Rebirth Year Seventeen (Part 2)

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(July 2019 to December 2019)
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–The Batman Who Laughs #1-4 (“THE LAUGHING HOUSE”)
Commissioner Gordon, not believing that James Jr’s drug treatment is really changing him, signs paperwork to end his son’s Diaxamyne trial and work-release program. Soon after, Joker is sent back to Arkham Asylum. A few days after that, Batman’s Last Laugh emergency ventilation system reaches its final stages of construction, soon ready for testing. And shortly after that, Batman chases some crooks that are smuggling cadavers out of Gotham inside extreme-load trucks. After smashing-up their operation on the highway, Batman finds that it was all a set-up for him to stumble across a dead body meant to shake him to the core. Batman finds the corpse of an alternate universe Bruce Wayne. Before Batman can take the body, the GCPD gets ahold of it and brings it to the morgue. Batman knocks-out coroner Dr. Veth, disguises himself as Veth, and does an autopsy on the body, learning that he is six or seven years older than him. Via autopsy and deduction, Batman finds that this Bruce quit after getting his back broken by Bane, married Selina, and had a child with her. Batman realizes the delivery of this corpse is the handiwork of the Batman Who Laughs. Meanwhile, the Batman Who Laughs, accompanied by another Dark Multiverse Batman (The Grim Knight), murderously breaks into Arkham Asylum. The Batman Who Laughs murders Joker, but Joker knew he was being targeted and had already escaped, leaving a disguised former henchmen as a decoy in his place. Not long after, Batman meets with Commissioner Gordon and tells him all about the Batman Who Laughs. After a brief investigation, Batman deduces that Joker will try to come visit him in the Batcave. Sure enough, just as Alfred lowers the riparian security system, Joker emerges from the waterway (somehow, inexplicably without any scuba gear or anything). Batman offers to team-up against the Batman Who Laughs just like they did once before, but Joker uses a trick gun to shoot himself in the chest. Batman rushes over to cradle the bleeding Joker, which causes Batman to become infected with the villain’s heart poison, instantly Jokerizing the Dark Knight. Batman responds by stripping shirtless and jabbing dozens of IV needles into his body, flushing his system full of every Joker Toxin antidote he’s got. Meanwhile, Alfred immediately begins open heart surgery on Joker. The next day, the Batman Who Laughs leaves yet another deceased alternate universe Bruce Wayne on the streets of Gotham. A partially-recovered Batman, disguised as Harvey Bullock, examines the corpse alongside Commissioner Gordon. Batman then realizes that the Batman Who Laughs will target the Last Laugh hub in Wayne Tower. By the time Batman gets to Wayne Tower, the Batman Who Laughs has already slaughtered a bunch of guards. Batman tries to fight his foe, but the Grim Knight snipes him in the chest, incapacitating him with a sci-fi bullet. The Batman Who Laughs completely demolishes Wayne Tower. Batman barely escapes with his life. Later, in the Batcave, Joker wakes up to tell Batman that only James Gordon Jr—the “best” criminal planner in the history of Gotham—truly understands what the Batman Who Laughs is planning. After a quick call from Batman to Jim, the Commish reluctantly recruits his son—who is on a monitored Wayne Enterprises/Arkham-sponsored work release program at a supermarket—into the fold. After discovering that the Batman Who Laughs has stolen all of James Jr’s old notebooks, Batman joins Commissioner Gordon to speak to James Jr. Batman tries to bully James Jr into helping, hoping to provoke his evil side to re-emerge, but the Diaxamyne in his system has seemingly turned him into a docile warm-hearted soul with no mind for criminality anymore. The Grim Knight then interrupts, shooting up the market and confronting Batman head-on. When the Grim Knight threatens to down a passenger plane, Batman has to stand down, allowing the Grim Knight to kidnap Commissioner Gordon. (As revealed in Batman/Superman Vol. 2 #1, Gordon is taken to the Batman Who Laughs’ evil Batcave underneath Crime Alley.) Meanwhile, at Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge, the Batman Who Laughs kills another alternate universe Bruce Wayne and runs homicidally amok. Across town, with James Jr proving to be no help at all, Batman begins to lose faith. He tells James Jr that his dad has cancelled his treatment program. Batman, becoming more and more unhinged due to the Dark Joker Venom coursing through his veins, takes-off. Batman tests the water at the Last Laugh reservoir, during which Joker visits him. Joker says he hopes both he (Batman) and the Batman Who Laughs defeat each other. Joker also promises to kill Batman if he fully-turns. They laugh together maniacally. Later, in the Batcave, Batman succumbs further to the poisons in his body. He creates and dons his very own Batman Who Laughs headgear made out of Nth Metal. With this headgear, Batman will be able to see into the Dark Multiverse. Alfred is so shocked at seeing Batman wearing the Batman Who Laughs’ headgear that he begins fist-fighting the Dark Knight in the Batcave. After a brief scuffle, Batman and Alfred hug it out. Batman takes-off and, by using the headgear and coordinating with James Gordon Jr, locates a Dark Metal energy spike inside Blackgate Prison. Inside the prison, Batman accidentally wanders through an interdimensional portal (presumably of the Batman Who Laughs’ design), winding-up in an alternate Dark Multiverse Earth where an elderly Bruce Wayne is warden of Blackgate. Together, both Batman and the alt-Bruce phase back to Earth-0. The Batman Who Laughs, disguised as a prison guard, immediately murders the alt-Bruce Wayne. A bunch of Blackgate guards enter and begin firing upon Batman, mistaking him for the Batman Who Laughs. Meanwhile, the Grim Knight unleashes upon Commissioner Gordon his own Dark Robins, cannibal Boy Wonders that are all alt-versions of James Junior. Commissioner Gordon flees into the sewers.

–The Batman Who Laughs #5-7 (“THE LAUGHING HOUSE” Continued…)
James Jr kills his cannibal doppelgängers and rescues his dad. Meanwhile, in Blackgate, Batman pretends to be the Batman Who Laughs, threatening to harm the prison guards’ families unless they let him walk. Standing down, they let him go. Batman takes the interdimensional portal from Blackgate and brings it to the Batcave for safekeeping. In the Court of Owls labyrinth, the Batman Who Laughs easily rips the arms off of several Talons and confronts the Court members head-on, killing one of their new young leaders. The Batman Who Laughs then summons yet another alternate-Bruce Wayne, this one at Talon and the head of the Court of Owls on his world. The Batman Who Laughs dispatches with Talon Bruce just like all the others. Meanwhile, Batman picks-up Commissioner Gordon and James Jr in a remote-controlled hyper-submarine, bringing them to the Batcave. There, Batman and Commissioner Gordon prepare to activate the Last Laugh system in an effort to prevent the Batman Who Laughs from poisoning the entire city. But before Batman activates it, he realizes that the Batman Who Laughs has played him. The Batman Who Laughs phones-in and reveals that Last Laugh was not built in 1780, but actually in 1699. And it wasn’t built to protect Gotham—it was built as a biological WMD. Batman has accidentally built and refurbished a giant chemical weapon, designed to kill everyone in his beloved city. The Batman Who Laughs psyches-out a poisoned Batman, who starts to agree that Gotham was always evil and deserving of punishment. With tears running out from underneath his weird headgear, a confused and troubled Batman activates Last Laugh. However, Batman has a plan. Able to now view alternate Dark Universes just like the Batman Who Laughs, Batman sees various alternate versions of himself. Batman comes to believe that he is the least effective of the other Batmen, because he would never give up his never-ending vigilante war for grander, more effective crime-fighting plans or for something that might be healthier for himself. Batman reaches out to the Batman Who Laughs, challenging him to a one-on-one duel. Batman deduces that his rival needs one final ingredient to activate the citywide Dark Joker Venom toxin: some of his blood. Batman also realizes that the Batman Who Laughs’ end goal is not only to Jokerize all of Gotham, but also to pass the torch to him, leaving Batman as the new permanent Batman Who Laughs. Batman further realizes that his rival will likely use a Wayne Tech syringe to extract his blood and test him. Thus, Batman rigs a special charge in his costume that will mess with all nearby Wayne Tech syringes. In the Batcave, Commissioner Gordon and James Jr don experimental proto-Batman Beyond costumes and fight a losing battle against the Grim Knight. On the lawn of Wayne Manor, Batman fights the Batman Who Laughs. Batman tries to lure the Batman Who Laughs into a trap by summoning a child version of Bruce Wayne from an alternate universe, but the villain doesn’t fall for it. Instead, the Batman Who Laughs stabs Batman in the chest with a full syringe of Dark Joker Venom, also extracting some of Batman’s blood at the same time. The Batman Who Laughs puts a gun to his own head, convinced that he has finally turned Batman, but he realizes that Batman has tricked him and instead shoots him in the shoulder. Meanwhile, the Grim Knight tries to drown Jim Gordon in a pool of Dark Joker Venom, but James Jr saves his dad, stabbing the Grim Knight to death. Above ground, the Batman Who Laughs chases the young alt-Bruce to the cemetery where Thomas and Martha Wayne are buried (next to Wayne Manor). At the cemetery, Batman and Alfred defend young Bruce and activate their preset harpoon traps. With Alfred blasting shotgun shells into the Batman Who Laughs, and electrified harpoons tearing into the villain’s body, Batman whacks the vile doppelgänger with his mom’s toppled tombstone. Batman begins to finally fully succumb to the Dark Joker Venom in his body and is about to kill the Batman Who Laughs. Joker shows up and spares Batman from doing the deed, taking him down himself, preventing Last Laugh from activating. Alfred immediately rushes a downed Batman into an emergency blood transfusion with young alt-Bruce, saving his life and clearing out most of the Dark Joker Venom in his system. Bruce is in a coma for nearly two weeks before coming-to. Upon awakening, Bruce is notified that the Batman Who Laughs is in a secure cell in the Hall of Justice. (As referenced in Batman/Superman Vol. 2 #2, the Bat-Family has secretly imprisoned the Batman Who Laughs deep beneath Batman’s private domain within the Hall of Justice. They have kept this a secret from the JL and the other heroes. Bruce decides that keeping it a secret is an auspicious idea, taking added steps to ensure that it remains as such.) Bruce does some research and comes to think that Joker helped him fend-off succumbing to the Batman Who Laughs’ toxins via a decelerating agent. Alfred tells Bruce that he sent the young Bruce back to his correct world. While Bruce then melts down the interdimensional portal, Alfred also tells him that he did a full toxicology screening and found no traces of any decelerating agent in his system. Batman was able to fend off the Dark Joker Venom simply because he is Batman. Across town, Jim tells James Jr that he will continue doing his treatments and work-release program. Unknown to all, some of the Last Laugh toxins are within Jim’s body and mind.

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #1012. Due to all the horror Jim Gordon has just faced in The Batman Who Laughs arc, he decides to distance himself from his work a bit, giving a bit of his caseload to Harvey Bullock by appointing him as interim GCPD captain. Commissioner Gordon will still be leading the Force, but his weekly schedule will be much lighter, moving forward. Don’t forget, the infected Gordon is being partially mind-controlled by the Batman Who Laughs.

