2006 (January to June)
BRUCE WAYNE: MURDERER?
——————–Batman: The 10-Cent Adventure #1
——————–Detective Comics #766
——————–Nightwing Vol. 2 #65
——————–Batman: Gotham Knights #25
——————–Birds of Prey #39
——————–Robin Vol. 2 #98
——————–Detective Comics #767
——————–Nightwing Vol. 2 #66
——————–Batman: Gotham Knights #26
——————–Robin Vol. 2 #99
——————–Birds of Prey #40
January 4-January 12. “Bruce Wayne: Murderer?” begins with a Greg Rucka flashback detailing the origins of the Caped Crusader. Rucka tells us that Bruce has been Batman for “over ten years.” If by “over ten years” he means seventeen years, then yes, that is true. When this epic story-arc begins, we are only a few days into 2006 and Sasha Bordeaux is madly in love with Bruce, although she hasn’t had the courage to tell him yet. The Batman/Sasha duo patrols the crime-filled Gotham streets and returns home one night to find Vesper Fairchild shot to death inside Wayne Manor! Bruce, in tears, cradles the body of his ex-lover as the police bust into his home. Bruce is arrested for murder and rape! Sasha is arrested as an accessory to the crimes! Oh no! A media firestorm begins as Bruce and Sasha are questioned. Alfred leaves Tim a note at Brentwood that simply reads, “He needs me” and returns to support Master Bruce. Meanwhile, Oracle studies Vesper’s 911 call and sends Batgirl into Wayne Manor to find out anything she can. Batgirl doesn’t find out much, but she does find out that Bruce is Batman! Concurrently, the cops find the murder weapon just outside of the mansion. Dick speeds into Gotham, visits Bruce in jail, and then meets with Oracle, vowing to find the real killer. Both Bruce and Sasha are denied bail and are sent to Blackgate where Babs visits Bruce and offers to be his lawyer (she took a correspondence course years ago and has a Master of Laws degree from Harvard!), but Bruce turns her down. Babs is then shocked to discover that Bruce had purchased a gun a month ago. Black Canary can’t understand why Babs cares about the Bruce Wayne case so much. (Dinah doesn’t know that Bruce is Batman). Five days into Bruce’s nightmare situation and prisoners hurl both flaming toilet paper rolls and insults about his dead parents at him. When the Nazis try to make Bruce their bitch, he puts three of them in the infirmary. Headlines read, “Wayne Goes Crazy in Blackgate.” NOTE: A news report says that Bruce’s parents died 25 years ago. This is an error. They died 35 years ago. While Nightwing, Oracle, and Alfred continue to fully support Bruce, Leslie Thompkins and Tim actually believe he committed the crime! Things boil to a head and Bruce decides he’s had enough. He escapes from prison!
BRUCE WAYNE: FUGITIVE Part One
——————–Birds of Prey #41
The Bat-Family is falling apart! Batman, having escaped from prison a few hours ago, returns to the Batcave where Tim, Dick, Cassandra, and Oracle (via satellite) are waiting for him. The evidence overwhelmingly points to Bruce’s guilt in the Vesper murder case, and the worried team questions the Dark Knight. Batman brushes them aside saying he has work to catch up on. When Dick and Tim ask Batman what their next step should be in clearing Bruce’s name, Batman replies that the case is closed and he is content to let the world think Bruce has fled the country permanently. The Bruce Wayne persona, he continues to explain, has become a liability and now Batman can be Batman full-time. Obviously, the Bat-Family is upset by this, and even more so when Oracle reveals that Vesper had discovered Bruce’s secret and was going to reveal it to the public a week before her murder. (This encrypted info was discovered hidden on Vesper’s laptop). Batman seems surprised by this reveal and even claims that it isn’t true. He then tells everyone to stay away from him in the foreseeable future. Feeling betrayed, Dick punches Batman in the face and they begin to brawl in the cave. Eventually Batman leaves, sets up camp in a temporary downtown base of operations, and swings into the Gotham night to fight crime once again. For the first time ever, Batman doesn’t have a secret identity. He simply is. And boy, does he feel free. Continuing her investigation, Babs sends Black Canary to rob a bank vault in order to retrieve a data disc from Vesper’s safety deposit box. Canary completes her mission and delivers the info to Babs. Turns out that Vesper actually didn’t know Batman’s secret identity after all. Someone who does know Batman’s secret identity had inserted fake info into Vesper’s laptop and was going to use this info to further condemn Bruce. Dick and Babs realize that this mystery person is responsible for framing Bruce! But who is it? NOTE: “Bruce Wayne: Fugitive” begins with a flashback montage that references, among other things, Bruce’s most important love interests that didn’t pan out because of his commitment to crime-fighting. Highlighted are Selina Kyle, Silver St. Cloud, and Vesper Fairchild. What about Julie Madison, Kathy Kane, and Shondra Kinsolving? Bruce was engaged to all three of them! (Well, he was going to propose to Shondra but never got the opportunity.) Not to mention, Vicki Vale crapped on his heart pretty badly too.
