YEAR TWENTY-ONE (Pt. 3)

2009 (September to December)

 

–Nightwing Vol. 2 #129
Early September. It’s been a while since Dick has seen Bruce, so he takes an injury break and flies down to Gotham from New York. At a Wayne Manor gala, Dick chats with Bruce and gets advice about a recent case and how to best heal his crime-fighting injuries. After the gala ends, Dick and Bruce talk about everything under the sun until two o’clock AM when the latter departs for his nightly patrol. Afterward, Dick returns to New York for Nightwing business as usual.

–REFERENCE: In Batman #664. Batman meets Gotham pimp DeShawn and his harem of sex workers, which includes the vivacious Roxy. While invisible on our timeline, Batman will keep tabs on DeShawn and his girls for the next couple months ahead.

–REFERENCE: In Batman #655. For nearly two decades Dr. Kirk Langstrom has been an acquaintance to both Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego Batman, knowing the hero’s secret but never quite becoming a true Bat Family member due to his unstable nature. However, Kirk’s wife Francine, unlike her husband, has really only interacted with Batman alone and never with Bruce. That all changes now as Bruce meets Francine and hangs out with the famous scientist couple.

–NOTE:  What’s Bane been up to?  Well he has recently lost a Presidential election in Santa Prisca thanks to voter fraud by a meddling Amanda Waller (as referenced in Checkmate Vol. 2 #11-12).  After discovering evidence of the fraud, Bane foolishly leads his country into civil war.  This is all just a big plan perpetrated by Waller in order to ruin Bane’s life and recruit him into the Suicide Squad.

–NOTE: A six-year-old Kryptonian boy named Lor-Zod (son of Zod and Ursa) crash lands on Earth similarly to the way Clark did so many years ago. (We find out later that Lor-Zod was born in the Phantom Zone).  Clark and Lois adopt the child and give him the name Chris Kent (as seen in Action Comics #844-845).

–Detective Comics #833-834 (“TRUST”)
For nearly two months now, stage magician Ivar Loxias (actually Joker in disguise) has been touring his live stage show across the US with disastrous results.  Mishap after mishap has occurred and finally one of his stagehands is killed during a Gotham performance.  Batman shows up to scold Loxias and Commissioner Gordon shuts him down.  After reviewing video of the performance, Batman and Zatanna realize that Loxias is a killer.  The heroes confront Loxias, who reveals his true identity.  The Joker shoots Zatanna in the throat, tosses her into a tank filled with water, and then straps Batman into an electric chair, before fleeing the scene.  Batman breaks free of the restraints and is able to save Zatanna and sit by her side as she recovers at Wayne Manor.  The heroes then stop Joker from massacring hundreds of Loxias fans.  The crazed clown then heads back to Arkham.  NOTE:  Both Batman and Zatanna incorrectly refer to Loxias’ murder as occurring six months ago.  Joker killed Loxias only two months ago.  NOTE: We again, must ignore the Countdown 47 to 43 titles on the covers to these issues.  In order to accommodate Joker’s uninterrupted stint posing as Loxias and his upcoming appearances in and out of Arkham, this story must take place here, and not during Countdown.

–Black Adam: The Dark Age #2-6
Black Adam has been powerless and in hiding ever since his World War III defeat.  He steals the remains of his former wife Isis and immerses her body in a Lazarus Pit in the Himalayan mountains. (The existence of this Lazarus Pit is a new reveal, as there are only two other Lazarus Pits we currently know the exact locations of: The sealed-up Pit deep below the Batcave and the League of Assassins Pit in Europe.  However, unknown to Batman, dozens of new Pits have already re-appeared all over the Earth and will continue to do so over the course of the next couple of months).  Isis returns to life, but only for a minute or so because she is missing both her ring finger and magical amulet.  The distraught Adam carries her bones through the snowy mountain terrain.  Meanwhile, Superman stops an assassin from shooting up the Kahndaqi embassy in Gotham.  Batman then interrogates the assassin inside the Batcave and learns that several nations have hired covert hit-teams to assassinate Adam.  After scouring the globe in an attempt to try to remember his magick word, Adam bumps into Felix Faust, who temporarily endows Adam with powers.  Adam then scours the globe once more and collects his wife’s missing items with relative ease, despite being chased by countless assassins, the JLA, the JSA, and Martian Manhunter.  Once Adam’s temporary powers cease, he figures out his new magick word, “Chocolate Egg Cream,” and regains the mighty power of Shazam.  Eager to resurrect Isis, Adam returns to Faust, but the latter tricks the former into thinking that the resurrection is a failure.  After Adam storms off angrily, Faust does indeed revive Isis albeit as his mind-controlled slave.

–Hawkgirl #63 
After a normal Thursday night of attempted robberies, muggings, and clown-themed villainy, Batman meets up with some old curator friends after hours at the Gotham museum.  Batman also invites along Hawkgirl, who wants to do some archeological research.  However, Hawkgirl’s arch-nemesis, the evil wizard Hath-Set, is able to use the power of the Egyptian god Ra to take control of several dozen Gothamites, including the Caped Crusader.  Hawkgirl fights the swarm of possessed people and eventually is able to get assistance from Batman after he snaps out of the trance.  In the end, an entire wing of the museum burns down and Hawkgirl chases Hath-Set to Metropolis.

–NOTE:  Joker escapes from Arkham by sneaking out of an emergency exit door in the shock-therapy room (as mentioned in Justice Society of America Vol. 3 #5).  However, Joker winds up right back in Arkham within days, since that is where we will see him next.

–NOTE:  Late September. Countdown begins now, starting with Countdown #51 (the issues are numbered from highest to lowest).  The Countdown series spans the course of the next five months (from late September to late February) and functions as a relative framework for the events that will occur in the DCU right up until the beginnings of Final Crisis.  Most issues on our chronology in the next five months contain Countdown numbers on their covers corresponding to when they fit onto the timeline.  This isn’t an exact science though.  Several of the numbers are slightly out of order, but for the most part, these numbers help give a general chronology to the stories during a very compact and confusing time period for the DCU.  I should also mention that several Superman/Batman issues have Countdown numbers, but I’ve placed them well before the actual start of Countdown as they fit a bit better earlier.[1]  Countdown #51 begins with Jason Todd witnessing the death of Duela Dent at the hands of an evil Monitor, who wishes to preserve the sanctity of the multiverse.

THE LIGHTNING SAGA
——————–Justice League of America Vol. 2 #7, Epilogue
——————–Justice League of America Vol. 2 #8
——————–Countdown #50
——————–Justice Society of America Vol. 3 #5
——————–Justice League of America Vol. 2 #9
——————–Justice Society of America Vol. 3 #6
——————–Justice League of America Vol. 2 #10
Countdown 50 to 45.  Late September. Our story begins with the epilogue to Justice League of America Vol. 2 #7.  If you recall, the villain known as Trident was rendered unconscious and held captive in the Batcave over three months ago.  We must assume Trident has been in a coma for these last three months, recovering from spinal damage inflicted by a Starro.  Now, Batman and Black Lightning have come to inspect him since there are finally positive signs of brain activity.  Not only that, Batman’s computers determine that Trident is actually from the 31st Century.  Trident is really Legion of Super-heroes member Karate Kid. Once Karate Kid awakes, he starts a fist-fight with the Dark Knight and actually beats him in one-on-one combat (!) until Black Lightning steps in and shocks Karate Kid back into unconsciousness.  Batman then assembles both the JLA and JSA at the Hall of Justice to interrogate Karate Kid.  After the questioning, the heroes learn that there are seven Legionnaires from the 31st century trapped in present day, each of whom have gone insane.  Karate Kid is one.  JSA member Starman (Thom Kallor) is another.  The JSA and JLA split up to search the galaxy for the four remaining Legionnaires.  Batman, Geo-Force, Starman, and the new Sandman (former sidekick Sandy Hawkins) converge upon Arkham when they learn that one of the Legionnaires, Dream Girl, is incarcerated there.  When they arrive (as also shown in the flash-forward from Justice Society of America Vol. 3 #1), Arkham has been taken over by Doctor Destiny.  The heroes defeat Destiny and rescue Dream Girl.  Concurrently, the other heroes locate and gather Legionnaires Wildfire, Dawnstar, and Timber Wolf.  Once these five Legionnaires are together, their mental blocks fade and they escape from the Hall of Justice and meet up with the final Legionnaire, Sensor Girl, before planning to enact their grand scheme, which involves the use of Cosmic Lightning Rods.  These mystical tools from the 31st century are used in a sort of cosmic Russian Roulette game to bring back someone from the dead—at the expense of the random life of another.  The JLA and JSA try to stop the Legionnaires from playing this deadly game, but they are too late.  However, the Legionnaires are tricking the system.  The “cosmic lightning” chooses Karate Kid as its sacrificial lamb, but the Legionnaires know Karate Kid is fast enough to avoid being struck to death by the fatal bolt.  No one comes back from the dead, but Wally West and his entire family, the kids now mysteriously aged several years, have returned from their imprisonment in an alternate universe! (They have been missing ever since Infinite Crisis). The Legionnaires then return to their correct time.  But what was their real goal?  Simply to bring back Wally and his family?  Not by a long shot.  The Legionnaires, being from the future, are aware of the details surrounding the death of current Flash, Bart Allen, which happens during this storyline. In Los Angeles, Bart Allen is killed by Inertia, who has been aided by The Rogues (as referenced in All Flash #1). At the exact moment of his death, the Legionnaires are able to safely trap his spirit inside the Karate Kid’s Lightning Rod which has been struck by the cosmic bolt.  So, Bart is dead, but the 31st Century Legion of Super-heroes have his spirit encased in a Cosmic Lightning Rod. So, you can be rest assured that we’ll see Bart alive again in the future… er.. past.  Whatever.