–Detective Comics #1012-1014 (“COLD DARK WORLD”)
An editorial note places this item prior to “City of Bane.” An snowy chill falls over Gotham, although, I’m not sure the winter season makes sense here on our timeline. Batman, still lovesick over Catwoman, visits the now-ruined SS Dolphin, the ship where they first met each other in costume. Meanwhile, Mr. Freeze’s henchmen have already kidnapped three Nora Fries lookalikes upon which to test the Lex Luthor-powered rejuvenation process, but Batman’s interest isn’t piqued until he learns that a fourth would-be victim has been able to evade capture. After a brief visit with Interim Captain Harvey Bullock, Batman goes to the home of the woman that evaded capture. He waits, setting up an ambush, nabbing the returning abductor. With Alfred’s thespian assistance, Batman gets Mr. Freeze’s henchman to admit to Mr. Freeze’s involvement in the kidnappings. As referenced in Detective Comics #1014, upon hearing about Mr. Freeze’s involvement, Batman visits the WayneTech Cryogenics Lab and cleans out all compounds and chemicals that Victor Fries ever worked on there in the past. Then, donning his ridiculous Bat-flamethrower costume, Batman crashes into Mr. Freeze’s lair in the Pine Barrens. After dispatching with a bunch of zombified frozen test victims, Batman then chases after a fleeing Mr. Freeze, who escapes with Nora in tow. Batman then brings the three frozen Nora lookalikes into the Batcave, hoping to revive them and return them to normal. Not sure if they are conscious and aware of their surroundings, Batman tells Alfred to put on a mask. Cheekily, he wears a Flash halloween mask (likely left in the cave by Damian or one of the other boys). Back in the Pine Barrens, Mr. Freeze revives Nora! Suffering from his same affliction, she must also remain at absolute zero! Bruce meets with Lucius Fox at WayneTech Cryogenics Lab to discuss the Nora lookalikes, but they are interrupted by Mr. Freeze and Nora. Mr. Freeze steals a hidden compound, which he administers to Nora, effectively turning her into a blue-skinned Mrs. Freeze! Mr. and Mrs. Freeze debut by icing-over an entire theater full of people at the latter’s old ballet company. Soon afterward, the villains view a huge Doom Totality symbol that burns brightly in the sky. (This symbol, meant to coincide with the actions of the Legion of Doom in Justice League Vol. 4, was forcefully shoved (by editorial mandate) into the background of every DC title released in October, November, and early to mid December 2019. Continuity be damned! We should ignore this scene since it makes little to no sense happening now, nor does it make chronological sense in almost all of the titles in which it appears. The only way the appearance of the symbol makes any sense is if it sporadically appears multiple times over the course of the next few weeks.)

–Detective Comics #1015-1016 (“COLD DARK WORLD” Continued…)
In the Batcave, Alfred, Lucius, and Batman struggle to find a cure for the theater-goers that the Freezes have turned into blocks of ice. Lucius synthesizes a potential cure, but wants to test it on Bat-Cow first. Batman says that he (Batman himself) will be the guinea pig instead. Thus, they freeze Batman’s arm and immediately administer the serum. It works as a de-icer, but leaves his limb totally numb. Back to the drawing board. Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. Freeze rob a bunch of banks with ease. Then, Mrs. Freeze dumps Mr. Freeze, icing him over and leaving him behind! Soon after, a one-armed Batman meets with an escaped Mr. Freeze, who begs him to help him deal with Mrs. Freeze in exchange for the de-icing cure. (As mentioned above, the Doom Totality symbol is still shining in the night sky, but we might have to ignore this.) Batman agrees and soon has a working arm and the cure, which he sends to Alfred. In the Batcave, Alfred (in his plastic Flash mask) and Lucius (wearing a Batman Halloween mask) revive the Nora lookalikes. At the theater, all are saved as well. Mr. Freeze then teams-up with Batman (back in his flamethrower costume) to go after the former’s crazed wife. Batman and Mr. Freeze fight Mrs. Freeze at the art museum, but Mr. Freeze turns on Batman to help his wife. Still not wanting to be with him, Mrs. Freeze takes down her hubby and flees into the night. Batman settles for busting Mr. Freeze. (Note that the Doom Totality symbol is again shown in ‘tec #1016. A stated above, it was meant to coincide with the actions of the Legion of Doom in Justice League Vol. 4, and was forcefully shoved (by editorial mandate) into the background of every DC title released in October, November, and early to mid December 2019. We should ignore this scene since it makes little to no sense happening now, nor does it make chronological sense in almost all of the titles in which it appears. The only way the appearance of the symbol makes any sense is if it sporadically appears multiple times over the course of the next few weeks.)

[1]

–Superman Vol. 5 #17
Lex Luthor has gifted Lois Lane something worthy of publishing in The Daily Planet, something top secret hidden in a small lead-lined box. Superman asks her what’s in the box, but she says she cannot tell him—that he must wait until she publishes it for the world to see. While they discuss a range of topics, including the box, Sam Lane’s death, and Jon’s departure to the future, a frustrated Superman telescopically scans the country looking for any trouble, but he only sees relative calm, including Batman and Alfred hanging out in the Batcave. Later, Young Justice (Tim Drake, Conner Kent, Wonder Girl, Impulse, Amethyst, Teen Lantern, and Jinny Hex)—having very recently returned from interdimensional adventure in Young Justice Vol. 3 #1-11—tips off Superman about a secret unsanctioned STAR Labs compound in Utah that has dedicated its resources to killing the Man of Steel. (Note that Tim has a new costume and now goes by the name Drake. Although, we’ll still see Tim, on occasion, wear his Robin costume. After all, with Tim, old habits die hard and change is gradual.) Superman’s mere appearance at the Utah compound is enough to shut it down, although he doesn’t learn that Dr. Glory is secretly behind it. Superman and Supergirl then visit New Krypton, a manmade planet at the other side of the universe that has been created by a reformed Zod and his wife Ursa. There, with Lor-Zod (Zod and Ursa’s son) eavesdropping, Superman tells Supergirl that he plans on revealing his secret ID to the world in the near future.

LESSER GODS
———————––Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #1-4
———————––Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #6

(This item seems to have been written to occur in closer proximity to the last Outsiders appearance on our timeline, but it must go here, after Lex Luthor’s resurrection and as close to “City of Bane” as possible. Editorial notation in Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #5-6 places “Lesser Gods” prior to Alfred’s death in “City of Bane.” Alfred’s appearances in both issues also place it prior to his death.) Bruce purchases Jefferson Pierce an apartment in Gotham while Katana moves into a place of her own in Gotham as well. Now equipped with new Bat-signal watches, the Outsiders (Black Lightning, Katana, Signal, and Orphan) are ready for fresh action! Batman sends them to bust a serial killer named Saint John, who has spent the last few days on a murder spree. After the Outsiders bust Saint John, Jefferson debriefs Bruce and chats with Katana. When Batman gets word that Gabriel Ramos has been killed by a League of Assassins member named Ishmael, who is now hunting a scared Sofia Ramos, he sends the Outsiders to work the case. Batman, meanwhile, departs to tackle the much-neglected Markovian Black Market case. In California, Sofia is taken under the protection of Kaliber,  who claims to be a time-traveler an alternate future where Sofia one day saves the entire world. Kaliber is only joking, of course. Working under Batman’s employ, Kaliber has been secretly watching over and protecting Sofia for years. In the Batcave, Bruce sips on hot tea and chats with Black Lightning. At a West Coast safe-house, Sofia and Kaliber are attacked by Ishmael, but the Outsiders (Black Lightning, Katana, Signal, and Orphan) intervene. The heroes are defeated and Ishmael kidnaps Sophia, taking her into Ra’s al Ghul’s custody in Khadym. Orphan meets with Batman to tell him that the Signal is still messed up over last year’s fight against Karma. Batman then meets with the Outsiders (now officially joined by Kaliber) to discuss the loss of Sofia Ramos to Ra’s al Ghul and to tell the team that he will be putting them through a test. Soon after, Batman—dressed up in Karma’s gear—attacks the Outsiders at the Gotham Waterways plant. But this test is really just for the weakest link of the team: the Signal. “Karma” strikes out at the Signal, who falters but learns a valuable lesson—that his teammates are there for him. Batman unmasks, telling the Signal he knows how he feels and fully supports him. Meanwhile, having been given an offer he couldn’t refuse from the resurrected Lex Luthor, Ra’s al Ghul puts Sofia through a straight-up rip-off of Return of the Jedi, acting in a Palpatine role and urging Sofia to strike down her tormentor Ishmael. She doesn’t kill Ishmael, but she does turn to the dark side and accept Ra’s al Ghul as her master. Sofia slaughters nearly two dozen assassins, earning the super-villain name Babylon. In Gotham, Bruce keeps up playboy appearances by hosting a sybaritic yacht party, during which he secretly meets with Jefferson. Bruce instructs Jefferson to take the Outsiders—sans Orphan and Signal—into Khadym to rescue Sofia, no matter what’s become of her. The Outsiders comply, rescuing the brainwashed Sofia. Black Lightning checks-in with Bruce, who is visiting Paris on unspecified business. Bruce tells Black Lightning to bring Sofia to Gotham. Meanwhile, Ra’s al Ghul ships a chess set to Wayne Manor to mock Bruce. Alfred receives the package and troubles over it. Concurrently, Orphan and Signal chase Ishmael to an underground lair in Gotham where they are greeted by a resurrected Lady Shiva, who displays a captured Karma. Shiva tells her daughter that they stand in one of Batman’s secret compounds and that Batman has held Karma captive there for some time. Allied with Ra’s al Ghul once again, Shiva takes down Orphan. Ishmael then takes down Signal and abducts him, departing with Shiva to rejoin Ra’s al Ghul. Since Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #1-6 takes place prior to Alfred’s death and Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #7 takes place after Alfred’s death, this creates a ridiculous weeks-long ellipsis between the issues, which were written by Bryan Hill as a non-interrupted continuous narrative. Great job, DC higher-ups and editorial department. A total continuity nightmare (or should I say “Knightmare”?) of epic proportions. In any case, since we’ll see Signal in Tom King’s upcoming Batman Vol. 3 arcs, this means that Signal must now immediately be rescued by the Bat-Family. Furthermore, this also means that Black Lightning and Katana must hold off their attempted delivery of Sofia to Gotham for yet even longer due to all the craziness that is about to occur—”Tyrant Wing,” “Knightmares,” “Fall and the Fallen,” and the opening of “City of Bane.” Since the Outsiders won’t be able to follow up with Batman for a few weeks, we must assume they keep Sofia captive for the next few weeks.

–Batman Vol. 3 #58-60 (“THE TYRANT WING”)
Lately, Penguin hasn’t been following Bane’s secret preachments to the letter, so Bane decides to send him a message from Arkham Asylum. Penguin’s recently wedded “wife” (an actual penguin named Penny) is murdered. Penguin goes old-school and attacks Batman with a trick umbrella, which gets him sent to Arkham for a few-day stint. While there, Penguin meets with Bane and Flashpoint Batman in the bowels of the building. Bane tells Penguin to fall back in line and that he has plans for Bruce Wayne, ordering Penguin to assassinate Alfred. After being released, Penguin attends a funeral for Penny. There, Penguin chats with his henchmen about the still-ongoing Mr. Freeze-copycat murder case, which Penguin is revealed to be orchestrating on behalf of Bane. Penguin then puts out the hit on Alfred. In the Batcave, Alfred cleans the T Rex and sees-off Batman, who heads out upon hearing that there’s been yet another Mr. Freeze-copycat murder (the first one since the triple murder from months ago). Batman meets with Commissioner Gordon, who tells Batman that there was a penguin feather found near the body of the latest victim. Batman immediately visits the Iceberg Lounge and punches his way to Penguin’s inner sanctum. Penguin plays his card, revealing that his men have a sniper rifle targeted on Alfred inside Wayne Manor as they speak. But Penguin tells his own men to kill themselves, which they do. In an ostensibly venturesome move, Penguin appears to be going against Bane. He sits Batman down with quite a yarn to tell. Of course, Bane has anticipated every possible outcome—even a betrayal by Penguin, who, despite great risk to his own life, goes against the grain due to anger over the loss of his “wife.” Penguin tells Batman that Bane ordered him to commit the Mr. Freeze frame-up murders. Penguin also tells Batman that Bane has been in total control of Arkham Asylum for at least a year. From Arkham, Bane has ruled over Gotham’s underworld in this time. Batman immediately visits Bane’s Arkham cell to find the villain a blubbering catatonic mess. Batman beats the shit out of Bane, accusing him of being behind KGBeast’s hit on Dick and all that Penguin has claimed. Bane plays dumb and keeps up his blubbering act. Commissioner Gordon rushes-in and pulls Batman off the shaking bloody Bane. Batman punches-out Gordon, to which the Commish tells Batman to get the hell out. Badly injured, but having fooled Batman, Bane smiles to himself in the infirmary. After leaving, Batman tells Alfred that he doesn’t know what to believe anymore. After building a makeshift cage inside the Batcave, Batman puts a blindfolded Penguin into his protective custody, placing him inside the cage while ordering Alfred to act as his keeper. Batman then sets out to interrogate anyone that has been released from Arkham in the past year. First, Batman mercilessly thrashes a cowering Maxie Zeus, who has been inexplicably paroled despite having been given a life sentence. Batman then terrorizes Firefly (Ted Carson), Kite-Man, Signalman, and nine more (unnamed) recently released Arkham inmates. All of them say the same thing: Bane is a blubbering mess and there’s no way he’s the leader of a secret Arkham-based criminal cabal. When Gordon hears that Batman has been mercilessly brutalizing parolees, he angrily stomps up to top of the GCPD HQ roof and smashes the Bat-signal with a baseball bat. Batman then returns to the Batcave where he is ambushed by Flashpoint Batman. As referenced in Batman Vol. 3 #70-71, Batman is knocked unconscious and imprisoned inside Arkham Asylum by Flashpoint Batman. After being strapped to a machine that pumps a continuous flow of Fear Gas into his system, Batman hallucinates. First, Batman has a dream about Flashpoint Batman attacking both he and Alfred.

