Salad Days

FHIZ (over at Gotham Spoilers), in his great review of Batman Vol. 2 #21, said, “I hold the five year (and now six) timeline as the biggest mistake of the New 52. Nothing makes any sense if you try and think about it, especially Batman. Specificity was never needed.” Furthermore, Martin Gray’s excellent review of the same issue (at Too Dangerous for a Girl!) included, “You might expect that two years after the linewide revamp, DC, recognising the problems, would begin soft-focusing that five-year figure, say things happened ‘years ago’ and let the reader fit events in as they will. But no, here’s the first of an 11-part serial further concretising the timeframe, with the action announced as occurring ‘six years ago’. […] This is DC, where to say ‘canon’ is to have the comic gods laugh at you.” Both FHIZ and Gray are totally right. The specificity of the flashback times have been a mistake, albeit mostly due to editorial mismanagement. For example, there is no consistency. Each one of the flashbacks to Bruce’s training era or “Zero Year” takes place either a certain number of given years before the beginning of the New 52 reboot starts in 2011 OR prior to the publishing dates of the issues themselves. In fact, the “years ago” tags from nearly all DC titles mean completely different things depending on the title. Further complicating things, the specificity of references and topical events has increased exponentially as the years have gone on and story-arcs have piled up. Obviously, this really gums up the works. It should have been a consistent solitary company-wide choice or they should have used no specifics at all. I certainly don’t think that one should NEED to map out narrative into a complex web just to figure out a timeline—that defeats the purpose of good storytelling, which is conveying a concrete idea without confusion. In that regard, it is undeniably perplexing what DC has done. It is my firm opinion that the New 52 has been the most confusing and contradictory timeline in the history of DC Comics. The comic gods do seem to be laughing. But thankfully, I’m here to challenge the comic gods! Most problematic timeline-issues in the DCU can be successfully broken down into something at least semi rational. Here goes my best attempt to sort it all out. This “Salad Days” section covers 2000 through 2006.

 

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2000[1][2]

–Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #0
June 2000.[3][4] Shortly after graduating high school from the prestigious private Roxbury Fielding Academy, billionaire Bruce Wayne celebrates his 18th birthday. Shortly thereafter, Bruce learns that Joe Chill, his parents’ murderer, is back in Gotham for the first time since the incident. In case you’ve lived under a rock your whole life, you know Bruce’s parents were killed on a cold September night when he was young. We know the month the killings took place (September) thanks to Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #1, but precisely how old Bruce was at the time remains a matter of debate. It is most likely that he was eight-years-old at the time of his parents’ deaths.[5][6] In an effort to confront Chill and find out if there was a greater conspiracy involved with happened to his folks all those years ago, Bruce hits the violent Gotham streets in search of him. After interrogating homeless career-criminal Clancy (the only witness to the Wayne murders other than Bruce) and a few other ruffians, Bruce quickly locates and shakes down the man he is looking for. Bruce angrily prepares to execute Chill but doesn’t when he realizes that Chill was just a down-on-his-luck drunk that randomly attacked his parents. The next day (again, a conjectural but seemingly appropriate guess), Bruce departs for Tibet to begin training. (Bruce doesn’t bring much with him on his trip, but, as referenced in Batman Vol. 2 #52, he does bring a “How to Move On” journal that Dr. Leslie Thompkins had him write immediately after the deaths of his parents.) As stated in Batman Vol. 2 #39, an overarching theme of Bruce’s training, no matter where he goes, will be to eliminate any fear in relation to death or dying. NOTE: Only six “masters” will train Batman in total (as mentioned in Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #5). Bruce trains and studies with a lot of experts, but as far as true and pure combat “masters,” there is only Chu Chin Li, Tsunetomo, Henri Ducard, Shihan Matsuda, and Sergei Alexandrov. The sixth master is either the unnamed leader of the Nigerian Owami tribe or, more likely, the unnamed top member of the Shaolin monk hierarchy from Bruce’s two other non-Matsuda trips to the Himalayas. Detective Comics #949 also tells us that Bruce will learn at least fourteen different martial arts while training abroad, so keep that in mind when assembling your headcanon. It is also extremely important to realize that, while Bruce is training, he will remain in contact with his trusted confidant Alfred Pennyworth for the next three years, possibly even returning to Gotham infrequently. However, after the third year, Bruce will go totally off-the-radar and become incommunicado with everyone.

–flashback from Secret Origins Vol. 3 #2
Training course: Himalayas. Bruce kung-fu trains with Shaolin monks.

–reference in Batman Vol. 2 #21
Bruce continues training in the Himalayas and travels to Meru Peak, India. There, Bruce is arrested after dangerously base-jumping off of a mountainside cliff. (Philip Kane, during 2007’s Batman Vol. 2 #21, will talk about this rumored event as having occurred “seven years ago,” hence its placement here.)
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2001

–second feature from Batman Vol. 2 #21
June 2001 through July 2001. Training course: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Bruce, age 19, spends six weeks learning how to stunt drive with international criminal Don Miguel in Rio de Janeiro. After six weeks, Bruce turns Miguel over to the cops. (If Bruce leaves Gotham to train after having just turned 18 in June 2000, then this Don Miguel session must start in June 2001 at the earliest. Technically, it could be early 2002 as well.)

–flashback from Batman Vol. 2 #52
The year is conjectural, but I’ve placed this item here because it occurs in “Yugoslavia.” The only time that the term Yugoslavia would be used would be before 2003, during the period of history prior to its reconstitution into Serbia and Montenegro. A pilot takes Bruce a hundred feet higher than the safe limit for parachuting. Bruce sky-dives wearing only a glider-suit.

