Year Zero

Here’s the skinny on Year Zero aka “Zero Year.”

Everything in the New 52 revolves around the editorial mandate that all origin stories occur “SIX YEARS AGO” or “FIVE YEARS AGO.” We are told very specifically that Batman debuts (Year Zero) “six years ago” and the Justice League debuts (Year One) “five years ago.” That is all hunky dory except for the fact that no one ever bothered to make it clear when the initial present was. Six years ago from WHEN? Five years ago from WHEN? Since things are incredibly vague, let’s begin by making some educated guesses.

If X stands for “WHEN” then X could mean 2011, the year of the reboot. That would put Year Zero in 2005. Or X could equal 2012, the first time the Justice League title comes back to the present following its initial origin arc. That would put Year Zero in 2006. Or X could equal 2013, to accommodate all of Batman’s folded-in history, Batgirl, and all of the Robins. That would put Year Zero in 2007. Or X could equal 2014, when the major crossover Forever Evil occurs. That would put Year Zero in 2008.

Honestly, the only one that really works is the one that acknowledges all of Batman’s history, giving the bare minimum (but enough) time for all four Robins and Batgirl to have existed. And the one that fits this particular bill is the one that is “six years before 2013,” placing Year Zero in 2007.

But that is still just an educated guess without much else backing it. Let’s see if we can’t make it more concrete based upon in-story fact. There aren’t too many concrete clues, but the best one is Forever Evil: ARGUS #1, in which a recently inaugurated Barack Obama creates the ARGUS group. A recently inaugurated Obama means the scene takes place in 2009. In the same scene, Obama says specifically that the Justice League debuted one year prior. That places the Justice League debut squarely in 2008. The white president shown during the JL debut even seems like a stand-in for George W Bush. Forever Evil: ARGUS #1 also has an editorial tag that puts the ARGUS formation scene at “five years ago,” meaning that Forever Evil occurs in 2014. So, this all means that “the five years ago” tag attached to the Justice League debut equals 2008, which in turn means that the “six years ago” tag attached to Batman’s Year Zero equals 2007. You simply cannot argue with that logic. One other thing to recognize is Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1, which functions as a lead-in to “Trinity War,” which is itself the direct precursor to Forever Evil. An editorial note in Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1 gives us the year 2013 and is attached to a scene where Pandora decides she needs to seek out Superman. (Pandora finding Superman kicks off much of the action for “Trinity War”/Forever Evil.) Therefore, we must assume that Pandora makes the decision to seek out Superman in late 2013, but doesn’t actually meet him for a few more months (at some point in 2014).

Please be aware that this reading of Pandora #1 in such a way is my own invention that helps rationalize the idea of Year Zero as 2007 and Year One as 2008. I’ll be the first to admit that Pandora #1 was likely originally written to help place “Trinity War”/Forever Evil in 2013, but if we read it as taking place months before (as I have and as one certainly can), it actually helps firm up our timeline. Also note that tons of writers and editors make contradictory time references left and right in the New 52. Justice League Vol. 2 #23, for example, is a “Trinity War” issue that has Earth-3 Alfred narrate that the Justice League debuted “five years prior.” This is a prime example of the sloppy time referencing that I hate—the type that permeates the New 52. Alfred’s “five years ago” mention is used in JL Vol. 2 #23 simply to correlate with the JL debut year, despite the fact that JL Vol. 2 #23 happens in 2014, so it should say “six years ago” instead. This type of flub forms a direct contradiction and has to be an out-and-out continuity error.

Moving on from that point of understanding, we can examine the next set of facts that will determine the specific time-frame for within Year Zero. It all starts with Bruce’s return to Gotham (as seen in the second feature to Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0). This second feature has an editorial note that says “SEVEN YEARS AGO.” Therefore, by our established logic, we should place Bruce’s return somewhere in the tail end of 2006. HOWEVER, “SEVEN YEARS AGO” is dead wrong. The short explanation is because “Zero Year” only spans about eight months and ends in November. Here’s THE LONG EXPLANATION: The flashback from Batman Vol. 2 #21 is said to take place “six weeks” after Bruce’s return (according to Alfred). Batman Vol. 2 #21, which has an editorial tag of FIVE MONTHS later, also shows Batman on his steam-bike returning from a coma to fight Riddler. We know that Batman defeats the Red Hood on the anniversary of his parents’ deaths, which, according to Peter Tomasi, is in September.[1] Scott Snyder tells us in Batman Vol. 2 #30 that Bruce goes into his coma after warring against Riddler in the summertime. This all means that the anniversary of the Wayne deaths must happen in September and summertime—meaning EARLY SEPTEMBER. It’s early September because the following chain of uninterrupted events occur: Bruce defeats Red Hood (Wayne death anniversary in early September), a week passes and Riddler blacks out the city, the super-storm ravages Gotham for another week, the Riddler takes over and puts Batman into a coma (still SUMMERTIME at this point), Bruce wakes up a little less than a month later (no longer summertime at this point i.e. middle October), Batman returns (FIVE MONTHS after the flashback from Batman Vol. 2 #21 at which time Bruce had only been back in Gotham for a mere SIX WEEKS). Therefore, the flashback from Batman Vol. 2 #21 is FIVE MONTHS before Batman’s mid October post-coma return, meaning mid May. Furthermore, the second feature to Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0, which details Bruce’s return to Gotham after training abroad, takes place FIVE MONTHS + SIX WEEKS before Batman’s mid October post-coma return, which equals Late March.

SO, to reiterate, given all of the information taken directly from the comic books of Snyder, Tomasi, et al, we have the following time-frame for this entire “Zero Year” to work from: Bruce returns to Gotham in late March; Bruce’s war against the Red Hood Gang is well under way six weeks later (by mid May); Bruce becomes Batman in early September, quickly defeating the Red Hood Gang; Batman is defeated and put into a coma before summer ends (i.e. in sometime in the range of September 15-20); Batman wakes up a little less than a month later (in Mid October); “Zero Year” wraps in November.

Action Comics Vol. 2, which details the debut of Superman, also begins during Year Zero. Various reputable forums have stated that Action Comics Vol. 2 (featuring Superman’s debut) is supposed to begin roughly one year prior to Justice League Vol. 2 (featuring the Justice League’s debut). Dan DiDio said at Fan Expo ’11, “If Justice League is [the rest of the DCU’s] Year One, Action Comics is almost Year Zero.” I have no idea what that actually means, but here’s what we can surmise if we throw that into the mix of what we definitively know. We know for sure (from Action Comics Vol. 2 #25) that Superman debuts basically right around the same time as Batman—in September of Scott Snyder’s “Zero Year” arc. So, if the Superman’s “Year One”-ish arc from Action Comics Vol. 2 stems off of that debut, that means Superman’s “Year One” also starts in September of Batman’s “Zero Year.” The simplest equation of this reveals that “Zero Year” (Year Zero) directly precedes a Year One that features the JLA’s debut.

 

Year Zero (2007)[2]

 

–the second feature to Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0
Late March. Attorney Shaw, on behalf of Philip Kane, is still harassing Alfred on a regular basis regarding access to Bruce’s personal wealth and property. After a particularly frustrating encounter with Shaw, Alfred dejectedly answers the door at Wayne Manor. Much to his surprise, a bearded Bruce stands before him! Bruce has secretly returned to Gotham to reunite with Alfred. He reveals plans to begin a war on crime to avenge the deaths of his parents. (James Tynion’s “SEVEN YEARS AGO” editorial label attached to this second feature must be ignored. As stated in the intro above, this item is linked—via a comment made by Alfred—to the rest of “Zero Year,” specifically occurring six weeks before important flashback from Batman Vol. 2 #21.)

–reference in Batman Vol. 2 #52
Late March—the same day as Bruce’s return to Gotham. Bruce puts his “How to Move On” journal into a safety deposit box in a small Gotham bank. Bruce vows never to retrieve the journal until he has successfully accomplished every item on the “How to Move On” list.

–flashback from Batman Vol. 3 #18
Late March—Bruce trains in the snow outside of Wayne Manor, kicking a leafless tree in half. Technically, the snow and winter trees can still work in March, but the only real reason for the seasonal image specificity is because this scene is lifted straight out of Frank Miller’s “Year One.”

–reference in Batman Vol. 2 #0 and Batman Vol. 2 #21
April. Bruce, having recently returned to Gotham, begins the first challenge of his war on crime, which is to utilize non-lethal tactics to fight Gotham’s worst villains: The Red Hood and his Red Hood Gang. The Red Hood Gang has completely usurped power from the previous top dogs in Gotham, the Falcone Mob. Bruce moves into a brownstone on Crime Alley, which links to an underground bunker/armory containing a vast arsenal, several motorcycles, supercomputers, tons of crime-fighting toys, experimental facial disguise technology kits, and various armored costumes. Alfred loyally assists him. NOTE: Bruce has returned to a Gotham where, as he says in Batman Vol. 2 #21, “crime has become viral.” It is being perpetrated, not by small-timers and mob families like before he left, but by crazed masked gangs that are the direct precursor to super-villains. This is a HUGE departure from the Modern Age, 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 Batman. Is this a deconstruction of Frank Miller’s “Year One” or something else entirely? I’m not sure, but it is very interesting, to say the least.

–reference in Justice League Vol. 3 #9
Alfred begins the practice of serving Bruce coffee upon his return home from a dangerous patrol or mission. This practice will continue over the course of the next decade and beyond. Bruce likes coffee.

–flashback from Batman Vol. 2 Annual #2
April/May. Bruce breaks into Arkham Asylum to raid the files for any information about possible Red Hood Gang members. While there, he is attacked by Arkham’s first ever patient, a near immortal metahuman called The Anchoress, who has been in the asylum since the early 20th century.[3] Bruce flees the scene after the scuffle. The Anchoress will come to blame Batman for the deterioration of Arkham that will occur in the years to follow.

–flashback from Batman Vol. 2 #21
Mid May. Bruce still hasn’t gone public about his return to Gotham. Bruce’s war on the Red Hood Gang continues. The RHG tries to kill some business execs, but Bruce saves them. Surprisingly, Philip Kane shows up at the Crime Alley brownstone and greets Bruce. Philip chats with Bruce and escorts him to Wayne Enterprises where he asks him to take over the business, but Bruce refuses. Bruce then visits a rundown Wayne Manor and recalls mapping the vast caves beneath the property as a child. At Wayne Enterprises, Edward Nygma suggests that Philip have his nephew murdered, sensing that Bruce will soon fight for control of the company. (This item occurs FIVE MONTHS before mid October, where Batman comes out of a coma to battle Riddler, hence the placement here. See intro to this year above for details.)

