Modern YEAR NINETEEN (Part 1)

2007 (January to April)[1]
_______________________________

HUSH Part 1
——————–Batman #608-609
January 1-2. (A newspaper tells us it is November 27-28, but we unfortunately cannot take that as gospel.) A new era is officially upon us! Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee begin their famous “Hush” story-arc. When a boy is kidnapped, Batman designs some new hypersonic weapons and builds some new cowl-tech, which allows him to do instant crime-file facial-recognition scans on anyone he comes across. Debuting his new tech and weapons, Batman rescues the kidnapped boy from some hired goons, including a monstrously mutating Killer Croc. But during their fight, the ransom money is stolen by Catwoman. The Caped Crusader swings after Catwoman, but someone cuts his line causing him to fall hundreds of feet to his impending doom. Batman makes a proper mid-air adjustment just in the nick of time, avoiding death, but suffering a broken shoulder and fractured skull. Meanwhile, Catwoman returns the briefcase full of money to Poison Ivy, who has Selina under her spell. Huntress is able to help Batman into the Batmobile, which automatically drives him back home. Alfred does the best he can to stabilize the unconscious and broken Bruce, but it looks bad. Oracle even contacts a healthy Shondra Kinsolving (!) to ask for her help, but Shondra doesn’t respond. (A little over a week ago, Shondra was still suffering from brain trauma and stuck in a childlike state of mind—as seen in Azrael: Agent of the Bat. However, in an apparent effort to give Shondra’s long-running story thread a happier ending, Jeph Loeb shows that she has now made a recovery. Yay!)[2] With Bruce is rapidly worsening condition, Alfred and Dick, just like they did during “Knightfall,” fake a car accident and call the authorities. Bruce’s childhood friend Dr. Tommy Elliot is flown in and performs emergency brain surgery on Bruce, saving his life! But who cut Batman’s rope? And who are Croc and Ivy working for? A mystery man with a bandaged face watches from the shadows. Only time will tell his secret.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman: Gotham Knights #41. January 3. Despite having just undergone brain surgery less than twenty-four hours prior, Batman is acting like Batman and already going out on patrol. While investigating a seedy club, Batman becomes aware of a new deadly narcotic being pushed on the streets. The drug is known as “Elastix” and is made from Gingold, the super-stretchy serum which gives Elongated Man his pliant powers.

–Batman: Gotham Knights #37-42
January 3-23. There is so much going here with Scott Beatty’s amazing run on GK, I’ll try my best to keep it brief. When a Kobra cult member threatens to detonate a nuclear bomb Batman goes on red alert. Spoiler confronts Batman about cutting her out of the loop after her training ended months ago. Batman tells her that she lacks the abstemiousness and ability to be a crime-fighter. Spoiler begs for one more chance and the Dark Knight cuts her a deal. If she can locate the bomber and save the day, she can stay on the team. If not, she’s done. Spoiler fails. Thankfully, Metamorpho was on back-up to stop the detonation. Bruce fires Stephanie as harshly as possible. Poor kid. For Steph, this is like getting dumped hard. She cries and Tim has to console her. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce and Alfred talk about the Bat-Family. Bruce, in regard to Stephanie says, “I’m just trying to protect this extended family from becoming too large and unmanageable.” Alfred scolds him, saying that no one really chooses the vigilante life. The children look up to Bruce and can never walk away, unless they are forced to, as Stephanie was. Alfred also reminds Bruce that even Bane and Huntress yearn for his approval and acceptance to be within the family. PS. This might be a slight rib by Alfred since we know that Bruce has set up a trust fund for Bane (similar to the one he set up for Jean-Paul four years ago). Meanwhile, the Question tells Nightwing that Huntress has been abducted by Checkmate. (NOTE: A Checkmate meeting is shown where they mention their recent “failure with Sasha Bordeaux,” referencing her recent departure in ‘tec #775.) In a penthouse suite atop a secret Gotham Checkmate base, Huntress is examined under a fine-tooth comb by new Checkmate King, David Said. Said has employed the services of Scarecrow and Mad Hatter (on loan from Arkham) to get inside Helena’s mind through the use of hallucinogenic drugs. Said offers her the Queen’s position in Checkmate (second in command)! Huntress refuses and escapes, winding up in one of Batman’s downtown underground Bat-Bases under his protection. Checkmate is able to track Huntress to the underground base and infiltrate it (!), but Batman and Huntress are able to fight off the Checkmate agents. Anyway, Huntress returns to Checkmate and accepts the job as Queen, but secretly will report to Batman. Batman now has a mole within Checkmate! But before Batman can pat himself on the back, Tim, Leslie Thompkins, and Dick call Bruce with a frantic message: Alfred is dying of a mysterious illness! Batman rushes home and there is nothing much he can do except wait. Leslie stabilizes the unconscious Alfred and tries to determine the cause of his ailment. With nothing better to do, Bruce goes out in his Matches Malone disguise and teams-up with Elongated Man and his wife Sue Dibny to get the illegal narcotic “Elastix” off the streets. When he returns, Leslie informs him that Alfred is dying of the Clench (the disease from way back in Contagion). GK #42 takes place over the course of 20 days, since the antibiotics which suppress the Clench virus work on a 20 day cycle. It’s around January 4 when this issue begins, so we’ll go from there. Day 1: Bruce sits by Alfred’s bedside. Day 2: The Bat-Family is in quarantine and is vaccinated. Batman communicates with JLA about the danger of another Clench outbreak. Day 3: Bruce chats with Leslie. Day 4: Alan Scott answers the Bat-Signal throughout the week as a substitute for Bruce, who watches over Alfred. Day 5: Tim reflects on the romance between Leslie and Alfred. Day 6: Leslie realizes that Alfred has caught a mutated version of the Clench from the bats in the Batcave. Day 7: Bruce ends the Bat-Family quarantine and seals up the Batcave. Day 8: The Atom shrinks down and goes inside Alfred to check things out at a molecular level. Day 9: Cassie buys Alfred a “get well” card. Day 10: Bruce tries to make chicken noodle soup and fails miserably. Day 11: Alfred wakes up! Day 12: Batman wails on Riddler. Day 13: State case worker Felix Desidero visits Bruce with accusations of various child abuse towards his wards Jason and Dick. Day 14: Babs has lunch with her dad. Day 15: Batman steals an experimental anti-virus from a LexCorp laboratory. Day 16: Superman visits Alfred. Day 17: Bruce and Dick fumigate the cave (and the bats) with the Clench anti-virus. Day 18: Batman sends the anti-virus to Bane (in the Himalayas) since he was in the Batcave recently. Day 19: Alfred recovers! Day 20: We learn that Bat Boy Aaron Langstrom has run away from home and is currently living secretly in the Batcave! (Aaron Langstrom is also shown leaving home and hiding in the Batcave in a flashback from Batman: Gotham Knights #45.)

–Batgirl #34-40
Now that there is nothing left for Batgirl to learn in the martial arts, it’s time to begin her detective training. Batman lets her in on the “Alpha” case he’s been working on for over seven months now. Alpha is a deadly mercenary who was trained by David Cain. After bringing a cold fusion bomb into Gotham seven months ago, Alpha went off the radar because he was struck with amnesia and forgot who he was. The mob then took him in, where he remained virtually hidden, until now. Batman and Batgirl take Alpha into their care and he slowly regains his mind. Remembering that he is a stone-cold killing machine doesn’t make him feel good, but Batgirl explains that she too was once trained by Cain. Together, they deactivate the fusion bomb. Meanwhile, Cain escapes from prison and abducts a young girl. Batgirl saves the child, but learns something she probably already knew in her heart: Cain is indeed her biological father. Batman then tells Batgirl to stop patrolling with Spoiler since she is unfit to be a member of the Bat-Family (as per her failure in Gotham Knights #37 last month). Batgirl goes out with Spoiler anyway. The duo fights some all-girl gangs and Batgirl comes to the conclusion that Batman is right—Spoiler isn’t ready for the big-time. Shortly thereafter, Batgirl battles the Tarakstanian metahuman terrorist known as Black Wind. Afterward, Oracle convinces Batman to give Cassandra a vacation. Babs and Cassie go on a cruise. Not only are they surprised to see Superboy on the same ship, they are surprised to learn that he is working on a case involving Black Wind too. And who should naturally show up? Black Wind! Superboy and Batgirl team-up and take down Black Wind. Before returning home to Gotham, Superboy and Batgirl reveal they have feelings for each other by sharing a kiss. Cassie feels a bit confused though, as she has partly fallen for the charismatic Black Wind as well. Oh, Cassie and your teenage hormones. At least the girls get to continue their vacation.

–Batman: Gotham Knights #43-46
Felix Desidero continues his investigation into whether or not Bruce committed child abuse against Jason Todd and Dick Grayson years ago. He even serves Bruce with a court order. Batman lets off some steam by talking with Nightwing and then busting Query and Echo. Back at home, Bat Boy Aaron Langstrom, who is still living secretly in the Batcave, spies curiously on Batman, who works feverishly on a case which involves the kidnapping of a high-school basketball star. Alfred tells Bruce he should put his detective skills to better use and find out who has been eating the sandwiches he’s been leaving in the Batcave. Batman then runs into Man-Bat, who is out looking for his son. They team-up (!) and solve the kidnapping case together. But when Man-Bat smells Aaron’s scent on Bruce, he flips-out, going so far as to destroy the Batmobile! After Bruce calms him down, he realizes that Aaron is hiding in the Batcave. Meanwhile, Desidero interrogates Alfred, Dick, Tim and Cassie about whether or not Bruce is a good father. Bruce arrives just in time to be interviewed as well. Desidero leaves seemingly satisfied with Bruce’s genuine answers and legitimate tears. In the Batcave, Kirk Langstrom reunites with his son and all is right in the world again. Next, the Spook finally gets out of jail on parole and moves into a Halfway Home. He had served time for almost nine years! The Bat-Family meets to discuss how to handle him, ultimately deciding that they should give him a hard time. Bruce does some follow-up research on the recent Checkmate incident (from Gotham Knights #40). Learning that a Checkmate pawn was killed, he sends money to the soldier’s wife. Later, the Spook tries to go on the straight-and-narrow, but the Bat-family hounds him so much, he deliberately violates his parole to escape their persecution. It’s back to the safety of Blackgate for the ol’ Spook. NOTE: Bruce is wearing the wrong costume in all of the flashbacks from issues 43 through 45. Writer Scott Beatty tried to retcon Batman’s history here to make it so that he didn’t switch over to the yellow-insignia costume until after Jason’s death, which is absolutely one-hundred percent wrong. Also, the B&W second features to GK #43, GK #45, and GK #46 are all non-canon, whereas the B&W second feature to GK #44 is canon. The latter is a Batman-less tourist guidebook to the best shopping, culture, and food in Gotham City.

–Batgirl #42-44
For the past couple days, Cassie has been staying in Smallville, where she and Superboy have reaffirmed their feelings for one another. However, they decide it is best if they remain friends instead of lovers. When Cassie returns to Gotham, Batman, yet again, is not a happy camper about the time she has spent with Superboy. The Dark Knight then reveals his belief that Dr. Death (!) is supplying Tarkastanian rebels with a deadly poison. We haven’t heard from nor seen Dr. Death in eighteen years! Since Batgirl has had experience with the Tarkastanian metahuman known as Black Wind, Batman takes her on a trip to Tarkastan, where the duo encounters Black Wind and his rebel group. However, Batman learns that Dr. Death has been supplying the Tarkastanian government with his poisons, not the supposed “terrorists.” In the end, Black Wind dies a revolutionary hero, while containing the poison from spreading. Bruce and Cassie, who was kind of in love with Black Wind, are saddened by the loss of such a good and decent man. In Gotham, Bruce publicly condemns the terrorist nation of Tarkastan.

–Detective Comics #788-790
Death Row inmate Eddie Hurst breaks out of prison and goes on a killing spree. His final would-be-victim, Kira Kelly, is saved by Batman. When the Dark Knight takes him down, Eddie bursts into electric light and all that remains is a small carved stone. Batman touches the stone and is magickally endowed with a blind superhuman rage. He then takes down some gangsters using his metahuman strength before realizing that he is being magickally controlled by Kira Kelly. The Caped Crusader fights off the spell and sends Kelly to Arkham. After that, Batman busts up a drug lab and then visits Jason Todd’s grave with Cassie. NOTE: Issue #790 must take place before the events of “Hush Part 2” (in which Batman discovers that Jason Todd’s corpse is missing). Therefore, the “August 16th” date mentioned in the story is incorrect. Likewise, the mention of it being Jason’s 18th birthday is also incorrect.

