(July 2013 to December 2013)
–FLASHBACK: From Detective Comics #948-949—and referenced in Batwoman: Rebirth #1. (Note that this flashback incorrectly lists this item as happening two years prior to Year Nine. We are three years prior to Year Nine.) Batwoman—guided by her dad Jake Kane—continues trailing and spying-on Batman. After five straight days of watching him on patrol, Batman finally sees her, despite the fact that she is half-a-mile away. The Dark Knight investigates and learns that Batwoman is his estranged cousin Kate. The next day, Batwoman shoots some video footage of Batman pummeling a gangster. Batman then surprises Kate at home, which gets him shot in his bulletproof leg. Batman tells Kate that he doesn’t approve of her vigilantism, but he won’t stand in her way. Unknown to Batman and Batwoman, they are being secretly watched via hidden camera that belongs to Jake Kane’s clandestine paramilitary group known as The Colony. (The Colony has been watching Batman since his debut.) Jake and his top man Simon Samuels (codenamed “Colony Prime”) view Batman conversing with Batwoman. Samuels tells Jake that Kate can’t join the anti-superhero Colony because she is too obsessed with both being a superhero and the Caped Crusader in general. A couple days later, a limping Bruce arranges for and meets with his cousin Kate. They have lunch and part ways. Kate realizes that Bruce is Batman and that he is testing her.
–NOTE: References in Batwoman #0-2 and a flashback from Batwoman #0 flesh out the tale of Batwoman versus her maniacal sister—originally told in Detective Comics #857-860. Batman is not involved, but this item is pertinent and relevant to future events that do involve the Dark Knight. Here’s the synopsis. Batwoman’s long lost twin sister Elizabeth “Beth” Kane returns as Alice, the crazed super-villain leader of the Religion of Crime. Alice attempts to bomb Gotham Harbor, but is stopped by Batwoman, Kyle Abbot, and Jake Kane. Alice seemingly perishes during the chaos after falling into the harbor from a plane. Angry at her dad for keeping the details about Alice a secret, Kate cuts off all communication with Jake.
Kate Kane visits Maggie Sawyer at GCPD HQ, getting momentarily distracted by a picture of her ex-girlfriend Renee Montoya. Later that night, Batwoman begins training a sidekick, her cousin and former teen hero known as Flamebird (Bette Kane). In a sort of hazing ritual, Flamebird is forced to wear plain gray fatigues and is renamed “Plebe” while training. Meanwhile, the Department of Extranormal Affairs (DEO), a government organization designed to keep tabs on superhumans, or “metahumans” as they call them, has taken an interest in Batwoman. DEO director of operations, Mr. Bones, sends his best agent and woman-of-action, Cameron Chase, to Gotham to figure out who Batwoman is. In Gotham, Batwoman and Plebe take down small-timers like Q-Ball and the Pool Hall Gang, but quickly wind up working a darker, more serious case—a ghost known as La Llorona (translated as “The Weeping Woman”) has been abducting and killing children. Just as the case begins, Batman pays Batwoman a visit and invites her to join Batman Incorporated. (Note that Batman Inc still technically exists at this point, but it is basically in a limbo state of non-activity, especially in the States. Batman inviting Batwoman to join Batman Inc likely just means an invitation into the Bat-Family or it could be the Dark Knight’s attempt to re-start it with whom he sees as a potential capable new leader.) Batwoman turns down Batman’s offer but says she will think it over. Kate soon begins dating GCPD Detective Maggie Sawyer and watches her from a distance as she examines a bloody crime scene that had involved a gory metahuman battle between the remaining Religion of Crime cultists (led by Kyle Abbot) and a new terrorist group called Medusa. Later, Batman warns Batwoman about Chase. A couple days later, Flamebird argues with Batwoman and goes off on her own only to get badly injured. Batwoman temporarily exorcises La Llorona, exposed as the ghost of a troubled mother that had been conjured-up and controlled by Medusa agents. Meanwhile, Cameron Chase and Director Bones have just learned Batwoman’s secret identity after picking up the injured Flamebird. Bones and Chase give Kate an ultimatum: turn down Batman’s offer to join Batman Incorporated and join the DEO instead—or they will court-martial her dad for aiding a vigilante. Left with no choice, she accepts. At the hospital where Bette is recovering, Kate meets with Batman and tells him about the unfortunate situation.
–second feature from Batman Vol. 2 #19-20 (“GHOST LIGHTS”)
Batman investigates the outside of a building where a supposed supernatural mass murder has occurred. Superman joins him in an attempt to discuss the death of Damian, but Batman doesn’t want to address it at all. (Batman has successfully avoided Superman since Damian’s death.) Batman and Superman enter the building, which resonates with such intense supernatural vibes that Superman suffers from severe nausea and disequilibrium. In a back room, our heroes come across what is obviously an occult ritual gone terribly wrong, as bodies litter the floor surrounding a pentagram and arcane symbols etched into the floor. After chatting with a ghost, Batman and Superman come face to face with the horrific supernatural being known as the Will o’ the Wisp. The Will o’ the Wisp is a demonic creature known as a Soul Eater, which literally eats souls. Soul Eaters were featured in a few Modern Age Batman stories, but this is the first appearance of one in the New Age. While Superman fights a losing battle against the Will o’ the Wisp, Batman chats with the ghost and learns how to send the Soul Eater back to the realm from whence it came. Just as Superman is about to get consumed, Batman completes the exorcism ritual and makes the ghouls disappear. Batman thanks Superman for his compassion in regard to Damian, but says he’s not ready to talk about it. The duo then departs to complete the Dark Knight’s routine patrol together.