–Batman Vol. 2 #0
Late June. Bruce, who still hasn’t gone public about his return to Gotham, continues his war on the Red Hood Gang. Bruce infiltrates the Red Hood Gang and goes undercover as Red Hood’s “number five henchman.” However, Bruce is exposed during the robbery of the Gotham National Bank. Bruce fights off the gang and escapes. Later, Bruce tests his first boomerang weapon and is paid a visit by Lieutenant James Gordon of the Gotham City Police Department (GCPD). While not explicitly stated, we learn here that Gordon, as the ultimate super-cop, has been aware of Bruce’s return to Gotham for the entire three months he’s been back. Gordon is less interested, however, in blowing up Bruce’s spot, and more interested in interrogating him privately. Gordon questions Bruce about vigilante activity and also about the possibility that his uncle and current head of Wayne Enterprises, Philip Kane, might be a corrupt businessman. Outside, the Red Hood Gang, which has also learned of Bruce’s return thanks to Edward Nygma (although they don’t know he is the person that has been battling against them), discovers the location of Bruce’s brownstone. The Red Hood plans to blow it up in the near future. (In Batman Vol. 2 #0, which has the SIX YEARS AGO editorial tag, Gordon mentions that Bruce has been back in Gotham for THREE MONTHS, placing this item in late June, assuming Gordon is correct in his deduction.)

–reference in Grayson #12
This is an interesting Easter Egg quote from writers Tim Seeley and Tom King, taken directly from Frank Miller’s “Year One.” Bruce thinks to himself, “Too many people want me dead. I can’t do it alone,” a great indicator of how the solitary warrior will come to eventually surround himself with a family of supporters. Like he does in the Modern Age, Bruce keeps a personal journal/diary in the New 52 as well. We know this because the Easter Egg from Grayson #12 appears as a memory of Dick Grayson’s, in which he recalls Batman saying that line to him, which means that Bruce now begins jotting down personal notes about his war on crime, including this specific dialogue, which he will either read to or tell Dick about later. Suffice to say, we must imagine Bruce jotting entries in a “Year Zero” journal throughout the rest of this year (and possibly afterward) on our timeline.

–flashback from Batman Vol. 3 #15
This is an odd one, as writer Tom King plays with continuity in a very meta way, referencing both the Golden Age origin of Selina Kyle and the Modern Age origin of Selina Kyle. Unfortunately (for the purposes of our timeline), King doesn’t mash them up. Instead, he has Bruce remember one version while Selina contradicts him and remembers the other. How shall we handle this peculiarity? I think it can work if we look at it like this: The Modern Age origin features Selina’s first encounter with Bruce before he becomes Batman whereas the Golden Age origin features Selina’s first encounter with Bruce as Batman—although, some caveats about the latter, Batman is shown wearing the wrong costume and it slightly contradicts the New 52 Catwoman origin from Young Romance: The New 52 Valentine’s Day Special #1. But more on that later. Batman Vol. 3 #15 tells us that the following synopsis, based off of Frank Miller’s “Year One,” goes here. Bruce, heavily disguised, takes to the rough streets of Gotham’s East End to kick ass. He runs afoul of Stan the Pimp and winds up getting stabbed by young orphan Holly Robinson. This leads to a fight against Holly’s friend, martial arts expert and prostitute, Selina Kyle. The injured Bruce fends off Selina and returns home.

–Batman Vol. 2 #22-23
July. Bruce continues his war against the Red Hood Gang, despite the fact that the gang’s numbers continue to grow larger by the day. Aboard a blimp, Bruce ties-up Oswald “Penguin” Cobblepot and disguises himself as Cobblepot to confront the Red Hood. Bruce beats up a bunch of Red Hood gangsters, takes a blood sample from the Red Hood, and makes his escape. Unfortunately, the blood results are a dead end. Back at the brownstone, Bruce tests a grappling gun and argues with Alfred until the latter storms off angrily. (Bruce will adapt this grappling gun into an even smaller version that will be a permanent utility belt fixture, accompanying him on every patrol and allowing him to ascend to great heights and swing from building to building.) Later, Bruce meets with Philip Kane at the museum only to learn that Uncle Philip has finally alerted the media to his return. Bruce is swarmed by reporters, including Vicki Vale, before running off. Before exiting the museum, Bruce chats with Edward Nygma, who tells Bruce that his uncle has been giving weaponry to the Red Hood Gang. Bruce returns to the brownstone to discover that someone has broken into his home. Outside, the Red Hood detonates a bomb that destroys the building. The Red Hood enters the burning building and delivers a monologue about how the randomness of the Bruce’s parents’ murders was a direct inspiration on his becoming a criminal. Meanwhile, his gang beats up Bruce, puts a couple slugs in his belly and leaves him for dead. The brownstone burns to ashes and Bruce drags his bloody self to Wayne Manor. Back at Wayne Tower (aka the Wayne Foundation Building), Nygma admits to having given the Red Hood Gang Bruce’s address to an irate Philip Kane. Nygma terminates his relationship with Wayne Enterprises, leaving Kane down-and-out. (Batman Vol. 2 #30 tells us that Nygma immediately takes a new job at Powers Industries, working for Joseph Powers and Maria Powers. Note that Powers Industries will also be interchangeably referred to as “Powers Industry” and “Powers Industrial.”) Back at Wayne Manor, a badly injured Bruce regains consciousness on the operating table. Alfred has fixed him up as to the best of his abilities. Bruce wanders the catacombs of the mansion and activates the 3D laser-image mapping-orb that once scanned the caves beneath the property. A holographic digital image of the cavern projects across a grand hall. Among the stalactites and stalagmites are the ghostly images of hundreds of bats. Bruce slumps in a throne-like chair as the orb shatters, deactivating the image display. However, a real bat remains perched on a bust of his father, having flown in through the window. Bruce now knows how to strike fear into the hearts of the Red Hood Gang. He will become a bat. Note that Batman Vol. 2 #7, Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #0, and Secret Origins Vol. 3 #2 also contain flashbacks to this pivotal “I shall become a bat” scene, which is adapted from Frank Miller’s “Year One.”

–reference in Batman Vol. 2 #24
July. Bruce and Alfred erect a giant foundry in the cavern beneath Wayne Manor. They begin massive construction on what will ultimately become the Batcave. Construction will last several months, although there will be constant upgrades as time goes on. As referenced in All-Star Batman #5, Bruce allocates funds to a huge secret bank account that will be used for these upgrades. The Batcave is a giant underground cavern that is mainly beneath Wayne Manor, but which also has natural tunnels that run underneath the entire Wayne property. The Batcave also has underground waterways that funnel out into nearby rivers that run directly into Gotham Bay, which of course is connected to the Atlantic Ocean. This will allow Batman to drive water vehicles directly back home (as first referenced in Batman Vol. 2 #15). These series of connected underground rivers surely must be some of the longest underground waterways in the world, so keeping them hidden is no small task. Bruce does so by using various camouflaging means and by erasing geological history records (as we will see soon below). In addition to aquatic vehicles, Bruce assembles a fleet that includes various types of cars, several motorcycles, a helicopter, a boat, a jet-ski, a submarine, a plane, a blimp, and more. These vehicles will be seen in pretty much every single Batman series to come and Batman will add to his collection randomly over time. Note that there is a secret elevator and stairway entrance from Wayne Manor into the Batcave below, but they are not through a grandfather clock. The first grandfather clock entrance, of which there will be several, won’t be added until next year. Also—as referenced in Gotham Academy: Second Semester #5—note that, thanks to a bizarre design by architect Ambroos Lydecker, Wayne Manor has several hidden rooms and passageways, which Bruce also connects to the Batcave. Bruce also now begins collecting old weapons, which will eventually fill one of these hidden rooms. (The Lydecker architectural details are also gleaned from Gotham Academy: Second Semester #11, which is technically only canon on the New Age timeline. However, the basic elements of the issue are essential to the New 52, so they have been included.)

–reference in Secret Origins Vol. 3 #3
Bruce and Alfred erase all evidence of the Batcave’s existence from every single geological survey from the last two hundred years.

–reference in Batman & Robin Eternal #6
Bruce uses super-high technology to allow his own personal computer system to hack into and gain access to nearly any surveillance camera or security camera in Gotham in real-time. Bruce will use this tech over and over again down the road.

–flashback from All-Star Batman #8
Now that Bruce has been outed as having returned home to Gotham, plenty of folks have tried in vain to reach out to him. However, inventor Jervis Tetch catches Bruce’s ear. Tetch hopes to find a donor to fund a new speculative virtual reality experience of his own design: “Looking Glass Hats.” Bruce peeks into Philip Kane’s records and sees that Tetch has already pitched the idea to his uncle. The idea, however, was rejected because it was shown that the hats could likely cause brain damage and permanent hallucination. Nevertheless, intrigued, Bruce meets with Tetch and hears his pitch. Like his uncle before, Bruce also rejects Tetch’s concept, declining to give him any monetary support. Before leaving, Tetch slips one of his mind-control VR cards into Bruce’s baseball cap. Tetch watches Bruce for a couple days as he fights Red Hoods in the alleyways of Gotham.

–note in a reference in Batman Vol. 2 #24
This has nothing to do with Bruce, but is worth its own note. At this point on our timeline, Harvey Dent would have recently graduated from law school and netted a gig working as a defense attorney for the criminal McKillen Family. (The McKillen mob is currently led by the husband of Bruce’s longtime friend Erin McKillen, who is a twin sister to Shannon McKillen.) Rookie attorney Dent, at this point, is dead-focused on bringing down the Red Hood Gang. However, his crusade against the villains is not as chivalrous as it sounds. Dent would surely be gunning for the Red Hoods merely on the behalf of his McKillen employers, who surely wouldn’t want masked crazies taking over Gotham’s organized crime.

–references in Batman Vol. 2 #21, Batman Vol. 2 #24, and Batman Vol. 2 #0
July/August. Bruce designs and makes the first Batman costume, which features an all black-and-grey ensemble with visible arm and leg padding, purple gloves, and an early version of what will become his signature utility belt. The Batman costume is heavily influenced by a bat costume that Bruce’s father once wore at a costume ball when Bruce was just a young boy. Bruce also finalizes various dangerous (although non-lethal) weaponry, including various throwing projectiles and boomerangs, which he names “Batarangs.” (Bruce, obsessed with his motif, will add a “Bat” prefix to the name of just about every item related to his crimefighting enterprise.) Bruce’s vigilante time in-costume will begin with our next note. What follows below are the five costumed months that comprise the end of Year Zero, which will subsequently be followed by Batman’s first full year in costume (Year One) after that.

