The Modern Age

With special thanks to Chris J. Miller, Ivan, Valheru, Ashley Jean Mastrine, Ross Holtry, and Renaud Battail, the Real Batman Chronology Project proudly presents the Modern Age Batman chronology, highlighting the history of the Batman of the post-Final Crisis EARTH-0. This chronology could also be labeled the post-Crisis Earth-0 timeline or the pre-Flashpoint Earth-0 timeline. The Earth featured on this timeline was first known as the POST-CRISIS EARTH-1 (following The Crisis on Infinite Earths), then POST-ZERO HOUR EARTH-0 (following Zero Hour), then NEW EARTH (following Infinite Crisis and 52), then EARTH-0 (following Final Crisis). The Modern Age history comprises Batman and Batman-related DC publications ranging primarily from 1986 through 2011.[1]

The world of comic books had its Golden Age from the 30s to the late 50s/early 60s, its Silver Age from the late 50s/early 60s to 70s, and its Bronze Age from the 70s to 80s. However, the Modern Age also has its own mini Golden, Silver, and Bronze Ages (continuity-wise/narratively speaking).[2] The Modern Age goes a little something like this:

1. “Year One Era” –> “Modern Silver Age” Years 1-8 (“Golden Age” is pre-Batman)
2. “Year One Era” –> “Modern Bronze Age” Years 9-10
3. “Year One Era” ends, Modern Age continues with Years 11-23, ending with Flashpoint

 

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This section of the website is an attempt to put all Modern Age Batman stories in chronological order. There are other sites that have tried to do this, but a number of these resources are incomplete or just plain incorrect. Therefore, this is meant to be the ultimate resource for all things Batman continuity-related when it comes to the Modern Age. As with the Golden Age and Silver Age timelines, the goal for the Modern Age timeline is to offer the best and most comprehensive suggested reading order for Batman. In order to to this, I’ve again attempted to apply specific ages to the characters and also specific dates/times to the world in which they exist. However, the Modern Age DC Universe seems to be a virtual reality where the concept of time (and consequently the concept of age) are soundly rejected. Nevertheless, I’ve tried to do it anyway. If I’ve failed in that endeavor then I apologize, and you can simply use this timeline as a reference for the correct chronological order of Batman’s life sans the calendar details.

Since we are dealing with the Modern Age (the era of comics ushered in after The Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986), the Modern Age chronology begins with Batman: Year One by Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli. This is a great place to start because The Crisis on Infinite Earths had recently been published as DC’s big attempt to reboot all of its characters, including the Dark Knight. Unsurprisingly, 1986 is where things first get muddled. To fully comprehend the perplexity, understanding Batman’s origin is a prerequisite. Batman’s history began in 1939 with Detective Comics #27 by Bob Kane/Bill Finger. The Caped Crusader had countless adventures for a very long time before The Crisis on Infinite Earths was published in 1986. The original Crisis not only rebooted Batman as a character, but also functioned as an epic, earth-altering, time-shattering crossover event that essentially erased Batman’s storied 46-year history—the DCU had been rebooted once before in the 60s, but we’ll get to that in a moment—and replaced it with a group of stories that DC publishers hoped were relatively continuity error-free. The original Crisis also folded several character universes into one universe with one collective history. Using its terracentric format, the original Crisis most notably mashed together Earth-1 (the home of Silver Age Batman), Earth-2 (the home of Golden Age Batman), Earth-4 (the home of the Charlton heroes), Earth-S (the home of the Fawcett heroes), and Earth-X (the home of the Quality heroes).

Hold on. What’s the deal with the Silver Age Earth-1 Batman versus Golden Age Earth-2 Batman? As briefly mentioned above, the Crisis on Infinite Earths was not the first time DC publishers tried to reboot their primary universe. By the late 1950s/early 1960s, DC editors were fearing that their entire line, with a now twenty year-plus history, might be in need of a reboot. Thus, the concept of the multiverse was introduced. The late 1950s incarnations of the superheroes (characters featured in present, ongoing publications) were retconned so that they became separate characters from the versions that had their origins in the 30s and 40s. The heroes that had gone on adventures in the 30s, 40s, and 50s (fighting in World War II, fighting in the Korean War, etc…) now became the Golden Age heroes of Earth-2, while the current/ongoing late 50s versions became the main DCU versions of the Silver Age Earth-1. For Batman, there is still much debate on when exactly his reboot specifically occurred due to vague storytelling during the 50s and 60s. Some historians start Silver Age (Earth-2) Batman’s chronology beginning in the late 50s while others don’t until around 1960 or even as late as 1964. This is still a hot button issue today.[3]

