This timeline is so new that it will constantly change as each new bit of information is revealed week-to-week. Therefore, it should be understood that this is not the finalized version and construction will be occurring for quite some time to come. Unlike our previous timelines, the New Age timeline will run each calendar year from the normal January through December format (although this first year, Bruce doesn’t become Batman until around the mid-point). As far as this chronology is concerned, if a story or event is not canonically referenced in the pages of the New 52 issues themselves, then I’m not considering it canon—it’s as simple as that. Of course, none of this is a strict policy and everything is subject to change. Since DC has been vague as to revealing information regarding a timeline of the New 52, we don’t know much. We do know Action Comics Vol. 2 begins approximately six months prior to Justice League Vol. 2. We also know that Batman was secretly around, during his “urban legend” phase, for some time before Superman. Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #2 tells us that Batman has been in costume for a while (whatever that means) before the debut of the Justice League. Therefore, I’m thinking Superman debuts six months before the JL debut and Batman debuts a year before the JL debut. Of course, there are a ton of other details that need to still be worked out and hopefully I will figure them out sooner than later. Ok, here we go!
YEAR ONE (2005)
–NOTE: Months after returning from four years of training abroad (as detailed via flashback in Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0 and Batman Vol. 2 #0) Bruce Wayne secretly dons the cape and cowl and debuts as the avenging vigilante known as Batman. With a near unlimited supply of money, vast arsenal, fleet of vehicles, Batcave full of crime-fighting toys, and a faithful servant in Alfred Pennyworth, the Dark Knight begins his war on crime to avenge the deaths of his parents, which occurred back when he was just a boy. Bruce Wayne has already made his public reemergence in Gotham at least three months prior to becoming Batman (as referenced in Batman Vol. 2 Annual #1 and Batman Vol. 2 #0). However, Bruce most likely made his public reemergence around six months or more prior to becoming Batman, sometime in late 2004 or early 2005. The Caped Crusader keeps to the shadows early on and will be largely regarded as an urban myth until he joins the Justice League in 2006—although, even then, many will still consider him to be a myth. Unfortunately, there is really no way Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One is canon anymore (at least not in its entirety or in its original form). Until I figure out the actual New Age Batman origin, I’m leaving this one relatively blank. It is also worth acknowledging that Batman is DC’s first superhero, although he will operate in secret. Likewise, the only real “super-villains” that exist at this point (besides the Republican Party and the Christian Right) are the League of Assassins, Court of Owls, some occult-based magick cults, and a few other secret organizations. The Green Lantern Corps is also active, but far from Earth.
–NOTE: Batman begins the practice of going on patrol every night and visiting his parents’ graves at least once a week for inspiration (as referenced in Nightwing Vol. 3 #0). Thus, we must imagine those 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.
–NOTE: Professor Hugo Strange makes his dastardly debut (as referenced in Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #2) and battles Batman.
–NOTE: September. Batman visits Crime Alley, as he does every September, to honor his fallen parents at the location of their grisly deaths (as referenced in Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #1).
–NOTE: Batman defeats the one-shot opponent known as The Monk, a deadly vampire and evil cult leader (as referenced in Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #5).
–NOTE: Batman chases after an unnamed crook dressed up as The Red Hood (as originally told via flashback in Batman: The Killing Joke and canonically referenced in Batman Vol. 2 #13). ”The Red Hood” falls into a vat of toxic materials at ACE Chemicals and goes missing. When he resurfaces shortly thereafter, the Joker will have been born.
–NOTE: Joker’s first appearance goes here because it happens “six years” before Detective Comics Vol. 2 #1, which occurs in 2011. Joker debuts on live television and announces that diamond magnate Henry Claridge will die at midnight (as referenced in Batman Vol. 2 #13). Sure enough, despite massive Gotham City Police Department (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 Toxins, and each time Batman will create an antidote. 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 2013 Joker will have used at least thirty-four different versions of Joker Toxin (as mentioned in Batman Vol. 2 #13). 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: Shortly after the Claridge affair, Batman meets Joker face-to-face for the first time and defeats him. As originally told in Batman: The Man Who Laughs and canonically referenced in Batman Vol. 2 #14, Joker threatens to poison the Gotham Reservoir, but Batman stops him. Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #4 shows a flashback to a bloody Joker being hauled into jail by the GCPD amidst a media frenzy, thus demonstrating that Joker was a household name in Gotham before Batman became one (thanks to both Joker’s publicly televised debut and Batman’s uncanny ability to remain hidden).
