2006 (July to December)
–Supergirl Vol. 4 #74
Early July. Months ago, a demon separated the two halves inhabiting Supergirl’s body: Matrix and Linda Danvers. Both retained superhuman powers, but Matrix became the sole Earth Angel of Fire and went missing. Linda (wearing her new white belly shirt costume) and pal Mary Marvel have been searching for her ever since. In the long lost Garden of Eden, Linda finally thinks she finds Matrix, but it is actually Bizarro Supergirl disguised to look like Matrix by Lilith (mother of all demons). When the demon Hurmizah stabs Mary to death Linda freaks out and, due to the machinations of Lilith, inadvertently causes a “chaos stream” to erupt from the River Styx. The chaos stream spreads over the globe, causing mass destruction and turning people into monsters. Batman, for instance, turns into a Man-Bat-esque creature that can barely be contained by a surprised Batgirl. Eventually, Mary will be revived, Matrix will be found, the chaos stream will recede, and everyone will live happily ever after.
–Batman: Gotham Knights #33-36 (“TABULA RASA”)
Batman, Robin (who is still a little salty about being left out of the loop for so long), and Nightwing apprehend three old-school villains who have ditched their corny super-villain alter-egos in an attempt at straight-crime. Signalman, Kite Man, and Corrosive Man are easily caught. NOTE: This is the first time we’ve seen Corrosive Man in four years, and he now appears to have either lost his powers or gained complete control of them. When the Bat-Family returns home to Wayne Manor, Bane (!) is waiting for them and asks Bruce to aid him in his quest to destroy all of the world’s Lazarus Pits (to piss off Ra’s Al Ghul). Bane has already destroyed quite a few. After meeting with Jason Blood (Etrigan), Batman and Bane learn that Achilles (minus his famous heel) was one of the first documented cases of anyone bathing in a Lazarus Pit! The former rivals then travel halfway across the globe and destroy a Lazarus Pit. As the duo celebrate the victory, Bane tells Batman that his real father is also Thomas Wayne! Bane and Batman are half-brothers! But is it true? A week goes by and the Bat-Family eagerly awaits the results of a blood test. In the meantime, Bane joins the Bat-Family and patrols the Gotham streets as a superhero! Huntress catches wind of this and is pissed. She swoops down and knocks Batman on his ass, calling him a hypocrite for letting Bane in the club, but not her. Bane later tells Batman that he knows that Huntress and Nightwing have been lovers in the past. Batman tells him he’s crazy. Ha! When Nightwing finally chases down Huntress, she kisses him. Watch out Babs! (Don’t worry, Dick is totally in love with Babs.) While stuck in traffic, Dick and Babs play “Six Degrees of Black Lightning.” This is too amazing. Meanwhile, when a tattoo artist is gang raped, she becomes Pix (the female version of Tattooed Man) and hunts down her rapists, killing them one by one. While Batman deals with the tragic new vigilante, Bane unsuccessfully tries to fake the DNA test results. When things don’t go his way, a lab tech gets murdered. Leslie Thompkins is on hand to witness the crime, but rather than condemn Bane, she opens up to him and they have a heart-to-heart. Bane visits with Batman and tells him they are not brothers, and can never truly be friends. Batman, however, is able to reach out to Bane before he leaves town. Bruce sets up a trust fund for his former foe (similar to the one he set up for Jean-Paul Valley years ago) and will remain in constant contact with Bane going forward.
It is revealed that, since this Bat Year began, everything in the entire DCU has been a lie. None of what we’ve read about in the chronology for Bat Year 18 has transpired. Instead, Batman and the other heroes have had completely different adventures. Huh? Let me explain. The Ultra-Humanite, months ago, had taken over the Earth using the stolen power of a Lightning Elemental djinn, putting numerous heroes under his brainwashed control, the rest experiencing a complex virtual reality i.e. The Matrix. The combined forces of the JSA, JLA, and Titans are able to see the Matrix reality for what it is, enter actual reality and defeat Ultra-Humanite. For anyone asking about the canonical status of the last couple of Matrix months, have no fear. JJ Thunder (with his own lighting djinn) is able to undo everything Ultra-Humanite had done. In a very bizarre space-time anomaly (one of the oddest anomalies we’ve encountered in all 18 years of this chronology thus far) the several Matrix months are completely erased from the timeline. However, everyone retains their knowledge of what the Ultra-Humanite has done. Also, the hundreds of deaths which occur as a result of Ultra-Humanite’s evil scheme? They’re dead for real and they ain’t coming back.
–NOTE: In Green Lantern Vol. 3 #145. A benevolent alien symbiote called Ion, whose origins stem from the Green Emotional Spectrum, merges with Green Lantern. Kyle Rayner is bestowed with cosmic powers even greater than the power within his ring. He dons a new costume and aptly calls himself Ion. In a couple months Kyle will release his powers back into the Central Power Battery on the planet Oa, re-creating the long dead Guardians of the Universe! Kyle will then go back to being plain ol’ Green Lantern again.
–Green Lantern Vol. 3 #149
The JLA frantically prepares for yet another massive invasion, this time by alien crystal people. Just as the team is finally able to come up with a complex strategy to defend Earth, Kyle Rayner (now Ion for the past four days) shows up and tells the team that he’s already taken care of the problem thanks to his new powers. He met the aliens head-on and teleported them thousands of light years away. Superman then argues with Ion, telling him that he’s being reckless with his new powers. NOTE: Plastic Man incorrectly says that “Terror Incognita” took place 176 days ago (almost 6 months ago). Maybe he means 276 days ago, which would still be slightly wrong, but would be a hell of a lot closer.
