Modern YEAR FIFTEEN (Part 2)

2003 (July to December)

–Batman: Shadow of the Bat #59-60 (“KILLER KILLER”)
Early July. Can Scarface really talk? Does the dummy have a life of its own? (Yes, as we will find out eventually.) The Ventriloquist’s main man Rhino has been trying to get the dummy to speak for months unsuccessfully. But in issue #59, Scarface talks! It is vague on whether or not Rhino (who has been practicing how to throw his voice) makes him speak or if Scarface actually talks. We do learn that Scarface was originally carved from a gallows tree, thus linking the dummy to supernatural origins. In either case, Rhino busts the Ventriloquist out of jail and reunites him with Scarface. Scarface’s big return mission? To kill his bad luck charm, an albatross. Yes, a bird. Meanwhile, “The Killer Killer” Lenny Carnell tries to assassinate Penguin in order to take over his criminal operation. Batman captures Carnell and Rhino, but the Ventriloquist and Scarface get away.

–REFERENCE: In Gotham Central #11. A random Gotham City judge spots Batman while the hero is patrolling.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Versus Predator III: Blood Ties #4. Batman goes on an unspecified case (or two separate cases) and nets both a fedora and a very large book, both of which he displays in the Batcave as trophies.

–Batman: The Hill #1 Part 2
Two weeks have passed since the first part of The Hill. After a fancy gala (attended as Bruce), Batman sets into motion an elaborate plan that involves a ton of subterfuge and espionage tactics. The Dark Knight then feeds Demitrius Korlee disinformation and, a few days later, lures him to a fake Batcave within the boundaries of the Hill neighborhood. Korlee, thinking he has exposed a huge secret of the Bat, lets his guard down, allowing Batman to get the jump on him and bring him to justice. Afterward, Batman reflects on the case with Gordon and then with Alfred.

–Batman: Scottish Connection
Bruce and Alfred (and the paparazzi) travel to Scotland to attend the ceremonial burial of Bruce’s 600-year-old Scottish ancestor.  Batman encounters the masked Scottish terrorist Fergus Slith, who uses the ancient secrets of the Templars to give himself and his henchmen metahuman strength. Slith then tries to kill everyone in sight using various methods until his sister, Sheona Slith, kills him, but loses her life in the process. Not a great script, but the Frank Quietly art makes this one-shot worth checking out.

–Azrael #27
Summer—ignore the post Xmas setting as Sliding-Time/compression has placed us in a hotter season. The Order of St. Dumas is no more, but Azrael still wants to learn more information about the Order’s bio-engineering techniques. As such, he seeks out one of the cult’s top scientists known as the Grey Abbott only to find he is currently locked up in Arkham Asylum. Azrael meets with Batman, hoping to get the Dark Knight’s blessing to infiltrate Arkham, but Batman scoffs. The Caped Crusader won’t stand in Azrael’s way nor will he help him, but Batman tells Azrael he better not let anyone out except for the Grey Abbott. Azrael breaks into Arkham and, wouldn’t you know it, chaos ensues. All the inmates are released into a communal space where a beefy inmate named Charles beats-up Azrael. Joker steals and wears Azrael’s costume. Azrael #28 picks up directly from this point, completely overlapping with “The Spectre of Vengeance” below. (In Azrael #28, a semi-nude Azrael will best Two-Face, Victor Zsasz, Riddler, and Two-Face. The Gray Abbott will be shot and killed by police.)

——————–Batman #540-541
——————–The Spectre Vol. 3 #51
In the first two issues of this arc, Batman deals with the Spectre, strongly disapproving of God’s methods. (Azrael #28 overlaps with “The Spectre of Vengeance,” showing a scene of Batman and the Spectre straight from Batman #540.) The Joker causes trouble in the third after gaining the Spectre’s divine powers. The Spectre gets his powers back when he temporarily gives the Joker something he’s never ever had before: a conscience. The guilt trip puts Joker into a temporary state of catatonia. Oh, and Bruce meets radio talk-show host/journalist Vesper Fairchild and they begin dating!


–Batman: Shadow of the Bat #61
Batman stops assassins who try to kill a stool-pigeon. Meanwhile, a boy learns to love his stepfather.

–Batman/Wildcat #1-3
Who is the better pound-for-pound fighter in the DCU? Ted Grant aka Wildcat fights Batman in this tale, and we almost find out. For anyone who doesn’t know, Grant is a long-time JSA member, former boxing heavyweight champ, and one of the many men who trained a young Bruce Wayne long ago. Anyway, in this story, promoter Ernie Chubb organizes a televised metahuman MMA tournament and hires Lock-Up to kidnap all the participants. The main contestants are KGBeast, King Snake, Panara, Monsoon, Killer Croc, and Steeljacket. Hector Ramirez (Ted’s protégé), eager to impress his retired mentor, dons the Wildcat costume and enters the tourney. He is promptly pummeled to death by Croc. Batman and the original Wildcat rush to the scene where they are captured themselves and tricked into squaring-off against one another. They never finish the fight, however, and instead team-up and take out all of the bad guys. Wildcat decides to officially come out of retirement.

–Azrael #29-31
When the love of Jean-Paul’s life, Lilhy, begins dating another man, Azrael leaves town to do some soul searching. In Europe, Az runs into Ra’s al Ghul who asks Jean-Paul to become Talia’s husband! Jean-Paul accepts and things are going smoothly until Ra’s learns about Jean-Paul’s mind-programming by the Order. Ra’s ain’t cool with anyone who has ties, past or present, with the Order. Jean-Paul is sent packing. Still aimless, Az meets up with Batman, who can’t be bothered. Alfred assigns Azrael the task of investigating a small-town cold case involving a vampire. Azrael defeats the vampire with ease. I love how Bruce is constantly getting Jean-Paul out of his hair.

–The Batman Chronicles #8 Part 1
Ra’s al Ghul sends Talia to kill Bruce Wayne once and for all.  Talia doesn’t want to kill her beloved, but she doesn’t have a choice.  Batman battles League ninjas in the ruins of the old Arkham Asylum and is eventually knocked unconscious.  Talia points a gun at Bruce’s head, but cannot pull the trigger.  Instead, she kisses him and leaves to face the wrath of her father.

–REFERENCE: In Batman: The Book of Shadows. Batman discovers the mutilated body of a teenage boy, who was murdered by a group of demons known as The Innocents. The Caped Crusader vows to avenge the boy’s death.

–Detective Comics #708-710 (“THE DEATH LOTTERY”)
Gunhawk was one of the lucky inmates to escape during the events of Batman: Blackgate #1.  But since his escape, he has gotten sloppy as a hitman, missing targets left and right.  It’s gotten so bad that Bunny leaves him.  When a hit is put out on the richest men in Gotham, the distraught assassin goes after the biggest fish, Bruce Wayne.  Gunhawk misses and hits Lucius Fox in the arm instead.  The gigantic payoff for the Gotham hit-list is also enough to lure Deathstroke (!) out of retirement.  But when Deathstroke arrives in Gotham he realizes he’d rather kill Gunhawk instead.  Batman takes out Deathstroke (who is wearing his crappy new blue costume) and the latter berates the former for letting Gunhawk escape.  Batman calmly takes the sniper rifle in his arms and blasts the weapons right out of Gunhawk’s hands, allowing the cops to arrest him.  Afterward, Batman adds Deathstroke’s signature sword to the Batcave trophy room.

–Batman: The Book of Shadows
Batman learns that the demons known as the Innocents have murdered and possessed the bodies of a bunch of already evil Occultists.  The Innocents are also responsible for the murder of a teenage boy which occured a week earlier.  When Batman is able to locate the demons (who very much resemble Dragon Ball Z villains), they capture him and are able to summon their dark master, the monstrous, tentacled anime-like beast known as The Archon.  The Archon merges with his demon followers and makes all kinds of threats until Batman lowers him into molten metal Terminator 2-style, destroying the creature.

