Golden Year Forty-One

The Death of the Dark Knight

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(1979)
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–REFERENCE: In All-Star Comics #69. Early January. Commissioner Bruce Wayne watches with discomfort as the JSA takes on Vulcan, Son of Fire in Gotham (as seen in All-Star Comics #60-61). There is a ton of collateral damage, but Vulcan is defeated.

–FLASHBACK: From The Brave and The Bold #197. Bruce gets the melancholy feeling that his time might be running short. He’s lived a full life, but wants to write down his feelings, especially about Selina. Sitting before a typewriter, Bruce writes a journal entry about Selina—how they met, their interactions over time, and how they eventually fell in love and married, and of course her tragic untimely death.

–All-Star Comics #66-68
Late January. A graying Superman resigns from the Justice Society of America, appointing his cousin Power Girl as his replacement. (Not long ago, Clark became editor-in-chief of The Daily Star.) The JSA—with newest members Power Girl and Star-Spangled Kid—takes on the Injustice Society inside their own HQ. Beaten, the Injustice Society disappears without a trace. Soon after, Flash (Jay Garrick), Hawkman, and Dr. Fate take on the original Thinker and Icicle in Abu Dhabi, rescuing a captive and injured Hourman and placing him into Robin’s care at a Cape Town hospital. Robin sends Bruce a telegram filling him in. In Gotham, a new Psycho-Pirate (Roger Hayden) controls Green Lantern Alan Scott’s mind and causes him to go on a rampage and destroy the Gotham Broadcasting Company, which he recently lost ownership of due to bankruptcy. In Alaska, Power Girl and Star-Spangled Kid best Brainwave and the Wizard, rescuing a captive Wildcat. Power Girl scares the Wizard so badly, he immediately permanently relocates to Earth-1! (The Wizard has already been bouncing back-and-forth between Earths for some time now, moonlighting on both the Injustice Society and Secret Society of Super-Villains.) From under the earth, a race of creatures that live beneath the surface of the planet emerge. The underworlders, who have allied themselves with the villains, capture and take the heroes to the center of the Earth, but Hawkman and Jay Garrick help their friends escape. In Gotham, Commissioner Wayne and Chief O’Hara examine the damage that Alan Scott has caused while speaking with the new owners of the Gotham Broadcasting Company. Back in his office, Bruce (secretly influenced by Psycho-Pirate as well) argues with Dr. Fate and then issues an all-points bulletin to arrest the JSA for having caused so much collateral damage this past month. When Alan Scott continues his rampage at the Gotham International Airport, the JSA fights him to a stalemate. Meanwhile, Bruce flies to meet Dick and Hourman in Cape Town. Soon, the JSA discovers that Psycho-Pirate is hiding on Earth-1! They travel there to confront the villain, who turns a mind-controlled Jay Garrick and Alan Scott against them. Wildcat single-handedly knocks-out Psycho-Pirate, ending his threat. Later, the JSA hangs out with the JLA aboard the JL Satellite, which leads directly to Justice League #147-148 (“CRISIS IN THE 30th CENTURY”). Meanwhile, back on Earth-2, Commissioner Wayne plots against the JSA.

–NOTE: In Justice League #147-148 (“CRISIS IN THE 30th CENTURY”). Late January. Bruce isn’t involved in this, but it does act as a bridge between All-Star Comics #68 and the epilogue from All-Star Comics #68. Late January. Having just defeated Psycho-Pirate on Earth-1 (as seen in All-Star Comics #66-68), the JSA hangs out with the JLA. Mordru, a magickal Earth-1 villain from the 30th century, kidnaps the JLA, JSA, and members of the Earth-1’s 30th century super-team known as the Legion of Super-HeroesBrainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Princess Projectra, Shadow Lass, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Sun Boy, Wildfire, and Ultra-Boy. Mordru summons The Demons Three (Abnegazar, Rath, and Ghast), who turn on him immediately and then begins quarreling amongst themselves. The JLA, JSA, and Legion defeat the Demons Three, after which everyone returns to their own times and Earths.