–Robin Vol. 2 #116-120
July. It’s Tim’s 16th birthday! When a mysterious box arrives at Tim’s house, he takes it to Batman and they examine it together. A hologram appears out of the box depicting an image of Alfred, supposedly from the future. In his message, Alfred tells Robin that one of their closest allies will go rogue and become evil. Future Alfred is then murdered by the former friend as the message concludes, but the Dynamic Duo can’t tell who it is. Robin spends the next ten days harrowingly and painstakingly collecting evidence and tailing his allies. The message seems to be legit, and Robin is sick about the fact that someone close to him will betray his trust. Robin then discovers the message was delivered by the small time crook Yak Black, and is surprised when Black turns up inside the Batcave. Robin easily takes Black down and unmasks him, revealing none other than Alfred himself! Batman appears out of the shadows and congratulates Tim. The whole thing was an elaborate test just to see how Robin would handle the situation. Tim is pissed and immediately quits again! (The Dynamic Duo had only been reunited for less than two weeks and here comes Batman rocking the boat with some asshole test? I can’t blame Tim for leaving this time). Spoiler tracks down the pouting Tim and basically tells him that Batman will always be a dick, but he of all people should be able to deal with it. Spoiler’s pep-talk is enough to convince Tim to return to the cave and make amends with Bruce.
–Batman: Gotham Knights #32
Almost two months have passed since Bruce Wayne’s name was cleared in the murder of Vesper Fairchild and he is finally ready to return to heading Wayne Enterprises. We see a long 24 hour day in the life of Bruce. He spends his day doing charity work, having power lunches, going to important business meetings, attending dedications, checking up on the comatose Lucius Fox’s family, playing chess with Two-Face at Arkham, and busting criminals until 5 am.
–the second feature to Batman: Gotham Knights #32 (B&W)
Bruce gets a letter from three little girls, which includes a fiction story about Batman fighting a dinosaur. The girls have sent him the letter in appreciation for Wayne Enterprises’ funding of a dinosaur-themed playground in their neighborhood.
–Power Company #15
Batman meets the vigilante known as Manhunter (actually a clone of the original Manhunter). They kung-fu fight and Batman realizes that, despite his rookie inexperience, Manhunter is expertly trained in the martial arts. Manhunter is a member of the superhero-for-hire team known as the Power Company, of which Carl Bork and Sapphire are prominent members.
–NOTE: In a reference in Batman: Family #1. Lucius Fox, who has been a coma for over eleven months after suffering a heart attack and stroke, finally wakes up! Bruce will visit with him in our next story.
–Batman: Family #1-2
It’s been just shy of a year since Lucius Fox has his heart attack and stroke. He’s ready to begin rehab, but is still unable to return to work. Meanwhile, the effects of the Vesper Fairchild murder are still lingering at Wayne Enterprises. The Board of Directors wants Bruce to resign and collect his hefty pension. Meanwhile, Batman meets the rookie vigilante known as the Tracker. The Tracker has spent the past few months serving up mobsters to the cops left and right. However, when Batman takes on a new super-villain called Suicide King, the former finds out that the Tracker is in cahoots with the villain. The Tracker winds up getting killed and Batman is left wondering what Suicide King’s game was all about. Bruce then returns to work. Worried that he will lose his company to a cutthroat, heartless new leader, CEO Wayne turns the reigns over to his mother’s old friend, elderly entrepreneur Celia Kazantzakis. Secretly, Kazantzakis has manipulated her way into this position of power with the desire to use Wayne Enterprises to control the Gotham underworld. The Tracker (her son) and Suicide King are a part of her network of super-villains, which includes Bugg, The Technician, Dr. Excess, Mr. Fun, and Freeway. The deviously covert Kazantzakis is even able to manipulate Spoiler (through a third party) into bringing down one of the Gotham crime syndicates. In a completely unrelated note, we also learn that Bruce’s fiancée from 18 years ago, Julie Madison has just had a baby! The paparazzi supposes that Bruce is the dad. Not true! NOTE: There are a bunch of flashbacks throughout the Family series to “40 years ago,” but 50 years ago sounds more like it. Also, I wanted to mention that every member of Kazantzakis’s group changes his super-villain gimmick and moniker every several years, thus greatly lessening the chances of getting identified or apprehended. Pretty clever idea. With that being said, we may or may not have seen some of these guys before as supposed “one-shot” villains. Who knows?
–Catwoman Vol. 3 #10
Selina and Bruce meet for lunch and Bruce pretends that he was shocked to learn that she was still alive. (Selina had recently faked her own death to fool the public into disbelieving she was Catwoman). Later, Catwoman helps a friend who is wrongfully charged with murder escape from custody and flee the country. Batman isn’t happy about it and tells her so, but their potential argument ends playfully (and sexually), with the duo racing each other across the Gotham rooftops.
–Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #177-178 (“LOST CARGO”)
Catwoman encounters Matches Malone for the first time and doesn’t realize that he’s Batman in disguise. Together, they bust some mobsters who are involved with a human trafficking/illegal immigration operation. In the end Selina learns that Batman and Malone are one and the same.
The cult known as The Ninth Legion is searching for an ancient artifact called the Eagle of the Ninth. When Jack Drake (Tim’s dad) turns up on a list of possible targets of the cult, Batman calls in Green Arrow (Connor Hawke), Robin, Batgirl, Spoiler, and Eddie Fyers to protect him. Eddie Fyers attends a public event disguised as Jack and is immediately kidnapped by the cult. The Bat-Family is able to track Eddie, save him, and stop the crazy cultists. Jack later reveals to Tim that he indeed owns the sacred artifact.
–Robin Vol. 2 #121-122
Robin begins attending yet another new school. After some magickal artifacts are heisted from STAR Labs, the Dynamic Duo is able to retrieve all of the items except for one. A few nights later, small-time crook Johnny Warren is imbued with a demonic power after handling the stolen artifact. Warren becomes super-villain Johnny Warlock.
–Detective Comics #774, Part 2
August. Batman has been searching for Sasha for two months now, with no success. Finally, he runs into Checkmate Agent David Said and gets some answers that lead him to a Checkmate base outside of Gotham. Batman infiltrates the base and gathers information, but still nothing conclusive. The Dark Knight then warns the Checkmate Agents on hand that if he discovers they have anything to do with Sasha’s disappearance, he will destroy them. And he means it.