–reference in Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0
Training course: Tibet. Thus begins the first of nine sequential training stops as listed in Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0.

–flashback from Batman Vol. 2 #52reference in Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0
Training course: Nagoya, Japan. A reference in Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #5 tells us that this training period was under the tutelage of Tsunetomo. While the main portion of the training occurs in Nagoya, Batman Vol. 2 #52‘s flashback shows an unnamed blind kung-fu master (who must be the New 52 version of Tsunetomo) training Bruce in the Hida Mountains. Since the southern part of the Hida range is in Gifu, only about an hour north of Nagoya, it makes sense for part of Tsunetomo’s training to occur at a Hida mountain temple as well as in Nagoya.

–reference in Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0 / flashbacks from Batman Vol. 3 #18
Training course: Mount Qingcheng, China. A reference in Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #5 tells us that this training period was with Chu Chin Li. The flashbacks from Batman Vol. 3 #8 that feature his time in China are comprised in two separate panels. The first depicts Bruce tightrope walking in-between two tall buildings in what is likely Dujiangyan City or some other neighboring urban area near Mount Qingcheng. The second depicts Bruce free-climbing a near vertical cliff, likely the side of Mount Qingcheng itself. These flashbacks from Batman Vol. 3 #8 also reveal Bruce’s neurotic habit of speaking aloud to his dead mother, something he has done periodically ever since the night of his mother’s untimely death. Bruce will speak out loud to his mother as if she were present long into his career as Batman.

–reference in Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0
Training course: Oxford, England.

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2002

–reference in Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0
Training course: Paris, France.

–reference in Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0
Training course: Kenya.

–reference in Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0
Training course: Syria.

–second feature from Batman Vol. 2 #22 / flashback from Secret Origins Vol. 3 #2
December 2002. Training course: Afghanistan. Bruce begins training with a Russian escape artist and military inventor named Sergei Alexandrov (and his pet monkey Maxwell). This training will last for six months. (Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0 tells us the final stop before Shihan Matsuda is Afghanistan, hence the reasoning for linking Afghanistan with Sergei.)

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2003

–second feature from Batman Vol. 2 #22 / flashback from Secret Origins Vol. 3 #2 and Batman Vol. 3 #18
February 2003 through June 2003. Bruce’s training course in Afghanistan continues. Bruce trains with Sergei Alexandrov for five more months, working on escape artistry and inventive weaponry. Batman Vol. 3 #18 specifically shows Bruce escaping from chains in a scene that is likely a part of Sergei’s training. On the final day of his training, Bruce—now freshly age 21—escapes from an “inescapable” room hidden beneath the Sphinx in Gaza, Egypt. (The final day of this six month training must occur in June 2003 at the latest. This is so because Bruce turns 21-years-old in June 2003 and we are told two important things. First, the second feature from Batman Vol. 2 #22 tells us that the end of Sergei’s six month training ends after Bruce has turned 21. And second, Secret Origins Vol. 3 #2 tells us that part of Sergei’s training was five years prior to Zero Year i.e. in 2002.)

[7]

–flashback from Batman &… #28 (“Batman & Two-Face”)
Bruce returns home to keep up appearances with the local Gotham crowd. At Wayne Manor, Bruce throws a huge gala, through which he vicariously celebrates the college graduation of some of his friends that are a couple years older than he, notably childhood pals Harvey Dent and Gilda Gold.[8] Bruce introduces Gilda to Harvey and they instantly hit it off. At the shindig, Bruce also settles a ruckus caused by his childhood friends (and high-school girlfriends), the wild twin sisters Erin McKillen and Shannon McKillen. The McKillen sisters are members of the notorious McKillen Family mafia clan. (The reason this flashback goes here is because it is the last possible time Bruce could be home to throw a party before going off-the-radar.)

–reference in Batman Vol. 2 #0
June 2003. This is the last time Bruce will see and communicate with Alfred Pennyworth for roughly four years. Bruce also ends all communication with his friends Harvey Dent, Gilda Gold, and the McKillen sisters. (In Batman Vol. 2 #0, Bruce mentions that he was “gone for FOUR YEARS,” meaning he went off-the-radar at the conclusion of his first THREE YEARS of training—which is literally right now.)

–Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0, Part 1
June 2003. Training course: Himalayas. Bruce travels to Himalayas where he begins training with Shihan Matsuda. Bruce moves in with Matsuda and his wife, Sama Matsuda. (The editorial note says TEN YEARS AGO, which means “four years” prior to Year Zero’s “six years ago” tag).

Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0, Part 2
December 2003—six months after Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0, Part 1. Bruce has been living with and training with Shihan Matsuda for six months. Bruce meets shopgirl Mio, who is actually a League of Assassins killer-in-training.

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2004

–Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0, Part 3
March 2004—three months after Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0, Part 2. Three more months of training with Shihan Matsuda have passed. Bruce starts dating Mio. He continues training with Matsuda.

–Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0, Part 4
April 2004. Bruce’s training with Shihan Matsuda continues. Mio attacks Shihan Matsuda on behalf of his wife Sama, who no longer loves her husband and wants him dead. Mio and Sama successfully murder Shihan, but Sama gets betrayed and killed by Mio. Bruce enters and fights Mio, who is left for dead after the encounter—(SPOILER: She actually survives).

–flashback from Detective Comics Vol. 2 #21
April 2004—this scene takes place immediately after ‘tec Vol. 2 #0, Part 4. Mio waits for Bruce to depart and then returns to Ra’s Al Ghul, leader of the League of Assassins. (Bruce’s “TEN YEARS AGO” thought box in 2013’s Detective Comics Vol. 2 #21 a tad bit off.)

