Modern YEAR FIVE

1993

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–Batman: Dark Victory #4 Part 2 by Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale (2000)
January 1. On New Year’s Day, Bruce heads over to an angry Selina’s apartment and apologizes for having missed their New Year’s Eve date the night prior. Meanwhile, Gordon forms a professional partnership with Janice Porter.

–“A Matter of Trust” (Batman: Black and White Vol. 2 TPB Part 3) by Chris Claremont/Steve Rude/Mark Buckingham (October 2003)
Bruce’s friend Dr. Robbin Carnahan asks him to babysit her twin boys for a night. Being godfather to the twins, Bruce obliges but is quickly in way over his head as the unruly boys run circles around him. Bruce resists the urge to call Alfred for help, buckles down, and tries to play nanny, getting peed-on for his troubles. Eventually, Bruce falls asleep with the boys in his arms. (Note that Batman: Black and White Vol. 2 TPB Part 1 and Batman: Black and White Vol. 2 TPB Part 2 are non-canon. Part 1 features a Modern Age present that seems to harken pack to a Golden Age past in regard to Joker’s origins. Part 2 is a comedy story featuring a joke Batman called Batsman.)

–REFERENCE: In Justice League Europe #8. Batman gets acquainted with The Spectre, who is the physical embodiment of the wrath and vengeance of the single Judeo-Christian/Islamic god named God. While there exists a near infinite pantheon in the DCU, God being merely one of this never-ending theophany, only the brash and egocentric deity of the Abrahamic Faiths has the audacity to call himself “God”—although, depending on one’s religion, he has various names, including “The Presence,” “The Voice,” “The Lord,” “Allah” in Arabic, “YHWH,” “Jehovah,” or “Elohim” in Hebrew. Despite acting as God’s wrathful hand of justice, the Spectre must be held within a human host vessel or he cannot complete his divine work on Earth. “God’s wrath and vengeance” functions as a sentient entity unto itself: a former angel named Aztar, now simply called Wrath. Only when Aztar/Wrath combines with a human host, in this case Jim Corrigan, does the Spectre take shape.

–REFERENCE: In Batman versus Predator III: Blood Ties #4 and Batman #657. Batman takes down Joker in a plot that involves a pair of giant dice, which he keeps for the trophy room. Since we will see (and have already seen) various bizarre trophies on display in the Batcave, we can assume that Batman will have other adventures in the coming years that will result in the obtaining of other trophies, such as portraits, statues, and more random oversized items. While not listed, we must assume that these adventures that net trophies must be invisibly scattered throughout the chronology.

–REFERENCE: In Crisis on Infinite Earths #11-12 and “The Truth” (Mythology: The DC Art of Alex Ross). Batman teams-up with Superman to face-off against one of the Man of Steel’s biggest rivals, Brainiac.

–“Ghosts” by Sam Kieth (Batman Confidential #40-43) March to June 2010
Winter. When several homeless people are slaughtered by a monstrous creature, Commissioner Gordon arranges for Batman to meet Callie Dean, a blind social worker that knows the victims well. Batman and Callie soon learn that they are dealing with a supernatural force that manifests itself in the form of a sulfurous monster with razor-sharp teeth. Batman confronts the monster, which temporarily blinds him and then delivers a premonition that Batman will grow to love Callie, but then the latter will die. In the end, the creature vanishes, and Batman does form a platonic love for Callie, only to watch her slip in the snow, hit her head, and die. Weird story.

–REFERENCE: In The Batman Files. Batman takes on Joker yet again, during which the villain uses the pseudonym “Jack White.” This is a cute nod to the popular video games Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009) and Batman: Arkham City (2011).

–REFERENCE: In Batman #416DC Universe Legacies #4, and JLA: Year One #1. Batman meets Hawkman (Carter Hall). Hawkman is a winged warrior from the planet Thanagar. The first ever Hawkman/Batman meeting does not have a specific reference in the Modern Age, but a meeting between them should occur before Hawkman’s upcoming appearances in both DC Universe Legacies #4 and JLA: Year One #1. (In the Golden Age, Batman and Hawkman first met to fight Nazis as a part of the Justice Society. In the Silver Age, Hawkman first met Batman when the former was officially inducted into the JLA. Because the Modern Age is a weird fusion of Golden and Silver Age stuff, that version doesn’t hold up—Batman has to meet a JSA Hawkman before the JLA teams up with the JSA and before Hawkman eventually joins the JLA next year.)

–Batman: Dark Victory #5 by Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale (2000)
February 14-15. Batman, fearing that former police sergeant Frank Pratt may be the next target of the Hangman, seeks him out, but gets shot at by Pratt for his trouble. Pratt ultimately winds up hanged like all the other dead cops. Catwoman then starts poking around trying to find Carmine Falcone’s corpse, but gets knocked-out, tied-up, and put into a death trap (by persons unknown) for her trouble. Batman locates her (thanks to Riddler) and saves her at the last second. Batman and Catwoman then have a chat about their relationship. The conversation doesn’t go very well. Elsewhere, Barbara Gordon (Senior) returns to Gotham with James Junior and she gets back together with Jim! (They are still divorced but attempting to reconcile their differences.) The next day, Bruce, having stood-up Selina the night before, tries to make amends, but Selina has packed up her things, moved out of her apartment, and left a Dear John letter for Bruce. It’s over between them.[1]

–REFERENCE: In Robin Vol. 2 #70 and Green Arrow Vol. 2 #134. Batman fills one of the few remaining gaps in his combat skills, starting a training course in how to use the bow and arrow with Green Arrow. The course will occur for at least a few weeks (invisibly on our timeline), moving forward.

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #818. Batman begins watching private eye Roy Raymond‘s reality TV show, immediately regarding Raymond as one of the top detectives in the world. Batman will always hold Raymond in high regard, despite thinking that he’s wasting his talents for entertainment purposes.

–Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight: Jazz #1-3 by Gerard Jones/Mark Badger (April to June 1995)
This is a strange homage to jazz music that reads more like a James Baldwin novel than a Batman comic… except for The Brothers of Bop, a bizarre jazz-themed criminal gang that challenges Batman as he investigates the life of Blue Byrd (a Charlie Parker/Louis Armstrong analogue).

–“Engines” by Ted McKeever (Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #74-75) August to September 1995
This is one of my personal favorite LOTDK stories. Do yourself a favor and read everything Ted McKeever has ever done. He’s a real poet and wonderful artist to boot. In “Engines,” we bear witness to the existential hell that Eustace Marker views the world as. Marker’s vision is so distressing that he becomes a vigilante serial killer and Batman is forced to apprehend him.

–REFERENCE: In Hero Hotline #6 and Superman/Batman #19 (aka Supergirl Vol. 5 #0). The Calculator debuts versus Batman.

–Batman: Dark Victory #6 by Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale (2000)
March 17. A bloody gang war has erupted between Penguin and the Falcone mob. Batman captures Penguin and delivers him to Gordon, who has just formed an elite squad of cops to deal with the recent escalation of mob violence. Officer Julia Lopez is an integral part of this team. Mario Falcone, bending the situation to his advantage, executes a coup. Using his clean legal reputation to distance himself from his sister Sophia, Mario takes complete control of the Falcone organization and all of its assets, much to the chagrin of Sophia. Later, Watch Commander Stan Merkel is found hanged by the Hangman outside of the former Dent home.

–Batman: Dark Victory #7 Part 1 by Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale (2000)
March 17—picking up directly from Dark Victory #6. Batman examines Stan Merkel’s body, but is confronted by Commissioner Gordon’s new elite crime-fighting squad. Not knowing any better, they shoot at the Dark Knight until an angry Gordon orders them to cease fire.

–REFERENCE: In Batman #703. The Getaway Genius debuts versus Batman.

