DC’s Version of History

A TIMELINE THAT DC FOLLOWS?
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My Modern Age timeline differs from DC’s “official” Modern Age timeline for two main reasons. First, unlike DC publishers, I place Dick starting as Robin in Year 6 instead of Year 3 due to a stricter (more literal) reading of Long Halloween and Dark Victory. Second, unlike DC publishers, I view Zero Hour as a soft reboot (as opposed to a hard reboot). This means that, while both DC’s timeline and my timeline are hyper-compressed, DC’s is actually way more compressed than mine. As such, age references to many of the characters don’t jibe with my timeline, requiring fanwanks and caveats. A big example of this can be see with Tim Drake, who is forced to debut as Robin a bit younger than he is said to have in the comics.

Some folks will say, if DC has an “official” Modern Age timeline, shouldn’t be bow down to that as canon? Those folks should keep in mind that even the DC “official” version of things, like my chronology, must also be created or fabricated. (There’s a reason why I use quotes around the word official.) There really can be no definitive history that can be taken as gospel, especially since any chronology must constantly shift to meet the never-aging lineaments attributed to the characters within its fiction. Thus, the complicated multiplication of chimeras in relation to Batman continues.

My timeline is 23 years long, based upon information taken directly from within comic books. Chris J Miller’s unfinished but inspirational historiography, “The Unauthorized Chronology of the DCU,” is a brilliant example of a Modern Age timeline that regards everything the way it is written (post retcons, of course) as canon. His timeline also mirrors mine in length. If you literally read every Modern Age Batman comic book from 1986 through 2011, noting all the changes of season, topical references, references to time, editorial notes, character aging, and character development, you wind up with a mix of contradictions. But if you whittle that down to form the best possible combination of these contradictions, you’ll be able to find a (semi-)concrete timeline. When you add-in all the other DC characters (besides the Bat-Family) you’ll find that things need to shift and fit-to-form even more in order to make things understandable and believable from a narrative perspective.

If we look back to the tail end of the Golden Age and Silver Age (i.e. Bronze Age), DC publishers started to contradict their own timeline for fear that their characters were getting too old or stagnant. The same thing happens in the late Modern Age where you start getting a proliferation of editorial tags and bogus time references—an attempt to stave off the eventual need to hit the restart button entirely. The Modern Age DCU chugs along in relative real-time for about fifteen to twenty years and then all of a sudden time seems to stand still (even though events keep on happening and characters keep on living their complicated little lives).

Sliding Time and compression cannot be denied when building the Modern Age timeline, but there is an argument as to how compressed the timeline should be. I think DC publishers have needlessly over-shrunk, compressed to a fault. This brings up one of the two major differences between my chronology and DC’s—the interpretation of Zero Hour. Many DC higher-ups consider the Modern Age timeline to consist of two separate continuities: a “pre-Zero Hour timeline” and a pre-Flashpoint timeline.” With this consideration, earlier stories noticeably change from beefy texts overstuffed with data into highly-compressed reference materials. Anything pre-Zero Hour not only loses substance, but also gets cast into the distant void of its own separate chronology.

When I constructed my timeline, I did so moving forward, building what seemed like a correct chronological listing of stories. To create a timeline that DC seems to utilize, we almost have to work backward, looking at the latest possible references to ages (i.e. how old did DC say their characters were at the bitter end of the Modern Age) and how many “years ago” flashbacks in the later issues imply. These are the final clues in the Modern Age that tell us roughly how many years the Caped Crusader has been crusading. Here are a few important ones (according to DC). Tim is 17-years-old going on 18 (Red Robin in 2011).  Bruce is possibly nearing forty-years-old (said to be in his thirties in Batman RIP). Bruce met Silver St. Cloud nearly 10-years-ago (using Widening Gyre by Kevin Smith as a reference since it came out in 2010-2011 despite the fact that it is non-canon). There are many more, but these tidbits from three major 2011 story-arcs give us a pretty decent idea that Batman at the end of the Modern Age, according to DC, was around his 14th or 15th year in costume. Below is a quick list. I will refer to my chronological listings as BY1 for Bat Year One, BY2 for Bat Year Two, etc…

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DC YEAR ONE:  Frank Miller’s “Year One” still holds tried-and-true. Thankfully the horrible addition of Batman peeing his pants (thanks Kevin Smith) isn’t canon. Therefore, DC Y1 is almost exactly the same as BY1.