Let’s jump back to 1986. The collection of replacement stories spawned by the original Crisis fell under the label “Year One,” and most of them had yet to be written around the time of Crisis. In fact, because there was a blank-slate where Batman’s history used to be, there were still some gaps that writers continued to fill even as late as 2011. Contrary to popular belief, the original Crisis event was not published as a way of fixing continuity errors plaguing the line—it was published because it was a compelling and undeniably lucrative story to tell. Plus, it allowed for DC to merge all of its superhero properties, many of which were recently purchased, into one solidified universe. Narratively, along comes the ultimate super-being known as the Anti-Monitor and he alters everything and combines the infinite universes into a single universe with one collective shared history. Bear in mind, while the Anti-Monitor combines hundreds of thousands of Earths into one “New Earth” that becomes the DCU’s main Earth, an unspecified number of alternate universes and multiverses (i.e. the Marvel Multiverse, the Image Multiverse, Wildstorm Universe, various Elseworlds universes, and more) remain unscathed and out of his vast reach. In this way, the omniverse (aka multi-multiverse) continued to exist in spite of Crisis‘ insistence that it merged everything in 1986.[4] I should also mention that the term “New Earth” was not used until much later (not until after the events of Infinite Crisis when the Earth and its history were remolded once again). To re-iterate, the Earth created during the original Crisis was originally simply referred to as “Earth-1.” “Earth-1” then became renamed “New Earth,” which was later known as “Earth-0” at the conclusion of Final Crisis. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s not forget Zero Hour.

Zero Hour: Crisis in Time was published in 1994. In this storyline, Green Lantern Hal Jordan goes insane and becomes symbiotically-linked to the cosmically-powered being known as Parallax. Wielding immense power and a equal amount of rage to match, Jordan alters time, compacting the entire DCU timeline into fewer “in-story years.” Those “in-story years” then became restructured so that they led up to 1994 (the year of the tale’s publication), but then later restructured so that they led up to 1998, then 2000, and then 2002. Another way of explanation is to say that a sliding timeline was created that used Zero Hour as a place-marker. (This literary phenomenon—unique to serialized media—is also aptly known as “Sliding Time.”) To keep stories contemporary, DC editors kept sliding the debuts of the major heroes to a more current date. Technically, the year 2000 was the last time they officially slid the timeline (in Guide to the DC Universe 2000 Secret Files), but it is apparent that the Zero Hour place-marker was shifted once more to 2002 based upon character ages and specific story-arc references in the late 2000s. DC editors stopped shifting the timeline after the the unofficial move in 2002, but would have likely continued the trend if not for a reboot in 2011 (but we’ll get to that later). Because of these intense time-alterations associated with Zero Hour, some parts of Batman’s past obviously changed yet again in 1994. While our chronology gives a quasi-blank slate to the history of the DCU for everything prior to the original Crisis (published in 1986), I’m hesitant to do the same regarding Zero Hour. In my view, Zero Hour really was never a reboot, and even if we were to label it as such it would definitely fall into the soft reboot category anyway. It is important to understand that some DC editors wanted Zero Hour to function the exact same way as the original Crisis, meaning they wanted a blank historical slate leading up to 1994 (and then 1998, then 2000, then 2002, following the time-sliding). In other words, DC wanted this to be a full reboot—2015’s Convergence arc confirms that DC considered (and considers) Zero Hour to be a reboot. While my Modern Age Batman chronology gives a blank slate to the historical timeline of the DCU for everything prior to 1986, I’m hesitant to do the same for Zero Hour in 1994 and subsequent time-slides. I mean, really, were DC editors trying to tell us that only stories published from 2002 to 2011 were officially canon and the rest were just retroactive reference materials? I don’t buy that for a second and neither should you. Also, pretty much every single retcon that Zero Hour caused—from Batman’s urban myth status to Joe Chill’s erasure to the further muddling of Hawkman’s origin—was quickly ignored and reversed anyway. Be aware, though, that technically (i.e. according to DC’s point of view) there can/should be two separate Modern Age chronologies—a pre-Zero Hour timeline AND a post-Zero Hour timeline, BUT since I really do consider Zero Hour to be a soft reboot (and barely one at that), I’ve chosen not to chronicle the former. To reiterate: YES, Zero Hour technically falls under the category of reboot because it slid the all DC events forward to make things more contemporary, but at the same time, NO, it’s not a real reboot because it literally changed absolutely nothing aside from calendar dates. Moving on.