–REFERENCE: In Batman #682. Eraser debuts versus Batman.

–REFERENCE: In Batman & Superman: World’s Finest #4. Late March. While large chunks of Batman & Superman: World’s Finest are out-of-continuity, the first annual Springtime meeting between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel to commemorate the death of Harrison Grey still takes place now.

–Batman: Dark Victory #7 Part 2 by Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale (2000)
April 1. Two-Face holds a mock trial in order to determine the identity of the Hangman. Calendar Man, Joker, Scarecrow, Mr. Zero, Poison Ivy, Mad Hatter, and Riddler are in attendance. Solomon Grundy plays the bailiff role. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce trains and begins to doubt his abilities to catch the Hangman. Alfred pries a bit and discovers that Master Bruce has been running with traces amounts of Fear Gas in his system for exactly three months now! After a quick session with Dr. Pennyworth, all’s well again. Later, the Hangman tries to kill Commissioner Gordon, but both Batman and Two-Face are there to protect him—(Two-Face doesn’t want to get blamed for crimes he isn’t committing). Elsewhere, Tony Zucco and Edward Skeevers plot a sinister money-making scheme against Haly’s Circus. Uh oh.

–REFERENCE: In a flashback from Batman Confidential #52. Early April. Bruce Wayne is named People Magazine‘s “Sexiest Man Alive.” Amazing!

–“Mask” by Bryan Talbot (Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #39-40) November 1992 to December 1992
Early April-Early May. “Mask” originally took a whopping seven weeks to wrap, during most of which Batman is detained. Of course, due to Sliding-Time and compression, this must be cut down to about five weeks instead. In “Mask,” Batman is heading home after finishing up a routine bust when he passes out unexpectedly. When he awakes, he is in a hospital, weak and malnourished, pumped full of a pharmacopeia of debilitating drugs. The staff tells him that he is Bruce Wayne, an alcoholic wreck that has lived a life of failure and misery. His doctor tells him that Batman isn’t real and all of his adventures to date have been a construct of his own mind. Bruce is confused, scared, and keeps having nightmares and hallucinations. Finally, with a little help, Bruce is able to escape his room and realize the horrible truth. His “doctor” is actually Steven Gallagher, son of Raymond Gallagher, a small time money launderer who’s life was ruined by Batman less than a year ago. In order to get revenge, Gallagher has unleashed a radical scheme. First, he set up a fake break-in to attract Batman’s attention. Once occupied, Gallagher then shot Batman with a tranquilizer rifle and dragged him to a set made up to look like a hospital. Bruce was then put into a controlled coma for four weeks (again, retconned down to fit on our timeline), during which Gallagher inserted a ton of post-hypnotic suggestion and heavily drugged him. After the four week period, Gallagher revived Bruce. Now, Bruce, doubting whether or not he ever really was Batman, falls to pieces. Gallagher starts disassembling Bruce’s fragile mind bit by bit, which is easy, especially since he knows that Batman is really the famous Bruce Wayne and has access to a wealth of information regarding the well-documented case of his parents’ murders. After a week of psychological torture, the hospital’s “nurse,” a sex worker hired to play the part, helps Bruce to free himself. In the end, the “nurse” and Gallagher wind up shooting each other dead and Bruce escapes with his secret identity intact. I should also note a very important snippet of information. The 1996 TPB Batman: Dark Legends contains a bunch of collected LOTDK stories, including Bryan Talbot’s “Mask.” However, DC editors, in the trade, curiously included an extra splash page to “Mask,” which was originally omitted from the original 1992 single issue. This splash definitely shows that Bruce, in this tale, is actually NOT Batman, but simply a person having delusions. Obviously, the inclusion of this splash page would change the entire narrative and render this tale non-canon. For the purposes of this chronology, I will go with the more open-texted original 1992 version of “Mask.”[2]

–Batman: Dark Victory #8 by Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale (2000)
May 8. Mother’s Day. Joker kills a bunch of Sal Maroni’s top men then kills a bunch of Mario Falcone’s business associates. Later, the Hangman murders Commissioner Gordon’s appointed bodyguard. Later still, Joker attacks Sofia Gigante Falcone in her home, but gets warded off by a gun-wielding Alberto Falcone and Batman. Batman thrashes Joker and puts him back in Arkham. Back at Wayne Manor, Alfred sets out tickets (given to Bruce for a donation his company made a while ago) to Haly’s Circus.

–Batman: Dark Victory #9 Part 1 by Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale (2000)
May 9.[3] Bruce and Alfred attend CC “Pop” Haly‘s “Greatest Show on Earth” at Haly’s Circus only to watch a tragedy unfold. Tony Zucco, who was refused by the circus after offering a bogus protection/insurance racket, gets his revenge by sabotaging the act of the famous trapeze artist family, the Flying Graysons. The Grayson parents fall to their deaths as the distraught audience watches. Eleven-year-old Dick Grayson is left orphaned. (While Mark Waid’s JLA Secret Files & Origins #3 Part 2 says Dick is eight-years-old at the time of his parents’ homicide, multiple sources place his age at twelve when he becomes Robin, marking him at age eleven during his parents’ tragedy.) The terrible death of the Flying Graysons is also chronicled through flashbacks from Batman #436, Batman #682, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #34, Nightwing Vol. 2 #101, and the second feature to 52 #25.[4] Not only is Bruce present (making appearances as both Batman and Bruce Wayne), but so is a two-year-old Tim Drake as well. (Tim will be turning three in less than a month.) Accompanying the child are his parents Jack Drake and Janet Drake. The Flying Graysons death scene is also shown through flashback from Secret Origins 80-Page Giant #1, although Tim is incorrectly referred to as being seven-years-old instead of two-going-on-three. Secret Origins Vol. 2 #50 also contains a Denny O’Neil prose version of the death of the Flying Graysons.[5]

–FLASHBACK: From Batman #436 and the second feature to 52 #25. May 9. Immediately following Dick’s parents’ deaths, Batman swoops down to speak with Dick and examine the scene. Dick mentions Tony Zucco as a suspect, but no one really listens.

–FLASHBACK: From Secret Origins Vol. 2 #13. May 9. Dick’s parents have just died. Dick overhears Tony Zucco talking to Pop Haly about the Flying Grayson deaths. Before he can recklessly act, Dick is stopped by Batman, who tells him to have patience for justice. (Secret Origins Vol. 2 #13 continues directly onward from this scene, having Batman take Dick into the Batcave to swear an oath of allegiance. Obviously, this part of Secret Origins Vol. 2 #13 cannot occur and must be summarily ignored.)

–FLASHBACK: From Robin Annual #4. May 9. From the shadows, Batman watches over Dick as he says his sad goodbyes to Pop Haly and his friends before going with a state agent to be placed into the rough-and-tumble Gotham Youth Center (as seen in the 55-page flashback “Robin: Year One” issue of Robin Annual #4). We see Dick leave with the shrewish state agent, but a flashback from Batman #436 shows that Commissioner Gordon is the one who actually escorts him to the Youth Center. Therefore, we must surmise that the agent delivers him over to Gordon first. Batman #436 also introduces us to the loving, caring headmistress Sister Mary Elizabeth. We should note that while Sister Mary Elizabeth may be loving and caring, the Youth Center is a bad bad place (as detailed in Robin Annual #4) where Dick gets beaten up almost every day by other kids.

–FLASHBACK: From Robin Vol. 2 #0. Bruce (as Bruce) visits Dick for the first time to tell him he will be filing to legally adopt him. This flashback from Robin Vol. 2 #0 shows Bruce chatting with a teary-eyed Dick at Haly’s Circus, which means that Bruce likely spent a day with Dick, returning with him to the circus one last time.