DC YEAR TWO:  As site contributor/fellow Batmanologist Valheru states, DC Y2 comprises many stories referenced from the Kane/Finger era (i.e origins of most of Batman’s rogues gallery). BY2 through BY5 comprises mostly of LOTDK tales, which according to DC, just aren’t canon anymore. (Or if they are, they are compressed into near oblivion and all placed into DC Y2.) Venom would take place here followed by The Long Halloween.

DC YEAR THREE: Dark Victory occurs. Dick Grayson debuts as Robin at age 13. The JLA debuts here. DC Y3 is basically the end of BY5 and most of BY6 combined. (Timelines in Zero Hour, Batman Secret Files, Villains Secret Files, Nightwing Secret Files, and Guide to the DCU 2000 all list Dick debuting as Robin in DC Y3.)

DC YEAR FOUR: This year comprises many Batman and Robin stories referenced from the Golden Age (think “pop-crime”). DC Y4 is comprised of large chunks of BY7.[1]

DC YEAR FIVE: This year comprises Batman and Robin stories referenced from the Golden Age, but begins to transition into the Silver Age, which is basically more of BY7. Batman’s Black Casebooks (as gleaned from Batman #678) tell us that by “5 years into the mission” the majority of Golden Age tales have already taken place.

DC YEAR SIX:  More Batman and Robin stories referenced from the Silver Age. The remaining parts of BY7 and pretty much all of BY8 fit here.

DC YEAR SEVEN: This is the “Penthouse” year. Bronze Age stories galore. Dick goes to college with a very early enrollment. The Saga of Ra’s al Ghul occurs. Damian is conceived.[2] This is BY9.

DC YEAR EIGHT: Dick turns 18-years-old and becomes Nightwing. Nightwing Vol. 2 #132-137 (“321 Days”) implies that Dick turns 18 this year. Jason becomes Robin at age 13 (going on 14). The Crisis on Infinite Earths occurs. Teen Titans Vol. 3 #42 tells us that Kid Devil is 12-years-old during Crisis and 17-years-old in during “One Year Later,” which jibes. This is BY10.[3]

DC YEAR NINE: Barbara is paralyzed by Joker in Killing Joke.  Jason is killed by Joker in Death in the Family. Tim becomes Robin at age 13. This is early BY12. (Timelines in Batman Secret Files, Villains Secret Files, Nightwing Secret Files, and Guide to the DCU 2000 all list Tim debuting as Robin in DC Y9.)

DC YEAR TEN: Zero HourKnightfall, and “The Death and Return of Superman” occur immediately afterward followed by Cataclysm and Road to No Man’s Land. BY12 through early BY16 are all highly compressed into this one single year. Note that, in DCU Legacies, writer Len Wein implies that Superman’s death occurs roughly seventeen or eighteen years after Wonder Woman’s debut! So, as you can see, not everyone at DC is hellbent on über compression. Of course, it only muddles things further to have staff on completely different pages.

DC YEAR ELEVEN: No Man’s Land takes place this year. (In LOTDK #125, Gordon even says Batman has been around for ten years.) The rest of BY16 synchs up with this year pretty well.

DC YEAR TWELVE: Our Worlds At War followed immediately by Bruce Wayne Murderer and Bruce Wayne Fugitive and then Hush, JLA: Obsidian Age, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Death and the Maidens, “War Games,” OMAC Project, and Under the Hood, and Infinite Crisis. 52 begins. DC Y12 is BY17, BY18, BY19, and BY20 all squashed into one single year. Judd Winick’s Batman Annual #26 implies that at least three-and-a-half years pass between Jason’s death and “Hush,” which jibes. Jason also turns 18-years-old in Detective Comics #790.

DC YEAR THIRTEEN: 52 concludes. “One Year Later” occurs. Countdown occurs. Grant Morrison’s run begins with Batman and Son, followed by Ressurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, Trinity, Batman RIP, and Final Crisis. DC Y13 comprises all of BY21 and the first third of BY22. Jezebel Jet mentions Bruce is “over thirty-years-old” (i.e. guesses he is “in his thirties”). It has been mentioned in a note above, but bears a reminder, that Damian debuts in Batman and Son at age ten. This means, like DC does with the short New 52 timeline, Damian’s aging process is artificially sped-up. He would only have been in existence for about five or six years at this point, and yet he’s ten-years-old.