THE OBSIDIAN AGE
——————–JLA #68-72
Late January to Early February. Note that this first part of “The Obsidian Age” (JLA #68-72) seems to span about three weeks (with the full story spanning over a full month’s time), but due to compression, the most space this first part can occupy on our already squished timeline is around two weeks (with the sum total of the arc comprising just over three weeks). As the DCU’s top science-heroes and magic-heroes study the recently reappeared Atlantis, Zatanna makes a startling discovery. When Atlantis was attacked during the Imperiex War, Tempest (formerly Aqualad) cast a spell of protection which was supposed to have saved the underwater kingdom by sending Aquaman and his people to a safe alternate dimension. However, something went horribly wrong; Tempest’s spell accidentally sent the entire population of Atlantis 3000 years into the past. Zatanna explains that after being sent back in time, someone must have cast a second spell, a containment spell, which made Atlantis completely invisible and undetectable for the next 3000 years (until now). Using Tempest’s magic, the JLA decides to go back in time to rescue Aquaman and his people. Batman wires remote command “Omega Gabriel Alpha” back to his Batcave computer. Superman seems shocked at this command. Moving forward with their plan, the JLA is sucked into a time vortex. Cut to “one month later” (actually two weeks later). It’s early February. The JLA has yet to return and the Earth is in shambles. “Omega Gabriel Alpha” finally kicks in. The Batcave computer sends out robot spheres to recruit a new JLA team. Batman, in a pre-recorded video of himself, explains this special computer program was “designed to run in the event of a cataclysmic dissolution of the league followed by a decline in the integrity of the various systems around the Earth.” Batman and Superman’s hand-picked league includes the following: Nightwing as leader (!), the Atom, Green Arrow (Oliver Queen), Hawkgirl (Kendra Shiera Saunders), Firestorm, Faith, Major Disaster, and Jason Blood (Etrigan). Back to 3000 years ago, the JLA is in hiding while they assess a mysterious situation. Aquaman and the Atlanteans from the present are still missing. However, the sorceress Gamemnae has lifted Atlantis above ground and rules the paradise with the aid of Rama Khan (ancient ancestor of the Rama Khan that recently fought the JLA) and a metahuman super-team, which includes Manitou Raven and Tezumak. Gamemnae was responsible for sending them into the future to fight the “destroyers” (the JLA). Meanwhile, Bruce has gotten ill, stricken with a fever of 106 degrees. The rest of the League sneaks into Atlantis and is shocked when an aquatic avatar of Aquaman bursts out of a pool of water begging for help. Aquaman has been magickally bonded to this pool of water, where he faces constant pain and agony. Back in 2007, the replacement JLA reports for duty.  Massive drought and water shortage have mysteriously begun to plague the Earth. The seas are literally drying up. Lava flows threaten to destroy Tokyo. The replacement League is able to save Tokyo on its first official mission, but is surprised to learn that all of the Earth’s water is being literally flushed into the planet’s core through a hole beneath Atlantis. The replacement JLA is even more surprised when Zatanna and Tempest discover what appears to be the skeletal remains of Superman, hidden within the ruins of Atlantis!  Back 3000 years ago, we learn that Rama Khan has foreseen the destruction of his beloved country Jarhanpur at the hands of “the destroyers.”  And wouldn’t you know it, he’s not entirely wrong! The League’s intervention into the affairs of the modern day Rama Khan did indeed result in the destruction of Jarhanpur (as seen previously in JLA #64). Thus, it is pretty easy for Gamemnae to manipulate Rama against our heroes. The JLA also discovers a terrible secret. Aquaman’s people were enslaved by their own kinsmen as soon as they arrived in the past. The ancient Atlanteans promptly lured Aquaman away never to be heard from again. The JLA is also disturbed to learn that they have arrived not in the year 993 BCE as they had hoped, but instead in 978 BCE. The modern-day Atlanteans have already been enslaved for fifteen years! Plus, Aquaman has been under constant torture for fifteen years! After Superman literally cries out for justice, the JLA goes after Gamemnae, but runs headfirst into her tough super-team. And when I say tough, I mean tough. The Jewish alien warrior known as The Anointed One is not only fast enough to catch Flash, he’s strong enough to literally rip his legs off! And he does. He literally rips Flash’s legs off.

THE OBSIDIAN AGE Conclusion
——————–JLA #73-75
——————–Aquaman Vol. 6 #1
——————–JLA #76
Early February—picking up directly from JLA #72. While Batman and company struggle in the year 978 BCE, the laws of physics continue to break down in 2007 and the entire planet is on the verge of being thrown into the sun. The replacement JLA finally meets the cause of all the chaos: a 3000-year-old Gamemnae in gigantic monster form. The battle isn’t going so well, so President Luthor decides to bomb Atlantis using the newly developed weaponry discovered during “New Maps of Hell” (two months ago in JLA Classified #10)! Of course, Luthor doesn’t bother warning the replacement JLA, who barely escape thanks to the help of Green Lantern! But how? I’ll tell you! In the year 978 BCE, Kyle creates an avatar of himself using his ring. Kyle’s avatar waits patiently for 2985 years to deliver a message to the replacement JLA. The GL avatar fills in Nightwing and friends about what is happening (what happened) in 978 BCE and offers a plan to save the day. Why didn’t the ring avatar warn the JLA before this story?  Hell, why didn’t he warn the JLA before the Imperiex War?  Ahhh, the plot holes are piling up! (I guess, in defense of this part of the story, you could argue that GL wanted to mess with as little history as possible.) Anyway, back in 978 BCE, the JLA are getting their asses handed to them by the “ancient league.”  Batman, recovered from his ague, finally returns to the fray. Sensing that the end is near, Batman and Wonder Woman kiss!  Let me repeat that: Batman and Wonder Woman kiss! Every member of the JLA is then killed. Let me repeat that. Everyone in the JLA is killed! Well, everyone except for Plastic Man, who goes missing. Tezumak kills Batman, while the Anointed One pummels Superman to death. Right before the JLA are defeated, Manitou Raven realizes he’s fighting on the wrong side and concocts a secret magickal plan to right the wrongs. As Kyle chokes out his final breath, Raven tears out Kyle’s heart. After a wild celebration all over Atlantis, the power hungry Gamemnae begins absorbing the members of her super-team into her own body, which in effect steals their metapowers and kills them. Meanwhile, Raven uses his powers to prevent the spirits of the fallen JLAers from passing on to the afterlife.  Instead, he re-routes their spirits into Kyle’s extracted heart. Raven then traps Gamemnae as she tries to absorb him and, together, they become linked in a spell which will put them to sleep for the next 2985 years (until Gamemnae breaks free to wreak havoc on the planet). The battle between Gamemnae and her League has decimated Atlantis. The city lies in ruins. Then things get confusing. (They weren’t already?!) In the present, Kyle’s ring avatar leads the replacement JLA to Raven who still has Kyle’s heart, which still contains the spirits of the dead JLA. Raven releases their spirits and a zombie JLA begins to battle the now Godzilla-sized Gamemnae. Meanwhile, Raven sends half of the replacement JLA back in time to the year 978 BCE (after the JLA get killed, but before Gamemnae is trapped with the sleeping spell) to try and defeat Gamemnae in the past. Why don’t they go back to like 979 BCE and team-up with the JLA before they all got slaughtered? Who knows. I could venture a decent guess, but I won’t bother. (Also, I suppose we can throw away my previous theory about not wanting to mess with history.) Anyway, the replacement JLAers are able to filter Aquaman’s prison pool into the sea, which allows Aquaman to rise up as a gigantic water-wraith. In the present, Gamemnae is angry because she can’t kill the JLA since they are already dead, so she uses her magick to bring the zombie Leaguers back to life! Think of the inane logic of this: Gamemnae brings the JLA back to life so that she can kill them. The narrative continues when Raven, in a nod to Apache Chief from the old 70s Super Friends cartoon, says, “Inukchuk!” and grows to giant-size in order to fistfight Gamemnae. Raven then saves the Earth and defeats Gamemnae. Meanwhile, Superman, J’onn, and Wonder Woman literally pull the Earth back into its correct orbit using Wonder Woman’s magic lasso. In 978 BCE, Aquaman defeats Gamemnae and ironically accidentally sinks Atlantis in the process! Zatanna then uses her magick to open a time portal which allows everyone, including Aquaman and Raven, to return to the present. But what about Plastic Man? In a pretty huge reveal, we learn that Plas is immortal and that he was crumbled into a thousand tiny little pieces during the JLA’s fatal battle with the “ancient league.”  For 2985 years poor Plas survives as crumbs scattered across the bottom of the Atlantic. In the present, Firestorm collects the pieces and delivers them to the Atom, who revives the fallen hero. But 2985 years to yourself is a long, long time, and Plas is glad to be back, but he’s had enough. He retires as Plastic Man and goes to spend time with his son.  As if the League wasn’t shaken up enough, J’onn and Kyle decide to leave the team as well. John Stewart is sent from the GL Corps to be the new GL rep in the JLA, replacing Kyle. Also, the Atlantean courts put Aquaman on trial for all of the shit that happened to his people under his leadership. He is found guilty and is kicked out of his own kingdom. Okay, so this ambitious time-paradoxical epic is definitely worthy of a brief end-recap. So here it goes. Aquaman and the Atlanteans were enslaved and tortured for fifteen years before returning to the present. Plastic Man was trapped in the Atlantic Ocean for 2985 years. Every other member of the JLA is brutally murdered and then their spirits are trapped in Kyle’s heart for 2985 years before they are released into zombie bodies and then eventually given their lives back. I should note that Plastic Man has painfully felt the slow crawl of 2985 years, which makes his decision to quit the team very justifiable. The other JLAers don’t seem to have felt the sting of a 2985 year wait, so we must assume that in spirit form, time seems to pass at light speed.  At story’s end, the JLA now consists of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, GL John Stewart, Flash, Faith, the Atom, Major Disaster, and Firestorm.

HUSH Part 2
——————–Batman #610-616
——————–Wizard Zero Special: Hush Interlude
——————–Batman #617-619
Early to mid February. A month has passed since the first part of “Hush.” The titular villain has yet to make his presence known to Batman. Since the chaos of the last month has finally subsided, Batman finally gets a chance to interrogate Killer Croc at Arkham about their previous encounter. Croc busts out and learns that both he and Catwoman were both played by Poison Ivy, but they still don’t know who is pulling all the strings. Batman and Catwoman decide to chase Ivy to Metropolis, but not before they give in to temptation and kiss! Gotta love the Jim Lee Batman/Catwoman make-out splash page. When the Bat and the Cat corner Ivy, she’s got an ace up her sleeve; she’s controlling Superman! Batman and Selina make-out some more and then the former slips on the Kryptonite ring and begins scrapping with Supes! Catwoman throws Lois Lane off of a building and Superman snaps out of his trance to save her. Glad that worked. Superman, Batman, Catwoman, and Krypto the Superdog (!) easily capture Ivy. Back in Gotham, Joker and Harley Quinn attack the Gotham Opera. Catwoman is shot and badly injured and Tommy Elliott is apparently shot and killed! Batman is about to pummel Joker to death before ex-commissioner Jim Gordon shows up and talks him down. A week later, Tommy is laid to rest, but Bruce thinks something is fishy about his old friend’s death. ERROR: Bruce says Dick is the first person to whom he ever revealed his secret identity. Wrong. It was Leslie Thompkins. Speaking of Dick, Nightwing teams-up with Batman to take down the Riddler. Afterwards, the bandaged mystery man (from “Hush Part One”) reveals himself to be Harvey Dent! The half-scarred Two-Face is no more! Harvey has undergone complete reconstructive surgery and is back (and supposedly a good guy now)! Meanwhile, Batman finally reveals his secret identity to Selina (!) and they make-out some more. (Selina once knew Batman’s secret ID back in the old days, but she lost that knowledge thanks to a Dr. Moon mind-wipe.) Bruce is then lured halfway across the globe by Ra’s al Ghul. They have another one of their famous sword battles and Ra’s warns the Caped Crusader that someone else has recently used his Lazarus Pit. After some twists and turns, Ra’s fades back into the shadows from whence he came.[3] Back in Gotham, Catwoman tangles with Talia and Lady Shiva, but the deadly duo is too much for her. Catwoman gets the shit kicked out of her, nearly getting killed. Batman returns to Gotham to save Catwoman. He also tells Talia that he has serious feelings for Selina. A few days later, Batman, Robin, a recovered Catwoman, and Huntress deal with Scarecrow. Then, the bandaged mystery man shows up again, but this time, reveals himself to be Jason Todd! PS. This is indeed actually Jason Todd (as we will learn in Batman #641). But, halfway through their fight, Jason switches places with Clayface, who has morphed himself to look just like Jason. After the switch, Batman easily defeats the fake Jason and goes on thinking it was Clayface the whole time. (This sequence is also shown via flashback from the second feature to 52 #8 and Batman Annual #25.)[4] Batman then follows the clues to none other than… Harold? Yes, Harold! Harold initially betrayed Batman in order to set off the chain of events which has led us to this point in exchange for surgery which got rid of his hunchback and restored his ability to speak. Harold apologizes to Batman, but before he can say another word, he gets a bullet in his brain. Our bandaged mystery man is back and he knows Batman’s secret identity. This time there are no more red herrings. It’s Tommy Elliot, who faked his own death (switching places with Clayface) and now has become the super-villain known as Hush. Why does he hate Bruce? Because, as a child, Tommy severed the brake lines in his parents’ car. His dad died in the resulting accident as planned, but his mom was saved by Bruce’s father on the surgical table. Tommy has hated the Waynes ever since. Harvey Dent and Jim Gordon show up to help save Batman from Hush, who escapes. Dent reveals that Hush had injected Croc with a serum that caused his feral monster-mutation. Dent also reveals that his own surgery was conducted by Hush in exchange for his cooperation in the grand plan. However, Hush never realized that by surgically removing Harvey’s scars, he surgically removed the evil Two-Face as well. While the evil may be “removed,” Harvey has committed a shit-ton of crimes in his life, and therefore, is still detained in Arkham. Oh, I should also mention that Bruce and Selina begin dating now!