–NOTE: In Secret Origins Vol. 2 #20 and Batgirl: Year One #1-2. Fourteen-year-old (soon to be fifteen-year-old) super-genius Babs Gordon graduates high school early, gaining acceptance to university for computer science and pre-law. Babs will continue living at home with Captain Gordon, but will soon start college on a fast track to gain both graduate and post-graduate degrees in a mere handful of years.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman #439 and Secret Origins Vol. 2 #13—and referenced in Batman #682. Mid June. A custody hearing is held and Dick is adopted by Bruce Wayne as his ward. “Batman Year Three” tells us that Dick is in the orphanage for two months—while close, it’s actually a little less than a month-and-a-half. Similarly, Robin Annual #4 tells us that Dick is in the orphanage for a month—again, close but no cigar.

–FLASHBACK: From Robin Annual #4. Mid June. Alfred accompanies Dick to Wayne Manor for the first time. There, Bruce (along with supermodel Brittany St. James) settles him in and shows him the lay of the mansion. (An alternate version of this scene is shown via flashback from both Batman #437—however, it is totally non-canon. In Batman #437, Bruce immediately reveals his secret to Dick, gives him his Robin costume, and starts training him. Obviously, this is not how things go down.)

–REFERENCE: In Batman: Gotham Knights #8. Mid June. Bruce frames a newspaper article about his adoption of Dick and hangs it on the wall of his office at Wayne Enterprises.

–REFERENCE: In Robin Annual #4, Nightwing Secret Files #1, and Robin: Year One. Mid June. Robin’s five month training program begins. Nightwing Secret Files #1 has a Robin timeline that specifically says that Robin’s training period is six months long, but for things to jibe neatly with Robin: Year One later this year, Dick’s training should begin now and actually last about five months. How does this work since Batman hasn’t yet revealed his secret to Dick, you ask? Not to worry. I have a perfectly good explanation. Since Batman has just made contact with Dick (in the second part of Dark Victory #9), we can assume that Batman tells Dick to start training on his own right away, in order to prepare for Zucco’s arrest. Thus, if he starts now, in mid June, he will finish in December, right in time for Robin: Year One, which begins around then.

–Batman: Dark Victory #9 Part 2 by Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale (2000)
June 20—Father’s Day. A gloomy Dick chats with Alfred at Wayne Manor. The Falcones are brought in for police questioning and Batman listens in. Concurrently, Gordon’s driver becomes the next victim of the Hangman. Later, Batman talks to Dick and lets him know that his parents’ murderer will be brought to justice. Later still, Bruce muses in front of his parents’ graves and lays down a single rose.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman #512. Bruce hosts a dinner party, which Dick spies on from the stairwell. Alfred catches Dick and makes him go back to bed.

–Batman: Dark Victory #10 by Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale (2000)
July 4. While a bored Dick lounges at Wayne Manor, Batman, Gordon, and his elite squad go hunting in the sewers. The heroes fight Two-Face, Joker, Mad Hatter, and Mr. Freeze. (Mr. Zero has officially changed his name!) They realize that the Hangman is down there too, finding one of Gordon’s squad hanged. The villains scatter, but Gordon arrests and jails Two-Face. Later, Dick sneaks out to Haly’s Circus to witness Edward Skeevers and another hood roughing up Pop Haly. Dick tries to intervene but gets knocked-out. Batman shows up, sends the bad guys packing, and takes Dick to the Batcave to recover. Dick wakes up, surprised at his surroundings. Batman unmasks and reveals his secret. Robin Annual #4 details this night as well, although significant additions have been made. First, we get a scene showing Bruce and Dick talking about how he won’t go to school—Alfred will tutor him instead. Bruce mentions that it’s too late in the year to sign him up for a real school, which doesn’t make sense and should probably be ignored. Second, Bruce takes Dick upstairs into Wayne Manor from the Batcave before unmasking. Third, Skeevers and a few other hoods (not just one) are roughing up Pop Haly and they wind up shooting him dead! I’m not sure Pop Haly’s death is meant to be canon or not—we do see Haly alive again, but only in three issues. The first issue is New Titans #60, published well before Robin Annual #4, meaning Haly’s appearance there is retconned away. The second and third issues are Nightwing Vol. 2 #102-103, which already has some shaky continuity to begin with. Since we don’t see or hear from Pop in any other issues ever again (besides those three), I’m leaning toward canonizing the death of Pop Haly. Makes sense. It’s really up to you which version—the Dark Victory #10 version or the Robin Annual #4 version—you want to go with. They essentially tell the same story, with a few differences. A flashback from Robin Vol. 2 #0 also shows a version of Batman revealing his secret ID to Dick for the the first time, but it doesn’t jibe with any other version, so it must be non-canon. In this version, Bruce and Alfred simply bring Dick down into the Batcave. Likewise, in a flashback from Batman #682, Batman simply brings Dick down into the Batcave. And in this version, we are told that months pass in-between Dick’s adoption and Bruce’s big reveal. Only a few weeks pass.

–FLASHBACK: From Robin Annual #4. July 6. Dick attends Pop Haly’s funeral along with several of his friends, including ringmaster Stan Rutledge. Afterward, Batman asks him about the funeral and updates him on the search for Tony Zucco, who is still in hiding.

–FLASHBACK: From Secret Origins Vol. 2 #13. Dick’s solo training ends and he officially begins training with Batman. First on the agenda are mixed martial arts, boxing, chemistry, and sleuthing.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman: Shadow of the Bat #34. Bruce and Dick continue training. They do gymnastics as Alfred watches.

–FLASHBACK: From Legends of the DCU #6. July. This single-panel from Legends of the DCU #6 shows Batman return to the Batcave after teaming-up with Superman on an unspecified case. Dick, awed, asks Bruce what the Man of Steel is like.

–REFERENCE: In Justice League of America Vol. 2 #21. Mr. Polka-Dot (aka Polka-Dot Man aka Mr. Polka Dot) debuts versus Batman.

–Batman: Dark Victory #11-12 by Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale (2000)
August 1-September 6. On August 1, Batman continues searching for Tony Zucco, roughing up some of Sal Maroni’s men in the process. In the Batcave, Dick complains to Alfred that he’s been training with Batman for nearly a month and is ready to hit the streets. Batman arrives and tells Dick that he’s got Zucco’s location. The Dark Knight and Dick then hunt down Zucco, who runs but doesn’t get very far. Cornered, Zucco reveals that Mario and Alberto Falcone are twins. Totally gassed, Zucco suffers a heart attack and passes out as ambulances arrive. Batman checks Zucco’s pulse and tells Dick that he’s dead. This is either a huge continuity error or Batman is blatantly lying since we’ll see Zucco alive again down the road. I’d lean towards the latter—Batman wouldn’t want Dick still hellbent on revenge whilst in the middle of his training period. It’s a nasty lie, I’ll admit, but that’s just how it is. (Secret Origins Vol. 2 #13 shows Zucco’s downfall as well, but it differs from Dark Victory‘s version and therefore must be ignored.) On August 2, Two-Face is put on trial. Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, and Solomon Grundy interrupt the proceedings on behalf of Two-Face and the latter escapes with their help. At midnight, another of Gordon’s elite crime-fighting squad is murdered by the Hangman. On August 4, Scarecrow and an escaped Joker kidnap DA Janice Porter on behalf of Two-Face, who kills his lover without a bat of an eyelash. Two days later, Batman learns that Porter and Two-Face were in cahoots the whole time. On August 20, Alberto Falcone learns that the “voice” he’s been hearing for months now belongs to none other than the Calendar Man, messing with him because he’s been jealous of the attention Falcone got during the Holiday murders. Later, Batman and Gordon find Calendar Man, badly beaten and with Alberto’s electronic surveillance bracelet on him. Alberto and Sophia Falcone are both missing. On September 6 (Labor Day), Dick solves the Hangman puzzle. Batman goes to the Falcone penthouse and discovers the Hangman’s secret lair. The Hangman attacks, getting the better of the Dark Knight by slipping a noose around his neck from behind and hanging him off the balcony. Catwoman shows up to rescue Batman.