–Batman/Aliens #1-2 [2]
Batman travels to the jungle on the Mexican-Guatemalan border to search for missing WayneTech scientist Abel Barrett. There, he runs into The Dead Man’s Hand, an Army Special Forces unit on a highly classified mission of its own. After teaming-up, Batman and the Green Berets come across a giant crashed spacecraft. Inside, they find an opened alien Xenomorph egg and a strung-up victim of an alien insemination. Batman bags up the remains of a spidery larval stage Xenomorph (aka an inseminating “facehugger”). In the depths of an Aztec temple, Batman and the covert ops unit find Barrett strung up like the previous alien victim, except Barrett’s chest has a huge hole in it. The covert ops unit then finds one of their own team members strung-up, but alive. Now aware that alien babies hatch from inside inseminated humans, one of the soldiers shoots the inseminated man dead, which attracts two adult Xenomorph aliens. All of the soldiers are killed except for a pair named Hyatt and Van Derpool. Batman blows up one of the Xenomorphs as he, Hyatt, and Van Derpool escape deeper into the temple. Once the trio reaches a vast underground Aztec sacrificial chamber, Van Derpool is dragged away by the other Xenomorph and killed. Meanwhile, Hyatt reveals her true colors and pistol-whips Batman. She tells the Dark Knight that her mission is to capture the Xenomorphs to use as military bio-weapons. A third Xenomorph then arrives and kills Hyatt. Batman fights and dumps the last two Xenomorphs into an underground volcano, killing them both. Batman then completely destroys the spacecraft and any remnants of the aliens, keeping only the facehugger shell and a recording made by Barrett. After hiking two days to Belize and contacting Alfred, a footsore Batman returns to Gotham. In the Batcave, Batman throws the facehugger shell into the cavernous depths below.

–Batman: Shadow of the Bat #62
Two-Face escapes from Arkham Asylum again. Shortly there after, a masked vigilante known as Janus begins killing Two-Face’s men and thwarts his plans at every turn. But who is Janus, and why is he targeting Two-Face? The answer: Janus is Harvey Dent! The explanation: The evil Two-Face half of Dent’s brain has taken over Dent’s mind completely, causing Dent’s “good” half to create a separate alter ego in a last ditch effort to survive. This new personality manifests itself as Janus. As Batman and Robin work the case, the former shakes down one of Two-Face’s ex-henchmen and notices Alfred sneaking about the city after hours. Curious.

–Superboy & The Ravers #8 Part 2[3]
Picking up directly from Batman: Shadow of the Bat #62, Superboy and his teenage superhero team known as The Ravers (Aura, Half-Life, Hero, Kaliber, Sparx, and Rex the Wonder Dog) end a cross-country road trip with a stop in Gotham City. Despite searching for Batman, they are unable to locate him. The teens do, however, run into a freshly escaped Two-Face, but they don’t recognize him. Batman winds up swinging by on patrol and just misses everyone. This little addendum to Superboy & The Ravers #8 functions as a direct prelude to conclusion of the ongoing “Janus” arc, bridging the gap between Shadow of the Bat #62 and Shadow of the Bat #63.

–Batman: Shadow of the Bat #63
Picking up directly from Superboy & The Ravers #8 Part 2, Batman and Robin suspect that a sneaky Alfred might be the new super-villain Janus! After all, he has been acting shady lately. Thankfully, Batman unravels the mystery of Janus, exposing the “newcomer” as none other than a befuddled Harvey Dent. Thus, poor Harvey goes back to Arkham. But why had Alfred been acting so suspicious? He’s been taking ballroom dancing lessons in order to impress the fairer sex (presumably on-again-off-again lover Leslie Thompkins). Oh, Alfie!

–REFERENCE: In JSA #28. Multi-millionaire tech guru Michael Holt sells his Cyberwear company to WayneTech.

–Batman #542-543 (“FACELESS”)
Mailman Joseph Zedno goes postal and begins killing the people on his mail-route and cutting their faces off. Bruce goes on a daytime date with Vesper Fairchild, but has to cancel their nighttime rendezvous in order to catch Zedno, who has become the super-villain Faceless.

–Batman: Shadow of the Bat #64
Jason Blood (sometimes vessel for the demon Etrigan) tricks Batman into exorcising the hundred-year-old ghosts of newlyweds who were slaughtered by an evil demon.

–The Batman Chronicles #9 Part 2
Mr. Freeze participates in a fake-hostage extortion scheme, which Batman and Commissioner Gordon see right through.

–Detective Comics #711
Bruce Wayne wins some sort of humanitarian award and handles some criminals at the ceremony.

——————–Batman: Shadow of the Bat Annual #5
——————–Batman Annual #21
——————–Robin Annual #6
——————–Detective Comics Annual #10
——————–JLA Annual #1
“Pulp Heroes” was a DC Annual crossover which featured unrelated one-shots, each in a specific formal style or pulp genre. For example, SOTB is a noir detective story featuring Joe Potato, Poison Ivy, and an ancient artifact which creates plant-zombies and giant plant-monsters. The Batman Annual is an Asian-crime drama where Batman travels to Tibet to foil the plans of the evil Green Dragon, Lung Wang, who has conjured-up a Tulpa. For the second time in his career, Batman battles and defeats a mystical Tibetan homunculus. In the Spaghetti Western-themed Robin Annual the Trigger Twins are transferred to a prison in Texas, but escape from a work-detail with help from a criminal posing as their long lost sister. The trio mounts a posse and travels to Gotham where they literally have a high-noon showdown in a Wild West amusement park. The villains are defeated by Robin, Huntress, Nighthawk, Sheriff Shotgun Smith, and US Marshal Ohiyesa Smith (ancestor of the original Pow-Wow Smith). This tale occurs while Batman is in Tibet. The ‘tec Annual is written in the style of an old 60s war pulp. When a bunch of Americans, including Lucius Fox, are kidnapped by Cell Six terrorists in the Latin American country of Hasaragua, Batman rescues everyone in gung-ho fashion. The JLA Annual has two stories. First, J’onn leads an investigation into the murder of an alien in a small town. Second, the Brain Trust sets up an energy field around NYC that will destroy the entire city if any metahuman powers are used. Batman leads a team of Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and Flash into NY and they stop the villains without using any powers. There is also a WWII pulp-themed LOTDK issue, but it takes place in the “Early Period.”

–Anarky #1-4 (“METAMORPHOSIS”) 
Anarky invents a device that will “de-brainwash” every human on Earth of all individual social constraints, hoping to eliminate religious fundamentalism, mass mediated cultural imperialism, and right wing hegemony. This may seem like Anarky’s prior modus operandi, but the big difference is that he now wants to uphold the Capitalist free-market system in America. In order to power his machine, Anarky successfully meets with Etrigan and collects the essence of his unpredictability. Anarky then successfully meets with Darkseid (!) and collects the essence of his evil. After collecting the essence of Batman’s purity, the machine is ready to go. However, Batman damages the machine and it affects only Anarky, who learns the lesson that good cannot be forced upon the masses; the masses must learn good by themselves. Thus, Anarky’s metamorphosis (i.e. belief shift) from legit socialist-anarchist to Ayn Rand-influenced objectivist libertarian is sadly complete.

–Batman versus Predator III: Blood Ties #1-4[4]
Summer. When a bunch of gangbangers have their heads torn off, Batman suspects that Predators might be back on Earth again. In the Batcave, Tim hacks into the police computer system and learns more about the murders. Then it’s the standard fight against an escaped-from-Arkham bank-robbing Mr. Freeze and his henchmen. Mr. Freeze uses his ice gun to destroy the Batmobile and make a clean escape. Harold picks up the wrecked Batmobile in an old tow truck and gives Batman and Robin a ride back home. Meanwhile, two Predators attack Mr. Freeze’s lair, killing all of his henchmen, but leaving him be due to the fact that they can only see heat signatures. Later, Batman decides that the mission against the Predators is too dangerous so he benches Robin. He and a disguised Alfred travel to a WayneTech hangar and steal an experimental military helicopter that has infra-red sighting, rubber bullet machine guns, and radium-laced fluorescent paint sprayers. Batman goes after the Predators in the helicopter, but they destroy it. Later, Batman and Robin apprehend a mostly naked Mr. Freeze, learning that the Predators can’t see cold things. After Mr. Freeze goes back to Arkham, Batman benches the Boy Wonder again, fearing that he won’t be able to handle a Predator. Bruce goes into work the next day and, with Alfred posing as an OSHA worker, gets Lucius Fox to shut down Wayne Tower to fumigate the air vents. Later that night, Batman alters his auxiliary anti-Predator costume to make it more versatile and ice cold. Disguised as fumigators, Batman and Alfred set up an infra-red laser beacon to lure the Predators to Wayne Tower. While one Predator fights Batman at Wayne Tower, the other stalks Tim, who is at a drive-in movie with his girlfriend Ariana Dzerchenko and his best friend Sebastian Ives. Alfred calls Tim on his car phone and warns him, prompting Tim to ditch his friends and come back home. However, the Predator follows him, forcing Alfred and Robin to defend themselves inside the Batcave. As they do, Batman defeats the Predator at Wayne Tower, learning that it is the father of the other Predator, who is going on its ritualistic first hunt. Batman straps the Predator to the Bat-subway rocket and gets back to the Batcave just in time to tell the young Predator to piss off. Humiliated, the Predators leave Earth.