–Nightwing Vol. 2 #81
Dick gets shot by Deathstroke and is hospitalized in Blüdhaven. Bruce, Cassandra, Babs, and Alfred all pay him a visit in the hospital. Bruce again expresses his desire for Dick to quit being a police officer. While Dick recovers, Cassie suits up as Batgirl and fights Deathstroke, obtaining information on his next hit: One of Dick’s fellow officers. Dick suits up as Nightwing and saves the officer’s life.

–Adventures of Superman #614
February 15. Batman discovers a hidden government commune in Ohio known as Heroville, which has existed in secret since the 1950s. Heroville is home to dozens of government agents who were experimented on and trained to be superheroes against their will. Unable to deal with situation, Bruce notifies Superman who makes sure the residents of Heroville are not only free but also well.

–the second features to Batman: Gotham Knights #38-42
First, a sweaty fubsy guy plays with Batman and Catwoman real-dolls. Meanwhile, Batman poses for a picture with an old lady. I guess he’s changed his anti-photo stance. Next, a paranoid criminal is convinced that his new neighbor is Batman in disguise, so he kills the guy. After that, the actual Batman checks up on former petty thief David Thompson. Bruce then visits an art exhibit which displays sculptures and photos of gargoyles from Gotham’s most famous pre-quake buildings. Many of these Gothic statues have factored into his crime-fighting past. In fact, one of the gargoyles pictured is actually Batman’s fake gargoyle lockbox that he’s used for storage for over a decade.

–Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia
Wonder Woman partakes in the Amazonian ritual known as “The Hiketeia,” in which she is honor bound to eternally protect a young Gothamite named Danielle Wellys. But when the Amazon Princess learns that Danielle has killed the drug dealers who murdered her sister, she suddenly finds herself in battle with Batman. Writer Greck Rucka shows a lot of emotional tension between Bruce and Diana and they have a pretty epic battle. I’d like to think that some of the tension is also because Diana and Bruce have kissed recently, and now Bruce is dating Catwoman. Anyway, in the end, Danielle kills herself, concluding Diana’s Hiketeia ritual.

HUSH Part 3 (Conclusion)
——————–Batman #619 Epilogue
Two weeks have supposedly passed since the Hush affair, which cannot be true due to time compression. A mere few days have passed. We learn that Tommy Elliot wasn’t the only person manipulating everyone. Riddler was at the top of the chain as well. Edward Nigma, very recently diagnosed with cancer, not only rid himself of the disease by bathing in a Lazarus Pit, he also discovered Batman’s secret identity! This is the grand introduction of the suave and dangerous Riddler that will become the definitive version of the character, much beloved in the 2000s. Also, Batman finally realizes that Jason Todd’s grave is empty. It’s been empty for seven years! Oddly enough, Batman will be so preoccupied with other shit that he won’t be able to investigate this matter right away. And so much for steamy romance between the Bat and the Cat. They break up at the conclusion of this soulless tale because Bruce can’t trust Selina. Overall, “Hush” is an ambitiously memorable but subpar Jeph Loeb story that makes me yearn for the quality Modern Age Batman epics of yesteryear i.e. “No Man’s Land” or “Knightfall.”

[5]

–the second feature to Batman: Gotham Knights #48-49 (B&W)
A random snitch is about to become Gotham’s new top mob boss until he is killed by another snitch. The murderer is chased by Batman into the waiting arms of Commissioner Akins and his officers. After that, the Caped Crusader busts Scarecrow. Scarecrow’s narration reveals that Batman is the only thing he fears (and that he kinda gets off on it). (Note that the second feature to Gotham Knights #47 only shows Batman via a series of flashbacks, hence the reason it is not included with this bunch.)

CITY WALLS
——————–Green Arrow Vol. 3 #35
——————–Green Arrow Vol. 3 #37

When Riddler (drawn a bit too old-school-looking here, but oh well) is hired by billionaire Albert Davis, he runs amok in Star City. Green Arrow (Ollie Queen) phones Batman to get advice on how to deal with him. Later, Ollie has a heart-to-heart with wayward teen Mia Dearden, whom he’s taken into his home and begun training. Ollie admits to Mia that he cheated on Dinah with Joanna Pierce (Black Lightning’s niece). When Riddler leaves another clue, Green Arrow (Ollie) and Green Arrow (Connor Hawke) investigate, learning that Riddler as acquired an atomic bomb. After busting Riddler, things don’t get better, though. Davis is able to wield occult power to seal off the entire city under an impenetrable dome, after which he summons demons to police the helpless citizenry, which falls under his iron fist. Batman, Superman, and Jason Blood examine the outside of the dome, determining that there’s absolutely no way in or out. Green Arrow (Ollie) brutally tortures Riddler into telling him info about Davis. After some library research (the occult ritual has shut down all electronics under the dome), the Green Arrows go after Davis, who is protected by his army of demons.

–Catwoman Vol. 3 #22
Selina Kyle and Holly Robinson have hit the road and gone on a monthlong cross-country road trip. After reading about a Catwoman misadventure in Keystone City, Batman grows concerned. (The Caped Crusader is also extra concerned because he recently dumped Catwoman.) As such, Batman meets with another of Selina’s ex-boyfriends, Slam Bradley. Batman asks about Selina and trashes her relationship with Slam, to which Slam replies with snarky comments and a fist to the face. Cue one of my favorite fight sequences in all of comics as a tough Slam gets walloped but keeps coming back for more. Only Catwoman would bring two level-headed men like Batman and Slam into a passion-filled, jealous brouhaha. After things settle, a bloodied Slam tells Batman that Selina is on the road and is doing fine.

CITY OF CRIME[6]
——————–Detective Comics #801-808
——————–the second feature to Detective Comics #800
——————–Detective Comics #811-814
David Lapham brings his twisted, dark writing-style to Gotham. Imagine Batman in the world of Stray Bullets. Pretty scary stuff, and also one of the most confusing Batman stories ever written. This story begins quite strong, but winds up turning into a nonsensical mess by its end. First, the Dark Knight avenges the murder of a 14-year-old girl. Then, when a tenement building catches fire, Batman calls in Robin for assistance. Most of the residents are saved, but Batman discovers a locked room full of kidnapped pregnant women. The women all perish in the flames, but the truth about an illegal baby-ring is revealed. Little does Batman know, Penguin is behind the scheme. When another a pregnant teen, Cassie Welles, is kidnapped, Batman vows to find her. Meanwhile, Penguin is frantically trying to eliminate any loose ends which can link him to the crimes. Penguin hires Mr. Freeze to go on a grisly killing spree, murdering dozens at safe-houses, adoption agencies, and law offices. If you want to read some of the BEST and scariest Mr. Freeze ever written, read Lapham’s Freeze. The icy villain freezes dozens of people at a time (mostly pregnant women who have either been paid-off or have been kidnapped), smashes them to pieces, and then burns the pieces into ash. All is going according to the murderous plan until Mr. Freeze sees a specific victim that causes him to betray his benefactor. He kills Penguin’s henchmen and steals away with the girl, who he believes is his long dead wife Nora! (The girl isn’t Nora. Freeze is just wrongly convinced that she is.) Batman makes a few trips to intimidate rich parents that have bought illegal babies, but is still one step behind his leads until he comes across what’s left of one of Penguin’s henchmen. The dying, partially frozen henchman is missing the lower half of his body and is in shock. After interpreting his incoherent rambling, Batman learns that Penguin is behind everything. Then, the pregnant girl held by Freeze is able to escape into the waiting protective arms of Batman, ending the villain’s threat. Following the rescue of the girl, both Batman and Robin discover that many people in Gotham have been replaced by mysterious clay-like doppelgängers, which begin to terrorize the city. Batman then follows up a lead and charges in on the Ventriloquist, only to discover that he’s been attacked and lies in a coma. When the Caped Crusader is about to be swarmed by hundreds of clay doppelgänger s wearing Halloween masks, a mini-gun toting Penguin flies in on a helicopter and saves Batman’s life! Penguin has the wherewithal to realize that a city full of doppelgängers is bad for everyone. NOTE: At this point in our narrative, a supposed three weeks have passed since the beginning of the arc. Batman then goes undercover as a homeless man for an entire week, during which he gathers more crucial information regarding the doppelgängers, and then goes undercover as a construction worker for another week after that! There is absolutely NO WAY this story can last over five weeks. Due to editorial compression, we must assume this tale takes at most five days. Moving on. And now things get really weird. While the Caped Crusader’s undercover work goes on, more and more doppelgängers begin appearing in the city and the citizens of Gotham begin going out-of-control. Robin, ex-commissioner Jim Gordon, and Scarface run amok at Gotham Mercy Hospital while the world falls apart around them. The chaos boils to a head when everyone begins to forget the true history not only of Gotham, but of their own lives. Batman soon discovers that all of the doppelgängers are a part of one collective supernatural claylike entity known as “The Body,” who is also responsible for the plague of collective reality-altering memory loss. As the chaos continues to wash over Gotham, a troubled politician named Seamus McGreevy, guided by his corrupt aide Norman Steiner, usurps Mayor David Hull’s mayoral seat. (Gotham’s corrupt 1% elites, working hand-in-hand with the Body, have booted Hull and replaced him with the oblivious McGreevy as their puppet). Traveling underground to an abandoned church that was submerged during the quake, Batman discovers the extremely weird Body and puts an end to his antics once and for all, fighting off dozens in the process. Afterward, things return to status-quo in the Gotham and a special recall election is scheduled as McGreevy’s approval rating instantly plummets. The end. In commemoration of Batman’s efforts on this very strange case, city officials will keep the Bat-Signal lit for a week straight. At the end of the week, David Hull will be reinstated as mayor. It’s unknown if the special election actually happened or if McGreevy stepped down or went to jail. It’s possible that McGreevy’s time was more-or-less annulled, since all we know is that Hull will be mayor again. That being said, should we consider McGreevy as a legitimate former mayor of Gotham in spite of the dubious, criminal, and supernatural circumstances of his tenure? Your headcanon call.[7]

–Nightwing Vol. 2 #86-87
Dick and Babs have not been getting along very well lately.  She feels he is not only being too reckless in his crime-fighting, but has also become unresponsive to her feelings in several important matters.  Sadly, Dick and Babs break up.  They had been dating since last Bat Year.