–Gotham Central #6-10 (“HALF A LIFE”)
This award-winning Greg Rucka tale is not to be missed. Renee Montoya is in a whole lotta trouble. First, she is finally outed as a lesbian and it isn’t easy being queer and Latina in the GCPD. Then, Two-Face frames her for murder! Remember NML and her birthday flowers? Harvey is still in love with Renee. His twisted schizophrenic idea is that once he (Two-Face) ruins Montoya’s life completely, she will have only Harvey Dent to give her affection. A ton of great story-telling and build-up as Batman doesn’t even make an appearance until the fifth issue of this story-arc, showing up to kayo Two-Face and prove Montoya’s innocence. Afterward, Detective Sawyer orders Montoya to take a month off. (Montoya will take a few weeks off, but return to the force shortly thereafter.)
–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #783. Batman examines the scene of a murder committed by Alan Tuck. This is Tuck’s first victim, but there will be three more to come over the span of the next two months.
–FLASHBACK: From Batman: Gotham Knights #47. Late August. Bruce sends Bane to Saint Louis to apprehend one of Mr. Freeze’s old henchmen who has run amok with one of his former boss’ old freeze-rays.
Early September. Plastic Man asks Batman to help out his old friend’s son, Luke McDunnagh, who has recently joined a gang and is headed toward a life of crime. Batman nabs the kid in Chicago, but when he exhibits the ability to shapeshift, Batman realizes that he is actually Plastic Man’s son! Batman is able to convince Luke to quit the gang life. Plastic Man is too afraid to confront his son, but secretly watches, disguised as Batman’s utility belt. Luke will later become the superhero known as Offspring, but that is years later.
–REFERENCE: In JLA: Welcome to the Working Week. The JLA defeats time-traveling villain Per Degaton.
–NOTE: In Green Lantern Vol. 4 #150. Ion releases his powers back into the Central Power Battery on the planet Oa, re-creating the long dead Guardians of the Universe! Kyle Rayner will soon go back to being Green Lantern again following this action.
–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #783. Batman examines the scene of another murder by serial killer Alan Tuck. This is victim number two.
–JLA/Spectre: Soul War #1-2
Giant monsters that resemble collective bits and pieces of Earth’s religious deities attack the planet. The Spectre (Hal Jordan) merges with hundreds of superheroes across the globe to beat back the monster threat. At the Watchtower, Hal tells the JLA that a mysterious alien race known as the Trans is responsible for the attacks. Hal then merges each member of the JLA into a single titanic combo-JLA warrior, which Batman only agrees to because he is given full control of the being’s consciousness. Cue a Power Rangers/Godzilla scene where the two thousand foot tall combo-JLA warrior fights a host of giant monsters in, of course, Japan. The battle winds up on the moon where controller Batman gets his butt kicked. Martian Manhunter takes over the giant combo-JLA body and wins the skirmish. Hal then reveals that the monsters they’ve been fighting are merely psychic manifestations emanating from the collective unconsciousness of the entire human race that are being ripped into existence by the manipulations of the Trans. But the worst and most dangerous psychic monster manifestation is born out of a weakened Hal’s mind following the moon battle. The JLA is able to escape from the creature temporarily by splitting back into their own bodies and severing the psychic link from the combo-body. Hal then further explains that the Trans exist to feed on the collective unconsciousnesses of entire planets. After a quick teleportation tour of a planet that has been ravaged by the Trans, our heroes are ready for action. However, the only way to defeat the Trans and their monsters is to use a machine built by Hal that will cause a near death experience that separates the JLAers spirits from their bodies. The entire JLA goes under the effect of the machine and “dies.” The now-dead JLA passes through the the Imaginal Realm (the collective consciousness of humanity) in an attempt to fight the Trans. There, they find that the Trans have taken over the Imaginal Realm, and now are the Imaginal Realm itself. Despite the dire situation, the JLA defeats the Trans. Back at the Watchtower, a Trans-controlled psychic medium unplugs the machines sustaining the JLA’s bodies, effectively killing them for real. Hal sacrifices himself to revive the JLA, and his spirit becomes stuck in a limbo dimension. The psychic medium is able to shake off the effects of the Trans and is able to focus the JLA’s psychic energy and bring Hal back. Batman also gets to briefly speak with his dead parents in Heaven! Afterward, Batman humbly thanks and shakes Hal’s hand for a job well done.
–JLA: Welcome to the Working Week
Patton Oswalt’s JLA one-shot is one of the best JLA stories I’ve ever read (right up there with Morrison’s JLA stuff). It’s so self-reflexive, introspective, and “fan-boy” (I mean that in a good way) you can’t possibly not love it. And like Morrison, Oswalt breaks down (from a layman’s point of view) exactly why each one of DC’s big superstar heroes are worth getting into. This book is also a wonderful reminder of why Batman is and always will be the best superhero character ever written. Let’s get to the story. After an alien attack on Portland, Oregon, the JLA teleports an entire neighborhood into the Watchtower while they deal with the intruders. The situation is quickly resolved and everyone is zapped back home, except for fan-zine writing superhero geek, Marlus Randone, who stows away on the moonbase and spies on the members of the team, including Flash and Green Lantern who spend the evening watching a made-for-TV Bruce Wayne: Fugitive movie! The story then goes through the literal working week of the JLA. I’ll focus on Batman. Monday: Batman examines Riddler-like clues at a crime scene where a GCPD officer is crucified on a cross. He then saves a baby from a burning building, quickly sends an escaped Joker to the Slab, and tests out a new armored Bat-suit. He then ends the day successfully negotiating with the Weather Wizard. Tuesday: Batman busts some mobsters in Gotham. Wednesday: The Dark Knight spends some time in an opened Watchtower airlock until his blood vessels burst and he nearly dies. Batman calls this “zero-gravity training.” J’onn calls it a fetish. Thursday: Widespread calamity occurs when ordinary people are bestowed with super-strength all over the planet. There isn’t much the JLA can do, so Plastic Man throws a huge party on the Watchtower! Nearly every hero imaginable is pictured at the party. (I should mention a few continuity flubs before continuing. First, it would be strange for Jack Knight and John Henry Irons to both be in costume at the party as both would be retired at this point. Also, Poison Ivy, who has sneaked into the party, is drawn incorrectly—without her green skin. Furthermore, Batman says that Penguin has a parole hearing. Untrue. Penguin hasn’t been in jail for years. Also, probably the biggest error in the entire book is that a newscast depicts both Gordon and Bullock still on the force.) Friday: Batman bitches out Plastic Man for having thrown the party. I wonder if he bitched-out Nightwing, Robin, and Batgirl, since they were all there. Hell, Cassie even took her mask off! Batman also bitches out Wonder Woman for secretly training with Killer Croc, Lady Shiva, and Cheetah. Saturday: Marlus makes his presence known just as the Earth is attacked by the alien super-villain Feast and his evil team known as the Murder Parade. While the JLA battles the Murder Parade, Batman battles Feast and is able to make him call off the attack after torturing him with a ball-point pen! And here is the best line ever. Marlus narrates, “If this was a comic book, it would have run twenty issues, and taken all summer. But it takes minutes. The world is saved and it’s too big and fast to take in.” Nuff said!