DC YEAR FOURTEEN: Battle for the Cowl starts this year. This is the rest of BY22 leading up to Batman and Robin and the start of Red Robin. In Red Robin #25, Tim is still seventeen-years-old but about to turn eighteen.

DC YEAR FIFTEEN: Batman and Robin and Red Robin continue. The Return of Bruce Wayne and Batman Incorporated occur. Flashpoint happens at the end of this year. Paul Dini’s “House of Hush,” which also occurs this year, heavily implies that Bruce is nearing 35-years-old. This is BY23.

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So there you have it. This timeline effectively matches up with everything that DC published in the Modern Age and seems to be the historical foundation upon which Modern Age Batman stories were told. It’s interesting to compare this compressed 15 year history with the albeit still highly-compressed, dense, and detailed 23 year chronology I’ve built.

Don’t get me wrong, I like DC’s 15 year chronology because of its simplicity and functionality, but it really does relegate everything pre-Zero Hour to altered reference material. And, if you look at how top heavy things are toward the backend, it even seems like it also regards Infinite Crisis in a similar manner, essentially treating it as a hard reboot that wipes out everything prior to create a new timeline loosely based upon seventy years of stories that took place before it. (To my knowledge, no one at DC has officially acknowledged Infinite Crisis as a hard reboot the way they have with Zero Hour, but it certainly looks that way when you examine their 15 year timeline with more scrutiny.)[4][5]

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  1. [1]COLLIN COLSHER: It is possible Silver St. Cloud debuts here. Kevin Smith’s storylines in 2010-2011 (from Widening Gyre) tell us that Bruce has known Silver for roughly ten years, thus giving us a reference for the placement of her debut. Even though Widening Gyre is non-canon, at the very least, it shows us the mindset of DC publishers towards the end of the Modern Age. If we choose to ignore Smith’s storyline references because they are non-canon, then we can move Silver’s debut to DC Y7.
  2. [2]AIDAN K: In the DC timeline, there must be the assumption of accelerated aging on Damian’s part, as he is conceived during DC Y7 and is ten-years-old during DC Y13.
  3. [3]ZILCH: A neat point of reference in regard to DC’s version of history is the DC Universe: Legacies series. While problematic in some areas, it gives a good range to the age of the Modern Age DCU in Paul Lincoln’s daughter, Diana, who was born at the start of the Modern Age. In the issue that details Crisis on Infinite Earths she is some where between pre-teen and teen, so at Crisis the modern heroes (Supes, Bats, etc…) have been around for 8-12 years. I would call it 10-13, but I want to give as much space as possible for the teen heroes’ ages. Therefore, DC Y10 seems appropriate for the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

    COLLIN COLSHER: DCU: Legacies does imply that the original Crisis occurs in Year Ten, but it still seems to work better for everything else if it’s in DC Y8. However, if one does push it later, it would unfortunately squeeze back Jason’s Death, Babs’ paralysis, and some other stuff into an uncomfortably compressed DC Y10. Up to the reader, but despite the implication in DCU: Legacies, I think DC still meant for the original Crisis to go in DC Y8.

  4. [4]VALHERU: That DC-version timeline really looks funky, doesn’t it? The Silver and Bronze Ages are basically Y4-8, the Dark Age (or whatever you want to call the post-Crisis/pre-Modern Age) [COLLIN COLSHER:  I called it the “Year One Era”!] is Y9-11, and 2001 through 2011 is roughly Y12-14. So basically Batman’s first 50 years of publication are 6 Years (excluding Miller and Loeb’s artificial Y1 and Y3), and the last 25 publication years are 6 more (and if the Years of NML and 52 were compressed, the slack would likely go to the Modern Era, not the Silver/Bronze).

    See, that’s why I support a graduated timeline: We really can’t be treating the heavily-retconned pre-Modern Years as the same kind of temporal years that pass in the Modern Age, nor can we treat Gotham’s chronology equal to the wider-DCU’s. Loeb’s retconned Y3-4 of Long Halloween and Dark Victory simply don’t exist in the rest of the DCU (it’s even questionable whether Dark Victory exists much at all); the year of NML didn’t seem to pass in the rest of the DCU, and vice-versa 52‘s year without Batman is more like a week without him in Gotham. When Batman says he plays by different rules than other heroes, he’s not just talking methods: He’s operating on a whole ‘nother temporal plane.