–reference in second feature from Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0
With Bruce missing and incommunicado, he is presumed dead. Alfred sends various private investigators all over the globe in search of him. Meanwhile, an attorney named Mr. Shaw begins a campaign of harassing Alfred on behalf of Bruce’s uncle, Philip Kane, who wants Bruce’s personal fortune and property and full control of Wayne Enterprises.

–references in both Batman Vol. 2 #21 and the second feature from Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0
Philip Kane is able to have Bruce, according to state law, declared legally dead. Kane takes full control of Wayne Enterprises, but is unable to gain access to Bruce’s personal wealth and property due to the fact that Alfred was made full custodian of Bruce’s material possessions as per the deceased Waynes’ wills. Kane also makes Edward Nygma (aka Edward Nigma aka Edward Nashton—real name unknown) his chief business strategist.

–flashback from Secret Origins Vol. 3 #2
A single panel shows a random high speed car chase. Presumably, Bruce is in one of these cars. And if you are thinking this could be linked to his Don Miguel training, you’d be wrong. This item specifically tells us that this high speed pursuit happens three years prior to Zero Year i.e. 2004.

–references in Batman Vol. 2 #21, Batman Vol. 2 #25, Batman Vol. 2 #27, and Batman Vol. 2 #29 and flashbacks from Batman Vol. 2 #26
Training course: Lagos, Nigeria. Bruce trains by fighting a “death match” in Lagos and by undergoing a several month-long course under the tutelage of a nomadic tribe in the Owami Desert. With the tribe, Bruce goes through unspeakable tortures, including living in a tiny orb-shaped hanging cell. Back home, Alfred learns from Philip Kane that Bruce is somewhere in the Nigerian desert. Alfred spends every penny he has to find out Bruce’s exact location and actually manages to arrange a phone call with him! However, Bruce remains cagey and refuses to speak. Alfred gives up hope that he had actually found him. Meanwhile, Uncle Philip sends a hired paramilitary unit to Nigeria to fetch Bruce, but the entire unit is killed by mine explosions. Karl Helfern’s son is one of the killed soldiers. (Philip Kane, during 2007’s Batman Vol. 2 #21, will talk about this rumored event as having occurred “three years ago,” hence its placement here.)

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2005

–reference in Batman/Superman #4
Bruce successfully acclimates himself to every toxin he can, meaning he now becomes semi-immune to almost all known poisons. (An editorial note places this item THREE YEARS before 2008’s Batman/Superman #4.)

–flashback from Batman Vol. 2 #52
The year is purely conjectural. Bruce is led by an unknown female guide into the frostbitten wilderness of Alberta, Canada. There, he strips naked and stands under a freezing cold waterfall for as long as he can endure.
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2006

–flashback from Secret Origins Vol. 3 #2
Bruce trains in an unknown location with an unknown bearded warrior. They sword duel near what appears to be an active volcano. (This item is said to occur “seven years ago,” meaning one year prior to Zero Year.)

–second feature from Batman Vol. 2 #23
June 2006. Training course: Norway. Bruce—age 24, still bearded, and going under the assumed name “Banion”—trains with a warrior woman called Queen. Also in Norway, Bruce fights another “death match,” this time for 28 hours straight, defeating dozens of men single-handedly. (Since Bruce leaves Gotham to train at age 18 in 2000, then the earliest this can be is June 2006, when he turns 24-years-old.)

–reference in the second feature of Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0
Training course: Himalayan foothills. Bruce returns to the Himalayan region for additional training. (Alfred, in ‘tec Vol. 2 #0, which occurs in 2007, says there was a rumor that Bruce was seen in the foothills of the Himalayas ONE YEAR prior.)

–flashbacks from Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #5-6
Training course: Paris, France (and various other Henri Ducard connected stops). Bruce snoops around Paris for a bit before locating Henri Ducard, famous detective and bounty hunter. Bruce fights Henri’s son Morgan Ducard and defeats him, earning the right to join and train with them. The trio then scours the globe (in jungles, deserts, and the Middle East) in search of international terrorist Hassan. During this time, Henri tells Bruce many valuable lessons about detective work and fugitive hunting (as referenced in Batman Vol. 2 #10 and All-Star Batman #8). When Henri kills Hassan instead of apprehending him, Bruce storms off angrily. Henri sends Morgan to kill Bruce in London, but the latter obviously fails. Bruce beats up Morgan and violently returns him to his pop in Paris. “And that is how I wrapped up the last of my training days overseas,” later says Batman, in a recording made for Damian. This could mean that Bruce’s training ends or that it continues in the States for a little before his return to Gotham. Take into account that Bruce is clean-shaven when he leaves Paris, but will be fully bearded when he returns home. (A reference in Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #4 tells us that Henri Ducard was the “last stop on Bruce’s list of trainers.” Therefore, the flashbacks from B&R Vol. 2 #5-6 must go here.)