–Batman Vol. 3 #61-63 (“KNIGHTMARES”)
Batman, having been taken prisoner by Flashpoint Batman and strapped to a machine that pumps a continuous flow of Fear Gas into his system, continues to hallucinate. The Dark Knight dreams about the false origin and delusions of the murderous young Matthew Warner aka Master Bruce. Then, Batman finds himself, within the nightmare, tied-up hanging upside-down in a slaughterhouse. Batman struggles to free himself and regain his equilibrium as Professor Pyg strikes out at him. Batman demands answers of the villain, who morphs into Damian. Batman then dreams that his wedding with Catwoman went as planned. Batman vacations, patrols, and lives a happy life of marital bliss. Batman’s deep subconsciousness appears in the form of John Constantine, who follows the Dark Knight and acts as a voice of reason, trying to tell him something is amiss. After witnessing Catwoman die, Batman—via Constantine—struggles to convince himself that he’s been drugged and is being held captive.

–Batman Vol. 3 #66-69 (“KNIGHTMARES” Continued…)
Batman’s Fear Gas-induced nightmare hallucination continues with a vision of the Question (Vic Sage) in conversation with Selina. They discuss the Bat-Cat relationship, Batman’s relationship to the Trinity, Batman’s war on crime, and whether or not Batman can ever be happy. Batman then hallucinates that he is chasing an extra-agile Joker all throughout Gotham. This segues into a weird dream where Selina and Lois Lane have a drunk and debaucherous bachelorette spa date at the Fortress of Solitude (which includes Supermen Robots stripping for them). Meanwhile, the dream continues with Bruce and Clark sharing together a quiet night of formal dinner, watching football on TV, and playing chess. Realizing that he’s dreaming, Batman tries to turn his vision into a lucid one, forcing the dream to take him to a scene of himself dancing with Selina. Batman faces his greatest fear—the fear of committing fully to Selina. Dream Selina tells Batman that he doesn’t truly love her. Elsewhere, Flashpoint Thomas Wayne spars with a nude Bane.

–Batman Vol. 3 #70-72 (“THE FALL AND THE FALLEN”)
Batman comes-to and smashes out of the nightmare machine to find himself in a Bane-controlled Arkham Asylum. Shaken and believing to have been held captive for what he mistakenly believes to have been weeks, Batman traverses the halls of the asylum. After kayoing Riddler and ignoring an annoying Calendar Man, Batman easily takes down a Kobra snake man (or maybe Copperhead, but its hard to tell), Hush, Dr. Phosphorus, Mad Hatter, Victor Zsasz, a random man-bat (maybe a League of Assassins man-bat since Kirk Langstrom would currently be with the JLD and definitely not in Arkham), Eduardo Flamingo, Black Spider, Firefly, Mr. Freeze, Scarecrow, Amygdala, Solomon Grundy, and Two-Face. As Maxie Zeus shouts in the background, Batman orders Two-Face to tell Bane that he’ll be returning with an army in twenty-four hours. Batman then heads to police HQ where he pops a red bulb and new lens into the Bat-signal, shining it for his Bat-Family to see. Batgirl radios the troops: Robin (Tim) wraps-up fighting Samuroids with Young Justice; Robin (Damian) wraps-up dealing with Professor Pyg; Huntress wraps-up a team-up with Tiger King of Kandahar; a sleepy Spoiler ignores the call; Batwoman acknowledges but is out of country; Orphan responds affirmatively; Signal responds affirmatively; Dick (now “Ric”) says Bat-Family matters have nothing to do with him anymore; and Jason flat-out refuses to come. (Jason is shown in his Iceberg Lounge office, which is a continuity error—a misguided attempt to connect to other comic storylines. Jason was in control of the Iceberg Lounge, but not anymore. The only way this could work is with a heavy fanwank of there being two Iceberg Lounges and Jason is visiting Suzie Su, who would be owner of the other one.) Atop a Gotham roof, Batman addresses his people, telling them of Bane’s machinations at Arkham. Batman tells the Bat-Family that he had been captured for weeks, which confuses them because there’s no way that could possibly be true. Despite this, they agree to listen to their mentor anyway. At Arkham, everything seems to be normal and all the prisoners are safely in their cells. After a quick call to Alfred, Batgirl learns that Batman had only left yesterday. An irenic Tim (in his Robin costume) tries to calm down a quickly panicking and increasingly confused Batman, but the Dark Knight punches him. (A reference in Batman Vol. 3 #81 reveals that Batman knows that Gotham Girl is secretly listening-in on Bane’s behalf, so the Dark Knight, with this punch, actually sends a hidden message to the Bat-Family to begins communicating on more secure comm channels. He tells his fam that he will take a dive against Bane in order to figure out their plan and how to beat them. This ridiculousness puts some of his old Golden Age ruses to shame, but oh well.) At Wayne Manor, Batman comes face-to-face with Bane and Flashpoint Batman waiting for him at the dinner table. Alfred serves food, referring to Bane as “Master Bane.” An angry Batman flips the table, prompting Bane to rise up and knock his lights out. Alfred helps Batman to his feet, but tells him that Bane has finally truly broken him. Batman fights Bane all over the mansion, but Bane gets the upper hand and gives the Caped Crusader a patented backbreaker.

–Batman Vol. 3 #73-74 (“THE FALL AND THE FALLEN” Continued…)
Batman, having been knocked unconscious by Bane, is mended by Flashpoint Batman, who performs surgery on his injured spine, saving his life. Heavily sedated, Bruce is hijacked to the deserts outside of Khadym by a horseback-riding Flashpoint Batman. After several days, Bruce awakens and adjusts to his surroundings, seeing his captor and a mysterious coffin. Another groggy day passes and Bruce erupts from sleep to find Flashpoint Batman finishing off The Death of the Desert, Ra’s al Ghul’s personal elite guard unit. Bruce chats with Flashpoint Batman and realizes that the alt-Dark Knight has dug up the corpse of Martha Wayne, which is in the coffin. The plan is to resurrect her in the Lazarus Pit of Khadym, known as the Nain Pit! The next night, while Flashpoint Batman sleeps, Batman sneaks his mother’s corpse out of the coffin, replacing the weight with rocks. He buries Martha in the sand. the next day, the two Batmen near the Nain Pit and defeat the rest of the Death of the Desert, including their fearless leader Shaddad the Unbroken. After repelling to the bottom of a deep chasm to the edge of the Nain Pit, Batman stops playing along and kicks his alt-dad’s ass. He tells Flashpoint Batman that Bane’s plan hasn’t worked. He’s not emotionally shattered and done for. Batman pummels Flashpoint Batman, seemingly implying that he defeats his faux father. However, such is not the case. As referenced in Batman Vol. 3 #84, Flashpoint Batman wins the fight and ascends out of the pit first. And here’s where things get ever more confusing.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 3 #81. After leaving the Nain Pit, Batman realizes that Bane wants control of Gotham and will likely use Gotham Girl to help keep the Justice League out of his way. Knowing that Gotham Girl needs Super-Venom to slow down her rapid senescence, Batman decides that he must protect the last dose, which is hidden with the Memory of the Mountain in the Himalayas. Knowing that many of Gotham’s worst villains are in league with Bane, Batman orders Clayface (Basil Karlo) to infiltrate Bane’s ranks, disguised as Joker. Batman also preps his Bat-Family for clandestine action. The implication here is that this leads directly to the “City of Bane” arc, starting with Batman getting badly injured by Magpie’s thugs and Bane taking over Gotham. Batman even says he “did not return to the city” after crawling out of the pit. Thus begins “City of Bane.”

CITY OF BANE
———————––Batman Vol. 3 #75-76
———————––flashback from Batman Vol. 3 #77
With the aid of Psycho-Pirate’s brainwashing powers, Bane takes over Gotham, ejecting the Bat-Family from the city. Bane holds Alfred hostage, telling all Bat-Family members that he will kill him if they appear in the city. Flashpoint Batman and Gotham Girl replace Batman and Robin, even moving into the Batcave. The Ventriloquist replaces Alfred as butler of Wayne Manor, although Alfred remains in the mansion as a “permanent guest” under lock and key. Bane appoints Hugo Strange as the new commissioner of police and makes his top cops Riddler, Professor Pyg, Hush, Victor Zsasz, Mad Hatter, Dr. Phosphorus, Killer Croc, and Joker. (Note that Croc is not under Bane and Psycho-Pirate’s spell in Gotham City Monsters, which takes place during this time period in Gotham’s Monstertown neighborhood, which Bane has no interest in. Thus, Croc must succumb immediately after that series. Also note that Joker is actually secretly a disguised Clayface, who is working for Batman.) Firefly and Firebug are put in charge of the Gotham City Fire Department. Psycho-Pirate—with Tweedledum (Dumfree Tweed) and Tweedledee (Deever Tweed) as his cronies—control Arkham Asylum. Only Two-Face—with hired men Solomon Grundy and Amygdala—remains to fight against the new status-quo. While Bruce flees to the other side of the planet seeking to retrieve the Super-Venom from his old master, the Memory of the Mountain, Two-Face and his henchmen wage a war against Bane for days, eventually executing Bane’s agent, Dr. Double-X. Flashpoint Batman and Gotham Girl then bust Two-Face, leaving his Harvey Dent side catatonic. Two-Face, Grundy, and Amygdala are thrown into Arkham where they are reprogrammed by Psycho-Pirate. In the snow-capped mountains of Asia, Bruce arrives at the Memory of the Mountain’s home, but Bane is one step ahead of him. Having sent Magpie to intercept, the Memory of the Mountain is already dead. Magpie’s henchmen steal the Super-Venom, stab Bruce in the neck, and leaving him half-naked and comatose in the snow. Catwoman, having tracked Bruce, saves his life. Back in Gotham, Lex Luthor makes an offer to Bane, telling him he can make his control of Gotham legally-binding in the eyes of the US Government. Bane tells Luthor that the LOD can conquer the multiverse, but he wants Gotham and Gotham alone. Soon after, an executive order from President Trump makes Bane’s control of Gotham legal, simultaneously banning all superheroes from entering the city. Captain Atom breaks the order and enters Gotham to challenge Bane. Upon Captain Atom’s arrival, Gotham Girl kicks his ass and puts him in the hospital. Meanwhile, Flashpoint Batman takes down Tweedledum, Tweedledee, Kite-Man, and Scarecrow when they all refuse to fall in line. Damian and Tim (in his Robin costume) meet to discuss a plan of action, but all hope seems lost. In Paris, Bruce comes out of his coma. Selina nurses him back to health. Over a lovely Parisian dinner, a depressed Bruce says that he must return to Gotham even if it kills him. Selina tells Bruce that they can defeat Bane if they work together.