    COLLIN COLSHER: Yes, I am quite annoyed that so much slack went to the Golden, Silver, and Bronze Ages, instead of the Modern Age, but if we go by Tim Drake’s four years of aging, then the slack goes where it goes… which leads us to the fact that the DCU does indeed abide by an alternate scientific system of time (or one that lacks science). Trying to apply time to something that so clearly eschews the idea of time is, as I’ve always said, a futile effort. The chronological order of my project is, however, correct even if the applied times and dates are wacky. Regarding the application of specific times and dates to a structured order, there are a myriad of possibilities (including a graduated timeline) that can be applied to the organized events of Batman’s life, and this is a game that can be played an infinite number of times. A whole ‘nother temporal plane indeed… Sometimes it’s best not to think about it (although it’s a little too late for us)!

    IAN @ TRADE READING ORDER: The DC version of the timeline is definitely very compressed. However, it kind of makes sense with so much having gone on in terms of issues in the Silver Age/Bronze Age, whereas the Modern Age has all been about storytelling events—meaning things are actually changed after the issues, versus just containing a lot of pages. So, it feels a lot more weird to have that ten to twenty years compressed versus the 1960s-1980s twenty year block. Nice analysis!

  5. [5]AIDAN K: Here’s another alternative. Looking at a couple of lines in Morrison’s “RIP,” I came up with ~18 years in the Bat-suit (at the time of the reboot). Funny that we get a third answer. I think 18-19 years as Batman is a fair compromise down from your 23 years (or up from your DC’s 15 years). Here’s my reasoning: First, we have from the Black Casebooks that “5 years into the mission” is still the Silver Age, though it appears to be the tail end. Add eleven years for Damian’s age (assuming no accelerated growth in the Modern Age), a year for his gestation/time for Bruce and Talia to fall in love in a whirlwind three months, and a buffer year between the Silver Age and Saga of the Demon [where Dick leaves, etc.] and we get roughly 18 years of Batman.

    COLLIN COLSHER: As I always say, there are an infinite number of possibilities. I am open to all of them. However, my challenge to Aidan’s timeline is that the “five years into the mission” line from Batman #678 actually tells us that much of the GOLDEN AGE stuff—NOT Silver Age—occurs in the first five years of Batman’s career. Nor does it definitively mean that the Golden Age stuff immediately ends after five years. Thus, my reasoning for adding a four or five extra years is to accommodate the vast number of stories being squeezed into continuity, which includes the Silver Age tales. This is also the reason for my version of events lasting 23 years instead of merely 18.

13 Responses to DC’s Version of History

  1. Jamison says:

    I usually find continuity errors to be really disheartening. I just finished reading Death and the Maidens for the first time yesterday, and I was really put off by the whole “My parents died 25 years ago.” statement. It really pulled me out of what was otherwise an amazing, emotional story. Another story I liked was Catwoman: When in Rome. It wasn’t until recently that I noticed a huge continuity error in that Catwoman faces off against the Cheetah and remarks that “[she] has gone three rounds with Wonder Woman.” This is impossible because the Cheetah doesn’t meet WW until Challenge of the Gods (Wonder Woman vol.2 #8-15), which blatantly occurs after Legends (a cross over event that heavily features Jason Todd as Robin II). Thus the Cheetah meets WW in roughly year 10ish and When in Rome takes place between years 5 and 6 (as it is a tie in to the Long Halloween). It made me like the story less. I don’t understand why the writers don’t do a little research, or why DC editorial doesn’t catch these things.
    I know DC would say not to worry about continuity, but I find this answer unacceptable and insulting.
    How do you deal with it when you come across errors like this? I usually have to put the book down until I get over it.

    • Collin Colsher says:

      Obviously continuity means the world to me and every time there is a post on Comics Alliance or CBR or Newsarama about “Does continuity really matter?” or “How important is continuity to YOU?” I cringe a little because most of the answers are along the lines of “Continuity is important, but it should never be more important than good storytelling.” For different instances, I can go in different directions, but for the most part I’m with you, Jamison. Continuity (with a CAPITAL C) is what, for me, not only separates comic book superhero long-format serial storytelling from other forms of serial narrative, but what makes it great. There’s a lot of dissing on so-called “fanboys” who supposedly cling onto obscure and arcane bits of continuity and call foul whenever the tiniest of errors are made. I’m not saying everyone should be obsessive—these are complicated worlds with complicated characters that have detailed intertwining histories, so a mistake is bound to be made. But at the same time, Continuity is what excites me, sometimes often more than the “good stories.” After all, the quality of a story is subjective while Continuity is not! Well, I should clarify that statement—Continuity is subjective, but in a different way. Let me explain.