–NOTE: In Batman Vol. 2 #0, Batman Vol. 2 #13, Batman Vol. 2 #21-22, and Batman Vol. 2 #24. While Bruce has been finishing-up his training abroad, crime-boss Liam Distal has become Gotham’s first ever super-villain called The Red Hood (aka Red Hood One), commander of the vile Red Hood Gang. Distal and his gang have recently usurped top bad guy status from Carmine “The Roman” Falcone (leader of the Falcone Mob). At this point on our timeline, however, the man who will become Joker (identity unknown) murders Distal and secretly replaces him as leader of the gang, turning into the new Red Hood in the process. (The end of Batman Vol. 2 #24 reveals that Distal has been replaced by a new Red Hood at a completely unspecified time. In next year’s Batman Vol. 2 #24, Bruce suspects that the man who becomes Joker replaced Distal as Red Hood One at some point earlier in the year, saying that at most it could have been months ago. Is it possible, however, that the man who becomes Joker replaces the Red Hood earlier than that, as in right around now, before Bruce even returns to Gotham.)[9]
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  1. [1]COLLIN COLSHER: For the reasoning behind the year 2000 as our starting point, see the intro explanation for Year Zero.
  2. [2]COLLIN COLSHER: Some important rules for the New Age before we actually get going. As I’ve done in prior sections of the website, I’ve included flashbacks in a very specific way. If a flashback is first revealed—let’s say in Year 15, hypothetically—the flashback may or may not be mentioned in Year 15, but the actual events that occur in said flashback will be placed one the timeline exactly when they originally occurred attached to bullets listed as “flashback.” Similarly, story references will be listed as bullet “references.” And likewise, important narrative events that don’t include Batman will be listed as “notes.” Therefore, any “references,” “flashbacks,” or “notes” occur chronologically at the spot where they are situated on the timeline. Any character names (or group names) highlighted in red denote the first appearance of a reoccurring character (or group). Some of these red items may appear only once in the Bat-verse, but appear elsewhere throughout the DCU, and thus have been given the crimson treatment as well.
  3. [3]COLLIN COLSHER:Batman Vol. 2 #21 tells us that Bruce Wayne was training for at least (and most likely) SEVEN YEARS, which includes his FOUR YEAR completely-off-the-radar time before his return to Alfred (as we are told in Batman Vol. 2 #0). Therefore, if Batman debuts in August 2007 (Year Zero), Bruce must start training in 2000. Therefore, this means that Bruce graduates high school in June 2000, immediately celebrates his 18th birthday, immediately searches for and locates Joe Chill, and then immediately departs for Tibet in that same month (June 2000 aka roughly seven years before debuting as Batman). Bruce’s graduation, hunt for Chill, and departure for Tibet are detailed in Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #0. Oh, and in case you missed it, that means Bruce was born in June 1982.
  4. [4]COLLIN COLSHER: In regard to the use of specific dates or months on the New Age timeline: Unfortunately, moving forward (and is the case with this very example from Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #0), some specific dates and months listed on this chronology won’t be taken by information given by writers and editors. Usually, if something has a specific month listed beside it and does not have a “reason why” listed along with it, it has to do with its chrono-spatial relationship with other stories (which may give much more detailed information). However, no matter what, there is always a reasoning behind an attachment of a precise month to a story. The process of timeline-building is very exhaustive. Obviously, topical references and editorial notes are taken into account, but so are in-story clues and dialog as well. Once I have a bunch of items placed relatively where I think they go, I cross-check each story with every other story on my timeline to make sure that they aren’t contradicting each other.
  5. [5]COLLIN COLSHER: In the New Age, it has been separately said that Bruce was 14-years-old, 10-years-old, and 8-years-old at the time of his parents’ deaths. Let’s see if one (or any) of these actually fits the bill.

    Secret Origins Vol. 3 #2 lists the Wayne murders as taking place eleven years prior to Year Zero, which makes Bruce 14 at the time. Scott Snyder’s Batman Vol. 2 #39 tells us specifically that Bruce was 13-years-old when he fell into the caverns below Wayne Manor, a scene shown in Batman Vol. 2 #21-22 that occurs roughly a year prior to his folks’ murders. This means Bruce was 14-years-old a year later when his folks kicked the bucket. If Bruce was indeed 14, that means his parents died in 1996.

    Curiously, Scott Snyder, in Batman Vol. 2 #24, contradicts Batman Vol. 2 #39 (his own story, no less) when it comes to Bruce’s age at the time of the Wayne murders. In Batman Vol. 2 #24, Snyder tells us that Bruce is specifically 25-years-old and then, a mere seven pages later, has Red Hood One say that the Wayne murders happened “fifteen years” prior. This gaffe, either on the part of a misinformed Red Hood One or erroneous Scott Snyder himself, contradicts Batman Vol. 2 #39 by making Bruce ten-years-old at the time of his parents’ deaths. If this is true, then Bruce’s parents died in 1992.

    James Tynion, in Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4, has Batman himself say that his parents died when he was eight-years-old. Tynion gives the same eight-years-old age in Detective Comics #943. Peter Tomasi echoes Tynion, in Justice League: The Darkseid War – Batman #1, telling us outright, again via the voice of Batman himself, that Bruce’s parents died when he was eight-years-old. (In that same comic, Tomasi also tells us that the Wayne murders took place “over twenty years” prior to 2015, which would be around 1994. That math doesn’t make a lick of sense and must be disregarded.) Snyder’s All-Star Batman #3 depicts the first meeting of a young Bruce Wayne and young Harvey Dent. This scene occurs shortly after Bruce’s parents have been murdered. The boys are drawn (by John Romita) as if they look to be eight to ten-years-old. Tom King’s Batman Vol. 3 #12 reveals that a ten-year-old Bruce attempted suicide at some point following his parents’ passing. Like All-Star Batman #3, this King reference leans toward Bruce being either eight or ten at the time of the tragedy as well. If Bruce’s folks died when he was eight, then it happened in 1990.

    So, let’s tally the numbers. Two instances of 14-years-old. One instance of 10-years-old. Three instances of 8-years-old. And two references that could be either 8 or 10-years-old. Any way you spin it, it looks like 8-years-old is the winner of this game. Thus, in the New Age, Bruce was (almost indisputably) eight-years-old when his parents were killed.