–REFERENCE: In Batgirl #46. Batman begins what will be the start of a months-long sting operation into the new all-female metahuman drug gang known as The Lost Girls. We will simply have to imagine Batman’s continued surveillance of the Lost Girls on our timeline during the months to come.

–Batgirl #46
Batgirl discovers that the Lost Girls are supplying a designer drug called “Soul” onto the streets of Gotham. When Batgirl is in trouble with the Lost Girls, Babs reluctantly contacts her newly ex-boyfriend, Dick, to help Cassie out. Nightwing shows up, but by the time he gets there, Batgirl has already defeated the metahuman girl-gang. Batgirl, mad at Dick for breaking Barbara’s heart, knocks Dick out of a first-story window.

–Batman: Gotham Knights #47-49 (“VERITAS LIBERAT”)
As the Dynamic Duo beat the crap out of Kobra, Alfred calls Bruce and tells him that communications with Bane have ceased in the Himalayas.  Bruce learns that Bane was searching for King Snake, who he has learned is his father.  King Snake was last seen over a year ago in Robin Vol. 2 #92 where he was left for dead in the Himalayas following an altercation involving Kobra.  Back at the Batcave, Bruce, Dick, and Tim yell at Leslie for pointing Bane in the direction of King Snake. Dick and Tim then yell at Bruce for backing Bane in the first place. Bruce then visits with Checkmate Queen Huntress to gather info on Jeffrey Franklin Burr, the deceased leader of Kobra who was recently killed by Black Adam in JSA #51. Batman receives pertinent information regarding Burr’s death and about his Himalayan stronghold. Despite being leaderless, the Kobra Cult is still strong and functioning. Batman, Nightwing, Robin, and Batgirl fly to the Himalayas, battle through a few Kobra soldiers, and confront a bearded Bane, who has reunited with his father King Snake. However, Bane is upset that his dad is a stark-raving super-villain, and sides with the Bat-Family against him. King Snake then falls to his death (!), but not before shooting Bane in the back with a machine gun.  Bruce puts Bane into the Lazarus Pit! Bane recovers and vows to be a decent human being for the rest of his life. NOTE: At one point, Alfred says that Leslie knew that Bruce was Batman since the very beginning and even acted as an enabler to his crime-fighting. This is untrue, Leslie found out accidentally in Bat Year Four and was mad as hell about it.

–NOTE: In a reference in Superman/Batman #5. Huntress leaves Checkmate. Although there is no specific story which details this, there won’t be mention of her as the Queen again after this point. When we see her next, in Superman/Batman #5, she clearly will have nothing to do with Checkmate any longer. Therefore, we must assume she has been outed as a Batman spy or that she simply quits the shady organization on her own.

–Catwoman Vol. 3 #27
Having returned from her road trip a few weeks ago, Catwoman picks up right where she left off in Gotham. When Slam Bradley gets stabbed by Philo Zeiss, Catwoman rushes him to the hospital. While Slam is tended-to by doctors, Selina meets his son, GCPD Detective Sam Bradley Jr. Catwoman spends the next few days kicking serious ass all over town in an attempt to find out information about Zeiss. Batman eventually meets Catwoman and gives her the dish on Zeiss. Catwoman tries to kiss Batman, but he stops her with a “we both know this doesn’t work.”

–Batman #620-625 (“BROKEN CITY”)
Thanks to special medicinal treatments from Dr. Maria Bellezza, Killer Croc has recovered from his severe monster-mutation (from “Hush”). Not only that, but someone has paid Dr. Bellezza to perform miracle surgeries on Croc, including dental work, skin grafts, and hair plugs. Croc still looks like a crocodile man, but he has human teeth, human-like skin, and a bit of hair! The suppression of Croc’s crocodile features confirms that he is African American. This is the first time that his race has been confirmed in any comic. Pretty cool. Immediately after his treatments and surgeries, a happy Croc escapes from Arkham Asylum. Not long after, Batman suspects the fugitive Croc is mixed up in the murder of crime-lord Angel Lupo’s pregnant sister, Elizabeth. When Batman goes to shake down Croc, he is shocked to find a very different-looking Waylon Jones. (Batman isn’t too shocked that he doesn’t break most of Croc’s perfect new teeth right away.) After Croc proves his innocence, a pissed-off Dark Knight comes to believe that Angel Lupo is responsible for his own sister’s death. But before Batman can question the gangster, two more innocent people wind up dead, leaving behind an orphaned child. The Caped Crusader consults with Crispus Allen and then continues hunting Lupo, first questioning Penguin, and then dueling with Scarface, who is also after Lupo. PS. Scarface has finally gotten rid of his speech impediment! (Don’t get too excited because it comes back soon.) In Little Tokyo, Batman confronts newcomers Fatman and Little Boy (who is actually a girl), who tell him that Lupo is innocent of Batman’s charges, but they have their own bone to pick with the gangster over stolen property. Batman learns that Lupo’s girlfriend was the one who murdered his sister. Batman then saves Lupo from Fatman and Little Boy, but the Ventriloquist winds up killing Lupo. Scarface doesn’t do it, Arnold Wesker does. The usually quiet and timid Wesker shoots Lupo in cold blood, tells Scarface to shut up, and throws down the dummy! Turns out that Elizabeth Lupo’s unborn child belonged to her lover, the Ventriloquist! Our tale concludes with a chat with Joker at Arkham, during which Batman realizes that the orphaned boy had nothing to do with the Lupo affair. He was a little delinquent that had killed his own parents.

–Robin Vol. 2 #123
February 28. While Batman works on the Case of the Lakeside Slasher, Robin has a rematch with Johnny Warren aka Johnny Warlock. Warlock breaks Spoiler’s leg and Robin is pissed. Robin defeats him, but it appears as if Warlock is killed during the fight! Johnny actually isn’t dead. (Well, he kind of is dead, actually. His Warlock powers will magickally resurrect him shortly after this.) Anyway, Robin enters a dark emotional pit believing that he has taken a life. NOTE: This issue says that Robin’s first encounter with Warlock was “weeks ago.” It’s been a lot of weeks. It was about four months ago.

–REFERENCE: In a flashback from Adventures of Superman #623. Early March. Hector Hammond takes control of literally every superhero in the DCU—including Batman—via mind control, except for Superman, who manages to fight off his influence. Superman defeats Hammond and restores order.

–Birds of Prey #62
While Black Canary and Lady Shiva chase after the person responsible for murdering one of their former sensei in Hong Kong, Oracle sends Batman and the JSA on separate missions.  However, her info is incorrect. Batman winds up bashing down the door of an elderly couple instead of drug dealers. The JSA winds up at a tropical resort instead of a super-villain hideout. What’s going on with Oracle’s intel? She will later find out that US Senator Bob Pullman and his government agent cronies have hacked into the world’s most complex private computer systems in an attempt to flush out the true identity of the infamous Oracle. Babs will wind up on Pullman’s list of ten possible suspects, but the senator won’t figure out the truth.

–JSA #61-62 (“REDEMPTION LOST”)
The Spirit King has returned for the first time in nine years (not seven as Geoff Johns would have us believe) to terrorize the JSA. The Spectre aka Hal Jordan is also on hand to aid the good guys in battle. However, Hal is struggling to maintain a proper balance between his human-side and his vengeful “power of God-side.” Since becoming the Spectre, Hal has been a fair and balanced, more human version of God’s avenging angel. However, Hal suppresses his humanity and delves deeply into God’s Wrath in order to eliminate the Spirit King forever.  Afterward, Jay Garrick and Alan Scott travel to Gotham to meet with Batman.  Jay and Alan tell Batman that Hal, while still a hero in their eyes, may have lost himself and become the darker version of the Spectre again.  Batman tells the JSAers that he considers Hal to be an evil threat, and if need be, he won’t hesitate to bring him down.  Bruce’s hatred toward Hal just won’t end.

–Detective Comics #814 Epilogue
Batman ties up some loose ends from the bizarre “City of Crime” story-arc. The Bat-Signal has been constantly lit for the past week in commemoration of Batman’s heroism during the event.

–JLA #77-78
The first official mission for the new JLA lineup is against the artificially intelligent world-destroying “artist” known as Mnemon. Mnemon has traveled the cosmos stealing everyone’s memories and then destroying their civilizations. The JLA stops him from doing the same to Earth. Then, while Superman, Firestorm, John Stewart, and Flash deal with a problem in outer space, Batman and Wonder Woman set up a dinner date to discuss everything that is going on between them. They kissed passionately only a month ago and then didn’t talk about it. Then, Bruce began briefly dating Catwoman. During that short relationship, Bruce and Diana had a tension-filled confrontation (during her “Hiketeia”). And last but not least, Wonder Woman’s on-again-off-again boyfriend Trevor Barnes has just died.  So, I’d say there is plenty for them to discuss. Following this, Manitou Raven (who was already invited to join a week ago) is officially made into the newest JLA member! When the League hears word of a devastating interplanetary civil war occurring 53 light years away, the team votes on whether or not they should interfere. Half the team, including Batman, says hell no, while the other half says yes and travels the distance to kick some alien tail. Meanwhile, the Pentagon contacts Batman and demands the return of Faith, who is supposedly contracted to the US Government. Batman tells them to piss-off too. Batman, having refused to go to the galaxy far far away, isn’t present for JLA #79, in which Superman, Wonder Woman, John, Major Disaster, Faith, and Raven help Kanjar Ro’s rebel insurgency defeat the giant “Peacemaker” army. Supes and Diana then betray the evil Kanjar Ro and force some good ol’ fashioned American democracy on the simple alien folk. (I’m really glad Batman had nothing to do with this deeply unsettling and politically dubious mission.)

–JLA Classified #50-54 (“THAT WAS NOW, THIS IS THEN”)
A quick note before we begin, JLA Classified #49 is out-of-continuity because it is a one-shot that really doesn’t fit anywhere. “That was Now, This is Then” begins when Titus returns for the first time in eleven years. The evil god has risen from his lunar grave to exact revenge upon the JLA. After infiltrating the Watchtower, Titus beats the crap out of Flash, John, and a visiting J’onn. (J’onn is not on the team at this point.) Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and reservist Atom all respond to the emergency call to help their friends. These heroes eventually defeat Titus and return him to his lunar resting place. Major Disaster, Faith, Raven, and Firestorm are not in this story. I guess they had better things to do.

–Aquaman Vol. 6 #11-12
Aquaman is chasing after the super-villain known as The Thirst, who travels the globe draining the life-energies of Earth’s river spirits and sea deities. As each spirit or deity is drained of its essence, sea life across the planet begins evolving into hideous monsters. Batman follows Aquaman’s trail in order to question him about the bizarre hyper-evolution, but is unable to reach him. Batman then meets with the JLA. Manitou Raven explains that negative Occult energy is flowing from Earth’s rivers into its seas. The JLA prepares for action, but in the blink of an eye, the crisis ends! Aquaman has defeated the Thirst all by himself and we can all rest easy once again.

–Green Lantern Vol. 3 #168
Green Lantern Kyle Rayner visits the planet Galtea to investigate the attempted genocide of its religious people by an unknown force, eventually exposing Galtea’s new pope as a shapeshifting Black Circle Syndicate agent working for the vile Amon Sur (son of Abin Sur). Meanwhile, back on Earth, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and John Stewart watch a live TV broadcast of Terry Berg, who talks about LGBTQ rights and intolerance in America. It’s also worth noting that, in the following issue (Green Lantern Vol. 3 #169), Kyle uses his ring to resurrect his long dead buddy Kilowog!