CITY OF BANE (Continued…)
———————––Batman Vol. 3 #78-79
———————––reference in Batman Vol. 3 #77[2]
Catwoman finds out that Magpie is planning on selling the Super-Venom to Bane’s henchmen in Hawaii in a few days. (As referenced in Batman Vol. 3 #85, Selina also tells Bruce that she was able to retrieve Scarface from the Memory of the Mountain’s mountain home.) Selina and Bruce then immediately book a trip to Hawaii. Bruce, disguised as a vacationing Matches Malone, continues his recovery on a honeymoon-like retreat with a disguised Selina at a luxurious Hawaiian resort. They kayak, sip drinks by the beach, and listen to sports talk radio—specifically about the ongoing football season, which might be topically dubious due to the time of year. (It’s a bit early for football, but an easy fanwank is that they are talking about the prior season.) As honeymoon-like as it all seems, Bruce is here to train and get better, which means no funny business! That’s right, Bruce and Selina will stay in two different rooms. Aside from the sexual edging, poolside tanning, and campfire heart-to-hearts about what went wrong with their engagement, Batman and Catwoman train by rock climbing, cliff diving, and Batarang toss-and-catch. While training, they give in to their true feelings, both attempting to take responsibility for what happened on their wedding day. They embrace and kiss, reunited once again. The Bat-Cat relationship is back on! (This kissing scene is also shown via flashback from Batman Vol. 3 #85.) The next day, Bruce and Selina discuss their past, exercise on the beach, and hear the latest news reports about Bane’s control of Gotham. After things heat up in their now-shared bedroom, Bruce and Selina heat up the streets of Honolulu, costuming themselves to fight crime. Batman and Catwoman spend a night busting stick-up men, gangsters, and weird super-villains. As referenced in Batman Vol. 3 #83, Alfred, not wanting to screw up Batman’s plans to defeat Bane, contacts the Dark Knight and tells him a lie that he’s safely escaped Gotham. Batman then phones Damian, telling him to go after Bane’s crew. After another night of action, Batman and Catwoman tell each other that they love one another before easily busting Magpie and getting back the Super-Venom. The next afternoon, Bruce thanks Selina for everything she’s done for him. They decide to have a new meeting place that isn’t the street or the boat—it’ll be the beach. In Gotham, the main action of Batman Vol. 3 #77 begins. With his orders from Batman, a determined Damian acquires Klarion’s magick wand, which he uses to defeat and restrain Gotham Girl. On a roll, Damian takes down Zsasz and Scarecrow (who has already been brainwashed into a Bane-cop by Psycho-Pirate). But Flashpoint Batman is too much for young Damian, who gets knocked-out and taken captive. In Wayne Manor, Damain is forced to watch as Bane murders Alfred.

–Batman Vol. 3 #80-82 (“CITY OF BANE” Continued…)
Batman and Catwoman sneak into Gotham City. Batman takes down Officers Pyg and Two-Face. When they fail to report in, Flashpoint Batman knows Batman has returned. While Catwoman takes down Officer Mad Hatter, Batman takes down a rogue Kite-Man and Officer Hush. At Wayne Manor, Flashpoint Batman tucks a very sick Gotham Girl, ill due to overuse of her powers, into bed. The Ventriloquist announces that Bane has ordered the execution of Damian. Flashpoint Batman descends into the Batcave and puts a gun to a bound Damian’s head. Meanwhile, Batman and Catwoman defeat Solomon Grundy and Amygdala to infiltrate Arkham Asylum. Clayface takes down Riddler. In the Batcave, Damian easily escapes and, as per Batman’s plan, joins the Bat-Family (Robin costume-wearing Tim, Huntress, Orphan, Batwoman, Signal, and Batgirl) to fight Flashpoint Batman. But the villain kicks their asses and stabs Tim in the chest. Bloody and battered but victorious, Flashpoint Batman sends a fake message to Batman, telling him that the Bat-Family has won. The ham-fisted final pages of Batman Vol. 3 #81 show a nude Harvey Bullock gawking at a giant Doom Totality symbol that burns brightly across the skies above Earth. This symbol, meant to coincide with the actions of the Legion of Doom in Justice League Vol. 4, was forcefully shoved (by editorial mandate) into the background of every DC title released in October, November, and early to mid December 2019. As with prior titles, we should definitely ignore this scene since it makes little to no sense happening now, nor does it make chronological sense in almost all of the titles in which it appears. (The only way the appearance of the symbol makes any sense is if it has already appeared before and will continue to sporadically appear multiple times over the course of the next few weeks.) After doing some prep work, Batman and Catwoman fight Bane in the bowels of Arkham Asylum. The trio fights to a bloody stalemate until Flashpoint Batman arrives with the Ventriloquist at his side. Flashpoint Batman puts bullets into both Batman and Bane.

–Batman Vol. 3 #83-85 (“CITY OF BANE” Continued…)
Batman wakes up what could be days later, finding himself face-to-face with the deceased Alfred in Wayne Manor. Batman cradles Alfred and freaks out, smashing things in anger. Batman then finds that all the entranceways to the Batcave have been occluded with brick. After finding and listening to a heartfelt final audio-recorded message from Alfred, Batman sheds some tears before facing the task at hand. The entire Bat-Family has apparently been mind-controlled into subservience by Psycho-Pirate. However, thanks to having an ace up their sleeve—Scarface—Batman and Catwoman are one step ahead of Flashpoint Batman. Catwoman and the Bat-Family are merely pretending to be under Psycho-Pirate’s control. Using Scarface as leverage, Catwoman actually controls the Ventriloquist, who orders Psycho-Pirate to stand down. A “brainwashed” Catwoman escorts Batman into the main parlor where Flashpoint Thomas Wayne (in street clothes) awaits. Batman challenges him to one more winner-take-all fight. (Note that, in Batman Vol. 3 #83, Tom King gives us a flashback to Flashpoint that retcons significant details about Flashpoint Batman’s history.) Flashpoint Batman is stunned to learn that he’s lost control of Psycho-Pirate. Without his metahuman advantage, Flashpoint Batman is defeated. Gotham City is returned to its government, citizenry, and proper authorities. Bane and Flashpoint Batman are jailed in Arkham Asylum. Batman briefly meets with Flashpoint Batman (who is strapped into a Hannibal Lecter getup) in Arkham. Bane also meets with Flashpoint Batman, breaking his back. Soon after, the Bat-Family holds a burial and funeral for Alfred. Later still, Batman meets with a mentally and physically-healed (but now powerless) Gotham Girl to discuss her future. Gotham Girl tells Batman he should marry Catwoman. Batman gives Gotham Girl some Platinum Kryptonite, which returns her powers—this time without a catch. Bruce spends the entire next day hanging out with Tim, Jason, and Damian at Wayne Manor. As night falls, Bruce and Selina visit Alfred’s grave together before going out on patrol. Together, Batman and Catwoman bust Captain Stingaree, Phantom Pharaoh, Condiment King, and Crazy Quilt in quick succession. As the rain pours down, Bat and Cat decide to get married. They discuss wrangling Judge Wolfman to perform a ceremony, but ultimately patrol through the night and head straight home for bedtime. In bed, they agree that their union is a legitimate one with or without the need for a judge to make it official. For all intents and purposes, the Bat and the Cat are “married.” A night later, Bruce and Selina watch football at Porky’s Bar with Chuck Brown (an out-of-costume Kite-Man). QB Chris Campbell picks up a very rare victory for the Gotham Knights. Note that Batman Vol. 3 #85 contains an epilogue that overlaps with Superman Vol. 5 #18, a bit further down on our timeline. This epilogue does not feature Batman. It simply shows Joker reacting to some big Superman news.

–Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #7-8
Welcome to Continuity FUBAR. We mentioned this above, but it merits re-mentioning. Because DC higher-ups decided to kill off Alfred in “City of Bane” without telling any other writers beforehand, this led to a catastrophic mess—and the mess only clusters here. Despite the fact that Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #1-8 tells one continuous (non-interrupted) arc, Alfred is shown alive and well in Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #6, but, by Outsiders Vol. 3 #7-8, he’s dead. This means that there is a significant weeks-long ellipsis between Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #6 and Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #7 even though writer Bryan Hill clearly does not write it that way. So, remember how Signal was kidnapped by Ishmael at the end of Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #6? Well, Batman and the Outsiders Vol. 3 #7 naturally begins with a continuation of that abduction, showing Ishmael torturing his captive. However, now that there is this large ellipsis, we have to imagine that Signal escaped (which I’ve already added in above on our timeline) and that he has now been recaptured. Stress-inducing levels of bad editorial here. Horrible continuity. Onto a synopsis. Batman sends Orphan to rescue Signal, who has just been captured by Ishmael again. Orphan winds up fighting and defeating Ishamael. Signal is saved, but Ishmael has altered his metahuman physiology, causing him to see only “darkness instead of light.” Meanwhile, the rest of the Outsiders finally take Babylon (Sofia Ramos) to Gotham aboard an airplane. En route, Sofia breaks out of her shackles and confronts Black Lightning and Katana. Kaliber reveals that he is secretly in the employ of Ra’s al Ghul, turning on his teammates by detonating a bomb that sends the plane hurtling toward the ground. Concurrently, a large Doom Totality symbol burns brightly in the sky. As mentioned before, this symbol, meant to coincide with the actions of the Legion of Doom in Justice League Vol. 4, was forcefully shoved (by editorial mandate) into the background of every DC title released in October, November, and early to mid December 2019. We should definitely ignore this scene since it makes little to no sense happening now, nor does it make chronological sense in almost all of the titles in which it appears. (The only way the appearance of the symbol makes any sense is if it sporadically appears multiple times over the course of the next few weeks.) As Batman stares at the rapidly descending plane, he calls upon his deceased family (Alfred, mom, and dad) to give him strength. Black Lightning uses his powers to pushe the plane into the ocean, saving himself and Katana while throwing Ishmael and Sofia into the sea. Batman collects Sofia on the shoreline. Later, Bruce tells Jefferson that Alfred has died. In the Batcave, Katana chats with Sofia, who has seen the error of her ways and wants to be a good guy now. Elsewhere, Signal and Orphan comfort each other. They question whether or not Batman really was holding Karma captive, vowing to bring down Shiva at any cost. Did I mention the absolute shit continuity in this book? The epilogue of Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #8, which details the murder of Black Lightning’s friend and is ridiculously labeled with the words “Metropolis. Now.” actually takes place connected with the next issue (Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #9), which does not take place now. It takes place after Superman reveals his secret ID to the world, over a month-and-a-half from now. When will writers learn not to reference every little story detail in every other book when in their own title they haven’t left any room for those things to have occurred? It is cardinal sin numero uno and it shows an amateurish lack of ability to work in a serialized shared universe with other creators. Either that or the editors are to blame. Take your pick. In any case, now that my rant is over, we must slide this last section of Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #8 way down with Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #9.

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #1018. Bruce begins a new life without Alfred, learning to do all the things that Alfred usually would do for him on a daily basis. This includes caring for and playing with the Bat-pets.