  6. [6]COLLIN COLSHER: How does Bruce know about his parents’ killer in the first place? And how long has he known? First of all, a serious retcon must be discussed. In Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #0, Bruce doesn’t know that Joe Chill has killed his parents and doesn’t find out until after his 18th birthday. However, All-Star Batman #4 retcons this in a big way, telling us that a young Bruce discovers that Joe Chill is his parents’ killer almost immediately after they are killed. Thus, we must read Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #0 as a significantly altered version of the narrative, with that specific retcon in mind. So, after all is said and retconned, here is how it all truly went down following that fateful night on Crime Alley. As stated, precocious junior detective Bruce discovered that his parents were killed by Chill almost immediately after the horrific double-murder occurred. However, Chill went on the lam and never served time for the crime. While Chill was lamming, Bruce, besides trying to locate the killer, spent years trying to figure out if Chill was part of some grander elaborate scheme to assassinate his folks. Among presumable simultaneous and varied investigations during his high school days, Bruce even once tried to recruit the notorious McKillen mob family to track down Chill for him (as referenced in Batman and… #25). Bruce’s connection to the McKillens was through their twin daughters, Erin and Shannon, whom he was friends with throughout the entirety of his youth. The McKillen sisters were around when Bruce’s parents died and both also attended the prestigious Roxbury Fielding Academy along with Bruce. At high school, Bruce was romantically involved with both McKillen sisters. While we are mentioning teenage sweethearts, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Bruce’s girlfriend Julie Madison, who is first shown via flashback from Batman Vol. 2 #30.
  7. [7]COLLIN COLSHER: The entire Superman: American Alien series by Max Landis is non-canon. Superman: American Alien #3, for example, takes place on Bruce’s 21st birthday and shows Bruce training with Ra’s Al Ghul, a scene that partially mirrors a scene from the Christopher Nolan Batman Begins film. It also shows Clark Kent accidentally crashing a Gotham yacht party, during which he gets mistaken for Bruce Wayne and has sex with Barbara Minerva. However, Superman: American Alien is non-canon. First of all, the second feature of Action Comics Vol. 2 #14 gives us enough information to tell us that Superman is roughly two years younger than Batman. This would mean that Clark is around nineteen-years-old during Superman: American Alien #3. This cannot be the case since Ma and Pa Kent are shown alive and well in that same issue. They both died in a car accident on the night of Clark’s high school senior prom. (Ma died instantly whereas Pa succumbed to a heart attack brought on by the crash a few minutes later.) Besides all the problems above, Superman: American Alien also contradicts the second feature from Batman Vol. 2 #22 and flashback from Secret Origins Vol. 3 #2, in which Bruce turns twenty-one-years-old while training with Sergei Alexandrov.

    Superman: American Alien #4 features Bruce, who has just recently adopted Dick Grayson as his ward, but has yet to reveal his secret that he is Batman. Likewise, Clark—yet to become Superman—meets Batman for the first time, fights him, and learns his secret identity. This period of time where all of these things simultaneously occur simply does not exist in the New Age.

  8. [8]COLLIN COLSHER: All-Star Batman #3 gives us the backstory between the Bruce Wayne/Harvey Dent relationship, and, of course, it contradicts the backstory referenced in Batman &… #28, making the history referenced in the latter null-and-void. Although, to be fair, it only contradicts one line, in which Harvey mentions that they’ve known each other since pre-school. In the All-Star Batman #3 retcon, Bruce only first meets Harvey shortly after the murder of his parents. This means they first meet, not in preschool, but around age eight or nine at the earliest. Bruce and Harvey meet at the original Arkham Home in Innsmouth, Massachusetts, where they both stay for a summer. A couple years after that, Bruce and Harvey re-meet and hit it off, cementing their friendship.
  9. [9]COLLIN COLSHER: If Distal’s murder and replacement does indeed occur here and now, then the first appearance of the Red Hood (from Batman Vol. 2 #0/Batman Vol. 2 #21) ALREADY FEATURES the man who becomes Joker (and not Distal). And if we take Batman’s thoughts from 2012’s Detective Comics Vol. 2 #1 where he says Joker has been active for six years, at face value, this means he later suspects this to be the case as well.

    Of course, Scott Snyder really is purposefully trying to be vague with the timeframe for Distal being killed and replaced by the man who becomes Joker—(maybe it is Distal right up until the scene before Red Hood falls into the acid, maybe it is Distal up until months before that, or maybe it is Distal up until the end of this year). Snyder really wants to hint at a “multiple choice” origin for Joker. There is serious debate to be had here, but there really is no clear cut way of knowing. Although, I would argue that the man who becomes Joker kills Distal right now because Bruce, in Batman Vol. 2 #22, will take a blood sample from Red Hood early into his fight with the villain and the blood sample will be a dead end. If known offender and ex-con Distal were under the mask, he would have come up as a match.

25 Responses to Salad Days

  1. Jamison says:

    What did you think of Batman #21, Collin? Are you liking it more than year one so far?

    • Haha, I hope that’s a joke about liking it more than “Year One!” It’s impossible to really judge “Zero Year” since we’ve only seen but one issue out of eleven. And it’s a tough comparison in general to “Year One”‘s meager four issues. I will say, I hope that Snyder is doing his best NOT to compete with Miller’s original origin tale, especially since I want “Zero Year” to succeed. Miller’s “Year One,” in my opinion, is the best Batman story ever told. Period.