(Note that Batwoman #6-17 is very time-compressed due to retcons from Batman: Rebirth #1, hence the extreme closeness between Batwoman #5 and Batwoman #18.) Batwoman has just gotten engaged to Maggie Sawyer. Batwoman and her sidekick Hawkfire (Bette Kane’s new moniker) have also just defeated the mystical global criminal organization known as Medusa. Now they take down Mr. Freeze and Batman comes to clean up the mess. Batman and Batwoman argue as the former demands Mr. Freeze’s freeze-gun. Batwoman breaks it in half and gives the Dark Knight one of the halves. Later at DEO HQ, Cameron Chase and Director Bones discuss how their agent, Batwoman, has gotten increasingly more and more disobedient as of late. Hoping to reassert his hegemony, Bones decides it’s time to reveal the ace up his sleeve: the DEO has Batwoman’s sister Beth (aka Alice) held captive.
THIS BLOOD IS THICK
———————–Batwoman Annual #1
This story goes here for several reasons. One, it follows a continuous arc from Batwoman #18-23 (although Batman does not appear in issue #19-23). Two, Bane mentions Damian’s death, and refers to it as having happened quite recently. Three, Batgirl is wearing her Bat-insignia, so it must be before Batgirl #19-20. Four, Starling and Katana are still a members of the Birds of Prey. And five, David Zavimbe is Batwing, so it must take place before Batwing #19. Ok, here’s the back-story. Director Bones, leader of the DEO, mistakenly came to believe that he was abandoned at birth by his father Jake Kane. Despite the fact that Jake is not really his father, Bones became obsessed with the idea. The unhinged Bones then came up with a plan to use DEO resources, under the guise of finding out Batman’s secret ID, to get revenge against the Kane Family. Thus, to lure Batman (and the Kanes) out into the open, Bones authorized the release of several of Gotham’s deadliest criminals—Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, Riddler, Tweedle-Dum, and Tweedle-Dee. Cut to the present. These released Arkham inmates, along with a hired Bane, attack the city. Despite the fact that the Bat-Family is in shambles, they all respond to the chaos, including Batwing and the Birds of Prey. Nightwing even flies back in from Chicago. Angered at the fact that so many super-villains are being used by the DEO, Maggie Sawyer confronts Cameron Chase. Chase, using her DEO authority, responds by taking control of the GCPD. Meanwhile, Batman wails on Bane and injects a serum into his body that turns his Venom into a virulent toxin. Defeated and in pain, Bane reveals that Bones has set up the whole affair. Across town, Hawkfire busts into a DEO facility and breaks Batwoman’s sister Alice out of captivity. At the other end of town, Bones unleashes his top agent upon Batman: the one, the only, Batwoman. Batman and Batwoman epically slug it out. After a long fight, Batwoman wins and takes a captured Batman to her hideout. But Batman plays possum, undoes his binds, and reasons with Batwoman’s sensible side. They decide to team-up. Meanwhile, Bones, Chase, and a DEO squadron capture Hawkfire, Alice, and Jake’s military ops unit known as The Crows (Sean McCairn, Jackson Lloyd, Bohashka Zlenko, and Jason Morley). Batwoman gets the jump on Bones and company by surprising them with a ruse where Jake wears the Batman costume. The real Batman, Nightwing, and Batgirl then bust in and take down the DEO guys. DEO Agent Asaf, on direct orders from President Obama, takes out the rogue Bones by shooting him in the head, which puts him into a coma.
–REFERENCE: In Talon #14, Part 2. Bruce isn’t shown in the second part of Talon #14, which takes place now, but he plays an integral role. Three weeks have passed since the end of Talon #14, Part 1. Bruce purchases Casey Washington’s former company, Securitus, and reinstates her as CEO. Bruce also puts Casey onto the Board of Directors at Wayne Enterprises. Calvin Rose wakes up from his coma right as rain and is filled-in on everything going on by his now legit romantic interest Casey. But Casey saves the biggest news for last. Batman gives her total control of the brand new Batman Incorporated, which will be headquartered on Securitus Island. (Bruce will bankroll Batman Inc, but it’s not really his baby anymore.) Including a staff of Securitus engineers, scientists and GI-Robots, the new Casey Washington-led Batman Inc lineup features Calvin Rose, Joey, Edgar, Anya Volkova, Dark Ranger, and Nightrunner. Obviously, in light of the history of Batman Inc, this new Batman Inc will have to remain totally secret from the public (and I’m guessing will function more like a clandestine superhero team more than a Blackwater operation). Batman Japan, Lolita Canary, and Master Hong also join Casey Washington’s Batman Inc team (as revealed in Batman Eternal #9). As does Batwing (David Zavimbe) (as referenced in Batwing #19).
–Batwoman Annual #1 Epilogue
Editorial tells us that “three weeks” have passed since Director Bones’ DEO assault on Batman and the Kane Family. Agent Asaf testifies before a congressional hearing and is appointed as the new director of the DEO. Jake Kane departs for a therapeutic overseas cruise with Beth Kane in hopes of rehabilitating her. Cameron Chase resigns from the DEO and becomes a private eye. And Batman meets with Batwoman, showers her with approbation, and then goes on patrol with her.