–Year of the Villain: The Riddler #1
A week ago (immediately after the conclusion of “City of Bane”), Lex Luthor visited Riddler, telling him that he (Riddler) himself has been his own worst enemy all these years, shooting himself in the foot with all his compulsive riddling attached to crimes. Luthor, delivering a pep talk, told Riddler that change was a desideratum in order to bring about success. No gifts of power, just a pep talk.[3] Cut to now. King Tut convinces Riddler to assist him in a challenge against Batman. After sending in a fake bomb threat, the villains are able to lure Batman (drawn wearing the wrong chest insignia, but oh well) into their warehouse deathtrap, an Egyptian-styled maze filled with traps and live crocodiles. Batman easily makes it through and nabs King Tut. An embarrassed Riddler decides he’s had enough. He walks out on both Tut and Batman, discarding his Riddler attire. It’s time to heed Luthor’s words and start fresh.

WHO ARE THE SECRET SIX?
———————––Batman/Superman Vol. 2 #1
———————––Batman/Superman Vol. 2 #2 Part 1
———————––Flash Vol. 5 #65 Epilogue

“Who are the Secret Six?” (specifically Batman/Superman Vol. 2 #3) shows Alfred in a single panel with a hastily attached editorial note over top of it that tells us this arc happens prior to Alfred’s death in “City of Bane.” When your publisher doesn’t tell anyone that he’s killing off a main character in another arc, this is exactly what happens. And then they think they can just slap a literal band-aid onto a comic and it’ll fix the problem. Nope. This is an alpha-level continuity error. The entire Alfred panel (along with its ludicrous editorial note) should be summarily ignored. Furthermore, “Who are the Secret Six?” supposedly takes place a few weeks after the conclusion of The Batman Who Laughs #1-7. But it should occur at least one month afterward (if not longer) in order to make sense on our timeline. Batman begins our tale by telling Superman (who has just busted Killer Croc) that the Batman Who Laughs first came to Earth-0 “last year,” but this actually happened toward the end of Bat Year 15, so further back than that. Commissioner Gordon (still secretly under the influence of the Batman Who Laughs’ mind-altering Joker Toxin) tells Batman and Superman that a teenage boy was supposedly captured by a “laughing Superman,” leading them to the Batman Who Laughs’ abandoned Batcave beneath Crime Alley. After infiltrating the cave, they find evidence that someone close to them (likely a few of their friends) have been infected with the villain’s Joker Toxin. They don’t know who, though. Our heroes are then approached by a cannibal Dark Robin, who reveals himself to be Billy Batson. Billy turns into a “Shazam Who Laughs” and attacks Superman, trying but failing to infect him with Dark Joker Venom. The magickal disturbance caused by evil Shazam is so strong that it causes Zatanna to collapse and Phantom Stranger to have a nosebleed deep in the bowels of the Hall of Justice. Batman and Superman then fight the evil Shazam, which is also shown via flashback from The Infected: King Shazam #1 and The Infected: The Commissioner #1). Batman crashes one of the Batman Who Laughs’ evil Bat-planes into Shazam, a dangerous maneuver that fails miserably. While Superman rushes an injured Batman into medical care inside the Fortress of Solitude, Shazam flies away. Once recovered, the battered Batman joins the bruised Superman, who tells him that six of their friends have either already been infected or will be shortly (i.e. Shazam and five others). In the Batcave, Batman and Superman continue their discussion of the Batman Who Laughs’s “secret six” situation. The World’s Finest discuss plans on how to handle things.[4]

WHO ARE THE SECRET SIX? (Continued…)
———————––Batman/Superman Vol. 2 #2 Part 2
———————––Batman/Superman Vol. 2 #3-5

Batman and Superman deduce that Superman himself has been targeted to become one of the Batman Who Laughs’ “secret six.” Taking a daringly ridiculous course of action, Superman decides to go ahead and infect himself with the Batman Who Laughs’ Dark Joker Venom in order to find out the villain’s plan. With Batman monitoring and setting up various safeguards, the “Superman Who Laughs” meets with the Batman Who Laughs in his underground cell. With the aid of hard-light holograms, a barely-in-control Superman tricks the Batman Who Laughs into thinking he has left his cell. Batman quickly realizes this is a terrible plan and intervenes, sticking Superman with a syringe full of Kryptonite/Anti-Dark Joker Venom and restraining the Batman Who Laughs. Batman then locks up Superman, activating a giant sunlamp to expedite his healing. Realizing that Jim Gordon is one of the “secret six,” Batman tracks him down in Gotham. There, the “Gordon Who Laughs,” via remote-control, siccs his old Batman-mech suit (aka “Rookie the Robot”) to war against Batman. Superman, still giggling from the remaining poison in his system, breaks free of the Hall of Justice to help Batman fight Robo-Batman. They defeat Gordon and the Bat-mech, taking the Commish and his tech to the Fortress of Solitude. There, the another infected hero, replacing Superman as number three, emerges from within the Bat-mech: Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes). (Batman/Superman Vol. 2 #3, at this juncture, shits the continuity bed in more ways than one. First, as mentioned above, it shows Alfred in a single panel with an editorial note telling us this arc happens prior to Alfred’s death in “City of Bane.” The entire panel—along with its editorial note—should be ignored. It’s just not possible. Secondly, a Doom Totality symbol burns brightly in the sky. This symbol, meant to coincide with Justice League Vol. 4, was shoved—by editorial mandate—into the background of every DC title released in October, November, and early to mid December 2019. As also mentioned above, we should ignore this scene since it makes little to no sense happening now, nor does it make chronological sense in almost all of the titles in which it appears. The only way the appearance of the symbol makes any sense is if it has already appeared before and will continue to sporadically appear multiple times over the course of the next few weeks.) Blue Beetle opens-up the Fortress of Solitude to Commissioner Gordon and the the fourth and fifth infected heroes, Donna Troy and Hawkman (who is being controlled by Earth-3’s Sky Tyrant). As Batman and Superman fight the Jokerized heroes, Gordon tells of the Batman Who Laughs’ evil plan to use Negative Earth-22’s old JL Satellite along with an Anti-Montior-style tuning fork tower to bring doom and gloom to Earth-0. Supergirl and Krypto arrive to assist Batman and Superman. However, Supergirl is already under the secret influence of Brainiac-1‘s nano-bot manipulation, so she quickly succumbs to Dark Joker Venom. (The sequence depicting Supergirl’s arrival is also shown pretty much verbatim and shot-for-shot in Supergirl Vol. 7 #36.) Shazam then arrives, thus completing the assemblage of the new Secret Six. As Batman fends them off, the Batman Who Laughs tries to psych-out Superman by showing him the emaciated corpses of the slaughtered Negative Earth-22 Justice League (Superman, Red Tornado, Hawkman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Martian Manhunter), Negative Earth-22 Lois Lane, and Negative Earth-22 Jonathan Kent. This merely angers Superman, who takes the fight to Supergirl and Shazam. Meanwhile, Batman uses his anti-Blue Beetle tech to take control of Blue Beetle’s scarab. The World’s Finest toss the Negative Earth-22 JL Satellite into the Sun, ending its threat. Commissioner Gordon is jailed inside the Hall of Justice, but the other five Secret Sixers smash into the Hall of Justice and free the Batman Who Laughs. The World’s Finest pay visits to those closest to the infected Secret Six to tell them what has occurred. Batman speaks to Hawkgirl and the Titans and checks-in on the Reyes Family. Superman hangs with Krypto and speaks with the rest of the Shazam Family (Mary Bromfield, Freddy Freeman, Darla Dudley, Pedro Peña, and Eugene Choi). Batman and Superman then reluctantly tell the rest of the JL.

–Batman/Superman Vol. 2 #6 Part 1
Batman and Superman visit a fully Dark-Jokerized Jim Gordon in prison. They then visit Wonder Woman on Circe’s isle of Aeaea with plans to tell her about Donna Troy. An angry Wonder Woman already knows and is taking her frustrations out on a gorgon and Circe’s bestial Ani-Men. Batman then goes back to Gotham to deal with an escaped Scarecrow while Superman into Earth’s orbit to deal with Metallo.

–Supergirl Vol. 7 #37-38 (“I’M THE BAD GUY”)
Supergirl, although still infected with Dark Joker Venom, is able to regain enough semblance of control to know that she wants nothing to do with her new Secret Six teammates. Supergirl ditches the Secret Six and tries to play hero, but it just makes her go more insane with confusion. Superman tries to snap her out of her condition, but when she won’t listen to reason, the Man of Steel is forced to fight his beloved cousin. Batman, in a Batplane, joins the combat. Supergirl gets the better of Superman and Batman before flying away. Later, Supergirl tries to calm herself by meeting with a friend, Ben Rubel, but she freaks out and starts seeing visions of the Batman Who Laughs. Supergirl then travels to Smallville and erects a giant tower designed to spread the Dark Joker Venom to every person on Earth. From the Fortress of Solitude, Batman and Superman monitor her actions and argue about how to proceed, ultimately deciding to send Wonder Woman. In Smallville, Wonder Woman lassos Supergirl, reverting her back to normal!

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 3 #86-87. With Jim Gordon jailed, Harvey Bullock is promoted to Commissioner. Batman begins drawing up blueprints for a hybrid super-vehicle called the Nightclimber. He also creates special new projectors called Shadowcasters, which can be used to confuse foes, leading them into specially designed traps. Lucius also designs the Bat-Shot, a luge-like one-man power-sled that can be fired like a rocket out of a large rail gun. Batman, of course, loves this concept, so it immediately goes into beta production. In slightly related news, the brand new GCPD police HQ, built as part of the Wayne Rebuild Project, finally opens. In conjunction with Commissioner Bullock, Batman sets up protocols for the special prison wing—known as the Black Block—inside the new police HQ. While the GCPD runs the prison wing, only Batman and Lucius Fox know its most clandestine secrets.