      When I come across errors of Continuity, my first thought is “is this really an error?” followed by “is there another way to interpret this?” And if there is no satisfying answer to either of those queries then I begin formulating whether or not the “error” may in fact be a deliberate retcon OR god forbid a legit error that causes a retcon. In any instance, this is part of my passion and deep interest in serial fiction, specifically for the superhero comic book genre where there are so many different editors, publishers, artists, and writers involved. Not to mention, WE THE READERS are also “authors” of these texts because of how we can (or sometimes are forced to) interpret them. In a way, I love that there are multiple interpretations of a set story in the comic book world, when ostensibly there aren’t. Otherwise, this site wouldn’t exist!

      But to cycle back to where we started. If I’m an asshole “fanboy” for harping on Continuity too much, then I’m proud to be! My true love of superhero comics—and this isn’t to say I don’t also love the characters or the individual story arcs—but my ultimate true love of superhero comics lies in the world-building and the universes created and their cohesive histories. But I digress. Oh, and DC only says not to worry about continuity when they fuck up, so always remember that! Hope that answers your question.

      Best,

      Collin C

  2. Eric Agner says:

    Did Damian get accelerated Growth. Because if he didn’t then this Timeline would be corrupt and faulty. Damian is 10 or 12 years old in Batman and Son.

    • The introduction of Damian on a shorter timeline is extremely problematic and a good damn reason for NOT going with DC’s shorter version of things. Can you even imagine, say, a five or six year timeline with a ten-year-old Damian on it? Hahaha… oh shit… they went and did it with the New 52. :-/

      But in all seriousness, yes, in order for this to work, the Saga of Ra’s Al Ghul needs to go much earlier OR Damian’s growth would have to have been accelerated. But since Damian’s growth WAS accelerated in later canon, it’s not that far-fetched to apply the same concept to this timeline.

      PS. Contributor Aidan K noted the need for Damian’s growth acceleration on this shortened version of DCU history a couple years ago. There is a footnote already in place that comments on it above. I will add a bit more info, though. Thanks.

  3. PurpleGlovez says:

    I recently took a crack at DC’s official version of history and I’m really surprised by it. I was inspired by Judd Winick’s Batman Annual #26 which gives a specific timeline for Jason’s life post-resurrection (at least three and a half years between his death and working with Hush). We also have the official ages of characters i.e. Tim at 13 when he debuts and 17 at the end of the timeline, Bruce starting out at 25, Jason turning 18 prior to War Games (Detective 790), etc. And references such as Marv Wolfman’s assertion in 321 Days that the New Teen Titans were formed weeks before Dick’s 18th birthday.

    Also, I looked at the official timelines DC to see if we could discern any anchor years. Zero Hour, Batman Secret Files, Villains Secret Files, Nightwing Secret Files, and Guide to the DCU 2000 – ALL of them agree on Dick becoming Robin in Year 3, and ALL of them (except Zero Hour) have Tim becoming Robin in Year 9. So, I’m using those years as definitive. Nightwing SF has Dick turning 14 the year he becomes Robin. Jason was originally 12 as Robin… but an analysis of his life and August 16th birthday indicates he may have been 13 when he started out. Barbara Gordon was originally 13 when Two-Face debuted, but if she was around 18 when she started out as Batgirl (LotDCU 10, Batgirl 45) this becomes tricky.

    Damian turned 13 in the Rebirth special, is 10 when introduced to Bruce, and is 11 in Batman Incorporated #0. Bruce encounters Talia after Dick becomes Robin; if we assume Damian was conceived as early as possible, that puts us at Year 16 at minimum (more on that later). In Red Robin #25 Tim is still 17, but let’s stretch it and say that takes place the year he becomes 18 prior to his July 19 birthday. In Geoff Johns’ Teen Titans #42 we have Kid Devil at 12 years old around the time of the Crisis and 17 in the OYL era. If Jason was 18 the year of War Games and Under the Hood, backtracking 3.5 years to his supposed April 27 death makes him 14 at that time, turning 15 months later.