–Batman: Dark Victory #13 Part 1 by Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale (2000)
September 6—Labor Day. Picking up directly from Dark Victory #12 Part 2, Catwoman saves Batman from the noose of the Hangman and then they chat for a bit (the usual mean-spirited conversation with undertones of sexual tension). Batman returns to the Batcave and meets with Alfred and Dick. Dick has now been training with Batman for two months.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman #673—originally told in Batman #47 Part 2. As previously addressed, the events of 1994’s Zero Hour retconned Joe Chill out of existence, meaning Batman simply never knew who committed the crime. However, the events of 2006’s Infinite Crisis overruled and reversed some of the effects of Zero Hour, making it so that Chill, once again, had always been the Wayne murderer. Since our chronology reflects Infinite Crisis‘ alterations, Chill is in-continuity as the man who shot Thomas and Martha Wayne. Onto a synopsis! Batman learns Chill was responsible for his parents’ deaths and confronts him. After tracking down Chill, Batman unveils the original gun that killed his parents and hands it over to Chill. (We previously learned that Bruce kept the murder weapon in Batman Confidential #1.) Batman then proceeds to scare the shit out of Chill and basically tells him that his life will be a living Hell from now on, courtesy of the Dark Knight. Batman’s psychological terror is done. He leaves. Chill shoots himself in the head. The end. Very powerful Grant Morrison/Tony Daniel flashback, and a bold Modern Age take on Chill’s classic death sequence from the Golden/Silver Age. Note that this item must go after Dark Victory #11, in which Batman states clearly that he still doesn’t know who killed his parents.

–REFERENCE: In Batman #486. Batman tells Alfred about the fate of Joe Chill.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman: Joker’s Apprentice #1. Batman busts serial rapist Arthur Rankel.

–REFERENCE: In Robin: Year One #2. Bruce tells Dick a Joker story that gives the boy nightmares for a week.

–FLASHBACK: From Green Arrow and Black Canary #5. Green Arrow asks Batman to locate his son, Connor Hawke. Ollie was has been a deadbeat dad for years now and has no idea where Connor and his baby momma currently live. Batman reluctantly agrees to help, but he doesn’t make it a top priority. (Connor won’t be located for another seven years.) Green Arrow has already been searching for Connor for a while now, but without any luck, he will soon abandon his quest. Arrow appoints eleven-year-old Roy Harper as his sidekick Speedy.

–REFERENCE: In Justice League America #43 and Batman Confidential #21. The Cavalier (Mortimer Drake) debuts versus Batman. Drake is a copycat of the original Cavalier from Year Two, Hudson Pyle.

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #573 and Batman #700. Mad Hatter II (aka Hat Man aka Hatman) debuts versus Batman. To avoid confusion in the future, be aware that Mad Hatter II is a red-headed mustachioed copycat of the original. We never learn Mad Hatter II’s real name, but he is so obsessed in regard to his copying that he even goes by the name “Jervis Tetch” (which is the real name of the first Mad Hatter). The non-canon Batman: Dark Detective #2 reveals the second Mad Hatter’s real name as “Jarvis Trent,” but even if it were canon, this also seems like a deliberately bogus copycat play on “Jervis Tetch.”

–Batman: Dark Victory #13 Part 2 by Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale (2000)
October 10-11. On Columbus Day, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, and Joker each murder the heads of four of the five major Gotham mobs. The Falcones are next. Elsewhere, Sophia and Alberto Falcone, the latter still living with injuries dealt to him by the Calendar Man a month-and-a-half ago, hide out for their own safety. Sophia puts her brother out of his own misery, smothering him to death. Mario Falcone, meanwhile, goes to Gordon for protection. Mario tells Gordon and Batman that he had been secretly working for the late Janice Porter. Batman deduces that Sophia Gigante is the Hangman. She’s been faking her paraplegia! Batman goes after Sophia who is hiding in the sewers, but he gets distracted by Scarecrow, allowing Two-Face to get to her first. Batman eventually saves Two-Face and fights Sophia before Two-Face shoots her dead. During the chaos, Solomon Grundy gets electrocuted to death. Don’t worry, he’s a zombie and will get reincarnated again soon. Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Joker, and Mr. Freeze then escape through the sewers and wind up, of all places, inside the Batcave! Dick, ever vigilant, dons a self-made proto-Robin costume (!) and takes the fight to the super-villains! Batman soon arrives and helps him kick ass. Joker shoots Two-Face, who survives but falls into the waterways deep below the Batcave and is washed away. The Dynamic Duo then busts the other villains. (A reference in The Batman Files adds a post-battle clean-up scene to this sequence, during which Batman talks to Dick about training and alterations to his costume. In this added scene, Dick tells Batman that he wants his eventual superhero codename to be “Robin,” which was a nickname that his mom used to call him.) Later, Batman meets with Gordon to discuss Two-Face. Gordon mentions that he’s “heard about” the Dark Knight’s new young partner—obviously from the Joker and company. (NOTE: In Secret Origins Vol. 2 #13, Batman not only designs the Robin costume, but comes up with the Robin name as well. This is wrong since it contradicts both Dark Victory and The Batman Files. Dick will come up with a finalized design for the Robin costume all by himself—although Batman will make suggestions and alterations to it, both during the ongoing design phase and after it is tailored.)

–REFERENCE: In Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet Part 1. Batman begins investigating notorious gangster Joe Minette, his top man Delcaine, and crooked fashion designer Carlton Tate. While not seen on our timeline ahead, the Caped Crusader will speak to numerous informants in the next couple weeks as he works this case.

–FLASHBACK: From Nightwing Vol. 2 #101. Dick, still in his training period, poses in his Robin costume. Batman tells him that it would be wiser to wear long leggings instead of a speedo, but Dick really digs his digs.

–FLASHBACK: From Nightwing Vol. 2 #101. Dick continues his training. No matter what he does, Batman tells him to “do it better.”

–Batman: Dark Victory #13 Part 3 by Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale (2000)
Halloween. Dick swears an oath to Batman by ceremonial candlelight and officially becomes the first member of the Batman Family aka Bat-Family. Now that Batman and Alfred have a Boy Wonder in the Batcave, Batman will begin referring to his most trusted inner circle of crime-fighting comrades as his “family.” In the future, the Bat-Family will often change in both size and personnel (and often depending on Batman’s mood), but it will usually consist of Alfred, a Robin, a Batgirl, and others. Dick tells Batman that, once his training is over, he still wants his codename to be “Robin.” Dick’s training, now more than halfway over, will continue for two more months. Commissioner Gordon celebrates Halloween with Barbara Sr and Julia Lopez, whom he promotes to lieutenant. Now that Batman: Dark Victory is over and the mobs have all been destroyed, this opens the floodgates for costumed super-villainy in Gotham. The conclusion of Dark Victory directly implies that a swell of costumed villains will debut to fill the void left behind by the dissolution of organized mob activity in Gotham. We’ll be seeing a lot of metahuman activity in the months and years to come.

–NOTE: In a reference in Detective Comics #875. Early November. Despite having been living together amicably for over eight months, Jim and Barbara Gordon call it quits again (for good this time). Barbara and James Junior return to Chicago. Babs stays in Gotham with Jim. Under his mom’s guardianship, young James Junior’s various anti-social disorders and dark pathological issues will steadily worsen (as seen through flashback in the continuity error-filled pages of Detective Comics #875). Moving forward, James Junior will spend almost all of his time with his mom, but will occasionally stay with Jim and Babs in Gotham. Dick will even babysit James Junior sometimes.