–FLASHBACK: From Gotham Central #11. Stacy switches on the Batsignal, as is part of her job. Batman responds to chat with the GCPD and deal with an unspecified case. Presumably, Batman handles the case.
–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #775. Batman disrupts another Checkmate operation in Gotham.
–Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #185-189 (“RIDDLE ME THAT”)
Meet the new and improved Riddler. He’s got a new attitude and a sleek new look—now younger-looking and more attractive thanks to a bit of facial plastic surgery. This suave and dangerous Riddler ultimately becomes the definitive version of the character, much beloved in the 2000s. In this LOTDK tale, Riddler sets in motion a series of puzzles, bomb threats, blackmails, and red herring setups, each of which Batman follows around like a wild goose. Batman then meets Martin Buttery, an acquaintance of Edward Nigma’s from long, long ago who seems to blame Nigma for the murder of his father. After saving the life of a journalist who is writing a story on Riddler, the Dark Knight learns that Riddler is attempting to steal an ancient scroll from the museum. He brings the journalist to the museum, realizing that she is actually the journalist’s twin sister hired by the Riddler to fool him. At the museum, Batman attempts to take down both Riddler, the fake journalist, and a swarm of hired cronies. Riddler runs off with the goods, but is stopped dead in his tracks by Buttery. Nigma cries foul play, and yells that he would have gotten away with it if not for Buttery’s meddling. After the case is closed, Batman and Akins send Nigma away in a squad car, only to realize that the recovered ancient scroll is a fake. Nigma is in the car with the real scroll and his secret accomplice, Martin Buttery. The Riddler just outsmarted Batman!
–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #783. Batman examines the scene of another murder by serial killer Alan Tuck. This is victim number three.
–Batman: Family #3-8
Late September to mid October. The harridan Celia Kazantzakis has been CEO of Wayne Enterprises for two months now. Her secret criminal network has extended its reach exponentially in this time, thanks a great deal to the surveillance and info-gathering of the anti-Oracle known as the Technician. (NOTE: There are some pretty amazing flashbacks which show that the Technician has been responsible for designing some of the DCU’s zanier evil super-villain technologies.) Kazantzakis’ plan to take control of Gotham involves getting rid of the Bat-Family. Black Canary teams-up with Orpheus and they are first to encounter a another dark facet of Kazantzakis’ criminal empire when they battle a metahuman former US Senator. Dr. Excess has been injecting a mutant strain of cancer into clinic patients, which causes them to hulk up and go crazy—hence the appearance of the hulking ex-senator. Then Kazantzakis sends Suicide King to take care of Huntress. Suicide King not only blackmails Huntress by threatening to reveal her secret identity to the public, but also threatens to kill her extended family. Huntress is able to save her family, but is pissed off that Suicide King knows her secret identity. She is even more annoyed when DEO Agent Cameron Chase (who had been trailing Suicide King) shows up and learns her identity as well. While Bruce attends the opera with Kazantzakis, Robin is captured and tortured by Freeway and Dr. Excess. We learn here that Robin has either had his fingerprints surgically replaced or had the FBI database altered. Freeway runs Tim’s prints through the FBI database and he comes up as a positive match for a deceased Blackgate inmate. Tim escapes his captors, gets evidence which proves the existence of a underground criminal cabal linked to Kazantzakis, and reports back to Batman and company. The Bat-Family now has the edge. Batman easily captures the Technician, sets him up in a safe-house with Nightwing and Batgirl as guards, and then goes to interrogate an old colleague of Kazantzakis. However, the psychotic Mr. Fun is able to defeat both Batgirl and Nightwing at the same time using only a golf club as a weapon! Mr. Fun then murders the Technician in order to silence him. Kazantzakis then sets into motion a city-wide blackout, combined with a string of money-embezzling transfers designed to ruin Wayne Enterprises and cripple the city’s economy. While this goes on, the Bat-Family retaliates. Nightwing and Black Canary defeat Mr. Fun. Huntress gets revenge against Suicide King. Batgirl nabs Bugg and shuts down the computerized brain behind all of the chaos. And Batman confronts Kazantzakis at last. She gets away in the end, but the jig is up. Kazantzakis sends her letter of resignation by courier a few days later. NOTE: Where the hell was Alfred in this series!? ANOTHER NOTE: Gotham Central #11 takes place on October 7, which puts it smack dab in the middle of the conclusion of the Batman: Family mini-series. This is okay, though, since Batman isn’t in the issue (only appearing in flashback). GC #11 is all about the GCPD secretary Stacy. We learn her views and opinions about the various GCPD characters and we learn about her huge crush on Batman. PS. Stacy mentions that Josie Mac was promoted to detective first class three months ago. However, this would have happened only a-month-and-a-half prior to October 7.
–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #775. Batman disrupts another Checkmate operation in Gotham.
–Superman Vol. 2 #189
Teenage occultist Traci Thirteen is aware of some bad juju going on in Hell’s Heart, a horrible slum in Washington, DC. Traci contacts Lana Lang, the wife of Vice President Pete Ross, for help. The Second Lady goes into Hell’s Heart but never comes out. After twenty-four hours, Pete sends Clark to go find out what happened to her. Before Clark departs, Batman pays him a visit and warns him not to go into Hell’s Heart since it is the most dangerous place in America, even worse than Gotham. Batman and Clark then engage in an ugly argument about each other’s different crime-fighting methodologies and whether or not either has really inspired any hope in the world. The nastiness is left unresolved and Batman takes off, leaving Clark to go after Lana.