_____________________________________________________________________________

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 2 #24 Part 1. Early September—we know the time of the year because Batman Vol. 2 #24 Part 1 occurs on the anniversary of Bruce’s parent’s deaths. Bruce Wayne debuts as Batman, the dark avenging superhero vigilante of Gotham City. With this bizarrely scary costume and the assistance of faithful Alfred, Bruce significantly upgrades his fight against the Red Hood Gang. On his first night out, Batman takes down seven Red Hood Gangsters and leaves them for the whole world to see. Despite his bombastic and audacious public debut in Gotham, it’s important to realize that Batman will relatively keep to the shadows as he battles the Red Hood Gang. And, despite being spotted by many people, Batman will be largely regarded as an urban myth both during and after this campaign, especially outside of Gotham. In fact, it won’t be until he joins the Justice League next year that the true majority of people start believing in his existence. When they do, the mainstream media will label Batman with several nicknames, including “The Dark Knight,” “The Caped Crusader,” “Dark Detective,” and “The World’s Greatest Detective.”[4]

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #945. Early September. Still his first night out in-costume, Batman has an “intimate” and “unfortunate affair with a city bus,” which results in an innocent victim getting hurt. More details to come, I’m sure.

–REFERENCE: In Action Comics Vol. 2 #25. Early September. Superman debuts in Metropolis right now, a week or so prior to Superstorm Rene forming over the Atlantic Ocean. Even though Action Comics Vol. 2 #25 is a “Zero Year” spinoff, it does not feature Batman. However, I’ve included it as a solid reference notation because surely Batman would be following the Superman news very closely and with deep interest. (In case you’ve lived under a rock for your entire life, Superman is the super-powered Kryptonian Man of Steel, Kal-El, who moonlights as ace reporter Clark Kent when he’s not fighting crime). This chronological note, quite importantly, means that Superman debuts very shortly after Batman does, basically around the same time.

–Batman Vol. 2 #24 Part 1
Early September—we know the month because the significant action of this issue takes place on the anniversary of Bruce’s parents’ deaths. We also know, from Batman Vol. 2 #30, that it is summertime, which also verifies the early September time-frame. This issue also mentions that Bruce is 25-years-old, which is right on the money. Detective Comics #945 tells us that Batman Vol. 2 #24 Part 1 details Batman’s second night out in costume. Onto the synopsis. Alfred and Bruce, now sporting a military crew cut, continue their massive construction of the underground Batcave. At dusk, Batman hits the streets again and wraps up a bunch more Red Hoods, tying them to a “Sebastian Hady for Mayor” campaign billboard. (Part of this sequence is shown in a small flashback from Detective Comics #945.) As referenced in Detective Comics #945, before Batman busts each Red Hood in this group, he dodges some gunfire and bullets hit an innocent man and his husband in a nearby tenement. Later, in the Batcave, Batman and Alfred study a map and realize that all of Red Hood’s crimes have been ostensibly random in order to mask the fact that he has been stealing a lot of chemicals to make deadly dirty bombs. Bruce, realizing that Uncle Philip is one of the blackmailed Red Hoods, visits him. Philip gives Bruce access to Red Hood’s computer system, which allows Bruce to figure out what they are planning. Bruce then shocks Gotham by appearing on live TV—they thought he had died months ago during his brownstone explosion. Bruce delivers a heartfelt speech about his love for Gotham and reveals that the Red Hood Gang plans to blow up ACE Chemicals using a series of dirty bombs, which would ultimately poison the entire city. The Red Hoods start attacking the news media and the GCPD led by Jim Gordon, who has been sent by Commissioner Gillian Loeb. Bruce enters ACE Chemicals and confronts The Red Hood while Alfred mans a high-powered proto-Bat Computer and shuts down a large chunk of the city’s power grid (in the shape of a bat, of course). Using some Wayne-designed tech that messes with nigh vision goggles, Alfred delivers a holographic show that makes it seem like Batman swoops in and rescues Bruce (in order to distance the two characters from each other, just in case). The real deal Batman then begins kicking some serious Red Hood Gang ass. Philip betrays Red Hood in order to save Bruce’s life, an act that results in his execution. Gordon then confronts Batman for the first time and attempts to arrest him, but Batman escapes by plugging him in the chest with a cork gun. Batman winds up fighting Red Hood high atop a scaffolding as parts of the factory begin to crumble. Red Hood falls into the toxic vat below and washes via a drainage system into the bay. (Red Hood’s fall is also shown via flashback in Batman Vol. 2 #40.)

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #945. Bruce looks into the couple that was accidentally shot during Bruce’s second night out as Batman. They are badly injured. Bruce sets up funds to cover the couple’s medical bills for a year.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman Vol. 2 #24 Part 2. Batman takes down two gun-toting crooks and leaves them tied-up on the doorstep of the GCPD.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 2 #39 and Justice League Vol. 2 #50. The Batcave is now mostly completed. Batman collects Red Hood One’s helmet and puts it on display in the Batcave, complete with a tuxedo and cape-wearing mannequin.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 2 #52. Batman and Alfred set up the Batcomputer, one of the most technologically advanced machines on the planet. Batman secretly registers an alarm that will alert him, via the Batcomputer, should any unusual activity occur at the bank where his “How to Move On” journal is stored in a safety deposit box.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 2 #25. Bruce donates a fleet of dirigibles to the GCPD. Of course, Bruce can secretly monitor the movements of every single dirigible.

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics Vol. 2 #25. Batman captures four Falcone Mob members and drops them off on the doorstep of the GCPD, earning the ire of the corrupt Commissioner Loeb.

–FLASHBACK: From Detective Comics Vol. 2 #25. Despite the Red Hood Gang’s crushing defeat at the hands of Batman, the gang has spawned a bunch of immediate copycats. Batman wails on some Black Mask Gang hoods that are in the middle of assaulting a defenseless woman. The Red Hood Gang has inspired crooked cosmetics company CEO Roman Sionis to secretly operate the vile Black Mask Gang. While Batman fights Black Maskers now, he won’t deal with Sionis until later (when he eventually becomes the super-villain “Black Mask”). Right now, Lieutenant Gordon takes on Sionis in a solo effort.

–FLASHBACK: From Batwing #25. Despite the fact that an editorial note attached to the “Zero Year” spin-off Batwing #25 states that “Riddler has shut off Gotham’s electric power days before a giant super-storm strikes Gotham,” the electricity is clearly flowing, so this has to take place shortly before Riddler’s strike. A young private-school student named Luke Fox, son of former Wayne Enterprises scientist Lucius Fox, takes MMA lessons with his best friend Russell Tavaroff. On their way back to the high-school dorms, the boys are attacked by the anachronistic fake-anarchist gangsters known as The 99%ers—(the term “1%er” and the inverse “99%er” were not invented terms until around 2011, hence the gang name’s anachronistic quality in this flashback). Luke kicks their asses and saves the day. When the 99%ers try to get revenge, Batman shows up and saves Luke! Later that night, Luke is shocked to discover that Russ, frustrated by constant abuse by bullies, has gorged on a drug known as Snakebyte (similar to Venom), hulked-up, and killed his tormentors. Luke trails Russ, who dons a bizarre super-villain outfit and attempts to blow up some flood levees just as the rains begin to come down over Gotham. Russ is unable to detonate the bombs. Just as the cops arrive, Luke accidentally blows Russ up in a botched attempt to corral him. (SPOILER: Russ survives and will come-to a few months from now. However, he will be in a severely weakened state with his body mostly destroyed, only alive thanks to the Snakebyte in his system. Russ will slowly recover for the following six years after that, with plans to attack Luke.)

–FLASHBACK: From Batman Vol. 2 #25. Batman investigates a grisly murder scene where a scientist has literally been torn to death by his own bones, which have seemingly chemically expanded into a tree-like form. Batman takes-off when the cops show up.

–Batwoman #25 Part 1
Katherine Rebecca Kane (better known as Kate Kane) comes back to Gotham to attend the funeral of her Uncle Philip Kane, who died a week ago. (Note that this story has been retconned. Originally, Batwoman #25 has Kate returning from West Point Academy to attend the funeral. However, thanks to Batwoman: Rebirth #1, the now 21-year-old Kate would already have been discharged due to her sexual orientation. Ignore any references to her still being in the Army.) Kate, like Bruce, shared an uncle in the late Philip Kane, thus making her one of Bruce’s cousins on the Kane side of the family. Kate is also a non blood relative to Katherine Webb Kane, who married into the Kane side of the family. At the funeral, Kate is accompanied by her father, Army Colonel Jake Kane (Martha Wayne’s brother). Cousin Bruce is one of the pall bearers. Curiously, Jake Kane is not a pall-bearer, possibly due to the semi-estranged nature of Jake and Kate to the rest of the family.[5]

–Batman Vol. 2 #24 Part 2
In between Uncle Philip’s funeral and the wake, which is to be held at Wayne Manor, Bruce does a quick patrol and heads home for the reception. In the Batcave before the reception, Batman chats with Alfred about recent police news regarding the Red Hood: a crook named Liam Distal has been revealed as the original man under the mask. However, Distal’s body was found in a barrel full of lye, creating quite a mystery as to when he was killed. Whoever fell into that vat of toxic chemicals, and who Batman has likely been fighting this entire year, was someone who replaced Distal as leader of the Red Hood Gang at some unspecified time (probably late last year before Bruce even came back to Gotham). Alfred gives Batman a passionate speech about how he will support him forever as a teammate, but is interrupted by a live video feed on TV. Edward Nygma has decided to debut as The Riddler. He sets of a chain of downtown bombs and sends the entire city into darkness. Thankfully, with Wayne Manor being miles outside of the city limits, the blackout does not effect Bruce and Alfred.