–JLA #80-82 (“THE WHITE RAGE”)
The UN World Council aka UN Security Council (including Lex Luthor) gets to meet and interview the four newest JLA members: Faith, Manitou Raven, Major Disaster, and John Stewart. J’onn (still on leave from the team) enlists Scorch to help him get over his fear of fire. J’onn not only gets over his fear but falls in love with Scorch as well! The hot new couple begins dating! Meanwhile, a Waco-esque situation arises at the commune/orphanage known as Safe Haven and the JLA goes to make sure everyone is safe and sound. Concurrently, Bruce and Diana go on their previously scheduled dinner date, but it turns out to be a “non-date” as both parties are immediately called away to fight crime. Batman takes down the super-villain known as Plunder. Back at the Batcave, Bruce and Diana promise each other that they will go on a real date soon. Then, Alfred worries over a TV news report. The situation at Safe Haven had gotten out of control and bullets started flying. Faith used her explosive powers and accidentally killed over a thousand men, women, and children. Superman has turned himself in to the authorities. Batman assembles the rest of the League and meets at ground zero, where Raven uses his magic to ascertain that no one has actually died. Shepherd and Vela, Safe Haven’s operators, are actually the super-villains Übermensch and Hel. They have set up the League on behalf of their own super-team, Axis America, which is basically a fascist White Power version of the JLA. Axis America is led by Mason, who was Faith’s former government handler when she was employed by the secret “Clockwatchers” agency. Mason has used a strange metahuman entity known as The Mouth to make everyone believe that the JLA was responsible for the Safe Haven massacre, which never even actually occurred. When the evil plan is unraveled, Axis America retreats, the Mouth’s illusion fades, and John appears, having protected the innocent people for the past 24 hours straight with his power ring.[8]

–FLASHBACK: From Batman: Gotham Knights #50. In this prelude to “Pushback,” which occurs about one week prior to the main action of the arc, Batman thinks he sees Vesper Fairchild and saves her from being hit by a truck. But the woman is only a Vesper lookalike sent by Hush to mess with Bruce’s head. Meanwhile, Hush (through a third party) threatens Riddler at Blackgate. Hush wants revenge against Riddler for trumping his plans during the “Hush” storyline a month ago. Riddler sends word to Joker asking for help. Joker blackmails the Blackgate warden (with a legit underage sex tape) and forces him to approve transferring Riddler to the Slab in Antarctica. Why does Joker help Riddler? Because Riddler offers to tell Joker the true story of how the latter’s wife died 18 years ago (not “12 years ago” as Nigma says).

–Green Lantern Vol. 3 #170
Batman is only seen in a Watchtower monitor, swinging on a wrecking ball while on patrol in Gotham. The rest of the issue features Kyle Rayner sending a long-distance message detailing his recent trek through the cosmos to his closest friends, Jade, John Stewart, and others.

–NOTE: In Outsiders Vol. 3 #1-3. Arsenal has recently started a new Outsiders. He now recruits Nightwing onto the team. Shortly thereafter, the Outsiders prevent a Joker assassination attempt on President Lex Luthor. This story-arc takes place supposedly “three months” after the death of Donna Troy. However, it has only been about two months.

–Outsiders Vol. 3 #3 Epilogue
Batman gives his blessing and approval to the newly formed Outsiders team following their successful prevention of Joker killing Lex Luthor.

–Teen Titans Vol. 3 #1
The adults convince their young counterparts to join-up with the latest and greatest incarnation of the Teen Titans! Batman mentions it to Robin while they take down Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Later, Superboy, who has always known that he has 50% of Superman’s exact cloned DNA, is shocked to learn that the other half of his genetic makeup was cloned entirely from Lex Luthor! Conner receives this information via an instant message from a mystery person! Superboy, Robin, Wonder Girl, and Impulse then meet up with the new Teen Titans’ team elders—Starfire, Beast Boy, and group leader Cyborg—at the Titans headquarters in San Francisco. There, Conner chats with Robin and tells him the revelation about his Luthor DNA.

–NOTE: In a reference in Outsiders Vol. 3 #21. Nightwing replaces Arsenal as leader of the Outsiders. Wanting to see Nightwing succeed, but knowing that he wouldn’t want anyone meddling in his affairs, Bruce begins secretly monetarily funding the Outsiders, which he will continue to do (in secret) for the rest of the year.

–NOTE: In Flash Vol. 2 #199-200. Zoom (aka Reverse-Flash II aka Hunter Zolomon) causes the death of Wally West’s unborn twins. Zolomon is able to use his powers to cause Wally’s pregnant wife to miscarry. Flash then defeats him in battle and the villain is incarcerated. A distraught Wally decides to quit being Flash. Barry Allen—on his way back from the future to fight in the original Crisis (!) via the Cosmic Treadmill—stops to have a brief consoling chat with Wally. The duo then comes up with an unorthodox idea. The Spectre (Hal Jordan), according to Wally’s and Barry’s wishes, makes everyone forget that Flash is Wally West. He also accidentally makes the world forget that Barry Allen was Flash as well. The problem here is that Wally West forgets that he is Flash too.

–Teen Titans Vol. 3 #6
The adults and the teens can’t get along! It’s the Titans versus the JLA all because Diana doesn’t want Cassie (Wonder Girl) on the Titans. Things are getting ugly until Nightwing arrives and breaks it all up. Dick scolds both teams for being puerile and offers some sage wisdom before everyone goes back home. In Gotham, Tim is instant messaged by Conner’s mystery person (as seen in Teen Titans Vol. 3 #1). There’s a hilarious final splash page revealing the mystery person to be President Lex Luthor sitting at a desktop computer with a shit-eating grin on his face. NOTE: Impulse has officially changed his name to the more classic Kid Flash.

–Teen Titans Vol. 3 #8
The Dynamic Duo busts an escaped Clayface. On the Batplane trip to San Francisco, Robin tells Batman that he can’t handle lying to his father anymore. In San Fran, the Titans prepare for the return of former team member Raven.

–Batman: Gotham Knights #50-55 (“PUSHBACK”)
As Riddler is being escorted to the airport which will fly him to the Slab, a series of explosions rock the parade of police vehicles. At the same time, Oracle discovers a bomb is set to detonate at Gotham General Hospital. Batman has his hands full. Riddler escapes, but runs right into the man responsible for all the chaos: Hush. Hush beats the holy hell out of Riddler, but Joker and his henchmen beat the holy hell out of Hush. Joker then discusses what should be done with the out-of-control Hush with Penguin and Riddler. Riddler, in exchange for continued protection, gives Joker the name of the man who killed his wife 18 years ago: crooked cop, Oliver Hammet. NOTE: Writer AJ Lieberman says it was 12 years ago, but, trust me, it’s 18. Anyway, 18 years ago the Riddler (months before making his super-villain debut) coincidentally was renting the apartment directly across from Joker’s apartment and was witness to Hammet’s crime. Back to our present day narrative, Robin meets with the Tailor, a man who designs armored, high-tech costumes for both superheroes and super-villains alike. (Batman, Robin, Huntress, Prometheus, and Harley Quinn either have worn or currently wear fashionable designs by the Tailor. In fact, Batman has secretly employed the Tailor for six years now.) Afterward, Hush pays the Tailor for information, which leads him to Star City in search of the new Prometheus (Chad Graham). However, once Hush locates Prometheus, an innocent police officer dies and Prometheus is badly injured by Green Arrow (Ollie Queen). Hush performs emergency surgery that saves the villain’s life, and together they travel to Gotham to take on Batman. However, Batman happens to be in Star City and Ollie is pissed that one of the Dark Knight’s rogues has killed a Star City cop on his watch. Ollie and Bruce fight (!), but eventually calm down and go their separate ways. Batman returns to Gotham to find a badly beaten Joker at the hands of Hush and Prometheus. The Caped Crusader fights off Hush and Prometheus, but the villains escape. (A flashback from Batman #683 shows Batman punching Hush during this conflict.) Riddler then goes to Poison Ivy for protection. Meanwhile, the injured Joker retreats to a hideout which he hasn’t used in seven years: the old abandoned amusement park from The Killing Joke! His old circus gang, including the evil little people, is waiting there for him!

–REFERENCE: In The Batman Files. Batman, already long aware that Joker’s origin is “multiple choice,” and probably can never truly be known with 100% certainty, finally hears about his past (as told in The Killing Joke), specifically about his time as a failed stand-up comedian who lost his wife so tragically. Batman, while not fully convinced of anything, will come to regard this Joker origin as the “most legitimate” of all his possible origins.

–Flash Vol. 2 #204-205 (“IGNITION”)
Flash has been missing for a few days (ever since Wally has forgotten that he is Flash thanks to the Spectre).  Flash was originally written as missing for over two months at this point, but due to extreme editorial time compression, it can only have been a few days.  Anyway, Wally discovers that he has super speed and is shocked!  He also discovers his superhero costume and remembers that he is Flash.  Spectre Hal didn’t plan this very well did he?  Batman, however, being the super-detective that he is, deduces that Wally is Flash and confronts him in his apartment.  They chat in a Keystone City cemetery and Bruce reveals his secret identity to Wally.  In an instant, all of Wally’s memories come flooding back.  Wally tells Bruce that Hal was responsible for making everyone forget.  Bruce is furious at Hal, but really, when isn’t he?

–JLA #84-89 (“TRIAL BY FIRE”)
An unknown telepath causes all of the Earth’s villains and evil-doers to become overwhelmed with a sudden feeling of remorse and regret.  President Lex Luthor, being one of the most evil men ever, drifts into a catatonic state.  When the JLAers begin to feel the effects of the telepath as well, the team visits Vandal Savage who tells them a 20,000-year-old Martian is the cause of the crisis.  When the evil Martian known as Fernus takes control of Martian Manhunter’s body, the League fears J’onn was responsible all along.  While the Fernus-controlled J’onn begins unleashing a nuclear holocaust upon the world, Batman uses Plastic Man’s son, Luke McDunnagh, to lure Plas out of retirement and back onto the team!  Plas and the rest of the League are able to separate Fernus from J’onn and defeat the evil Martian, but not before an entire North Korean city is nuked.  Sadly, J’onns girlfriend, Scorch, winds up in a coma.

–Breach #3-4 
Major Tim Zanetti aka Breach has awoken from a coma and is endowed with the exact powers of Captain Atom due to military experiments conducted on him twenty years ago.  Meanwhile, a group of aliens known as The Rifters have begun to invade Earth and assimilate human beings with the goal of killing everyone on the planet.  C’mon guys, it’s been tried before.  Anyway, when both a rogue Rifter known as Herdsman and Talia al Ghul seek out Breach in an attempt to thwart the alien invasion, the JLA gets involved.  Unsure of which side Breach is on, Superman, Batman, and J’onn wind up fighting him.  Breach never does come to amicable terms with the JLA, but the threat of the Rifters is eventually nullified.