[6]

–Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet Part 1 by Bruce Canwell, Lee Weeks, & Matt Hollingsworth (September 1997)
Early November—the narrative says we are in June, but that is impossible. Batman saves crooked fashion designer Carlton Tate from being whacked by Joe Minette’s top man Delcaine. Despite this, a scared Tate refuses to press charges, leaving Delcaine and Minette in the clear. Back home, Batman chats with Dick, telling him that he’s going to prepare a final field test for the boy, set to happen in a couple weeks. While not seen on our timeline ahead, Batman will plan out this final test and continue giving Minette’s gang a rough time.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman #687. Dick, wearing his Robin costume, passes his “ambush training test,” successfully surprising (kinda) the Dark Knight inside the Batcave. Dick’s five month-long training will end soon.

–Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet Part 2 by Bruce Canwell, Lee Weeks, & Matt Hollingsworth (September 1997)
Mid November. This item is canonically referenced in Robin: Year One #1 and multiple other issues, but it contains two big continuity errors. Error #1: Gordon is still a captain, but he should be the commissioner. Error #2: It takes place on July 3-4, but it must take place in November. In fact, according to Dark Victory, Bruce only first reveals his identity as Batman to Dick on the fourth of July. If we ignore these two problems, then the story fits perfectly. Onto a synopsis. Batman ends Dick’s training, making him his official sidekick, the Boy Wonder, Robin. The new soldier is put through a “final exam” where he runs a twenty-four hour gauntlet through the city while Batman silently stalks him. During the this test, Robin is able to send hidden clues to Batman while systematically shutting down Joe Minette’s vast criminal organization. Batman joins Robin at sunrise to help take down Minette and his top man Delcaine, sending them both to prison. Afterward, Batman introduces Robin to Jim Gordon. (Note that Gordon is erroneously referred to as a captain, which needs to be ignored.)[7]

–FLASHBACK: From Detective Comics #866. Robin goes on his first official on-patrol outing with Batman and is told to wait in the car while the Dark Knight trails the Joker into a mansion. Inside, the Joker tries to steal a holy medallion that belongs to the ancient Sacred Order of St. Dumas. Joker gets away when Batman gets attacked by a half-dressed member of the Order that wields a flaming sword. Although unnamed in the story, this man is Jean-Paul Ludovic Valley—the current Azrael of the Order of St. Dumas and father to Jean-Paul Valley. (Since the 15th century, Azrael knights have served the Sacred Order of St. Dumas as their mind-programmed warrior soldiers.) Outside of the building, Joker gets in a confrontation with small-time thief Loomis before Robin ambushes the Joker from behind, leaving him for the cops. Meanwhile, Loomis gets arrested for a crime he didn’t commit—the theft of the medallion. NOTES: Batman is incorrectly wearing his yellow-oval costume in this flashback. Ignore. Also ignore the fact that Harvey Dent is shown as the DA that puts Loomis away. Dent is already Two-Face at this point.

–REFERENCE: In the second feature to Detective Comics #782. Late November—the anniversary of Batman’s parents’ deaths. Batman places two roses at the site of his folks’ double murder.

–NOTE: In a reference in The Batman Files. A mischievous Bat-Mite—Batman’s biggest magickal imp fan/cosplayer from the 5th Dimension—makes his debut, appearing briefly before young Dick![8] Bat-Mite has been watching his favorite superhero for years, but never physically crossed over before. It is likely that Bat-Mite has finally decided to personally check things out due to curiosity about Batman’s new ward.

–“Legend of the Dark Mite” by Alan Grant/Kevin O’Neill (LOTDK #38) October 1992
Batman busts and later interrogates Bob Overdog, who claims he was abducted by Bat-Mite and taken to the 5th Dimension, a place where magical imps dress up like their favorite superheroes from Earth and act out ultimate cosplay fantasies. Did Bat-Mite really appear before Overdog? Only Overdog knows for sure, and he was tripping on an entheogenic cocktail of mescaline, heroin, coke, opium, and hashish at the time.

–REFERENCE: In Batman: The Killing Joke and The Batman Files—originally told in Detective Comics #267. The magickal imp from the 5th Dimension, Bat-Mite, shows up to “assist” Batman, thus proving that Bob Overdog wasn’t as hallucinatory as we thought after all. Batman’s “biggest fan” interferes with a bust of gangster Tipper Neely. Part of Bat-Mite’s interference causes a psychedelic hallucinatory experience to envelop Batman. Despite being negatively affected, Batman is able to defeat Neely and his men. Robin arrives just after Bat-Mite disappears. A shaken Batman clears his head and records the Bat-Mite appearance into the Black Casebook, drawing a picture of the imp as well.

–“Robin & Superman: Fear of God” by Kelley Puckett/Dave Taylor/Kevin Nowlan (Legends of the DCU #6) July 1998
Batman goes out of town on unspecified business, leaving Robin to patrol Gotham on his own. Robin meets the Man of Steel for the first time and they team-up to fight some gangsters in Gotham.[9]

–REFERENCE: In Batman: Gotham Knights #33 and The Batman Files—originally told in Batman #133 Part 1. Kite Man (Chuck Brown) debuts, busting crook Big Bill Collins out of prison. Batman and Robin chase after Kite Man and Collins. The Dynamic Duo eventually use Kite Man’s various trick kites against him, easily busting both men. Note that “Kite Man” is sometimes spelled with a hyphen i.e. “Kite-Man.”

–Robin: Year One #1 by Chuck Dixon/Scott Beatty/Javier Pulido (2000)
Mid December. Robin: Year One is a great four-issue story that not only follows up on the canonical bits of Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet, but helps further define Robin’s early days superbly. Chuck Dixon originally wrote this story so that it spanned the course of many months, starting in September. However, due to Sliding-Time and compression, this cannot be the case. If we ignore certain unimportant topical items in Robin: Year One, a legitimate alternate interpretation of the narrative delivers a story that spans a mere month or two, starting in mid December instead of September. To make everything jibe smoothly on our chronology, I’ve leaned toward the alternate version. Now, onto a synopsis. Batman and Robin take down some gun runners on the docks. Back home, Alfred asks Dick if he’s happy going down the tough path ahead. Dick responds by saying that, with Zucco dead, there isn’t much reason for him to continue, but he wants to anyway. (We see a single-panel flashback from Legends of the Dark Knight #100 that depicts Dick capturing Zucco, who dies of a heart attack. Of course, LOTDK #100, which highlights Zucco’s death, is non-canon. In canon, Zucco isn’t actually dead; Bruce and Alfred have been maintaining that lie for a while now.) The next day, Bruce drops Dick off at Bristol Middle School for his first day of public education! (Again, Dixon’s original narrative intention was to have this arc begin in September, but due to compression and Sliding-Time, we are definitely in mid December. This means not only is Dick starting school midyear, but he’s also starting mere days before holiday vacation. I guess, Bruce wants him to meet his new classmates before the break?) At night, after a Wayne Manor party, our heroes learn of a sinister series of child abductions from Commissioner Gordon (incorrectly referred to as “captain”). The next night, with Alfred’s help, Robin follows up a lead, fights a hired thug at a warehouse, and tracks the missing girls to a Gotham Harbor yacht that coincidentally happens to be hosting a gala that Bruce is attending. Aboard the ship, Robin defeats the abductor, Mad Hatter, and exposes his accomplice, the corrupt president of a small Asian country called Rheelasia.