[6]

–Batwoman #25 Part 2
Despite Riddler’s attack upon the city mere hours ago, Batman must play his family role as Bruce Wayne and host Uncle Philip’s wake at Wayne Manor. Bruce chats affectionately with his cousin Kate Kane and shoos-away the annoying younger cousin Bette Kane. With Riddler clearly on his mind, Bruce ends the reception early, citing the impending Super-storm Rene as his reason for doing so. That night, the adventurous Kate Kane ventures into the heart of Gotham, which is devoid of most people thanks to a weather-alert curfew. (Note that this weather curfew must be a bit over-precautionary since the real storm won’t start for another 36 hours or so). Kate winds up fighting and defeating some would-be jewelry thieves, but gets beat up pretty bad in the process and gets hauled into Gotham General Hospital by rookie Metropolis Police Officer Maggie Sawyer (who is helping out in Gotham as a part of storm relief). Besides a few bruises and stitches, Kate is A-OK and goes home with dad.

[7]

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics Vol. 2 #33. Batman wasn’t involved in the recent Flash Vol. 4 #25, in which Detective Harvey Bullock‘s police partner Spencer Thompson was killed. While uninvolved, the Dark Knight does follow-up on what happened because something seems fishy about what went down. After some cursory investigative work, Batman learns the truth. Harvey Bullock and Barry Allen had exposed Thompson as a big-time drug dealer involved in the Icarus trade. Bullock shot and killed Thompson to save Barry’s life. Afterward, rather than ruin his dead friend’s reputation, Bullock covered up his crimes. This doesn’t sit well with Batman, but he keeps the info to himself.

–Detective Comics Vol. 2 #25
The corrupt Commissioner Loeb, in league with Roman Sionis, wants to throw Lieutenant Gordon off the trail of Sionis’ criminal activities involving the Black Mask Gang. It’s not long before Gordon finds himself under the murderous attack of corrupt GCPD cops and crooked internal affairs officers amidst the rainy darkness of Riddler’s blackout. These bad cops rough up Gordon and toss him over the Trigate Bridge. Luckily, Gordon is spotted and saved by Batman. Gordon returns and, along with Detective Harvey Bullock,[8] kicks some dirty police ass and exposes Sionis as a criminal, forcing him to go underground for years to come.

[9]

–Green Lantern Corps Vol. 3 #25
Super-storm Rene is heading towards Gotham. That, combined with Riddler’s ongoing blackout, has made things quite bad in the city. The US Government sends a team of marines, including Sergeant John Stewart, to help evacuate a football arena full of Gothamites to a more secure location. But when the team arrives, they discover an anarchist group—led by the masked Anarky (identity unknown)—has reclaimed “people’s ownership” of the arena, despite a portion of the people there having been forced to go along with the anti-hero’s plan. While Stewart despises Anarky’s methods, he sees that Anarky means well and actually winds up siding with him when his soldier brethren attempt to quell the situation with unnecessary lethal force. Stewart stops his crazed lieutenant and frees the hostages without causing any deaths, although Anarky escapes clean. Afterward, Stewart punches out his lieutenant, effectively ending his military career. Batman watches the whole situation from the shadows, seemingly approving of what Stewart has done. (Of course, Stewart will eventually go on to become one of the best Green Lanterns ever, but that’s not for a while.)

[10]

[11]

–Batman Vol. 2 #25-26 (“ZERO YEAR: DARK CITY”)
Two days have passed since Batman investigated the weird tree-skeleton murder scene, meaning that two days have also passed since Riddler’s blackout blanketed all of Gotham. The news reports of an impending super-storm headed straight for the city. (Batman Vol. 2 #25 doesn’t show any rain, but Batgirl Vol. 4 #25 says that it rains for a full week before the super-storm actually hits—which means that it must rain-on-and-off for the week heading up to the storm). Batman now investigates a second similar skeleton-tree death and flees from the cops again, this time debuting the first ever prototype Batmobile, a hotrod that can drive on the ceilings of tunnels. Back at the crime scene, Lieutenant Gordon and Detective Harvey Bullock[12] interview eyewitness lab assistant/botany intern Pamela Isley, who describes the murderer as a skeletal monster-man that clearly is taking doses of whatever he’s been testing on his victims. Later in the Batcave, Alfred tells Bruce that former Wayne Enterprises scientist Karl Helfern, known as Dr. Death due to his research on animals that caused gross skeletal expansion, should be the prime suspect in the murders. Bruce and Alfred climb out of the Batcave and into the field adjacent to Wayne Manor only to run into Lieutenant Gordon, who chats them up suspiciously. (Not sure why they are climbing out since the Riddler explosion black-out scene from Batman #24 already showed that Wayne Manor is directly connected to the cave. Maybe they are checking all possible entrances and exits for security purposes?) Bruce then visits former Wayne Enterprises scientist (fired by Uncle Philip) Lucius Fox at his new digs at Gotham University. Bruce lobs some questions about Dr. Death only to get stabbed in the neck with a syringe by Fox. Out of the shadows emerges Dr. Death, who has an extreme valgus deformity and grotesque skeletal protrusions all over his body thanks to taking “monster serum.” Lucius explains that he’s just administered a vaccine to the monster serum. Bruce and Lucius then try to flee Dr. Death, who claims he knows secrets about Bruce’s past. Dr. Death then grabs Bruce and cracks his skull with his giant bony hands, knocking him unconscious. Lieutenant Gordon arrives and shoots Dr. Death in the shoulder, causing the villain to flee. While out-cold, Bruce has a vivid dream of his time training in Nigeria. A day later, Bruce wakes up in the hospital handcuffed by the ankle to his bed courtesy of Gordon, who wants to question him. Alfred tells Bruce that the police think they can restore the city’s power within 24 hours. Bruce easily breaks free and reminds the entering Gordon of what happened the day his parents were killed. Earlier on that very same day, Gordon had taken ten-year-old Bruce into custody because he was skipping school. En route to the police station, it appeared as though Gordon and his partner Dan Corrigan were making stops and collecting police bribes. Bruce darts off and suits up in his Batman gear. The Dark Knight heads across Gotham Bay in a jet-ski toward his late Uncle Philip’s weather center, which is actually an advanced research lab dedicated to weaponizing weather. At the facility, Batman finds several of Dr. Death’s former colleagues in the final stages of horrific monster serum death. Commissioner Loeb and the cops then show up and riddle Batman with a hail of bullets as the super-storm begins to rage outside.

–Batman Vol. 2 #27 Part 1[13]
Batman is about to be killed by the insane Commissioner Loeb and his GCPD cronies, but Lieutenant Gordon saves his life and boats him to safety, all the while telling the Dark Knight a story about how he (Gordon) was almost killed by crooked cops the night Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered. In this way, Batman learns that Gordon was always an honest cop and never took bribes like the others. Gordon also reveals that Riddler told Commissioner Loeb that he (Riddler) was partnered with Batman—the reason that Loeb has now cracked down hard against the Dark Knight. Batman spends the following day refueling with an IV needle and stitches courtesy of Alfred. At night, as the storm picks up in intensity, Batman spies on Gordon and his fifteen-year-old daughter Barbara “Babs” Gordon.

–Green Arrow Vol. 5 #25
Riddler’s Gotham blackout has been going on for a full week, which places this story neatly into an ellipsis in Batman #27 (on the same night that Batman spies on the Gordons). In Seattle, billionaire industrialist Oliver Queen has just returned, much like how Bruce did, having been mysteriously missing for several years—(he had been stranded on an island following a terrorist attack on an oil rig). Ollie travels to blacked-out Gotham, despite the fact that the darkness and Superstorm Rene have turned it into a war-zone, to look for his humanitarian mother Moira Queen and her bodyguard John Diggle. Unluckily for Moira, newcomer “The Moth” attacks the makeshift hospital she is helping out at. (The Moth hasn’t 100% decided on his name yet; it could be “Moth Man” or something else right now, but it will eventually morph into “Killer Moth.”) Luckily for Moira, Batman is on the scene. Ollie shows up just in time to debut as the hooded archer hero Green Arrow and help Batman kick the Moth’s ass. Batman then hauls off the Moth while Ollie reunites with his mom.

–the second feature to Batman Vol. 2 #25
This second feature highlights a young Harper Row and Cullen Row as they deal with the combined trauma of the Riddler blackout and their deadbeat criminal dad Marcus Row. It also has a mural page that shows several young characters before they become superheroes, including Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon, Jason Todd, Selina Kyle, and Barry Allen. It also shows a pin-up image of Batman swinging through the Gotham night.

–Batman Vol. 2 #27 Part 2
In the Batcave, the Caped Crusader tinkers with an electronic jamming device and listens to Alfred monologue about Bruce’s anger and the necessity to accept help in the war on Gotham’s crime. Batman then visits an underground 18th century cemetery, one of Gotham’s many catacomb tourist attractions, suspecting it of being Dr. Death’s lair. Sure enough, it is. However, Riddler is ready and waiting. Riddler, via pre-recorded video message, explains that Dr. Death works for him. Not only that, Riddler has a “doomsday machine” floating over Gotham that is set to detonate. A bomb then goes off immediately flooding the catacombs with Batman trapped inside.

–Batman Vol. 2 #29
Mid September. Batman escapes the catacombs and calls Lieutenant Gordon, who is busy escorting Gotham citizens—including Harper and Cullen Row— onto an evacuation bus. The Dark Knight warns Gordon that if the power is switched back on, Riddler will gain immediate access to all of the city’s electronics and public works thanks to technology he stole from Helfern’s murder victims. Batman also has deduced that Riddler is operating from his old office in Wayne Tower. Gordon phones the corrupt Dan Corrigan and begs him not to restart the power, but Corrigan hates Gordon and gives him the blow-off. Batman then takes to the skies in the impressively large Bat Blimp, which is seen by nearly all of Gotham, including young Barbara Gordon.[14] Batman, with an electronic jammer that he hopes will disable Riddler’s plan, leaps onto Riddler’s weather balloon where the “doomsday device” is located. There, Dr. Death awaits Riddler’s complete control so that he can douse the entire city with his “monster serum.” Batman fights Dr. Death, restrains him, and snaps off one of his protruding bone horns. However, during the process, the jammer is lost. As Batman attempts to smash up the foul machine with the bone, Dr. Death shockingly reveals that he decided to become his current twisted self when his son died searching for Bruce in Nigeria a few years ago. After smashing up a control panel aboard the balloon, it explodes and sends shrapnel into Dr. Death. His bones grow rapidly in an effort to protect his body, killing him in an instant. Despite the control panel explosion, the “doomsday device” activates when Corrigan plugs the city back in. After Gordon is unable to stop Riddler at Wayne Tower, the villain gains the access he needs and immediately detonates the retaining walls, causing massive tidal waves and flooding to wash through Gotham. Riddler also causes all of the GCPD blimps to crash instantly. The weather balloon that Batman is aboard crashes and explodes.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman Vol. 2 #30. Mid September. Batman crawls out of the wreckage of the downed weather balloon as fire reigns over Gotham. He ditches his Batman costume and blacks out, slipping into a coma. Luckily, Bruce is found by the Thomas Family—Mr. Thomas, Elaine Thomas, and their young son Duke Thomas. The Thomases take him into their home and put him on an IV. Bruce will remain in a coma for about twenty-five days. (We know the number of days because when he wakes up, it will be around Day 26 of Riddler’s Zero Year takeover, according to Batman Vol. 2 #31.)

