2005 (July to December)
–Harley Quinn #9-12 (“QUINTESSENCE”)
Early July. Amusement park mogul Jack Happi has put a hit out on Harley Quinn, which draws all manner of loser assassins, real threats, and the attention of Batman. Batman—as Matches Malone—joins Harley’s henchmen family, The Quinntets, in order to keep tabs on and protect her. The Quinntets include Matches’ old buds, the Two-Bear Brothers, Kennedy and Nixon. After would-be-assassin Killer Croc fails in his task, Matches stops a traitorous Nixon from killing Harley, but can’t convince the rest of the crew of Nix’s true nature. Harley then dresses up in an old Barbara Gordon Batgirl costume and turns the tables on the hitmen pursuing her by attacking them head-on. Of course, she quickly runs into Robin and the real Batgirl, earning the violent ire of Oracle. Nightwing, Robin, and Batgirl chase down the fake Batgirl only to wind up teaming with her against a bar full of gangsters. Meanwhile, the Quinntets hire more members to bolster their defense of Harley. Afterward, Nixon stages a coup, takes over the group, and sends Matches to a surprise execution. But the killers don’t know Matches is Batman, which means they are totally screwed. Harley then kidnaps Jack Happi and brings him back to her HQ warehouse only to find a small army of Quinntets waiting to attack her on Nixon’s behalf. Batman, Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, and some cops also arrive and a lengthy brouhaha ensues. After Nixon is killed by Harley, the latter escapes unscathed with some help from best galpal Poison Ivy.
–Batman: Gotham Knights #20-21 (“RETRIBUTION”)
Yoska Graesinka legally contests Bruce Wayne’s naming of Dick as his heir, claiming that Dick is his blood-grandson. Dick and Bruce meet with Yoska at Wayne Manor, and it isn’t long before they find out that Yoska has been deliberately misled into believing that he is related to Dick by Ra’s Al Ghul. Al Ghul blames Bruce for ruining his relationship with his heir (Talia). Thus, Al Ghul simply wanted to prove that he had the power to ruin Bruce’s relationship with his heir (Dick) as well. Also, Batman busts some mobsters. NOTE: There is an odd part where Dick asks where Alfred and Tim are. It’s odd because he knows full-well that they both quit. Maybe he asks the question sarcastically because Bruce has yet to apologize to either of them. ANOTHER NOTE: Issue #20 has a B&W second feature that is a flashback to Bruce as a young child shortly after his parents’ deaths.
July. Batman is still on a quest to find out exactly why Lew Moxon had a grudge against his dad, Thomas Wayne. Batman questions Angelo Berretti, an old mobster that has the answer. Berretti spins Batman a thirty-five-year-old-plus yarn (he says it happened over twenty-five years ago, but he’s wrong) about an incident that occurred one Halloween long ago. One of Moxon’s goons had been shot during a robbery, so Moxon asked Dr. Wayne to save his life. Dr. Wayne complied and saved the man, but refused to accept Moxon’s bribe afterward. Not only that, Dr. Wayne reported the shooting to the authorities and punched Moxon in the face. Back in the present, Batman visits his parents’ graves and Sasha gives him a ride back to Wayne Manor. NOTE: During all of this (and the last bunch of tales) Batman has been and is currently in the process of training Batgirl, Spoiler, and Sasha—yet none of the ladies are ever in training sessions together. I guess the Dark Knight likes to focus on his students one-on-one?
–FLASHBACK: From Joker’s Asylum: Two-Face #1. Late July. Motivational speaker Holman Hunt aka “the good Two-Face” finally goes to meet his evil alter ego at Arkham. Hunt explains to Harvey how he has the exact facial disfiguration, but has chosen to be a good person. Hunt encourages Harvey to do the same. Of course, later that night, Harvey takes this inspiration, breaks out of jail, kidnaps Hunt and his wife, and plays horrible mind games with them both. Batman shows up and saves the day, but the psychological damage has already been done. This flashback is narrated entirely by Joker himself, so much of it may be apocryphal. However, its basic elements are most likely canonical.