–All Flash #1
Countdown 41. Flash Bart Allen has just been murdered by Inertia in Los Angeles. Batman delivers the terrible news to Wally West, who is in the middle of saying his hellos to friends he hasn’t seen in a long time (having been trapped in an alternate dimension). Wally flips out, returns to the role of Flash, and goes after Inertia—eventually fighting him, defeating him, and freezing him forever inside the Flash Museum. SPOILER: Don’t worry folks, Bart will be resurrected during Final Crisis. PS. The end of All Flash #1 has a flash-forward to an unspecified time that shows the Batman costume (or some sort of Bat-Family costume) coming out of a Flash ring. I have no idea what this is referencing, but it is most likely well into the future. As far as I can tell, this is an adult Jai West, meaning he might become Batman (or a Bat-Family member) in the distant future?

–Detective Comics #841
This issue is listed as Countdown 12, but an editor’s note on the first page tells us that this story takes place before Mad Hatter, Tweedle-Dee, and Tweedle-Dum are sent to the prison planet (which we’ll get to later).  Not to mention, the epilogue of this tale takes place a month later and in it all three villains are shown languishing in Arkham. Thus, the main action of ‘tec #841 has to go right here. In this tale, Mad Hatter escapes from Arkham and assembles his “Wonderland Gang,” which comprises thugs dressed like Lewis Carroll characters, including the Tweedle-Dum, Tweedle-Dee, and the debuting Carpenter (Jenna Duffy).  After interrogating Mr. ZZZ and Anthony Marchetti, Batman goes to an old amusement park where he discovers that Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee are really in charge of the gang.  The Dark Knight easily takes down all the baddies.

–NOTE: Countdown 48. The Catwomen (Selina Kyle and Holly Robinson) battle Hammer and Sickle (as seen in Catwoman Vol. 3 #68).  In the chaos of their fight, a GCPD detective is killed.  Holly is not only publicly outed as Catwoman, but framed for the detective’s murder.  Holly becomes a fugitive and goes into hiding.

–The Brave & The Bold Vol. 3 #1-6 (“THE LORDS OF LUCK”)
Countdown 45 to 37.  The Rann-Thanagar War had a brief stoppage during Infinite Crisis, but the seemingly never-ending conflict has continued to drudge on.  Our narrative begins when Hal Jordan discovers a corpse floating in space while, at the exact same time, an exact copy of the corpse shows up inside the Batcave.  Batman and Hal Jordan soon realize that 64 identical corpses are scattered all over the globe.  The Dark Knight demonstrates how if a wound is given to one of these men, the same wound appears on the other 63.  Hence, when one was killed by a laser blast, the others all died the same way.  What mostly concerns Bruce is the fact that one of these doppelgangers had infiltrated the Batcave and was spying on him!  Batman and Hal then follow up on their only clue, a playing card in the dead guy’s pocket, which leads them to the villainess/casino owner Roulette in Las Vegas.  Batman saves Roulette from two aliens from the planet Ventura, who steal the Book of Destiny from her (as in Destiny of the Endless‘s book which tells the past, present, and future)!  Hal teams-up with Supergirl and chases one of the Venturans back to their home planet.  While they search for the Book of Destiny, Batman teams-up with Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) and goes after the other Venturan.  In El Paso, Texas, the second Venturan uses the Haruspex (a weapon which “alters probability to maximize the odds of a kill”) to drop the temperature to -25 degrees before going into hiding.  Batman and Beetle quickly find the alien trying to sell his weapon to a local gun-runner named La Dama, but before they can act, Epoch (The Lord of Time) shows up with The Fatal Five (a super-villain team from the 31st Century of Earth-Prime),[2] trying to steal the Haruspex for himself.  A battle erupts and in the chaos Epoch is injured and retreats to another time, stranding the Fatal Five in the 21st century of Earth-0.  Concurrently, La Dama shoots both the cyborg Fatal Fiver Tharok and Batman with the Haruspex, which causes them to merge together into a literal half Batman-half Tharok being.  In a panic, Beetle activates the Haruspex again, which sends Batman/Tharok and the Fatal Five hurtling forward to the 31st century of Earth-Prime!  Meanwhile, at the other side of the universe in the 21st century of Earth-0, Supergirl teams-up with Lobo and they are pulled into Destiny’s realm.  Destiny (!) speaks with Supergirl and Lobo and explains the importance of the Book and how the alien Lords of Luck originally pulled it out of his realm.  Supergirl then meets up with Hal who has tracked the Book to Rann (which is in the middle of the Rann-Thanagar War).  A crazed Rannian general named Mondrath now holds the Book.  In the 31st century of Earth-Prime, Batman meets their version of the Legion of Super-heroes (obviously a different version than the other two Legions he’s met before, this being the incarnation from Earth-Prime, known as the “Threeboot Legion”), who are able to separate Tharok from Batman.  Most of the Legion are excited to meet the legendary comic book hero Batman, but some are assholes.  Batman thinks they are all assholes, steals a flight ring, and flies away, becoming a fugitive from the law.  As Batman makes his getaway, various time-rifts (which spew out hideous alien monsters and random characters from various times) keep opening up around him as a side-effect of being zapped by the Haruspex.  Batman then fights Threeboot Karate Kid, but escapes into the subway.  Threeboot Phantom Girl aims the Haruspex at Batman, but is unsure if she should pull the trigger.  A young version of Threeboot Dream Girl shows up out of a time-rift and tells her to do it, so she does.  In an instant, Batman is held prisoner, Earth-Prime is in cataclysmic ruins, and the Lords of Luck are rulers of the universe, thanks to the Book of Destiny, which they have held for a thousand years (after stealing it from Mondrath in the 21st Century of Earth-0).  Back on Rann in the 21st Century of Earth-0, Supergirl uses her super-vision and x-ray vision to read the entire Book of Destiny to find out where Bruce is.  Once located in the horrible alternate Earth’s future, Green Lantern energizes Adam Strange’s Zeta-Beam with his ring and teleports Bruce back to Universe-0 Rann where the Challengers of the Unknown appear out of nowhere to help out.  (For some unknown reason, the Challengers are not written into the Book of Destiny, and thus, Mondrath cannot account for their actions, which makes them the perfect ace up Batman’s sleeve).  The heroes defeat Mondrath and prevent the Lords of Luck from ever acquiring the Book of Destiny and destroying the Earth.  Batman gives the Book to the Challengers (and we can assume that Destiny comes to claim it).

–NOTE:  Wonder Woman is arrested and detained by the DEO after she is suspected to be involved with the kidnapping of Nemesis (Tom Tresser).  Diana is then tortured by the US Government’s Department of Metahuman Affairs (as seen in Wonder Woman Vol. 3 #6-7).  Diana’s arrest and treatment causes an uproar amongst the Amazons, who have remained hidden from the Earthly realm ever since Infinite Crisis.

AMAZONS ATTACK! Part 1
——————–Amazons Attack #1-2 
——————–Wonder Woman Vol. 3 #8-9
——————flashback from Catwoman Vol. 3 #69
Countdown 48 to 41. Circe resurrects Hippolyta (who has been dead for years) and magickally manipulates her to start a huge war.  Hippolyta flips her lid when she learns that her daughter, Diana, is being tortured by the US Government. The angry mom assembles the Amazon army and attacks Washington, DC in full bloody force, killing hundreds of innocents.  Meanwhile, Nemesis (Tom Tresser) resurfaces and breaks Diana out of prison.  Diana confronts her mom and tries to talk down the Amazon forces.  The horrible war begins to spread throughout the country while Diana, Donna Troy, and Hippolyta fail to agree upon a peace treaty.  President Horne is nearly killed several times and internment camps are set up all over the United States to hold female metahumans of any kind.  As the body count continues to rise, Batman deduces that the deadliest attacks outside of Washington, DC are being done by a rogue Amazonian tribe known as The Bana.  The Dark Knight picks up Selina and baby Helena and drives them to the Batcave. (The Batmobile has a baby-car-seat in the back)!  While Alfred babysits, Batman dispatches Catwoman to infiltrate a Gotham Bana cell, which Selina is able to do successfully.

–Countdown #43-42
In issue #43, an entire stadium sells-out for Bart Allen’s celebrity funeral.  Many heroes attend and speak publicly about their friend, including Robin.  Batman and Alfred watch the funeral on TV.  Yes, according to the way Countdown is structured, this funeral takes place in the middle of the Amazon-American War.  Maybe the US Government thought this would function as some sort of morale booster for the troops, sort of a “let’s win this one for the Flash, guys” kinda thing.  In issue #42, Karate Kid meets up with Batman to pay his respects to a legend and also to say that he’s heading back to the 31st century.  The Dark Knight comes off very snarky here and even a bit jealous of their last martial arts encounter where the Kid got the better of the Caped Crusader.  This interaction is indicative of the relationship between Batman and Karate Kid that we will see from now on.  These two do not get along.