–Detective Comics #776-783
Before we begin, ‘tec #775 is out of order. Issue 775 doesn’t happen until the very end of November. So don’t worry, we didn’t skip anything. Now, back to ‘tec #776. Years ago, GCPD officer James O’Dell was forced into an early retirement and witness protection after getting in too deep with a gang of drug dealing gun runners. Now those very same drug dealing gun runners are being murdered by an unknown assailant. Batman thinks it’s O’Dell, but it’s really O’Dell’s elderly father, who winds up getting shot and killed. Batman also gets shot and drags himself to the care of Leslie Thompkins, who saves his life as she has done so often in the past. Next, the six-issue “Dead Reckoning” story-arc (which takes about two-and-a-half weeks to transpire) begins when one of Killer Moth’s old henchmen gets mistaken for Moth and is murdered. The unknown killer then attempts to murder Penguin, Mad Hatter, and new Gotham U criminology professor Jim Gordon. After the Dark Knight meets with 60s supernatural detective Mark Merlin, an eight-year-old cold case mystery unravels. In the flashback to eight years ago, we learn that actor Paul Sloan was hired by Joker, Riddler, Moth, Penguin, Scarecrow, and Hatter to play a pivotal role in a scheme which would have resulted in Batman’s ultimate demise. Two-Face wanted nothing to do with the other rogues, so they hired Sloan to become a fake Two-Face, a role which Sloan took way too seriously. After finding out about the existence of a fake Two-Face, the real Two-Face got a bit angry, kidnapped Sloan, mutilated him, and left him for dead. Then the Scarecrow revived Sloan, only to torture and experiment on him for weeks. Cut back to the present: Sloan is finally back for revenge. The Dark Knight travels to the Slab to interrogate Joker and quickly realizes Sloan’s plan. Batman (and Two-Face) bring him to justice. Sloan winds up in Arkham with the new super-villain name “Charlatan.” With Charlatan behind bars, Two-Face remains free and at-large at the end of issue #782. However, Two-Face is back in Arkham as soon as issue #783 begins. I guess they caught him really quickly. In issue #783, Batman apprehends serial killer Alan Tuck, who has murdered four people, including a Wayne Enterprises employee. Feeling guilty at having not known her at all, Bruce takes it upon himself to memorize the names of everyone in Wayne Tower. NOTES: At the beginning of “Dead Reckoning,” a doctor mentions that Lucius Fox recovered from his coma a month ago. Lucius recovered over two months ago. Also, the second feature to issue #782 occurs on the anniversary of Batman’s parents’ deaths, so it doesn’t go here; it goes on November 25. And lastly, the second feature to issues #777-781, entitled “Spore,” is out-of-continuity.
–FLASHBACK: From Batman: Gotham Knights #47. From Gotham, Bruce remotely monitors Bane in Paris, where the latter apprehends the metahuman super-villain known as Warp.
–Batman: Family #8, Epilogue
Early November. Three weeks after the resignation of Celia Kazantzakis, Bruce celebrates at a Wayne Enterprises benefit gala with his family: Dick, Tim, Cassandra, and Babs.
–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #775. Batman disrupts another Checkmate operation in Gotham.
–Gotham Central #12-15 (“SOFT TARGETS”)
This story-arc originally was written to have taken place during Christmas time. However, there is no way this is possible due to the editorial compression of the year. We must ignore the seasonal references and depictions in this tale. Anyway, chaos ensues when an escaped Joker assassinates Mayor Dickerson! Joker then begins a string of terrorist bombings, which result in several police officers’ deaths, including Detective Nate Patton. Eventually, Joker is captured and sent to Arkham. David Hull becomes the new mayor of Gotham.
–Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #197-199 (“BLAZE OF GLORY”)
Small time crook/weapons expert Erik Webber is released from prison and wants revenge against Batman for his incarceration six years ago. Webber makes his presence known by burning a Batman symbol into a “Welcome to Gotham: Home of the Batman” billboard. Webber then blows up the head of the famous Lady Justice Statue (Gotham’s equivalent to the Statue of Liberty). Finally, Webber murders four people just because they are wearing Batman paraphernalia (i.e. a kid with a Batman skateboard, kid with a Batman symbol T-shirt, etc). After visiting Arkham and ruling out Joker and Two-Face as suspects, Batman realizes that the culprit is Webber and confronts him on a Gotham rooftop. Webber explains that there are dozens of bombs around the city rigged to explode when his own heart stops beating. The villain then electrocutes himself in an attempt to commit suicide and blow up most of the city. Webber’s plan fails as Batman is able to medivac the villain to a hospital where he is stabilized. After the bomb squad clears out all of the explosives, Batman visits Webber in the hospital and watches him die. NOTE: When we next see Joker (in Harley Quinn #25) he will have been loose for two weeks, so we must assume he escapes from Arkham right after “Blaze of Glory.”
–REFERENCE: In Gotham Central #16-22. Batman is not present in these issues, although Bruce makes an off-panel cameo in issue #22. Like in the previous story-arc, any seasonal references must be ignored. Here is the synopsis. Josie Mac and Marcus Driver solve a cold case from 1996, in which Mad Hatter killed an entire high school basketball team. Harvey Bullock was the lead detective on the case, so Mac and Driver pay the retired alcoholic cop a visit. Bullock is so convinced that Penguin was involved with the crime, he kidnaps the villain and beats the tar out of him. In the process of shaking down Penguin, the crazed Bullock winds up shooting two people. Meanwhile, Mac and Driver discover that the basketball team gang-raped a girl and the victim’s mother had hired the Mad Hatter to commit the crime as revenge all those years ago. When Bullock hears the truth, he puts a gun in his own mouth and tries to kill himself. Mac is just barely able to knock the gun out of Bullock’s hands before he can pull the trigger. Poor Harvey is hauled off to jail, but Bruce sends his best lawyer downtown to assure that Bullock won’t serve any real time.