–JLA #55-58 (“TERROR INCOGNITA”)
Early August. As Batman swings down from the top of a building to rescue someone, Nightwing inexplicably cuts his rope and nearly kills him! Meanwhile, Lois tells everybody at work that Clark is Superman! Nightwing can’t explain why he did what he did. Neither can Lois and she and Clark frantically tell everyone they were joking. Similar occurrences happen across the globe. Only after a nuclear reactor explodes in Russia and a bunch of “ghost” sightings are reported across the US is Batman able to find out what is going on. The White Martians are back and they are messing with people’s heads! Batman discovers their secret headquarters and after infiltrating it, he learns that the White Martians are harvesting the brains of latent telepathic metahumans in order to achieve their ultimate goal: The destruction of the JLA. Before the Martians attack, they activate the second part of their plan, eliminating their only weakness (fire) by altering Earth’s oxygen so that it is incapable of combustion into flame. The JLA is beaten back to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude by an army of White Martians. Wait, aren’t all but three or four Martians thought to be extinct? Where did this army of White Martians come from, you ask? Turns out that during the JLA’s altercation with the Cathexis and Id (about ten months ago in JLA #54), J’onn made a wish to “not be alone” and thus, all of the White Martians were resurrected and had been biding their time in preparation for the attack ever since. Eventually, the JLA is able to restore fire and trap all of the White Martians in the Phantom Zone. For anyone that doesn’t know, on the planet Krypton (before its destruction) they did not have prisons. Instead, Kryptonian criminals were sent to an alternate limbo dimension that existed outside of normal time and space, known as the Phantom Zone. Superman has limited knowledge of the Phantom Zone, but does possess the necessary “projector” needed to send villains there if need be (as he does with the White Martians in this story).
–Nightwing: The Target
When Dick is framed for murder, Batman orders him to temporarily retire as Nightwing until he can clear his name. Dick does as he is told, but takes to the Blüdhaven streets in the guise of a new superhero called The Target. Dick eventually clears his name and returns to being Nightwing.
–Green Lantern—Legacy: The Last Will and Testament of Hal Jordan
It has been two years since Hal Jordan’s death and since that time his former best friend Tom Kalmaku has had a rough time. Jobless, poor, and alone, Tom is shocked when an executor of Jordan’s will shows up out of the blue with a surprise. Tom is now the legal guardian of Jordan’s seven-year-old son, Marty! Tom and Jordan’s ex Carrol Ferris both are dumbfounded when they learn of the existence of the little Hal lookalike, but are even more shocked when the boy produces a green power ring. When Tom and Marty are attacked by a mysterious monstrous Dark Lantern, they seek the aid of the JLA. The JLA are also suspicious of the existence of Marty and demand the powerful ring to be turned over to them. Feeling threatened, Marty uses the ring to teleport away with Tom. Tom and Marty then flee the Dark Lantern who chases them all over the universe. Eventually, the Dark Lantern is revealed to be the crazed spirit of Kilowog summoned as an assassin! (The Dark Lantern was created by former Green Lantern Corps member Boodikka and sent to destroy Jordan shortly after the events of “Emerald Twlight” when Jordan destroyed Oa and the Corps). Only now has the Dark Lantern reached Earth, but he doesn’t realize that Jordan is long dead. As Tom and Marty fend off the Dark Lantern, the JLA arrives and tells Tom that Marty isn’t real! Marty is really the power of Hal’s former ring given shape. Kyle further reveals that the energy signatures from both the Dark Lantern and from Marty have been emanating from the sun, where Hal sacrificed his life in order to reignite it. Apparently, the energy that Hal sacrificed was not completely used. This remaining energy fed off of memories from Hal’s dying mind and then slowly (over the course of two years) gained sentience. It finally took form as Marty and appeared with an “executor” on Tom’s doorstep. The JLA watches on as the ring energy splits into a Parallax-construct and a Marty-construct. Tom, Marty, and the Dark Lantern defeat the Parallax-construct and then chat with the spirit of Jordan (aka Spectre). Tom, Marty, and Kilowog’s now calmed spirit then travel to the center of the universe. There, Tom uses Jordan’s old power ring to recreate the entire planet of Oa and a new Green Central Power Battery! Kilowog’s spirit then becomes peacefully one with the Battery. Jordan’s old ring and Marty follow suit, disappearing into the Battery. Tom returns home.