In 2006, Infinite Crisis was published, shaking the roots of the DC Universe to its very foundations once again. The story’s narrative reveals that Superman from the original Earth-2, Superboy from the old Earth-Prime, and Alexander Luthor Jr from the old Earth-3 (all characters whose Earths were erased from existence during the original Crisis) have been watching the DC Universe from within a crystalline limbo pocket universe to which they have been exiled. Years and years have passed and they aren’t too happy with what they’ve seen. This unhappiness leads them to break out of their prison, which unleashes intense vibrational ripples that distort the fabric of time. Once again, time was adjusted significantly and “New Earth” (later called “Earth-0”) was recreated. In fact, for Batman specifically, much of the character-metamorphosis that happened during Zero Hour was reversed or undone, as mentioned above. Also, 52 brand new parallel Earths were not only added to the mix but, thanks to Infinite Crisis, were also retconned to have always existed. Our chronology reflects all of the changes made by Infinite Crisis. (Oddly enough, while DC considers the non-reboot/soft reboot of Zero Hour to be a full reboot, it doesn’t seem to offer the same courtesy to Infinite Crisis, despite the fact that Infinite Crisis actually functioned way more like a legit reboot than Zero Hour ever did! Go figure. From DC’s perspective, the reason for this outlook is likely because Zero Hour contemporized DC events while Infinite Crisis didn’t. However, the logic here is terribly flawed because Zero Hour didn’t change any story whereas Infinite Crisis changed the whole story. Clearly DC’s emphasis on the term “reboot” has to do with contemporization over alteration of story. I personally would place emphasis on the reverse and I certainly have on this website.)

It is important to mention all of this in layman’s terms because we have the ability as omniscient readers to know the complete history of Batman dating back to 1939. And to really know Batman’s full history is to read every single issue of every single comic book Batman has ever appeared in since that time.  However, the timeline I’m constructing here is Batman’s history as he lived it. And that is how comic book continuity works. Period. It isn’t about the whole story from beginning until end. It’s about the fictional life the character lives from his own perspective. We know that Batman fought in World War II because we read it in a comic book, but because of certain events that occur later in his life, Batman never fought in World War II, so therefore that isn’t a part of the life he would have perceived. (A different Batman fought in WWII.) Batman, by 2011, looks back and sees the 1980s as his jumping-off point, which makes a hell of a lot more sense than looking back and seeing the 1940s or the 1960s.

While time-altering, character-rebooting, retcon-laden events like Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, or Infinite Crisis are editorially-mandated and commercially-driven, having more to do with corporate economics and industry politics than storytelling, they needn’t only be viewed in this Late Capitalistic way. These huge occurrences, like them or not, can all be read as happening naturally in Batman’s life, albeit as natural as a life led in a completely over-the-top science fiction multiverse could ever hope to be lived. Essentially, there are two types of retcons: one where you simply ignore past stories and change continuity (bad), and the other where you have an in-story event that alters the past and therefore modifies continuity (better—in fact, some argue that the latter isn’t even a retcon at all i.e. DC publishers who put it in the “relaunch” category—but for the intent and purpose of this chronology we will just say retcon). The three major DC events that I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph function as in-story occurrences that revise Modern Age Batman’s past. Pure retcons, if you like.