–JLA/JSA Secret Files #1, Part 1
Mid November. Metamorpho is resurrected! Meanwhile, Captain Marvel has come up with the idea that the JSA and JLA should begin an annual tradition of sharing Turkey Day. Thus, the JSA and JLA plan for a joint Thanksgiving celebration. Mr. Terrific (Michael Holt) bonds with Batman in the Batcave. Mr. Terrific will become one of Batman’s closest friends and allies in the future.
–JLA/JSA: Virtue & Vice
Mid November. The JLA and the JSA celebrate the first annual Thanksgiving celebration on the Watchtower (actually a few days before the actual holiday). The celebration is interrupted when both teams are called into action to save President Luthor from Apokoliptian super-villain Doctor Bedlam. After regrouping at JSA headquarters, things turn ugly. The Seven Deadly Enemies of Man (Pride, Envy, Greed, Anger, Sloth, Gluttony, and Lust) have escaped from their prison within the Rock of Eternity. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Rock of Eternity is home to the wizard Shazam and headquarters of Captain Marvel. The Seven Deadly Enemies of Man are demons which were trapped there ages ago. Anyway, these demons possess the bodies of several key players and begin running amok, resulting in the destruction of the JSA’s brownstone headquarters. Anger embodies Batman, Pride embodies Mr. Terrific, Envy embodies Green Lantern, Greed embodies Plastic Man, Sloth embodies Dr. Fate, Lust embodies Power Girl, and Gluttony embodies Captain Marvel. Meanwhile, the other heroes are sucked into either Limbo or Dr. Fate’s twisted inter-dimensional fortress. As chaos reigns over the planet, one man stands tall, having manipulated the entire scheme: President Luthor. But wait! As Black Canary, Green Arrow (Ollie), and Dr. Mid-Nite close-in on the President, Luthor reveals that he isn’t Luthor at all. Despero is back! And he’s in league with old JSA villain Johnny Sorrow. Things are looking bleak until the combined forces of the JSA and JLA are able to free their possessed comrades and kick some serious ass. Even Luthor is thankful for the rescue and builds the JSA a new state-of-the-art headquarters in Manhattan at the location of the old headquarters. (The old JSA brownstone is also fixed up as well—it will eventually become a JSA museum).
–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #775. Batman disrupts two more Checkmate operations in Gotham. These are the fifth and sixth Checkmate missions that Batman has fouled up in the past six months.
–JLA/JSA: Virtue & Vice, Epilogue
The JSA and JLA celebrate the grand opening of the new JSA tower in Manhattan.
–NOTE: In Superman Vol. 2 #194. Clark Kent is re-hired by The Daily Planet after exposing a legit minor Lex Luthor presidential scandal (thanks to help from Talia) which involves the illegal incarceration of Luthor’s former bodyguard Hope. This minor scandal surely causes Luthor to lose a few points on his approval rating, but does little else to threaten his presidency or administration.
–Green Lantern Vol. 3 #155
One of Kyle Rayner’s best friends, Terry Berg, becomes the victim of a hate crime—beaten and nearly killed by some homophobic bigots simply because he is gay. While Berg lies in a coma, Kyle breaks into Rikers Island and assaults his friend’s attackers (as seen in Green Lantern Vol. 3 #154). At the JLA Watchtower, a distraught Kyle begs Flash to let him use the Cosmic Treadmill to go back and prevent Berg’s tragedy. Of course, Flash doesn’t comply. Batman then chastises Kyle for his actions at Rikers, to which Kyle accuses Batman of doing stuff like that all the time. After Kyle chats with the Spectre (Hal Jordan), Berg comes out of his coma and is relatively okay. Upset at the recent events, Kyle and his girlfriend Jade decide to leave Earth for a bit and travel the cosmos together.
–Harley Quinn #25
Joker has been loose without making so much as a peep for a month now—(due to time compression this should actually be more like two weeks rather than a month). Getting antsy, Batman sets up a ruse to lure him out. Batman nabs Harley and forces her to cooperate. First, in front of many witnesses, Batman lets Harley best him in a robbery attempt and the Dark Knight declares Harley to be his new number one enemy. As predicted, Joker contacts Harley. Harley, however, instead of playing Batman’s mole, becomes Joker’s counterspy. Using Harley, Joker sends disinformation—actually non-information, just random jokes—(Joker thinks he is poking fun at his rival). However, over the course of a few days Batman incorrectly interprets these messages as code and tells Harley he thinks Joker is planning to murder everyone at a salesmen’s convention. Liking the idea, Joker goes ahead with Batman’s plan and gets busted.
–Nightwing Vol. 2 #75
Batman gives Nightwing info on the corrupt mayor of Blüdhaven and encourages Dick to quit the BPD. Back in Blüdhaven, Nightwing meets new superhero Tarantula (Catalina Flores).
HUSH Part One
November 27-28. A new era is officially upon us! Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee begin their famous “Hush” story-arc. Batman rescues a kidnapped boy from a monstrously mutating Killer Croc, but during their fight the ransom money is stolen by Catwoman. The Caped Crusader swings after Catwoman, but someone cuts his line causing him to fall hundreds of feet to his impending doom. Batman makes a proper mid-air adjustment just in the nick of time, avoiding death, but suffering a broken shoulder and fractured skull. Meanwhile, Catwoman returns the briefcase full of money to Poison Ivy, who has Selina under her spell. Huntress is able to help Batman into the Batmobile, which automatically drives him back home. Alfred does the best he can to stabilize the unconscious and broken Bruce, but it looks bad. Oracle even contacts Shondra Kinsolving (!) to ask for her help, but Shondra doesn’t respond. (For anyone wondering, Shondra has made a recent complete recovery from her brain trauma). Alfred and Dick, just like they did in “Knightfall,” fake a car accident and call the authorities. Bruce’s childhood friend Dr. Tommy Elliot is flown in and performs emergency brain surgery on Bruce, saving his life! But who cut Batman’s rope? And who are Croc and Ivy working for? A mystery man with a bandaged face watches from the shadows. Only time will tell his secret.