–REFERENCE: In Superman and Batman versus Aliens and Predator #1. Having previously neglected to make a case-file about the Predators, Batman now does so, detailing as much information as he can about the monsters.

–REFERENCE: In Superman and Batman versus Aliens and Predator #2. Batman makes a special serum, based on the DNA of the Predators, which will immediately render a Predator unconscious if injected into its bloodstream.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Secret Files and Origins #1 Part 2. Bruce is interviewed by journalist Lola Charles for a magazine article. He hams up his vapid sloth-like persona during the conversation.

–Robin Vol. 2 #45
Early September. Robin deals with that pesky General again. Batman and Huntress make cameos.

–The Batman Chronicles #10
Early September. Part 1 is a prose story about a 14-year-old’s desire to snap a picture of Batman. In Part 2 an old crook tells a young up-and-comer how his life was ruined by Batman. The newb is scared straight. In Part 3, Batman helps a distraught man recover his pet from dog-nappers. It’s probably best to disregard the snow in this last story as it is a little early for it on our timeline.

Early September. What has been going on with the JLA while Batman made cameos in the previous Robin Vol. 2 #45 and The Batman Chronicles #10? The JLA met former angel turned superhero Zauriel who helped the team fight the angel Asmodel. Asmodel and his army of angels were attempting to succeed where the First of the Fallen and Lucifer failed so long ago. That’s right, Asmodel was trying to shake up the Islamo-Judeo-Christian model by rebelling against God! However, God didn’t even intervene. There was no reason to when the JLA was standing in Asmodel’s way. Meanwhile, Neron, King of Hell, eager to take advantage of the situation and add to the chaos, caused the Moon to begin plummeting toward Earth. Superman was able to use his electricity powers to create electromagnetic poles on the lunar surface which kept the moon in place. However, Neron had one more trick up his sleeve; he awakened the Key (who had been in a coma for almost ten years) and sicced him on the JLA. Cut to JLA #6—Batman returns to the Watchtower just in time to be attacked by the Key and rendered unconscious (along with the rest of the JLA). The Key then administers neuro-chemicals to each JLAer, which causes each to have a “dream flu” or structured hallucination. Superman, for example, is in a construct world where he is the Green Lantern protector of Krypton. Batman is trapped in the same construct world, in which he is old and married to Selina, Tim is the new Batman, and his son Bruce Junior is the new Robin. And in this fake world, Wonder Woman thinks she is a female Indiana Jones fighting Nazi-zombies. There is a brilliant narrative moment when Bruce realizes that their collective “reality” is a fabricated simulation. Superman can’t believe it, but Batman explains, “I appear to be a fit man in his 60s, but the blood pressure and heart-rate I’m experiencing would fit the profile of a much younger, and very probably unconscious man.” Amazing. Actually, I could write an entire term paper on how cool/complex this story is, so you should read it if you can. In the end, Green Arrow (Connor Hawke) defeats the Key and saves the day. He becomes the newest JLA member as a reward! As referenced in JLA Secret Files and Origins #2 Part 2, the JLA puts the Key’s Cosmic Key Ring into the Watchtower trophy room following this case. In order to commemorate the fallen angels from the earlier battle against Asmodel, Zauriel and Kyle Rayner create an artistic story canvas out of the ashes of Zauriel’s lost friend Traumiel. This canvas goes into the trophy room as well.

–Aztek the Ultimate Man #10
The JLA membership drive has been going on for a while now. A few weeks ago, Aztek had an interview with JLA Director of Human Resources Kyle Rayner. During said interview, Aztek made a big impression, earning himself a trial membership with the team. Cut to now: The Ultimate Man helps the JLA defeat Amazo and earns a spot on the official roster! The whole JLA—sans other new member Connor Hawke—attends Aztek’s swearing-in ritual, which includes reading from the Justice Society Bible and paying tribute to the Crimson Avenger’s costume.

–Batman: Shadow of the Bat #65-67
Commissioner Gordon is arrested for corruption and money laundering! Batman is hunted by the GCPD and the Batmobile is impounded! A debilitating financial crisis has struck Gotham! Bruce Wayne is accused of abusing his son David! Wait, what!? Bruce doesn’t have a son named David and Gordon is clean as a whistle. So what’s happening? When small-time crooks Marlon “The Cheat” Dall and Des Connor realize that they can combine their weak metahuman telepathic abilities together, they concoct the biggest scam they can imagine. Using their combined power, they begin hypnotizing everyone in sight and eventually Gotham is in turmoil and the duo has gained over $200 million in less than 24 hours. Once Batman catches on, he is able to bust the bad guys and return everything to the status-quo.

–FLASHBACK: From Detective Comics #859. Batman bumps into socialite Kate Kane, who is able to stop her own mugger without the Caped Crusader’s help. Kate, distantly non-blood related to the original Batwoman Kathy Kane, will become the new Batwoman in about five years.

–Batman: Black and White #1 Part 4 Intro
Late summer. A Gotham resident snaps, becoming the serial killer called Civic Virtue. (He kills a woman that has too many items in her grocery cart yet still goes in the express checkout lane, some sleazy care salesmen, some rude receptionists, a man that doesn’t clean up after his dog, a bad driver, a bank teller that closes early, and a pair of noisy movie watchers at the theater.) Batman begins an investigation and builds a profile on the killer, studying his many letters to the police department and media. Batman will work the Civic Virtue case for the next month-and-a-half.

–Batman: Scarecrow 3D
Mid September. Batman and Robin take on Scarecrow in amazing 3D!  Standard fare (except for the 3D).

–Detective Comics #712-713
Way back in Bat Year Three, Batman rescued a young girl named Gloria Osteen from criminal Nathan Finch, who he presumed had died. Finch is back, now with cybernetic arms and legs that have detachable weapons on them. Calling himself Gearhead, Finch goes after Gloria again. Batman stands in his way and kicks his ass. Add another crappy super-villain to Batman’s rogues gallery.

–Batman Secret Files and Origins #1 Part 1
While chasing down a mugger, Batman recalls the death of his parents and his origin story. Note that Batman Secret Files and Origins #1 Part 2 is a magazine featuring articles about Bruce and Lucius Fox. Part 3 doesn’t feature Batman, showing Alfred and Tim having an adventure of their own where they discover a family of grey foxes living in the Batcave. Part 4 is an article featuring an interview with Alfred. Part 5 is an article about the history of the Wayne family.

–Batman Secret Files and Origins #1 Part 6
While Lucius Fox confronts Bruce about missing Wayne Enterprises tech (i.e. some Bat-tech). Bruce throws him off the correct trail, or does Lucius know more than he’s letting on?

–Superman Vol. 2 #126
Superman retrieves the Kryptonite ring from Batman in order to test it on himself now that he has new electromagnetic powers.  He finds that he is immune to Kryptonite (for now).  Lex Luthor is able to outsmart Superman, do the old switcheroo, and get the Kryptonite ring back!

–Azrael #36
Bane has resurfaced yet again. Eager to please Batman, Az asks if he can take on Bane personally. Batman says yes, but Az decides instead to leave town with his quasi-girlfriend Lilhy.  Az will then change his mind and go fight Bane in Florida after all, with negative results.

–Nightwing Vol. 2 #12
Ever since Nightwing re-located to Blüdhaven he has quickly become the city’s official protector. He squares-off against the anti-Nightwing wing-nut Tad Ryerstad. Batman makes a cameo. (Ryerstad will eventually suit-up in an anti-Nightwing costume and cleverly call himself “Nite-Wing,” but that’s not for a bit.)