SUPERMAN/BATMAN: THE WORLD’S FINEST (PUBLIC ENEMIES)
——————–Superman/Batman Secret Files and Origins 2003
——————–Superman/Batman #1-6
Superman helps Captain Atom take down Major Force, while Batman takes down a supposed terrorist. Afterward, Batman and Superman tell Atom that his boss, President Lex Luthor, is playing him for a fool. Batman and Superman then battle Metallo in a Gotham cemetery and Supes gets shot in the chest with a Kryptonite bullet! As Batman carries the dying Superman through the sewers toward the Batcave they share some amazing dialogue about Magpie, where Bruce tells Superman that he is reasonably sure that the villainess is dead.  Bruce’s intel is actually wrong on this one.  Magpie is alive and well at Arkham. In the Batcave, Alfred performs emergency surgery on Clark and removes the bullet.  A distraught grey-haired Superman from the future then arrives out of nowhere and attacks Bruce and his younger-self.  The heroes are able to stop the future Clark by shooting him with the bullet that Alfred has just removed. Old Supes teleports back to the future, but issues a warning that everyone in his time is dead as a result of Luthor. Meanwhile, Luthor tells the world that radioactive armageddon in the form of a gigantic Kryptonite asteroid is on its way to Earth. The President reveals to the world that Superman is responsible for the impending doom. (Some Kryptonian tech attached to the asteroid is navigating the rock towards Superman, but we’ll find out about that later.) Luthor condemns the Man of Steel and offers a one billion dollar reward for his capture. Superman and Batman immediately fly towards Washington DC and are attacked by a hundred or so random super-villains eager to collect on the bounty. Their attackers include Mongul II (Mongul’s son), Solomon Grundy, Mr. Freeze, Silver Banshee, Nightshade, Gorilla Grodd, Lady Shiva, Polka-Dot Man, Black Spider, Cheetah, Black Manta, and dozens more! Early on, Batman and Superman put up the good fight as their attackers line up for solo encounters. Notably, Batman finally defeats Lady Shiva one-on-one for the first time ever—although, Shiva is being mind-controlled by Gorilla Grodd, making this a slightly tainted victory. Eventually, the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel are hopelessly outnumbered by the villains, who realize that a group assault might give them better results. Thankfully, a bunch of superheroes (Captain Atom, Major Force, Katana, John Stewart, Black Lightning, Power Girl, and Starfire) arrive to save the day. Unfortunately, there’s a catch. These heroes have been commissioned by Luthor to arrest Superman. Batman and Superman then begin battling them too! Back at the White House, Luthor injects himself with a mixture of Venom and Kryptonite (!) and goes into a gleeful roid rage as he begins to explain his master plan to Amanda Waller.  He’s so hyped-up and drugged-up he even kisses her! In Tokyo, most of Luthor’s heroes realize they don’t want to fight against Bats and Supes. But Major Force is no real hero. He’s an atomic villain, who goes ape-shit. Force erupts into a massive nuclear explosion and Atom is able to contain the blast, but not before it seemingly kills both of them. In actuality, Atom is shot into the possible post-armageddon future where he meets with the grey-haired Superman from earlier. In the present, fearing that Bats and Supes are out of control, the JSA sends Captain Marvel and Hawkman in for a fight. Meanwhile, the Bat-Family (with Huntress) breaks into the White House and confronts Luthor face-to-face. President Luthor hulks-up on Venom and is able to pound the whole team into unconsciousness! Bats and Supes, having won their fight against Marvel and Hawkman, then show up at the White House in disguise as Hawkman and Marvel. Luthor shoots some more Venom into his body and dons a green armored super-suit, which he says was hand-crafted for him on Apokolips. This suit is clearly a beefed-up version of Lex’s old super-suit from back in the day. Its design could also likely have been influenced by Alexander Luthor’s Antimatter super-suit as well. Yet, Jeph Loeb goes the custom-made-on-Apokolips route for some bizarre reason, delivering along with it a bunch of eye-rolling exposition. Anyway, 13-year-old super-genius Hiro Okamura aka the new Toyman builds a gigantic Composite Superman/Batman robot spaceship, which a returning Captain Atom kamikazes into the asteroid, saving Earth, but seemingly killing himself in the process. (SPOILER ALERT: Captain Atom actually winds up in the Wildstorm Universe—as detailed in Captain Atom: Armageddon #1. And we will find out a few years later that Hiro is actually an android.) Superman defeats Luthor and the President’s criminality is broadcast to the entire world. Batman also reveals that Talia has sold all of Luthor’s assets to Bruce Wayne.  Luthor is now no longer President, is penniless, is addicted to Venom and liquid Kryptonite, and is in hiding. NOTE: A major part of this story-arc involves Bruce finding evidence which leads him to believe that Metallo killed his parents (because the mystery is still unsolved). However, due to retcons we know (and Bruce knows) that Joe Chill killed Ma and Pa Wayne, so this aspect of the story must be ignored entirely—or at least retconned to a scenario where Batman is nearly duped into thinking that Metallo might have had something to do with Joe Chill. WARNING: WHINING OP-ED COMMENTARY AHEAD. Shame on you, Jeph Loeb, for ruining Lex Luthor (turning him from a devilishly suave genius into a raving 70s-costume-wearing drug addict). There are so many plot holes in this inane debacle that it’s amazing Loeb wasn’t run out of town after publication. This is one of my least favorite arcs of the Modern Age.

–Catwoman Vol. 3 #30
Catwoman finally tracks down Philo Zeiss and fights him in an effort to avenge Slam Bradley’s stabbing from a couple months ago. However, Catwoman is no match for Zeiss, who savagely beats her and stabs her in the belly. Catwoman is about to be killed, but two members of the Cult of the Beti-Ma save Catwoman and take out Zeiss. Batman, Holly Robinson, and Slam Bradley rush to the scene, but by the time they arrive Selina is missing and feared dead. The Beti-Ma, an ancient Egyptian cult, has abducted her. Batman will spend the next month searching for Selina, a quest that will overlap with the entirety of the next month’s stories (as referenced in Catwoman Vol. 3 #32).

–REFERENCE: In Batman #627. In the upcoming “As the Crow Flies” arc, we will see the giant penny in the Batcave again for the first time since before the earthquake. (It’s in the last panel of page 14—blink and you’ll miss it!) The penny looks to be damaged, or discolored, so we must assume Batman now finally hauls it out of the gorge in which it has been stuck for so long.

–Batman #626-630 (“AS THE CROW FLIES”)
Penguin has hired Scarecrow and the debuting super-science villainess, Fright, to spread new hallucinogenics on the streets of Gotham.  When a small-time drug dealer takes a suicide dive out of  a high-rise window, Batman sends Tim (in disguise as a female doctor) to take his blood sample from the morgue.  After another small-timer goes into a drug-induced rage, Batman’s investigation leads him to Penguin, but there’s no hard evidence.  Then, the 10-foot-tall, monstrous “Scarebeast” shows up and starts killing Penguin’s men.  Scarebeast shoots Batman with fear gas, causing Bruce to flee and hallucinate that Jason Todd is in the Batmobile with him.  Scarebeast tracks Bruce to Wayne Manor where the latter teams-up with Tim and Alfred to corner the creature down into the Batcave.  Once Batman dons an armored super-suit and knocks out Scarebeast, the monster reverts into Jonathan Crane.  Turns out Penguin had Fright genetically alter Crane into a monster in order to wipe out his own men, who were planning a coup.  Crane now has the permanent Hulk-like ability to morph into the gigantic Scarebeast at will.  In the end, Alfred finds a Robin domino mask in the Batmobile that definitely doesn’t belong to Tim.  Wait a minute, maybe Bruce’s hallucination of Jason Todd wasn’t a hallucination at all…  HINT: This is the start of Judd Winick’s infamous Batman run.  Jason is definitely back.

–Batman: City of Light #1-8
While Batman chases down some street punks, a young innocent bystander gets injured and winds up in a coma. Originally, the Pander Brothers (authors of this story) wrote that Batman takes a full month off because he is so upset about the innocent bystander coming into harm. However, with all of the editorial time compression of this year, this simply isn’t possible and I’m surprised the Panders even had the chutzpah to attempt giving Bruce such a lengthy reprieve in the first place. To reiterate, Batman does not take a monthlong vacation. We must ignore any references to his absence. If Batman does take any time off, it can only be a few hours max. Moving on, eccentric business tycoon/scientist Evan Slate has designed a new living bio-tech that appears visibly as “hard light.” This “hard-light” can construct itself into solid structural architecture in minutes. One day after his pitch, the scientist already has his first glowing Slate Tower standing tall in downtown Gotham. This will supposedly be the first step towards the evolution of Gotham into “Neo-Gotham.” Meanwhile, Batman meets with Batgirl and tells her that he has failed in his mission because of the poor young boy in the coma. He’s so upset, he tells her that both of their crime-fighting days are over! When the boy succumbs to his injuries and dies in the hospital, Batman is so down in the dumps, he tries to cheer up by posing for a painting by once of Bruce Wayne’s contemporaries, the avant-garde artist, Rahn. Meanwhile, Slate’s proposal for the creation of Neo-Gotham is rejected.  Since Slate’s own DNA is linked to his shimmering bio-tech, the bio-tech has a life of its own, and it doesn’t appreciate being rejected. The phosphorescent super-villain known as Purge, which is an extension of Slate (but with a mind of its own), comes to life and begins fighting Batgirl. Batman returns to action just in time to witness the sentient Slate Tower spread its proverbial (and I guess literal?) wings and begin mutating the entire city into Neo-Gotham. The Dark Knight and Batgirl are able to infiltrate the living tower, defeat the avatar Purge, and then take out Slate himself. In the end, Slate winds up in Arkham while his tower of light turns into an empty, charred husk. NOTE: There is an odd billboard depicted in the middle of this story which reads “Slate Tower II coming next year.” This is odd because the first tower erected itself using Slate’s bio-tech in less than a day. Why would we have had to wait a year for the next one? This is a trivial point, but I thought I’d mention it.

–Superman/Batman #7
Batman and Superman send Robin and Superboy to Japan to check-up on Hiro Okamura (the new teenage Toyman). There, Robin and Superboy operate gigantic Gundam-esque battle-mechs against Metallo, who dons his own anime-style mech as well.  Metallo is captured, but not before half of Tokyo is destroyed.  (Loeb destroyed the other half of Tokyo in his last story-arc—he must have it out for Japanese people or be a fan of classic kaijū movies.) Batman then recruits yet another child into the Bat-Family. From now on, 13-year-old Hiro will construct all of Batman’s gadgetry and vehicles from his home-base at Mt. Fuji.

–NOTE: In a reference in Superman/Batman #6 and a reference in Superman/Batman #8. Meteor showers of Kryptonite begin raining down on Earth as a result of the destruction of the Kryptonite asteroid a few days earlier (in “Public Enemies”). Superman goes into quarantine in his Fortress of Solitude (as mentioned in Superman/Batman #8). Also, Vice President Pete Ross is sworn in as the new President of the United States, replacing Lex Luthor (as mentioned in Superman/Batman #6). Lana Lang becomes the First Lady.

–Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #179 
This is an odd one-shot about two Asian assassins that get revenge on a man that abused and molested them when they were children.  Batman studies the scene of the homicide and ponders if the act was simply revenge or something much deeper.

–Superman/Batman #8
Early April. Superman has supposedly been in quarantine for eleven days. However, due to editorial time compression, it can only have been around two or three days. All of the Earth’s superheroes, including Batman, collect as much Kryptonite as they can. While sweeping up fragments at the bottom of Gotham Bay, Batman discovers that not only Kryptonite has rained down from the exploded asteroid, but the remains of a Kryptonian spaceship has as well. Guess who’s inside! Why, it’s Superman’s cousin, Kara Zor-El, aka Supergirl!

–Flash Vol. 2 #209
Jay Garrick and Kid Flash meet with Wally and tell him that they never forgot he was Flash, even though just about everyone else did courtesy of the Spectre (Hal Jordan).  However, the JLA (and some of Flash’s best friends) want answers.  They can all feel that parts of their memories have been erased, specifically regarding the identities of the Flashes.  Wow, Hal’s Spectre spell was really, really unsuccessful.  Or was it?  Flash races Superman a dozen times around the globe and finally takes his mask off.  Everyone regains their memories of Barry and Wally as the Flashes.  Superman seems to think that Hal’s spell was a success because it has taught everyone a valuable lesson.  Back at the Watchtower, Batman scoffs at a statue of Hal.  He really, really hates Hal Jordan.

–Superman/Batman #9
Superman mentions that Kara Zor-El has been locked up in the Fortress of Solitude for “nearly a month.” He must be exaggerating because it’s been less than a week. Naturally, Batman doesn’t trust Kara, so Clark encourages him to speak with her one-on-one.  Kara explains that as a little girl she was sent in a space vessel which was meant to follow baby Kal-El’s ship away from the destruction of Krypton almost fifty years ago. Kara was supposed to have been Kal-El’s older caretaker. However, when the planet exploded, her vessel was damaged and became lodged within a huge asteroid. The asteroid floated through space for fifty or so years, slowly navigating its way toward Kal-El’s homing signature. Kara, although over fifty-years-old, appears as a fifteen-year-old because her aging was severely slowed due to being in suspended animation during hyperspace travel towards Earth for so long. Clark takes Kara to Metropolis, but the latter is kidnapped by Wonder Woman, who hauls her off to Themyscira to train her in the art of Amazonian fighting.

–The Monolith #6-8 (“FRIENDLY FIRE”)
An arsonist calling himself The Incinerator begins targeting Arab-American and Muslim-American communities in New York City. One of his targets is a home for recent Arab Muslim immigrants in Bed-Stuy that was built through the efforts of NYCAT and the Wayne Foundation. This terrorist attack draws the attention of Batman, who promptly comes to Brooklyn. Both Batman and the monster golem known as The Monolith track the Incinerator to his next target. In the resulting fight Batman is injured and the Monolith brings him back to the home of his master, Alice Cohen. There Alice tells Batman the Monolith’s origin—her grandmother created him to defend Brooklyn in the 1930s. Batman tells Alice and the Monolith not to get in his way. Eventually, Batman reluctantly teams with the Monolith and they locate the Incinerator’s next bomb in a New York City Mosque where he has strapped the bomb to an Imam. After disarming the bomb, both the Monolith and Batman track the Incinerator to Ground Zero, the site of the former World Trade Center. The Incinerator is planning to blow himself up but is stopped and arrested for his crimes.