AMAZONS ATTACK! Part 2
——————–Wonder Woman Vol. 3 #10-12 
——————–Amazons Attack #3-6
——————–Catwoman Vol. 3 #69
Countdown 41. On the front-lines of the Amazon-American War, Batman and both the JLA and JSA help save Nemesis’ life after he is stung by giant Amazonian war wasps.  Batman then uses a magick spell, courtesy of Zatanna, against Circe, which allows Hippolyta to come to her senses.  Hippolyta immediately surrenders, ending the week-and-a-half-long conflict.  Meanwhile, Catwoman takes care of some Bana Amazons who refuse to surrender like the others.  Athena then appears, raises the island of Themyscira out of the ocean, and turns all the Amazons into normal human women, scattering them throughout the world with no memories of their past.  Athena also punishes Hippolyta by exiling her to the empty Themyscira. SPOILER: If you thought Athena’s reaction was a bit harsh, you are correct. This isn’t really Athena.  It’s Granny Goodness, who has imprisoned all of the Greco-Roman Gods and stolen Athena’s identity.

–NOTE: The second feature from Countdown #49-38 officially debuts The Monitors. (We’ve already seen an evil one mercilessly kill Duela Dent).  The Monitors assemble at their headquarters, which exists in a nexus inside the timestream.  Basically, this headquarters exists outside of normal time and space and functions as an all-seeing eye upon the multiverse.  After re-telling the history of the pre-original Crisis multiverse and explaining how the real history of the multiverse was erased by the original Crisis, the Monitors assert their vow to protect the sanctity of the primary 52 universes, meaning they wish to both prevent knowledge of the multiverse from spreading and also to eliminate anyone who may be in an incorrect universe or anyone who wishes to travel to an alternate universe.  One of the Monitors explains that when the original Crisis occurred, there was only one Monitor assigned to protect the entire multiverse, which is why he failed in his task.  Now, each universe has its own Monitor.  We also learn that the Source Wall exists at the edge of each universe and operates as as the first barrier between gaining access to an alternate universe (although there are other means of traveling to alternate universes such as Boom Tube technology, metahuman speed/vibrational/teleportation abilities, etc…).  Furthermore, beyond the Source Wall, also separating the various universes, is the Source itself, within which resides the mysterious and dangerous Anti-Life.  And of course, let’s not forget the Bleed also exists beyond the Source Wall, a tesseract space that serves as the final blank void/highway between universes.  At the end of their meeting, the Monitors vote to preserve the sanctity of the primary 52 universes by using violent force if necessary, and they begin a chain of destructive events to do so.  However, one lone Monitor votes against his brothers and sisters (which leads to his gathering and leading a team of Donna Troy, Jason Todd, and Kyle Rayner to travel all over the multiverse in search of the missing Ray Palmer, who apparently is the key to stopping the Monitors).  So how does this effect Batman?  Well, the Monitors sort of help to explain (in layman’s terms) the “science” behind the multiverse Batman lives in.  It’s important to the DCU and, therefore, it’s important to Batman.

–Green Arrow Vol. 3 #75
Countdown 46.  The JLA helps Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Mia Dearden defeat Deathstroke and Constantine Drakon in Star City.  Afterward, Ollie resigns as mayor, citing that his being a superhero has placed the city in danger far too many times.  Ollie then proposes to Black Canary and Dinah says yes!

–Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special, Part 1
Ollie and Dinah send out wedding invitations.  Bruce RSVPs and says he won’t attend.

–Green Lantern Vol. 4 #15-17 (“WANTED: HAL JORDAN”)
When Hal Jordan is falsely accused of murder, he illegally enters Russia to rescue his fighter-pilot friend Cowgirl from a government mission-gone-wrong.  In Russia, Hal fights his way through an army of Rocket Reds, a mind-controlled Global Guardians, and a bunch of alien bounty hunters.  Things are getting out of hand fast, so the JLA (with Alan Scott) shows up to both confront Hal and also to offer him assistance in the melee.  A day later, after easily apprehending Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, an evil yellow power ring rockets into Earth’s atmosphere and attaches itself to Batman!  (Sinestro is in the process of recruiting soldiers for his Sinestro Corps and has sent out dozens of rings from his headquarters in the Antimatter Universe.  Each ring searches for warriors that “instill great fear” in their opponents).  Batman is able to use his willpower to reject the power of the yellow ring, sending the cosmic jewelry on a new search.  Afterward, Batman has no idea what the hell the ring ordeal was all about, but is concerned due to the fact that Sinestro is involved.  The yellow ring intended for Batman then moves on and instead selects Amon Sur (son of Abin Sur) as the newest member of the Sinestro Corps.

–Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1
Countdown 44. Batman contacts the JLA and tells them that he was recently accosted by a yellow power ring searching for a recruit on behalf of Sinestro. The JLA apprehends Zoom and demands to know what Sinestro is up to with the yellow ring business, but Zoom’s lips are sealed. Across the universe, the massive Sinestro Corps assembles—including Parallax, the Anti-Monitor (!), Superboy-Prime (!), Cyborg Superman, and hundreds of reprogrammed Manhunter robots. The evil yellow ring-wielding “army of fear” officially debuts and attacks the Green Lantern Corps head-on and kills dozens of its ranks. Parallax is able to control Kyle Rayner, adding him to Sinestro’s dark team. The Sinestro Corps War isn’t for a little while on down the road, but everything is set in motion and it doesn’t look good for the heroes of the DCU.

–Superman/Batman #37-42 (“TORMENT”)
Countdown 44 to 24 (so somewhere in-between this wide range aka here)!  Darkseid, despite still being completely powerless for the past two years, is up to his old tricks again.  Under the evil New God’s orders, Desaad hires Scarecrow and mutates him into the Apokoliptian monster known as Schrocken.  Schrocken forces Killer Croc to steal some Kryptonian technology from Lex Luthor’s Gotham headquarters.  Using the stolen tech, Desaad and Scarecrow create a machine that turns Superman into a raving, frightened lunatic.  Desaad then kidnaps Superman and delivers him as a mindless slave to Darkseid.  Meanwhile, Batman chases Scarecrow through a Boom Tube worm-hole to the New Genesian dwarf planet/interstellar battleship called Tartaros, where a mindless Superman is waiting to attack him.  Superman does some serious damage to Batman until the latter is saved by Bekka (Orion’s wife).  Hidden deep beneath the planet’s surface, Bekka puts the dying Bruce into a healing chamber, which not only saves his life, but erases most of the scars from his body as well!  Bekka then reveals the truth about Darkseid’s complete power-loss to Bruce, although she mistakenly refers to his entrapment in the Source Wall as happening a year ago, whereas it happened two years ago.  Anyway, Bruce is not only shocked to learn that Darkseid has been powerless for two years, but also that the evil god plans to use Superman to retrieve the deceased Highfather’s staff, an artifact that can restore Darkseid’s Omega Power from within the Source Wall.  After Supes retrieves the staff, Desaad tests its power by literally ripping an opening in the Source Wall.  He then sends Superman beyond the Wall, trapping him in the very heart of the Source itself!  Meanwhile, Batman rescues Bekka from danger and succumbs to her seductive satyriasis-inducing meta-power.  Bekka constantly emits pheromone-like waves that cause anyone near her to become sexually and emotionally attracted to her.  Bekka (who has a strong desire to bone Batman) reciprocates and they go at it like cats in heat.  Unfortunately, the love-fest is stopped in mid-act when Desaad uses the staff to open up a portal to the Omega Realm, the source of Omega Power.  Desaad then becomes power-hungry and attempts to use the power for himself, but he can’t handle the pure evil surging through his body.  Darkseid, on the other hand, is more than capable.  The Omega Power flows into the evil New God restoring his vast cosmic strength immediately.  Batman and Bekka burst onto the scene and the former nabs Highfather’s staff, which not only re-opens the Source Wall, but gives Superman his sane mind back.  As the Source Wall seals up, Batman, Superman, Bekka, and Scarecrow teleport away before all of Tartaros is sucked into oblivion.  Back on Earth, Orion shows up to claim his wife and gives Bruce the stink-eye.

CHECKOUT
——————–Checkmate Vol. 2 #15
——————–Outsiders Vol. 3 #49
Countdown 45 to 43.  Due to new international laws following Infinite Crisis, the Outsiders have been forced to operate covertly outside of the United States.  After botched missions in Russia and Africa, Checkmate agents arrest every Outsider except for Nightwing.  Nightwing then brokers a deal with Checkmate in which he will aid the organization on any Checkmate mission in exchange for the release of his teammates.  The mission: Nightwing and his Outsiders, along with Sasha Bordeaux, infiltrate Oolong Island in order to take down Egg Fu.  When they get there, things get ugly and Egg Fu captures Nightwing, Sasha, and Captain Boomerang.  Egg Fu moves his captives to a secret location in North Korea and begins brutally torturing the three heroes.  The remaining Outsiders and Checkmate agents fail miserably in a rescue attempt until Batman shows up and bails out both sides.  The Dark Knight easily locates the missing heroes and organizes their retrieval.  Batman personally carries Sasha out of harm’s way, although she is badly injured from the torture.  Back at the Outsiders’ HQ, a disgraced Nightwing turns over leadership of the team to Batman!