–Justice League Vol. 4 #30-32 (“JUSTICE/DOOM WAR”)
Starman shows his fellow Justice Leaguers what he believes to be the undeniable future—a vision of the Legion of Doom killing all the heroes in three days’ time. Wonder Woman tells all that a “Great Darkness” will soon rise. This may mean that the “Great Darkness” blob from Bryan Hitch’s Justice League Vol. 3 from two years ago was indeed linked to and a precursor to Perpetua’s rising all along. With the threat looming, the JL invites nearly every single hero they can think of for a meeting, officially deputizing them into the JL army. This gathering includes all branches of the JL, the Terrifics, the Titans, the Teen Titans, an alt-Shazam, an alt-Supergirl, an unknown person in an Ikon suit, and others. (The guy in the Ikon suit might be included in error—artist Jorge Jimenez  accidentally drawing Jericho in both the hero gathering and villain gathering. In fact, Jericho’s appearance here in any capacity might contradict narrative in Deathstroke Vol. 4. Furthermore, like Supergirl and Shazam, Donna Troy, Blue Beetle, and Hawkman must be alt-versions of themselves because the primary Earth-0 versions are currently Dark Joker Venom-infected. This means that the appearances of any Secret Six members in “Justice/Doom War” are actually continuity errors—Secret Sixers that show up must be regarded as alt-versions of the real deals.) Before the gathering of heroes, Starman reviews the six known Dark Forces (and their oppositional Positive Forces) and displays the Cosmic Rod.[5] Starman tells all that they must travel to specific points in the past and future of Hypertime in order to collect the Positive Forces, with which they can create a Justice Totality to wield against Lex Luthor’s Doom Totality. Unknown to all, there is a mystery spy in their midst, who watches with keen interest. (Spoiler: It’s Aquaman!) At the Hall of Doom, Luthor debriefs hundreds of super-villains, all powered-up thanks to his many gifts, who comprise the deputized new LOD army. Featured among these villains are Harley Quinn, Jericho, William Cobb, Heat Wave, Papa Midnite, the Oracle robot, Earth-29 aka Bizarro Earth’s The Terribles (Bizarro #1, Mr. Terrible, Disposable Man, Figment Girl, and Change-O-Shape-O), Red Hood, Ra’s al Ghul, Catwoman, and many more. (Note that Riddler’s appearance in the crowd is 100% a continuity error, directly contradicting both Year of the Villain: The Riddler #1 and Batman Vol. 3 #87. Not sure that Catwoman’s appearance should be canon either. What a mess.) In the Hall of Justice, the World Forger and the Monitor open Hypertime portals. Batman preps for departure, telling Jarro to listen to Mera while he’s gone. Flash and John Stewart pass through the “past portal” while Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman pass through the “future portal.” Unfortunately, the mystery spy (Aquaman) has tampered with both portals, and he hops through, sealing the heroes off with no means of return or way to communicate. (These are not simply time machines, but portals to alternate universe timelines i.e. Hypertimelines where our heroes will meet versions of Kamandi, the JSA, and Justice Legion-A. The idea that Kamandi, the JSA, et al are alternate versions is echoed by Scott Snyder, who tweeted, “The version of Kamandi that we’re using here [in “Justice/Doom War”] is taken directly from his classic timeline, but what you might see in Brian [Michael Bendis’ Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium] is something that could happen after the events of our story are concluded and his narrative goes a different way. […] You might see two different versions of Kamandi in existence. So, in that way, we’re looking to make everything fit, everything part of one über-story. Same thing with JSA with Geoff [Johns in Doomsday Clock]”.) In some distant possible future alt-Hypertimeline (71st century), the Trinity finds a dystopia with Doom-symbols everywhere. There, they are approached by alt-versions of Kamandi, Dr. Canus, and Tuftan, who help them fight against Brainiac cyborgs. (Scott Snyder has already shown us the Kamandi and Canus of the primary Universe-0 timeline, but, despite this, these seem to be alternate versions from Hypertime.) Batman interfaces with one of the downed cyborgs, learning that Brainiac has captured fragments of Hypertime—literal chunks of possible alt-futures. The JL heroes and Kamandi then leave the alt-71st century and travel to one of Braniac’s bottled Hypertime slivers, specifically a version of the 853rd century, joining an alt-Justice Legion-A (Aquaman, Batman, Superman, Flash, Owlwoman, Hourman, Starman, and Wonder Woman). Concurrently, in some possible alt-Hypertimeline (January 7, 1941), Flash and John Stewart find themselves before an alt-Justice Society of America (Atom, Green Lantern Alan Scott, Flash Jay Garrick, Dr. Fate, Hourman, Sandman, Starman, Hawkman, and Wildcat)! After a discussion of how there is no JSA on the primary Earth-0 timeline (due to Dr. Manhattan’s secret manipulations), introductions are made. Flash (Barry) mentions that he feels some echoes of a shared history with Jay Garrick, but it’s been erased somehow. Arriving at Pearl Harbor, Barry and John worry whether the LOD would mess with something as sacred as WWII history. As they speak, Grodd, Cheetah, and Sinestro pilot Imperial Japanese dive-bombers along with the rest of the soon-to-attack squadron. Meanwhile, Starman, Shayne J’onzz, Hawkgirl, the Monitor, and the World Forger determine the best course of action is to seek out the Anti-Monitor on the edge of the universe where the Source Wall used to be. They depart immediately. Shayne senses that Luthor and Perpetua are also headed towards the edge of the universe. At the edge of the universe, Aquaman joins the Anti-Monitor, having pledged allegiance to him. As Luthor and Perpetua reach the Promethean Galaxy, Shayera Hol and her Thanagarian armada attack, but fail miserably. Meanawhile, the heroes fight a war on both Hypertime fronts. In the future, Brainiac upgrades himself to a towering “Brainiac One Million.” 83rd century Hourman crashes and burns, but not before handing over the Worlogog from within his body. The Worlogog, as it turns out, not only contains a part of the Source, but also contains the Totality our heroes are searching for. The Worlogog is given to Kamandi for safekeeping. In the past, Aquaman returns, helping his friends to both collect another chunk of Totality and deal with the Pearl Harbor situation. At the edge of the Promethean Galaxy, Luthor and Perpetua arrive to greet the Anti-Montitor, but he’s sided with the heroes against them.

–Justice League Vol. 4 #33-35 (“JUSTICE/DOOM WAR” Continued…)
At the edge of the Promethean Galaxy, Starman fuses the Monitor, Anti-Monitor, and World Forger into one Ultra-Monitor. An enraged Hawkgirl goes off script, unleashing her full power upon Lex Luthor. In 1941, Aquaman guides Flash, John Stewart, and the JSA to Atlantis. There, they find the Legion of Doom allied with Vandal Savage and his Legionnaires Club, lording over a captive Poseidon. After a chat with Stewart, the Legionnaires switch sides, joining the JSA in the fight against the LOD. In the future, the JLA, JL-A, and Kamandi struggle against the might of Brainiac One Million. When all hope seems lost, Earth-12’s Justice League Unlimited (Earth-12 Batman, Aquagirl, Earth-12 Big Barda, Earth-12 Flash, Earth-12 Kai-Ro, Earth-12 Micron, Earth-12 Superman, and Earth-12 Warhawk) arrive. Not long after that, many of the collected heroes of the 53 universes show up, including a bunch of Earth-0 heroes, Earth-2 Batman, Earth-6 Wonder Woman, the Earth-22 Justice League, Earth-23’s President Superman, Earth-30’s Soviet Superman, and more. Some heroes from alt-Hypertimelines show up too: Hunter Prince and a resurrected Old Man Aquaman (from “Legacy”), Old Lady Harley, Damian Wayne Batman (from the Titans Tomorrow/666 timeline), Blue Scarab (from Justice League: Generation Lost #14), the Dark Multiverse Deathstroke (from “Deathstroke RIP”/”Deathstroke Rebirth”), an alt-Flash, an alt-Shazam (likely the same one from earlier), and more. The alt-universe and Hypertime heroes form a gigantic army to combat Brainiac. Powered from past by the JSA Starman, Will Payton and another alt-Starman open time portals. Stewart, Flash, Jay Garrick, Alan Scott, and Aquaman return to the present. As do Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Kamandi, and the alt-Starman. However, at the edge of the universe, Hawkgirl and the Ultra-Monitor are defeated by Luthor and Perpetua. The seventh Dark Force is unleashed and the multiverse succumbs to the power of the Doom Totality. Perpetua grows to giant size as the Doom Totality symbol burns brightly behind her. She crushes Payton like a bug. The Doom Totality symbol shines brightly above Earth, surprising civilians and heroes alike. (Again, despite the surprise at seeing the Doom Totality symbol, this cannot be the first instance of it appearing in the sky. We’ve already seen it in dozens of other comics.) In the Hall of Justice, a mass gathering of heroes—including the JL, alt-JSA, alt-JL-A, Titans, alt-Kamandi, Jarro, and more—tries to regroup. The Doom Totality symbol burns in the skies above the Ghost Sector, Thanagar, Oa, Earth-3, the bowels of the Dark Multiverse where Barbatos is held captive, the World Orrery at the center of the multiverse, and Earth-19. It is on Earth-19 (aka “Gotham By Gaslight Earth”) where Perpetua strikes first. There, Bat Man and Inspector James Gordon are helpless as Perpetua destroys the entirety of Universe-19 in an instant. With a subservient Ultra-Monitor now kneeling before his mother’s side, Perpetua tells Luthor that they will re-create the entire multiverse in any way they see fit. From the Hall of Justice, Batman long-range radios Hawkgirl and Shayne, beckoning them home. They attempt to jump into light speed aboard the Javelin, but Perpetua causes them to crash.

–Justice League Vol. 4 #36-38 (“JUSTICE/DOOM WAR” Continued…)
Perpetua gathers the primary members of the Legion of Doom aboard her ship. She transforms Brainiac into her living throne and captures the rest, except for Lex Luthor, into strange tubes. Using these devices, Perpetua drains the villains’ powers and syphons them into her chosen number one son, Luthor. Meanwhile, with the Doom Totality symbol now burning permanently in the sky, the Trinity gathers their army of heroes for one last pep talk. (Damian, Spoiler, Oprhan, and Tim are present—and the latter is shown wearing his Red Robin costume. This is a continuity error because Tim gave up the Red Robin insignia a while ago. He should either be wearing his new Drake costume or his “single R” Robin costume.) It looks like Jessica Cruz is also present, but she’d probably be off on her Justice League Odyssey adventure in the Ghost Sector at this juncture, so this is likely another continuity error too—unless of course, she’s just recently returned.) While the heroes prep for more battle, John Stewart gets ready for a ride in the Flashmobile. In deep space, Hawkgirl and Shayne J’onzz are attacked by the Ultra-Monitor. Simultaneously, an army of Perpetua’s human/Martian hybrid warriors, led by Luthor, who pilots the spidery floating LOD HQ, marches toward Washington DC. As the heroes make their charge, Batman activates the Hall of Justice’s final defense mode, turning the entire building into a gigantic flying fortress. As the war erupts into bedlam, several heroes begin psychically forming a Justice Totality. John Stewart drives the Flashmobile to the other end of the universe, crashing right into the Ultra-Monitor, splitting him up into the three separate cosmic brothers once again. Meanwhile, Perpetua destroys Earth-44, killing Dr. Will Tornado and his Metal League (Iron Batman, Mercury Flash, and Gold Superman). Using it as a weapon, she hurls the dead planet towards John Stewart, Hawkgirl, Shayne, and the brothers. The World Forger bats it away like a baseball with his hammer, simultaneously teleporting John Stewart, Shayne, and Hawkgirl back to the Hall of Justice. There, they join the heroes to create a Justice Totality, which shines a sigil that replaces the Doom Totality symbol in the sky above them. Luthor wields the full power of the Doom Totality against the JL. When the Trinity teams-up to knock Luthor on his ass, Perpetua has seen enough. She finally appears on Earth-0 to confront the heroes. As Perpetua and her army thrash the heroes, Shayne enters Luthor’s mind and finds a remnant of Martian Manhunter inside (in the form of a memory). Shayne offers the ultimate sacrifice, permanently swapping places with Martian Manhunter in order to resurrect the latter and unleash him from within Luthor.

–REFERENCE: In Doomsday Clock #2 and Doomsday Clock #5. Geneticist Dr. Helga Jace and a team of international scientists publicly release preliminary findings as part of an ongoing study into what they call the “Supermen Theory.” Jace and company have reason to believe that the concentration of worldwide metahumans existing primarily in the United States isn’t aleatory. Jace also releases findings that show that the proliferation of superhuman activity over the past ten to fifteen years—especially in America—has been the direct result of a secret US Government program. Jace claims further that many US superheroes and super-villains alike are actually government agents, playing out predetermined roles, or lab experiments designed to be living weapons of mass destruction. Troubled by this possibility, Bruce begins putting a profusion of money into metagene research at Wayne Enterprises. He also purchases Dayton Labs from its owner, Steve Dayton (aka Mento). Likewise, Lex Luthor also begins pouring money into metagene research and the acquisition of new science-and-tech companies. (NOTE: Based upon supplemental material in Doomsday Clock #2, this item occurs about six months prior to Metamorpho and Dr. Kirk Langstrom getting outed as government agents and the start of Lex Luthor ramping up his anti-metahuman campaign. We can and should take this six months as gospel. However, the dates attached to the supplemental material in Doomsday Clock #2, which hint at June 2017, must be ignored. Brian Michael Bendis’ meta opening splash page from Action Comics #1002, which occurs in summer 2018 and references the Superman Theory, must also be ignored.)

–Detective Comics #1016 Epilogue
While Mrs. Freeze relaxes in her new home in Canada, Mr. Freeze rots in a special cryogenic cell in the basement of Arkham Asylum. Batman pays him a visit.