–Batman Vol. 2 #30
Mid October.[15] Bruce wakes up from his coma at the Thomas residence. Duke Thomas explains that Riddler now controls the city and has moved the calendar back to “Zero Year.” Bruce immediately calls Alfred, who thanks the maker that Bruce is okay. Alfred then further explains the situation. All of the water borders of Gotham are destroyed. Riddler has gained control of all the communications satellites, caused rampant plant growth all over the city using Pamela Isley’s formulas, has flooded the tunnels, rigged the bridges with explosives, and filled the sky with balloons filled with deadly chemicals. Riddler also has complete surveillance over the city and uses both an army of ex-Red Hood gangsters and Powers Industries robots/drones to maintain his order. No one gets in or out of Gotham. Each day, Riddler appears on a giant TV screen atop his skyscraper HQ at the center of Gotham to accept riddle challenges from Gothamites, saying that if anyone can stump him, he will release his hold over the city. Bruce departs the Thomas home to figure out a game plan. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Gordon has arranged a secret rendezvous with a Navy DEVGRU strike team. Unfortunately, the strike team only consists of six men, much to the chagrin of Gordon. But even worse is when the Powers-robots spot them and the DEVGRU team reveals its true mission: to offer $50 million bucks on behalf of the US Government to Riddler in exchange for the release of Gotham. Riddler scoffs at the deal and orders his men to knock down a tall tenement building with a demolition crane, which starts a domino effect of falling buildings heading straight for Gordon and the DEVGRU team. As the buildings near, Riddler offers a cryptic riddle about how to defeat the Powers-bots and escape unscathed. A returning Batman calls out from the shadows, instructing Gordon. Gordon blows-up the robots. Batman, wearing a crude makeshift costume, appears before the seven men and officially offers his assistance.

–Batman Vol. 2 #31 Part 1
Mid October. Day 27 of Riddler’s Zero Year takeover begins. Batman, Lieutenant Gordon, Lucius Fox, and the DEVGRU Seal Team all chart a course of action to bring down Riddler. Batman departs to fix-up a new DIY costume that includes lots of crime-fighting gear, a short-sleeved shirt with spray-painted Bat-symbol, and purple gloves!

–Batman Vol. 2 #21
Day 27 of Riddler’s takeover—this Batman #21 scene takes place FIVE MONTHS after the flashback sequence in the same issue. See this year’s intro above for details. Batman, sporting a steam-powered-motorcycle and his new short-sleeved costume, saves Duke Thomas from a shark-masked gang. (Numerous new masked or themed gangs have continued popping up all over Gotham ever since the fall of the Red Hood Gang.) Duke is overjoyed to see Batman back in action, especially since Riddler has told the public that the Dark Knight is dead.

ZERO YEAR: SAVAGE CITY
————————–Batman Vol. 2 #31 Part 2
————————–Batman Vol. 2 #32-33
Day 27 of Riddler’s takeover. Batman accepts Riddler’s public riddle challenge. The plan is to distract Riddler for nineteen minutes while Lucius Fox and Lieutenant Gordon hack into his network. But Batman can only keep Riddler verbally occupied for eleven minutes before getting dumped via trapdoor into the garages below Wayne Tower, which has been turned into a literal lion’s den. Eight minutes with two lions is a cakewalk for Batman, who takes the felines down, arousing cheers from the audience watching the live feed above. Once Lucius cracks Riddler’s code, Gordon meets with Batman underground, having swum through a flooded subway to reach his position. With Lucius guiding them via radio, Batman infiltrates deeper into the Riddler’s HQ while Gordon leads the Navy Seals into what appears to be Riddler’s tech hub. The Seals explain that they can contact the outside via a special “rip code” that will authorize a targeted missile strike that will destroy the entire city if need be. Batman quickly realizes that Riddler has the upper hand as has led them into a trap. Batman fends off some Riddler drone robots and saves Lucius’s life, then realizing that Riddler is not in his HQ, but actually on the outskirts of the city. After sending a touching voice-recorded message to Alfred, Batman confronts Riddler face-to-face in his real HQ. There, Riddler laughingly tells Batman that he has sent military “rip code” himself and then puts Batman into yet another trap. This laser grid trap is set so that if Batman answers a riddle incorrectly, the weather bomb balloons hanging over the city will explode, but time is also of the essence since Batman only has fourteen minutes to answer all the riddles, thus stopping the military strike. Batman answers the third riddle wrong, but thankfully his backup plan has worked. Lucius has knocked out Riddler’s power using Philip Kane’s giant penny as a conductor for the electronic blocker. Meanwhile, Gordon signals the oncoming fighter jets with a makeshift Bat Signal. Batman beats-up and kayos Riddler, but there is one task left. In order to return power to the city, Batman must attach an electrode to his own chest and pump 1,000 volts of electricity into his own heart. With no other choice, Batman hooks a defibrillator to himself and plugs in. After a moment of blackness, Batman is resuscitated by Alfred. The city is saved, the power is restored, and Riddler goes to Arkham Asylum, officially starting the trend of incarcerating super-villains there.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 2 #4 and Batman Vol. 2 #33. Batman displays the famous giant penny in the Batcave. The penny is a sculpture designed by Bruce’s late uncle Philip Kane (as noted in Batman Vol. 2 #21).

–REFERENCE: In the “Leviathan web display” in Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #3. Batman puts his father’s old bat costume on display in the Batcave.

–REFERENCE: In Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #12 and Detective Comics #937. Batman makes some much needed improvements to his costume and begins wearing the standard togs that we are more familiar with—all grey and black with a large black bat insignia on the chest. He also makes a few mega-important tweaks. First, the new cowl and mask includes a specialized metallic lock system, so that if he is captured or knocked unconscious, it is nearly impossible for anyone else to remove it from his face. Not only that, but the mask is connected to a central computer system that runs through the Bat-suit. Forced removal of the mask causes complete erasure of data. If tampered with, the mask also emits high voltage electric shocks. In regard to Batman’s utility belt, he invents the gold standard of portable personal munitions. Batman’s belt can hold upwards of 130 different item types—some of which include multiples of said items. Back to the cowl, it also contains a 3D holographic video recording device (as referenced in both Batman Vol. 2 #19 and Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4). Batman will record every single bit of everything he does while out-and-about (and while training). Put bluntly, Batman’s costume is beyond state-of-the-art in every way imaginable. The original purple glove costume goes into a display case in the Batcave (as referenced in Forever Evil #4).

–FLASHBACK: From Batman Vol. 3 #15. As mentioned above, this Tom King flashback is rather strange as it plays with continuity, referencing two contradictory Selina Kyle origin stories. While the first—a reference to Frank Miller’s “Year One”—goes well above on our timeline, the second—a reference to the Golden Age Batman #1—seems to fit a bit better here. Batman—drawn wearing the wrong costume, so ignore that—boards a boat to prevent the theft of some diamonds. Batman recovers the diamonds and busts Selina Kyle, who is disguised as an old woman. After unmasking her, the Dark Knight notes Selina’s beauty, but she escapes and he doesn’t get her name. Batman will ultimately come to remember this as his first genuine encounter with Selina, even though he first actually met (and fought) her on the street not long ago. (Note that this Golden Age reference flashback slightly contradicts the New 52 Catwoman origin flashback from Young Romance: The New 52 Valentine’s Day Special #1, in which Catwoman is accosted by Batman and she makes it seem as though she hasn’t met him before. Of course, it is possible that she is playing dumb since it is the first time she is in-costume while meeting him.)

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 2 #13 and Detective Comics #957. When Red Hood fell into a vat of toxic chemicals while fighting Batman earlier in the year, he emerged as the white-skinned green-haired evil clown known as Joker. Joker now finally debuts on live television and announces that diamond magnate Henry Claridge will die at midnight. Sure enough, despite massive GCPD protection—and secret watch from Batman—Claridge dies with a rictus grin on his face. The Joker had already poisoned him with Joker Toxin twenty-four hours prior. This is the first use of Joker Toxin aka Joker Venom. From this point on, Joker will use many different variations of Joker Toxin, and each time Batman will create an antidote by running his “Joker protocol,” which simply means running simulations with antitoxins, antibios, and steroids. By 2015, Joker will have used nearly a hundred different versions of Joker Toxin (as mentioned in Batman Vol. 2 #37). Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Joker will function as Batman’s primary arch-enemy over the course of the next decade. The Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime will have multiple encounters, many of which we have to imagine occurring randomly on this timeline. In fact, by 2012, Joker will have killed over 114 people (as referenced in the second feature to Detective Comics Vol. 2 #1). Note that the GCPD incorrectly exaggerates Joker’s kill-count, impossibly putting it at over 300 by early 2013 (as we learn in Detective Comics Vol. 2 #12). Thus, we can further make the assumption that Joker should appear quite often (more often than he appears) on this timeline. It is also worth mentioning that the murder of Henry Claridge is also Joker’s debut story in the Golden, Silver, and Modern Ages—originally told in Batman #1 and Batman: The Man Who Laughs, respectively. Batman also ascertains the exact chemical makeup of the toxic sludge that created Joker. We learn in Batman Vol. 2 #14 that on “afternoons when [he] can’t sleep” Bruce will obsessively study the green goo under a microscope.

–FLASHBACK: From Green Arrow Vol. 5 #35. Also referenced in Batman Vol. 2 #14—and originally told in Batman: The Man Who Laughs. Immediately following the Claridge affair, Joker threatens to poison the Gotham Reservoir. Batman meets Joker face-to-face for the first time and defeats him. Green Arrow #35 simply shows Batman punching a bloodied Joker in the face. Since a flashback from Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #4 shows a bloody Joker, following his capture, being hauled to Arkham Asylum amidst a media frenzy, we can assume that the flashback from Green Arrow depicts their first fight. Joker becomes the second celebrity super-villain to be housed at Arkham, following Riddler.