–FLASHBACK: From Batwing #20. Mid August—six months before the main action of Batwing #20. Batman invites Luke Fox into one of the Bat Bunkers. A smiling Batman tells Luke he wants him to be his “global agent of chaos.” The Dark Knight starts him on an immediate extended training program with the masters Tsunemoto and Chu Chin Li, both men who originally schooled Bruce. Luke will keep his training a secret from his dad, Lucius Fox.
–REFERENCE: In the second feature to All-Star Batman #6. September. Batman prepares for Riddler to attack the city on the anniversary of his Zero Year attack. Sure enough, as he does every year (whether he is in prison or not), Riddler initiates a new pre-planned puzzle-themed strike on Gotham in commemoration of Zero Year. Since the reference to the anniversary attacks in the second feature to All-Star Batman #6 is vague and does not give specifics, we don’t know what this attack entails. Nor are we told whether or not Batman is able to stop Riddler’s plot.
–Batman Vol. 2 #18
The stark realization that Damian is gone and never coming back has finally sunk in for Bruce. Batman, hoping to take his mind off the loss of his son, fights crime day and night for a full week with no sleep. By the end of the week, Batman is unhinged and off his game, getting stabbed in the leg by a mugger. A weary Batman then confronts an animal abuser who sics a bunch of genetically modified, Venom-enhanced mutts on him. Harper Row, who has been training to fight crime for months now, shows up and unnecessarily tries to help out her hero. Batman defeats the man and his dogs and then warns Harper to back off by punching her in the face and breaking her nose! The next day Harper meets with Bruce at the freshly fixed-up and recently re-opened Wayne Tower, hoping to offer a helpful electric grid blueprint to Batman’s esteemed financial backer. Bruce, feeling sorry for bruising up the poor girl, accepts the assistance and says he will talk to Batman. Later, back in his Batman gear, Bruce apologizes to Harper. Harper then gives the Dark Knight a motivational speech and delivers a present to him: The Wayne Tower building lights up with a giant “R” that will cycle the word “resolve.” Ironically, the “R” forms a giant Robin symbol and acts as a tribute to the fallen sidekick, although Harper couldn’t possibly know for certain that Robin is dead.
–Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #16-18
For the past week, mass kidnappings of random people have been perpetrated by large mobs of organized criminals. Batman now tries to take down one of the mobs, but the Batplane gets shot down with a bazooka. Improvising, the Dark Knight uses the downed plane as a giant roadster to save as many lives as he can. Later, Bruce meets with an upset Natalya at Wayne Manor. They discuss his inattentiveness, mysterious nature, and absence as a real partner in their relationship. Bruce can’t deny any of it, but of course cannot offer any defense. Broken-hearted, Natalya dumps Bruce for the second time. After interrogating Penguin, Batman realizes that all of the criminals have been wearing hats or wigs. They have all been mind-controlled by Mad Hatter! Batman does some “bata-mining” and learns that Mad Hatter has purchased a bunch of corporations and has been using them to fund businesses, events, and stores, from which he literally steals and brainwashes his victims. Batman rescues a boy from Mad Hatter’s Pediatric Hospital fair and thinks he’s located the villain’s hideout, but Mad Hatter is hidden safely away in an underground abandoned missile silo. After shaking down Tweedle-Dee, Batman locates a factory belonging to Mad Hatter and beats up a bunch of his brainwashed soldiers there before taking a lead pipe shot from the a drugged-up Hatter himself, who immediately flees. Batman then has an unsavory conversation with Catwoman, who inquires about his sex life and steals a hubcap off the Batmobile. Across town, Mad Hatter, searching for his perfect Alice, brutally kills his old unrequited love from back in high school, along with a dozen other blondes that just don’t make the cut. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce thinks about his life and decides to make a huge decision: He visits Natalya and spills the beans about his life as Batman! Natalya is actually cool with it and she gets the grand tour of the Batcave.
–FLASHBACK: From Batman Vol. 2 #19. This flashback sequence starts six days prior to Clayface mimicking Bruce Wayne and framing him for a plethora of public crimes (as will be seen in the main action of Batman #19-20). Batman broods in the Batcave, viewing old vid recordings of Damian, including his fight against the Reaper. Batman snaps out of his funk when he learns his friend Brian Wade has supposedly committed suicide. Batman investigates and runs into Wade, who attacks him and flees. Back at the Batcave, Batman tests Wade’s DNA and discovers that it is none other than Clayface. Clayface can replicate others’ DNA to perfection, but Batman had been unaware of this ability until now, thinking that he was merely a gifted sight mimic. The next day, Bruce meets with Lucius Fox, but it ain’t Lucius, it’s Clayface again. The evolving/mutating villain—who is in the process of losing his own original DNA—then attacks Bruce! (Note that we won’t hear about Clayface’s mutation again, and, in fact, down the road, it will seem as though the mutation has ceased and disappeared. Clayface definitely doesn’t lose his own DNA. This means Clayface’s body must be going through constant radical biological shifts and phases, and it will continue to do so in the future.)