    There’s also the problem of certain key events having constantly shifting dates. The date of the Wayne murders (late June, September, November?), the date of the Flying Grayson deaths (May, June, Halloween?), Dick Grayson’s birthday (the first day of spring? Summer?). I’ve done my best to stick with September as the date of the Wayne murders, autumn as the date of the Grayson deaths, have Robin debut in early spring. Jason meets Bruce the anniversary of the Wayne deaths and receives the standard six month Robin training. Crisis originally took place from July to August but who knows if that holds true.

    SO, honoring the “official” age that everyone is supposed to be when they debut, and using DC’s anchor years, plus other references, here is what I came up with:

    YEAR 1 – Bruce 25, Dick 12, Jason 7, Tim 5, Barbara 14
    – Batman debuts (April 6)
    YEAR 2 – Bruce 26, Dick 13, Jason 8, Tim 6, Barbara 15
    – Reaper
    – Flying Graysons die (autumn)
    YEAR 3 – Bruce 27, Dick 14, Jason 9, Tim 7, Barbara 16
    – Robin (Dick Grayson) debuts [first day of spring?]
    – Ra’s al Ghul – Bruce and Talia sleep together
    – Batman and Superman meet Wonder Woman (Trinity)
    – Justice League of America
    – Damian is born
    YEAR 4 – Bruce 28, Dick 15, Jason 10, Tim 8, Barbara 17
    – Teen Titans
    YEAR 5 – Bruce 29, Dick 16, Jason 11, Tim 9, Barbara 18
    – Batgirl (late summer? Babs turns 18 early autumn)
    YEAR 6 – Bruce 30, Dick 17, Jason 12, Tim 10, Barbara 19
    – Dick runs with Eddie Hwang, turns 17 (summer)
    – Dick Grayson attends Hudson University
    – Bruce moves to Wayne Foundation penthouse
    YEAR 7 – Bruce 31, Dick 18, Jason 13, Tim 11, Barbara 20
    – New Teen Titans debut (~March; 321 days after Dick betrayed by Eddie & Liu)
    – Bruce moves back to Wayne Manor (spring; Siege, DC Retroactive 70s)
    – Batman quits JLA, forms the Outsiders
    – Dick Grayson becomes Nightwing
    – Jason steals wheels off Batmobile (September)
    YEAR 8 – Bruce 32, Dick 19, Jason 14, Tim 12, Barbara 21
    – Jason becomes Robin (March)
    – Crisis
    YEAR 9 – Bruce 33, Dick 20, Jason 15, Tim 13, Barbara 22
    – Jason dies (April 27)
    – Tim becomes Robin (after July 19)
    – Jason resurrected (late October) [Batman Annual 26]
    – Knightfall saga begins?
    YEAR 10 – Bruce 34, Dick 21, Jason 16, Tim 14, Barbara 23
    – Knightfall saga continues? Contagion, Legacy, Cataclysm, etc.
    – Jason escapes Huntington Convalescent Home (approx. late October)
    – perhaps this year closes with No Man’s Land New Year’s ending?
    YEAR 11 – Bruce 35, Dick 22, Jason 17, Tim 15, Barbara 24
    – New Gotham, Officer Down, Last Laugh; possibly Murderer/Fugitive
    – Jason on streets, recognized by thug, taken in by Talia (approx. late October)
    YEAR 12 – Bruce 36, Dick 23, Jason 18, Tim 16, Barbara 25
    – Jason revived in Lazarus pit, escapes compound (approx. 3.5 years after his death)
    – Talia helps Jason train with criminal masters around the world
    – Jason confronts Batman in graveyard, swaps with Clayface (Hush)
    – Tim turns 16 (July 19) [Robin 116]
    – Jason turns 18 (August 16) [Detective 790]
    – War Games
    – Identity Crisis (October)
    – Under the Red Hood
    – Infinite Crisis?
    YEAR 13 – Bruce 37, Dick 24, Jason 19, Tim 17, Barbara 26, Damian 10
    – 52? (compressed to months)
    – Face the Face (“One Year Later” era)
    – Batman and Son (Bruce meets Damian)
    – Final Crisis?
    YEAR 14 – Bruce 38, Dick 25, Jason 20, Tim 18, Barbara 27, Damian 11
    – Dick as Batman
    – Return of Bruce Wayne
    – Red Robin #25 (Tim is 17; prior to July 19)
    – House of Hush (Bruce *supposedly* younger than 37…)
    YEAR 15 – Bruce 39, Dick 26, Jason 21, Tim 19, Barbara 28, Damian 12
    – The New 52; Batman Inc., Court of Owls, Death of Family, etc.
    YEAR 16 – Bruce 40, Dick 27, Jason 22, Tim 20, Barbara 29, Damian 13
    – Rebirth (Damian turns 13)