–NOTE: In a reference in a flashback from Batman & Robin Vol. 2 Annual #2 and also directly referenced in Batman Eternal #2. Mid November. Batman isn’t directly involved with this note, but it is important. Lieutenant Gordon, due to his popularity with most Gothamites and his hero status following Riddler’s “Zero Year” takeover, is appointed as the new Commissioner of Police by the newly elected (and corrupt) Mayor Hady, who is secretly instructed by Carmine Falcone to give him the promotion. (The commissioner position was vacated recently by the shamed Gillian Loeb. Falcone probably wants Gordon in office because he knows that Gordon will get rid of the rival McKillen Mob effectively. However, Falcone mistakenly believes that Gordon, like all the other commissioners before him, can be bought.) Note that Gordon’s promotion to Commissioner goes hand-in-hand with Harvey Bullock’s promotion to Detective Sergeant. (Note that Batman Eternal tells us that Gordon was made commissioner five years prior to 2014. However, we are clearly at the end of 2007, not 2009. This is an error any way you spin it.)

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #947. An unknown person is wronged or injured during an unspecified Batman mission and comes to blame the Dark Knight for their condition. This person will return nine years later as the evil villain known as “The First Victim.” Since we don’t have much information about the First Victim’s origin, they could be attached to the prior Joker attacks in some way. Or they could be attached to a something else. All we know for sure is that they were hurt in the very early days of Batman’s career, hence placement here.

–REFERNCE: In Batman Vol. 3 #16. Alfred begins serving his special cucumber sandwiches to Batman whenever he comes back to the Batcake from patrol. Alfred will serve these cucumber sandwiches to all members of the Bat-Family for decades to come.

–REFERENCE: In Grayson #13-14. Enter Katarina “Kathy” Kane (née Webb) aka Luka Netz, the thrill-seeking secret agent femme-fatale who happens to be the widow of Bruce’s uncle, Nathan Kane (brother to Martha, Philip, and Jake). Unknown to Bruce, Kathy Webb Kane works as one of the top agents for the secret intelligence organization known as Spyral, whose latest goal is to track the movements of and determine the secret identity of the new mysterious Batman. Spyral is secretly run by ex-Nazi super-villain Doctor Dedalus (alternately spelled “Doctor Daedalus”). Doctor Dedalus is Kathy’s biological father Otto Netz, although she is unaware of her relation to him. Doctor Dedalus currently suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease and is mistakenly believed to be imprisoned in the Falkland Islands, although he actually escaped in the mid 1980s. On behalf of Spyral, Kathy secretly spies on Batman as he patrols. Kathy will spend the next bunch of years secretly spying on Batman. Unknown to anyone, Doctor Dedalus also secretly runs the anti-Spyral terrorist organization known as Leviathan, playing a secret mad game of ouroboros chess with the entire planet at stake.

–Batman Vol. 2 #33 Epilogue
Mid November. One month after the end of Riddler’s 27 day “Zero Year” reign of terror. Bruce takes over as head of Wayne Enterprises and assigns Lucius Fox as his top man at a public press conference. Newly minted Commissioner Jim Gordon is in attendance. Bruce gives a new jacket to Gordon. Julie Madison visits Wayne Tower in an attempt to rekindle a romance with her high school sweetheart, but Bruce is busy chatting with Alfred. Bruce tells Alfred about a time when he was in high school where he went off the deep end and couldn’t deal with the tragic memory of his parents’ murders. He went a little crazy and paid a homeless man to pretend to be Alfred and then checked himself into Arkham, paying the doctors there to incarcerate him and give him shock therapy. However, right before the first session, Bruce changed his mind and left. Alfred tells the patiently waiting Julie that Bruce won’t be seeing her as he is “spoken for.” Out in the Gotham night, Batman soars through the air.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #2 and Detective Comics #954—and referenced in Detective Comics #937-938. Originally told in the “Saga of Ra’s al Ghul.” Batman deals with the threat of the League of Assassins led by Ra’s al Ghul. Ra’s al Ghul, also known as “The Demon’s Head,” has stayed alive for centuries due to the life-extending powers of bathing in the magickal Lazarus Pits.[16] With an army of ninjas, assassins, and the cult-like devotion of the Ubu Clan, Ra’s al Ghul has come to dominate the global underworld. Impressed by his new adversary, Ra’s al Ghul enacts a plan to partner the Dark Detective with his daughter, the beautiful and intelligent Talia al Ghul. Ra’s al Ghul fakes a civil war within the ranks of the League of Assassins. Dr. Darrk (Ebeneezer Darcel), leader of a “splinter League faction,” attempts to kidnap Talia from the University of Cairo, where she studies. Batman initially botches Talia’s rescue, but recovers to save her from Darrk’s dungeon (and a wild Spanish fighting bull). Batman immediately becomes infatuated with Talia and they begin a whirlwind affair, fueled by the thrill of adventure. It is at this point that Batman first discovers The League of Shadows“—an elite group within the League of Assassins, which wields greater power and poses as a greater threat. The League of Shadows, consisting of an army of sleeper cells hiding in plain sight, has been secretly responsible for the largest acts of terror in human history. Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Shadows capture Batman and wipe his mind of all knowledge of the organization via magickal means.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #2, Batman and… #23.3 (aka Ra’s al Ghul & The League of Assassins #1), Robin Rises: Omega #1, Trinity Vol. 2 #7, and Detective Comics #954—and referenced in Detective Comics #937-938. Originally told in the “Saga of Ra’s al Ghul.” A week or so after Batman’s first encounter with Ra’s al Ghul, Batman recruits a team—consisting of champion skier Molly Post, scientist Harris Blaine, and assassin Lo Ling—to help him attack Ra’s al Ghul head-on once again. In the end, a shirtless Dark Knight sword-fights Ra’s al Ghul in the Sahara Desert. During the fight, Batman discovers the existence of the League of Shadows for the second time. Batman loses the sword duel—he gets stung by a desert scorpion—but defeats Ra’s al Ghul after being given a revitalizing drop of anti-venom by Talia. Once again, the League of Shadows uses a magick mind-wipe to erase Batman’s memories of their group.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman and Robin Vol. 2 #2, Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #2, Robin Rises: Omega #1, Secret Origins Vol. 3 #4, and Robin: Son of Batman #3. Late November. Batman and Talia al Ghul have a romantic night and conceive a son. This one-panel flashback image shows Bruce about to engage in the coital act with Talia. This whole affair is shown with greater clarity in a flashback from Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #2. (The child will be kept a secret from Bruce for years to come.) Both Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #2 and Robin Rises: Omega #1 also show the little baby (who will be named Damian) being nurtured in a high-tech sci-fi artificial womb/incubator. With this strange technology, Talia skips the rigors of a normal human pregnancy—essentially giving birth to a fetus right away, creating a situation where an artificial womb/gestation bubble will do all the work that a woman would normally do over the course of nine months (in less than half that amount of time). Not only that, Talia will also be able to eugenically augment the physical and mental development of her son—a process that will allow Damian to grow at rapid speed. As we learn in Batman and… #32 (“Batman & Ra’s al Ghul”), Talia, in a few months, will find and use a magickal crystal—actually an Apokoliptian Chaos Shard—to add significant power to her weird baby tech, but also to rapidly speed up Damian’s development. Because the timeline of the New 52 is so incredibly compressed, we have to surmise that the normal nine months are expedited as well. For the sake of keeping our chronology strong, tidy and tight, I have surmised that Damian is only in the gestation bubble for a mere three-and-a-half-months before being actually born into the world. Thus, you can see how Damian’s embryological history is tricky, chronologically speaking. You could also argue that his actual birth is here and now in late 2007, or when the artificial womb re-births him in a few months—I know it’s weird, but we’ll lean towards the latter (especially since a fetus ain’t a human being). Thus, Damian’s true birthday will be in March 2008. After the conception of Damian, Batman and Talia’s tumultuous on-and-off-again love affair will continue for the next few months before fizzling out entirely right around the time of Damian’s secret birth.[17]

–FLASHBACK: From Batman Annual Vol. 2 #1. Bruce is handed the keys to the Wayne Enterprises kingdom by WayneTech’s recent re-hire and new chief executive officer, Lucius Fox. (Writer Scott Snyder pens that Bruce has recently returned to Gotham City from his “extended vacation,” which seems appropriate for this point in our chronology. This scene also has a “six years ago” editorial tagline, which correctly places it right here, six years before the main action in 2013’s Batman Annual Vol. 2 #1.) After Fox gives Bruce the rundown of all WayneTech’s scientific projects, Bruce tells Lucius he is not comfortable with experimentation on cryogenically frozen corpses. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Bruce butts heads with one of his scientists Dr. Victor Fries, who deals primarily with cryogenics. Bruce doesn’t shut down Fries, but tells him that he will be watching. Unknown to Bruce, Fries has been specifically studying a woman with congenital heart failure named Nora Fields who has been cryo-frozen since her death in 1968. Fries has become unhinged and has started to obsess over reviving Nora, and even believes she is his own wife even though she is not.[18] Note that, moving ahead on our timeline, big bossman Bruce will have a near constant engagement with Wayne Enterprises’ business, finance, and tech dealings. This will be done mostly to keep up appearances, but will still take up a lot of Bruce’s time in-between Batman cases. We won’t see much of this activity on the timeline below, but, suffice to say, we should imagine it occurring invisibly as we move forward.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Eternal #35 and Batman: Rebirth #1. Noticing that all of Bruce’s wealth is tied directly to Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox gives the young and inexperienced CEO some sound business advice: Make sure to diversify your investments! Unfortunately, as smart as Bruce is, this is a piece of advice that he doesn’t heed. Bruce loses a ton of company cash, forcing Lucius to intervene and get it all back. Lucius will echo this “play-it-safe” sentiment for years to come (invisibly on our timeline), but Bruce will never listen, often losing vast sums of capital in different business ventures, each time forcing Lucius to lawyer-up and rescue his fortune.

