Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Are you Ready?: A Day in the Life of Renee Montoya, aka The Question.

J.Yoo's picture

Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, is a vigilante determine to bring justice to Gotham, a justice-less city. He has the his parents fortune and company backing him, and so has access to the newest and best technology before it's on the market. The same company and money help hide his vigilante work.

As a woman, Renee Montoya, aka the Question, does things differently. If Montoya wants to lead a successful double life, she has to use different methods to cover her tracks: she has to live life as a woman. This is a story of a day in her life (specifically, a day when she is working the Soliz case of the Dark Detective series).


Background Information


While incorrect in the context of the DC universe, this day takes place in Gotham, under the pretense Montoya returned to work as a homicide detective after the death of her second partner, Crispus Allen, and is working with her first partner, Harvey Bullock.


Batman: currently Dick Grayson, who was formerly Nightwing of Blüdhaven, who was formerly the first Robin. Bruce Wayne is no longer Batman Proper in Gotham; after faking his own death in 2007 during the Battle for the Cowl arc, Grayson took up the Batman mantle against Wayne's wishes. Wayne is currently working on the Global Bat Network, the details of which are unknown. No one has stepped up to fill Nightwing's shoes, possibly because Blüdhaven was reduced to a nuclear fallout zone in late 2005, then a smoldering radioactive crater in May 2006.

Robin: Damian Wayne, child of Talia al Ghul and Bruce Wayne. Grown in an artifical womb and raised by the League of Assassins, Bruce Wayne was unaware of Damian's existence until 2006 when Talia left him in Wayne's care. Damian has since taken up the Robin mantle to Grayson's Batman.

Batwoman: see m.agazarian's post.

Charles “Charlie” Victor Szasz: the first Question, passed on the mantle to Montoya when he died.

Aristotle “Tot” Rodor: scientist who originally worked with the first Question. Develop the binary gas that transforms Montoya's coat, hat, clothes, and mask into the Question's costume.


5:30 am, wake up

Stayed in last night to work on the Soliz case, so I managed to get a decent amount of sleep. I've been sleeping lighter since Charlie died, or possibly since I started tracking down corporate scumbags in my spare time. Either way, I jolt awake a few minutes before my alarm in a cold sweat, memories of a black-masked corpse bleeding out in the gutter, of Allen bleeding out in the gutter, of Corrigan's face and the way it looked down the barrel of my 9mm. Almost a year of nighttime vigilante work, and I still have these dreams on a bi-monthly basis.

Batman has a devoted butler to wake him, ready with a scones coffee. I have to make something a step below sludge to get myself to the gym down the block by six, but it washes down the sticky, nightmare aftertaste nicely.


6:00 am, gym

This early, there are only a handful of other people in the gym. The most common are the apathetic-looking receptionist with the ridiculous shorts, the treadmill-loving pervert, and a woman who seems to have a co-dependent relationship with the bike (I've never seen her on any other equipment, she must have calves of steel by now). I choose an erg out of her line of site, but strategically positioned so I can watch in the mirror. Creepy, yes, but it makes the workout more enjoyable. Treadmill Pervert chooses the same machine every morning for the same reason. Bike Woman doesn't notice either of us; she's got headphones and mutters what sounds like French between reps. We never do more than nod at each other, but I'm hoping

As a woman who has to keep a low profile (and isn't entirely comfortable with her sexuality), Montoya can't just ask the woman on the bike out like a man would; she has to make sure the other woman would respond positively or risk making a scene and drawing unwanted attention to herself.


8:30 am, shower and breakfast

The benefits of showering with Bike Woman are outweighed by the dangers of showering around Treadmill Pervert, so I go home to wash up and eat. Of course, this mean braving my own shower, which likes to switch from ‘warm’ to ‘ice’ just as I’m rinsing my hair.

Breakfast usually entails cereal and the news, I like to catch up on what I missed the night before. Sometimes a vigilante makes a story and I get to peak in on their route. As far as I can tell, the Bat family's divided Gotham into thirds, one for each member: one for Batman, one for Batwoman, one for Robin. It’s interesting to watch the new Batman-Robin dynamic, especially with Army Brat Kate on the team to moderate (here's a hint: she's not very good at it). All it takes is seeing them all together, just once, to see who's most closely related to Bruce Wayne. I'll wander in and out of Batman's sector, but I stay away from the kid. Give me the creeps.