–REFERENCE: In Robin: Year One #2 and The Batman Files—originally told in Detective Comics #351. Mid December. While on patrol, Robin tells Batman about an upcoming live action Batman TV show, about which he speaks with great disdain. The Cluemaster (Arthur Brown) debuts, attacking the Dynamic Duo with gas capsules and leaving a riddle clue to an upcoming heist. Batman and Robin soon fight Cluemaster again, who uses a series of heists (and clues) as part of an elaborate scheme to try and find out Batman and Robin’s secret IDs. The Dynamic Duo uses an equally elaborate scheme of their own to stop the Cluemaster, putting him behind bars in the process.

–FLASHBACK: From Nightwing Vol. 2 #56. Mid December. Batman and Robin bust some random thugs. Martial arts expert and League of Assassins member Shrike observes from the shadows. While Batman and Robin don’t meet him yet, Shrike will factor heavily into the next part of Robin: Year One.

–FLASHBACK: From Robin Annual #4—and referenced in Robin: Year One #4. Gotham enters the grip of an uninterrupted super-villain crime wave. Batman and Robin deal with the Riddler and send him to Blackgate Prison. They then immediately bring Poison Ivy to justice and later bust Joker in the sewer.

–Robin: Year One #2-3 by Chuck Dixon/Scott Beatty/Javier Pulido (2000)
December. Batman and Robin bust Killer Moth on the Sprang Bridge. (A reference in The Batman Files adds an extra scene following Killer Moth’s defeat, in which Batman and Robin deliver Killer Moth to Commissioner Gordon. In this added scene, Gordon talks about Babs but also chastises Batman yet again for using a child soldier in his war on crime. Gordon is right to question Batman here, as his manipulation of a child is nothing short of dastardly and villainous. I agree with Batman and Ethics author Mark White in saying that it is indefensible. A separate reference in The Batman Files, places Robin: Year One #2 in October, which is incorrect. We are in December.) A day after Killer Moth’s arrest, the Dynamic Duo busts Blockbuster (for the second time). A day after that, Two-Face kidnaps the judge who was present when he was maimed by Sal Maroni, Judge Lawrence Watkins. (We see a flashback to Harvey Dent getting his face burned by Maroni, but the flashback itself and text associated with the flashback are all kinds of incorrect, so we have to ignore it completely). Commissioner Gordon, worried about Robin’s age, questions Batman whether or not the Boy Wonder is a permanent fixture. Gordon mentions that Robin has been around for months. While Robin has only debuted about ten days ago, Gordon has known about him since October, so this comment makes sense. Batman goes to hunt down Two-Face, telling Robin to sit this one out. When Batman confronts Two-Face, Robin disobeys and shows up anyway. Batman and Robin wind up getting captured and put into a twisted scenario involving the corpse of Sal Maroni and a double-gallows. Two-Face executes Judge Watkins and then violently beats Robin with a baseball bat until Batman saves him and takes down the villain. (The start of Robin’s beating is also shown in a single-panel flashback from Robin Annual #4 while the entire scene is shown via flashback from Robin Vol. 2 #0, from which Robin: Year One drew inspiration. The only difference is that the original sequence from Robin Vol. 2 #0 features DA Aldrich Meany, but Robin: Year One #2 does a retcon, replacing Meany with Judge Watkins. Flashbacks from Batman #512-513 also show this double-gallows scene.) Batman then rushes the badly injured Robin into the care of Leslie Thompkins (drawn with red hair and too young looking, but oh well). Later, Gordon chastises the Dark Knight for endangering a child. Batman tells Gordon that Robin is officially retired. The next day, Bruce fires Robin, who is bandaged, bruised, and has an arm cast—(we must assume it isn’t actually a fracture since his arm will seem healed in a few days). A few days later, a determined Dick begins his rehab exercising with zeal. A few days after that, Dick checks in with Dr. Thompkins, but Mr. Freeze (back to wearing his Mr. Zero duds) interrupts and robs the clinic. The next night, Dick, wearing his street clothes and a domino mask, takes down Freeze, who had attempted to obtain a large sum of cash from Mayor Gill. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce and Alfred read a letter left behind by Dick—he’s leaving and not coming back home. That same night, Two-Face escapes from jail and Dick runs into Shrike, who recruits Dick into his “Vengeance Academy,” a martial arts training program for teenagers.

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  1. [1]RIPPLEDFINGERS: Catwoman: When in Rome occurs between Dark Victory #5 (when Selina Kyle leaves town) and Dark Victory #13 (when she returns).

    COLLIN COLSHER: While on the subject of When in Rome, I haven’t included it because Batman isn’t in it (unless you count Selina’s constant dreams about him). Selina goes to Rome to find her roots. We finally find out why she’s been so obsessed with the Falcones for the past four-plus years—Carmine may have been her biological father! All signs point to yes, but she’ll never get 100% confirmation.

  2. [2]SHAWN: Here are the details about the last page of “Mask” in the reprinted Batman: Dark Legends TPB. We see Bruce in a hospital bed surrounded by his psychiatrist, nurse, and doctor. The doctor says something to the effect of, “He’s too far gone, I can’t do anything for him.” The psychiatrist, disheartened, mumbles, “Damn, there goes my research paper.” This page is right after Gallagher and the nurse are killed, and now we see them alive and well, alluding their deaths were in Bruce’s mind. Also, it was previously established the doctor was Gallagher in disguise, but in this scene, we see the two individuals in the same room, making it seem like everything before was a delusion of Bruce’s. This scene (in the Dark Legends version) means that Bruce really did imagine Batman, and further imagined the plot of the doctors trying to gaslight him. It’s a double twist issue, an Elseworlds tale where Bruce is sick in the head and imagines both his adventures as Batman and Gallagher’s plot to justify his situation at the hospital.

    COLLIN COLSHER: Ah, what can I say about the OOP Dark Legends TPB in regard to “Mask.” I am shocked that there isn’t trace of any information regarding this change elsewhere on the Internet! They absolutely added the splash page you are talking about into the 1996 trade. This page is not included in the original 1992 issue. Interestingly enough, with this Talbot splash page included, the “Mask” story is definitively CLOSED-TEXTED, meaning this would qualify as an out-of-continuity Elseworlds type story. However, with the omission of the single page you mention, the story can be read completely different. It seems to me (and this is mere speculation on my part) that DC scrapped the splash page because they wanted to make the story a bit more ambiguous and viable for the realm of in-continuity status. Pretty amazing how one single page makes such a drastic change in the narrative. The beauty of “Mask” (in its original floppy LOTDK version) is that it can absolutely be interpreted both ways! I’m not the ultimate authority on the interpretation of this tale. We’d have to ask Bryan Talbot about that, and boy, do I wish I could!

    SHAWN: It is a bit disconcerting that DC didn’t say anything about the additional page in the TPB. Countless folks who read this story will probably never know there are two versions. It makes the completist in me hope this is an isolated incident and there are no more secret “Writer’s Cut” issues hidden about. It actually also makes me wonder if while they were putting together the TPB they forgot to remove the page like they did with the floppy issue and it got published by mistake. It just seems odd they wouldn’t advertise something like this. Well, cheers to discovery.

  3. [3]COLLIN COLSHER: The Batman Files shows a Haly’s Circus poster that gives a Flying Grayson performance date of May 2. However, our date here is definitely May 9, 1993, one day after Mother’s Day. This simply means that the Flying Graysons performed either all week or on both May 2 and May 9 in Gotham.
  4. [4]COLLIN COLSHER: Batman #436-439 by Marv Wolfman/Pat Broderick (1989), entitled “Batman Year Three,” contains a bunch of legit flashbacks that re-tell the origin of Dick Grayson as Robin and that fill in some gaps in the Robin origin story—(although, the flashbacks from Batman #437 are not canon, but we’ll address that specifically below). Of course, the label “Year Three” is a loose term and exists only to give the “Year” stories a sense of chronological order. According to our timeline, we are definitely in May of Bat Year Five. Originally, before the publication of both The Long Halloween and Dark Victory, Bat Year Three was the official debut year for the Boy Wonder. Some folks (including most DC publishers and editors) still stick to that version of the timeline, despite the fact that both The Long Halloween and Dark Victory clearly point to a Bat Year Five debut for the Boy Wonder. Because the original Robin start date was Bat Year Three, many comics of the late 1980s and early 1990s contain completely incorrect (retconned) specific time references that must be ignored. I will try my best to address them all as they pop up, moving forward.

