(GOTHAM CITY)- In a move which surprised no one within the superhero community, Batman, The Caped Crusader, today announced his retirement during a noon press conference on the steps of City Hall.
Sweating profusely, his belly bulging from beneath his shirt and nearly obscuring his codpiece, Batman read from a prepared text. "Citizens! The time has come. My ears are frayed and tattered. My cowl is but a prison. My heart is as heavy as my utility belt. "It is with regret that I announce that I shall no longer wander the streets of Gotham, ever vigilant and ready to do battle with the likes of the Joker, the Penguin, the She-Cat who bedevils my very soul! Let the little net-slinging punks have at it. I bid you farewell." Batman took no questions. The Caped Crusader"s popularity as a public figure had begun to wane in recent years. After a series of films propelled the superhero to iconic status, America"s taste in crime-fighting men in tight-fitting uniforms shifted to Spider-Man in recent months. A series of public appearances by Batman in which he appeared to be visibly intoxicated further diminished the Crusader"s status as a crime fighter. Additionally, allegations of an improper relationship with Robin, "The Boy Wonder," began to surface at about the same time similar scandals were swirling within the nation"s Catholic churches. Friends noted Batman"s recent decline. Wonder Woman told People magazine in June that "Batman would be sitting on the couch, the Bat-Light would be shining into the night sky, sirens would be wailing all over Gotham and he"d just open another bag of pork rinds. Totally apathetic. He"d say something like, "Call the Hulk! Call Wolverine! Call some damn flash-in-the-pan mutant if you want a circus! I"ve had it!" and then he"d pass out from the Stoli." "He was always upset that people didn"t understand that he didn"t have "special powers,"" Superman revealed to this reporter in a phone interview today after Batman"s announcement. "He was a self-made guy - a real genius with gadgets and stuff. He never made fun of my X-ray vision or my amazing strength or even the flying bit - but you could tell he thought the rest of us crime-fighters just lucked into the gig. Did I mention my X-ray vision? Did you know that Jennifer Aniston hardly ever wears panties? X-ray vision, pal. Sweeeeeet. Best thing about the gig." Although most of Gotham"s citizens were unaware of the Caped Crusader"s dissatisfaction with crime-fighting, Batman had been exploring other ventures. A two-night stand in Vegas at the Mirage proved disastrous for him since audiences would simply not accept seeing a former superhero in a white vinyl rhinestone-studded Bat-Suit singing Tom Jones covers. Insiders insist that while Batman"s career as a nocturnal doer of good deeds may be over, his career on basic cable may be about to take off. Word has it that Batman has been contacted by CNN as a regular substitute for Larry King. Wank & O"Brien fight crime each weekday morning on 93.1.