–REFERENCE: In Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 8 #2. Batman gets a tip about Leviathan, so he sends Robin to investigate. The tip turns out to be bunk, but Superboy greets Robin, inviting him to go on an adventure in the 31st century.[6]

–The Green Lantern #3
Volgar Zo (a Dhorian, the same species as Kanjar Ro) shrinks down the entire planet Earth and prevents all of the superheroes—including the Justice League—from taking any action to stop him. Stealing the entire planet, Volgar Zo puts it up for sale at an intergalactic black market auction! The worst of the worst are present, including Steppenwolf, Mongal, Gelgoth, Queen Bee, Grayven, Overmaster, Bolphunga, Agamemno, Kromm, Zuggernaut, Zerno the Sorcerer, Zerno’s Gzann pet familiar, Ulala, Oom the MightyDeath’s Head II (from Marvel’s Earth-8410), Robot (from the 2018 Lost in Space TV show), a representative of the The H’San Natall, the last Rukk, an alien pterodactyl, a Mikrid, the Mikrid’s mind-controlled Bowerd, a White Martian, a few Dominators, some mini-Star Conqueror/Starling hybrids, some Khunds, and many more.[7] As the auction concludes with a sale to the cosmic Shepherd (who resembles a mix of Zeus and the Christian God), the defenseless populace of Earth panics. Eve Doremus and Tom Kalmaku wonder where their pal Hal Jordan could be. Where is Hal? He’s rounded up his Green Lantern Corps troops and is mounting an offensive. Hal and seven of his space-cops—including Medphyll, Tagort, Lashorr, Venizz, M’Dahna, Gorius Karkum, and Chriselon—charge into battle, but Volgar Zo has hired some tough bodyguards in form of the Blackstars, an offshoot of the anti-GL group known as the Darkstars. While the GLC fights the Blackstars, Hal confronts the Shepherd, who claims that he has only good intentions for Earth. Hal asks Tom how the populace of Earth are doing. Tom reveals that, shortly after the auction, Volgar Zo softened the minds of everyone on the planet, making them all willingly submit to the rule of their new false god. Hal reveals to everyone on Earth that the Shepherd is actually an evil alien monster that is planning on eating everyone, but everyone calls Hal a fascist and tells him to piss off! Hal uses his authority to arrest the entire population of Earth, citing that they are all too intoxicated to make rational decisions. Hal punches-out and arrests the Shepherd before turning his sights on a fleeing Volgar Zo. After finding a bunch of emaciated slaves in Volgar Zo’s ship, the disgusted Hal brutally murders Volgar Zo, telling his fellow space-cops that it was self defense if anyone asks. (This is, of course, part of the beginning of a deep cover GLC mission.) Earth is returned back to its proper size and rightful spot in the Milky Way Galaxy.

–Detective Comics #1017
Batman picks up some chatter that ex-False Face Society members are trying to acquire a bomb. But before he can tackle the case, Lucius Fox visits him in the Batcave to tell him that teenager Miguel Flores has run away from the Martha Wayne Orphanage and that two other teens have mysteriously disappeared from there this past year. The next day, Bruce visits the orphanage, delivering science and art equipment and ice cream. Bruce authorizes a new wing to be built. As snow begins to fall and temperatures plummet across Gotham, Batman calls-in Damian to work the orphanage case. Over the course of the next snowy two weeks, Batman battles ex-Black Mask followers and secures their bomb while Robin searches for Miguel, eventually finding him on death’s door. Batman and Robin rush Damian to the hospital, but the boy is DOA. In the wee hours of the morning, Batman realizes that orphanage director Mr. Morrison is responsible for the missing teens and scaring off Miguel. As the sun comes up, Bruce, Damian, and Lucius, flanked by police, visit Morrison, exposing his involvement in what appears to be human trafficking. Bruce punches his lights out. Batman and Robin then track down the missing kids and bust the traffickers. Bruce vows to be more personally involved in the affairs of the Wayne Enterprises-controlled orphanages and the lives of the orphans that live in them. We must presume that Bruce stays true to his word.

–Action Comics #1015-1016
Naomi McDuffie, an Oregonian teenager that has just learned she is actually a powerful metahuman from an alternate Earth, crashes into Metropolis, seeking out Superman’s help. Upon meeting Superman, Naomi explains her backstory, also telling him about genocidal metahuman Zumbado, the man that killed all life on her birth-Earth. At the Hall of Justice, Superman introduces Naomi to the Wonder Twins. Ray Palmer tries asking her about which Earth she is from, which only confuses her. Batman tests Naomi’s powers and questions her as well. All of a sudden, Superman detects an emergency. Batman asks if it’s Lex Luthor, but Superman tells him it’s a Leviathan threat, taking off to handle it. But Superman is mistaken, for when he arrives at the site of the emergency (seedy Club Ultimate aka Ace Club), the Man of Steel finds the Red Cloud (now powered-up thanks to a Luthor offer) threatening Rose Forrest aka the schizophrenic antihero Thorn. Metropolis’ shady Mayor Hopkins and Marisol Leone’s top man Mr. Strong are also present at the club. The Red Cloud then kicks Superman’s ass in front of a gathering crowd until Naomi shows up and easily dispatches the Red Cloud. Superman and Naomi then fly to the latter’s hometown of Port Oswego, Oregon. There, joined by Batman and STAR Labs scientists, Superman meets Naomi’s adoptive mom Jen McDuffie. Batman has STAR Labs set up an observation stakeout base to monitor the interdimensional breach where Zumbado came through. The head of the operation, the secretly villainous Dr. Glory, introduces herself to Naomi. In Metropolis, Marisol Leone and Mr. Strong decide it’s soon time to come out of the shadows and make their presence felt. (Note that Action Comics #1015‘s meta splash page, which contains lots of Batman-related info, is placed, not as a frontispiece as usual, but instead at the end of the issue. Despite being in a different location, this splash is still non-canon.)

–REFERENCE: In Young Justice Vol. 3 #12. The Justice League goes on an unspecified Leviathan-related mission, which means Tim is unable to connect with Batman. Naomi, the Wonder Twins, Miguel Montez, and Summer Pickens join Young Justice! Note that writer Brian Michael Bendis specifically tells us that Young Justice Vol. 3 #12 occurs a day after Action Comics #1015-1016, yet Bendis writes Young Justice Vol. 3 #12 as taking place immediately after Young Justice Vol. 3 #11 as part of an uninterrupted narrative. Of course, Action Comics #1015-1016 occurs over a month-and-a-half after Young Justice returns from its multiversial adventure in Young Justice Vol. 3 #11. This means Bendis has cultivated a nasty continuity error (as he is wont to do) by inadvertently creating a lengthy ellipsis between Young Justice’s return and right now. This is Bendis we are talking about here, so a trip to Continuity Error City shouldn’t come as a surprise.

–Action Comics #1017-1018 (“METROPOLIS DOOM!”)
A day has passed since Action Comics #1016. Clark interviews Marisol Leone, but he bails to chase after a comet that rockets through downtown Metropolis. Leviathan teleports Superman to Gorilla City where new ruler King Miramar has turned his soldiers against humans. Superman fights free and heads back home only to find that the Ace Club has been blown sky high. Later, Lois and Superman presume that the Invisible Mafia and Leviathan must be warring. Meanwhile, Mayor Hopkins, disgraced, steps down as Mayor of Metropolis. He is immediately replaced by interim Mayor Glimby and an emergency election is scheduled. Clark interviews Fire Chief Melody Moore, who throws her name into the mayoral election running. In exchange for that info, Clark tells Melody that he is Superman, saying that he’ll be revealing it to the world in just forty-one hours. Out of the blue, Luthor and the Legion of Doom—allied with Leviathan (Mark Shaw)—attack Metropolis, taking down the Justice League and Young Justice. Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman (wearing one of his armored mech-suits) make a last stand against the villains. (Note that the final page of Action Comics #1017, a Daily Planet page containing a ton of seemingly relevant info, is actually non-canon. Dates, times, and references to other arcs should be ignored here. Likewise, the meta opening splash website page of Action Comics #1018 is also non-canon.)

–Superman Vol. 5 #18-19 (“THE TRUTH”)
Superman reveals his secret ID to Perry White. The Man of Steel then visits Jimmy Olsen, who is on assignment working a Scarecrow case in Gotham. As Batman jets off in the Batplane, Superman speaks with Jimmy in private, telling him his secret ID. Of course, Lois has already told Jimmy earlier in the day. The next morning, Superman calls a public press conference and reveals his secret ID to the world! (Tons of characters are shown, including Steve Lombard!) The Legion of Doom watches with keen interest. A pensive Lex Luthor reverts himself back to human form. Later, Clark meets with the entire Daily Planet staff and they give him a standing ovation. Superman flies through Metropolis and goes on routine patrol, getting more applause from the citizenry. Superman then meets with the entire superhero community in the Hall of Justice to discuss his decision with them face-to-face. Not everyone is happy about it. Shortly thereafter, across the universe, Superman assists members of the United Planets in battle against Mongul.

Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #9
As seen in the giant continuity error that is the Batman-less epilogue to Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 3 #8 (which actually goes right here despite all appearances within the comic itself), Ra’s al Ghul orders one of his men to violently murder Tina McClintock, a teacher that works at Jefferson’s school in Metropolis. Ra’s al Ghul also has the school bombed. Batman immediately investigates and then visits Jefferson to offer him half-hearted condolences. Understandably, neither Batman nor Katana are able to calm the storm raging within Jefferson. However, Meanwhile, Jefferson and Tatsu meet up later and form a tighter bond, vowing to support each other as best they can. Later, Batman takes Orphan and Signal on a field test, watching them patrol in Metropolis. Afterward, Cassie and Duke finally tell Bruce that Shiva is back, and he scolds them for keeping it a secret. Superman shows up to chat with Bruce, offering condolences about Alfred and warning him to slow his roll in regard to how he handles the Outsiders and the Ra’s al Ghul situation at hand. Bruce scoffs at Superman’s advice, chastising the Man of Steel for having revealed his secret ID to the world. While Bruce and Superman argue, Cassie and Duke vow to support each other as best they can. Later, Shiva approaches Jefferson saying that, together, they can and should kill Ra’s al Ghul.

–Batman/Superman Vol. 2 #6 Part 2
Bruce decides to come up with a vast computer database of super-villains, which is odd because he definitely has this in both the Bat-computer and he JLA network. We must assume that he merely means to update and perfect what he already has—and to share whatever data he has kept secret with the rest of the superhero community. Bruce authorizes a Wayne Enterprises-run clean-up of Crime Alley, fixing up the damage done there by the Batman Who Laughs. The villain’s cave is secured and occluded. Clark visits Bruce, who is personally overseeing the construction. Bruce tells Superman about his new super-villain database sharing plan and also shares data access with the Man of Steel. Batman and Superman visit Jim Gordon in his Hall of Justice prison cell once more only to find that Gordon has regressed even further. Elsewhere, Zod challenges Ra’ al Ghul to a fight, hoping to gain control of the world’s Lazarus Pits.

–The Green Lantern: Blackstars #2
As part of an undercover Green Lantern Corps mission, Hal Jordan has gone in too deep, having joined the Darkstars, led by the Controller Mu. Things have gotten so out of hand that Mongul and the entire GLC (including the volcano-headed Volk) have been turned into Darkstars, who now control half the universe. The huge Darkstar army, collectively nicknamed the “Parliament of Pain,” attacks Earth with the goal of feeding it to Darkstar general Belzebeth (Starbreaker’s daughter). While Batman troubles over destruction across Gotham, Hal and Superman put on a grand meta-commentary show for Belzebeth making it seem like they are completely at odds. This meta-commentary includes some playful Grant Morrison digs (or what could also be interpreted as shit-talking) on the works of Scott Snyder, Tom King, and Brian Michael Bendis! To further the anti-Belzebeth ruse, Superboy plays the role of an easily-influenced teen, who believes the Darkstars are right. Hal, Jessica Cruz, and John Stewart meet with the Earth’s heroes at the Hall of Justice, outside of which a mass anti-crisis protest begins. Unable to come to terms, Superman tells the Darkstars that war is inevitable. In Gotham, an evil Batman doppelgänger known as Batmanson—alongside a vampirized Batgirl, Orphan, Spoiler, and someone unknown (maybe Gotham Girl?)—strikes out at Batman, who submits. On Oa, Hal and Belzebeth meet with Mu’s three cloned bodies. Standing before a Miracle Machine, Hal and Belzebeth are ceremonially wed. Belzebeth then kills Mu, assuming secret leadership of the Darkstars. With the heroes’ plan ready to go into action, Superman announces his presence. Superboy enters and joins Hal’s side.