–Robin Vol. 2 #100
Drake Industries is bankrupt. Tim’s family loses everything. Tim is forced to drop-out of Brentwood and his family moves into a downtown apartment. As Robin patrols a poorer section of the city that has yet to be rebuilt after NML, he discovers a man sleeping in a car with a Bat-tracer attached to his arm. When the Boy Wonder goes in to investigate, Batman knocks him unconscious. The Dark Knight told Robin and company to stay out of his business and he sure meant it.
–NOTE: March. Batgirl officially (outside of training) faces the deadly Lady Shiva in one-on-one combat for the first time. Batgirl soundly defeats her (as seen in Batgirl #25). This is noteworthy because even Batman has never won a clean solo fight against Shiva.
–the second feature to Batman: Gotham Knights #28 (B&W)
Batman talks down a suicidal bridge jumper.
–the second feature to Detective Comics #770-772 (“J. MAC: LOST VOICES”)
The conclusion to Judd Winick’s Josie Mac story-arc from the second features to ‘tec #770-772 take place now. GCPD Detective Josie MacDonald has been working the high profile Anthony Anotelli kidnapping case for three months. Now her own father has been murdered, supposedly by the kidnapper. Batman joins the case when he learns the kidnapper is none other than Two-Face. When Josie Mac and Batman rescue the missing boy, Two-Face explains that he didn’t kill Josie’s father, and he had in fact been paid by the Anotellis’ own lawyer to kidnap and hold the boy for so long. The Anotellis’ lawyer was trying to make a play to take over the family business and fortune and had murdered Josie’s father when Josie was getting too close for comfort.
–the second feature to Batman: Gotham Knights #31 (B&W)
While tracking down a criminal named Nails Grieg, Batman discovers the remains of a 4-year-old girl in the subway. The Dark Knight deduces that the girl accidentally died while in the care of her grandfather. The grandfather had covered it up and made it seem as if the girl ran away because he was ashamed of his terrible deed. Batman joins the girl’s father at the hospital as grandpa gives a confession before passing on.
–FLASHBACK: From Superman/Batman #32. Late March. Batman battles Joker in the rain and stops him from detonating a nuclear device. Batman, despite currently working out of a downtown Bat-Bunker, secretly stores the nuclear bomb in the Batcave (as referenced in Superman/Batman #33). I’ve placed this item here because it is said to occur a “couple years” prior to Superman/Batman #32. Writer Mark Verheiden could be referencing a specific past nuclear threat involving Joker, as there have been several. However, it seems probable that he isn’t referencing anything at all, which is why I’ve added this flashback note.