    Due to the clash between the two schools of thought (DC’s idea that Dick becomes Robin in Bat Year Three versus the concept that Dick becomes Robin in Bat Year Five), we naturally have two separate possible years for Dick’s birth-year: 1979 or 1981. The difference reflects the difference between the two schools of thought: Bat Year Three versus Bat Year Five.

    Likewise, DC always intended Dick to become Nightwing at age 18, but I have him turning Nightwing at age 17. A minor quibble. But like I always say, this isn’t an exact science. If you peruse the issues and decide which stories are in-canon and which directly affect the passage of time, then you are faced with the two main options explored above: Dick is born in 1979; becoming Nightwing at 18. Alternatively, Dick is born in 1981; becoming Nightwing at 17. Pick your poison.

    PURPLEGLOVEZ (TIPTUP JR 94): While Robin must debut here, there is some notable post-Crisis precedent for an earlier Robin debut. The following villain debuts are all placed after Robin’s debut in various sources: Penguin (the Who’s Who section of Detective Comics Annual #2), Poison Ivy (Secret Origins Vol. 2 #36), Scarecrow (Year One: Batman/Scarecrow), Mad Hatter (Through the Looking Glass), Two-Face (Detective Comics #866), and Clayface I (Secret Origins Vol. 2 #44). (Most of these are mentioned with footnotes or caveats on this site.) To that end, I spent an enormous amount of mental energy trying to hammer out a timeline that could reconcile an earlier Robin debut (either Year One, Year Two, or Year Three) with the events of Long Halloween, Dark Victory, and a myriad of other tales, but it’s essentially impossible. It’s clear that there’s supposed to be a wide swath of post-Crisis Batman tales that are explicitly pre-Robin. The only way to get around this is by just ignoring the tales listed above. All the above villains’ debuts are also canonically placed in the pre-Robin era elsewhere, so again, it’s kind of just a pick your poison situation.

  5. [5]COLLIN COLSHER: There are a few Robin origin tales that have been published over the years. Most, however, including the following, are non-canon. Legends of the Dark Knight #100 by Denny O’Neil/Dave Taylor (November 1997) is, and was always meant to be, an out-of-continuity alternate re-telling of Robin’s origin story. Totally non-canon. Another alternate non-canon Robin debut tale worth addressing is Frank Miller’s All-Star Batman & Robin. The entire All-Star line takes place on a different Earth. That being said, the exact events of Frank Miller’s “Year One” begin Batman’s career on the “All-Star Earth” too. In fact, Batman’s entire timeline on “All-Star Earth” comprises Miller stories (including Dark Knight Returns and all the Dark Knight Returns sequels)! DC’s press release regarding the “All-Star” imprint in 2005 was as follows: “The creative teams were not beholden to any previous and present continuities.” That answers any question regarding the canonical-status of the “All-Star” line pretty succinctly.

    CHIP: Regarding All-Star Batman & Robin: It’s already on record that it’s part of a “Frank Miller Dark Knight Universe” that is actually designated as Earth-31 (according to the Batman Fandom wiki site). It includes “Year One,” all “All-Star” titles, all Spawn/Batman books, Dark Knight Returns, and all Dark Knight Returns sequels. Only “Year One” takes place in the regular Earth-0 continuity as well.

    COLLIN COLSHER: Earth-31 is fantastic! Despite his troubling sociopolitical views, it’s really awesome that Frank Miller, being one of the primary original architects of the entire Modern Age Batman line, has his own Batman Earth. Too bad that the despicable Holy Terror isn’t a part of it as well… Or maybe that’s a good thing, haha.

  6. [6]COLLIN COLSHER / HEAR THE SNAP: 1992’s “Faces” by Matt Wagner (from Batman: Legend of the Dark Knight #28-30) starts off with a flashback to Two-Face escaping Arkham Asylum not long after having been jailed for the first time. After lamming, Two-Face flees to France for two years before returning to act in the main narrative of this LOTDK arc. Two-Face’s long-term hiding overseas included extensive recruiting of soldiers and plans to illegally purchase an island off the coast of French Guiana so he can start his own “Deformity Nation,” a sovereign state comprised only of people with absent limbs, extra limbs, atypical facial or bodily appearances, amputations, burn scars, or other stigmatized changes to their physical appearance. Two years without a peep from Two-Face, the villain reappears with an army of circus folk and those meeting the criteria mentioned above. This army serves Two-Face’s bidding. Batman, however, puts a stop to Two-Face’s plans and re-jails him.

    Originally, the main action of “Faces” took place here, around November of Year Five. But this was well before the publication of The Long Halloween and Dark Victory, which replaced a ton of old Two-Face stuff, including this story. In order for this story to be canon, we’d need to find a spot where Two-Face is absent for TWO FULL YEARS. This unfortunately, NEVER HAPPENS in Batman’s early years (or really ever, for that matter). Two-Face shows up in just about every single year, and usually multiple times at that. Now, we could just simply ignore Two-Face’s two year absence and keep this story on the timeline. However, it is such an essential plot point of Wagner’s narrative that we really shouldn’t. “Faces” just doesn’t fit.

    Or does it? “Faces” is one of those stories that can work, but only with a modified narrative. The Batman Chronology Project has dealt in such actions in the past, but I’m hesitant to do it with this story for the reasons listed above. However, our resident Batman scholar/historian Purple Glovez (Tiptup Jr 94) has a decent summarization of how it could work, should you choose to go in a different direction. The information of how it could work is listed below (lifted directly from Bat Year Four).

    PURPLEGLOVEZ (TIPTUP JR 94): Here is how “Faces” is canon, requiring only a few tweaks. Almost immediately after the conclusion of Long Halloween and the “Steps” storyline (LOTDK #98-99, which features Two-Face) Harvey Dent escapes, as depicted in “Faces” Part 1 (aka the opening flashback from “Faces”).

    In 1993’s Robin Vol. 2 #0, it is said that the DA who immediately succeeded Harvey Dent was Aldrich Meany, who was later killed in the double-gallows incident (as seen in Robin Vol. 2 #0). (Robin: Year One #2 retcons the double-gallows victim from Meany to Judge Lawrence Watkins, while Dark Victory seems to place Janice Porter as the DA who first follows Dent.) However, The Essential Batman Encyclopedia treats Meany as semi-canonical (while acknowledging the discrepancy with Robin: Year One) and suggests that Porter followed both Dent AND Meany in rapid succession. So here’s my theory:

    Harvey escapes and begins planning his Isle D’urberville scheme. At some point prior to the beginning of Dark Victory, Harvey kills Aldrich Meany and is returned to Arkham. Throughout the events of Dark Victory, Harvey is planning his Isle D’urberville scheme behind the scenes in addition to all the other stuff he’s doing. Then, right after Dark Victory’s conclusion, the rest of the “Faces” storyline happens mostly as told. However, Harvey would have to escape Arkham rather quickly for his double-gallows revenge against Judge Watkins in Robin: Year One. And if you don’t like the Aldrich Meany angle, we can just imagine that Harvey was returned to Arkham for any other reason. Still, this is how I’m looking at things.