To explain this concept even further, one can look at it this way: Bruce Wayne’s parents are killed; he becomes Batman; Robin joins him; they clash with villains like Joker and Penguin; they fight in WWII; their adventures get progressively campier as the duo grows into the next few decades; a host of new characters are introduced; dozens upon dozens of team-ups and stupendous events transpire; by the late 1950s/early 1960s DC editors, already fearing that heroes with 20-plus year histories might become stale, introduce the concept of the multiverse. At this point, the late 1950s/early 1960s incarnation of Batman (along with the other heroes and villains) are retconned so that they are separate characters from the representations that have their origins in the 30s and 40s. The heroes that crusaded in the 30s, 40s, and 50s now become the Golden Age heroes of the alternate Earth-2 while their current 60s counterparts become the DCU versions of the Silver Age Earth-1 (the main DCU Earth at the time). Then the original Crisis occurs in 1986 and everything we have just mentioned up to this point is erased in one fell swoop as both Earth-1 and Earth-2 (and a whole bunch more Earths) are merged into a single Earth with a new combined/rebooted history. However, there’s no need to worry. Batman’s new history mirrors his old history/histories, but is arguably stronger, more cohesive, and topically relevant. Of course, this new Modern Age Batman never fought in World War II like the Earth-2 Batman of the great old Golden Age. Nor did he start in the swingin’ 60s like the Batman of Earth-1. Instead, the Batman of this new “single” Earth becomes a masked vigilante that begins his war on crime in the 1980s. Batman stories continue on. Zero Hour happens and the past is mutated again. Batman stories continue on. Infinite Crisis unfolds and the past is re-calibrated again. Batman stories continue on. Final Crisis ensues and the Caped Crusader is zapped by an Omega Beam. Batman stories continue on. Bruce returns and forms Batman Incorporated. Batman stories continue on. And with Flashpoint the Modern Age comes crashing to a halt, much like the previous Ages did before, paving the way for the New 52 era. But that is a chronicle best left for the New 52 section of this website, although I will delve into its details briefly below.

Every time we (the reader) witness the effects of a huge temporal-renovation in comics, the characters are unable to witness those effects because they are inside the story whereas we are outside of it. To reiterate, the past life that the character perceives becomes his one axiomatic past, even if we know the truth—that that verisimilitude doesn’t match up. However, while Batman’s first 46 years are erased thanks to the original Crisis, those decades are still apart of his history in a very unique way. Without those 46 years of story we wouldn’t and couldn’t have a Modern Age continuity (or continuities beyond the Modern Age). The story of Modern Age Batman is rooted in the ages of old—Golden, Silver, and Bronze. Many old-continuity Batman stories are referenced or re-written, thus remaining a part of canon in some way, shape, or form. Superhero comic book publishers never really throw everything out when they reboot. Instead, they chose to maintain the saga—for better or worse—with a dedication of concern for rebooting without disregarding or discarding prior narrative. The old chronicles form the spine—the skeletal framework—of new continuity. Check out this wonderful article by Greg Burgas, which ties directly into what I’ve been rambling about here: “Greg Burgas’ CBR Blog”.

For the purposes of this project, I will refer to the first ten years of the Modern Age chronology as the “Year One Era,” whereas DC simply calls it a combination of “Modern Silver Age” and “Modern Bronze Age,” reflecting the original Silver and Bronze Age publishing eras. However, I have always found that confusing, hence the verbiage I’ve chosen instead. The first ten in-story years of the Modern Age are collectively called the “Year One Era.” The “Year One Era” reflects the old Silver and Bronze Ages in many ways, so much so that years 1 through 8 can also be called the “Modern Silver Age” while years 9 and 10 can also be called the “Modern Bronze Age.”[5] The “Year One Era” starts with Miller’s Year One and LOTDK‘s “Shaman,” following with a myriad of subsequent “Year One” stories, references, and flashbacks.

Let me also point out that “Year One Era” is a slight misnomer for several reasons. One, it’s not quite a publishing era per se, especially due to the fact that it doesn’t comprise a length of actual calendar time (i.e. 1964 to 1969 or 1969 to 1986). Two, story-wise, it’s longer than one year. For example, all stories up until the arrival of Dick Grayson as the original Robin tend to have the “Year One” label attached to them, but in continuity Dick doesn’t come around until about five years after Bruce takes to the streets on his crusade against crime (although there is still the heated argument that Modern Age Robin debuts in Year Three). There are many “Year One” tales that include a young Robin kicking alongside of Bruce. Three, “Year One” stories were released randomly and sporadically from 1986 through 2011, with the term “Year One” referring to an era of Batman’s life, whereas Silver or Bronze Age comics were released in the Silver Age (1950s to 1970s) or Bronze Age (1970s to 1986), with the term “Age” referring to the era of publication.

Back to our comics history lesson. Another huge reboot occurred in 2011, the largest since the original Crisis. Known as Flashpoint, it functioned similarly to the original Crisis in that, due to a spacetime anomaly (inadvertently created by Barry Allen), all of the DCU’s history was erased and several universes were merged into one single new universe with a shared history. Thus, the Modern Age ended with Flashpoint. Not coincidentally, Flashpoint is the final entry on this Modern Age Batman chronology.[6]

Before continuing on to Year One of the Modern Age, please click on the link below to read my Introduction to the “Year One Era,” which is essential in understanding how my Modern Age timeline is set up and how it differs from others. Thanks!