—Batman Vol. 2 #19-20 (“NOWHERE MAN”)
Bruce tries to fight off Clayface in the Wayne Enterprises R&D lab (even activating the GI Bat-Bots in a failed defense), but the latter replicates the former, tossing him into a Star Wars-like trash compacter with Lucius Fox. Clayface, posing as Bruce, then goes on a killing spree and robs a bank. Commish Gordon, Bullock, and the rest of the GCPD are stupefied as “Bruce” mouths-off and holds a hostage for all to see. “Bruce” then shoots Gordon square in his bulletproof vest and flees, but not before Gordon spots the Batman costume underneath his blazer. Back at Wayne Enterprises R&D, Lucius explains that the compactor in which they are stuck is used for destroying malfunctioning or non-cost effective tech. Bruce finds a Batman Beyond costume (Lucius states that it wouldn’t have been completed or cost effective for at least another twenty years), straps it on, and flies Lucius to safety. Snyder, by throwing this black and red Bat-costume into the mix, playfully presages the in-canon Batman Beyond future of the New Age. As we learn in Batman Vol. 2 #50, Batman puts the proto-Batman Beyond costume with his other Bat-suits in the Batcave. The Caped Crusader then tells Gordon about Clayface’s new replication powers, wears an upgraded version of the Haz-Bat Suit, and traps Clayface in a containment cell. As the police arrive, Clayface tries to tell them that Bruce is Batman. Batman fools Gordon and company, claiming that he was wearing a fiber thin skin mask containing Bruce’s DNA, which is why his DNA ostensibly matched Bruce’s DNA. Gordon is presumably convinced, but he has to have more than a sneaking suspicion that Bruce might be Batman following this affair. Clayface then replicates Damian, which causes Batman to completely flip out until Gordon calms him down. Back in the Batcave, Bruce and Alfred shed some tears while watching the old video footage of Damian fighting the Reaper.
–Detective Comics Vol. 2 #21
This issue is said to take place “one week after Batman Vol. 2 #18” and “two days before the death of Natalya in Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #20.” Two days prior to Natalya’s death seems right on the money, but “one week” after Batman #18 should be amended closer to “nine days.” Close enough. Penumbra started stalking Bruce Wayne around three months ago (at the end of ‘tec #20), but has yet to strike. When a bunch of trained assassins tries to kill a foreign prime minister, Batman easily disposes of them. But maybe it was a little too easy? Sensing a distraction, Alfred warns Batman that the meddling Harper Row is tangoing with Penumbra atop a Wayne Enterprises building. Batman crashes the party and fights the shadow-powered super warrior. During their fight, Penumbra unmasks and reveals herself as Bruce’s ex-lover, Mio, from ten years ago when he was training with Shihan Matsuda in the Himalayas. Ten years ago, Mio betrayed Bruce and murdered Matsuda and his wife. Batman tries to question Mio, who he thought had died long ago, but Mio falls out of a window and disappears. Batman then chats with Harper and gives her some Bat-gear. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce and Alfred discuss the possibility of Harper joining the Bat-Family. Elsewhere, Mio returns to the League of Assassins and reports back to her master Ra’s Al Ghul, who is secretly targeting Batman (likely as revenge for Talia’s death).
–Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #19-21
September 24-26. Love is in the air now that Bruce has revealed his big secret to Natalya. In fact, Natalya is so comfortable that, after spending the night at Wayne Manor, she then casually checks-in on Bruce in the Batcave before departing for a recital. Despite all of his recent depression regarding Damian, Natalya actually brings a smile to Bruce’s face and he ponders that he might be in true love for the first time ever. But love isn’t the only thing in the air. So is terror. The Mad Hatter murders several hundred people in an hour’s time. Mad Hatter also targets Natalya to be his “Alice” when one of his mind-controlled minions reports seeing Batman showing a little TLC to her before a piano performance. Batman continues to search for Mad Hatter, pausing momentarily to take stock of his life, now in a healthy loving relationship with Natalya but still reeling from the death of Damian. Bruce tells Alfred that he may consider hanging up his crime-fighting boots for good. But before further contemplation can occur, Mad Hatter kidnaps Natalya and ruthlessly tries to beat the secret identity of Batman out of her. Natalya, bloodied and bruised, remains stalwart and refuses to spill the beans. For her courage, Mad Hatter throws Natalya out of a helicopter and into the proverbial fridge, where so many female characters wind up these days. Natalya crashes to her graphically violent death, right into the Bat Signal atop the GCPD HQ, and also right before Batman’s very eyes as he arrives a second too late to save her. An enraged Dark Knight, like we’ve never seen before, charges to confront Mad Hatter. Hatter doses him with a Fear Gas-like hallucinogenic, but Batman fights off its effect and beats the bloody stuffing out of both Hatter and his henchmen. Batman stops short of murdering the super-villain, but only because Alfred begs him to stop. Back in the Batcave, Bruce is solemn as Alfred stitches up his wounds.
–REFERENCE: In Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #21, Epilogue. September 27-October 30. Bruce has now lost everything: his family, his son, and his lover. Devastated and depressed, Bruce decides to hang up the boots for what writer Gregg Hurwitz tells us will be a full month.
–Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #21, Epilogue
October 31. A full month has passed since Natalya’s death. Batman has remained out of action this whole time. Commissioner Gordon lights the patched-up but spider-webbed Bat Signal. Batman finally ends his hiatus, responds, and works a robbery case at the Gotham Depository.
–REFERENCE: In Batman and… #28 (“Batman & Two-Face”). Presumably, Batman delivers a new Bat Signal to the GCPD, replacing the damaged one. Or it is possible that he or the GCPD simply replaces the spider-webbed glass.
–REFERENCE: In Batman and… #21. Batman, distraught over the loss of Natalya, will begin the practice of going on “complete communication blackout” while on patrol, even in regard to Alfred. This will last for several weeks. Of course, “complete communication blackout” is an exaggeration—Bruce may not respond to calls, but he will on occasion, make calls (to Gordon and Alfred, for example).