–NOTE: 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. 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. In the Modern Age, the Saga of Ra’s Al Ghul was the first meeting between Batman and the Al Ghul family. However—and this is a huge difference between the Modern and New Ages—Bruce now meets the Al Ghuls years earlier. Any encounter with Ra’s Al Ghul occurring here may be based off of The Saga of Ra’s Al Ghul, but it certainly is not that story “as is” (and in fact probably barely resembles it).
–FLASHBACK: 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 (as seen through flashback in Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #2). Ra’s Al Ghul fakes a civil war within the ranks of the League of Assassins. Dr. Ebeneezer Darrk, leader of a “splinter League faction,” attempts to kidnap Talia from the University of Cairo, where she studies. Batman, of course, saves Talia and becomes infatuated with her. Batman and Talia begin a whirlwind affair, fueled by the thrill of adventure as Dr. Darrk and Ra’s Al Ghul continue their “war” for weeks. Batman saves Talia all over Europe, the Middle East, and Africa—rescuing her from locked dungeons, Spanish fighting bulls, and other dangers. Eventually, 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. In the end, a shirtless Dark Knight sword-fights Ra’s Al Ghul in the Sahara Desert—a scene that mirrors Batman #244 from the original Saga of Ra’s Al Ghul. 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.
–FLASHBACK: An escaped Joker tries to gas the entire city using a blimp (as seen in Batman Vol. 2 #15). Batman stops him, but Joker goes missing. Batman then returns to the Batcave via Batboat. A few hours later, Bruce discovers a playing card floating in the water near where the Batboat is parked. Bruce ponders whether or not Joker has gained entry to the cave (and his found out his secret identity), but dismisses the idea as preposterous. Still a bit shaken, Bruce seals-off the waterway entrances to the Batcave and beefs up security. Bruce also makes an enlarged replica of the playing card and hangs it in the Batcave.
-  JAMES BLACK: A fun an interesting side-note about the New 52: When the creators of the New 52 Batman were initially writing up the story-lines for the new continuity, they were using the aid of “project timeline“computer software. This system was designed to fix every continuity detail and make everything in the narrative more effective. ↩
-  COLLIN COLSHER: Since I’m trying to keep this separate from an overall DCU chronology, I don’t have a Year Zero or Year Negatives on here for the “urban legend” Dark Knight period—instead I’m just starting with Batman’s first year as Year One. Remember, Bruce doesn’t become Batman until midway through this year.
Another point of clarification about Year One as 2005. The New 52 reboot occurred in September of 2011, so we can think of story-lines that started with the reboot as “2011 stories.” Therefore, if the “5 Years Ago” Justice League Vol. 2 standard by which everything revolves around is set with the first contemporary Justice League Vol. 2 story-arc (late 2011) then “five years” before late 2011 is 2006. Late 2005 or early 2006 is the time of Superman’s arrival on the Metropolis scene. If you are counting by “DC Years” then DC’s first year (the Justice League debut year) would be in 2006. Originally, the I figured the timeline was much longer since Damian Wayne was ten-years-old by September 2010 (as mentioned in Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #1 and Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #0). According to simple arithmetic, this would have put not only the debut of Ra’s Al Ghul, but the debut of Batman, in early 2001. However, it has become painfully—and I cannot stress that enough—painfully apparent that the DC think-tank in 2012 wanted Damian to have been born a mere six years ago (i.e. in 2006) and simply have been genetically engineered to grow faster so that he appeared biologically as a ten-year-old. How did I come to this dastardly conclusion? I was reading David Uzumeri’s annotations of Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #2 and it struck me—not the information particularly, since I’d registered the same info from the Mindless Ones annotations—but the numbers. To quote Uzumeri, “Ra’s [Al Ghul] and Melisande are at a concert greatly reminiscent of the Live Aid charity show from July 13, 1985—which would make Talia roughly twenty-six-years-old [as of 2012], which would make her somewhat age-appropriate for the about-thirty-ish Batman currently residing in the New 52. . . . Melisande talks about Neptune being in Capricorn, which would also date this page (and Talia’s birth) as taking place between 1984 and 1997.” Thus, if we go by a twelve-year timeline that starts in 2001 (and is in the current year 2012) then that means Bruce impregnates Talia, who is supposedly attending university at the time, at age sixteen or seventeen! Now I’m not about to enter into a debate about legality or foreign law, but I’m fairly certain that DC did not draft a new world where Bruce is tantamount to a child predator. However, to play devil’s advocate for a moment, one can still work with a twelve-year-timeline-as-of-2012 and have Bruce engage with Talia at a more legal age of eighteen if the Saga of Ra’s Al Ghul stuff occurs in 2002 instead of 2001, but when you begin to break it down, it seems just as fishy as the other stuff. Therefore, what I initially dreaded is indeed an unfortunate axiom: Damian turns five-years-old in 2011, but his age referred to in the comics (ten-years-old in 2010/2011) is merely his biological age, not how long he has actually lived.
Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #0 shows the history of Damian, but again, it is pretty vague. 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). If we truly believe in the eight-year-by-2012 timeline, the Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #0 montage of Damian’s b-days—featuring six b-days including the one where he bests Talia in 2010—must all occur over the course of four or five years. In other words, we have to assume Talia and Damian have celebrated a few biological birthdays each year for everything to work correctly. We’ll never know Whether or not Damian’s growth would’ve leveled-out or reduced itself back to normal rates after his tenth b-day due to his untimely death in 2013.
One final note: Red Hood & The Outlaws tells us that Jason was Robin for “years” (emphasis on the plural), as opposed to “one year” or “a year.” However, we cannot take this at face value. Based upon information gleaned from the back-story and details of Scott Snyder’s “Court of Owls” arc and flashbacks from Nightwing Vol. 3, it is a highly probable assumption that Dick plays intern sidekick for plus-or-minus one year (including training time), Jason for the same amount (including training time), and Tim for roughly two years (which also includes his training time). Thus, Dick debuts as Robin in 2006. ↩
-  COLLIN COLSHER: Bruce has trained in Tibet, Nagoya, Mount Qingcheng, Oxford, Paris, Kenya, Syria, Afghanistan, deep in the Himalayas, and Paris again (for a total of four years in that order spanning from 2000 to late 2004). Bruce trained with Tsunetomo in Nagoya, with Chu Chin Li at Mount Qingcheng, with Henri Ducard during his second visit to Paris, and with Shihan Matsuda in the Himalayas. His time with Matsuda is shown in Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0. His time with Ducard is shown in Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #5-6. Tsunetomo and Chu Chin Li are referenced in Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #5. Only six people trained Batman in total (as mentioned in Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #5, but as of this point, two remain unknown. ↩
-  COLLIN COLSHER: Okay, here’s how I see things going down (based mostly upon info given in the New 52 zero issues). Each one of the flashbacks from the zero issues takes place a certain number of given years before the beginning of the New 52 Age starts in 2011 OR prior to the publishing dates of the issues in 2012. In the case of Bruce’s pre-Batman history: At age eighteen he discovers that a drunkard named Joe Chill, acting alone, randomly murdered his parents (as seen in Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #0). Following a confrontation with the disheveled Chill, Bruce goes abroad from 2000 to 2004 to train, publicly returning to Gotham in late 2004—Batman Vol. 2 #0 tells us Bruce was away for four years and Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0 tells us that he returns to Gotham “seven years ago.” The story continues in Batman Vol. 2 #0: Bruce moves into a brownstone near Crime Alley that contains a hidden underground armory, from which he tests out battle equipment and fights the threat of the Red Hood Gang—much to the chagrin of Alfred and a suspicious Lieutenant James Gordon. The Red Hood will later factor into the creation of Joker (as mentioned in Batman Vol. 2 #13). Bear in mind, Bruce still hasn’t been inspired to don the Batman costume yet. That, of course, occurs roughly six months later in mid-2005, at which time Bruce will move his base of operations into Wayne Manor and the Batcave. ↩
-  COLLIN COLSHER: Interesting points regarding Batman’s costume in the New Age: First, the 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 (as mentioned in Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #12). And second, the mask also contains a video recording device (as mentioned in Batman Vol. 2 #19). Batman will record every single bit of everything he does while out-and-about. ↩
-  COLLIN COLSHER: Batman Vol. 2 #7 and Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #0 both have flashbacks to a specific scene from Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One—the part where a bloody Bruce, just after fighting crooks, ponders his next move and a bat comes crashing through the window giving him cause to ring his Alfred bell and become the Dark Knight. Curiously, Bruce is wearing a completely different outfit in new flashbacks compared to what he wears in Miller’s tale. It’s safe to say that certain aspects of Miller’s seminal and influential work are remaining canon, but we still shouldn’t assume that the whole thing is. In fact, I would lean toward a New 52 universe where most of Miller’s Year One is actually retconned out. Scott Snyder has hinted in interviews that he doesn’t want to step on Miller’s toes or change Batman’s origins from the amazing original Year One tale, but like I’ve already said, too much has changed for Miller’s story to remain intact. ↩
-  COLLIN COLSHER: In Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #1 Peter J. Tomasi has Bruce Wayne say, “10:48 on a September night was the time that all sense left my life.” Thus, in the New Age, the Waynes died in September. ↩