BRUCE WAYNE: FUGITIVE Continued…
——————–Batman: Gotham Knights #27
——————–Batman #601-602 (“TURNING THE TOWN RED”)
——————–Nightwing Vol. 2 #68
——————–Batman: Gotham Knights #28-29 (“THE MORTICIAN”)
——————–Detective Comics #768-770 (“PURITY”)
——————–Nightwing Vol. 2 #69
“Bruce Wayne: Fugitive” continues with GK #27, which is possibly the strongest GK issue yet (and that says a lot since all of Grayson’s work is amazing). Superman comes to Gotham and tells Batman he knows he could never kill anyone, but Supes wants to know why Batman has decided not to clear his own name. Batman explains that there is no Bruce Wayne. Batman is his real identity. Back in the cave, Alfred has been studying Bruce’s journal and doesn’t like how detached he had become in the last couple months. When Alfred tries to talk to Batman, Batman claims that the journal contains Bruce Wayne’s thoughts, not his. Batman then meets the new serial-killing super-villain Nicodemus, who has a vendetta which involves killing corrupt policemen and city officials (because his parents were murdered by corrupt cops when he was a boy). Meanwhile, Batgirl digs up Vesper’s corpse and discovers that Vesper had been struck with a very specific martial arts maneuver known as a “nerve punch” before her death. The Bat-Family considers this their first breakthrough in the investigation. Another breakthrough occurs when Nightwing discovers that there were several Wayne Manor power outages the night of Vesper’s murder. Nightwing also learns that someone had covertly installed several electronic devices inside the Batcave which masked several break-ins in the weeks leading up to the murder! For the third part of the investigation, we turn to Robin, who discovers the Wayne Manor security tapes have been doctored! Concurrently, Batman continues busting crooks all over town and is surprised when a zombie gets involved in a Chinatown gang dispute. Batman soon learns that a local mortician, who aptly goes by the name The Mortician, has been re-animating corpses just like Herbert West. After the zombie-battling extravaganza/interlude ends, a deadly strain of heroin hits the streets. Batman goes after the Triad drug pushers, but realizes a third party is poisoning the heroin instead. Ekin Tzu returns, now even more deformed into an eagle-creature thanks to a two year addiction to Whisper A’Daire’s animal elixir. Even though Tzu is technically on Batman’s side, he is completely insane and the Dark Knight is forced to take him down. The mysterious David Said is mixed-up in the case as well and when Batman questions him, Said reveals that he is an agent of Checkmate sent to discover the source of the bad heroin. (Batman hasn’t dealt with Checkmate in seven years). Batman’s and Said’s co-investigation leads them to a man named Evan Halsey. However, before Batman can find him, Halsey is murdered. Back to Vesper’s murder case: Alfred, Robin, and Nightwing scan the Wayne Manor property for unknown openings into the Batcave (which may have been created during the earthquake) that could have been used as entry points for the real killer. The boys strike gold when they examine an old barn at the edge of the Wayne property. It ain’t easy, but Nightwing is able to spelunk his way into the Batcave through the narrow barn entrance. As an added bonus, both Nightwing and Robin find hard evidence: a damaged electronic device and a piece of torn fabric.
–Catwoman Vol. 3 #1-4 (“ANODYNE”)
Selina hasn’t worn the Catwoman costume in “over six months.” (It’s actually been ten months.) In these ten months Selina has been living off the grid, but seeing Leslie Thompkins regularly—(Leslie knows her secret identity). Selina finally feels better about life in general. After an altercation with the Riddler, Batman focuses on saving people from a burning bus. A small-time crook sees this burning bus distraction as an opportunity to put a bullet in Batman’s back, but Selina happens to be on-hand and throws a brick at the dude. The next night, Selina dons a brand new costume and takes to the rooftops. She meets with Batman who thanks her for the brick chucking. Batman also tells Selina that he believes in her and he always will. Later, when Holly Robinson shows up and tells Selina that prostitutes are being killed, Selina is on the case. By the way we haven’t seen Holly since she was a 13-year-old prostitute way back in Bat Year One! Holly is 30-years-old now, is still very close with Selina, and will become one of Catwoman’s closest allies in the future. Catwoman is able to corner the serial killer, who reveals himself as the debuting Clayface VII (Todd Russell)! We don’t know much about the new Clayface other than the fact that he was in the army and was experimented on after getting injured. We can assume the DEO is responsible for creating this new Clayface, as they inadvertently created the last one. Catwoman is able to defeat Clayface VII and deliver his shriveled body to Batman in a portable freezer.
–Action Comics #792
When newspaper vendor Valentin Reyes, an acquaintance of Clark Kent, goes missing Superman is on the case. In between normal Superman action and an off-panel triple-team-up victory against a giant wind-up baby doll robot—all we see is the damaged robot being examined by Batman, Plastic Man, and Superman, so we must assume that Toyman was involved—the Man of Steel eventually learns Reyes was murdered. With Lois’ help, Supes busts Reyes’ killer.