–Batman and… #19 (“Batman & Red Robin”)
Early November—the check that Bruce gives to Carrie at the end of this issue is dated “2/27/2013,” but this cannot be correct at all. Not even close. College student Carrie Kelley (her first ever appearance in any mainstream continuity!) pops by Wayne Manor looking for Damian. Bruce visits Carrie at school, learning that Damian had befriended her a few months before his death. He had been taking acting lessons, playing video games, and getting burned copies of classic TV and movies from her. That night, obsessed with resurrecting Damian, Batman hacks into the computer database of the secret government peacekeeping agency known as SHADE (Super-Human Advanced Defense Executive), knowing that their top agent is the patchwork living-zombie Frankenstein. The Caped Crusader learns the secret location of Castle Frankenstein near the North Pole and spends the next six days turning the castle into his personal “mad science lab,” complete with sci-fi tools and cadavers stolen from a hospital. Batman then kidnaps Frankenstein and steals him away to the castle, hoping that the original re-animated man can somehow help him bring back Damian. When Frankenstein refuses to help, a crazed Batman takes him apart (literally) and begins a bizarre autopsy/experimentation using his dismembered body and the cadavers. Worried, Alfred sends Red Robin to check-up on/stop Batman. Batman argues with Red Robin and sends him away. Seeing that the unreasonable Batman is slightly unhinged, Red Robin destroys the entire lab with a hail of Teen Titan warship artillery. A pissed-off Batman simply glares at Red Robin and departs, leaving Tim to piece Frankenstein back together again. Back in Gotham, Bruce sends Carrie a check for the outstanding amount that Damian owed her (plus a lot more) for the various lessons.
–FLASHBACK: From second feature of Superman Unchained #2. Bruce completes his several-yearlong anti-Superman suit project. He now has a fully functional Bat-suit that is completely invisible to Superman. Bruce contemplates destroying the suit (along with the Kryptonite ring), but ultimately decides that having these items is necessary and also what Superman would want.
–Batman and… #20 (“Batman & Red Hood”)
A couple nights after Batman and… #19, Carrie Kelley visits Wayne Manor to find out what happened to Damian and to return the extra cash. Bruce tells her that Damian is on a several-yearlong study abroad program. Bruce also tells her to get lost. Alfred, who is much more congenial, escorts her out and offers her a job as Titus’ permanent dog-sitter! (Bear in mind that Carrie won’t actually start for about a-month-and-a-half from now.) Later, Jason Todd gets the results of his final blood-workup from Alfred, certifying that there is no lingering Joker Venom in his system. (Jason has been getting blood tests done by Alfred for the past six months.) Bruce then asks Jason to accompany him to Ethiopia to get revenge against some snipers who tried to collect on Talia’s bounty on Damian a while back. Batman and Red Hood fly to Africa and violently kick some serious ass. Red Hood gets the green light from his former mentor to use guns (non-lethally, of course), and Batman permanently cripples a few of the bad guys. Batman then reveals the truth behind the mission, taking Jason to the exact spot where he died. A crazed Batman orders Jason to tell him the details behind his resurrection, but Jason refuses and they have a good ol’ fashioned slugfest. The weary and overly-emotional Batman unmasks and takes a few heavy shots to the face. Jason, disgusted, leaves poor Batman standing in the desert, alone and bloody. Elsewhere, Two-Face flips his coin in preparation for a big return. Writer Peter Tomasi really captures a tortured side of Batman that we’ve never seen before. With Nightwing in Chicago, Batgirl and Red Robin more distant than ever, Red Hood ostracized, Natalya dead, and Damian dead, Bruce truly has lost his family, and it’s really hurting him deeply.
–Batman Vol. 2 Annual #2
This item takes place “some months before” Detective Comics Vol. 2 #28—by my estimate about four months before. Batman volunteers to test out the new Tartarus Wing of Arkham Asylum to see if he can escape the supposed “inescapable.” During the test run, Arkham’s first ever patient, who has been imprisoned since the early 20th century, the powerful metahuman known as The Anchoress, escapes and attacks Batman. During their scuffle, the Anchoress reminds Batman of their prior meeting during Zero Year. She then uses her “quantum tunneling” ability to force Batman to relive his hardest memories, like the death of his parents, the reemergence of his supposed brother, and the death of Damian. With some help from Arkham’s staffers—Dr. Mahreen Zaheer and rookie orderly Eric Border—Batman fights off the Anchoress, who tells the Dark Knight that Arkham was a normal sanctuary for the ill before his existence. Eventually, the Anchoress is talked down by the orderlies and Batman leaves. Border exclaims that he truly believes Arkham can be a sanctuary for hope instead of a place of evil. MEGA SPOILER: Eric Border is none other than the deranged Clown Prince of Crime himself, Joker! Using strong muscle relaxers, pigmentation medication, reconstructive surgery, and makeup, Joker has made up the role of “Eric Border” to secretly embed himself both into Arkham and into Batman’s life.
–NOTE: In Batgirl Vol. 4 #19-20. Batman isn’t involved, but this occurrence weighs heavily on upcoming events. Babs falsely believes that she has murdered her crazy brother James Junior. Upset by this, Babs removes the Bat-symbol from her costume.
–Batgirl Vol. 4 #22
Babs goes on a hot date with Ricky Gutierrez (a fella she saved in Batgirl #10-13). In the morning, Babs meets her dad on the shooting range. That night, Commissioner Gordon meets with Batman and punches him in the face! Gordon angrily tells Batman that he should have never let Batgirl become a part of the Bat-Family, citing that James Junior is dead because of her. Gordon also laments the fact that he must now apprehend and bring to justice a good-hearted hero in Batgirl. Batman backs down and Gordon vows to jail Batgirl at any cost. There’s a strange subtext seemingly going on here as if there is an insinuation that Gordon knows that his daughter is Batgirl—but then why the pronouncement that he’s going to hunt her down as if she is a separate character? Gordon definitely doesn’t know. And if he does, he’s in denial.
