Modern YEAR TWENTY-ONE (Part 1)

2009 (January to April)

— “Week 35-36” of 52Note in a reference in Detective Comics #817. January. Jim Gordon is officially re-instated as Police Commissioner of Gotham for the third time, replacing Commissioner Akins, who is mired with serious police corruption charges. I should mention that Akins never came off as a character that lacked moral probity. In fact, he was always very noble, admirable, and good at what he did while in charge of the GCPD. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that Akins was involved in any wrongdoing. However, if his entire force was corrupt, city officials would undoubtedly have had no choice but to sever his employment as well. Poor guy!

— “Week 38” of 52Note in 52 #38. Vic Sage (The Question) dies just outside the mystical hidden Tibetan city of Nanda Parbat, where he had been traveling to with Renee Montoya in hopes of finding a cure for his terminal cancer.

— “Week 38” of 52Note in World War III #2. Aquaman makes a deal with the Greco-Roman gods of the sea in order to save the inhabitants of Sub Diego, who can no longer breathe underwater. The sea gods raise Sub Diego back above ground, but Aquaman is mutated into the monstrous but magickal Dweller of the Depths. Aquaman, as the Dweller, loses all of his memories.

–Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters #5
“Week 38” of 52. When terrorists supposedly threaten the President of the United States, Bruce is worried enough to return to Gotham. When the terrorists force Air Force One to land in rural Pennsylvania, Bruce is worried enough to suit up in the Batcave. However, Batman doesn’t intervene because the President gets out an order banning any metahumans besides his own elite First Strike team from responding to the crisis. While superheroes all over the country stand down, Uncle Sam and his Freedom Fighters ignore the command because they know President Knight is really Gonzo the Mechanical Bastard and the whole hijacking is merely a ruse. Despite defeating First Strike, Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters are bested by the President, who frames them for an assassination attempt and has the entire team detained. Gonzo, under orders from Father Time, uses this supposed terrorist action to quickly get authorization from Congress to pass the Meta-Union Act. The Act allows President Gonzo to amend the constitution, making non-governmental superheroes illegal!

–Around “Week 40” of 52Note in a reference in Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters #8. The world discovers Gonzo the Mechanical Bastard is President and he is immediately impeached and ousted. The Meta-Union Act, banning all non-governmental metahuman activity, is immediately repealed.  Gonzo’s Vice President, former President Jonathan Horne, becomes President for a second term.

— “Week 40” of 52Flashback from Batman #673 and Robin Vol. 2 #175. Bruce begins the Thögal (aka Tögal) seclusion ritual in the mystical hidden Tibetan city of Nanda Parbat, which is home to the goddess Rama Kushna and a legit fountain of youth. During the intense Thögal ritual Bruce will supposedly “die and be reborn.” Dick and Tim are present when Bruce begins the ritual and they wish him well.

— “Week 42” of 52Note in 52 #42. Elongated Man (Ralph Dibny) is killed by Neron.

— “Week 42” of 52Note in a flashback from Robin Vol. 2 #175. Nightwing and Robin take down human-traffickers in France and Switzerland.

— “Week 42” of 52Flashback from Batman #673. Bruce has been in Thögal isolation for 13 days. He has vivid hallucinations.

— “Week 44” of 52Note in 52 #44. Egg Fu’s captive scientists have created gigantic techno-organic warriors known as The Four Horsemen. The Horsemen—Azraeuz, Yurrd, Rogga, and Zorrm (better known as Death, Famine, War, and Pestilence of the Four Horsemen)—attack Kahndaq, causing massive casualties, including Black Adam’s wife Isis.

— “Week 44” of 52Note in Robin Vol. 2 #175. Dick and Tim convince a wealthy sheik to discontinue working with Intergang in Monte Carlo.

— “Week 44” of 52Flashback from Batman #673 and Batman #683—and also referenced in Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #0 and Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne. Bruce continues the Thögal ritual. He’s been in isolation for 27 days now (or possibly 30, since he has lost track at this point)—as seen through flashback from Batman #673). Among the various hallucinations that Bruce undergoes is a fever dream that includes a possible vision of the future featuring two headstones and a world in flames (as referenced in Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #0 and Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne). What is this world of flames that Batman sees? Why, it’s the dark 666 Future that will be described in Batman #666, Batman #700, and the questionably canonical dream sequence from Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #5. The two tombstones? A premonition of the deaths of Talia and Damian. Sorry for the SPOILERS. These blurry visions will be further fleshed out when Bruce gets Omega zapped, but we’ll deal with that when we get to it.