–FLASHBACK: From Batman: Gotham Knights #47. Bruce, while recovering from surgery, sends Bane to intimidate the Ventriloquist. Bane intimidates him with a chainsaw. Bane then is able to calm the rampaging Pix.
–the second feature to Detective Comics #782
November 25—the anniversary of Batman’s parents’ deaths. Alfred overhears a sanitation worker commenting on how he always finds two fresh roses left in Crime Alley on the anniversary of the Wayne murders. Hoping to catch the celebrity Bruce Wayne in the act, he plans to hang out in the alley all night long. Alfred, worried that the city worker will realize that Bruce is Batman when Batman shows up instead of Bruce, has Dick, Tim, and Cassandra form a distraction for the curious man. Batman delivers his flowers as usual without any hiccups. NOTE: There is a flashback in the second feature to ‘tec #782 that refers to the Wayne murders as occurring 25 years ago instead of the correct 35 years ago.
–Detective Comics #775
Late November. This issue is a must-read. Really good stuff. It’s been days since Batman’s brain surgery in Batman #609, but he’s already miraculously started patrolling the Gotham streets again. The Dark Knight shakes down yet another Checkmate operation. This time he shuts down a large Checkmate base in Gotham and beats up agent Jessica Midnight pretty badly, permanently disfiguring her face. It is mentioned that this is the seventh time in the last six months that Batman has interfered with Checkmate business (and you’ll see that is indeed a fact on this chronology!) Sasha has been secretly training with Checkmate for the past six months, but now she wants out. Before going on the lam, she arranges a meeting with Bruce. For the first time in six months Bruce and Sasha are face-to-face. Bruce and Sasha talk about their tragic history together and say they love each other. They finally kiss and Bruce begs her to come back. Sasha touches his face gently and says “Don’t try to find me.” Another love lost. And another sad end to another heart-breaking chapter in the life of Batman.
–Catwoman Vol. 3 #13
Things are going well for Selina Kyle. She’s happily dating Slam Bradley. And crime-fighting is treating her fine too because Catwoman gets to play Robin Hood in her home neighborhood of the East End. For example, she recently stole a ton of money from Black Mask and used the money to fund construction of a new youth center in the East End. In this issue Bruce is on hand for the dedication ceremony. After finding out Catwoman’s secret identity, a pissed off Black Mask swears revenge. Black Mask blows up the youth center, but this is only the beginning.
–NOTE: Catwoman Vol. 3 #14-16. Batman isn’t in these issues, but they feature important events. Black Mask continues his reign of terror upon Selina. First, Black Mask kidnaps Selina’s sister Maggie, Maggie’s husband, and Holly Robinson. The villain not only tortures and murders Maggie’s husband in front of Maggie, but forces her to eat parts of his flesh as well. Catwoman tracks down Black Mask in time to prevent Holly from being tortured, but Maggie has gone completely insane. An enraged Catwoman throws Black Mask off of a rooftop and leaves, presuming the villain is dead.
–NOTE: In Suicide Squad Vol. 2 #1. The newest incarnation of the Suicide Squad forms. Stephanie’s father Cluemaster is presumably killed in action, while on a mission with the team. Arthur Brown is indeed shot several times, horribly burned on his face, and left for dead. However, he survives, will secretly spend over a year in a hospital, and will go into hiding for some time after that. The world, including Stephanie, will believe he is dead.
–Catwoman Vol. 3 #19
Things have been rough for Catwoman lately following the horrific episode with Black Mask. Selina’s relationship with Slam Bradley has soured. After a fight with Slam, they call the whole thing off. More bad news follows about Holly Robinson, who has recently killed someone and is on the verge of returning to using drugs. Upset about the break-up and about Holly, Selina hits a bar, gets wasted, and suits up as Catwoman. She breaks into the museum, but Batman responds immediately. Catwoman then drunkenly kisses him, but Batman pushes her away and calms the teary-eyed Selina. Batman smiles and tells her everything will be fine. The next day, Selina gathers herself, visits Holly, and offers her similar comforting words.
–FLASHBACK: From Batman: Gotham Knights #41. Batman becomes aware of a new deadly narcotic being pushed on the streets. The drug is known as “Elastix” and is made from Gingold, the super-stretchy serum which gives Elongated Man his powers.
–Batman: Gotham Knights #37-42
December 1 to December 23. There is so much going here with Scott Beatty’s amazing run on GK, I’ll try my best to keep it brief. When an insane Kobra cult member threatens to detonate a nuclear bomb Batman goes on red-alert. Spoiler confronts Batman about cutting her out of the loop after her training ended months ago. Batman tells her that she lacks the abstemiousness and ability to be a crime-fighter. Spoiler begs for one more chance and the Dark Knight cuts her a deal. If she can locate the bomber and save the day, she can stay on the team. If not, she’s done. Spoiler fails. Thankfully, Metamorpho was on back-up to stop the detonation. Bruce fires Stephanie as harshly as possible. Poor kid. For Steph, this is like getting dumped hard. She cries hysterically and Tim has to console her. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce and Alfred talk about the Bat-Family. Bruce, in regard to Stephanie says, “I’m just trying to protect this extended family from becoming too large and unmanageable.” Alfred scolds him, saying that no one really chooses the vigilante life. The children look up to Bruce and can never walk away, unless they are forced to, as Stephanie was. Alfred also reminds Bruce that even Bane and Huntress yearn for his approval and acceptance to be within the family. PS. This might be a slight rib by Alfred since we know that Bruce has set up a trust fund for Bane (similar to the one he set up for Jean-Paul four years ago). Meanwhile, the Question tells Nightwing that Huntress has been abducted by Checkmate. (NOTE: A Checkmate meeting is shown where they mention their recent “failure with Sasha Bordeaux,” referencing her recent departure in ‘tec #775.) In a penthouse suite atop a secret Gotham Checkmate base, Huntress is examined under a fine-tooth comb by new Checkmate King, David Said. Said has employed the services of Scarecrow and Mad Hatter (on loan from