    So, yeah. Even though it’s compressed to hell in the later years, this actually allows us to honor EVERYONE’S age. Tim is 13 at his debut and 17 at the time of RR #25. With 5 years from Crisis to OYL, Kid Devil’s age is good. Dick becomes Robin at the right age, turns 18 after the NTT form, a year before the Crisis; backtracking three and a half years from Under the Hood to Jason’s death and doing the math has him debut as Robin at 13. Damian is 10 when he debuts and turns 13 at Rebirth. Barbara is still older than Dick, and is 13 when Year One starts. When Bruce meets Jason, he has been coming to Crime Alley for “six years or more” (i.e. Year 7).

    James Gordon Jr. and Astrid Arkham can still be teenagers by the time their stories happen. Bruce just barely makes the cut-off for House of Hush’s claim that he is not yet 37, though we may have to fudge it. And with that story ending on New Year’s, some final pre-Flashpoint stories may bleed over into the early months of the next year. There’s a spiritual “year” for the New 52 to happen and another one for Rebirth. The floppy version of Morrison’s Island of Mister Mayhew had the Club of Heroes just 8 years prior, while the collected version changed it to 12; this cuts the difference and puts it at 10. Gotham Knights: Pushback’s statement that the Joker debuted ~12 years ago is somewhat accurate. In NML Bruce notes that it’s been 10 years.

    Infinite Crisis to Final Crisis (originally a 2-year span) gets chopped up significantly… sad, BUT, *if* we take what DC says about Tim Drake’s age and birthday seriously, and if we try to accommodate the *official* debut ages of the characters, and try to sync it all to the sparse official timelines: this is my best deciphering of DC’s “official” version of events. You could even cut another year of Dick’s Robin career out and have Teen Titans and Batgirl in the same year but I deferred to DC’s judgment re: the length of his career.

    Phew. 🙂

    • Love this! Although, I always get a headache when I see New 52/Rebirth stuff merged with any Modern Age timeline. In any case, quite superb. I’ve already cribbed some notes from this into parts of the site. 😉

      • PurpleGlovez says:

        Thanks. And yeah, I just thought it was interesting how if you’re playing DC’s game of figuring out characters’ “intended” ages, Damian’s works remarkably well (for a compressed timeline) if you have him at 10 at Batman & Son, 11 at Inc., and then 13 at Rebirth. I like how the Jason stuff syncs up – although The Batman Files has him at 15 for his April 27 death (and that’s another thing, in the original comics it was November-ish), it also has him at an implausible 87 pounds… so I’m not taking that as gospel.

        And then, with Astrid Arkham said to be in her “late teens, pushing twenty” it seems DC’s intended timeline may even be in the 17-19 range. (Though there is the problematic fact that they’ve de-aged Tim and Barbara…)

        I am so glad Dan Didio’s official timeline idea got scrapped. I certainly wouldn’t mind DC doing one, BUT, there’s the inevitability that they wouldn’t put near the time and effort into it that fans have, and it would surely be a mess.

        • Hooboy, yeah. DiDio’s idea for Generations was good… on paper. So, was the New 52 too. And like the New 52, it’s not something that would have likely been executed very well, I’m sure. I think a lot of chronology-building folks are bummed that DC might instead now be heading toward the Marvel way with a pure Sliding Time-scale where everything is simply canon at some point in the ever-shifting past. Comics without hard continuity? 616’s been doing just fine without a concrete timeline for decades. Hell, maybe it’s the future for the DCU as well. And maybe the future is now.