–REFERENCE: In Gotham Academy: Second Semester #5-8. (The details of this item are also gleaned from Gotham Academy: Second Semester #10-11, which is technically only canon on the New Age timeline. However, the basic elements of these issues are essential to the New 52, so they have been included.) Due to existing in the same wealthy socialite circles, Bruce (as Bruce Wayne) officially meets the detestable Penguin. Their paths with cross many times over the course of the next decade, but Penguin will have no idea that Bruce and Batman are one and the same.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman and… #27 aka “Batman & Two-Face.” December. Despite Dent’s mob connection to the McKillen Family, Bruce sees potential for goodness in Dent due to their long history together. Plus, Dent has also been working with Gordon and Batman to help curtail the criminal actions of Carmine Falcone and Penguin for the past month-plus. But Batman is Batman and he must uphold the law no matter what. Thus, the Dark Knight brutally takes down a thug working for the McKillens. In court, Dent, as he always does for the McKillen Family, expertly gets the thug off due to the fact that Batman is a vigilante that operates outside of lawful jurisdiction. Later that afternoon, the McKillen Sisters, via a Spanish death squad, authorize a hit on Commissioner Gordon. The hit men attack Commissioner Gordon and his family (visiting ex-wife Barbara Gordon, Babs, and James Gordon Jr), but the Commissioner defends his fam and kills the would-be killers. In a panic, the McKillen Sisters arrange a meeting with Dent, who chastises them for such a reckless and disgusting act. Dent quits their employ, but the McKillens threaten that they own him. Later, Bruce visits Harvey and his wife Gilda at their home. (Harvey is married to an old friend of Bruce’s, Gilda Gold, who he was introduced to by Bruce a few years ago). Bruce gives Harvey an “I believe in Harvey Dent” speech and says that he wants to back him as candidate for the next District Attorney of Gotham (since the corrupt DA Stevens is retiring, presumably because of his link to the ousted Commissioner Loeb). Harvey doesn’t make his decision right then and there, but we can assume he agrees immediately thereafter.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman and… #27 aka “Batman & Two-Face.” Harvey Dent wins a special election and becomes the new acting DA of Gotham City. (This is also specifically referenced in Batman and… #26 aka “Batman & Two-Face.”) Batman and Commissioner Gordon congratulate Dent and they begin planning on how to bring down Dent’s former employers, the McKillen Family.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Eternal #12. In order to contact Batman, Commissioner Gordon and DA Harvey Dent come up with a special phone/hotline pager number that signals the Dark Knight to secretly meet them atop the Beacon Tower in downtown Gotham. This trio of crime-fighters will meet equally atop the Beacon Tower and secretly in Commissioner Gordon’s office.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Eternal #50. This is a tricky (and vague) notation, one which I’m almost hesitant to include. In Batman Eternal #50, Jim Gordon says, “Friend told me something once about criminals. They are a cowardly lot.” This is a clear reference to the first Batman origin from 1940’s Batman #1, in which Bruce says to himself that “criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot” before coming up with the idea for Batman. I vaguely recall the possibility of this line being uttered in a New 52 comic book, but for the life of me cannot recall which one (or even if that’s true). Therefore, it would seem that this reference is to Batman literally telling Gordon that “criminals are a cowardly lot” at one of their early meetings, possibly atop the Beacon Tower.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman and… #23.1 aka Two-Face #1. Batman collaborates with Commissioner Gordon and DA Harvey Dent to tackle the criminal empire run by the McKillen Family. Erin McKillen and her twin sister Shannon McKillen have just recently become the new official leaders of the clan, following the death of Erin’s husband. Right off the bat, both Erin and Shannon get sent to jail courtesy of Harvey Dent (as referenced in Batman and… #23.1, Batman and… #24, and Batman and… #26). Dent has no qualms about using illegal and unlawful tactics to stick the McKillens with a raw deal in court, which results in long sentences for both sisters.

–REFERENCE: In Nightwing Vol. 3 #0. Batman begins the practice of going on patrol every single night and visiting his parents’ graves at least once a week for inspiration. Thus, we must imagine these occurrences as taking place constantly on our timeline even though they may not have specific stories associated with them, nor may they even be listed.

–REFERENCE: In Arkham Manor #2. Batman begins the practice of memorizing every detail about every single Arkham Asylum inmate, whether or not he was responsible for his or her committal there.

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics Vol. 2 #1. Batman realizes that the entire time he fought Red Hood this year, he was fighting the man who would later become Joker. Part of this realization that pre-Joker murdered and replaced Liam Distal as the Red Hood in late 2006 before he (Bruce) even returned to Gotham in early 2007 likely stems from the fact that Red Hood’s blood sample was linked to an unknown person (as opposed to a known criminal like Distal). Also, the behavior patterns of the Red Hood that Batman fought were relatively consistent with Joker’s behavior patterns.[19]

–REFERENCE: In Batwing #33. Batman, still mostly considered to be a myth by most of the public, captures a dozen gang members and leaves them for the cops.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 2 #1. Batman, while still distrustful, becomes closer with Detective Harvey Bullock.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 2 #1 and Nightwing Vol. 3 #30. Batman is mortally wounded and winds up in the care of Dr. Leslie Thompkins, who not only saves his life but discovers his secret ID!

–REFERENCE: In Flashpoint #5. Batman obtains a mammoth robotic Tyrannosaurus rex after an adventure at a dinosaur theme park and displays it in the Batcave. The T rex has been the centerpiece of the Batcave in every comic book epoch ever since the Golden Age, but its first New 52 appearance is shown in the final pages of Flashpoint #5.

–REFERENCE: In Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 and Batman Vol. 2 #50. The Wayne Family has long collected various artifacts and antiques from across the globe. Bruce moves several warrior costumes—Roman soldier, samurai, and others—into display cases in the Batcave. Bruce also creates some alternate Batman costumes and puts them into Batcave display cases as well. Some of these alternate Batman costumes are specific-scenario-use costumes, but others, like the yellow-oval costume, are likely just artist Easter Eggs that function narratively as mere test uniforms that the Caped Crusader will never ever wear in the New 52. Note that the yellow-oval costume is given to Jiro Osamu when he first becomes Batman Japan.

–REFERENCE: In All-Star Batman #7. Bruce begins closely studying the strange botanical work of one of his company’s youngest and brightest scientists, Pamela Isley. He will continue to do so for months to come.

–REFERENCE: In Batman and Robin Eternal #6-7. Bruce, now ingrained in Gotham’s elite business scene, befriends rich real estate mogul Maxwell Dossey and wealthy socialite Hamilton.

 

<<< Salad Days <<< | >>> Year One >>>

  1. [1]COLLIN COLSHER: In Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #1 Peter Tomasi has Bruce Wayne say, “10:48 on a September night was the time that all sense left my life.” Thus, in the New 52, the Waynes died in September. In his “Zero Year” arc, Scott Snyder also implies and backs-up the September date of the Waynes’ deaths by showing that Bruce had skipped school on the day his parents were killed.
  2. [2]COLLIN COLSHER: The “Zero Year” arc runs for almost the entire year, although other issues, flashbacks, and references are, of course, included here. The reason that I’ve included this as a Year Zero (as opposed to starting it with Year One like in previous timelines) is because Bruce doesn’t put on the Batman costume until August of this year, meaning that he is only in costume for a mere five months. I didn’t want to have the calendar Bat Years running from August to September. I wanted a neater, cleaner timeline where the years run in the normal January through December format. Also, since the bulk of the year is labeled “Zero Year,” it only makes sense to make this year an official Year Zero. Thus, we have a section of the chronology that comprises Bruce’s war against the Red Hood Gang and his first five months in the Batman suit. Therefore, the following Year One will be Bruce’s first full year in costume. Let’s go!
  3. [3]COLLIN COLSHER: The term “metahuman” is a term defining anyone with superhuman or supernatural powers. This term, in the New 52, comes from the power-inducing DNA within super-humans known as “the metagene.” “Metahuman” is coined by the DEO (Department of Extranormal Affairs), a US government metahuman policing agency. Other similar US government agencies—such as ARGUS, Checkmate, the Blackhawks, STAR Labs, the NSA, the CIA, and the FBI—primarily refer to metahumans simply as “super-humans,” although there will be some instances of the use of both. Both terms will be used on this website.
  4. [4]COLLIN COLSHER: What is the state of superheroism (and super-villainy) in at the beginning of the New 52? Batman, during this first year, will operate in relative secrecy. The Green Lantern Corps is also active and comprised of superheroes, but it operates at the other end of the galaxy, unknown to most. At this juncture, on planet Earth, the US Army runs some superhero-esque (or anti-hero-esque) programs, such as General Sam Lane’s “Machine” unit, which directs the decades-old alien super-being known as WRAITH. Likewise, the FBI and CIA have secretly been running super-spies and cyborg operatives since the Cold War. Frank Rock and the semi-immortal King Faraday, for example, were both active WWII and Cold War-era superhero-esque G-men. Cave Carson and his team of underground explorers have been active in some form for well over a decade at this point. The international spy cabal known as Spyral has been in secret operation since the Cold War. Likewise, Spyral’s antithesis, the terror group Leviathan, has existed for nearly as long as well, thanks to the fact that both were secretly created and originally run by Otto Netz. Stormwatch has also secretly existed, albeit unknown to virtually anyone, for thousands of years. Frankenstein is also active and has been since the 17th century. Both Checkmate and Project Cadmus are both recognized globally. Magick users like Dr. Occult, Sargon, and John Zatara have been active for decades as well—(the latter two masquerading in public as faux stage magicians to hide their true abilities).

    As far as “super-villains” go, the only real baddies that exist at this point (besides the Republican Party and religious fundamentalists) are the Red Hood Gang, Ra’s al Ghul and his League of Assassins/League of Shadows, Den Darga of Und’urr and his Lu’un Darga family, the Parliament of Owls (and its many Courts across the globe), the Army of the Golden Hand, the Outsiders Cult, the Crimson Men, the All-Caste, the Silverlock Family, NEMO, the Order of St. Dumas, Mother, the Anchoress, Vandal Savage, vampires, some arcane magick groups, malevolent deities, demons, and a few other secret organizations.

    As far as DC’s New 52 history is concerned, a few random super-powered individuals (à la Marvel’s mutants) have sporadically existed throughout the past. For example, a 21st century Professor Zoom (Eobard Thawne) will go back in time to recruit random mid-20th century metahumans for his Anti-Flash Rogues team. There has also been a line of continuous weird-powered Dogwelders for some time. The Muldroog society and the Imperial Subterraneans, both underground-dwelling metahuman races, have existed for a long time as well. Not to mention Amazons and Atlanteans, both of which have always existed in secrecy too. Note that the US Government became aware of Atlantis and its people in 2005. The last time superheroes were truly active and flourishing was during WWII—but even then, they were “mystery men” that rarely operated in the public eye and usually only in a military capacity. These heroes included, but are not limited to, the Justice Society of America, Task Force X, and the Creature Commandos. There are, of course, some other special exceptions, such as Japan’s Fruit Bat, who operated very publicly for over four decades.