Arkham) to get inside Helena’s mind through the use of hallucinogenic drugs. Said offers her the Queen’s position in Checkmate (second in command)! Huntress refuses and escapes, winding up in one of Batman’s downtown underground Bat-Bases under his protection. Checkmate is able to track Huntress to the underground base and infiltrate it (!), but Batman and Huntress are able to fight off the Checkmate agents. Anyway, Huntress returns to Checkmate and accepts the job as Queen, but secretly will report to Batman. Batman now has a mole within Checkmate! But before Batman can pat himself on the back, Tim, Leslie Thompkins, and Dick call Bruce with a frantic message: Alfred is dying of a mysterious illness! Batman rushes home and there is nothing much he can do except wait. Leslie stabilizes the unconscious Alfred and tries to determine the cause of his ailment. With nothing better to do, Bruce goes out in his Matches Malone disguise and teams-up with Elongated Man and his wife Sue Dibny to get the illegal narcotic “Elastix” off the streets. When he returns, Leslie informs him that Alfred is dying of the Clench (the disease from way back in Contagion). GK #42 takes place over the course of 20 days, since the antibiotics which suppress the Clench virus work on a 20 day cycle. It’s around December 3 when this issue begins, so we’ll go from there. Day 1: Bruce sits by Alfred’s bedside. Day 2: The Bat-Family is in quarantine and is vaccinated. Batman communicates with JLA about the danger of another Clench outbreak. Day 3: Bruce chats with Leslie. Day 4: Alan Scott answers the Batsignal throughout the week as a substitute for Bruce, who watches over Alfred. Day 5: Tim reflects on the romance between Leslie and Alfred. Day 6: Leslie realizes that Alfred has caught a mutated version of the Clench from the bats in the Batcave. Day 7: Bruce ends the Bat-Family quarantine and seals up the Batcave. Day 8: The Atom shrinks down and goes inside Alfred to check things out at a molecular level. Day 9: Cassie buys Alfred a “get well” card. Day 10: Bruce tries to make chicken noodle soup and fails miserably. Day 11: Alfred wakes up! Day 12: Batman wails on Riddler. Day 13: State case worker Felix Desidero visits Bruce with accusations of various child abuse towards his wards Jason and Dick. Day 14: Babs has lunch with her dad. Day 15: Batman steals an experimental anti-virus from a LexCorp laboratory. Day 16: Superman visits Alfred. Day 17: Bruce and Dick fumigate the cave (and the bats) with the Clench anti-virus. Day 18: Batman sends the anti-virus to Bane (in the Himalayas) since he was in the Batcave recently. Day 19: Alfred recovers! Day 20: We learn that Bat Boy Aaron Langstrom has run away from home and is currently living secretly in the Batcave! (Aaron Langstrom is also shown leaving home and hiding in the Batcave in a flashback from Batman: Gotham Knights #45.)
–NOTE: In a reference in The OMAC Project #1. You knew Sasha Bordeaux couldn’t escape Checkmate for very long before they pulled her back in. It is around this time that Sasha becomes a Checkmate agent once again.
–Azrael: Agent of the Bat #95-100
December 24-25. We haven’t seen Azrael in a long time, but he’s still crazy, still wearing his old Az-Bats costume, and still slowly dying of a rare blood disease (as a result of his St. Dumas programming). A crooked US Senator has now molded Az into a prophet with hundreds of followers. In order to build Az’s cred, the senator has Az go after an escaped Two-Face. Az easily captures Two-Face on live television, but endangers the lives of many people and allows important evidence to be destroyed. Batman is fed up and vows to end the career of Azrael for good. In the meantime, the senator replaces Jean-Paul with the more charismatic and experienced Nicholas Scratch as leader of his cult. Batman confronts Scratch on Christmas Eve and tells him to get lost. On Christmas day, Az fights Batman and actually beats him in hand-to-hand combat! After bidding his friend Leslie Thompkins adieu, Az then brings down both Carlton LeHah and Nicholas Scratch, but gets pumped full of bullets in the process. Batman shows up just after the chaos has subsided. A beat-up and bloody Jean-Paul smiles and says goodbye before walking off to die alone. Yep, it’s been a great run, but Jean-Paul Valley, former Batman, is dead. NOTE: A brain-damaged Shondra Kinsolving makes an appearance in issue #99, but this appearance must be ignored since Shondra would have made a full recovery at this point. Thus, Shondra should NOT be shown in her child-like state.
Now that here is nothing left for Batgirl to learn in the martial arts, it’s time to begin her detective training. Batman lets her in on the “Alpha” case he’s been working on for over six months now. Alpha is a deadly mercenary who was trained by David Cain. After bringing a cold fusion bomb into Gotham seven months ago, Alpha went off the radar because he was struck with amnesia and forgot who he was. The mob then took him in, where he remained virtually hidden, until now. Batman and Batgirl take Alpha into their care and he slowly regains his mind. Remembering that he is a stone-cold killing machine doesn’t make him feel good, but Batgirl explains that she too was once trained by Cain. Together, they deactivate the fusion bomb. Meanwhile, Cain escapes from prison and abducts a young girl. Batgirl saves the child, but learns something she probably already knew in her heart; Cain is indeed her biological father. Batman then tells Batgirl to stop patrolling with Spoiler since she is unfit to be a member of the Bat-Family (as per her failure in Gotham Knights #37 nearly four weeks ago). Batgirl goes out with Spoiler anyway. The duo fights some all-girl gangs and Batgirl comes to the conclusion that Batman is right; Spoiler isn’t ready for the big-time. Shortly thereafter, Batgirl battles the Tarakstanian metahuman terrorist known as Black Wind. Afterward, Oracle convinces Batman to give Cassandra a vacation. Babs and Cassie go on a cruise. Not only are they surprised to see Superboy on the same ship, they are surprised to learn that he is working on a case involving Black Wind too. And who should naturally show up? Black Wind! Superboy and Batgirl team-up and take down Black Wind. Before returning home to Gotham, Superboy and Batgirl reveal they have feelings for each other. Cassie feels a bit confused though, as she has partly fallen for the charismatic Black Wind as well. Oh, Cassie and your teenage hormones. At least the girls get to continue their vacation.
- Placement credit to NICK PALMIERI.↩