–Robin Vol. 2 #164-167
Countdown 41 to 27—(another wide range, so I’ve placed it here).  Tim asks Bruce if he should join his school’s tennis team.  Bruce thinks it’s a bad idea.  Meanwhile, Dodge has recovered from his injuries (sustained months ago), but blames Robin for what happened.  The troubled teen assembles a ragtag super-villain team to go after Robin, which includes Z-listers like Macro, Micro, Tapeworm, The Cheater, Brutus, and Skill.  Batman, Robin, and the GCPD respond when Dodge’s team holds the entirety of Gotham General’s Metahuman Injuries Ward hostage.  Robin mans-up, goes in solo, and is able to send Dodge’s entire team packing.  We also learn that Skill is actually Ravager in disguise, placed onto Dodge’s team as a mole by Robin himself!  A few days later, while Batman deals with a double-homicide, Tim orders Ravager to lure Dodge’s team into a trap.  Robin, Ravager, and Zachary Zatara (Zatanna’s teenage cousin) ambush Dodge’s team.  When the Cheater and Brutus prove to be much more evil than Dodge planned on, he has a change of heart and turns against his own crew.  In the chaos of battle, Dodge saves the day, but his teleportation powers overload, causing him to vanish completely. Following the Dodge affair, Riot Act and Lock-Up break out of Arkham.  Robin is able to apprehend both villains and then visit his father’s grave. Batman joins the Boy Wonder and they pay tribute to the memory of Jack Drake.

Blue Beetle Vol. 7 # 17
Countdown 40. Typhoon (David Drake) attacks El Paso, using his weather powers to cause a giant hurricane. Blue Beetle fights him, but things are going poorly and people are dying. In desperate need of shelter for those who have lost their homes, Blue Beetle calls Bruce and sells him a little white lie, stating that Typhoon is targeting WayneCorp oil rigs and if he doesn’t help the people somehow then his property will be lost. Bruce immediately purchases a hotel in El Paso, thus giving all of the dispossessed people a free place to stay. With everyone safe, Blue Beetle can focus on Typhoon and easily kicks his ass.

–Detective Comics #835-836 (“ABSOLUTE TERROR”)
Countdown 39 to 34.  Bruce begins dating Kay Scott.  Robin convinces Bruce to take a night off and enjoy spending time with his new lady.  However, Bruce’s vacation doesn’t last very long because Scarecrow escapes from Arkham in a bloody fashion.  I should note that Jonathan Crane had been moved to the “non-supervillain” wing of the asylum, which probably means he’s been cured of his Scarebeast powers.  We can assume that Desaad’s recent scientific experimentation and torture of Crane has purged him of the Scarebeast.   Anyway, Scarecrow now uses hypnotism and good old fashioned mind-games instead of his concomitant Fear Gas, and within a week’s time, dozens are dead and the city is paralyzed with fear.  After the weeklong reign of death, Batman and Robin finally track down Crane and put him back behind bars. Oh, and don’t get too attached to Bruce’s new love interest Kay Scott.  We don’t see her again.  Dumped.

–Batman Confidential #44-48 (“BATMAN vs. THE UNDEAD”)
Several months ago, Professor Herbert Combs was released from Arkham.  Ever since then, he has been in hiding.  Bruce, having finally tracked him down to New Orleans, decides to take a business trip to the Big Easy.  After publicly donating money for Hurricane Katrina relief (either Katrina occurs in 2008/2009 rather than 2005 in the DCU or Bruce is showing up even later than FEMA), Bruce suits up and meets his old vampire acquaintance Marius Dimeter.  Together they discover Combs up to his old tricks at a museum, this time using voodoo magick to re-animate corpses, mummies, skeletons, and even a taxidermy-stuffed timber-wolf.  After fending off the monsters, Bruce makes another public appearance at a party before calling Superman for assistance.  Supes flies down and joins Batman, Dimeter, and good guy werewolf Janko to fight Combs’ ever-growing army of zombies.  Meanwhile, Combs and his partner, voodoo priestess Mama Elizi, kidnap Dimeter’s vampire girlfriend Olivia and haul her off to Corto Maltese.  Dr. Fate shows up in Louisiana and points the heroes in Olivia’s direction.  Dimeter, Janko, and Superman all hitch a ride in the Batplane to earthquake-ravaged Corto Maltese where Combs has allied himself with the island’s corrupt army.  Cue ultimate reference panels to Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns.  The four heroes battle yet another zombie army while contending with Combs, Mama Elizi, her mutant zombie son, and a resurrected evil voodoo shaman.  Dimeter and Supes recruit white magick voodoo priestess Geneva, who casts a spell that helps the heroes defeat the villains with relative ease.

–Justice League of America Vol. 2 #12
Countdown 37.  Every JLA member puts in his or her time on monitor duty aboard the Watchtower.  J’onn and the new Aquaman chat about the new League (and how they aren’t a part of it).  J’onn mentions Ollie’s engagement to Black Canary.  Meanwhile, Deathstroke meets secretly with Geo-Force, who is apparently his mole within the JLA.  However, Batman is actually using Geo-Force as a double-agent to feed Deathstroke disinformation.  But little does Batman know that Deathstroke knows he knows and is, therefore, using this fact to his own advantage.  So maybe Batman knows Deathstroke knows that he knows that… ah, jesus, these guys are too smart for each other.  Poor Geo-Force.

–Countdown #36
Jimmy Olsen has begun to manifest a plethora of superhuman powers.  He also finally discovers that Clark is really Superman.  Donning a silly costume and calling himself Mr. Action, Jimmy playfully blackmails Clark into giving him a JLA tryout.  A furious Batman leaves before Jimmy’s tryout can even start.  Suffice to say, Jimmy doesn’t have quite that a good grasp on his newfound powers yet and gets the shit beat out of him by the JLA.  Denied.

–NOTE:  The epilogue from Detective Comics #841 takes place now.  Mad Hatter gets a mind-controlled Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum to fight each other.  Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee escape from Arkham after this event (since we will see them in our next Outsiders tale).

–NOTE: At this point on our chronology, Captain Marvel (Billy Batson) has taken over the leadership role previously held by the wizard Shazam, who is now dead.  Cap/Shazam now wears a white costume and has long white hair and simply calls himself Marvel.  Meanwhile, Freddie Freeman (Captain Marvel, Jr.) begins the long and arduous ritual known as “The Trials of Shazam,” which, if he successfully completes, will allow him to fill the vacant hero spot and become the brand new Captain Marvel (as seen in The Trials of Shazam! #1).

–REFERENCE: Batman hears a rumor that Amanda Waller’s Sucide Squad is involved in kidnapping super-villains (as referenced in Outsiders Vol. 3 #50).

OUTSIDERS: FIVE OF A KIND
——————–Outsiders: Five of a Kind – Nightwing/Boomerang #1
——————–Outsiders: Five of a Kind – Katana/Shazam! #1
——————–Outsiders: Five of a Kind – Thunder/Manhunter #1
——————–Outsiders: Five of a Kind – Metamorpho/Aquaman #1
——————–Outsiders: Five of a Kind – Wonder Woman/Grace #1
——————–Outsiders Vol. 3 #50
Countdown 34. Now that Batman is the new head of the Outsiders, the team does not appreciate the way he leads, mainly through intimidation and insults (much the way he acted in the old JLI).  Batman sends Nightwing and Captain Boomerang to a US Government space station that has gone offline.  This space station just happens to be housing the Chemo that was used to annihilate Blüdhaven.  Nightwing and Boomer combat against loose parts of the Chemo and afterward, Nightwing tries to send the monster into the sun.  However, Boomer, working under secret orders from Amanda Waller, fights off and prevents Nightwing from destroying the nuclear beast.  When Nightwing meets up with Batman after the mission, Batman says he approves of Boomer’s initiative, but the fact that Boomer is obviously still involved with Waller’s Suicide Squad gets him axed from the team.  Nightwing, outraged at the way Bruce is handling the Ousiders, quits the team!  Bully Batman then decides to retool the Outsiders with a whole new lineup.  After discussing his plans with Zatanna, Batman scouts both Marvel (Billy Batson) and Katana and chooses the latter for membership.  Katana immediately accepts.  The Dark Knight then sends J’onn and Thunder (Black Lightning’s daughter) on a mission in deep space to battle Grayven (Darkseid’s son).  In deep space, the heroes stumble upon an injured Grayven and J’onn is able to telepathically scan his mind, learning of the recent murders of several New Gods, including the Deep Six, Speed Queen, and Sleez, at the hands of a mysterious “God-Killer.”  (News of Lightray’s murder went public weeks ago).  Grayven awakens, forcing J’onn to use a shape-shifting ruse to fool the evil New God into returning to Apokolips.  Upon his return home, Grayven is murdered by the mystery God-Killer.  Back on Earth, Batman reveals that J’onn is already a member of the Outsiders and the deep space test was solely for Thunder, who didn’t make the cut.  The Caped Crusader then sends Metamorpho and Aquaman to the Sahara Desert to deal with Simon Stagg and Halcyon.  Afterward, Batman reveals yet again that Metamorpho is already on the team and the test was solely for Aquaman.  Batman tells Aquaman that he did a good job, but he’s no Orin and isn’t good enough for the team.  Aquaman then leaves, revealing that he has the ability to magickally teleport anywhere on Earth using a network of underwater portals.  Metamorpho chastises Batman for being too hasty in his judgment, thus losing a valuable asset in Aquaman’s portals.  Next, Batman travels to Washington, DC to help out with the ongoing reconstruction of the capitol which was razed during the Amazon-American War.  Bruce sends Wonder Woman (who isn’t a candidate for the team) and current half-Amazon Outsider Grace Choi to Cleveland to locate and dismantle a Bana nuclear bomb left over from the war.  The lady heroes are successful and Bruce approves of Grace.  Back at Outsiders headquarters, Grace is pissed at the roster cuts, but stays on the team.  Bruce (as Matches Malone) then takes his new team undercover at a super-villain hangout club.  The Suicide Squad (including Bane and Captain Boomerang) show up and start kidnapping as many super-villains as they can, including the General (formerly Shaggy Man), a new female Crazy Quilt, Tweedle-Dum, and Tweedle-Dee.  Once Batman reveals his presence, the Squad then flees the scene with their captives.  Bruce and J’onn privately confer that the rumors are true.  What rumors?  Rumors about the Suicide Squad kidnapping super-villains. What they don’t know is that the Sucide Squad’s involvement runs much deeper than just kidnapping. Waller’s group is a part of a major intergalactic scheme that also involves abandoning their abductees on a distant prison planet at the other end of the galaxy.  Despite having been fired by Batman, Thunder helps the team out on this mission and earns her spot back in the lineup.  Catwoman is also present at during the fight and decides she wants to be an Outsider too.  I should also mention that the General joins the Suicide Squad, thus avoiding being sent to the prison planet.  Okay, quick recap: Batman leads a new Outsiders team, villains are being sent to a prison planet, and someone is killing-off New Gods.  Check, check, and check.