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<<< HOME <<< | >>> INTRO TO THE “YEAR ONE ERA” >>>

  1. [1]COLLIN COLSHER: Note that, as mentioned before, everything that DC publishes is meant to be “in-continuity” in some regard. Some of the books take place on different Earths (Batman Beyond Animated Universe, The Brave and the Bold Animated Universe, etc…), placing them “out-of-continuity” i.e. not happening on the main DCU Earth. Some books are hard to tell if they are in-continuity or out-of-continuity. For example, Kevin Smith’s Batman run, Batman: Odyssey, and a few JLA inter-company crossovers are next to impossible to fit into any chronology no matter how much the writers of these tales insist otherwise.
  2. [2]COLLIN COLSHER: This has been posted earlier, but I will re-iterate an important point here again: For the intents and purposes of this section of the project, I will refer to the classical comic book ages that are born from line-wide continuity reboots—the GOLDEN AGE, the SILVER AGE, the MODERN AGE. One can also split the Modern Age into subsections: The early years of the Modern Age in the late 1980s being the IRON AGE, DARK AGE, or COPPER AGE where comics became more “adult-themed” and darker in general; the CHROMIUM AGE or IMAGE AGE of the 1990s, named after Image Comics and the subsequent Liefeld/Lee style that permeated all companies in that decade; and the DYNAMIC AGE of the 2000s where DC and Marvel began branching out with more forward-looking diverse storytelling by contracted big-name talents, hinting at a return to nostalgia, grimness, and decompressed narrative style to come. For the purposes of this section of the site, these subdivisions will be ignored—our Modern Age begins in 1986 (with The Crisis on Infinite Earths) and ends in 2011 (with Flashpoint and The New 52 reboot).
  3. [3]COLLIN COLSHER: Many comic book scholars say the Golden Age (for Batman) ended in 1964. I don’t agree with that. Many say that the Golden Age (for Batman) ended in the 1950s. I also don’t agree with that, although it certainly isn’t a black and white discussion. I’m of the opinion that Batman’s Golden Age definitively ended with the debut of the Justice League of America in 1960. Depending on which poison you pick, the Golden Age ended in either the late 50s or early 60s, which subsequently brought about the Silver Age, which lasted until roughly 1969, which in turn brought on the Bronze Age, which stuck until around 1986. From this point on, we entered the Modern Age, which continued until 2011. For more details of this confusing era in comics history, check out my intro to the Silver Age.
  4. [4]COLLIN COLSHER: The DC Multiverse, in which DC’s primary Universe-0 exists, is a part a larger omniverse. The entire Modern Age comic book omniverse contains a multitude of combined multiverses (such as the DC Multiverse, Marvel Multiverse, Image Multiverse, Dark Horse Multiverse, and Archie Multiverse—in fact, pretty much any publisher of comic books can be said to have its own multiverse including: Oni, Top Shelf, America’s Best Comics, Top Cow, Acclaim, Viz, Boom!, Dynamite, IDW, and many others). That being said, almost everything falls into the realm of the omniverse. In fact, Marvel has even stated in one of its 2004 Handbook issues that DC Comics is a part of the same omniverse as Marvel, further extrapolating, “[The omniverse] includes every single literary [item], television show, movie, urban legend, universe, realm, etc… ever.” Each multiverse in this infinite-seeming omniverse operates with different sets of unique internal universes, planets, planetary systems, characters, and physical laws that generally contrast with (but sometimes only slightly differ from) each other. However, there is always the occasional but rare omniversial crossover—where entire multiverses crossover with each other. Of course, multiversial crossovers are much more common—where alternate universes within a shared multiverse interact.
  5. [5]COLLIN COLSHER: It is important to understand that, despite my labeling of the “Modern Silver Age” as Bat Years 1 through 8 and the “Modern Bronze Age” as Bat Years 9 and 10, many of the original Silver Age tales and original Bronze Age tales that make up the references, occurrences, and stories within the entire “Year One Era” are intermixed. In other words, there are often Bronze Age stories that wind up in the first 8 years and some Silver Age stories that wind up in years 9 and 10. Thus, the Modern Age versions of these stories aren’t necessarily married to their previous epochs. Again, another confusing concept, but I hope that makes sense.
  6. [6]COLLIN COLSHER: It is also worth re-iterating an important fact that I’ve mentioned before: During these huge company-wide reboots, it’s not just universes that are being erased, entire timelines associated with each universe are being erased. For example, with Crisis on Infinite Earths, it’s not as if Earth-1 and Earth-2’s timelines simply end with a cataclysm in 1986. If that were the case, then any reference to future tales or stories that occur after 1986 would be null and void. The entire timelines are already complete. 1986 is simply the focal point of an event that sucks dry and evaporates the entire Golden Age timeline from the before the Big Bang to the End of Days. And likewise, it wipes the entire Silver Age timeline from its pre-Big Bang to its End of Days. To better understand this concept we must also adopt a general scientific view of time as another dimension of space—as a where instead of a when. In the case of the original Crisis, 1986 isn’t just a calendar year for our intents and purposes; it is also the point in time (or space-time) where the universe-collapsing anomaly occurs. Furthermore, it is necessary to understand that the event is exactly that, an anomaly (albeit one deliberately started by a villainous force) that ceased to exist on any timeline until its inception. The same system can be applied to Flashpoint in 2011. The Modern Age timeline doesn’t simply end dead in its tracks in 2011. Remember, the entire Modern Age timeline is already complete (from the Dawn of the Gods to the Big Bang to the End of Days). Flashpoint is merely a space-time anomaly that occurs at the physical point 2011. This anomaly erases the entire Modern Age timeline (past, present, and future), not just the universe.