      That being said, I can comment on what I saw in Batman #21. It’s definitely interesting. And I liked it! What I like most about Batman #21 is that is sure isn’t Miller’s “Year One.” This is definitely a Batman that is ready for the greater DCU. No longer will the strengths (and limitations) of the Batverse keep it separated from the rest of the multiverse in which it resides. That much seems obvious, and for that, I praise Snyder. Another reason I dig it: I perceive what might possibly be a really amazing deconstruction of Miller’s “Year One.” Bruce has returned to a Gotham where crime has become, as he puts it, “viral.” It is being perpetrated, not by small-timers like before he left, but by crazed gangs that are the direct precursor to super-villains. This is a HUGE (and hopefully telling/deliberate?) departure from Miller, where a costumed crime-fighter (Batman) was the answer to fighting plain old gangsters, which then spawned the crazy super-villainy. In the New 52, the proto-super-villains of Gotham, in a sense, seem to spawn the creation of the fanciful Batman character. But in my excitement over this possiblity, I also have anxiety. Is this really a deconstruction of Miller’s “Year One” or just a Batman reboot with a lame helmet-wearing opening villain that appears to mirror many of Snyder’s other villains? I fear what’s to come based upon Snyder’s track record and overall corpus. I think Snyder is a great writer—he engages the reader, plays off of continuity in subtle but unique ways, and usually leaves one craving for the next page. However, it seems to me that Snyder often fizzles out somewhere towards the end of his arcs, leaving the reader to wonder if what has transpired was truly deep or if it just was a bunch of bunk buried beneath the veneer of false substance and Capullo’s top-notch art. We have ten issues to go, so there’s a lot of time to sink or swim. Snyder has a pretty solid record as a writer, but has yet to really knock one out of the park. Could this be it? It better be.

  2. Jamison says:

    Haha, I wouldn’t call the fact that Miller told his story in only four issues meager. It’s an amazing achievement that he managed to tell the greatest Batman story of all time in just 4 issues. One of my fears is that the 11 issues Snyder has allotted may drag out too long. Snyder’s Batman is a bit verbose in his inner monologues, whereas Miller used really short, to-the-point sentences . I think though it may not be valid thing to do, it’s very difficult not to compare this story to year one. It’s serving the same function that year one did for the modern age reboot.
    For me the whole new 52 Bat-verse has a very different feel to me. Not bad, just different. This Batman feels like a brand new character that I haven’t quite gotten to know fully. I don’t know if you feel this way too, or if you feel like the new 52 Bat-verse is much different than the modern age, but if so, do you feel like the new 52 books could ever replace the modern age stories as being the “Definitive Batman” in your mind? Or will the new 52 always feel like the DC Ultimate universe, and they just no longer publish stories in the regular continuity? I hope the question is clear. I know it presumes that you think a certain way.
    I don’t know if I am alone on this, but I’m getting a very similar feeling from the recent DC video games coming out. Both Injustice Gods Among Us and Batman Arkham Origins have a very new 52 kinda feel to them, I think. Maybe its just the costumes, but the characters in these games feel more at home in the new age continuity. Again, this isn’t a bad thing, just an observation. Thoughts?

  3. Singh says:

    Hey what’s up? Well, I’ve been looking at Greg Capullo’s twitter recently and he’s put up some interesting Zero Year art. The famous “I Shall Become a Bat” scene does indeed happen in Wayne Manor, if you don’t want to know more, I’ll just leave it at that.

  4. diego says:

    hey collin don’t you think that batman #0 should go in between 21 and 22? I think it makes perfect sense because that way the red hood can know about Bruce’s place but doesn’t decide to blow it up until later in issue 22 also Alfred storms off at the end of that issue and hes still around and definitely not mad at Bruce in issue 0

    • Originally I would have disagreed with you, only because it appears in issue zero as if Bruce has already made his return public. How else would Gordon know to visit him? UNLESS… Gordon is so smart and savvy that he figures out Bruce has come back all on his own. I think you might be right on this one. Looks like Bruce, in issue zero, has yet to make his public return and Gordon has just known all along. ALTHOUGH, I must say that Snyder’s writing here is VERY confusing. A little straight-forwardness can go a long way. AND, I also submit that Batman #0 is the actual opening sequence to “Zero Year,” occurring before the flashback parts of Batman #21 as well as Batman #22.

  5. Batman Fan says:

    Figuring out when the events of issue #0 occur in relation to the rest of the Zero Year issues has been a source of considerable frustration and annoyance to me as a reader. Snyder confuses things tremendously by having Gordon say Bruce has been back for three months in issue 0, and Alfred say Bruce has been back for six weeks in 21.

    When we see that Bruce’s return isn’t made public until issue 22 and that his brownstone is blown up that very night, Gordon’s visit to the brownstone in issue 0 makes absolutely no sense… Unless, as you both have surmised, he figured out Bruce returned before it became public knowledge and paid his visit at the three month mark, which would place the events in issue 0 somewhere between issues 21 and 22.

    It should NOT be this difficult to figure that out. My guess is that Snyder made changes to or came up with new ideas for Zero Year after issue 0’s publication, and that the Gordon scene in that issue was written as if Bruce’s return was public. Assuming the reader will figure out Gordon has discovered Bruce’s return before it’s made public is a huge leap, and a bad one if deliberate. Additionally, Bruce should be surprised by a visit from Gordon if his return is still a secret, and no surprise is shown, though it is in issue 21 when Philip Kane visits. Finally, Bruce talks to Gordon in the issue 0 scene like they’ve met before, which doesn’t seem to fit it into the timeline established in issue 21. Probably because it wasn’t originally written to be their first meeting. Issue 0 probably was supposed to be, as you said, Collin, the actual opening sequence to Zero Year (that’s how I was looking at it until the “three months” “six weeks” dialogue kept that from making sense). Then Snyder made changes to his story which made that impossible.

    • Seems to be the case entirely. It’s frustrating indeed. And bizarre as well, since Snyder is usually chronologically on-point with his own arcs. I wonder how they will treat this in the TPB? Maybe they won’t include the zero issue at all? Including the zero issue in a trade would be jarring for the reader, either at the beginning OR in the middle.