–Catwoman Vol. 3 #32
Catwoman had been missing for a month (having been abducted by the Cult of the Beti-Ma). But now she’s back in Gotham and all is well. Batman greets her with a warm welcome and an air of concern, exclaiming his happiness that she is okay. Selina tells Batman, “If you’re really so happy to see me again, then do something for me.” Batman immediately says, “Anything.” What does Selina have in mind? Why, a peaceful night for Selina and Bruce, out of costume, going on a regular fun date just like civilians! Selina and Bruce get dinner, watch a movie, and smile in each other’s arms all the way back to her apartment. With tears in his eyes, Bruce tells Selina that she is beautiful and expresses how scared he was that he thought he’d lost her. While not shown “on-panel,” Bruce and Selina finally get a rare moment to relax and let the magic happen, so to speak, in a loving sexual encounter as themselves and not their costumed counterparts. Afterward, Bruce leaves as the Bat-signal lights up the sky. Bruce is happy and Selina is happy, even if happiness is fleeting in Gotham. One of my favorite and heartwarming issues of this amazing series.

–JLA #90-100
While Batman takes on Steel Fang in Gotham, Wonder Woman wonders whether or not she should date Bruce.  Using Martian Manhunter’s telepathic abilities, Diana is able to foresee several possible romantic futures with Bruce.  In the end, the pair meet and both decide that they should remain friends instead of lovers.  Then, an alien being known as Peppy visits Earth and surmises that humans are destroying their environment (which they most certainly are). After a tour of the planet by the JLA, Peppy decides that human beings must want to be extinct. Peppy causes a bunch of asteroids to shoot toward Earth. The JLA is able to deflect the asteroids and a confused and distraught Peppy commits suicide. After this alien encounter, the JLA has an encounter with the vampire known as Crucifer and his cult known as the Tenth Circle. Crucifer is able to bite Superman and turn him (temporarily) into a vampire! Meanwhile, Batman deals with a bad GCPD cop who is secretly a member of the Tenth Circle. Eventually, the JLA teams up with the latest incarnation of the Doom Patrol to defeat Crucifer and a huge army of vampires. The current Doom Patrol lineup features all original members: Niles Caulder, Robotman, Elasti-Girl, and Negative Man. After this case, Faith permanently leaves the JLA to work with the Doom Patrol. Also, former Outsider Looker is bitten and turned permanently into a vampire. Next, Gaea (the Greco-Roman Goddess of Earth) angry at humanity’s lack of unity, begins to destroy the planet with a series of cataclysmic natural disasters. Vera Lynn Black aka Sister Superior shows up and tells the JLA that she has a plan to save Earth. In a bit of trickery, she will re-form her brother’s old super-villain team known as The Elite. The JLA will then combine forces with the armies of the world and the UN to “defeat” the Elite. The JLA reluctantly agrees to the ruse and, believe it or not, Gaea (who must not be very smart) is fooled!  Afterward, Sister Superior convinces Superman to allow her to lead a JLA splinter group which can take on more covert missions out of the public eye. Justice League Elite is born. Manitou Raven and Major Disaster quit the JLA and join-up full time with the JLElite. Flash decides to officially work with both teams. Other members of the JLElite include Coldcast, Menagerie, and The Hat. Green Arrow (Ollie Queen) and Naif al-Sheikh will soon join the JLElite as well.

–Superman/Batman #10-13 (“SUPERGIRL FROM KRYPTON”)
Two weeks have passed since Wonder Woman stole Kara away to Themyscira for training. Batman reveals that he orchestrated the kidnapping and training because he still doesn’t trust Kara. (There is a flashback from Action Comics #850 that shows more of this dialogue.) As DC’s holy trinity discuss matters further, Darkseid sends an army of mindless cloned Doomsdays to attack Themyscira. (Darkseid will try to clone Batman with even worse results a few years from now.) Batman uses a giant battle axe during the melee. After the Doomsday army is defeated and the smoke clears, Harbinger is dead (!) and Kara is kidnapped again, only this time she’s been hauled off to Apokolips. Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, and Big Barda travel to Apokolips in search of Kara. The lady-heroes tackle Granny GoodnessFemale Furies (Lashina, Stompa, Gilotina, Mad Harriet, and Bernadeth) while Batman flies around using one of Scott Free’s jetpacks and gets chased by some giant monster Hell-Hounds of Darkseid’s Dog Cavalry. Superman confronts Darkseid, who has brainwashed Kara into an evil warrior. Kara begins pounding on her cousin, forcing Superman to wear the Kryptonite ring and punch her out! Clark nearly kills himself in the process. Meanwhile, Batman dons some vicious looking Apokoliptian Wolverine claws and starts a fist fight with Darkseid! Darkseid thrashes the Dark Knight and gloats, “I could destroy you with a single blast of my Omega Beams.” Talk about prefiguring to Final Crisis, eh? Batman then reveals to Darkseid that he has activated the Hellspores on Apokolips, which will destroy the entire planet.  The Caped Crusader then gives Darkseid an ultimatum: release his control over Supergirl or he will detonate the Hellspores. Darkseid is unable to call his bluff and backs down. The rescue mission is a success and everyone is relatively healthy, except Bruce, who has stitches all over his face and a dislocated arm. Clark then takes Kara to Smallville to meet Ma and Pa Kent, but Darkseid ambushes them and blasts Kara into a pile of ashes using his Omega Beams! Supes battles Darkseid into deep space and Boom Tubes him to the edge of the universe, entrapping the evil despot within the Source Wall! In a twist, we learn that Kara is alive and well, having been teleported away to safety at the last second. The whole affair in Smallville was a successful setup to lure and imprison Darkseid for good. NOTE: Keep in mind that any references to the murder of Bruce’s parents being unsolved have been completely retconned out of this tale.

–REFERENCE: In Justice League Elite #1. Batman naturally distrusts the newly formed Justice League Elite. Thus, the Dark Knight gives Batgirl a secret mission. Cassandra infiltrates the JLElite by joining their ranks as the masked killer ninja known as Kasumi. Bruce now has a mole within the JLElite.

–JLA #106
Batman has been absent from the last handful of JLA adventures while recovering from the injuries suffered at the hands of Darkseid. While Bruce was recovering the JLA met the Abernathies, an all-American metahuman family. The head of the Abernathy family died while helping Superman rescue people from a burning building. Mrs. Abernathy now wants to get revenge on the building contractor, who constructed the premises without following proper fire regulation code. Batman, along with his JLA teammates, is able to convince the Abernathy family that revenge isn’t worth it.

–FLASHBACK: From Supergirl Vol. 5 #40. In the Batcave, Batman warns Supergirl to be resourceful if she is ever rendered powerless. (Special thanks to SAM GROOVER for placement on this item.)

–REFERENCE: In Superman/Batman #26. Superman and Batman chase the time-traveling villain Chronos back to the 13th century to apprehend him.  Meanwhile, in the 21st century, Robin and Superboy throw a party at the Fortress of Solitude.  Batgirl apparently gets drunk and throws up.

–JLA Classified #32-36 (“THE 4TH PARALLEL”)
The JLA is able to enter the Dreaming and defeat Dr. Destiny, trapping him inside his newly designed Materioptikon gem.  While John Dee remains catatonic at Arkham, the mystical gem falls into the hands of Gothamite Darrin Profitt. Profitt is taken inside the realm of the gem and learns how to alter reality using its magick. While Destiny wants to repair the gem, Profitt sees only the potential to exploit its power. He imprisons the villain’s “dream-self” within the gem and sets about creating innumerable realities which will best lead him down a path of fortune, fame, and world domination. When his newly created reality turns out to be a failure, Profitt simply destroys the universe and moves on to the next. Eventually, only four alternate realities remain that have the highest probability of his success. The DCU’s primary “Earth-0” reality represents Profitt’s 1st parallel reality, where Profitt is the JLA member known as The Red King. In the 2nd parallel reality, Profitt dies and destroys the entire universe in the process. Only Plastic Man survives annihilation by escaping into the Materioptikon realm.  In the 3rd parallel reality the Red King is a villain who murders everyone in the JLA. This Red King from the 3rd parallel reality then travels to the 1st parallel reality to battle that JLA (of which the hero Red King is a member). The evil Red King kills the good Red King and is about to defeat the League until the escaped Plastic Man from the 2nd parallel reality shows up and saves the day. In the end, Doctor Destiny imprisons the evil Red King inside the Materioptikon realm. (The 4th parallel reality was merely a “fallback” reality in case everything failed, but the evil Red King destroyed it in anger.) Eventually, the primary “Earth-0” reality shifts back into place. Meanwhile, Plastic Man from Profitt’s 2nd parallel reality permanently merges with our primary Earth-0 Plastic Man. Plas now has not only his own memories and experiences, but he also permanently has the full memories and experiences of a Plas from an alternate reality too!

–JLA Secret Files 2004 Part 1
As the JLA rushes-in to stop Felix Faust from obtaining the Spear of Destiny, the Justice League Elite find themselves squaring-off against Circe, who is also gunning for the artifact. Flash, who claims membership with both the JLA and the JLElite, finds himself running at super-speed to assist both teams at once.

–FLASHBACK: From Superman/Batman #26. Hiro Okamura, the new 13-year-old Toyman, hasn’t been heard from in thirty days. Batman and Superman order Robin and Superboy to travel to Toyko and check on him. The teenage duo arrives at Toyman’s Mt. Fuji headquarters where they fight robot versions of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. They also fight robot ninjas, robot bullfrogs, and meet sexy naked robot versions of the female members of the Teen Titans. When they finally reach Hiro, the latter explains that the whole thing was just simple fun and games.

–JLA #107-114 (“SYNDICATE RULES”)
Note that Batman doesn’t actually appear in “Syndicate Rules” until JLA #110. However, I’ve included the entire arc because the setup in the first few issues is essential to understanding the story. Onto a synopsis. It’s been months since Krona was trapped in the Cosmic Egg (at the conclusion of JLA/Avengers). Now, the Cosmic Egg, safely aboard the Watchtower, begins shifting. A baby universe is gestating within and the JLA is worried that this is bad since Krona is in there too. Meanwhile, “time hiccups” begin occurring in the Antimatter Universe. These hiccups are happening because the Antimatter U was destroyed and rebuilt so quickly (during JLA/Avengers mere months ago)—time is only now “catching back up” to the present. The time weirdness causes the Crime Syndicate of Amerika to realize the truth—that their entire existence was recently erased and re-created. This is a hard truth to swallow. Power Ring is able to ascertain that the source of the anomalies began on the Positive Matter Universe (the main Earth-0 DCU). Not knowing about Krona, the angry CSA naturally assumes the JLA is behind the anomalies and crosses the Bleed into the Earth-0 Universe. The CSA manages to keep a low profile for three days, even after each of its members dresses up as their Positive Matter counterpart (except for Owlman, who can’t stand the thought of wearing his “brother’s” costume). When Ultraman (disguised as the Man of Steel) is swarmed by a mob of adoring Superman fans, he gets annoyed and kills 219 people, leaving behind a charred pile of corpses with his heat vision. The JLA quickly assembles and begins fighting the CSA. Even with the help of the Teen Titans and the Power Company (Carl Bork and Sapphire), the JLA is forced to retreat to the Watchtower. Meanwhile, an alien warrior race from the planet Qward (located in the Antimatter Universe) has traveled to the Earth-0 Universe after having discovered the same time anomalies that the CSA had discovered at the outset of this tale. The Qwardians, also pissed, are hellbent on causing some massive destruction using their sentient techno-creature Erdammeru aka The Void Hound, which they’ve merged into a giant war ship. The JLA, JLElite, and JSA all gather on the Watchtower and split into three mixed-squads. Superman, J’onn, and several heroes from the JLA, JSA, and New Genesis meet the Qwardians just outside of Neptune, taking their stand in deep space. Batman and several other heroes travel to the Antimatter Universe to gather info. Aquaman and several other heroes battle the CSA on Earth-0. After easily defeating Aquaman’s squad (which basically consists of the JLElite and Red Tornado), the CSA flies into deep space to finish off Superman’s squad. When they arrive, the CSA relaxes as the Qwardians kick the shit out of the heroes. J’onn is able to communicate with the Qwardians and explain that Krona is the man they seek, but his threat has long been nullified. Realizing the JLA took care of Krona months ago, the Qwardians turn their interests toward the CSA, chasing them back to the Antimatter Universe. J’onn then reveals that he is actually Batman in disguise! On the Antimatter Earth, Batman is actually a shapeshifted J’onn. Bruce and J’onn had switched places so that any possible adversaries on the Antimatter Earth would not know there was a telepath in their midst. Wonder Woman chastises Batman for sending the Qwardian war machine toward the Antimatter Earth, with so many innocent people there. Bruce replies by saying that he’d rather have those innocent people attacked than the innocent people on his Earth. We’ll never really know if Bruce made the right choice to move the battlefield, but 3.4 million residents of the Antimatter Earth are immediately slaughtered by the invading Qwardians. In a sense, Bruce saved 3.4 million lives in exchange for 3.4 million lives from an alternate Earth. In the end, the JLA joins forces with the CSA against the Qwardians. John Stewart, with help from a now benevolent Construct, taps into the nicer side of the Void Hound, which leads to the Qwardians being forced to retreat. Stewart permanently absorbs both the Construct and the Void Hound into his power ring. Afterward, the JLA attempts to take out the CSA, but the former is whisked back to their own universe. But what about Krona’s growing “Cosmic Egg” prison which holds a new universe of its own? Was it a red herring? Oh no. Just you wait.