–Batman: Child of Dreams
This 338-page manga tome was originally released in two parts in Magazine Z. The first part features Batman in his yellow-oval costume, which is correct. However, the second part shows him wearing his post No Man’s Land outfit, which is wrong. A TV news crew from Tokyo, led by producer Nagai and reporter Yuko Yagi, travel to Gotham with intentions on doing a piece on Batman. There, they converge on a Two-Face hostage situation. Batman saves the day and busts Two-Face. En route to prison, Two-Face literally combusts and mummifies as a result of a rapid spontaneous progeria—it’s not the real Two-Face! The real one is still locked up in Arkham. Later, Alfred and Bruce happen to be driving by Yuko while she is about to be mugged. Bruce saves her life. The next day, Batman captures a fake Penguin and a fake Riddler, both of which convulse and mummify like the fake Two-Face. Later, Bruce and Yuko have a dinner date at Wayne Manor—Bruce is suspicious of Yuko and her crew and wants to feel her out (remember, Bruce is currently dating Vesper Fairchild). The “date” is interrupted when a fake Joker appears in Gotham Park. The faker bests Batman, detonates a bomb that showers “Fanatic” pills all over the city, then escapes. A chemical analysis shows the Fanatic pills are what has been causing people to imitate super-villains and then mummify via super-quick progeria. Batman then meets with the real Joker in Arkham—supposedly he’s been incarcerated for “over a year,” but that is impossible. Although, it has been over six months at this point. Batman then re-tackles the fake Joker, who has abducted and knocked-out Yuko. Batman saves her and the fake Joker mummifies. Yuko wakes up in Batcave. En route back to her hotel, they run into a fake Batman. Batman defeats the imposter and unmasks him as Nagai. Batman realizes a mastermind has been monitoring everything the whole time. The Dark Knight then follows the trail of the villain to a pharmaceutical company owned by Yuko’s uncle, Kenji Tomioka. In Tokyo less than a week later, Bruce is in on “official Wayne Enterprises business.” Bruce (along with Yuko) has an awkward meeting with Tomioka, then goes on two consecutive “dates” with a sexually frustrated Yuko, only really seeing her to get info about her uncle. The day after that, Yuko is drugged with a non-lethal dose of Fanatic and morphs into a fake Catwoman who fights Batman. Batman defeats and sedates her then rushes to Tomioka Pharmaceuticals to confront the mastermind. There, a giant Batman museum has been erected, and the villian reveals himself as Tomioka, a super fan who not only knows Batman’s secret ID, but who wants to collect Batman’s corpse as a trophy so he can replace him as the “new Batman.” Tomioka also has a life-size replica of the Batcave—built based upon plans drafted from secret video taken from a hidden camera placed on Yuko by the fake Joker before she was taken into the real Batcave. Tomioka has also injected himself with a cocktail of power-enhancing drugs and some of Bruce’s DNA (gathered after his fight with Nagai) and wears an armored steampunk-looking Batman costume. They fight, Batman wins, Tomioka dies, and the entire structure blows up. The next afternoon, Yuko steals a kiss from Bruce before he returns to Gotham.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman: It’s Joker Time! #1-3. This entire story is a flashback narrated by the Joker, so we might not be able to trust its narrative. In any case, here is the synopsis. Joker has been incarcerated at Arkham Asylum for over six months now, during which time radical Dr. AW Pynch has been treating him with a unique experimental method. He’s forced Joker to watch The Barry Dancer Show (basically a Jerry Springer analogue) for twenty-four straight weeks 24-7 without interruption.  Joker is finally able to escape, but due to the treatment, he is a catatonic, drooling shell of his former self.  As luck would have it, a Goth TV (Gotham TV Studios) camera crew discovers the aimless Joker and decides to put him as a guest on The Barry Dancer Show.  On live national TV, Joker comes face-to-face with his tormentor for the last six months: Barry Dancer in the flesh.  Joker snaps and tries to kill Barry, but security is able to restrain the clown and put him in a cell.  Ratings are through the roof, so the show keeps on filming, with Joker as the star attraction.  Meanwhile, Goth TV’s lawyers have the situation tangled up to the point where Batman nor the GCPD are legally allowed to intervene.  As the daily show continues on, Joker tells a story about his troubled childhood where his mother murders his policeman father and he himself  is involved in the accidental deaths of his mother and uncle.  Joker also tells a re-imagined version of the Red Hood incident which spawned him.  Of course, as always, we must take these stories with a grain of salt since Joker is constantly spewing forth lies regarding his past.  Joker is then able to seduce a network executive named Cassandra Hahn and in doing so is able to take over as host of the show!  Things come to a head when Joker drops Barry Dancer and Cassandra Hahn into a vat of chemicals.  Batman is able to fish them out of the soup and get them to the hospital, but the Joker escapes scot-free.  The conclusion to this story happens a week later.

–Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #125
Wonder Woman has been critically injured during a confrontation with the King of Hell, Neron. In an effort to wish her well, many heroes visit the comatose Wonder Woman at a hospital in Gateway City, including a secret visit by Batman. However, tragedy rears its ugly face and Diana succumbs to her wounds. You heard it correctly; Diana dies!

–NOTE: In the pages of Flash Vol. 2—and also referenced in the pages of JLA. Flash is seriously injured. Combined with the recent death of Wonder Woman, Flash’s injury leaves the JLA in a temporarily weakened state.

–JLA #9 Epilogue
Early October. This epilogue from JLA #9 takes place exactly one month after the JLA’s altercation with the Key.  From a secret location, shadowy figures send out the JLA Revenge Squad to battle the JLA.  The JLA Revenge Squad contains an evil “hard holographic light” version of each JLA member.  Who’s pulling the Revenge Squad’s strings?

–JLA #10
The JLA easily defeats the Revenge Squad in Star City (with a few civilian casualties), but they still don’t know who created this puppet anti-league or when they will strike again. We (the readers) learn that the creators are none other than the re-assembled Injustice Gang led by Lex Luthor! Meanwhile, in deep space J’onn senses that a terrible cosmic wave of destruction and reality-altering power is headed toward the Milky Way Galaxy. Genesis will be upon us shortly.

–FLASHBACK: From the epilogue to Batman: It’s Joker Time! #3. It’s been a week since Joker dropped media-moguls Barry Dancer and Cassandra Hahn into a chemical bath. Upon waking up in the hospital, Barry and Cassandra have lost all semblance of their personalities. They don super-villain costumes, go by the team-up name of “The Video-Raptors,” and go on a homicidal killing spree before Batman apprehends them. From a secret location, Joker laughs at his creations. PS. While Joker is loose at the end of this tale, we must assume that Batman does indeed catch him shortly thereafter since Joker is incarcerated in Arkham at the beginning of our next story.

–Batman #544-546 (“THE MAJOR ARCANA”)
Alfred meets Vesper and he approves! Meanwhile, the Joker tries to summon the devil through an Occult ritual. Peaked by curiosity, the demon Etrigan shows up instead! Etrigan serves as Joker’s bodyguard while the Harlequin of Hate turns a bunch of people into warped versions of himself using a new version of his deadly chemical.  This new “Joker Juice” is a precursor to the chemical he will use in “Last Laugh” a bit later. Anyway, Batman has a long chat with Etrigan and convinces the demon that Joker is his enemy, not his friend. Etrigan then tries to kill Joker, but Batman saves his life. Unsure if Batman’s actions have better served the side of good or the side of evil, Etrigan returns to Hell.

–Starman Vol. 2 #33-34
Because of his altercation with the Joker (in “Major Arcana”), Batman is a little late for an appointment in Opal City. Solomon Grundy has recently reincarnated as a superhero (every time he dies he usually reincarnates as a mindless homicidal brute) and helped save Opal from destruction. In the process, he was badly injured. The heroes of Opal want to preserve this good version of Grundy. Thus, Ted Knight, the original Starman (now retired), has asked Batman to accompany the Floronic Man, whose expertise may be able to save Grundy’s life, to Opal. The Floronic Man is able to create a mystical vegetable which when eaten allows the heroes to enter Grundy’s mind. Batman and Floro enter Grundy’s twisted consciousness along with Ted’s son (the new Starman Jack Knight) and the original Green Lantern Alan Scott now called Sentinel. Jack wields a refurbished Gravity Rod, now sentient and known as the Cosmic Staff. Ted Knight even enters Grundy’s mind to provide assistance, but in the end, the good “Solly Grundy” dies. Grundy will eventually be reborn with his usual monstrous nature.