–Superman Vol. 2 #183
Mid May. Clark Kent publicly accuses President Luthor of knowing in advance about Imperiex’s attack (which occurred nine months ago). Luthor, eager to clear his name and avoid political scandal (even though he is truly guilty as charged) submits to a mind-probe by J’onn. A bummed JLA watches dejectedly as the probe turns up nothing. Unable to corroborate his story, Clark is fired from the Daily Planet!
BRUCE WAYNE: FUGITIVE Conclusion…
——————–Birds of Prey #43
——————–Detective Comics #771
——————–Batman: Gotham Knights #30
——————–Azrael: Agent of the Bat #91-92
——————–Detective Comics #772
——————–Batman: Gotham Knights #31
Late May to Early June. The Bat-Family gathers more shocking evidence in BOP #43. Oracle learns that the real killer of Vesper Fairchild had not only entered the Batcave undetected on multiple occasions, but he/she had also hand-edited Bruce’s journal and even penned brand new fake entries! In the next issue, Batman visits with an old retired cop on his deathbed, who talks about the impact the Dark Knight had on his life. The cop is able to snap Batman out of his current anti-secret identity mentality when he asks Batman to solve the only case he never closed: The murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. However, since the Wayne murder case has been solved (Joe Chill = guilty), we must either ignore most of this issue OR we must assume that this old dude is incredibly senile and simply thinks the case was never solved. (His recollection of Batman’s history is garbled, out-of-order, and full of holes, so maybe his brain is garbled, out-of-order, and full of holes as well). In any event, we must take one important thing from issue #603. At its conclusion, Batman realizes that he is Bruce Wayne and therefore, he must clear his name. Batman then visits Crime Alley (where his parents died) and writer Ed Brubaker gives us a flashback to Frank Miller’s “Year One” before continuing with the narrative. After a rejuvenated Caped Crusader teams-up with Catwoman to take down Joker’s former clown gang, Batman smiles. Bruce Wayne is officially back! Bruce (as Batman) decides to follow-up on the high profile heroin case he’s been working on (from the last part of “Bruce Wayne: Murderer”) by examining murder victim and former suspect Evan Halsey. After receiving a tip from Checkmate higher-ups, Batman then hunts down suspect Branford Landis. When he finds Landis, Batman realizes he’s been set-up for an ambush. Landis is actually NSA Agent Robert Amherst. Amherst is ready and waiting for the Dark Knight and nearly kills him. Meanwhile, despite being harassed by Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen, Alfred attends the trial of Sasha Bordeaux. Sasha is found guilty and sentenced to life! Back at Wayne Manor, Nightwing and Batgirl run down all the evidence they have collected and come up with a scenario of what might have actually happened. They then reenact the murder and finally think they have enough to begin going after the real killer. But before they can act, Jean-Paul learns that he is dying of a rare blood disease (as a result of his St. Dumas programming). He completely loses it and begins seeing hallucinations again. Jean-Paul then breaks into the Batcave, steals his Az-Bats costume and attempts to reclaim the mantle of the Bat. Begin mini-“Knight’s End” reprise interlude! Az-Bats challenges Batman in the cave and accuses Bruce of violating the Bat-code by having murdered Vesper in cold blood. Batman then chases Az-Bats to his Ossaville castle (which is rigged with explosives) where they fight until the entire place goes kaboom. Az-Bats is able to snap out of his blind rage in time to save Harold (who lives with him). By the way, the B&W second feature to GK #30 is non-canon. Moving on, by June NSA Agent Robert Amherst offers Sasha complete freedom and immunity if she goes on record saying Bruce is guilty. After Alfred visits her at Blackgate, Sasha delivers her message to Amherst: “Go to Hell.” NOTE: Amherst says that Sasha has been in jail for six months, but it’s been more like five months. Continuing on, Batman finally tracks down Amherst, but the heroin case is just a red herring at this point. Amherst spills the beans. He was ordered to pay Vesper’s killer $20 million to commit character assassination using any means necessary. And he was ordered by the man at the top: the President of the United States of America, Lex Luthor. By June, Batman is finally ready to publicly clear Bruce’s name. Batman pays his respects at Vesper’s grave (which is incorrectly marked “January 4, 2002” instead of “January 4, 2006”) and then meets with his family for the big reveal before the strike. Luthor has wanted revenge against Bruce ever since NML. So, through Amherst, the president hired David Cain to ruin Bruce’s reputation. Cain, knowing that Bruce is Batman, took the job even further than Luthor could have imagined. When Batman finally corners Cain and beats the tar out of him, Cain reveals that he only took the job because he wanted to test Batman’s loyalty to his family. Cain turns himself into the authorities and confesses to the murder of Vesper, although there are no ties to the government’s involvement. Bruce is cleared of all charges! Our epic tale ends with Amherst incarcerated at Arkham under a false name, trying to convince eye-rolling doctors that he works for the NSA.