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  1. [1]COLLIN COLSHER: Welcome to Bat Year 19. The action-packed, super-compressed first three months of the year put the previous entirety of the timeline to shame in terms of sheer super-compression. I bet you never knew could stuff so many stories into such a tight space! The suspense is killing me—suspension of disbelief, that is. Because things are so damn squeezed in like sardines (especially here in January), I’ve split Bat Year 19 into three sections instead of two.
  2. [2]COLLIN COLSHER: Denny O’Neil’s Azrael: Agent of the Bat #95-100 (published December 2002 to May 2003) comprises a continuous Christmas arc that features a status quo brain-damaged Shondra Kinsolving. Jeph Loeb’s Batman #609, which also features Shondra, was published around the same time (January 2003). Both Loeb and O’Neil wrote their respective arcs at the same time, and clearly there was no communication regarding Shondra’s state of mind/health between the two creators. Since O’Neil went with the old Shondra status quo and Loeb decided to fix Shondra, it means that O’Neil’s arc has to come before “Hush,” and as it happens, it goes shortly before it, hence Shondra’s recovery, seemingly out of nowhere. Continuity comics, everyone!
  3. [3]ELIAS M FREIRE: Ra’s al Ghul’s involvement in the “Hush” arc is quite confusing and can be read in various different ways. However, the gist is that the Ra’s gets involved in the narrative because he knows that whoever used his Lazarus Pit is currently the Big Bad (Riddler) behind Batman’s current predicament in Gotham. Ra’s al Ghul’s further involvement is inspired by the fact that Riddler didn’t invite him to play in the game. Thus, a slightly jealous and very intrigued Ra’s inserts himself into the plot, but then refuses to play along exactly as Riddler would like, which leads to Riddler using Batman to remove Ra’s from the playing field.
  4. [4]COLLIN COLSHER: Yes, after training with Talia and various assassins for the past three years (as detailed in Batman Annual #25 and Red Hood: The Lost Days #3-6), Jason Todd has finally made his opening move in his return revenge plot against Batman. We should note that Red Hood: The Lost Days #4-6 contains some bad continuity errors. First, Red Hood: The Lost Days #4 has a terribly anachronistic sequence where Talia reveals to Jason that Tim Drake is the new Robin (with the implication that he’s recently debuted). By the time Jason regains his memories via the Lazarus Pit, Tim would already have been Robin for a while. There’s no way Jason doesn’t learn about Tim right away—and Jason being somehow kept in the dark about it is ridiculous. Therefore, this is either a major continuity error, or we should treat that scene as a flashback. Second, Red Hood: The Lost Days #6, which leads right up to “Hush,” contains a sequence in which Talia tells Jason that her father (Ra’s al Ghul) has just been killed (this being a major motivating factor in Jason deciding to go through with his assault upon his former mentor). Talia then sleeps with Jason (!) and organizes a meeting between Jason and newcomer Hush, after which the former acts as a part of the latter’s plan (as seen in Batman #617). However, this entire sequence is a huge ugly continuity fuck-up. Ra’s al Ghul doesn’t die until later in the year (in Death and the Maidens). And Death and the Maidens cannot take place until after Superman/Batman‘s “Public Enemies” arc where Lex Luthor loses the presidency. Plus, Ra’s al Ghul is in “Hush” to boot! We have an impossible scenario within Red Hood: The Lost Days #6—one that, if true, would require a complete overhaul of the entire chronology. Therefore, the Talia sex scene in Red Hood: The Lost Days #6 must either be completely ignored as non-canon or it must occur after Death and the Maidens, later in the year, with the Hush sequence omitted.

    JACK JAMES: Writer Judd Winick insisted on making Red Hood: The Lost Days take place before “Hush” while simultaneously (and anachronistically) acknowledging Death and the Maidens, but it’s obvious he didn’t think it through. The “Hush” storyline works perfectly fine without the retcon of “Jason coming in before Clayface,” but oh well, DC insisted on maintaining that idea and in the process they made a gigantic mess.

    The problem with ignoring the line about Ra’s al Ghul’s death (therefore ignoring Talia’s brainwashing) is that it, as you said, ruins the motivation. Not only that, but it seems really out of character for her as well, especially when—in previous issues of that same story—Talia went on about how much she loved Bruce. Another option is to ignore the chat/sex scene, but, even then, some of the narrative is affected. Therefore, as you more-or-less stated, the main non-flashback action of Red Hood: The Lost Days #6 is quasi-canonical and only the most basic elements remain intact on the timeline.

  5. [5]COLLIN COLSHER: Following the conclusion of “Hush,” Jim Lee authored a fifty-two-issue mini webcomic called Batman: Shadow of Sin Tzu (2003-2004) along with Mark Schultz and Rick Burchett. A spinoff of the Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu video game, for which Lee did original designs, the webcomic series is non-canon. While the video game is solely part of the DC Animated Universe continuity, the webcomic exists on its own separate timeline, which mashes-up mainline Earth-0 and DC Animated Universe continuities.
  6. [6]COLLIN COLSHER: “City of Crime” contains an editor’s note that says it is a “pre War Games Batman tale.” Judging by the characterization and narrative within “City of Crime” it seems to fit best here.
  7. [7]PURPLEGLOVEZ (TIPTUP JR 94): Since “City of Crime” takes place shortly before “War Games,” though it was published afterward, DC wanted to maintain continuity between titles and had writer David Lapham name his ousted mayor David Hull. However, it soon became clear this was impossible, as Hull definitively serves as mayor both before and after “War Games” and is named as such in “City of Crime.” But in the latter, Hull is drawn with completely different physical appearance. Following “City of Crime,” no comics mention or give any indication of Hull’s involvement with the Body. When Lapham’s draft scripts of “City of Crime” made it clear that the story’s mayor would not win his re-election campaign, DC had his name changed from Hull to McGreevy, making him a distinct character to avoid conflicts with Hull’s post-“War Games” mayoralty. Therefore, Seamus McGreevy does briefly serve as Gotham City’s official mayor, temporarily displacing Hull from office.

    ELIAS M FREIRE: Detective Comics #806 and Detective Comics #812 cements that the Body is undoubtedly behind Seamus McGreevy’s brief ascension to power. In ‘tec #806, Mr. Friendly (a man at the top of the Gotham’s extremely corrupt 1% elites connected to the Body) says to McGreevy’s top aide Norman Steiner, “We value our privacy. It’s why we selected you and the mayor to run the city.” In ‘tec #812, McGreevy’s re-election is said to be “in the bag” thanks to “certain friends.” These friends include the 1% elites, who in Detective Comics #814, gather to “raise money for their beloved mayor’s re-election … for the man whose vision and foresight has brought them the Gotham Waterfront Project.” However, McGreevy isn’t directly aware of the plot at which he is centered. Detective Comics #813 confirms that McGreevy is in the dark, merely a puppet, while Steiner is fully in league with the bad guys.

  8. [8]ODI / COLLIN COLSHER: JLA #82 ends the “White Rage” story-arc. JLA #83 features a one-shot Superman dream tale, so none of the actual JLA members are actually in it.

14 Responses to Modern YEAR NINETEEN (Part 1)

  1. Stephen Lambert says:

    I love your website and use it often as a reference. I’m writing up a reading order for the Flash and while cross-referencing your site, I noticed you said Reverse Flash (Eobard Thawne) was responsible for Linda Park’s miscarriage. Just thought I’d point out that it is actually Zoom or Hunter Zolomon who was responsible for this. Anyway, thanks for maintaining this site for all of the fans!

  2. James IV says:

    For as confusing and perhaps nonsensical as the ending of it is, there’s always been a soft spot in my heart for the City of Crime story, and indeed it’s quite possibly my favorite portrayal of Gotham I have ever read. Much like the amazing Dark Knight, Dark City, it’s a deeply dark and chilling look at Batman and Gotham as a whole. It’s strange that I both love the story at the same time as not being able to understand The Body after multiple re-reads, but maybe it’s a testament to my psyche or something. Or maybe nostalgia, it being among the first post-2000’s Batman stories I’ve read. Either way, I’ve always been saddened in the lack of remembrance of the storyline, something I solely place on it being released the same time as Jason’s return.

    • “City of Crime” was mega-hyped at the time—the twisted mind behind Stray Bullets, David Lapham, on Batman for the first time ever! In a way it’s like the Twin Peaks of Batman, intriguingly bizarre and not to be missed. Does it work? Does it flop? I haven’t read it in nearly a decade, but I bet it’s a great RE-read, maybe even better now. Glad that you are a fan, James.

      “Dark Knight, Dark City” is one of my all-time favorite Batman arcs. I’ve never compared it to “City of Crime,” but the latter is in great standing if it gets at place on the same pedestal as the former.

  3. Marcelo Millicay says:

    Quick note, Syndicate Rules also includes JLA #107. Really enjoying the Silver Age timeline btw, keep up the good work!

  4. Jack James says:

    I just noticed something. In Batman #608, Batman mentions that Selina “is back in Gotham”, so wouldn’t it make more sense if Catwoman Vol. 3 #22 was set before Batman #608? It doesn’t seem she left the city at any point prior.

    • Hey Jack, I wouldn’t move Catwoman Vol. 3 #22 (October 2003) before Batman #608 (December 2002) as the latter came out nearly a year before the former. I honestly have no clue as to what Jeph Loeb would have been referring to at this juncture on the timeline. As such, we must ignore this line (or add in a mini trip for Selina in there somewhere). I will make a note of it!

  5. James IV says:

    Just a quick note: Batman shows up a bit in Green Arrow #35 ‘advising’ Ollie on Riddler’s schtick.

  6. Seleucie says:

    Wait a minute! I just realised that “Harley & Ivy: Love on the Lam” can’t go in year 19 either, and in any way, because at the time it was Two-face that was out of the game, being Harvey Dent one again after Hush…

    Damn, so many issues with this issue. (A nice one-shot nonetheless) I would personally put it somewhere between late year 16 and early 17, which seems to me would break only the minimum continuity, as in one hand it’s a bit too early for Tim’s public life, but then the main character is alive, the antagonist is an active villain, and Harley and Joker didn’t have their definitive break-up yet.

    • I think an easier fix is just to move it before “Hush” into Year 18 Part 2, no? Then it’s still after Robin Vol. 2 #106 (meeting our Tim Drake requirements) but still firmly in the yearlong gap after Harley Quinn #25. I’ll move it there for now, although if we are looking at publication dates for clues, Love on the Lam was released in Sept 2001, overlapping with the “Quintessence” arc (Harley Quinn #9-12), so maybe earlier also works… Honestly, I think it could go in either place.

      If you have any objections to sticking with Year 18 Part 2, let me know!

      • Seleucie says:

        As you mention it, late year 18 may be the best place indeed: if I remember Hush correctly it already implies a brief rapprochement between Harley and Joker, which if it comes a bit weird at this point of her storyline, is anyway fixed in stone with this major story, so it’s a perfect opportunity to link those events and avoid multiplying their brake-ups. It’s quite the telenovela at this point :’)

        Also: thanks you once again for your all wonderful work here, as I am reading a lot of Batman in my vacations it is as always the greatest guideline to find comics and make sense of them!

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