–All-Star Comics #69-70
Late January-early February. The JSA returns from their triple-team-up in the 30th century of Universe-1 (as seen in Justice League of America #147-148). They arrive back in the JSA HQ in Gotham City to find Commissioner Bruce Wayne and a brand new special anti-powers GCPD unit waiting to ambush them with a warrant for their arrests! Wielding new anti-Kryptonian weaponry, the trigger happy cops gun down and badly injure Power Girl as she argues with the Commish. Bruce orders his men to use full force, to which the JSA responds by kicking their asses and fleeing the scene. Robin and Hourman enter the scene a second later to find all the downed cops. Bruce activates Robin’s call-beacon, which summons Wonder Woman, Starman, and Dr. Mid-Nite to the scene (and out of retirement). Bruce then calls the JSA to the Batcave using the old newspaper cypher code. In the Batcave, the JSA comes face-to-face with Robin, Hourman, and the three former members. A huge brawl of heroes versus heroes erupts, even seeing Bruce slug it out with Wildcat. Eventually, Superman—having been secretly tipped off by Huntress (Helena Wayne)—crashes the party, with his cousin Power Girl in his arms, revealing that Bruce has been under the influence of Psycho-Pirate this whole time. Dr. Date clears Psycho-Pirate’s dark cloud out of Bruce’s brain, returning him back to normal. In tears, Bruce apologizes and hugs Power Girl. (Bruce’s war against the JSA is also shown via flashback from America vs The Justice Society #1 and America vs The Justice Society #4, although the latter has a big error as artist Howard Bender accidentally drew Bruce holding an injured Power Girl instead of Superman.) Soon after things have calmed down a bit, a formal gathering is held at JSA HQ. The current lineup meets with the former members—including Commissioner Wayne. Afterward, with no action to speak of, everyone takes a much needed breather. Notably, Dr. Fate returns home to his wife Inza Nelson. Both Dr. Fate and Inza are approached by the shadowy minions of the cosmic-powered Master Summoner. Later, Huntress makes her presence known to the JSA, teaming-up with Wildcat and Star-Spangled Kid against the debuting super-villain team known as Strike Force (led by Star-Spangled Kid’s nephew Arthur Pemberton). (As shown in the Bruce-less All-Star Comics #71, the heroes defeat of the Strike Force, after which—as seen via flashback from All-Star Comics #72—Star-Spangled Kid quits the JSA and Huntress replaces him!)

–REFERENCE: In Batman Family #18 Part 5 and All-Star Comics #74. Dick resigns from “Cranston, Grayson, and Wayne” to focus more on his duties as a UN ambassador in South Africa (and his duties as Robin). Bruce arranges for Helena to take his spot at “Cranston, Grayson, and Wayne.” Nepotism is definitely rearing its ugly head here, but Helena is more than qualified for the position at the firm.

–REFERENCE: In All-Star Comics #72-74. Late March.[1] Bruce is not shown in this arc, but he surely would know some details of what goes on. Plus, when the shit hits the fan toward the end of this arc, there’s no way Bruce isn’t leading the GCPD into battle. The JSA (now with new member Huntress) fights Thorn (Rose Canton), the Sportsmaster, and the original Huntress. Wildcat is poisoned by Thorn and goes into a coma. Later, Helena takes Kara Zor-L (aka Karen Starr aka Power Girl) to her (Helena’s) favorite restaurant to practice living life in a normal non-superhero alter-ego, something that Kara is not used to doing. (Despite having been employed at “Cranston, Grayson, and Wayne” for only weeks at this point and having not done any real work for them yet, Helena is already writing-off expensive “business” lunches at the firm’s expense.) Dr. Fate and Hawkman assemble the JSA, revealing that Master Summoner has told them they must take preventative action to prevent the destruction of Earth. Thus, the JSA splits-up and stops two conflicts—a gunfight between soldiers on the Russian-Chinese border and a terrorist attack in Montreal. Of course, Master Summoner reveals his true colors and strikes at all the superheroes, causing magickal chaos across the globe. Dr. Fate gathers the entire JSA lineup and several other heroes, Superman included. There is a moment of reflection here by the assemblage to honor three legends that aren’t present—Batman and Spectre (who are no longer JSA members and are likely dealing with the global chaos in their GCPD roles as Commissioner Bruce Wayne and Detective Jim Corrigan) and Wildcat (who is still recovering from recent injuries sustained at the hands of the Thorn). Via sheer silent group meditation by the JSA, Master Summoner is defeated.