–Detective Comics #773
While Bruce has been officially cleared of all charges and walks free, Sasha still rots in Gotham State Penitentiary. The world knows she now had nothing to do with Vesper’s murder, but Sasha learns that she will have to wait in jail until her appeal is heard and she is formally declared innocent of the charges. Only a day later Alfred goes to visit Sasha in prison only to be told that she has been killed during a fight with another inmate! Bruce doesn’t buy it and begins searching for Sasha. NOTE: Batman says that Sasha was in prison for three months, but it was closer to four.
–DC First: Batgirl/The Joker #1
Oracle tells Batgirl about the time she, as a former Batgirl, fought Joker for the first time (detailing the events of Batman: Batgirl). Cassie gets it in her head that she should break Joker out of Arkham and challenge him in order to prove herself worthy. And wouldn’tcha know, Cassie does exactly that. Bad things happen and Batman gets involved, but in the end the Dark Knight allows Cassie to capture the Clown Prince of Crime by herself.
–the second feature to Detective Comics #773-775 (“THE HUNT”)
A new demon-like vigilante sporting a high-tech costume is in Gotham. He calls himself The Tracker. (The Tracker will later reveal himself to be a key member of Celia Kazantzakis’ criminal network.)
–REFERENCE: In JLA #69 and JLA #73. Batman meets the superhero known as Faith. He respects her immediately, which is quite uncommon for the Dark Knight. Part of Faith’s superpower is the ability to garner trust in those around her, even people she has never met before. In some down-time during their team-up, Batman tells Faith how proud he is of Nightwing.
After a confusing altercation with the Riddler, the Earth literally turns flat for an hour-and-a-half and the moon turns into cheese. To get some answers, Batman reunites with the JLA for the first time in seven months with a simple, “I’m back.” Surprised at Batman’s return, Flash tells him that an “uncertainty ripple” is flowing over the planet. Magickally, truth has become subjective and all wishes, no matter how weird, are coming true. How did this happen? Wonder Woman tried to rescue a supposedly kidnapped child from the Shangri-La-esque paradise known as Jarhanpur. Unfortunately, the young boy was the heir to the throne of the Eurasian nation, and not only that, the boy was magickally linked to the land. When Wonder Woman attempted to rescue the boy and reunite him with his mother, Jarhanpurian leader Rama Khan unleashed the devastating “uncertainty ripple” upon the Earth. In the end, Rama Khan is defeated. Sadly, Jarhanpur is wiped off the face of the Earth—although on the bright side, there are zero casualties.
–JLA: Scary Monsters #1-6
Flash and Green Lantern are injured at a resort in North Dakota. The JLA (along with Jade) comes to their aid only to find themselves in a war against gigantic demonic monsters straight out of Godzilla or Cthulhu mythos. After Wonder Woman’s body is taken over by the creatures, the JLA is nearly defeated. However, the Earth’s spiritual Avatar of Sun and Fire, Kishana Lewis, is able to help save the day and defeat the scary monsters. Kishana and J’onn fall madly in love with each other and kiss passionately, but they cannot consummate their relationship since J’onn’s weakness is fire and Kishana is a Fire Elemental.