  6. Glenn Simpson says:

    Apologies if this is covered elsewhere, but I notice in the New Age section that you are using specific years. Will these be adjusted forward in “sliding timeline” format eventually, or are you making the assumption that the comics are now operating in real time?

    • This is an excellent question, Glenn. I use specific years on all my timelines because specific years are always given. Eventually, someone somewhere gives us the date and the time, for better or worse. Believe it or not, the New Age (New 52) IS operating in real time, although due to an insane amount of compressed storytelling the New 52 DCUniverse is lagging behind “real time.” While I am forced to make some personal decisions while building my timelines, nothing I do in regard to chronology-construction is merely an assumption made out of thin air. After every reboot, editors and writers operate in real time and then they mandate time-sliding as the years go on and on. Since the Seventies, DC has always used a sliding-timeline to make their stories more contemporary (as opposed to rebooting all the time). Thus, stories have stayed more contemporary for decades and DC has only felt the need to reboot their line twice since the Sixties.

      The benefit of creating a chronology after said chronology has lapsed (like the Golden or Silver or Modern) is that nobody can throw you any curve balls or toss up a trick play out of nowhere. The information needed for the timeline is done, finite, complete—so you can build with ease. Working out a timeline as the comics come out week-to-week can be a frustrating endeavor. I’ve already rebuilt and completely overhauled the New 52 section at least a dozen times.

      Now, presuming the New 52 remains the primary DCUniverse, the main-line so to speak, the question arises, “Will DC decide to slide the timeline as they have done in the past?” If it happens, then I surely will slide along with them. But never before has DC opted to use such specific “six year” and “five year” references right out of the gate. Because of this, a sliding-timeline might prove to be difficult in the future. Also, with all of the rumors swirling about the re-emergence of a multiverse that mirrors the comic book ages of old, who knows what DC has planned.

  7. DJ Torres says:

    It seems that Bruce Wayne was 14 when his parents died. As in Batman 39, Bruce said “haven’t felt scared since I was 13 and fell into the cave” or something to that extent

    • Good call. Secret Origins #2 also puts Bruce at age 14 at the time of his parents’ deaths. However, I had previously regarded that as incorrect since Scott Snyder, in his own Batman #24, tells us that Bruce was ten!! In Batman #24, Snyder tells us that Bruce is 25 then has Red Hood One say his parents died fifteen years ago. I guess Red Hood is off by a few years. It’s still a weird error, but one I’m not surprised at considering all the crap that’s gone down in Batman Eternal. The devil is in the details.

      So, since Secret Origins #2 AND Batman #39 say Bruce was 14-years-old and only Batman #24 puts him at age 10, democracy wins. Fourteen trumps ten by a 2 to 1 majority.

      Thanks, DJ!

  8. Eric Agner says:

    Question? Where did you get the source Bruce was 25 during Zero Year?

    • Batman #24 shows a newscast that gives us Bruce’s age.

      PS. I was serious about the John Zatara Modern Age training thing we were talking about before. I really don’t know. Do you think that Dini was implying that the training was pre-Batman in costume? I’m starting to lean that way the more I think about it.

      • Eric Agner says:

        It probably is. It would make more sense. Why and how would have the time to train during year one? Also shouldn’t Batgirl be another year from Dick Grayson? Also can you explain this I found. It’s http://comicscodeauthority.tumblr.com/post/57743210640/new-52-batman-timeline. It says the timeline of Batman new 52. How do you figure it?

        • Eric Agner says:

          Also it states on Wikipidea Zatara trained him (comics) at a very young age.

        • Eric Agner says:

          Oh and for Zatara I see exactly what you mean. It would be going a whole other level if you changed the time statements. You’d be saying part of the comic book is a false claim. Which makes the whole comic not all canon which confuses things. I just believe that the Timeline was meant to be 15 years (is there any evidence stating that?). So that’s why I believe Zatara trained at 18. However I also see where your coming from as well. And I have one more question. Sorry to talk so much. Really trying to learn. I am also just curious. What is your reason for expanding the timeline from 15 years (if there is evidence DC meant it that way) to 23 years?

          • The reason I have my timeline at 23 years is based upon information given in comic books. If you literally read every Batman comic book from 1986 through 2011, noting all the changes of season, topical references, references to time, editorial notes, and character aging/development, you wind up with a mix of contradictions. But if you whittle that down, forming the BEST POSSIBLE combination of these contradictions, you’ll soon find that there is a concrete timeline. When you decide to add in all the other DC characters you’ll find that things need to shift and fit to form even more in order to make things readable and understandable and believable from a narrative perspective.

            Towards the end of any superhero-verse line (meaning fifteen to twenty-five years following a reboot), most mainstream companies will start to contradict their own timeline for fear that their characters are getting too old or stagnant. That’s when you start getting strange editorial tags and bogus time references. Such is the case with the Modern Age. DC was chugging along in relative real-time for about fifteen to twenty years and then all of a sudden time seemed to stand still (even though events kept on happening and characters kept on living their complicated little lives). Around that time, earlier stories noticeably became reference material, compressed into the distant void of their own historical chronologies while losing all semblance of substance.

            Chris J. Miller’s old project, The Unauthorized Chronology of the DCU, is a great example of a Modern Age timeline that regards everything THE WAY IT WAS WRITTEN (post retcons, of course) as canon. His timeline also mirrors mine in length.

            So really, it’s not a case of me expanding DC’s timeline. It’s a case of DC needlessly shrinking their own.