According to my notes, and corroborated by news reports of violent interrogations, Batman handed off the Religion of Crime case to Batwoman. Good luck to her.

Since she was raised in western culture (and also a highly skilled Kung Fu master), Montoya can recognize body language and relationships faster than a man might. She recognizes Batman as Dick Grayson the first time she see him, and could, presumably, easily interpret the current Bat family's dynamic.


9:30 am, work

I get to the station just as the clock tower strikes the half hour; Harvey's waiting for me in the office with a box of donuts. He brings in something deep friends every day because I won't eat it; he thinks I'm watching my figure, but really, gaining weight would be the fastest way to end my vigilante career. Though some days I want to grab a cruller just to get back at him.

The boys still think the walls aren't made of paper, that I can't hear everything they say about me. About how being a lesbian explains why I'm such a good cop.


 “Montoya caught another killer last week!”

“Yeah? That's the second one this month, she's gonna make us look bad.”

“Don't worry about it, she's not going much father. She's gay.”

As though being attracted to women somehow explains away my abilities. And the fact that I know Kung Fu. Officer Selma Reevesdale is a man who feels more comfortable as a woman, who lives her life as a woman, and while he boys aren't nice to her either, she doesn't get as much guff as I do for being gay.

We work on our case together; the boys have gotten a-hold of an early copy of the Book of Crime, Intergang's holy book. The Bat family (with a little help from yours truly) took care of some of the more dangerous prophecies about a year ago, so I'm too worried about what else is in here. Officer Ellen Green (self-centered bi— jerk) found the book, and believes it will predict, “...all poignant crimes for the next ten years or more.” Harvey and I know what a load of bull that is; this text is at least two years old, most of its 'prophecies' have already come to pass, and the ones that haven't have already been updated in the newer editions. She's just upset she had to step down from commissioner once Commissioner Gordon came back.

Here are three women in the police force: Officer Reevesdale, Officer Green, and Detective Montoya. Policewomen often have to deal with negative attitudes from men in their line of work, often accompanied by lack of opportunities for promotion and inadequate pay. In Montoya's case, she also has to deal with the public knowledge of her sexuality, which doesn't make her job any easier. If Officer Reevesdale were outed as a transgendered man, she would probably receive similar treatment. Officer Green is a very forceful woman, and while she probably doesn't see the reputation she's built, the other policemen and women probably talk behind her back.


12:15 pm, lunch and research

I wolf down a sandwich (ham and tomato on rye, only the best for Gotham's guardian angels) and run to the records vault. Commissioner Gordon has been kind enough to overlook my frequent visits, believing them to closure for Allen's death. He's not entirely wrong, since I've been using the records to track Corrigan's movements. Jim Corrigan was a corrupt crime scene investigator who sold crucial evidence and killed Crispus Allen, my second partner; I didn't kill him (I should have, I should have), but I'm going to dig up everything he's ever done and make sure he pays for them. And Allen.

I'm also researching what may turn out to be a pornography ring. Hector Soliz, an illegal immigrant working in a Walmart on the east side, contacted the Question last week. He begged me to find his little sister, who had disappeared a few days prior. I've taken time out of my investigations into Corrigan, but through interrogations and almost an entire wall of notes and thread, I think I've found a lead: a man named Vincent Edge has been pulling in extra dough from somewhere, and was coincidentally seen with a upset-looking girl matching Hannah Soliz's description. Hannah is twelve years old. This bast— jerk is going down.

1:30 pm, back to work

Bollock and I leave the Crime Bible to the labs and grunts and head out to check on our second case: a string of murdered prostitutes, all with their throats cut and a network of lines carved into the left sides of their faces, like a web. It's the scaring that's bringing back some nasty memories. The lead suspect is one Derrick Coe, age 27, who left his apartment mid-lease some five months ago— three weeks before the first murder.

Witnesses have all given a description that vaguely matches Black Spider's, another chilling side of the story. I keep forgetting that I'm not the first person to reanimate an old mask, and certainly won't be the last. Bullock read my file and understands, but doesn't suggest we pass the case off, bless him. He knows I need to do this, knows I need this closure. Allen's death started with the last Black Spider (who turned out to have ironically taken the name from the first Black Spider, a criminal-turned-vigilante), this case needs to end with the lawful prosecution of the new one.