–Superman/Batman #43-45
These issues are incorrectly labeled as Countdown 22 to 14—(unfortunately, these issues definitely go right here).  Waynetech and STAR Labs have recently set up an orbiting space station run by John Henry Irons (Steel), which turns dark matter into a renewable energy source by using a machine that is linked to a Kryptonian device inside the Fortress of Solitude.  Dr. Light infiltrates the Fortress of Solitude and sends hard-light holographic versions of the original Teen Titans to attack the satellite.  Superman easily defeats the holograms while Batman easily defeats Dr. Light in the Fortress of Solitude.  Dr. Light manages to escape in the end and is recruited into the Injustice League by Lex Luthor, which has yet to make its official debut.  After the encounter with Dr. Light, Batman and Superman watch from a distance as the new corny Superman/Batman action movie is filmed in downtown Gotham, starring the guy who plays James Bond: Jason Wish!  When Livewire shows up to cause chaos on the set, Superman flies down to kick her ass, but the Man of Steel gets hurt pretty badly when he finds out the hard way that the director has chosen to use real Kryptonite in his film.  Flash, with Batman’s help, is able to easily take down Livewire and rush the injured Superman to the Fortress of Solitude.  Batman then calls in the most trusted surgeon available, Alfred Pennyworth.  Alfred saves Superman’s life!  Three days later, Superman confronts Batman while on patrol and they discuss how, ever since the Kryptonite asteroid struck Earth two years ago, Kryptonite is literally everywhere now.  Batman and Superman decide that its high time they clean up the planet by getting rid of the Kryptonite.  Batman, Booster Gold, Starfire, Firestorm, Hiro Okamura, and Superman (who dons a protective lead-lined super-suit) all begin scouring the globe, collecting a mountain’s worth of Kryptonite and storing it in a giant lead-lined vault.  Batman even discovers that Joker has a stash of Kryptonite hidden in a teddy bear in his Arkham cell.  When Superman and Batman try to extract a large chunk of Kryptonite from an undersea trench, Aquaman isn’t happy about his territory being messed with and he begins fighting Superman!  (Aquaman doesn’t care much for the Dark Knight either after Batman so casually dismissed him following his recent Outsiders tryout).  Batman and Superman fight Aquaman to a stalemate, but in the end an angry Aquaman lets them take the Kryptonite.

–REFERENCE: That sneaky Batman, who is supposed to be helping Superman rid the planet of Kryptonite, underhandedly keeps and secretly stores a large cache of Kryptonite in the Batcave (as referenced in Superman/Batman #49).

–REFERENCE: Batman cracks down on smuggling operations which have been bringing in “high-end off-world” tech into Gotham, including weapons from Thanagar and Apokolips (as seen through a visual reference in Helmet of Fate: Detective Chimp #1).

–Batman #655-658 (“BATMAN AND SON”)
Batman goes on a “crime blitz” and systematically busts a ton of random bad guys in quick succession. Meanwhile, an escaped Joker poisons Commissioner Gordon with Joker Venom.  Joker then battles Josef Muller, one of three substitute Batmen trained by Simon Hurt.  (Batman last encountered the substitute Batmen five years ago, although due to post-hypnotic suggestion implanted by Hurt in Bat Year Eight, Batman’s recollection of the event is cloudy at best, if not virtually erased.)  Anyway, Joker nearly beats Muller to death, mistaking him for the real Dark Knight, and begins celebrating until Muller shoots him in the face.  The real Batman then shows up and tosses Joker’s bloody ass into a dumpster and delivers Gordon to the medics.  With Joker safely returned to Arkham, Alfred declares that a London vacation is in order. Tim mentions the last time Bruce went on vacation—likely a reference to him departing for his year off/Thogal ritual. Meanwhile, Talia Al Ghul, after kidnapping Francine Langstrom, obtains the Man-Bat Serum from Kirk Langstrom and turns her entire League of Assassins into mutated ninja Man-Bats. A couple days later in London, Bruce relaxes with Alfred and scans a magazine sporting the Langstroms on the cover. Much to his surprise, Bruce runs into a panicked Kirk on the way back to his hotel, which tips him to the fact that bad news is on its way to England. At a charity event, Bruce meets supermodel/philanthropist/political leader Jezebel Jet. As the two get better acquainted with each other, dozens of ninja Man-Bats crash the party.  Batman is captured and handed over to Talia, who has kidnapped the British Prime Minister’s wife.  Talia then unleashes a bombshell upon Bruce before departing. She introduces him to his ten-year-old son, Damian! (Damian has not only been kept hidden from Bruce by the League of Assassins for the past ten years, but the boy has been trained to be a killing machine as well.)[3] Bruce takes Damian home to America, shows him the Batcave, and introduces him to Tim and Alfred.  The fractious Damian naturally hates everything and even gives Alfie a good old fashioned “*^*% YOU!” before storming up into the mansion to see his new room.  Tim is shocked that Bruce has a son, especially a little hellion like this kid, but Batman says not to worry.  Damian, however, is spoiled rotten, petulantly acts-out, and breaks everything in sight, forcing Batman to lock him inside one of Wayne Manor’s many rooms.  Meanwhile, the Spook (!) kidnaps recently elected Mayor Sebastian Hady.  Batman saves the mayor, but when he finds the Spook, the villain has been decapitated!  Soon after in the Batcave, Damian confronts Robin and unveils the severed head of the Spook!  Damian explains that he murdered the villain to impress his father and then proceeds to kick Robin’s ass.  Damian then dons an old Robin costume and meets his dad downtown.  Batman angrily drags his son back home where both Tim and Alfred are recovering from savage beatings at the hands of the violent ten-year-old.  Batman decides its time to get the British Prime Minister’s wife back and have a serious chat with baby momma as well.  Since Damian is obviously too dangerous to be left alone, Batman brings him along to Gibraltar in a rocket ship!  In Gibraltar, an army of ninja Man-Bats slaughters dozens of innocent people.  Batman and Damian parachute in and start taking out as many ninja Man-Bats as they can, thus saving the Prime Minister’s wife.  Amidst the chaos, Talia asks Bruce to join her and raise Damian together to become the next ruler of the world.  The Caped Crusader refuses.  The British Navy blows up Talia’s submarine and finishes off the ninja Man-Bats.  Talia, however, escapes with Damian.  Highly recommended. Great arc. I should also mention that the highly apocryphal Damian: Son of Batman #1 tells us outright that Damian is killed during the Gibraltar submarine explosion and then immediately resurrected by Talia. It could be true—or you could take it with an Andy Kubert sized grain of salt.[4]