    It’s pretty astounding that this story has the gall to have Two-Face off the map for two entire years, and while that’s certainly the intent and implication, I don’t think there’s a point where Batman explicitly says he hasn’t seen Two-Face AT ALL during this time, although at one point he asks a thug about “his movements of the last two years”; perhaps Batman just figured that Harvey started planning something around that time, and is still carrying it out since he hasn’t resurfaced since the end of Dark Victory? At any rate, the post-Zero Hour/Infinite Crisis time waves have made these early Legends stories malleable enough to make such inferences.

  7. [7]COLLIN COLSHER: Batman: Turning Points #2 by Ed Brubaker also shows Gordon’s first meeting with Robin, but it is non-canon because it contradicts the general plot elements of Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet. Notably, Gordon is erroneously referred to as a captain in Turning Points #2, although The Gauntlet is guilty of that flub too.
  8. [8]COLLIN COLSHER: The 5th Dimension is a magickal plane that is home to powerful djinns, Elementals, and imps. Notable residents are Bat-Mite, Mr. Mxyzptlk, and Yz. According to superstring theory, the 5th Dimension—being the next dimensional layer beyond the 4th Dimension of time—is basically an expression for derived physical quantity in terms of alternate reality. It is, in essence, a fundamental underlying concept of multiverse theory. Superstring theory, multiverse theory, and M theory state that the macroscopic world has three spatial dimensions, a 4th Dimension of time, and six other imperceptible (possibly microscopic) quantum dimensions, plus an 11th Dimension at the definitively microscopic scale. (There are likely even more unknown dimensions.) The fictive world of the DCU plays with superstring theory, treating the insensible quantum dimensions (those beyond time) as the most out-there magickal sci-fi alternate realities possible.
  9. [9]COLLIN COLSHER / LUKASZ: Joe Kelly’s Superman/Batman Annual #2 details the first meeting between Robin and Superman as well. However, this version is non-canon for a couple reasons. First, it shows that Batman has received a JLA membership invitation card. Second, Batman and Superman are shown joining the JLA as reserve members. Batman and Superman were always founding members, despite not becoming full-time active right away. Third, Superman loses his powers for over a full month and there’s no place for that long of an absence on our timeline. Even if we were to ignore the continuity errors, S/B Annual #2 is still a re-imagining of the extremely campy World’s Finest Comics #178 (1968) & World’s Finest Comics #180 (1968) as opposed to the definitively Modern-styled Legends of the DCU #6. The latter fits better on our timeline. Not to mention, Joe Kelly seems to have authored the first two S/B Annuals using a more silly tone with less emphasis upon adhering to the strict confines of line-wide continuity. The style of S/B Annual #2 mirrors the style of S/B Annual #1, so it stands to reason that if the first is out-of-continuity, the second probably is too.

7 Responses to Modern YEAR FIVE

  1. Angus Livingstone says:

    So what exactly happened during the Spook story arc? It’s said that the story ripped off another Batman Annual story, but what exactly happened? I’m finding it difficult to find any mention of the Spook anywhere. Even the Legends of the Dark Knight Wikipedia page doesn’t give a brief synopsis of the events. Can you shed some light on this?

    • I’ve added a short synopsis. (Maybe I’ll add it on wikipedia!) The Mike Baron story is from Batman Annual #12. Maybe it’s a bit harsh calling it a “rip-off” since both stories are pretty standard whodunnit tales. However, the Spook arc seems to mirror it pretty damn closely.

      ALSO, it is worthy to note that some internet sources (wikipedia included) list the possibility of there having been two separate Spooks. There’s really nothing in the Modern Age that suggests this. The Spook is rarely shown in the Modern Age—like around five times, including the LOTDK debut. The Spook was much more of a solid Bronze Ager, making a bunch of appearances back then.

      The LOTDK origin arc IMO was meant to reboot his character for the Modern Age. Simple as that. None of his Bronze Age stuff transferred over to the Modern Age. Thus, there’s really only one Spook character. Although, he has distinct Bronze Age history that is different from his Modern Age verion. This is true of a ton of characters, including Batman himself.

  2. Jack James says:

    Hmmm… you know Colin, I’m not sure I agree with this placement of the Year Two storyline. He has to get into a relationship and a commitment with Rachel Caspian, buuuuuut Long Halloween and Dark Victory already established that by this point Bruce is dating Selina.

    Maybe the best thing would be to actually put it in Year Two or put it on early Year Three after all, there’s not really any other space for it (exceeeept for maaaaybe when Selina breaks up with Bruce in Year Six but, eh) since Bruce dates Selina from mid Year Three to Year Six. While it is possible that maybe their relationship wasn’t as “official” in some points and they both still may have had some flings here and there, a commitment is far too messy of a thing to put in between.

    • Jack James says:

      And thinking about it, there actually is a spot in Year Three where it could conceivably fit, right after Venom, that way we can also chalk up Bruce’s stupidity and impulsiveness in that storyline to just drugs!

      • A big part of “Batman Year Two” revolves around Leslie Thompkins already knowing that Bruce is Batman. So that puts it in Year Four at the earliest.

        Also, I would debate the “seriousness” of Bruce and Selina’s relationship. Yes, they are dating throughout Long Halloween and Dark Victory, but it is never established that it is more than just a sexual hookup kind of thing. Batman #600, for example, even shows Bruce and Selina during their early days of dating, emphasizing that they won’t take their relationship to that next level.

        Despite the above, I do like what you are saying, Jack. I like the idea of simplification. Clearly, on a perfected timeline, the order goes Year One, Year Two, Long Halloween, Dark Victory. But let us not forget that Long Halloween and Dark Victory were originally meant to overwrite Year Two. In any case, I’ll take a look and see what can be done. I think we can at the very least move Year Two a year earlier.

        Thanks, Jack!

  3. Milo says:

    Me again. I love examining your timeline. I have another suggestion, I hope you don’t mind.

    I would personally canonize “Snow” as the Mr. Freeze origin story and place it in October of Year Two (Alfred says that Batman has operated for a year and a half) for a couple of reasons.

    1) Batman does have the wrong symbol, but I think this can be chalked up to artistic liberty, because I believe the artist wanted to evoke the Adam West show, and Batman still has the right belt.

    2) The story features more continuity that connects it to the Year One era than “Cold Case”.

    3) It’s an important story because it’s Batman’s first time organizing a team of sidekicks.

    4) It was released as a collected edition in 2007, after the publication of “Cold Case”, which has never been collected.

    • Hey Milo, love the suggestions, keep ’em coming! However, as much as I’d like to place “Snow” over “Cold Case,” this is a tough alteration. Both stories are important in their own right, and both have plenty of things in them that could connect them to continuity. I wouldn’t lean on whether something has been collected or not as a reason to consider something canon either. We can definitely ignore costumes (as we’ve done before), I’ll give you that. But there are other things that make “Snow” stand out, including but not limited to Victor working at a company called NEOdigm, which is unique to the tale. (The GothCorp setting is definitively mentioned in both Countdown to Final Crisis #5 and The Batman Files.) Some of the other flashbacks (admittedly not all) give breathing room for Victor’s Mr. Zero persona, which “Snow” definitely doesn’t.

      But I definitely trust your judgement—I don’t think you are wrong. You really could go either way with this one. However, the one thing 100% you can’t have is “Snow” and “Cold Case” together. They each tell a different story. In my humble opinion, I just think that Countdown to Final Crisis #5 and Batman Files can coexist with “Cold Case” whereas they cannot with “Snow.” Plus, while the prior origin from Dini’s Mr. Freeze doesn’t jibe with anything anymore (the reason it’s non-canon), parts of it do jibe more with “Cold Case” as opposed to “Snow.”

      I’ll consider adding in your comment as a footnote though, as I do think this one is one of those items that is really truly up to the reader—a personal headcanon thing.

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