The latest victim (Elizabeth Strider, age 27) is down in the morgue. They sent up the pictures yesterday: cut at the throat, webs carved into her face carved post-mortem, Miss Stride could have lasted more than a few minutes from the initial injury to her death. It's a small thing, but it's something.

We head out to the scene of the crime, a place called the Worker's Club (three guesses what they do there) around 1:00 am, fresh as anything. When Bollock asks about murder, the men tell him there are some 'shady tradings that go on back there,' and that they don't listen; when I ask, they ask if I'd like to go do some shady business in the alley (I'm a professional, and refrain from breaking any bones). The all female staff, however, tell me they heard some suspicious noises around 12:45 am, but didn't have time to go look. There wasn't any new evidence behind the caution tape, the crime scene investigators picked up anything of relevance and carted it back to the station.

Here, Montoya has to deal with gender differences in the field: the men and women tell different stories depending on who they talk to. She also has to tamp down in her natural reaction so the responses she gets, something most women have to deal with at some point.


6:00 pm, clock out

My time sheet says that I clock out at exactly 6:00 pm almost every day, but I usually head back to the vault for more research. Today, I dig up everything I can about one Vincent Edge. He's apparently the head of the American division of Ridge Ferrick, a mining company in Australia. The Ridge Ferrick offices near the south-side piers; sounds like that where I'm heading tonight.


7:30 pm, drinks with Bullock

Bullock is sweet. He invites me out to drinks at least twice a week, and I make a point of accepting at least once a week. Not on Fridays, though, because I also make a point of patrol on Fridays (not in Robin's territory, though, that kid is a brat). Tonight we go to one of his dives, a little place called the Spectre's Garden. Doesn't seem to be Bullock's kind of place, all fancy booths and carpets. He orders a whiskey soul while I stick to ginger ale; another jab about my figure earns him a jab to the ribs.


9:30 pm, go home and organize for the night

Tonight I pick up some groceries on the way home since I'm out of milk. Plus, the old couple that runs the store remind me of my parents, and they always called me Pretty Cop.

I put things away and turn on the TV while I review some case files. Bullock and I are pretty hands-on, so there isn't any new information in them. After the 9:45 news finishes up, I change into my night clothes and Charlie's old fedora, pack my equipment and energy pistol away in various pockets, and lock the door behind me when I leave. For safety reason, I don't hit the button on my belt buckle until I'm a good half hour from the apartment. The gas hisses, turning my coat and hat blue; a quick check in a passing window confirms my faceless mast is in place. The shampoo Tot gave me is working too: my hair is several shades darker than normal, shiny black in the lamplight. I smile humorlessly; it doesn't show.

At this point, Montoya's gender doesn't matter anymore. The mask and costume boil away individual labels, leaving a capable, faceless vigilante in their place. Montoya doesn't need to identify with anything, she needs to track down her information and get her work done. She's good at this, and she knows it.


11:00 pm, Edge's office

The security system is good, but I'm better. I scale the walls to the third floor, slip in through an open window, and avoid the camera on the way up. Edge is out for the evening, off to God knows where, so I have plenty of time to hack his computer. This takes a while, but I eventually get in around 11:45 pm and start sifting through the files. A lot of them are legitimate business records, but a few point towards suspicious activity; I download these to a thumb drive for later.

One folder contains a series of hotel reservations for a Mister Bügolae and his daughter, and receipts for set of camera lights. Even though I saw this coming, my blood still starts to boil. There's a reservation for tonight, and a quick time check says Edge is probably already there, room 347. I erase the computer history, shut it down, and head out.


12:30 am, investigate hotel

 More wall climbing ensues. Hannah, the lighting equipment, and Edge aren't in room 347; in there place are a at least a dozen men armed with billy clubs and armor. I manage to take down a few, but one to twelve aren't good odds and I go down from a club to the head. The world spins in a vaguely nauseating way, then goes dark.


1:00 am, wake up

I can't feel my arms when I wake up. Turns it it's because they're tied awkward behind me, pulling my shoulders at uncomfortable angles. My legs are similarly bound, and whatever space this is, it's small and dark and lurching. There's a splash somewhere ahead, a woman shrieks, and the world tilts.

Oh. I'm in the trunk of a car that's been pushed into the river.