–NOTE: In Batman Family #17. Late March. Bruce has nothing to do with this item, but it is a big one, worth mentioning! Huntress, looking for extra help and guidance since she is still a rookie in the vigilante game, travels to Earth-1 to meet Earth-1 Batman and Earth-1 Robin! In Earth-1 Bruce’s penthouse, Helena introduces herself, explaining that she is not only a JSA member, but also the daughter of Commissioner Bruce Wayne. After regaling alt-Bruce and alt-Dick with the story of her family, alt-Bruce decides that she should meet Earth-1 Kathy Kane (aka the semi-retired Batwoman). After meeting Kathy, Helena says goodbye to alt-Bruce, kissing him on the check and calling him “Uncle.” The next day, in Provincetown, Huntress takes on the alternate version of her own mother—Earth-1 Catwoman! The feline villainess is saved by Madame Zodiac. Likewise, Earth-1 Batgirl (Barbara “Babs” Gordon) takes-on Earth-1 Poison Ivy, who also gets saved by Madame Zodiac. Later, Helena hangs out with Kathy and Babs. Soon after, Huntress, Batgirl, and Batwoman defeat Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Madame Zodiac. Batman and Batgirl then personally see-off Huntress as she returns to Earth-2 via the JL Satellite’s Transmatter Cube.

–REFERENCE: In the fifth feature to Batman Family #18-20. Early to late April. Bruce only tangentially factors into this arc in the final part (Batman Family #20 Part 5), but as commissioner he would definitely be following along. Of course, he still doesn’t know Helena is Huntress. Helena settles into her role at “Cranston, Grayson, and Wayne.” Roger Demarest, feeling he’s been unfairly passed over to become partner, gives Helena a sexist earful. Thankfully, she’s got Arthur Cranston’s full support. Later, Huntress saves some lives from a burning building. For the next twelve days, Huntress investigates a string of arson fires, eventually connecting them to corrupt Councilman Franklin Gresham. Huntress confronts Gresham, but is knocked-out by his bodyguard and thrown into a burning building. Huntress escapes and bides her time for a full week, eventually catching Gresham off-guard in one of his latest arson buildings. Huntress shows Gresham’s own incendiary device to him as proof of his misdeeds. The device accidentally goes off, killing Gresham. Gotham’s newest top politician Mayor Winston initiates a progressive citywide housing program, a plan that Gresham had been plotting against via his arson scheme. Commissioner Bruce Wayne sends Chief O’Hara to investigate Gresham’s death.

–NOTE: In a flashback from Justice League of America #166. May. Bruce isn’t involved, but he would likely be notified about such an important piece of JSA business. The JSA defeats Earth-1’s Secret Society of Super-Villains—the Wizard, Star Sapphire (Remoni-Notra), Floronic Man, Blockbuster, and Professor Zoom (Eobard Thawne). After their defeat, the Secret Society gets trapped in the Bleed (where they will remain for the next six months until they reemerge on Earth-1).

–REFERENCE: In Wonder Woman #282 Part 2. Bruce isn’t involved in this one, but he would likely be aware as commissioner. Huntress busts a notorious Gotham drug dealer named Charlie.

–NOTE: In Justice League of America #159-160 (“CRISIS FROM YESTERDAY & TOMORROW”). July 15. Commissioner Bruce Wayne, of course, has nothing to do with this item, but it is an important one and Bruce, as Gotham’s top cop, would likely be told all about it. The JLA and JSA have a dinner party in Earth-1 Gotham. (Writer Gerry Conway harps about how the JLA and JSA meet once a year every year, but they meet more than that, so don’t take Conway too literally.) There, Earth-1 Batman muses about how he envies his Earth-2 counterpart for having retired and had a family. From the year 3786 CE, The Lord of Time (Epoch), using a sentient cyborg time-machine, sends mind-controlled warriors from all throughout Earth-1’s history to strike at the JLA and JSA. Jonah Hex, Hans Von Hammer, The Viking Prince (Jon Haraldson), Miss Liberty (Bess Lynn), and Earth-1 Black Pirate (Jon Valor). The time-displaced fighters defeat and injure nearly all the present day heroes before being brought to the year 3786 CE where they are captured. A group of eight heroes—Earth-1 Superman, Wonder Woman, Huntress, Earth-1 Flash, Elongated Man, Earth-1 Hawkman, Dr. Mid-Nite, and Star-Spangled Kid—use the Cosmic Treadmill to go to Epoch’s palace in 3786. Eventually, all the heroes are injured except Elongated Man, who saves the day solo. In 1979, Earth-1 Aquaman uses Hal Jordan’s power ring to heal everyone. Alan Scott and Hal Jordan then travel to 3786 and rescue everyone, bringing them back to the present. The time-displaced warriors are sent back to their correct times as well.