    In regard to cosmic beings, they are definitely around, watching from planes of existence far beyond the comprehension of normal humans, only sometimes stepping into the realm of man. The pantheon of gods—Greco-Roman, Norse, Native American, Australian Aboriginal, Egyptian, New Gods, and many more—all exist. As do their demon, demigod, and part-god peers, too many to name. Powerful “gods” of magick, such as the wizard Shazam, are about as well. Likewise, mystical/cosmic-powered humans like Pandora, The Phantom Stranger, The Question, Dr. Manhattan, and others exist as well. Other powerful cosmic beings include The Keeper, the otherworldly race known as The Timeless, The Monitors (including The Anti-Monitor), The Source, The Anti-Life Entity, the Guardians of the Universe, and many more. The Endless also exist in the New 52.

  5. [5]COLLIN COLSHER: Jake and Kate’s relationship to the Wayne/Kane family was always vague and confusing in the Modern Age. The New 52 has made their places on the family tree crystal clear. As per Batwoman #25, it appears as though Bruce’s mother Martha Wayne (née Kane) had four siblings: now deceased brother Philip Kane, other brother Jacob “Jake” Kane, deceased Nathan Kane (who was once married to Katherine “Kathy” Webb), and an unnamed sibling that was parent to Bette Kane. In the Golden and Silver Age, Bette was always said to have been the niece of Kathy Webb (used to be “Webster” back then), which always implied an unnamed Kane sibling as her progenitor. Detective Comics #939 confirms that Jake and Martha were siblings, defining Bruce and Kate as first cousins.
  6. [6]COLLIN COLSHER: Birds of Prey Vol. 3 #25 and Nightwing Vol. 3 #25 are “Zero Year” spin-offs that don’t show Batman, but they take place immediately during and following Riddler’s blackout attack. The editorial note in all of the upcoming “Year Zero” spin-off issues says that their narratives all happen “six years ago,” which is the year 2007 right on the nose if you do the math.
  7. [7]COLLIN COLSHER: Flash Vol. 4 #25 takes place here, but doesn’t feature Batman. Riddler’s blackout is in effect, but the real super-storm hasn’t struck yet. Note that artists Chris Sprouse and Francis Manapul depict a plain-clothes Detective Harvey Bullock that looks not-quite-as-svelte as Jason Fabok’s portrayal in Detective Comics Vol. 2 #25, but which still contradicts the heftier version shown in Snyder/Capullo’s “Zero Year.”
  8. [8]COLLIN COLSHER: Jonathan Layman and Jason Fabok portray Bullock as a bit too svelte here (which contradicts a heftier version in Snyder/Capullo’s “Zero Year”).
  9. [9]COLLIN COLSHER: In Action Comics Vol. 2 #25, which doesn’t feature Batman, the recently debuted Superman flies out to sea in an attempt to quell Super-storm Rene before it has a chance to move towards land, but fails.
  10. [10]COLLIN COLSHER: Red Hood & The Outlaws #25 takes place now, during the rainy moments shortly before Super-storm Rene hits Gotham, but doesn’t feature Batman.
  11. [11]COLLIN COLSHER: Catwoman Vol. 2 #25 #25 takes place now, but does not feature Batman. The rainfall has escalated into a severe thunderstorm as Superstorm Rene nears Gotham. A fairly unreliable character in this issue mentions that Detective Comics Vol. 2 #25 took place “last week.” This surely cannot mean “a week ago” and instead must literally mean “last week” as in “today is Tuesday and ‘tec #25 happened last week” i.e. “a couple days ago.”
  12. [12]COLLIN COLSHER: Harvey Bullock, despite his blue uniformed appearance here, is definitely a full-fledged detective as shown in Flash Vol. 4 #25 and Detective Comics #25.
  13. [13]COLLIN COLSHER: Batman Vol. 2 #27 is split in twain to accommodate some of the “Zero Year” spinoff issues, specifically Green Lantern Corps #25. After getting rescued by Gordon, Snyder/Capullo include a page detailing Batman spying on Gordon and Babs. This scene seems to clearly take place during an indeterminate period of time (likely one night) before Batman enters the catacombs in search of Dr. Death. Hence, the night where Batman spies on the Gordons must also be the night where both Green Lantern Corps #25 and the second feature to Batman #25 take place.
  14. [14]COLLIN COLSHER: Batgirl Vol. 4 #25 does not feature Batman, but occurs starting now, overlapping with Batman #29 entirely.
  15. [15]COLLIN COLSHER: Bruce refers to the events of Batman Vol. 2 #29 as happening in summertime. Since Batman Vol. 2 #24 started in early September, coinciding with the anniversary of Bruce’s parents’ deaths, that means Bruce must have went into his coma at some point right before the end of summer, meaning sometime around September 15 to 22.
  16. [16]COLLIN COLSHER: Here’s how Lazarus Pits work in the New 52 (from what I can ascertain from Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 and Batman and… #32). There are an indeterminate amount of these magickal pits filled with life-giving green goop all over the world. However, the average Lazarus Pit cannot resurrect dead people. It can only heal illness, heal wounds, or extend life dramatically, essentially allowing one to be immortal if one bathes in Lazarus fluid enough. The side effect, however, is possible permanent insanity. By 2013 nearly all the Lazarus Pits will be inactive/inert, except for a handful of special Pits located at mystical nexus points—i.e. one on Paradise Island and one underneath the Tibetan city of Nanda Parbat. The one underneath Nanda Parbat (in the ruins of Nishapur) can fully resurrect a dead person, provided their corpse is soaked for 24 hours and they have been dead for less than a year. All of the special nexus Lazarus Pits require unique individualized mystic activation in order for them to function.
  17. [17]COLLIN COLSHER: Originally, the I figured the entire DC timeline was much longer since Damian Wayne turned ten-years-old in August 2011—(Damian is referred to specifically as a ten-year-old in Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #1 and Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #0). However, Damian’s debut as a ten-year-old was later retconned to a debut as an eight-year-old (thanks to Rebirth). According to simple arithmetic, this would have put not only the “Saga of Ra’s al Ghul,” but also the debut of Batman, in early 2001 or 2003, respectively. However, the DC think-tank, in 2012, wanted Damian to have been born a mere three years prior (i.e. in 2008) and to simply have been genetically engineered to grow faster so that he appeared biologically as an early pre-adolescent. Batman and… #32 (“Batman & Ra’s al Ghul”) introduced the Chaos Shard, a narrative tool used to make Damian’s accelerated growth an non-debatable axiom. Usually, according to the rules of semantics, even if Damian appears eight-years-old but is really younger, Batman and company probably shouldn’t refer to him as an “eight-year-old,” and yet they still do. One’s age isn’t how old he looks, it is how old he actually is. But hey, that’s just not the case in this rhetorical cul-de-sac. Therefore, Damian turns three-years-old in 2011, but his age referred to in the comics (eight-years-old in September 2011, thanks to the Rebirth retcon) is merely his biological age, not how long he has actually lived.

    Amid all this confusion, you might ask how Damian’s birthday celebrations are handled, eh? Peter Tomasi’s Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #0 shows the history of Damian’s b-days, albeit quite vaguely to make things kinda sorta work out. Every birthday, Damian fights his mom in an attempt to earn the right to meet his dad, as seen via montage. (He finally wins and meets his dad on his tenth b-day—but, again, don’t forget Rebirth changes this to his eighth b-day). Because of Damian’s accelerated Chaos Shard growth, the Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #0 montage of Damian’s b-days—featuring six b-days including the one where he bests Talia in 2011—must all occur over the course of about three years. In other words, we have to assume Talia and Damian have celebrated TWO biological birthdays each year for everything to work correctly.

    Robin: Son of Batman #2 tells us specifically that Damian ages from his ninth birthday until his tenth birthday over the span of a full calendar year. While the Rebirth retcon applies here as well, meaning that these ages should be altered from “ninth to tenth” to “seventh to eighth.” Either way, this implies that Damian’s aging slowed down to a normal physical progression starting at age seven.

  18. [18]COLLIN COLSHER: Writer Scott Snyder contradicts his own Mr. Freeze origin story with All-Star Batman #6, in which dialogue between Batman and Mr. Freeze heavily implies, if not outright states, that Nora is Mr. Freeze’s legitimate wife. However, it is possible that Batman is simply trying to talk down Mr. Freeze by appealing to his incorrect and twisted worldview. I’m going with that since it is the only way the whole “Nora Fields” thing remains true.
  19. [19]COLLIN COLSHER: A bit more explanation about this reference note. In ‘tec #1, which occurs in 2012, Batman states that Joker has been active six years, meaning around since 2006—also confirming and including Joker’s year spent masquerading as Red Hood.

5 Responses to Year Zero

  1. dcjokerz17 says:

    Okay, here’s my theory on Red Hood, coming from someone who was a firm believer in the killing joke origin. I think that this Distal character is the one that Batman has been fighting (it never states whether or not) these past few issues and that the man who will become the joker, was blackmailed (RHOne threatened to kill his wife) into swapping places with him on the ACE Chemicals walkway, and it is him that falls into the ominous vat of chemicals. However, Distal, being a psycho has his wife killed anyway leading to the newly transformed Joker killing Distal and covering his body in lye as his first act of Super-Insanity. A weird theory I know, but there it is.

  2. Diego Barcelo says:

    hey Collin
    so i think that part 2 of batman 24 has to happen at whatever point in zero year we actually see the cave connected to the manor. At the very beginning of part 2, Alfred uses the clock in the manor to go down into the batcave so Bruce doesn’t find out about Liam until some time much later.

    • The scene from part 2 of Batman #24 isn’t just a Liam Distal reveal, it is also the Riddler explosion black-out scene. Therefore, part 2 of Batman #24 definitely goes before #25, which means that the Batcave is definitely connected to Wayne Manor via the grandfather clock before #25. Therefore, Bruce and Alfred must be climbing out of the cave for some other reason, maybe to check the vulnerability of other entrances and exits?

  3. Chris says:

    Hi Collin – Absolutely tremendous work here and must reading for a serious Batman fan. Just wanted to point out one discrepancy. In the lead-in to Year Zero you discuss that Superman debuted one month before Batman. But then in the timeline when you discuss Superman and Action 25 you say one month after. That line is also repeated twice.

    Keep up the great work and know that it is appreciated

Comments are closed.