  4. Timothy Hunter says:

    If the Post Crisis “Modern Age” were to expand and have all of the Earth One and Earth Two stories that don’t too heavily contradict Post Crisis continuity become canon, how many years do you estimate the timeline to have? Would it still be 23 considering that the majority of issues from the Golden Age, Silver Age, and Bronze Age were self contained? However, some stories, even under the confines of one issue couldn’t possibly amount to the duration of one day. Take Batman vol. 1 #20 for example: in this issue, Bruce Wayne’s guardianship of Dick Grayson get’s rescinded. I’m not a legal expert, but I would assume that court order would take weeks to months to get passed.

    • Hey Timothy! Generally speaking, a lot of Golden and Silver Age material that gets folded into Modern Age canon becomes compressed and altered to fit into the timeline. To address your specific example, the wheels of justice move pretty fast in the DCU—as fast as writers deem necessary in order for their stories to move along and co-exist with others in the sandbox. Bruce has often been threatened with losing his kids throughout the long history of Batman comics. And each time, including Batman #20, he’s been accused of being an highly unfit parent. IRL, Child Protective Services, which is linked to the police, will intervene rather quickly if there is a mandated report that leads them to believe that a child might be in imminent harm. So, even a story like Batman #20 could happen over the course of a short time, both in the comics or in actuality. Although, admittedly, the richer and Whiter one is in America, the less one has to deal with CPS or the police, even when accusations of abuse are a factor. So, realistically, and maybe to your point, Bruce would probably be able to slow things down to weeks or months or even entirely avoid court, based solely on his wealth, caste status, and race. But, I digress.

      When retroactively squeezing old stories from a previous continuity into a contemporary timeline, one must not only slide, compress, and retcon, but also creatively split up and place. So, if one were concerned with a specific story that should span months, one might want to figure out a way for it to fit in-and-around other tales, adding in ellipses here and there, when needed. In any case, for me personally, I’ve built my timelines around in-story clues and the ostensible aging of certain characters. Because of this, my timeline, even if I were to add in more stuff (or all the stuff), would likely still be 23 years long. (I tried to build my Modern Age chronology in a way that was adding the least amount of extra time possible, so I doubt that I’d want to add any more time for fear of screwing up age progression or story connections.) Others might add some years to accommodate, but it’s really a personal headcanon thing—some folks might be able to add everything and still things be copacetic with less time.

  5. Timothy Hunter says:

    Your methodology in coming up with a timeline for Bruce Wayne’s career makes sense.

    If you were to take the Grant Morrison approach to continuity in which almost every story is canon, I always felt that the timeline for the comics should be to around 35 years, with Batman starting in 1986. Another reason for doing so is that if your timeline strays too far from the 1940s, having characters such as Jade and the Jack Knight Starman who are children of Golden Age characters becomes implausible.

    However your 23 years is probably the closest correct answer to an unsolvable question due to one factor: Tim Drake. Tim Drake witnessed the murder of Dick Grayson’s parents as a toddler. Because of this, if we are to assume that Robin first appears sometime around Year 3, the amount of years Batman has been active should roughly amount to the age of Tim Drake.

    • Continuously keeping the JSA linked to the 1940s was always a dubious continuity move—akin to keeping the Punisher’s origins linked to Vietnam or something like that. If continuity slides, you have to contemporize the topical references to match. However, for the Modern Age, most of the JSA folks were born in the 1920s. Most of their kids were born in the 1970s. It’s a bit of a stretch, but combined with their extended youth, this still fits pretty well. Of course, future timelines (Rebirth and whatever happens post-Metal included) have some explaining to do should they choose to keep the 1940s…

      I have Robin debuting in Year Six for various reasonings. Thus, if Tim is three-years-old (going on four) in Year Six, then by Year Twenty Three, Tim is twenty one (going on twenty two). So, not too far off in terms of meeting the equation you’ve set forth above.

      I do like your line of thought in regard to everything, though. I will def add some notes on the site, as these things you’ve mentioned must be analyzed and factored-in to attain a fuller scope and truer understanding of the canon.

  6. Icbeoaneistari says:

    DC’s Post Crisis Timeline gives me headaches to say the least, for example Commissioner Gordon’s hair keeps bloody changing colour from orange-brownish to bloody grey and then back again because the colourists couldn’t be bothered to keep continuity in the early days, also when the hell does Barbara actually arrive in his life and when does his wife and son actually leave for Chicago? Post Crisis was just a jumbled mess, the New 52 isn’t much better to be honest and Rebirth I just give up on in the end.

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