JOKER: LAST LAUGH
——————–Joker: Last Laugh Secret Files #1
——————–Joker: Last Laugh #1
——————–Detective Comics #763
——————–Joker: Last Laugh #2
——————–Batman: Gotham Knights #22
——————–Joker: Last Laugh #3-5
——————–Robin Vol. 2 #95
——————–Action Comics #784
——————–Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #174-175
——————–Joker: Last Laugh #6
Late October. At Slabside Penitentiary for Metahumans in New Jersey (aka The Slab), Joker learns that he has a brain tumor with only months to live. Deciding to go out with a bang, Joker incites a huge riot. He then gets ahold of fellow-prisoner Multi-Man and keeps killing the poor guy until he gets a desirable superpower with which he can use to further the riot. In the span of minutes Joker kills Multi-Man thirty-six times! Eventually, Joker is able to lead a swarm of metahuman villains into a room that contains a metagene inhibitor (a device straight out of Brian Michael Bendis’ Powers that causes superhumans to lose their powers while in its radius). The Slab’s security system continues to emit a noxious gas that induces vomiting. However, Joker knows a secret: When the gas mixes with the effects of the metagene inhibitor (combined with Joker’s non-metahuman, but bizarre DNA chemical makeup) everyone in immediate proximity turns into a stark raving, green-haired, white-skinned Joker! When the smoke clears, Joker has a “Jokerized” army of a hundred deadly metahuman villains at his command. Blue Beetle (!) helps Black Canary get inside the Slab, but she winds up getting the holy crap kicked out of her by dozens of Jokerized metahumans. The bad guys then begin flooding out of the Slab. In Gotham, Sasha Bordeaux meets and teams-up with Huntress to take down Jokerized escapee Alesandra Taracon (who turns out to actually be an undercover DEO agent). Nightwing cuts short a sexy date with Oracle to enter the Slab with Batman. Before long, Lady Spellbinder creates a hallucination where Nightwing thinks he is fighting a giant Bat-Mite. While Batman, Nightwing, and Blue Beetle rescue Canary, Joker has Black Mass create a localized black hole that sucks in everything from the surrounding area and spews it into Limbo. Joker then escapes to Easter Island where he conducts his Jokerized army from afar. In Gotham, Batman and Spoiler deal with a swarm of Jokerized cockroaches. Yes, apparently non-human life can be Jokerized as well. Sigh. Moving on, Joker then sends his army after Harley Quinn because Mister J wants to impregnate her before he dies to make sure that he has an heir! As much as Harl loves J, she definitely is not cool with this and begs Oracle for help. Babs sends in Batgirl, Spoiler, and Power Girl to protect her. Concurrently, Jokerized metahumans are causing major damage and mass fatalities all over the world, but the JLA and the US Army are holding their own. Annoyed, Joker takes action. First, the mad clown sends the weather-controlling villain known as Stormfront on a mission to make it rain Joker Venom all over the world. Second, he has his army inject everyone at Arkham with Joker Venom. A headstrong Robin enters Arkham, but is easily captured by the Jokerized Arkham inmates. Huntress goes in after Robin and knocks out Killer Croc. Kirk Langrstrom (Man-Bat) is then able to synthesize a cure for the Joker’s new poison. In Metropolis, Joker’s reign (and rain) has turned hundreds into crazed maniacs, including Kyle Rayner. Batman and Superman barely contain the power of a Jokerized Green Lantern, but are able to restore Kyle back to his normal state. The JLA then defeats Dr. Polaris and, with Langstrom’s anti-toxin, is able to restore much order. Circe then casts a magick spell that renders every male hero on Earth inert—Batman for instance is morphed into a snake-creature. This prompts Wonder Woman to lead an army comprising of every female hero in the DCU, including former League of Assassins member Onyx Adams (!), against Circe’s army of villains. Following this epic all-ladies battle, the men are restored. Nightwing then confronts Joker (who is dressed up as Elvis) one-on-one inside Gotham Cathedral. Dick winds up nearly pummeling him to death. Batman, Robin, and Huntress are all on hand to deliver Joker to the authorities. (By the way, I think artist Rick Burchett accidentally drew Bullock among the authorities. I say “accidentally” because Bullock has quit the force at this point. Dixon names the Bullock-esque cop “Johnson”—probably an attempt to cover for the error). Meanwhile, Slabside security head Shilo Norman (Mister Miracle III) is able to send the prison out of Limbo and back onto Earth, albeit in Antarctica instead of New Jersey. The prison will remain permanently in the more secure locale of Antarctica from this point on. In the aftermath of the week-long anarchy, Philo Zeiss finds out it was the Russian mob that had put a hit out on his boss Lew Moxon, and he tries to kill a Russian mobster and his daughter. Zeiss is stopped thanks to interference from both Batman and the Jokerized villain known as Santa Klaus. PS. Black Canary discovers that Joker’s catscan had been altered. He doesn’t actually have a brain tumor after all. Last Laugh is finally over. Good unique idea for a Joker plot. Poorly executed.