–Batman and… #21 (“Batman & Batgirl”)
Batgirl is down in the dumps. The Bat-Family has fallen to pieces. Babs, still upset because she thinks she has killed her brother, wails on some heroin dealers. Batman arrives and helps her out, but is quite curt and un-talkative, especially when he notices her Bat-symbol has been removed. A couple days later, Babs tails Batman and video records him violently ending a hostage situation at a car dealership. The crazed Batman uses excessive force and even kicks Lieutenant Harvey Bullock when the detective tries to intervene. (Don’t forget that this isn’t really Bullock—it’s super-villain mimic Jane Doe impersonating him, as we will learn in Detective Comics Vol. 2 Annual #2). Batgirl then confronts Batman in the Batcave regarding his behavior, shows him the video, and scolds him for being so out of control ever since Damian’s death. Batman ripostes with heated words and by smashing a monitor screen. Babs responds by yelling back and smashing the glass case that holds Damian’s Robin costume. Batman then kicks Babs out of the Batcave. Yikes.
–Detective Comics Vol. 2 #22, Prologue
A mystery super-villain that seems to mirror Batman in every way kills some GCPD officers. Some of the bereaved cops think Batman is the killer. Batman fights some these angry cops and quickly makes them realize that he is on their side. SPOILER: The new super-villain is The Wrath (gazillionaire business tycoon ED Caldwell).
–FLASHBACK: From Detective Comics Vol. 2 Annual #2. This item takes place after the Wrath has started killing cops, but one week before the main action of ‘tec Annual #2. Batman chases after an identity thief in the financial district. This ID thief is the mysterious master of mimicry known as Jane Doe. Batman is unable to nab Jane Doe thank to some secret assistance from the Wrath, who helps her escape. Jane Doe vanishes, leaving only her false face behind.
–Detective Comics Vol. 2 #22, Part 1
Bruce meets with ED Caldwell, multi-billionaire weapons manufacturer that wants to take over Bruce’s spot as top business dog in Gotham. Caldwell, as Alfred curiously remarks, is a Gotham native who has only recently returned from a lengthy absence overseas. During their meeting, Bruce tells Caldwell that his spot in Gotham isn’t for sale.
–Detective Comics Vol. 2 Annual #2, Part 1
The main action of part one of this issue takes place one week after Jane Doe was saved by the Wrath in the flashback from Detective Comics Vol. 2 Annual #2. The main action of part one of this issue also features the first face-to-face meeting between Batman and Gordon since Batgirl Vol. 4 #22. Batman examines the scene of another Wrath cop-killing with Gordon, Bullock, and Bullock’s new girlfriend, department shrink Abby Wilburn. Batman is now aware that the new super-villain (probably thanks to scouring underworld channels) is named “The Wrath.” At the scene, Batman and the cops discover another corpse, this one offed by Jane Doe. Batman begins hunting both the Wrath and Jane Doe.
–Detective Comics Vol. 2 #22, Part 2
The Wrath sends his high-tech partner Scorn—a “canon immigrant” character from the animated The Batman show—to kill more cops. Batman manages to save Officers Hector Melendez and Nancy Strode, but Scorn gets away despite the Dark Knight’s interference. (Batman’s fight against Scorn is also shown in a single panel of Detective Comics Vol. 2 Annual #2). Across town, the Wrath executes Scorn for having failed in his mission.
–FLASHBACK: From Detective Comics Vol. 2 #23. This item occurs immediately after Scorn’s death and three days before the main action of ‘tec #23. Batman examines Scorn’s corpse with Commissioner Gordon and recognizes him as crook Clyde Anderson.
–Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #22-23
Batman responds to a break-in at a jewelry store only to witness Commissioner Gordon kill one of the thieves. It’s Clayface, of course, who has kidnapped Gordon and replaced him. Clayface takes the jewels and runs, but not before unsettling Batman by morphing into Natalya. Batman then rescues Gordon, who alerts the Dark Knight to his location by making a ghetto Bat Signal. (Batman’s fight against Clayface, which takes place right after Scorn’s death, is also shown in a single panel of Detective Comics Vol. 2 Annual #2). Later, Clayface attacks the Gotham Securities Exchange. Batman is on hand to stop him, but Clayface gets away again. Batman then confronts Mad Hatter at Arkham and learns that he told one of Penguin’s henchmen about Natalya. After shaking-down Penguin, Batman learns the obvious, Penguin has been manipulating Clayface for his own personal gain. As the sun sets, Gordon and a bunch of his officers, all dressed up as Batman in order to freak out Clayface, surround the villain’s hideout. Sure enough, Clayface panics and runs into the real Dark Knight, who encases him in an airtight cage and ships him back to Arkham.
–Detective Comics Vol. 2 Annual #2, Part 2
After taking down a GCPD cop gone insane, Batman has a dialogue with Bullock and Wilburn, but something seems off. Batman winds up at a mannequin factory where he confronts Bullock and Wilburn about his suspicions. After a razor Batarang to the dome, “Bullock’s face” falls off, revealing him to actually be Jane Doe in disguise! With Bullock locked up in a warehouse, Jane Doe had been impersonating him for weeks—the info in this issue tells us it was at least three weeks. Batman fights Jane Doe and puts her behind Arkham bars.