26 Responses to The Modern Age

  1. Nabil Khan says:

    Any idea where the Neal Adam’s “Odyssey” should go in the modern age? I realize its’ not a completed story yet but as a story with Dick Grayson as Robin I figured it’d be early. I’d love to get your opinion on its canonicity aswell.

  2. Collin Colsher says:

    Hi Nabil.

    Neal Adam’s “Odyssey” is AWESOMELY INSANE. I love it and if you haven’t read http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/03/08/batman-odyssey-neal-adams-insane/ you definitely should.

    And as always, I’d like to reserve judgments regarding canonicity until after the series is over. However, thus far, I’m leaning toward non-canon since almost everything in the story seems to take place in some uber bizarre Adams-verse. If t were canon (or turns out to be somehow) it would have to be somewhere in late year ten maybe?–if Dick is still Robin and the Al Ghuls are involved.

  3. Have you read Batman: Murder at Wayne Manor?

    (http://www.amazon.com/Batman-Murder-Wayne-Interactive-Mysteries/dp/1594742375/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335125804&sr=8-1)

    It retells the origin of Black Mask and was wondering how you felt about it.

    • Collin Colsher says:

      I finally read Batman: Murder at Wayne Manor! It’s a very well-written, neatly drawn, and intricately handsome book that I’m sure most Batman fans have overlooked. For all of my readers, if you get a chance to check it out, you definitely should. Unfortunately I don’t think there is a place for this item on the chronology. It takes place 13 months into Batman’s career, but he is shown already sporting the yellow-oval costume. Furthermore, Gordon is never referred to as Commissioner, only as Detective. Plus, I think Black Mask’s debut is a little early for Modern Age Year Two.

  4. Collin Colsher says:

    Batman & Poison Ivy: Cast Shadows is out-of-continuity mainly because it features an alternative Arkham Asylum that not only looks very different from the Arkham we are used to, but one that is headed by Doctor Wood. This version of Arkham houses inmates such as Joker, Mr. Freeze, Penguin, Catwoman, and Harold the Fly Man (who!?). Obviously, Ann Nocenti and John Van Fleet’s addition of Penguin and Catwoman is their subtle way of telling us this isn’t our normal Modern Age DCU.

  5. Sam Groover says:

    Quick question, do you have any websites you recommend in particular that have reading lists for the “high points” as it were of the DCU Modern Age? Having read the Batman stories through, I’d like to do so again at some point, but maybe with a little more context.For example, I don’t want to read every Flash issue along with my Batman reading, but it might be nice to know what storyline he was involved in during, say, “The Long Halloween.”

    I don’t know, that might be beyond the scope of what websites are out there. I might end up picking and choosing from some of the trade reading orders, but the creators tend to have their own ideas and besides those tend to lump too many stories into one package, at least for a continuity nut like myself.

    Hopefully this makes at least a little sense….. Cheers as always for the awesome work here.