——————–Starman Vol. 2 #35 Part 1
——————–Genesis #1-2
——————–Batman #547
——————–Robin Vol. 2 #46
Genesis picks up right after Starman #34. Opal City resident Mikaal Tomas (Starman of the planet Talok III) and Opal City’s Commissioner of Police Clarence O’Dare (brother of Opal cops Matt O’Dare, Mason O’Dare, and Barry O’Dare) meet to mourn the death of the heroic Solomon Grundy. Across town, Batman bids his friends Alan Scott, Ted Knight, and Jack Knight adieu. Before driving the Floronic Man back to Arkham, Batman tells Jack that his favorite Woody Allen movie is Crimes and Misdemeanors!  When the Caped Crusader arrives back in his home city, he learns that many of Earth’s superheroes have lost their powers. Batman further learns that the cause is a cosmic force known as the “Genesis Wave” or “Godwave.”  According to theory, the Godwave was originally created by the Big Bang and swept through the cosmos helping spawn the original gods. The Godwave had apparently also swept through the universe a second time (thousands of years ago) creating the first ever metahumans. Now, the Godwave is making a historic reality-altering third pass, and not only are metahumans losing their powers, non-powered humans are committing suicide in record numbers as well. Darkseid wants desperately to harness the power of the Godwave and travels to the edge of the known universe in attempt to achieve his goal. The heroes (minus Batman who stays in Gotham in order to prevent as many suicides as he can) follow Darkseid in an attempt to stop him from breaking through the Source Wall, which protects and houses the secrets of the Godwave/The Source. The heroes are able to defeat Darkseid and restore reality to the status-quo. NOTE: Remember Darkseid’s quest for the Anti-Life Entity back in Bat Year Twelve during Cosmic Odyssey? We still don’t know it yet, but we will later find out that the Anti-Life Entity is linked to the Godwave, as they are both a aspects of the evil half of the cosmic deity known as the Source. (The Source has a good half as well.) The Source Wall protects the Source. It is through knowledge and study of the Source that one can gain access to the mathematical formula known as the Anti-Life Equation. We will also later learn that the Source Wall exists at the edge of each universe in the multiverse and operates as as the first barrier between gaining access to an alternate universe (although there are other means of traveling to alternate universes such as Boom Tube technology, metahuman speed/vibrational/teleportation abilities, etc…). And of course, let’s not forget that beyond the Source Wall exists the Bleed, a tesseract space which serves as the final blank void/highway between universes. This information will all be relevant a few years later during Countdown and Final Crisis.  Trust me.

–The Spectre Vol. 3 #62
This is a quick interlude in-between Genesis and Rock of Ages.  While the heroes were dealing with the Genesis Wave, the Spectre had been on a quest to speak directly to God face-to-face. This quest ends with the death of the Spectre’s human host, Detective Jim Corrigan. (Corrigan has previously been killed four times, each time resurrecting as the Spectre’s host. This time, the fifth death is final.) Many superheroes mourn Corrigan’s passing.

–JLA #11-15 (“ROCK OF AGES”)
In three days’ time Lex Luthor’s so-called “corporate takeover” of the JLA is in full effect. His Injustice Gang, which comprises Joker, Ocean Master, Mirror Master II, Circe, and Dr. Light, has neutralized the entire team except for Batman who discovers that Luthor is the man behind it all. Batman recruits Plastic Man into the JLA and they begin an offensive against Luthor. However, Luthor has an ace up his sleeve.  He holds the mystical all-powerful artifact known as the Philosopher’s Stone, which has the capability to threaten all existence. New God Metron shows up and tricks Green Lantern, Flash, and Aquaman into taking a trip through space and time to the distant realm (near the end of time) known as Wonderworld. (I could take 50 pages to fully describe the infinite nature and near incomprehensible scale of what is going on here, but instead I’ll keep it simple.) Our traveling heroes meet the android Hourman from the 853rd century, who explains, “This is the first time you have met me, but not the first time I have met you.  The next time you meet me will be the first time I meet you.”  This will make so much goddamn amazing sense when we get to “One Million” that your head will spin with delight. Anyway, back on Earth, Batman pays-off Mirror Master to betray Luthor. Meanwhile, our wayward heroes, Green Lantern, Flash, and Aquaman, travel back in time, but wind up in an alternate future in the year 2018 where Darkseid has discovered the Anti-Life Equation and has turned Earth into a global concentration camp. An aged and rugged Bruce Wayne has just escaped from eight years of torture, but can still kick serious ass. This Dark Knight of 2018 meets with the trio and explains that fifteen years ago in a JLA battle with Luthor’s Injustice Gang (i.e. the story we are currently reading!), Superman destroyed the Philosopher’s Stone, unknowingly releasing the deadly power which Darkseid was able to harness and use to take over the world. Our time-traveling heroes realize that they need to get back in time to stop Superman! As they find themselves hurtling back towards present day, the 2018 version of Batman is able to help defeat Darkseid, but not before being struck and killed by an Omega Beam! If this shit isn’t practice for Final Crisis, I don’t know what is. I’ll say it again: Amazing. The time-travelers are able to stop Superman from squashing the Stone at the last second, thus preventing the dark future portrayed in 2018. For a sec, Joker gets his hands on the Stone, but J’onn uses his telepathy to rejigger the information in the Joker’s brain, making him temporarily sane.  In this moment, Luthor convinces Joker to use the power of the Stone to make it so that the Revenge Squad’s attack on Star City never occurred, thus clearing Luthor of any criminal charges. Metron takes the Stone and reveals that its alternate aspect is the Worlogog, which Hank Hall had previously used to fuck with time during Zero Hour. Metron also reveals that a fraction of the Source exists within the Stone/Worlogog. And if you don’t know, even a fraction of the Source is some serious shit. After contemplating the impossible scope of what has occurred, senior members Batman, Superman, and Aquaman decide to disband the JLA! The events which have just happened are too much for the heroes to comprehend. Nothing, and I repeat nothing, has shaken the DCU more than this, and the JLA plans to take a step back, figure out what to do next, and begin an intensive re-recruitment campaign. If you are wondering, three months will pass before the JLA officially re-assembles (not counting the events of Paradise Lost). Until then, we move on as crime never rests in Gotham City.

–FLASHBACK: From the B&W second feature to Batman: Gotham Knights #47. An escaped Riddler and his henchmen kidnap a bunch of people and hold them hostage high atop the Gotham Bridge. Batman saves everyone by using the Batplane.

–Resurrection Man #7
Batman shakes-down some gang members who have just killed a John Doe. Later, Batman intervenes during a shootout, but another John Doe is murdered. Later still, an escaped Killer Croc takes hostages at a burger joint and kills several people, including another John Doe. After busting Croc, Batman learns that each John Doe had the exact same description and the first two bodies have mysteriously disappeared. The Dark Knight realizes that the same man has been killed three times, yet somehow regained life. He rushes over to the morgue and witnesses Resurrection Man (Mitch Shelley) come alive! Shelley has the power to resurrect himself shortly after death, each time gaining a new random metahuman ability. Startled, Resurrection Man fights Batman and flees. Later, during a labor dispute that turns into a full-fledged riot, Resurrection Man shows his true heroic colors and helps Batman bring peace to the mob. Batman thanks Resurrection Man and gives him high praise as a superhero.

–Detective Comics #714-716
Detective John Jones (aka J’onn J’onzz aka Martian Manhunter) of the Denver PD tracks criminal Wiley Dalbert to Gotham, but is unable to apprehend the crook because Dalbert has teamed-up with Firefly.  J’onn’s only weakness is fire.  J’onn immediately calls Batman and Robin for help and they are able to corner Dalbert.  As soon as the trio is about to arrest him, Wiley vanishes.  It is revealed that Dalbert is actually a 27th century physicist traveling backwards through time with the goal of reaching the “simpler, better times” of the 19th century.  In issue #716 a crook’s scheming puts the life of his wife and child in danger and he dies saving their lives. The crook’s spirit re-tells the tale as an aghast Gordon and Batman struggle to understand the horrible nature of the criminal mind.

–Batman #548-549 (“THE PENGUIN RETURNS”)
Doug Moench and Kelley Jones form, in my humble opinion, one of the weakest writer/artist combos of the first fifteen years of the Modern Age. Between Moench’s banal scripting and Jones’ inconsistent illustration, it’s quite a mess. And “The Penguin Returns” is a prime archetype. Bruce and Vesper share their cloying first kiss and Vesper reveals that she is in love with him!  Haven’t they been dating for a couple months? Why are they acting like chaste 13-year-olds courting in the 19th century? Also, Penguin decides he needs to return to campy crime to “get it out of his system.”  Moench/Jones devolve the character as best they can and Cobblepot starts committing trick-umbrella heists left and right until he is caught by Batman. Because there is no admissible evidence (even though there actually is) Penguin gets off scot-free and returns to his life running the casino. Ugh. Let’s move on.