–Batman #664-665
Grant Morrison’s epic run picks up right where it left off in issue #658. Bruce leaves Gibraltar and begins dating Jezebel Jet (although the two won’t be mutually exclusive for several months after this).  Back in Gotham, Bruce chews out some executives during a Wayne Enterprises board meeting. By night, Batman chew out a meeting of another kind, one featuring pimp DeShawn, DeShawn’s sex workers (including Roxy and Ellie, the latter of which will later become the lead receptionist at Wayne Tower), and some crooked cops (including Officer Pete Farelli). Batman mistakenly thinks DeShawn is selling sex to Gotham cops, but he can’t see the forest for the trees—Farelli and his boys in blue are hiding a much deeper secret. Batman’s questioning leads the Dark Knight into that very secret: the monstrous Branca, another one of the three substitute Batmen that Bruce has been brainwashed to forget. Branca is dressed up in a combination Batman/Bane costume and he’s hopped up on various drugs, including Venom. Not to mention, he’s living in a filthy derelict house filled with dead prostitutes, which previously had been keeping him pacified for years (by special arrangement thanks to Farelli and company). Branca beats the bloody tar out of Batman, who escapes to the penthouse of the Wayne Enterprises Building. Remember when Batman used the Penthouse as his base of operations instead of the Batcave in Bat Year Nine?  At the penthouse, Alfred and Tim care for a delirious Bruce, who awakens from a horrible nightmare. Bruce explains that in his nightmare “three ghosts of Batman” spell doom for Gotham, and the third is the worst. Bruce slowly begins to recollect vague details about his repressed memories regarding the substitute Batmen.  Bruce tells Alfred that they need to scour the Black Casebook for information. By scanning the Black Casebook, Batman refreshes his memory of a fight with “three ghost Batmen” from five years ago, which he had always thought was a mere hallucination.  Of course, now it becomes painfully apparent that it was real and someone has caused him to forget.  Batman and Robin then go after Branca and are able to take him down, but the leviathan escapes.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, the League of Assassins perform life-saving surgery on an injured Damian.  Talia’s surgeons are able to harvest cloned organs and replace the damaged ones inside Damian.  Bruce then goes on yet another date with Jezebel, this time in Venice.  Batman also pieces together a small part of the puzzling “replacement Batmen” mystery after re-examining his Black Casebook.  The details are still sketchy, but Batman now knows that a third “replacement Batman” is out there somewhere, and he warns Commissioner Gordon accordingly (as referenced in Batman #672). PS. Batman #666 takes place now (naturally following Batman #665), but the entire issue is a flash-forward to approximately twenty years in the future. This flash-foward is also part of a vision Bruce has while undergoing Thogal. He will have the rest of this vision when he gets Omega zapped, but we’ll get to that later.  In this weird future, Bruce is dead and a clone of Damian is the new Batman.[5]  Barbara Gordon is the new GCPD Commissioner.  In this dark and scary global-warming-effected Morrison-concocted future, we meet several Batman rogues including Professor Pyg, Phosphorus Rex, and Flamingo.  We also witness the death of the third substitute Batman, Michael Lane, at the hands of Damian.  (Lane is also one of many ex-Azraels).  It’s hard for me to even begin to explain how amazing this issue is and exactly why, but I will try my best in layman’s terms.  At this point chronologically, we have yet to meet Pyg, Rex, and Flamingo (these characters won’t debut chronologically until next year), but here we are meeting them publishing-wise for the first time in a flash-forward to twenty years later!  Similarly, publishing-wise we haven’t been introduced to Lane until now either.  Sure, Lane is on our chronology in both Bat Year Six and Bat Year Sixteen, but in both instances he has been placed there retro-actively through in-story textual references (originally in Batman #672).  Batman #666 is the first time we visually see Lane.  The first time we actually visually see Lane on our regular timeline (as opposed to in a flash-forward) won’t be until Batman #672.  Therefore, the textual retro-active reference to Lane in Bat Year Six functions chronologically as his debut, but his published debut isn’t until right now (a future scene), which is unbelievable because we have yet to actually visually see the character on our regular current timeline (i.e. not in a flash-forward)!  Sorry if this seems confusing.  This is a very hard concept to articulate, but if you can grasp it, it’s a truly beautiful thing.

–Batman #667-669
Billionaire John Mayhew invites all the old members of the “Club of Heroes” to a reunion on his private tropical island.  Without anything better to do, Batman and Robin decide to attend, along with Knight and Squire as well.  However, the nostalgia doesn’t last long because a video is played which shows a mystery man literally wearing a bloody, ripped-off face, which he claims belongs to the murdered Mayhew. SPOILER: The mystery man in the video is Dr. Simon Hurt and he’s actually wearing the skin of actor Mangrove Pierce.  Moving on, the mystery man explains that he controls the criminal organization known as The Black Glove and the international heroes will soon suffer Mayhew’s fate.  The heroes’ planes then explode, stranding them on the island.  Everyone splits up and The Legionary and Wingman are both murdered.  However, Batman soon realizes that Wingman is in cahoots with the villains and has switched costumes with Dark Ranger, who has actually been killed.  Batman and El Gaucho are able to take out Wingman, who reveals that he is jealous of Batman’s career and has been paid-off by the Black Glove.  Wingman further explains that the Black Glove has set everything up in an attempt to destroy Batman.  Before he can spill even more beans, Mayhew reveals himself to be alive and well on the island by silencing Wingman with a bullet.  Mayhew then activates a bomb, which is set to destroy the entire island.  Batman gathers the heroes onto an escape plane and everyone flees to safety.  Shortly before the island explodes, Dr. Hurt tells Mayhew that he has lost the deadly game against Batman and must be punished for his failure.  Mayhew goes up in smoke along with his island.  Batman is now aware of the Black Glove, but he knows virtually nothing about the organization, and has yet to learn of Hurt’s involvement in the group.  Oh, for anyone wondering about Mangrove Pierce, it was eight years ago (Bat Year 13) when Mayhew discovered Pierce was sleeping with his wife, Marsha Lamarr.  Mayhew then jealously murdered his wife and framed Pierce for the crime.  Eight years later (now), we see Hurt has skinned him alive.

–FLASHBACK: Batman and the ex-Club of Heroes members have just barely survived their adventure on John Mayhew’s island. Batman chats with his old chums before returning to Gotham (as seen via flashback in Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #0).

[6]

–REFERENCE: In Batman #700. November 25. Batman leaves an all-black wreath on Crime Alley to commemorate the anniversary of the deaths of his parents.

–NOTE: Joker has made a full and incredibly speedy recovery after getting shot by Josef Muller.  Maybe he was just grazed by the bullet.  In any case, Joker is well enough for Lex Luthor to break him out of Arkham to attend a very important crime-meeting.  Lex, Joker, and Cheetah meet to vote on team members for the brand new Injustice League (as seen through flashback in Justice League of America Wedding Special #1).

–Batman Annual #26
Late November. This issue is incorrectly numbered as Countdown 35.  Hidden at a secret Lazarus Pit location in Australia, Talia Al Ghul tells Damian Wayne the long history of his grandfather, the notorious Ra’s Al Ghul.  Little does Talia know that White Ghost, Ra’s servant since the 18th century, plans to enact a prophecy that will revive Ra’s Al Ghul from the grave.  Not only that, Talia has no idea that White Ghost is actually Ra’s Al Ghul’s only son, Dusan Al Ghul, and thus, her biological brother! (She won’t find this out until later).  Anyway, White Ghost plans to use Damian’s body as the new host for Ra’s Al Ghul, whose spirit he believes is trapped within the Australian Lazarus Pit.  But of course, once Talia and Damian catch on to his game, they kick his ass and take off.  Meanwhile, Batman, who is tracking two missing Waynetech ecologists, shows up, fights League of Assassins ninjas, and winds up tossing White Ghost into the Lazarus Pit.  This is a one-time-use Pit that dries up and loses its power hours after White Ghost falls into it.  White Ghost sinks into underground caverns, washes away, and then goes missing. NOTE: Following these events, the League of Assassins splits into two factions: one which is loyal to Talia, and the other which is loyal to Ra’s Al Ghul’s longtime second-in-command, The Sensei. (We will later learn that the Sensei is Ra’s Al Ghul’s biological father)!

–REFERENCE: Early December. Superman and Batman’s search for the mysterious “Third Kryptonian” has not gone well, and who can blame them since this Countdown shit has been so frustratingly busy?  While the search continues to be a failure in regard to finding any Kryptonians, it now yields the discovery of various other bizarre extra-terrestrials living on Earth (as mentioned in Superman #668).

–REFERENCE: Batman administers a polygraph and a medical exam on Cassandra Cain before officially inviting her back into the Bat-Family (as referenced in Batgirl Vol. 2 #1).  Cassie also moves into Wayne Manor, although she won’t be home very often.

–Countdown #34
Two of the Rogues supposedly involved in Flash Bart Allen’s death, Pied Piper and Trickster, get on Poison Ivy’s bad side and she ties them up in vines and literally hangs them out to dry from a Gotham rooftop ledge.  Batman soon stumbles across the villains and delivers them into the eager and vengeful arms of Flash Wally West.  Piper and Trickster are unable to convince Wally that they had nothing to do with Bart’s death (which is actually the truth).

–FLASHBACK: Catwoman goes for a rooftop midnight stroll with her baby Helena and stumbles upon Batman in the middle of a brutal interrogation of some random crook (as seen via flashback in Catwoman Vol. 3 #79).

–Superman/Batman #46
This issue is incorrectly labeled as Countdown 10—(this story goes here because Red Tornado makes an appearance in his android shell body, which will be destroyed in our next story).  Superman (in his lead-suit) and Batman continue their quest to collect all of the world’s Kryptonite. When the World’s Finest fight Metallo, Superman tears the villain’s Kryptonite heart out of his chest (and replaces it with a mechanical one).  Afterward, Batman decides its time to start searching for non-green colored Kryptonite.  Their first stop is the Oblivion Bar, a hangout for the DCU’s magickal heroes, including the superhero team known as The Shadowpact and the Phantom Stranger. Phantom Stranger helps the pair find a new silver-Kryptonite chunk hidden within an mystical amulet.  The magick effects Superman immediately, causing him to take his lead-lined helmet off.  The silver-K then causes Superman’s mind to revert to that of a child.  Zatanna tells the JLA that the only way to bring Supes back from his weird acid trip is to find the other half of the amulet.  To find the charm, it’s off to Dinosaur Island (basically the Savage Land of the DCU, which can only be seen or traveled to through use of magick as it exists outside of time and space).  On the island, Zatanna and Batman talk with the natives and learn that the amulet is inside an active volcano.  Bruce takes his shirt off and climbs into the fiery cavern, quickly locating the magick item, which causes him to have a hallucination of his current deepest “desires”: One, to have his parents alive again; and two, to make out with Zatanna!?  That’s a new one.  As soon as the amulets join together, Superman is cured.