–REFERENCE: In America vs The Justice Society #4. Bruce begins to be openly hostile against the JSA, publicly turning against all of his former superhero brethren. Soon after, Bruce learns that he has late stage terminal cancer and only has months to live. He tells Helena, but makes her promise not to tell anyone else. We don’t 100% know why Bruce turns against the superhero community—maybe there is an inciting incident or maybe he still has some lingering Psycho-Pirate influence. Both are possible. Years from now, in conversation with Dick, Helena will say that “Bruce’s cancer caused his hostility towards the JSA.” This strongly implies that Bruce might have late stage brain cancer and is already feeling some negative psychological effects because of the disease. I would guess that Bruce turning on his old pals is the result of a combination of all three things. Bummer.

–FLASHBACK: From America vs The Justice Society #4. This item occurs a couple months prior to Adventure Comics #462 Part 1. Commissioner Bruce Wayne tours Gotham Prison and chats with several inmates, including Per Degaton. Degaton opens up to Bruce, hinting that he (Degaton) will become master of the world, specifically in late 1984. Realizing that this must have something to do with time-travel, Bruce meets up with his old friend and time-travel expert Professor Carter Nichols. Nichols tells Bruce that, way back in the 1940s, Degaton’s old Time Trust boss (Malachi Zee) always talked about wanting to time-travel to the date of his 100th birthday in 1984. Bruce deduces that Degaton plans to steal Zee’s time machine in 1984, which he will use to become master of the world. Bruce also deduces that Degaton was responsible for sabotaging the Time Trust’s bomb tests in 1941. Increasingly sick and paranoid due to his late stage brain cancer, Bruce refuses to share any of this vital information with the superhero community. Due to his cancer (and possible lingering effects of Psycho-Pirate’s mind-meddling), Bruce currently is at the peak of an anti-superhero campaign and doesn’t trust anyone. However, deep down in his soul, Bruce’s superhero subconscious (a legitimate developing split personality) goes into auto-drive. If Bruce won’t notify the superheroes, the Batman deep within Bruce’s soul will take action in the least direct and most ridiculously elaborate way possible—a classic Bat-ruse! Bruce, operating at a nearly subconscious Bat-level, decides that he will release Degaton from prison and write a journal-diary smearing the JSA as Nazi spies, which he knows will force the team to publicly review their entire history with a fine-tooth comb. Bruce theorizes that this public exposure, combined with the hoax diary functioning as an elaborate code, will lead to the prevention of Degaton’s world-conquering years down the road. Thus, the ultimate scheme to end all schemes begins. First, Bruce asks Nichols to accompany him to visit Per Degaton in jail. After confirming a few more facts, Bruce tells Degaton he will recommend his immediate parole. (Why? Not so sure.) Soon after, Degaton is released and Bruce personally sees him off. (Still not sure why freeing Degaton is essential to the plan, but okay). Bruce digs up an old Batman costume, puts it on, and begins authoring the diary smearing the JSA.

–FLASHBACK: From America vs The Justice Society #1 and America vs the Justice Society #4. Batman finishes writing his hoax journal-diary (complete with news clippings and photos) and records audio testimony onto wire spools, detailing the entire history of the JSA. Except, in this diary and on the recordings, Batman claims that most of the superhero community (minus Superman) were secret Nazi spies ever since November of 1940, having personally pledged allegiance to Hitler. Batman then visits Professor Carter Nichols. The Dark Knight tells Nichols, in the event of his death (which he knows will be soon due to his cancer), to send the diary and wire spools to Clark Kent at The Daily Star exactly on Tuesday November 25, 1984. And that’s that. The terminally-ill and slightly unhinged Caped Crusader leaves one final future Bat-mystery, an elaborate and convoluted coded puzzle wherein which the JSA will have to prove they weren’t Nazis in order to stop a convoluted time-traveling scheme of Per Degaton’s. (Thankfully, Helena and Dick will put it all together in late 1984, just in time to stop Degaton, meaning that this cockamamie plan will somehow actually work. Great job, Batman!)