–REFERENCE: In JLA #68. Batman and Superman secretly meet and come up with a plan in case of “the event of a cataclysmic dissolution of the JLA followed by a decline in the integrity of the various systems around the Earth” (i.e. a backup plan if the shit hits the fan and the JLA has been neutralized). The plan, called “Omega Gabriel Alpha,” when activated, will authorize the Batcave computer to send out Mr. Terrific-ish robot spheres to recruit a replacement JLA team. Batman pre-records video of himself explaining “Omega Gabriel Alpha,” which will then be shown to the replacement JLA team in the event of the emergency plan’s activation. Batman and Superman’s hand-picked substitute league includes the following: Nightwing as leader (!), the Atom, Green Arrow (Oliver Queen), Hawkwoman, Firestorm, Faith, a reformed Major Disaster, and Jason Blood (Etrigan). I’m sure Batman and Superman hope they never have to use the “Omega Gabriel Alpha” plan, but SPOILER: they eventually will later next year (during “Obsidian Age”).
–Detective Comics #774, Part 1
Mid June. Bruce has spent the last two weeks (in between his other cases) fervently searching for Sasha. Alfred questions whether or not Bruce has romantic feelings for her, to which Bruce lies and says that he simply wants to keep tabs on anyone who knows his secret identity. Alfred knows his Bruce better than that. Batman will continue searching for Sasha for months to come. What really happened to Sasha, you ask? Checkmate has faked her death and recruited her as an agent!
–Batman #606-607 (“DEATH-WISH FOR TWO”)
Mid June. It’s been two-and-a-half weeks since Bruce was cleared of all charges in the murder of Vesper Fairchild. Her real murderer, David Cain, is scheduled to testify in court regarding the details of the case. Batman knows that President Luthor will have sent an assassin to silence Cain before the hearing, so prepares for the worst. Deadshot nearly kills Cain, but Batman saves his life. Cain then nearly kills Deadshot. At the hearing, Cain refuses to say who hired him to murder Vesper.
–Robin Vol. 2 #106
Bruce and Tim finally have a very long overdue chat and reconcile with one another. Robin is back on the team and the Dynamic Duo exists once again. Can you believe that Robin quit 15 months ago? It’s been one year and three months since Batman and Robin last patrolled the Gotham streets together. In their return outing, they are able to rescue a mob witness from a stealthy abductor. This mysterious abductor is the debuting Freeway. Freeway is able to escape by doing the seemingly impossible: He carjacks the Batmobile! (Freeway will later reveal himself to be a key member of Celia Kazantzakis’ criminal network).
–Harley & Ivy: Love on the Lam
An escaped Joker—dressed as Batman—and Harley—getting a second use out of her Babs Batgirl costume (from “Quintessence”)—surprise Two-Face in the middle of a museum heist. After a showdown (since both parties want the same loot), Harley convinces them to split everything. Afterward, a pissed off Joker tells Harley to take a hike. Harley runs off with Poison Ivy (as she usually does when in a fight with Mista Jay). The gals decide to rob a charity fundraiser at the new Branaco Tower in downtown Gotham. As luck would have it, Bruce and Tim are on hand and quickly switch into their fighting togs when Harl and Ivy make their presences known. Harl and Ivy not only outmaneuver the Dynamic Duo, they steal all of Branaco’s money and blow up the building! Later, the public learns that Branaco is one of the most corrupt companies in America—the girls were actually playing hero, in a sense.
–Gotham Central #1-5
June 23 to June 27. Mr. Freeze returns and gives the GCPD frozen hell, killing Detective Marcus Driver‘s partner, Detective Charlie Fields. Batman apprehends the villain on the roof of Gotham University as Jim Gordon receives an Honorary Doctorate in Criminology beneath him! More cop drama ensues and Batman makes another cameo to save the life of a child from a burning building when Firebug makes his return to crime. Driver is determined to bust Firebug on his own, and actually does. He then climbs on the GCPD roof and switches on the Batsignal. When Batman shows up Driver tells him that he busted Firebug and he doesn’t need Batman’s help. Batman says thanks and tells him not to waste his time by using the signal ever again.