    • Hi Sam. Definitely makes sense. There isn’t really too much out there. I’d recommend checking out The Unauthorized DCU Chronology, which details EVERYTHING in the Modern Age DCU that is important—although it is incomplete unfortunately, and stops well before “Flashpoint.” Chris J. Miller’s site was obviously a huge influence upon me and reference for me while working on the Modern Age timeline. Sorry I don’t have a better answer, but hope that helps.

      –Collin

  6. Jake says:

    Hey I was just wondering for the modern age batman what are the primary series of comics that one should read or are you just taking all appearances into account (within the realms of canon anyways)

    Was wanting to start collecting modern age batman and just kind of wondering what series you’d start with. I’m considering just going straight through trying to get batman 404-onward in order but thought it’d be interesting to try and collect it in more order of your timeline.

    • Hi Jake,

      My timeline is literally every Batman appearance in chronological order no matter how big or how small. If Batman takes a dump in an issue of Green Lantern, rest assured it will be on my list. (Although Kevin Smith had Batman pee his pants, which I’ve NOT included—but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms).

      The primary Bat books will always (for the most part) be Batman and Detective Comics. Other titles will vary widely in regard to their level of importance to the canon, and it would take a herculean effort to map out which ones are the most valued. But hey, I’ve done that with this very website. And while it might require some blurry eyed late night reading, you can kinda see what’s important and what isn’t by perusing the synopses. Also, http://www.tradereadingorder.com is a good source to see what items were collected in trade (signifying them as more important) in chronological order.

      Be aware that after 404-407 (Miller’s “Year One”) there is a ten year gap (the “Year One Era”) before the issues jump back to 401 and continue onward.

      Hope that helps a little. Best of luck in your endeavor and be sure to spread the gospel of the Real Batman Chronology Project!

  7. Luis Chavarry says:

    Thank you very much for this information, what I’ll like to know is if “Year one” through “Batman incorporated is what I only need to read to understand the modern age story of Batman ?, and had another question, their is other sections like salad years and post modern era with years 2 and on, are the comics mentioned through each year essential to read to understand the modern era age or do I just read the chronological order above that starts with the laughing man through Batman incorporated ?, thanks

    • Hi Luis,

      The Modern Age consists of comics from 1986 through 2011. Any subsequent sections of the site (i.e. New 52 or New Age) consist of rebooted continuities that span from 2011 onward. So, to read the full Modern Age Batman chronology, yes, you can read from “Year One” through Batman Incorporated. The Salad Days sections consist of Bruce’s time before becoming Batman, so it’s up to you if you are interested in diving a bit deeper. Hope that helps!

  8. Luis Chavarry says:

    Thanks for the reply, So I don’t need to read anything else besides what’s exactly listed in that chronological reading order of modern age Batman to get a good undetanding of the story ? And I had one more question, you have broken down each of Batman’s years 1 through 23 in the modern age by making references of other issues/comics in each of those, are those issues/comics part of the chronological reading order of modern age Batman as well or they are not ? And if they are, do I need to read them to get a full understanding of the Modern age Batman ?, for examples in year (2) you put Batman legend of the dark knight as a reference but I don’t see it or year (17) part 2 you put green lantern legacy but those are not listed in the chronological order, and that’s what I was I trying to say, are those references mentioned like the ones I just said as examples, do I need to read all those references listed in each year you break down or not ?, thanks a lot for your time and appreciation, sorry for being so detailed, and askin so many questions, just want to get a clear understanding of what I’m going to be reading.

    • I see what you are saying, Luis. Because you are using my site as a reference for reading order (and especially if you are reading material for the first time), may I suggest only reading the bulleted stories and skipping the reference notes and flashbacks. My site is extremely comprehensive and includes everything chronologically, retroactively folding in the references and flashbacks where they fit onto the timeline. It would be very confusing and jarring to read bits of issues or select pages of trades as you are moving along with your over-arching narrative. So, yeah, good question. To reiterate: skip over the references and flashbacks—you’ll get to that stuff naturally as you read the main action of the issues themselves. Hope that makes sense!

      • Luis Chavarry says:

        Okay, just to make sure, when you say just to read the bulleted stories, you are saying to only read the titles that are only listed on the chronological order, from the laughing man, all the way through Batman incorporated just how it shows on the footnotes and nothing else, am I correct ?, thanks !