I check my resources. These thugs must be cheap, they didn't check my pockets or sleeves; I cut through my ropes with a knife hidden under my gloves and pull the trunk's emergency tab. The lid pops open and cold, dirty water comes rushing in. Tires squeal as my incompetent foes speed away, unaware I've escaped. As soon as their noisy car roars out of earshot, I haul myself onto the dock and catch my breath, watching the car sink.


1:15 am, hunt down thugs who locked me in a trunk

They don't exactly make it difficult. I follow the tire tracks (someone is either drunk or the worst driver this side of the Mississippi) to a pier not ten minutes away from my would-be resting place. A small yacht is docked, out of place among the decaying wood; a line of girls (the oldest looks like she's in her mid-twenties, the youngest looks about ten) are being manhandled up the gangplank onto the boat. I fume quietly for a moment, then target and assault a guard.

The boat security is similar to the office security, and scaling a boat is much easier than scaling a hotel. First, the women: I follow them and their captors down to the holding deck, where they're pushed into a makeshift bring and the door is locked. I pick the lock and hand over a disposable phone (always good to have a few, Charlie used to say) to one of the girls and help them out the closet window.

Now for the guards. I only saw four or five on the way down here, and I only have to tie up four or five of them when they are sufficiently incapacitated. Vincent Edge tried to pull a gun on me, but I have an energy pistol; he's now passed out, handcuffs threaded through the handle to the captain's quarters. Police sirens pierce the air and I slip off the boat and into a glade.

Last is Hannah. Hector left his number with me, but I don't need to use it. Hannah is smart enough to call her brother as soon as the danger had passed. He rushes in shortly after the police, scoops Hannah up and twirls her around; Hannah is crying. If I were a different sort of cop, I'd cry too.

Once again, Montoya's gender doesn't play a role in most of her nightly activities. Her sex imat have been a determining factor, as a man could have fended off his attackers for longer in the hotel, but being a woman doesn't stop Montoya from doing her job and bringing the remaining thugs down.

An area where gender did matter, however, is when Montoya caught up with them women on the boat. Here, the girls, having suffered abuse at the hands of the male captors, probably wouldn't have trusted a man as readily as a woman.



2:30 am, go home

I am soggy, cold, and tired; home is a welcome relief. After another shower, I pause to push the alarm forward to 8:00 am, then pitch into bed with the satisfaction of a girl brought home. Emotional wounds will heal with time, but she's out of my hands now.


Sources : both Officer Selma Reevesdale and Officer Green were in the third season of Gotham Girls, a flash animated webtoon that ran in the early 2000's.




Anne Dalke's picture

Fending off difference

I'm liking the risk you took, this month, in writing a journal rather than a conventional web paper; it's very satisfying for me to see you experimenting in new forms. And the story you tell is a gripping one!

I have a couple of "technical" questions; for example, why do you create a background that is "incorrect in the context of the DC universe"? But my "real" questions all have to do with (in Hayles's terms) the "critical" dimension of this "creation." In response to your first web project  this semester, I had a series of both personal and more largely social and intellectual queries: how were you positioning yourself in terms of the topic you were exploring? Wherein lay your own investments, engagements, and interest? And then I wanted to know something of the implications of the stories you provided for the issues we've been discussing in class.

I have the same set of questions for this project. It's a clever description of a "day in the life of." But why do you care about this figure? Why should we? And what does her journal add to the ongoing exploration, in our class, of things gendered, informational, scientific and technological?? Your italicized comments, after many of the posts, re-state explicitly what you have already made fully clear in the narrative. On the one hand, you show that Montoya experiences discrimination, both socially and professionally, as a woman and as a lesbian, that she often has to "tamp down in her natural reaction so the responses she gets," that "a man could have fended off his attackers for longer."  On the other hand, her female identity can be helpful, in recognizing "body language and relationships faster than a man might," and in earning the trust of the women she rescues on the boat.

But what's really interesting about this story--which begins as one of gender discrimination--is the point where "Montoya's gender doesn't matter anymore": it "doesn't play a role in most of her nightly activities." So: what are you saying? What is the meaning of the story you tell? What information does it convey, in relation to our larger conversations? (Rather than all those wikipedia articles, for example, your bibliography might have included the theorists whose work we've been reading. What would Haraway or Clark or Hayles make of Montoya?) Those are the things I'd like to know....