–Detective Comics #764
Early November. Sasha has become as jealous as a schoolgirl of Vesper Fairchild, who spends every day with Bruce. Every evening Batman continues training Sasha and they go out on nightly patrols. Meanwhile, Vesper continues her own nightly quest to photograph Batman in action. Batman confronts Vesper and tells her to back off. Sasha continuously hounds a distant Bruce and asks him if he is actually serious about Vesper, to which Bruce replies with a silent angry glare. The following day, Vesper arrives at Wayne Manor to find Bruce skinny-dipping with a cadre of sexy girls. Vesper leaves in disgust. Sasha is stunned. Bruce has realized yet again that Batman can never get involved with a woman, and thus, has decided to end his relationship. I’m not sure Bruce had to do it in such a dramatic fashion, but hey, it worked! Meanwhile, long-time Metropolis cop (and the first of Greg Rucka’s famous LGBT characters), Maggie Sawyer, is hired on at the GCPD to replace Bullock. Greg Rucka really makes this Bat Year worth reading. I heart Greg Rucka!
–JLA Incarnations #7
When natural disasters begin happening simultaneously all over the Earth, the JLA goes into red alert mode. After consulting with Oracle and the Sentinels of Magic, Batman learns that the Appelaxians (also spelled “Appellaxians”) have returned! As inanimate objects come to live and begin attacking people, the JLA and the Sentinels of Magic go on the offensive. Leaping through a magickal portal, the JLA arrives on the extradimensional planet of Appelax! There, the benevolent Appelaxian Arjax helps the heroes fight off the evil Appelaxians that are responsible for attacking Earth. After defeating the evil Appelaxians, the JLA returns back to Earth via a hypergate portal. Back on Earth, the Greek Goddess of Earth, Gaea, rises up and reclaims the planet from Appelaxian control, calming all of the global disturbances. Gaea also nicely resurrects the long deceased girlfriend of veteran metahuman reporter Tully Reed. (Reed has been one of the leading experts on the JLA for the past decade—his girlfriend, Roz, had died during the original Crisis.)
Abra Kadabra causes tsunamis to strike inland all over the world, causing massive flooding and devastation. Kadabra is also able to summon forth gigantic mythological creatures to battle the JLA. Guess who wins?
–Batman: Gotham Knights #23
When Scarecrow is granted temporary Arkham leave to give a “motivational speech” at a corporate event, the devious Dr. Crane uses this opportunity to douse the crowd (which includes Sasha and Bruce) with his Fear Gas. Batman easily defeats Crane, but inhales a bunch of Fear Gas (as usual). The Dark Knight then goes through a hallucinogenic sequence where Sasha tells him that something terrible has happened to each of his closest friends. None of them are true of course, except for the one about Lucius Fox having a stroke. Well, actually Lucius has a near fatal heart attack that results in a coma-inducing stroke! NOTE: The Paul Grist/Darwyn Cooke B&W second feature attached to this issue takes place on Cooke’s New Frontier Earth (Earth-21).
–FLASHBACK: From Batman: Gotham Knights #24. Bruce goes into a deep depression after a disgruntled employee blames Bruce for causing Lucius Fox’s heart attack. The psycho employee is so mad, he even puts a gun to Bruce’s head before Sasha forcefully escorts him out of the room. In his sad state, Bruce does the unthinkable, he goes to a gun shop and purchases a handgun. Normally, there is a twenty-day waiting law, but the store owner says that a celebrity of Bruce’s status can come back for the gun in a week.
–REFERENCE: In the second feature to Detective Comics #782. November 25—the anniversary of Batman’s parents’ deaths. Batman places two roses at his parents’ Crime Alley murder site.