        • Yes, I’d suggest only reading non-reference listings and non-flashback listings in chronological order. I’m not sure what “The Laughing Man” you’re referring to as a starting point is (maybe “The Man Who Laughs”?), but the Modern Age runs from Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #1 (“Shaman Part 1”) through Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 / Convergence / Flashpoint.

          • Luis Chavarry says:

            Yes I was referring to “the man who laughs” as the starting point like how it shows on the chronogical order, but now your saying that the modern era starts with legends of the dark knight “shaman”, so what is the starting point ?, I’m confused, I have never read a comic in my life, so I’m new to this, I’m sorry for the many questions, thanks !

            • “The Man Who Laughs” is in Year One for sure, but it’s certainly not the first story. It is listed as number 9 on my timeline. Still not sure what you are looking at, sorry!

              But anyway, if you are new to reading comics and want to read Batman chronologically, I’d start by reading Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One before all else. It’s one of the best ever written and the ultimate starting point—all the other Year One stories orbit around it. Basically, I’d start by reading Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One AND THEN begin using my timeline as a reference after that.

  9. Oh my! The first few items got cut off that list accidentally! It should be fixed now. Sorry I doubted you. God only knows how long that incorrect list has been misleading folks. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  10. Luis Chavarry says:

    So do I just follow this exact list that was just updated and I’m good to go ? Nothing else besides what’s on this list, am I correct ?, Do I have to read each of the comics/issues that are refrenced or read notes/summaries that you right in each year in order to understand what exactly is going on ? Or like I said just read exactly what’s on that list that you just updated and ignore everything else ?, thanks again !

  11. Luis Chavarry says:

    Thank you very much, you have been very helpful, would that essential list cover all I need to know to have a good understanding of the modern age Batman story ?, you have written paragaraphs of summaries and anaylising each Batman year from 1-23, do I have to read those paragraphs you wrote in each year, for example you put “1.A the shaman part 1” and then you write a paragraph and you go to “2.A Batman Year one” and then you write a paragraph and so forth, do I need to read those things as I go through comics I’m going to start reading or not ?, maybe I asked you this already, I’ve asked so many questions, very sorry once again, just want to make sure, thanks !

    • Don’t overcomplicate things, Luis. That’s my job! 😉 There are a thousand ways to interact with and engage with serialized storytelling—and none of them are wrong. One doesn’t necessarily need anything in order to understand narrative and continuity. As I said, and I’ll stick to it, I think your best bet—as a new reader—is to skip the nitty gritty that my website has to offer (for now). Reading from the “essential” trade paperback list will be a much more enjoyable endeavor. Only afterward would I then go back and check out the details of my chronology. Hope I’ve been clear, and I hope you enjoy your foray into the mixed-up world of superhero comics.

  12. Luis Chavarry says:

    Hi Collin, I just read Year one, I know Monster men, and then, prey, the mad monk, come next, but those stories don’t seem that entertaining, can I just skip to the man who laughs ? Or would I miss important things ?, thanks !

    • The trade list that is up contains stories that are pretty much all over the place in terms of content and quality—HOPEFULLY most of it is, at the very least, entertaining! It’s really up to you, though, Luis!

      Realize that you are asking a guy that literally read every single Batman-appearing floppy issue the Modern Age had to offer—from Crisis and Scare Tactics to Superman and Batman vs Aliens and Predator and Flashpoint (and everything else in-between). Any list I’ve pared down is a feat in and of itself. If you read a synopsis and it seems like a pass, then pass! You can always go back later. I doubt there’s anything that you could skip and be really truly confused about.

  13. pita says:

    Hi Collin! First of all thank your very much for the great work you’re doing!
    I tried to read(/buy) all the comics (except flashbacks / reference) from years 1 – 10 and now (stuck somewhere year 6) i’m beginning to realise that i won’t be able to do so for the whole modern era… So i’m looking for a extended essentials list… i have seen your note on this page but i’m looking for an “extended” version 🙂
    I have searched the net for something like that but in the end i always came back here…
    I’m not asking you to “make” a new list (i think you have enough TODO’s already), but maybe such a list has already been made by somebody?

    Cheers and thank you again!

    • Thanks for the love, Pita!

      By far THE MOST requests I get are to make a complete trade paperback list. I’ve gotten so many, in fact, that I think I can’t ignore it. The people have spoken!

      However, such a list coming from me probably won’t realistically be assembled for quite some time, so don’t hold your breath. In the meantime, Trade Reading Order and Collected Editions are fantastic resources.

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