–Detective Comics Vol. 2 #23-24
Three days have passed since Scorn’s death. After fighting the Wrath to a stalemate, Batman decides to use a new strategy against him. Bruce and Alfred meet with ED Caldwell at his HQ under the false pretense that they might now be interested in selling Wayne Enterprises. While Bruce has an exhibition judo match with the eccentric Caldwell, who grills the former about Batman’s tech, Alfred snoops around and locates a giant armory, confirming that Caldwell is the Wrath. The Wrath then takes out the majority of the GCPD by activating electric shockers on their newly delivered Caldwell-manufactured weapons and then takes Alfred hostage. Wrath goes after Batman in an exciting air-chase, but Batman blows up the Batplane and glides to safety. Reunited with Alfred, Batman learns that Wrath hates the GCPD because his dad was an ex-cop that got screwed and murdered by his cop peers long ago. Later, Batman dons his alternate mech-suit (the one he used against Terminus and during the “Night of Owls” as opposed to his Hellbat-suit) to take down Wrath, but allows Commissioner Gordon to make the arrest. Caldwell’s assets are taken away and he winds up in Blackgate. Caldwell will befriend Emperor Penguin within a few day’s time. Also in a few day’s time: Francine Langstrom (in she-bat form) will kill again, this time using a swarm of little bats to assist her hunt.
–FLASHBACK: From second feature of Detective Comics Vol. 2 #22. This flashback takes place a “few months” after Detective Comics Vol. 2 #19. To be precise, it’s been about five months. Ever since Detective Comics Vol. 2 #21, a series of man-bat-style murders have been occurring sporadically throughout Gotham. The latest of these murders was shown at the very end of the recent Detective Comics Vol. 2 #24. A scruffy Harvey Bullock consults Batman about the murders, the latter appearing via hologram in the morgue. Kirk Langstrom, who secretly can now morph into a man-bat without injecting or ingesting Man-Bat Serum is the top suspect. However, Francine Langstrom has secretly been turning into a man-bat (she-bat) as well, and is the one actually responsible for killing people. This arc continues in the Batman-less second feature of Detective Comics Vol. 2 #23: Kirk confronts his wife, who not only admits to an addiction to Man-Bat Serum and the murders, but also reveals that she only married Kirk as an undercover gig to obtain the secrets of the Man-Bat Serum for none other than ED Caldwell! (This is a stark difference between their loving devoted marriage in the Modern Age and the pathetic Total Recall false relationship that is shown here—why must everything be so sad in the New Age?) Man-bat then fights she-bat, the latter escaping into the night. The Langstrom marriage is officially kaput.
–Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #25
Late November—six months after “Death of the Family.” Clayface breaks out of Arkham and goes on a rampage, kidnapping several people, and prompting Batman to ask for assistance from Birds of Prey members Black Canary and Condor (Benjamin Reyes). Clayface injects his victims with Joker Venom (which he got from Joker during the events of “Death of the Family”) and forces them to watch him “perform” on stage. Batman, Black Canary, and Condor scour the city and the Caped Crusader eventually finds Clayface, defeats him, and saves the day. Clayface then goes back to Arkham in a new kiln-fired containment unit where he remains alive but hard as a rock.
–Catwoman Vol. 4 #18
This issue takes place both a few days before Batman and… #22 (“Batman & Catwoman”) and right before the debut of the JLA. It is also written as if it occurs a couple months after “Death of the Family,” but really it’s been about seven months. Catwoman steals a bunch of famous paintings depicting Arkham Asylum, partly for the money given to her in exchange for the items, but also because she knows it will personally irk Batman. Batman angrily chases her down and smashes her snazzy bike helmet. The Bat and the Cat then have an evocative repartee about Joker’s actions during “Death of the Family.” (This is the first time Catwoman has talked to Batman about it—they had a brief encounter in Batman: The Dark Knight #18, but the topic didn’t come up.) Eventually, they calm and embrace. Catwoman begs Batman to open up, but he coldly leaves her as he always does. Later, Selina visits GCPD HQ in search of her best friend Gwen Altamont, who has been arrested. Gwen walks thanks to some shady new underworld friends—Selina enters the building just as Gwen exits, the two just missing each other. That night, Catwoman steals back the paintings and returns them to the museum as a gesture of goodwill towards Batman.
–NOTE: In the second feature to Justice League of America Vol. 3 #2. A non-Batman note, but important nevertheless. President Barack Obama introduces the Justice League of America to the world. The team officially debuts on the steps of the US Capitol Building! The JLA is a publicly-endorsed US government team directed by Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor. In addition to Trevor, the JLA features an active lineup of Martian Manhunter, Katana, Vibe, Stargirl, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Simon Baz, and Catwoman (the team’s lone secret member). Simon Baz is not present at the public intro, but he is also announced as the team’s Green Lantern. Waller has secretly designed this group to act as an anti-Justice League and plans on warring with the JL in the near future.