ONLY LEGENDS LIVE FOREVER
———————-––Adventure Comics #461 Part 3
———————-––Adventure Comics #462 Part 1
Robin visits Helena at her apartment, telling her that he knows that she is Huntress. Across town, an escaped Bill Jensen ascends to the top of Gotham’s World Trade Center Twin Towers, demanding an audience with Commissioner Bruce Wayne. Using strange new magickal powers, Jensen easily takes out a bunch of cops and the entire JSA (including Huntress and Robin). When Jensen threatens to topple the Twin Towers, Commissioner Wayne arrives. Jensen claims that Bruce framed him, resulting in his imprisonment last year. With all the heroes down, seeing no other option, Bruce retrieves his Bat-costume from the City Museum inside the WTC. After saving Jay Garrick’s life, Batman confronts Jensen, who destroys the top of one of the Twin Towers. As Huntress looks on, Batman struggles with Jensen, who blasts him with a fiery magickal inferno, burning his cowl away. Realizing that Batman is Bruce, Jensen explodes with magickal rage, incinerating both he and Batman. Jensen’s threat has ended, but the 64-year-old Batman is dead! (Batman’s death is also shown via flashback from Adventure Comics #463 Part 3, America vs The Justice Society #1, and America vs The Justice Society #4.) Batman’s death initially leads to the public outing of his, Robin, and Huntress’ secret IDs. However, as referenced in Adventure Comics #463 Part 3, Dr. Fate alters reality to protect and preserve their secret IDs. The world comes to believe that Batman and Commissioner Wayne were killed together. As referenced in Wonder Woman #281 Part 2, Chief O’Hara is sworn-in as the new police commissioner. Not long afterward, a public funeral is held for Bruce, who is buried beside Selina and his parents. Thousands, including Alfred, Helena, Dick, and the entire JSA, are in attendance. (The funeral scene is also shown in The Brave and The Bold #197.) After the funeral ends, Dick and Helena stand by Bruce’s tombstone to pay their teary-eyed private respects. They both promise they will never take up the mantle of the Bat out of respect to Bruce. (Presumably, as referenced in Adventure Comics #463 Part 3, due to Dr. Fate’s reality re-write, a public funeral is also held for Batman.) At JSA HQ, Dr. Fate meets with the JSA and ponders where Jensen could possibly have obtained magickal powers. As referenced in Infinity Inc #9, a devastated Alfred moves back into Wayne Manor. And that’s all she wrote! Thus ends a storied crime-fighting career for the Dark Knight of Earth-1. As seen in Adventure Comics #463 Part 3, the JSA will soon discover and bust the super-villain that gave powers to Jensen, sorcerer Frederic Vaux, thus giving some closure to the case that resulted in the death of a legend. Robin, Huntress, and the JSA will continue to fight crime for years to come. Others, like Blackwing (Charles Bullock) and Infinity Inc will also join the superhero cause in the future.[2]

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  1. [1]COLLIN COLSHER: In America vs The Justice Society #4, Power Girl testifies in court regarding details of All-Star Comics #72-74, incorrectly stating that there is a couple-week gap somewhere in this arc. There isn’t. All-Star Comics #72-74 is one continuous uninterrupted story.
  2. [2]COLLIN COLSHER: The spirit of Batman appears in the Modern Age’s JSA #85 (2008 on the Modern Age Earth-0 timeline). However, it is not the spirit of the Dark Knight of the Golden Age Earth-2. It is the spirit of the post-Infinite Crisis Modern Age Earth-2 version, which simply mirrors the Golden Age version. Likewise, this post-Infinite Crisis Modern Age Earth-2 is NOT our Golden/Silver/Bronze Age Earth-2 either—it is merely a facsimile.

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