Sasha finally has a moment to try to pick Bruce’s brain in regard to both his dumping of Vesper and his depression as of late, but he lashes out at her and refuses to talk about anything. Meanwhile, Batman connects Philo Zeiss to another murder and visits Mallory Moxon to interrogate her about whether or not she is involved in her father’s criminal empire. Zeiss busts into the room and fights the Dark Knight, but Batman apprehends him with Batgirl’s help.
–Detective Comics #765
Mid November. A week has passed since Bruce broke up with Vesper and since Lucius had his heart attack. An early snow has fallen over Gotham and as Sasha and Batman spend more time on patrol together, the former is beginning to understand more and more what fuels the latter. When a small-time crook robs the vacant home of Jim Gordon, Batman takes it personally and, together with Sasha, beats down the bad guys and returns all of Jim’s stuff. Batman then meets psychic GCPD detective Josie MacDonald and warns her that she may be involved too deeply with a recent high-profile kidnapping case (as seen in the second feature to this ‘tec issue). Batman also doesn’t trust a metahuman on the police force.
Batman assists the JSA in tracking down New Wave after he kidnaps a young girl in Gotham.
–Batman: Gotham Knights #24
Before we start, there is a note that says Batman #595 took place a week ago. This is bold-faced untruth! It took place like four-and-a-half months ago. Bruce’s depression hits a new low as he is tortured by a hallucination of Batman. Bruce feels sick to his stomach that he placed an order for a handgun a week earlier, but eventually goes to pick up the weapon anyway. I’m not sure if Bruce even knows what he plans to do with the firearm as his mixed-up head is all over the place. When Bruce gets home, he collapses in front of his parents’ picture. In tears, he throws the gun across the room, smashing a lamp in the process.
–the second feature to Batman: Gotham Knights #24 (Batman: Black & White)
Batman confiscates some pictures that a freelance photographer had snapped of him earlier in the night. Note that this back-up story may not be canon because it relies heavily on the non-canonical public mindset that Batman is an “urban legend.” Although, in defense of this story Batman sure was pissed at Vesper for trying to photograph him a month ago, so maybe this is an extension of that anger, and therefore, this tale should be canonical.
A criminal that has been bested by Batgirl wants revenge. He arranges a meeting with super-assassin David Cain and offers the killer-extraordinaire hit money to execute Batgirl. If only he knew that Cain is Batgirl’s father and that he is quite protective of her. So much for revenge.
–The Power Company: Sapphire #1
The Kobra Cult has recently split into two opposing factions. When Batman gets a tip that the two rival groups will war on the streets of San Diego, the JLA rushes to California. However, the JLA is unable to intervene thanks to a giant force field erected around the battle site. During the chaos, several of Kobra’s men break into a museum and steal the “Serpent’s Egg,” a cosmic artifact made of an alien psycho-interactive substance that can bond with its user, endowing that person with shapeshifting armored skin. Also during the chaos, teenage runaway Candy Gennaro accidentally finds herself a stowaway aboard Kobra’s undetectable stealth submarine, which flees across the Pacific. Candy touches the “Serpent’s Egg” and is gifted with powers, becoming Sapphire! Sapphire fights several Kobra guards and shuts down the cloaking device, allowing the JLA to locate their position. The JLA then makes mincemeat out of the cultists. Kobra blows up his own ship and gets away. Sapphire, meanwhile, flies off without being spotted by the JLA.
December 18-December 25. The psychic super-villain that knows if you’ve been bad or good (Santa Klaus) is a week early to bring holiday chaos to Gotham. Sasha spends the week decorating Wayne Manor for X-mas. Santa Klaus spends the week on a killing spree. Batman spends the week chasing after him. On Christmas Eve, Santa Klaus tries to blow-up the ceremonial lighting of the Gotham Christmas tree, but winds up severely burning himself before Batman apprehends him. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce spends a relaxing and happy Christmas Day with Sasha! Ah, the calm before the storm.
- SAM GROOVER: JLA #61 has to come before Gotham Knights #23, because Bruce takes a business call from Lucius Fox while sparring with Wonder Woman. Lucius will suffer a heart attack/stroke in GK #23 that will put him in a coma.↩