— “Week 45” of 52Note in 52 #45. A wrathful Black Adam trails Azraeuz (Horseman Death) to Bialya. As revenge for the attack on his people and for the death of his wife, Black Adam commits total genocide on Bialya, single-handedly leveling the entire nation and murdering all of its inhabitants. In a matter of hours, Black Adam murders nearly a million people ALL BY HIMSELF. Unreal. Bialya is in complete ruins. Thousands more perish in the aftermath.

— “Week 46” of 52Note in 52 #46. Late March. Black Adam learns of the original source of the Horsemen and attacks Egg Fu and his scientists on Oolong Island, off the coast of China.  Egg Fu, miraculously, is able to use his resources to capture Black Adam!

— “Week 46” of 52Note in Robin Vol. 2 #176. Late March. Nightwing and Robin take down Intergang members in Hong Kong then travel to Paris where Robin unveils and debuts a new all red-and-black costume. (The new costume color-scheme is a tribute to Conner Kent.)

— “Week 46” of 52Note in 52 #46. Late March. Lex Luthor is brought up on criminal charges stemming from the New Year’s Eve “Everyman” disaster.

–52 #47
“Week 47” of 52. Bruce emerges from the 49-day Thögal seclusion ritual and reunites with Dick and Tim in Nanda Parbat.  (This is also shown through flashback from Batman #673 and through flashback from Robin Vol. 2 #176.)

— “Week 47” of 52Flashback from Batman #681. Bruce discusses the Thögal ritual and its effect upon him with a Nanda Parbatan monk. The monk reveals himself to be an enemy agent (working secretly for Simon Hurt, but Bruce doesn’t know this) who tries unsuccessfully to poison Bruce.  Bruce then reveals that he has not only fully remembered his original Zur-En-Arrh hallucination from thirteen years ago, he has found the negative trigger word “Zur-En-Arrh” deep within his mind. (He still doesn’t know Simon Hurt is responsible for implanting it there, but he does know it’s bad news.) Fearing that one of his enemies will take over his mind (or worse) using the trigger word, Bruce creates a post-hypnotic “backup identity.” In case of intense psychological attack, Bruce will become “The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh,” the very character he imagined so long ago.

— “Week 48” of 52Note in 52 #48. Renee Montoya becomes the new Question and teams-up with Nightwing and former League of Assassin/Intergang member Kyle Abbot. In Gotham, they rescue Batwoman from Intergang, but not before Intergang’s cultist allies in the Religion of Crime stab Batwoman in the chest, nearly killing her.

— “Week 49” of 52Note in 52 #49. Black Adam escapes from Egg Fu and he is quite pissed off.

— “Week 49” of 52Referenced in Robin Vol. 2 #148. Dick and Tim travel to Budapest to meet with Bruce. Without a word to Dick or Bruce, Tim departs for Gotham abruptly when he receives a letter claiming that Cassie Cain is in trouble. Bruce and Dick spend the whole week searching in vain for Tim until learning from Alfred that Tim is back in Gotham.

— “Week 50” of 52Note in a reference in Nightwing Vol. 2 #118. Dick moves to New York City, becoming the new protector of the Big Apple.

— “Week 50” of 52Note in World War III #1. Black Adam begins “World War III” in the Middle East. Hundreds of thousands perish.  Note that this isn’t literally World War III—the media simply labels it that way. This is really Black Adam versus the world.

— “Week 50” of 52Note in World War III #1. Jason Todd begins operating as a fake Nightwing in New York City.

— “Week 50” of 52Note in World War III #1-2. Harvey Dent continues protecting Gotham, taking down Killer Croc. Secretly watching from the rooftops are Deathstroke and Batgirl. Deathstroke convinces Batgirl that Batman has purposefully chosen Harvey over her in order to belittle her worth.