            • Eric Agner says:

              Thanks. I was just curious. Did you see the new 52 link? What you think

              • Hey Eric. I did look at the nice link by Comics Code Authority. It’s a smart infographic and I agree with most of it, but I do disagree with some of it. My Batgirl debut was only a mere two months earlier than what CCA had, so in regard to Batgirl we actually didn’t differ that much. Because the difference was so slight, I went ahead and moved Batgirl’s debut two months later, so now it actually does take place “Four Years Ago,” giving it both the correct placement in regard to its “Years Later” tag AND aligning it with CCA’s timeline.

                Since CCA lists Year Zero as Year One whereas I list it as Year Zero, our years have different names i.e. His Year One is my Year Zero, his Year Two is my Year One, etc… Thus, for the sake of clarity I will use “CCA Y1/RBCP Y0,” “CCA Y2/RBCP Y1,” and so on and so forth to describe our years.

                Okay! The problem that I see with CCA’s timeline is that their “Four Years Ago” (CCA Y3/RBCP Y2) doesn’t contain anything else besides Batgirl’s debut. Jason Todd definitely becomes Robin “Three Years Ago” (CCA Y4/RBCP Y3). However, CCA lists Dick becoming Nightwing in that same year. I take into account—whereas CCA doesn’t—training time for the Robins, meaning Jason should start in CCA Y3/RBCP Y 2, which slides Nightwing’s debut prior to that. There is so little time on the shortened New 52 timeline that I feel we should push the debuts of the Robins as early as possible (without violating any continuity), thus giving them each at least a solid year (including training time) on the timeline. Basically, CCA has a strange imbalance happening in his Y3 and Y4—there’s A LOT going on in CCA’s Y4 but very little going on in CCA’s Y3.

                Hope that makes sense. DC did a full reboot but got cold feet when it came to going all the way with its marquee players, Batman and Green Lantern. This obviously made things needlessly confusing. Such has been the biggest drawback of the New 52 timeline (especially for Batman). There are multiple ways of reading/understanding his past and it’s a difficult endeavor since DC packed so much back-story into six years.

                Thanks for sharing, as usual, Eric. Everytime I look at the timeline belonging to someone else, I may not agree entirely, but I usually wind up making at least one change on my own timeline! The Real Batman Chronology Project is getting more accurate every day thanks to the efforts of readers and fans like you.

                • Eric Agner says:

                  I enjoy helping out. And I agree for sure on your timeline. It flows way easier then the CCA timeline. Expecially with the “Five years” public thing.

  9. How hard would it have been for DC to have put around an email to their staff, or started a wiki, or posted a note on a noticeboard with a list of important facts?

    How hard would it have been to hire a continuity checker too read stories and make them fit?

    Surely someone could have decided ‘Batman was born in 199x, his parents died in 199x when the has 1x years old.’ He trained for x years at x locations with x people’ ‘he concieved his son at age 2x and met the robins in 200x, 200x, 200x and 200x each had a duration of x years service.’ ‘Supercrime started in 200x as a result of/regardless of (delete as appropriate) Batman’. ‘The Justice League started in 200x’

    Then have a consistent line of Presidents, Mayors and Police Commisioners on a straight forward list with length of term.

    I’m sure you can say it kills creativity to have to reference a factsheet, but if they make a new Harry Potter book, they’re not exactly going to suddenly say Harry Potter was 15 when he got magical powers and went to Hogwarts 5 years after Voldermort finally died, now are they?

    Surely everyone knows comics fans like continuity and get annoyed at contradictions, isn’t worth doing something to stop people complaining for years?

    • Preaching to the choir, King. I can’t say for sure what happens behind closed doors when DC higher-ups meet, but it certainly is frustrating. DC can say that “story should trump continuity,” but any narrative must have continuity, for continuity is, put simply, another word for story. Films have script-girls, script-boys, and continuity checkers. Disney has a whole team of fact-checkers running its Star Wars Continuity Department. Why don’t Marvel or DC?

      More troublesome, the errors that we (readers) flippantly label as “continuity errors” are less that by definition, and more just straight-up errors in the realm of getting in-story facts totally wrong. An example of a continuity error by definition would/should (and used to be) something akin to “Robin is depicted wearing the wrong arm-bands on page fourteen panel three.” Unfortunately, we’ve wandered into an era of superhero comic book engagement where the former—huge glaring errors that make literally no sense and get important facts completely incorrect—have overtaken the latter—minor flubs and visual contradictions.

      And I think you are right, King. Better editing from the perspective of Continuity would not only give substance to the shared universe, fleshing it out more concretely, but it would also allow for better storytelling as well. Unfortunately, the folks running DC seem to be terrified that a stricter regard for continuity rules would lead to less creative freedom. Anyone with half a brain knows this isn’t true. In fact, just the result would be just the opposite. However, things that are annoying and cumbersome to writers and editors are seen very differently by DC’s readership/fanbase. Making sure continuity errors don’t happen requires extra time, effort, money, and communication. It’s simply more convenient to take the easy route, get things wrong, and piss-off a selection of fans in the process, especially if it doesn’t dramatically effect sales numbers—and it never really has, which is truly a bummer.

      Hopefully, sites like the Real Batman Chronology Project will help people—fans and creators alike—better understand how continuity works in serialized collaborative fiction—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  10. Eric Agner says:

    Hey Collin,
    At the top you said he only trains with six masters. And you say that the sixth could possibly be the Owami tribe leader. Wouldn’t the master of the monks he learned be a better choice? Here is why, the monks were teaching Martial Arts which would make sense to them having a head monk.

    • It’s possible, Eric. The Owami tribe regiment was shown in more detail, whereas two out of the three Himalayan stops are merely references, with no details attached. This is why I went with Owami as having a master. But I see your point. Shaolin monks would probably have a master whereas it is less likely that even the chief of the Owami tribe would be considered a true “master.” Still, there is nothing definitive. I will make a note of it though. Thanks as always.

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