–REFERENCE: In Batgirl #33-34. Batman begins working on the mysterious “Alpha” case. What is this case about? Alpha, a deadly mercenary that was trained by David Cain, has recently brought a cold fusion bomb into Gotham on behalf of the mob. Now, Alpha goes off everyone’s radar because he gets stricken with amnesia and forgets who he is. Batman (and the mob) both start the hunt for Alpha and his hidden fusion bomb.
Late June. Batgirl celebrates her second anniversary of the day she officially became Batgirl. Since no one knows her actual birthday, this is celebrated as her replacement birthday. While aiding Batman on the mysteriously named “Alpha” case, Batgirl interrogates her father, David Cain, in Blackgate Prison. She beats up a bunch of prison guards and asks dad the burning question. Batgirl learns that her real birthday is January 26!
–Batman: Orphans #1-2
Late June. This was a difficult story to place, but it fits here pretty nicely (Akins is commish, Montoya and Allen are partners, Dick is living in Blüdhaven, etc…). Our tale begins when Merlyn, in an attempt to steal a package from a FedLex delivery, kills someone that he believes to be Robin. The tabloids report the death of Batman’s sidekick, prompting Dick to travel north to Gotham to make sure Tim is okay. Nightwing and the real Robin then visit the coroner to examine the body of the fake Robin. The coroner is actually Batman in disguise, thus proving that things aren’t always what they seem, or something like that. But if there is a fake Robin, there must be a fake Batman. Fake-Batman, headquartered in an underground section of Gotham never rebuilt after the quake, trains five orphaned kids to become his new “Robins.” The kids believe that “Batman” is the real Dark Knight and worship him accordingly. Teenage fighting-prodigy Lance Heart earns the right to become the new “Robin” after defeating his buddies in combat. Lance leads his fellow teens out into the streets to complete several “crime fighting” missions, which result in the death of innocent civilians. Meanwhile, Dick and Tim study the fake-Robin costume in the Batcave only to realize that it has been soaked in Scarecrow’s fear toxin. Across town, Bruce, who has recently handled the tainted costume, spazzes-out at a movie premiere and attacks tabloid journalist Samantha Locke. Alfred is able to contain Bruce and drive him back home. As a result, Bruce gets a nasty front-page write-up in Locke’s tabloid rag. Bruce then intensifies his investigation, which leads in the direction of several missing orphans. Bruce, Dick, and Tim interrogate an Arkham doctor, Charles Nigaff, who had personally taken care of all of the missing orphans in question. After questioning Nigaff, news breaks that FedLex trucks are being attacked all over the city due to the fact that the criminal underworld has learned that one of the deliveries contains a mysterious but important package. A violent gunfight erupts at the airport between Merlyn (working for the League of Assassins), Red Talon (working for Penguin), Riddler, the Fake-Robin and his teenage gang, Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen, and the Bat-Family. Similarly, across town Batgirl fights the Ventriloquist and The Prankster. Black Canary fights Lady Vic. And Spoiler, Huntress, and Catwoman fight the Body Doubles and Penguin. In the bloody chaos many die, including the Fake-Robin. Bookworm, part of the “Robin” gang, is able to retrieve the package and return to “Batman.” However, Bookworm turns on “Batman” when he realizes that he is actually a villain. Angered, fellow gang member Francisco Ramirez dons the Fake-Robin costume with the intent of battling “Batman.” However, Ramirez winds up fighting the real Batman by mistake, until Tim swoops in an explains the situation. “Batman” is revealed to be played by two crazy doctors: Hugo Strange and Charles Nigaff. With that mystery solved, only the mystery of the FedLex package remains. The package winds up in the hands of Nightwing, Montoya, Allen, and Locke, who are all surrounded by a bevy of rogues, including Firefly, Two-Face, Bane, Scarecrow, Killer Croc, Riddler, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Lady Shiva, and Nicodemus! Things look pretty bad until the package is revealed to be a fake Holy Grail. The disappointed villains disperse and the case is closed.
- SAM GROOVER: Harley & Ivy: Love on the Lam features Tim Drake running around society events with Bruce, fighting alongside him as Robin, and playing video games on the Batcave monitor. Thus, it must occur after Robin Vol. 2 #106.↩