–Detective Comics #1017 Epilogue
Two months have passed since the main action of Detective Comics #1017. Bruce, Damian, and Lucius Fox attend the grand opening of the new Miguel Flores Wing at the Martha Wayne Orphanage.

–Batman Vol. 3 #86-87 (“THEIR DARK DESIGNS”)
The Bat-computer flags an alert on the deep web about a big assassin hit happening in Gotham in five days’ time. Batman soon discovers that Deathstroke, Cheshire, Merlyn, Gunsmith, and Mr. Teeth are the assassins that have been hired for the score. As Batman preps to fight them, he makes several visits to a Wayne Enterprises hospital construction site. On the night of the big hit, the new Wayne Enterprises Tricorner Yards Campus opens for business. As does the secret Hibernaculum bunker deep beneath it. Batman gives Lucius Fox designs for a new hybrid super-vehicle called the Nightclimber, which Lucius immediately begins running through their autonomous tech-building factory. Later that night, Bruce and Selina attend the grand opening of the new campus, which also functions as an investment fundraiser gala. In attendance are Gotham’s brand new Mayor Dunch and his wife Deborah Dunch. Bruce ditches in order to patrol and re-visit the hospital site. Meanwhile, the assassins enter Gotham, but Batman gets the jump on them, busting all five. In the Tricorner Yards Campus vault, Catwoman prevents a man from swapping out new blueprints with the current Tricorner Yards blueprints. The man then succumbs to a violent and poisonous death before the new villain who hired the five assassins, known as The Designer, speaks through him, telling Catwoman he and his pals have big plans for the city. Meanwhile, Joker continues top secret plans of his own, ordering the execution of henchmen that know about his scheme. Upon hearing about the arrest of the five assassins, Riddler and Penguin both freak out, knowing the Designer is in town. An unhinged Riddler, who has been tweaking on meth for three months (ever since Luthor visited him in Year of the Villain: The Riddler #1), panics while Penguin violently stabs his entire inner circle to death before gearing up for war. Batman debriefs with Catwoman before heading to the Black Block. There, he discovers that Cheshire is still on the loose, having been swapped out with a clay body double. Batman puts a poison-proof protective coating on his costume and then rockets himself out of the Nightclimber in the Bat-Shot, testing the dangerous vehicle on the fly. While the Dark Knight takes down Cheshire, Penguin infiltrates police HQ and opens the cell doors in the Black Block. So much for state-of-the-art security. Sheesh.

–Detective Comics #1018-1019 (“DEAD OF WINTER”)
Late December. While on patrol, Batman busts Aaron Morton. Back home, Bruce plays with Ace and Titus, breaking down in tears when he thinks of how Alfred used to take care of the dogs. Later, Batman meets with Commissioner Harvey Bullock to discuss a bizarre multiple murder case that occurred a few days ago, in which numerous bodies were strung up on a Christmas tree at the Botanical Garden. After investigating the scene and doing some research, Batman discovers that the killings were part of a Norse pagan ritual. Later, Bruce addresses a downtown crowd and performs ceremonial duties at the Annual Wayne Foundation Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration. Out of the blue, someone dressed as an ancient 17th century viking warrior attacks. Bruce fends off the viking and knocks him out, allowing the police to haul him into custody, but not before grabbing some of the villain’s hair for analysis. Back home, Bruce reads more about Norse pagan rituals and runs the follicle sample through the Bat-computer system, getting a match of a missing person named Soren Rinsdale. Batman goes back to the Botanical Garden to find a bunch of brainwashed cultists preparing to sacrifice Rinsdale, whom they’ve kidnapped from police custody. After subduing Batman, the cultists conduct their ritual and a giant Cthulhu-esque monster emerges from out of Rinsdale’s body. Batman fights and defeats the cultists, sealing the portal and sending the creature back from whence it came. With the case neatly wrapped, Batman adds details of the adventure to his case-files. Batman mentions that he will run the case by John Constantine as a follow-up, so we can assume that he does.

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  1. [1]COLLIN COLSHER: Harley Quinn Vol. 3 #67, a supposed Thanksgiving issue that probably can’t actually occur anywhere near Thanksgiving, features Harley at her most meta as she flips through a comic book (within the comic book) showing an alternate reality in which she travels the metaverse with Booster Gold. Harley Quinn Vol. 3 #67 occurs shortly after Apex Lex Luthor has offered Harley powers. In the issue within the issue, which manifests as a result of Harley’s fourth-wall-breaking rage at being roped into yet another tasteless company-wide crossover, Harley and Booster visit Final Crisis, Infinite Crisis, and Crisis on Infinite Earths, ultimately erasing the latter and replacing it with a happy superhero Thanksgiving dinner, an act that causes all future comic book crossovers to become non-existent. Sadly, so very sadly, all of this is non-canon.
  2. [2]COLLIN COLSHER: Batman Vol. 3 #79 has an editorial note that puts both Batman Vol. 3 #78-79 prior to the main action of Batman Vol. 3 #77. Batman Vol. 3 #77 only shows Bruce via flashback—showing him coming out of his coma and hanging with Selina in Paris. The main action of Batman Vol. 3 #77, which, again, doesn’t show Batman, only depicts Robin challenging Bane and Alfred’s murder, hence its listing here on our timeline as a reference. Why is this arc written in such an oddly disjointed way? Your guess is as good as mine.
  3. [3]COLLIN COLSHER: Note that writer Mark Russell, a devotee of the Silver/Bronze Age, bestows a C-list loser-type characterization unto Riddler, which is dubious in terms of current continuity. While Riddler was indeed a C-list loser in the Silver/Bronze Age (and parts of the schizophrenic Modern Age), he certainly hasn’t been portrayed that way in a long time—at least not since the late 1990s/early 2000s. It’s hard to imagine New 52 or Rebirth Era Riddler palling around with the inferior King Tut, yet here it is.
  4. [4]COLLIN COLSHER: In the epilogue to Flash Vol. 5 #65, Batman and Superman mention the “twelve official multiversial crises.” As referenced in other titles (Action Comics and Young Justice Vol. 3), there have been seven main multiversial crises—Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour: Crisis in TimeInfinite Crisis, Final Crisis, Flashpoint, Convergence, and Metal. The others are difficult to say. Batman and Superman have definitely been involved in saving the Earth, the universe, and even other universes, but less often have they both been involved in an adventure that involves saving the entire multiverse. Notably, Batman was involved (without Superman) in saving the multiverse in the JLA arcs “Milk Wars” and “Dawn of Time” and in Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III aka “Crisis in a Half Shell.” Based upon things that are canon in current continuity, though, here’s what I think the other five major crises are: Cosmic Odyssey, Forever Evil, “Darkseid War,” No Justice, and “Legacy” (Justice League Vol. 3 #24-31) from Bryan Hitch’s JL run. Other possible (although much less likely) options might be: “Imperiex War,” JLA/Avengers, “With a Vengeance” (from Superman/Batman #20-25), “Lords of Luck,” or “Tangent Superman’s Reign.”
  5. [5]COLLIN COLSHER: Here are the Dark Forces and their oppositional Positive Forces in Scott Snyder’s overly Manichaean narrative that pits the Doom Totality against the Justice Totality. At this point in the story, the 7th Dark Force/Positive Force hasn’t yet been revealed.

    1. Still Force vs Speed Force
    2. Ultraviolet Spectrum vs Emotional Visible Light Spectrum
    3. Tear of Extinction/Death Force vs Life Force
    4. Void Wind vs Sphere of the Gods
    5. Black Apple vs Collective Unconscious
    6. Sixth Dimension vs Dimensional Superstructure

    As revealed in Flash Vol. 5 #80, the Still Force and the Speed Force are also “Cosmic Forces” (aka “energy fields”) that are linked to the other energy fields known as the Strength Force, Sage Force, and Forever Force. How (or if) these latter three energy fields fit into the Justice/Doom Totality remains to be seen.

  6. [6]COLLIN COLSHER: Note that, in Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 8 #2, Rose Forrest addresses United Planets President RJ Brande, mentioning Superboy by name. President Brande asks if she means Jon Kent or “the original Superman when he was a child.” This, at first glance, comes off as an ostensible reference to Clark having been Superboy when he was a teen. However, it should not be read that way, nor does it have to be. Brande is merely responding to Rose’s mention in an off-kilter way. In our current continuity, Clark was never Superboy. Don’t like my pathetic hand-waving fanwank? Okay, fine—then it’s a continuity error.
  7. [7]COLLIN COLSHER: Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp are so good together on this series, which is a blast from start to finish with every issue. Just as they gather a bunch of cosmic heavies for the auction scene here, they show (in The Green Lantern #5) the planet Vorr, upon which many of Earth’s vampires have gathered or permanently relocated. While Batman isn’t in The Green Lantern #5, here is a fun list of vampires that are shown to be living on or at least visiting Vorr anyway: Morbius, The Crypt-Keeper, Dracula, Count Orlock, Count Yorga, Lestat de Lioncourt, Louis de Pointe du Lac, Vladislav (from What We Do in the Shadows), Viago (from What We Do in the Shadows), Petyr (from What We Do in the Shadows), Jon Schnepp, Vampirella, and a bunch of Vorr Bats. Flashbacks from The Green Lantern: Blackstars #2 also show Lord Vorlokk, Blade, Edward Cullen, Proinsias Cassidy, and a bunch of Renfield henchmen. The Green Lantern: Blackstars #2 also mentions that the Vampyroi of Vorr worship the “saints” Mandrakk, Carmilla (from Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla), and Martin (from George Romero’s Martin).

4 Responses to Rebirth Year Seventeen (Part 2)

  1. diego2024 says:

    I came home, very disappointed with Episode 9, and I see updates on this website. My joy has overcome and erased that sadness 😀

  2. Antonio says:

    Hey Collin, Antonio here.

    In B&The Outsiders 9 Bruce tells Superman that he has just revealed his secret ID to the world. So, don’t you think that this issue comes right after Superman 18 and not before it?

    Plus, since DiDio confirmed only “partial” canonicity of Doomsday Clock, maybe we should just ignore the parts in which Alfred is present and maybe the fact that DrM resurrects the Kents. I think that the only canon consequence of DrM’s actions is the resurrection of the JSA.
    What do you think? Thank you as always!

    • I glossed right over that line of dialogue. Damn, not to knock Bryan E Hill as a writer, but he is fucking BAD at writing for a shared universe. He literally makes constant references to every tiny little thing that is going on in other titles in the DCU, but doesn’t give any room within his own narrative to allow for those things to happen. It’s amateurish. I guess the editors are partly to blame too, but I think it just plain sucks.

      And, in regard to your second comment, on my timeline, I’ve already added lines/notation in the continuity error parts of Doomsday Clock (i.e. Alfred, for the big one) that say we might have to ignore them. It’s amazing to me that they screwed up badly enough with this that DiDio had to release a statement about continuity. It’s truly a rare thing. Really unprecedented.

      I’m not sure what’ll happen with the Kents. I’ve read rumor that DC (or DiDio or whoever) already is thinking about keeping the Kents dead! I’ve seen some bad continuity back in the day, but I think this really might take the cake. In any case, I’ll keep searching for the Kents LOL. Wonder Woman #750 supposedly will be our first glimpse at the post Doomsday Clock continuity, maybe?

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