–Batman and… #22 (“Batman & Catwoman”)
Carrie Kelley has been working as Titus’ caretaker for two full weeks. (Carrie was hired four weeks ago, but waited two weeks to officially start.) Carrie, who still thinks Damian is alive, makes Bruce promise that Damian will call her in exchange for a video she made of Damian. Bruce puts together a digitized audio fake of Damian’s voice, clipped from one of their earlier cases, that gives his regards from abroad. Batman then meets with Catwoman, who reveals her secret JLA membership. Batman and Catwoman then infiltrate the Chinese Embassy where a five-year-old girl is being held against her will by a bunch of Chinese meta-humans (and inhuman monsters) that were genetically enhanced by the girl’s defecting dad. The Bat and the Cat defeat the Chinese freaks and save the girl, swinging into the night with smiles on their faces. Later, Batman drops off a new bike helmet for Catwoman to replace the one he ruined a few days ago (in Catwoman Vol. 4 #18). Batman also leaves the fake Damian message on a voicemail for Carrie. Elsewhere, Two-Face makes his grand return to Gotham, but flips his coin “good side up” so nobody gets hurt.
–Batman & Robin Vol. 2 Annual #2
This issue is said to take place “several months” after Damian’s death. It has been about five months since his death. Bruce finds Damian’s secret “Robin Cave” in an attic space in Wayne Manor, from which he takes a small box addressed to Dick. Dick flies in from Chicago and opens the package with Bruce and Alfred. Inside is the only remaining tusk belonging to Dick’s arch-rival Tusk—Damian, at some point before his death, tracked down the long-gone-off-the-radar villain, defeated him, and took the tusk as a trophy for Dick.
–Batman and… #23 (“Batman & Nightwing”)
Batman plugs himself into an Internet 3.0 simulation that replicates the events surrounding Damian’s death. For four days straight, Batman unsuccessfully tries to simulate a situation where Damian might have survived. Nightwing, still on his trip home from Chicago, joins him for some 2-player mode, which results in a positive scenario where Damian lives. Afterward, Nightwing tells Batman that he should use Damian’s loss to motivate himself. Later, Alfred plugs into the Internet 3.0 simulator and reenacts an alternate history where he prevents Damian from leaving the cave on that fateful night. Bruce and Alfred then share a cry.
–FLASHBACK: From Robin Rises: Omega #1. Bruce and Alfred stand in the pouring rain and pay their respects over the empty graves (thanks to a grave-robbing Ra’s Al Ghul) of Talia and Damian. (This flashback somewhat mirrors the scene where Bruce learns that Ra’s Al Ghul has taken the corpses of Talia and Damian from Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #13 and it also implies that Ra’s Al Ghul takes their corpses here and now, following Batman and… #23. However, this is a wholly different scene. Ra’s took their corpses at the conclusion of Batman Inc #13 five months ago.)
–Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #26-27
December 22-23. When an illegal immigrant forced into hard labor at a Christmas sweatshop is stabbed and dumped on the street to die, Batman is on the case. It’s not long before Batman rescues a sick child from the sweatshop and then goes after the skull mask-wearing thugs running it. Unfortunately Batman is outnumbered six to one against dudes with net guns. The Caped Crusader is wrapped up, caged, and taken to the thugs’ boss: Penguin. Naturally, Batman escapes and systematically takes down every single skull gang member, freeing the slaves in the process. Batman then busts Penguin and sends him to jail! Of course, Penguin’s army of attorneys get him off scott-free right away. The next day, Bruce starts a special Wayne Enterprises program that sponsors all the sweat shop workers for US citizenship. Later that night, Batman peeks in on two of the gals he rescued and makes sure they are OK.
- TIPTUP JR 94: In Batman #19, when Batman is flipping through Brian Wade’s travel logs, he appears to be putting the September 2012 log in the back of the stack and the next one in the stack is for October 2012. There are three separate logs under that, presumably for November, December, and January. This is possible evidence that Snyder and editors were originally attempting to date this story at February 2013.
COLLIN COLSHER: This may be true, but like most specific date references, we must ignore them in order for everything else to fit smoothly.↩
- COLLIN COLSHER: Bruce Wayne’s narration in Batman Vol. 2 #19 states explicitly that Clayface is now mutated, able to replicate complete DNA maps. Yet, the Clayface origin story told by Basil Karlo himself in Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #24 contradicts this by stating outright that Clayface has always had this ability. However, this contradiction should be ignored since Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #24 functions mostly as a series of quasi-canonical flashbacks to Clayface’s origin. In fact, most of what Clayface says about his origin is bunk, not just in regard to his powers, but also in regard to his sob story about being a failed wannabe C-list actor. Basil Karlo, in the New Age, was a famous and well-respected actor, appearing in well-received and high-profile films. I’m not sure if these are errors-due-to-later-retcons, if Karlo is lying, or if Karlo has just lost his damn mind. In any case, the flashbacks from Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #24 are highly dubious and should not be taken as fully canon.↩
- COLLIN COLSHER: At this point, Batman & Robin Vol. 2 becomes Batman and…, featuring Batman teaming-up with different characters each issue. The numbering for Batman & Robin Vol. 2 continues on from #18.↩
- COLLIN COLSHER: Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #24 immediately precedes Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #25, but Batman does not make an appearance, hence the reason it does not appear on our chronology.↩
- NICK SMILES: Batman & Robin Annual #2 should go immediately prior to Batman &… #23 (“Batman & Nightwing”). Batman &… #23 has Dick Grayson in the Batcave with no mention of how he arrived there—we can speculate that Dick arrives in Annual #2 and stays for a few days or a week continuing into Batman and… #23. This seems to fit better with Nightwing’s own comic where the events of B&R Annual #2 and Batman and… #23 could occur after Nightwing #24. Nightwing Annual #1 also occurs during this trip to Gotham. At the end of Nightwing Annual #1 we see Dick heading back to Chicago. This allows for only one trip to Gotham in which all of these issues takes place and jibes well with the Nightwing series.↩