–Batman: Shadow of the Bat #68
Halloween. This tale is about a serial killer who has drowned one victim every year for the past nine years on the anniversary of the day he took acid and hallucinated visions of the grim reaper. Batman prevents him from killing number ten.

–Batman: Black and White #1 Part 4
Halloween. Having just busted a serial killer, Batman goes for another. After all, it’s Halloween, so why not? After months of investigation, Batman finally tracks down Civic Virtue and brings him to justice.

–JLA: Paradise Lost #1-3
November 1. While Zauriel actually introduced himself to his true-love Shannon Coyne at the end of JLA #9, it has apparently taken him these past two months plus to get in her good graces. Asmodel has forged an alliance with Neron in Hell and they have amassed an army of demons and fallen angels. While Neron’s army attacks Heaven, Asmodel (while possessing the body of a five-year-old boy) nearly kills J’onn. In his nearly-dead state J’onn is able to join in the war between Heaven and Hell. Zauriel stops his own heart for several minutes to enter the fray as well. Asmodel then joins the battle too, but after the attack begins to falter, Neron betrays the fallen angel and the war ends. Shannon then goes off with her boyfriend, so the spurned Zauriel decides to set up his own floating superhero headquarters above Los Angeles (with God’s full support). In the end, Aquaman tells Zauriel that the Big Three (now Batman, Superman, and Aquaman since Diana is deceased) are meeting to discuss the official re-assembling of the Justice League. Zauriel is added to the team roster!

–Batman: Poison Ivy
Batman versus Poison Ivy in a pretty typical but well-written prestige-format Poison Ivy tale. Disregard Ivy’s flashback recollections to her early years. They are incorrect.

–NOTE: In Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #127-130—and also referenced in JLA #18. The Greco-Roman gods make Diana (the deceased Wonder Woman) the Goddess of Truth. Diana’s mother, Hippolyta, becomes the new Wonder Woman. Hippolyta travels back to the 1940s and joins the JSA, fighting alongside the team for eight years before returning to present day. Interestingly, this means chronologically (due to the time-traveling) that Hippolyta was Wonder Woman before Diana! Yet technically Hippolyta is the 3rd Wonder Woman (Artemis filled in for Diana briefly as the 2nd). I love stuff like this. Back to this moment on our timeline: After returning from the 1940s, Hippolyta joins the JLA, filling in the void left by her daughter.

–Batman: Shadow of the Bat #69-70 (“THE SPIRIT OF 2000”)
A supernatural entity which feeds off of the psychic emanations of doomsday cults uses Malochia as its human vessel. The anachronistically named “Spirit of 2000” has given Malochia a vast amount of apocalyptic power, which the millenarian villain is more than happy to use. All at once, Malochia triggers the start of every single end-of-the-world conspiracy theory. Batman visits fortune teller Cassandra (who helped him way back in ‘tec #617) for advice, but he winds up getting assistance from the new Dr. Fate, Jared Stevens, who is a punk version of Dr. Fate that simply goes by “Fate.” Batman and Fate enter the alternate dimension known as the Otherworld and confront the Spirit while Cassandra telepathically enters Malochia’s mind. The trio is able to stop the apocalypse. NOTE: We should retcon/rename this story’s villain to “The Spirit of 2012” which would make a lot more sense since this tale takes place in 2003. This retcon isn’t even much of a stretch since Oracle mentions the Mayan calendar ending in 2012 in this very story.

–Red Hood: The Lost Days #2
November. Jason Todd (who has recently been rejuvenated in a Lazarus Pit by Talia al Ghul) secretly returns to Gotham.[5] While Batman is tackling some mercenaries connected with Penguin, Jason plants a bomb underneath the Batmobile. Batman—pictured wearing the incorrect costume—drives off, but the troubled Jason realizes that he wants revenge against his former mentor face-to-face and decides not to detonate the device. Jason then returns to Talia’s side and begins training—training that will last for the next three years (with both Talia and various assassins). Batman still has no idea that Jason is alive (nor will he).

–REFERENCE: In Red Hood: The Lost Days #4. Batman patrols with Robin. Talia tells Jason that Batman has a new Robin, showing him photos of the Dynamic Duo in action.[6]

–FLASHBACK: From Scarecrow (Villains) #1 aka New Year’s Evil: Scarecrow #1. The Scarecrow has total control over the small Gotham suburb of Greenvale. For the past several weeks, Scarecrow has secretly kept the residents dosed with Fear Gas and has played god with them mercilessly. Batman finally finds out about it and is able to arrest Scarecrow. Every resident of Greenvale is too scared to testify, except for grad student Becky Albright. With her testimony, Scarecrow is convicted and goes back to Arkham.

–Nightwing Vol. 2 #13-15
Batman comes to Blüdhaven to help Nightwing in his crusade against crime in Gotham’s sister city. Things aren’t easy in Blüdhaven because Blockbuster runs both the organized crime and the police department.

–Batman #550
Cassius Clay aka Clayface V is only about twelve-months-old, but his body has already aged physically to that of a teenager. His mind, however, is still functioning at the level of an infant. Since his capture, Cassius has been studied by the secret government organization known as the Department of Extranormal Operations (the DEO). During experimentation, Dr. Peter Malley takes a sample of Cassius’ skin, which accidentally merges with his own skin. Malley is transformed into a monstrous walking clay glob with the infantile consciousness of Cassius. Thus, Clay-Thing aka Clayface VI is born! Determined to find his lost parents, Clay-Thing marches toward Gotham. The new Clayface manages to make it all the way to Arkham, but Batman and DEO Agent Cameron Chase team-up to stop him. Clay-Thing is destroyed and his remains are stored at DEO HQ. NOTE: Following the events of this story, Cassius Clay, while technically not a criminal and far too young to be sentenced as such anyway, is sent to Arkham Asylum, which has containment units that can hold the potentially dangerous creature.

–Detective Comics #717-718
Batman battles Gearhead for the second time.

–REFERENCE: In Flash Vol. 2 #134. Bruce Wayne does a favor for his buddy Jay Garrick, purchasing Jay’s floundering science laboratory for three times the market value. Bruce also appoints Jay as the part-time director of the new “WayneTech Garrick Labs.”

–Batman: Shadow of the Bat #71-72
Issue #71 is like an episode of Law & Order.  After a ton of suspects are interrogated Batman solves the mystery of who killed Joe Dell.  In issue #72 Batman puts some criminals behind bars, including Crazyface Burrell, Edmund Gryzl, and the one-shot costumed super-villain known as Drakken.

–Batman #551-552
Each time the Ragman kills an evildoer, his soul is trapped within the rags of the supernatural patchwork costume. Now the Ragman has killed so many evildoers that the evil souls have taken over the Ragman entity. Rory Regan (vessel for the Ragman) returns to his hometown of Gotham in hopes of escaping the Ragman. But when Neo-Nazis threaten his Jewish community, Regan becomes Ragman and begins murdering the skinheads. The chaos reaches a climax when the evil rags grow sentient on their own and no longer need a human host! Instead, the rags fly around like a swarm of locusts, killing every “evil” person along its path. In the end, influenced by a pep-talk about Jewish mysticism and love for God, Regan is able to regain control of Ragman and aid Batman in bringing the Nazis to justice. Bruce also finally tells Vesper that he loves her! Also, the bats in the Batcave are restless and bright lights can be seen through the cracks and crevices of the cave. This is ominous foreshadowing for the oncoming earthquake which we will see in a couple weeks.

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

–Batman: The Abduction
Batman is abducted by a UFO piloted by little grey aliens while chasing after the Chemical Gang.  What!?  Really?  Not exactly.  Bruce is so convinced that he was both abducted and implanted with an alien chip that he attends a UFO convention to meet with expert Dr. Franklin Selly.  His visit with Dr. Selly only raises more questions.  After then being accosted by the mystical and mysterious Kook, who warns of a diabolical alien plot to eliminate humanity, Batman doesn’t know what the hell is going on.  Turns out that the Chemical Gang works for the Kook (who is actually Dr. Selly). During his initial encounter with the Chemical Gang, Batman was drugged with Selly’s invention known as Cosmosis, which causes detailed alien-themed hallucinations that can last for days. Selly’s goal is to release Cosmosis all over Gotham so that everyone will believe in aliens because if people don’t believe in them then they won’t be prepared for invasion. (He’s a little confused.) Once Batman discovers what’s going on, he is able to stop Selly’s plan.

