.
 “C’mon Bruce, I’m 20, not 16.”  The two toast each other, and continue drinking.
 “At what point do you stop being a hero and do you start being a killer?”  Bruce asks.
 “What sort of question is that?  How many people have you killed?  Two?  And you were trying to stop them from committing crimes.”
 “I killed Charles Morton.”
 “No you didn’t.  The Yoker killed him,” corrects Jason.
 “I pretty much.  The Yoker gave me a choice:  Let Charles die, or let a room full of children die.”
 “What choice did you have?”
 “I didn’t even try to save him.  I just chose for him to die.”
 “You got distracted by the Phantom, there was nothing you could have done,” Jason reassures.
 “I got distracted.  I let him die.”
 Bruce blocks out whatever Jason is saying and looks down at his Mattman costume folded beside him.  He finishes his beer, crushes the can in his hand, and grabs hold of his costume.
 “All of these so called villains are either facing life sentences in prison or a mental asylum.  The Yoker is dead,” Bruce begins saying.  He then throws the crushed beer can and his costume into the trash.  “And so is Mattman.  This town doesn’t need me anymore.”
 “Bruce…”  Jason calls out as Bruce makes his way up the stairs and back into Basilo Manor.  “Bruce!” Jason calls again.  But Bruce does not respond.  He doesn’t even look back.