–Robin Vol. 2 #148-151 (“ROBIN: ONE YEAR LATER”)
“Week 50” of 52. This tale is labeled as “One Year Later” but actually takes place in “Week 50” of 52. Robin has been searching for Cassie Cain for a week now before getting ambushed by an unknown attacker. When he comes to, he finds Lynx (wearing a Batgirl costume) murdered. The cops show up and think Robin has killed Batgirl. Bruce returns to Gotham and dons the Bat costume for the first time in 50 weeks—(besides when he threw it on for a few minutes during Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters #5 in “week 38”). The Caped Crusader then meets with Robin and discusses the situation. Meanwhile, in North Africa, Nyssa al Ghul is assassinated! Back in Gotham, Robin breaks into police headquarters to steal and examine the fake Batgirl costume.  When he gets back to Wayne Manor, Lady Shiva (who is working with Oracle’s Birds of Prey now) is waiting for him. (NOTE: The Birds of Prey are at the tail end of a “student exchange” sort of thing where Shiva has traded places with Black Canary for the past year. Dinah lives in Vietnam for the moment and has legally adopted a young girl named Sin.) Shiva tells Robin that the leaders of the League of Assassins have been assassinated and that the new leader is responsible for everything that is happening. Robin then breaks David Cain out of Blackgate Prison in order to question him. (NOTE: We also learn that Tim has started attending yet another new school. This is his umpteenth transfer and he is now 18-years-old and a high school senior.) Moving on, a bunch of ninjas attack Robin and David Cain. Cassandra Cain reveals herself as the new leader of the League of Assassins! She’s the one who killed Lynx and ordered Nyssa’s death. Say it ain’t so, Cassie! Why has she turned evil? Cassie discovered that she had a sister Annalea Cain, who was also trained to be a killer from birth. (In actuality, David Cain has several more children that have been trained to be killers since birth, which Cassie is unaware of). This news had caused Cassie to snap and realize that she had always been a puppet for her father. In a fit of rage, Cassie murdered her own sister and took over the League. Robin is shocked and upset as Cassie tells him that Batman used them like puppets, just like her father did. Cassie then invites Robin to join her League of Assassins and shoots her father. Robin and Cassie fight to a stalemate and the latter escapes with her injured father. Cassie as a super-villain? This story always breaks my heart. SPOILER: In case your heart was broken like mine, we do later find out that Deathstroke has begun drugging Cassie in order to manipulate both her and the League of Assassins to better serve his devious needs. I guess it makes the bitter pill a bit easier to swallow.

–52 #51
“Week 51” of 52. Black Adam is defeated by an army of superheroes, thus ending “WWIII.” Bruce, Clark, and Diana attend a memorial service in Metropolis to mourn the devastation caused by the week-long World War. The JSA, shocked at what has gone down, decides to “become inactive,” essentially temporarily disbanding until further notice. Meanwhile, Booster Gold and Rip Hunter (who have spent the last year investigating timestream anomalies linked to the fallout of Infinite Crisis) discover that Skeets is evil and is actually being controlled by the alien worm known as Mr. Mind.

— “Week 52” of 52Note in a reference in Batman #654 (“One Year Later/Face the Face”). Penguin is forced out of Gotham by the city’s mysterious new ultimate crime-lord. SPOILER: Gotham’s new crime-lord is the Great White Shark (Warren White) who successfully operates his organized crime-ring from his cell in Arkham.

— “Week 52” of 52Note in 52 #52. Booster Gold, Rip Hunter, and Supernova continue their investigation into Mr. Mind. The clues lead them to travel back in time to one year ago (April 2008) where they witness the creation of 52 brand new parallel universes (linked to the fallout of Infinite Crisis), which each have their own lengthy and unique histories. The heroes also witness Mr. Mind attempting to literally consume these new universes. The heroes are able to stop Mr. Mind, thus altering the histories of the 52 universes once again, but successfully trapping Mr. Mind in a permanent time loop. Basically, Mr. Mind will have to relive the events of 52 over and over again forever. It’s a great story, but it would get insipid after the billionth time.  Anyway, Booster, Rip, and Supernova travel back to the present “week 52” of April 2009 (now) after trapping Mr. Mind in the loop. The heroes decide to keep knowledge of the new multiverse (which consists of 52 new parallel universes) a secret. However, this huge news is a hard secret to keep and word will get out fast, at least within superhero/super-villain circles. Due to the time alteration in this tale, it is revealed that this version of the multiverse always existed i.e. these 52 parallel Earths each have unique and lengthy histories that are just as long as the history of the “New Earth”/Earth-0 Universe. However, much like at the end of the original-Crisis, we know that there are countless other parallel universes and parallel multiverses unscathed by Infinite Crisis (such as the Antimatter Universe, the Wildstorm Universe, the Vertigo Universe, the Image Multiverse, or the Marvel Multiverse). And with that, 52 comes to its satisfying conclusion!


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