–FLASHBACK: From the B&W second feature to Batman: Gotham Knights #47. An escaped Riddler shoots up a masquerade party. Bruce, who is in attendance at the party, switches costumes and beats up Riddler.

–FLASHBACK: From Scarecrow (Villains) #1 aka New Year’s Evil: Scarecrow #1. The Scarecrow has been loose from Arkham for two weeks now and he wants revenge against Becky Albright, the young woman who testified against him a month ago, resulting in his last incarceration.  Even though she is safely under Batman’s watchful eye, the Dark Knight can’t be there for her all the time, so the Scarecrow attacks her on the subway train and doses her with Fear Gas. There’s a great scene where a Guardian Angel (one of those militia guys who protect the subways) is easily discarded by the Master of Fear. Anyway, Scarecrow learns that Becky’s greatest fear is based upon memories of kids teasing her because she had horrible scoliosis as a child. With tears in his eyes, Scarecrow lets Becky go, relating his own troubled childhood to hers.

–Batman: Gordon of Gotham #1-4
Gordon finally tells Batman the story of how his police career was tainted in Chicago, forcing him to start over in Gotham fifteen years ago. Gordon’s story is complicated, mired with corruption on all levels, and involves both the Irish assassin known as Cuchulain and the bent politician Harcourt Greene. Why has Gordon decided to reveal the secrets of his past now? Because Cuchulain and now Presidential candidate Greene are in Gotham. Gordon brings both crooks down solo.

–Nightwing and Huntress #1-4
Batman is out of town for a week and leaves Dick in charge of Gotham. Nightwing teams-up with Huntress and over the course of the week they take down corrupt cops, criminal Boss Malfatti, and crook Frankie Black. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. Dick and Helena have sex! And, hoooboy, a jealous Oracle is royally pissed off when Dick tells her. Dick and Helena won’t hook up again, but there will always be sexual tension between them from now on, which will always make for very interesting narrative. Funny how Bruce is celibate with Vesper, but Dick always has time for love, even if it’s a one night stand. If the Dark Knight has to have a boring sex life (by choice), I’m glad Nightwing balances work with pleasure.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman #600. Bruce and Vesper get in a fight because he never spends enough time with her.  In this instance, Bruce makes up the excuse that is is playing golf with the President of the United States. I should mention that Vesper is incorrectly drawn with very short hair, which is a hairstyle she never had and never will have.

–Batman: Toyman #1-4
Toyman and Stiletto (not the mustachioed gangster Stiletto, but the half-nude sexy villainess Stiletto) kidnap a deaf child named Tyler. Issue #2 is told entirely from Toyman’s twisted perspective. Issue #3 is told entirely from the deaf child’s perspective, so it has no dialogue or onomatopoeia words in it. Issue #4 is told entirely from Batman’s point of view. At one point the injured Batman is too weak to stitch himself up, so he has Tyler do it for him! In a very ambiguous and strange ending, the Dark Knight is able to capture Toyman, but Stiletto escapes with the child.

–The Batman Chronicles #13
Three GCPD tales. First, Montoya and sexist detective Eddie Blazak capture Harpoon Man, a guy who harpoons people to death while wearing a wetsuit and snorkel. Second, Bock solves a murder mystery and in the process finds out that an old friend isn’t such a good friend. And, third, Bullock teams-up with Sheriff Shotgun Smith to recover a stolen artifact from museum burglars.

–Batman: Dreamland
This is the follow-up/sequel to Abduction. The doctors at Arkham were able to rehabilitate the Kook as soon as they flushed the Cosmosis out of his system. We learn that the Kook is a psionic-powered metahuman whose abilities were being amplified by the Cosmosis in his system, and thus were causing his wild personality. When a woman comes to Batman with claims that her scientist father was murdered by the government because of top secret info he was going to release regarding Area 51, the Caped Crusader goes to the best UFO expert he knows for advice: Dr. Selly aka The Kook. The Kook is reluctant to help out as he no longer believes in an alien conspiracies, but does so anyway. Batman and the Kook team-up and travel to Nevada where they discover that the US Government does indeed have a fully operational secret base at Area 51. After infiltrating the base, our story ends vaguely, and poses the unanswered question: Are there little grey men with giant black eyes that abduct and probe rednecks in an attempt to gather information that will lead to the destruction of humankind? Probably not and who cares.

–Batman 80-Page Giant #1-2 
Bruce Wayne is a hopeless layabout by day and a Riddler apprehender by night. Penguin acquires Two-Face’s prize coin, until Harvey gets it back.  Bullock is a fatass who can’t stop eating. Huntress continues to be more ruthless than Batman and Robin want her to be. Gordon goes undercover wearing a wire in a pool-hall to ensnare a vainglorious cop-killer. Rhino has separation anxiety while he’s locked up in Blackgate and the Ventriloquist and Scarface have been returned to Arkham. In Gotham, all the major players and shakers are always busy. Moving on, Two-Face plays Russian Roulette with Batman, accidentally knocks himself out, but winds up escaping anyway. The Riddler flees from Arkham and plays his deadly games with Huntress. Croc, Mad Hatter, and the Ventriloquist (with Scarface) also escape from Arkham to party at Penguin’s casino. Batman and Robin quickly ship them back to the asylum. When Poison Ivy creates vicious dog-plant hybrids and sics them on Batman, Catwoman is there to combat the canines with felines. Speaking of Selina, she recalls the time she went to NYC and battled a bunch of Texas Chainsaw Massacre-esque kitty torturers.  Next, Two-Face hires Deadshot to kill Batman, but Deadshot fails in his task. Batman then apprehends Two-Face, who frustratingly lands over a hundred unmarked “good” coin-flips in a row.

–REFERENCE: In Gotham Central #11. Batman busts some crooks, who stand before a judge and argue that their rights have been violated, citing that the cops sicced a superhero vigilante on them. The GCPD tried to argue that Batman has nothing to do with them—the GCPD’s “official” stance on Batman has always been that he is either an urban legend or that they have nothing to do with him at all. The former stance is obviously quite ridiculous and could only have worked post-Zero Hour, prior to later retcons. In any case, the perps walk free because the judge—who has actually seen Batman before in-person—knows that there is a connection between the GCPD and the very real Batman. This prompts the GCPD to get creatively bureaucratic, hiring a civilian temp that will serve a dual role. Newly hired Stacy not only becomes the GCPD head secretary, but she also becomes the non-police employee that will switch on the Bat-Signal, moving forward. Stacy will be called upon to switch on the signal quite often, and, quite often, she will see Batman respond to the call. We will simply have to imagine these Bat-Signal calls scattered throughout (and attached) to cases on our timeline below. Note that the GCPD will definitely not always follow the “civilian must switch on the Bat-Signal” rule all the time. And it is safe to say that the GCPD will abandon this rule altogether in a few years’ time.

–DC Universe Holiday Bash #1 Part 7
Christmas. Bruce and Alfred celebrate X-mas together.

–Scarecrow (Villains) #1 (New Year’s Evil: Scarecrow #1)
Scarecrow confronts Becky Albright and asks her to become his sidekick, The Mistress of Fear. He even has a sexy female Scarecrow costume ready to go.  Becky turns him down and the spurned Scarecrow tries to kill her. Batman swoops in and saves the day as usual.

–JLA Secret Files and Origins #2 Part 1
The Big Three (Superman, Batman, and Aquaman) meet and hold one final membership drive before re-assembling the JLA. The new Justice League of America consists of Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Plastic Man, Zauriel, Huntress, Steel, and Oracle.

–REFERENCE: In Final Crisis: Requiem #1. The current JLA lineup poses for a photo, which gets developed and framed as a keepsake for the trophy room.

–JLA #16-17
About three months have passed since JLA #15. The media is invited to the lunar Watchtower for a global broadcast/press conference announcing the new official Justice League of America lineup. But just as the new team introduces itself, newcomer Prometheus reveals that he has infiltrated the Watchtower and proceeds to systematically take out each JLAer one-by-one.  After kicking everyone’s ass (you should really read this for yourself if you haven’t because it’s amazing), Prometheus is about to claim victory when Catwoman saves the day! Catwoman had also sneaked onto the Watchtower (to see what she could steal), but decides to play hero when things get ugly. After Selina’s interference, the JLA is able to rebound and regain control of the base. Prometheus escapes to his house in Limbo. At the conclusion of the story, the acting Highfather of New Genesis (and a living embodiment of the Source), Takion, arrives at the Watchtower and appoints Big Barda and Orion as Earth’s official New God Protectors. (The former Highfather, Izaya, has died, in case you were wondering.) By default, Big Barda and Orion become members of the JLA as well. As referenced in JLA Secret Files and Origins #2 Part 2, the JLA puts Prometheus’ helmet into their Watchtower trophy room following this case.

–FLASHBACK: From Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 5 #1. The JLA fights an epic battle against a horde of super-villains, including Joker and Epoch.

–JLA #18-19
When Nobel Prize-winning physicist Julian September invents the “Engine of Chance,” the laws of probability begin to breakdown. Airplanes fall from the sky just as random super-villains—Deadline, Dr. Spectro, Atomic Skull, Merlyn, Captain Cold, Hellgrammite, and Piledriver—pull off the exact same scheme simultaneously. Global catastrophe begins to occur and the reality of the past, present, and future is altered significantly. For example, the US has lost the Revolutionary War and Bruce Wayne’s parents were never killed, so there is no Batman! As the “probability cancer” spreads, usually minute coincidences become near-impossibilities on a universal scale, and vice-versa. The natural order of the world begins to battle against all of the radical changes, threatening all life on Earth.  Just as DNA is the building block of life, linked photons are the building blocks of synchronicity (according to the math of the DCU). The remaining JLAers shrink down to a molecular level with the help of the Atom and are able to reconnect the severed photon chains, thus restoring the planet back to its status-quo. At one point in the story J’onn says the JLA has existed for nearly a decade. Under ten years?  Sounds absolutely perfect for our chronology as I have the first appearance of the Justice League occurring in Bat Year Six. As referenced in JLA Secret Files and Origins #2 Part 2, the JLA puts Julian September’s probability engine into their Watchtower trophy room following this case.

–REFERENCE: In JLA Secret Files and Origins #2 Part 2. The JLA acquires a Kirby Dot from the illustrious Professor Kirby! The JLA keeps the Kirby Dot as a trophy!

–Impulse: Bart Saves the Universe
Impulse (Barry Allen’s grandson Bart Allen) decides to annoyingly ingratiate himself with as many members of the superhero community as he can, including Batman, who does not appreciate it one bit. Amazingly enough, Impulse defeats Extant (Hank Hall) in this one-shot, in a sense, actually saving the universe.

–FLASHBACK: From Impulse #50. Late December. Batman teams-up with Impulse to take on the Joker.



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  1. [1]COLLIN COLSHER: The Azrael/Ash inter company crossover, published by DC and Event Comics in mid 1997, could go either way in terms of continuity. While a fun read by Denny O’Neil, Joe Quesada, and Jimmy Palmiotti, and one that features a cool Batman cameo, I’m hesitant to add it because it’s one of those inter company crossovers that doesn’t explain how a character that is clearly from another universe appears within the world of another. Instead, the out-of-place character (in this case, Event Comics’ Ash) is treated as if they’ve always just been there. This trope is what makes Batman/Grendel, Batman/Hellboy, Batman/Mask, and Superman/Incredible Hulk non-canon (at least in regard to DC’s continuity). Now, to be clear, there are some inter company crossovers that are canon despite being guilty of the same thing—like Batman/Punisher, Batman/Predator, or Batman/Alien. These titles remain in-continuity because they are specifically meant to be canon, written to connect directly to the main line or in ways that undeniably affect ongoing storylines. I’ve always thought that, when doing these types of inter company crossovers, writers need to show how universes collide—à la Batman/Judge Dredd, JLA/Avengers, or Batman/Fortnite. Otherwise, no matter how it feels, your yarn might as well occur in its own unique continuity, wholly separate from either home of the characters appearing in said crossover. Returning to Azrael/Ash—we could include it, but it definitely falls into the category of “Ash is not a DC character, but we’re going to pretend that he always has been for the purposes of this story,” which makes me lean non-canon. However, Azrael/Ash doesn’t contain anything too egregious in terms of continuity, so we could fanwank that some weird cosmic anomaly is temporarily merging the Event Comics Earth with DC’s Earth-0, thus causing this crossover. It’s really a personal headcanon thing, so I’ll just leave it in your capable hands, dear readers.
  2. [2]COLLIN COLSHER: See the footnote attached to Batman versus Predator #1-3 in Year Thirteen Part 2 for details on why the Batman versus Alien series, like the Batman versus Predator series before it, is indeed canon.

    And also, a friendly reminder that the Xenomorph aliens that appear in the DCU/Dark Horse Predator and Alien crossovers are NOT the same ones that appear in the films or other Dark Horse media. Like the Predators that show up in the DCU, these Xenomorphs are alternate universe aliens that have their own unique history within the DCU.

  3. [3]JAMES MAHONEY IV: Superboy and The Ravers #8 Part 2, despite containing an editorial note saying that it leads into Shadow of the Bat #62, should actually be in-between issue #62 and #63 due to the fact that Harvey Dent is already out of Arkham Asylum during his alleyway scene in Ravers #8. Two-Face’s escape occurs in Shadow of the Bat #62. I know it’s suppose to be a prelude, but it just doesn’t make sense in context when you read Ravers #8 and Shadow of the Bat #62-63 (“Janus”) together.
  4. [4]COLLIN COLSHER: See the footnote attached to Batman versus Predator #1-3 in Year Thirteen Part 2 for details on why the Batman versus Predator series is canon. And don’t forget that the Predators seen here are alternate DCU versions, different from the other Dark Horse versions or movie versions.
  5. [5]COLLIN COLSHER: As detailed in Judd Winick’s Batman Annual #25 (2006), here is the timeline of Jason Todd’s return: Jason is resurrected six months after his death; he goes into a coma for a year; he lives as a homeless amnesiac on the streets for a year; he spends a year with Talia until she finally revives his memories via the Lazarus Pit; which brings us to Red Hood: The Lost Days #2, which occurs only a couple weeks following his Lazarus bath. Following Red Hood: The Lost Days #2, Jason will spend the next three years training with Talia and various other assassins.
  6. [6]COLLIN COLSHER: Note that this item is written (by Judd Winick) as though it occurs in Red Hood: The Lost Days #4 (in Bat Year Eighteen), which makes absolutely no sense. It only makes sense here. However, since the rest of issue #4 must occur in Year Eighteen (prior to “Hush”), this means this item must be considered a separate flashback from the rest of Winick’s narrative. Either that or we simply ignore Red Hood: The Lost Days #4 altogether. No matter the case, now is the time when Jason learns about Tim.
  7. [7]COLLIN COLSHER: Batman: Outlaws, which was originally published around this period on our timeline, is non-canon for a whole mess of reasons. First, it takes place before “No Man’s Land” (before “Cataclysm” since Nightwing is living in Blüdhaven) yet features Cassie Cain as Batgirl. This doesn’t add up since Cass becomes Batgirl during/after NML). Secondly, Outlaws relies heavily on the post-Zero Hour concept that Batman has remained an urban myth for the first fifteen years of his career and has never once been filmed or photographed. This post-Zero Hour concept (established in 1994) was quickly forgotten and then totally retconned out a few years later. If the idea that Batman was still considered a myth was merely mentioned or alluded to it would be easy to ignore (as we have had to do for lots of other stories). However, it is a major plot point. Furthermore, the fact that Outlaws was written in 2000 (and not nearer to 1994 when Zero Hour came out) leads me to believe that the references and inaccuracies were done purposefully to establish this story as an out-of-continuity Elseworlds-style tale.

2 Responses to Modern YEAR FIFTEEN (Part 2)

  1. Pocok says:

    How is that the 1993’s Batman: Seduction of the Gun ended up here, almost 4 years later? Was there any specific reason for it? (just asking)

    • I have Seduction of the Gun here (an in-story year later, but actually OVER four years later publication-wise) mainly due to the fact that Tim pretends he is in high school in this one. Placed alongside other 1993 titles, Tim would still be 11-years-old. It’s hard to imagine an 11-year-old passing for a high-schooler, but some kids hit puberty early I suppose. I’m not sure Tim is one of those kids, but you make a good point. Plus, Tim IS a master of disguise. I’ll see about sliding Seduction earlier. Placing it close to “Knightfall” (but before Bane breaks Batman’s back) probably will do our timeline more justice rather than moving it a year later just because of a small age niggle.

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