UNLIMITED
——————–Justice League of America Wedding Special #1
——————–Justice League of America Vol. 2 #13-15
Countdown 33 to 28.  Hal Jordan has an escort service send over a bunch of strippers for Ollie Queen’s bachelor party.  But when Ollie isn’t interested, Hal sends them away.  But the girls aren’t leaving without cash, so Hal calls Bruce, who is on monitor duty at the Hall of Justice, and asks him to borrow 3,600 bucks.  Hal also realizes that their very public celebrity bachelor party will expose all of their secret identities to the press, so he asks Bruce if they can move the party to the Hall.  Bruce sends the money and then waits for the party to come to him.  At the relocated shindig, Hal tells everyone that he is taking some time off from the JLA and John Stewart is going to replace him.  (In actuality, both Hal and John will be JLA members, alternating whenever one or the other is unavailable).  Meanwhile, the finally debuting Injustice League nearly kills Firestorm and reveals that its membership is in the dozens.  As Batman and Red Arrow inspect the crime scene, the Injustice League, with superior numbers, attacks the heroes on multiple fronts.  Batman, Red Arrow, Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Hawkgirl, Vixen, Geo-Force, and John Stewart are all captured and tortured at the Hall of Doom in the Everglades.  Not only that, Luthor and Joker are filming the torture sessions!  Also, Red Tornado’s body is destroyed for the 8th time.  Luthor then challenges Superman to come save his friends.  Superman and Black Lightning charge down to Florida, but are easily beaten into submission by the evil League.  As Luthor prepares to kill Superman with a Kryptonite knife, Firestorm sneaks into the Hall of Doom and frees all the captive heroes.  With the odds evened out, the JLA is able to kick the IJL’s asses.  Amidst the tumult, the staunch feminist villainess Cheetah tries to murder fellow IJL member Dr. Light for being a rapist.  Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad then immediately show up with government warrants.  It’s off to the hellish prison planet for Joker, Cheetah, Poison Ivy, and a dozen or so other super-villains. However, the JLA still doesn’t know about the prison planet’s existence.  Afterward, Batman recruits Firestorm into the JLA. NOTE: Luthor is indeed captured by the heroes and handed over to the Suicide Squad, but he will remain in prison for a while before being sent to the prison planet.

Second Feature to Justice League of America Vol. 2 #18
Since Red Tornado’s body has just been destroyed by the Injustice League, Tornado’s consciousness is downloaded into the Watchtower CPU.  Tornado’s new temporary body is now literally the entire computer system of the Watchtower satellite, and in a weird way is now the entire Watchtower itself.  Batman, along with Tornado’s family, Zatanna, Niles Caulder, Will Magnus, and John Henry Irons, are all present to greet WatchTornado when he comes back online.  The team of scientists (and one witch) tells Tornado that his new humanoid shell won’t be ready for him for at least several weeks.

–Batman/Catwoman: Follow the Money #1
This 2010 Howard Chaykin one-shot seems appropriately placed here since Selina’s demeanor feels “pre-prison planet” in the story.  The Cavalier is back in action for the first time in years (since Knightfall if you can believe it) and the dashing villain masterminds an embezzling scheme with three other co-conspirators, which siphons millions of dollars from Wayne Enterprises, virtually draining the company’s pension fund.  Batman teams-up with Catwoman and they travel to Chicago and Montreal to nab two of the embezzlers.  However, the third man, Peter Leonard, not only evades capture, but double-crosses the Cavalier and flees to the ex-Soviet nation of Panchea with all the money in tow.  In the States, a government investigation into the theft probes Wayne Enterprises accounts and gets dangerously close to discovering the company’s secret links to the Bat-Family.  Bruce and Selina, in order to protect the secrets of the Dark Knight, break into an investigative office and destroy the case files.  Bruce makes a quick trip to Panchea and easily “convinces” Leonard to turn himself in.  Meanwhile, Selina is able to steal back the stolen millions from Leonard’s offshore bank account.  Batman returns home and immediately busts the Cavalier, who gets blamed for the destruction of the IRS’s Wayne-probe files.

–REFERENCE: Scarecrow still refuses to use his patented Fear Gas, but he is using his nerve toxins in other ways.  The villain introduces his fear-inducing chemicals into a wine bar at the Gotham Symphony.  Batman is able to nab Scarecrow and clean up the mess (as mentioned in Catwoman Vol. 3 #71).

–Catwoman Vol. 3 #71
Countdown 32.  Bruce meets with Selina at her apartment and they discuss their lives.  Bruce cradles a cute sleeping baby Helena.  Then Catwoman and Batman go up on the roof and continue their conversation.  Catwoman is worried about both being able to safely raise her daughter and lead the costumed vigilante lifestyle.  So Selina has a plan, but it will require Bruce’s help.  The next morning, Bruce dresses up as a silly over-the-top super-villian called The Revolutionary and pretends to publicly detonate a bomb, “killing” Selina and Helena in the process.  Escaping into the sewers and back to Wayne Manor, the hoax is a success.  The world now thinks that Selina and Helena are dead.

–Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special, Part 2
This issue should not be labeled Countdown 32; it should correctly be Countdown 30. Countdown #30 also shows the huge wedding battle scene from GA/BC Wedding Special, Part 2. Hence, another reason that the Wedding Special should be labeled Countdown 30.  Ollie and Dinah’s wedding is crashed by Deathstroke, who now leads the remaining Injustice Leaguers (there are still about 30 or so members roaming free, including the first official post-original Crisis debut of Nocturna)!  Batman pops in and leads the heroes in a successful charge against the villains. (Countdown #30 also shows the huge wedding battle between the heroes and the villains, albeit from another point of view). Deathstroke escapes, but everyone else is apprehended, thus ending the short-lived Injustice League.  A day later, Ollie and Dinah are then happily wed!  Well, not exactly.  During the Injustice League raid on the wedding, the shape-shifting villain known as Everyman switched places with Ollie. Dinah actually weds Everyman, who then tries to murder her on their honeymoon!  Dinah struggles with Everyman and kills him by stabbing him in the neck.  Everyman dies, but remains shape-shifted in the form of Ollie.  None of Dinah’s friends can explain why or how, but they all think Ollie either went crazy or was possessed by an evil force, which caused him to wig-out.  No one even considers that this might be a fake Ollie, especially since DNA, bone, and tissue samples all match those of Oliver Queen.  (Everyman could perfectly replicate anyone he came in contact with, right down to the DNA).  Only Dinah believes Ollie is still alive.  She keeps the corpse in her apartment and begins a lone search for her lost lover.

–Detective Comics #837
Countdown 30.  Bruce hires Riddler to find Lisa Newman, a Wayne Enterprises lab tech who has stolen an experimental drug.  Riddler tracks down the thief to an Athenian Women’s Help Shelter, which is basically a Wonder Woman-inspired aid program designed to function as an empowering all-female support system for abused women.  In the aftermath of the Amazon-American War, these shelters have come under heavy public opprobrium.  Anyway, Riddler learns that his old buddy Harley Quinn is the new assistant director of the Metropolis branch of the Athenians.  (In an unrelated note, fugitive Holly Robinson has joined this chapter of the Athenians as well)!  Using Harley as his in, Riddler finds Newman, who injects herself with the drug, turning into a metahuman monster.  Riddler, Harley, and Holly are able to defeat Newman easily and retrieve the stolen serum.  In the chaos of the fight, Athena (still Granny Goodness in disguise) steals a sample of Newman’s blood infused with the serum and delivers it to Desaad.  Granny mentions how, with this blood sample, he will be able to create a new breed of evil female warriors. (Oh, Desaad sure will build some bad bitches. Be sure to look for them in a little upcoming event called Final Crisis)!  Why did Bruce hire Riddler in the first place anyway?  He was testing the former villain to see if he really has turned to the side of good. So far, he has.

–FLASHBACK: Selina (with baby Helena) visits Bruce (with Tim) and confesses to the murder of Black Mask.  Bruce tells her he already knows and while he doesn’t approve, he understands why she did what she did.  Selina then tells Bruce that she loves Helena far too much to endanger her child.  She asks Bruce to use his Wayne Enterprises resources to set up a closed adoption (as seen through flashback in Catwoman Vol. 3 #72).

–Teen Titans Vol. 3 #50-52 (“TITANS OF TOMORROW TODAY”)
Countdown 35 to 18 (another very lengthy range, but it fits right here quite well).  The Teen Titans remember their fallen comrade Bart Allen by erecting a statue in his honor next to the Conner Kent statue at their San Francisco HQ.  Afterward, the Titans help Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) fight Lobo.  Meanwhile, Bruce, Diana, Clark, and J’onn are all attacked and captured by mysterious shapeshifters.  In Gotham, Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandsmark) comforts Robin, who is having trouble getting over the loss of Bart.  Just as they are about to kiss (Robin and Wonder Girl have kissed before, usually always when comforting each other regarding the loss of a loved one), the Titans Tomorrow show up, unveiling the heroes they’ve captured.  For anyone who doesn’t know, the Titans Tomorrow (as they are colloquially known) are the grown-up evil version of the Teen Titans from 2019 of an alternate timeline. (A thirty-year-old Tim is Batman, a thirty-year-old Cassie Sandsmark is Wonder Woman, etc…)  The Titans Tomorrow explain that, in their reality, things got so bad because they were too soft when they were younger.  Meanwhile, the Sinestro Corps War, which has been building at the other end of the universe for weeks, impacts Earth for the first time: As a pre-invasion strike, Sinestro makes it rain Starros all over Earth. Thankfully, the heroes captured by the Titans Tomorrow escape. While the Titans Tomorrow and Teen Titans deal with the Starros, old Tim chastises young Tim for not using lethal force, to which young Tim replies by putting a gun to his own head.  Before Tim can do anything too rash, old Lex Luthor from the future shows up with a bunch more former heroes now turned evil in their old age, including Cassie Cain as Batwoman and Charlie Gage-Radcliffe as Huntress.  Old Lex has been manipulating the old Titans.  Eventually, the Teen Titans get rid of the Starros, and old Tim realizes the error of his ways and helps defeat the bad guys, thus ensuring that the Titans Tomorrow future (his own alternate future) never occurs. In an instant, all of the Titans Tomorrow fade from existence.

–Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Cyborg Superman #1
Countdown 30. Following a failed pre-invasion Starro strike, Cyborg Superman and an army of Manhunter robots lead the first manned Sinestro Corps assault on Earth. The Sinestro Corps War is under way! As the JLA battles Cyborg Superman in Earth’s orbit, the heroes are shocked when the entire Sinestro Corps arrives and begins laying waste to the planet. In New York, Cyborg Superman destroys the Statue of Liberty. This issue overlaps with Green Lantern Vol. 4 #24, which is next.

–Green Lantern Vol. 4 #24
Countdown 29. A gigantic army of yellow power ring-wielding Sinestro Corps warriors has been battling the Green Lantern Corps for the past several weeks as they slowly carved a path of destruction across the universe.  Now that the Sinestro Corps War has officially begun and the Sinestro Corps have arrived on Earth, all hell has broken loose.  Batman and the JLA face off against Cyborg Superman and hundreds of Manhunter androids.  Sinestro—with his generals Parallax, Superboy-Prime, and the Anti-Monitor—battle Green Lanterns and a plethora of other heroes all over Earth, resulting in the iconic destruction of Mount Rushmore.  In this crisis of mega proportions, every DCU hero, led by Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner, who shakes off the evil influence of Parallax, fights the good fight all over the planet and in its orbit as well.

–Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman-Prime #1
Countdown 28. Superboy-Prime takes on nearly every single DCU superhero all by himself and holds his own. As the sun comes up and the Anti-Monitor wades through the Hudson River, Superboy-Prime declares himself the victor. After the heroes of Earth back down, the Guardians arrive on the scene and sic the new host of Ion (rookie Green Lantern Sodam Yat) upon Superboy-Prime. However, even with the power of Ion, Yat doesn’t fare any better.

–Green Lantern Vol. 4 #25
The collective heroes of the DCU regroup, re-attack, and defeat the Sinestro Corps, thus ending their insanely agressive assault.  The Guardians unite to not only blast the Anti-Monitor halfway across the galaxy, but send Superboy-Prime to an alternate universe as well.  In the end, Sinestro is officially arrested in Coast City and the Sinestro Corps War comes to an end.  Oh, and let’s not forget, the Guardians foresee the prophecy of “Blackest Night,” during which five more other-colored Lantern Corps will supposedly arise (in addition to green and yellow), each based upon a different color of the Emotional Spectrum that gives energy to the power rings.  Meanwhile, at the other end of the universe, the Anti-Monitor’s corpse crashes into a dead planet and mysteriously turns into the evil Black Power Battery.  That can’t be good.  Just wait until Blackest Night, kids.

–FLASHBACK:  Selina spends her last melancholy day with Helena before meeting Bruce at the adoption agency.  Helena is privately transferred into the safety of an adopted family.  The closed adoption is set up in a way that no one, not even Selina, can ever find out who the parents are.  Afterward, Selina collapses in depression and sobs hysterically.  This breaks my heart.  (As seen through flashback in Catwoman Vol. 3 #72).

–Superman #668
Countdown 29.  Superman decides to finally introduce his adopted son, Chris Kent, to Batman and Robin.  Chris gets along really well with Tim. Meanwhile, Supes and Bats invent a “red sun ray emitter,” which disguised as a wristwatch, will nullify Chris’s superpowers so he can fit in better at school.  Batman and Superman have been searching for the mysterious “Third Kryptonian” for months now with no success—until now.  The “Third Kryptonian” is Karsta Wor-Ul aka Kristin Wells, who left the planet Krypton decades before its destruction and has been living peacefully on Earth ever since.  So, Karsta Wor-Ul was the first Kryptonian on Earth, not Kal-El.

–Green Arrow and Black Canary #1
Countdown 29.  It’s been a month since Oliver Queen’s “death” and, still, no one believes Black Canary when she says Ollie is alive and the corpse is a fake.  Everyone, except Batman.  Black Canary, Batman, and Dr. Mid-Nite perform a long-overdue autopsy in the Batcave and quickly discover that “Ollie” is actually Everyman.  A quick investigation reveals that Athena (Granny Goodness in disguise) and her new Amazons (Granny’s Female Furies) have imprisoned and tortured Ollie for the past month on the Island of Themyscira. The heroes begin planning a rescue, but Granny and the Furies are nothing to laugh at. It will be few more weeks before a rescue attempt with decent odds of success can be attempted.

–Catwoman Vol. 3 #72
Countdown 28.  Bruce isn’t in this story (besides in the flashbacks, which are listed above).  Catwoman says it’s been a month since she gave up Helena for adoption.  It hasn’t.  It’s been a few days.  Maybe she meant, it feels like a month.  Anyway, she hasn’t slept since the adoption and she is very drunk, so she could easily be wrong.  Selina meets with Zatanna and explains how sad she is at losing her baby.  Zatanna comforts her as best she can.

–The Flash Vol. 2 #233
Countdown 27.  Ever since returning from an alternate reality during “The Lightning Saga,” Flash Wally West has been taking his wife, Linda, and his two six-year-old children, Iris and Jai, on dangerous missions with him.  Granted, the kids do have Speed Force powers, but they’re six-years-old, and Linda doesn’t have any powers at all!  When the Wally brings his family into battle against an army of aquatic alien invaders, this is the last straw for the JLA.  The ultimate superhero team steps in and easily repels the ET invasion.  Afterward, the JLA demands that Wally turn his kids over to child services for endangerment issues!  Wally flips out and starts yelling at his teammates.  Wally even exclaims that he’ll be damned if he’s going to take any shit from Batman, who has “gone through four Robins!”  Whoa. When Wally calms down, he explains that his children, due to the Speed Force within them, are aging at an incredible rate despite having only been born two years ago.  Everyone in the JLA had assumed that the kids had aged due to a bizarre side-effect of being trapped in an alternate reality for a while.  Not the case.  Blame it on the Speed Force.  Because the kids are growing so fast, Wally and Linda have decided to let them live their lives to the extreme, or “all-out” as Wally puts it.  And for some reason, everyone in the JLA is okay with this line of reasoning.  Hey, why not?

–Supergirl Vol. 5 #23
Countdown 25
. Batman tests Supergirl by sending a gift-wrapped present to her apartment with a small piece of paper labeled “mistake” on the inside. After Supergirl opens it, Batman chastises her saying that it could have been Kryptonite or worse. Supergirl, who says she’s been on Earth for “like two years,” is then whisked away by Superman and the Green Lantern Corp to help fight a war in deep space. Kara’s “like two years” statement is pretty accurate.

–Superman/Batman #42, Epilogue
Countdown 24.  Orion is still salty about his wife having had sex with Batman.  Bekka and Orion argue for a bit, but the latter becomes pre-occupied with all the recent New God murders, mentioning the recent deaths of Sleez and Grayven.  Orion also mentions how Darkseid and Desaad haven’t been seen since the destruction of Tartaros (in Superman/Batman #42).  After Orion departs on business, Bekka is killed by the mysterious God-Killer!

–NOTE: Countdown 23. Batman isn’t a part of this note, but it is fairly important to the larger DC multiverse. As seen in Countdown #23, Mr. Mxyzptlk is kidnapped by Superboy-Prime and taken to the Source Wall where he is sadistically tortured. After escaping, a troubled Mxy decides to exile himself from Universe-0, specifically Earth.

–NOTE: Countdown 20.  Booster Gold attempts to change history by preventing Barbara Gordon from ever being shot by the Joker (as seen in Booster Gold Vol. 2 #5).  Booster time-travels to the events of The Killing Joke dozens of times, but upon each visit, he is unable to alter Babs’ fate.  Back in present day, Rip explains that some events have such important significance that they are more or less “destined to happen.”  This is one of those things.

–Captain Carrot & The Final Ark #3
Countdown 20. Captain Carrot and his Zoo Crew are anthropomorphic cartoon superhero animals that live on the cartoon-like planet of Earth-26. Starro the Conqueror sets in motion a plan that will flood the entirety of Earth-26, forcing Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew to usher the inhabitants of the planet onto a giant ark that looks like a cruise ship. The animal heroes attempt to transport their people to an alternate Earth that resembles their own: Earth C-Minus (home to the superhero team Just’a lotta Animals). However, en route, the ship is diverted by the New Dogs and winds up crashing into Earth-0’s orbit! Batman monitors the arrival of the foreign ship and alerts the JLA. The ship lands in San Francisco, but all the inhabitants of Earth-26 (and the animal JLA) have morphed into regular non-anthropomorphic critters.

–Gotham Underground #1-9
Countdown 27 to 2 (an extremely wide range, but this tale fits right here A-OK).  Our tale begins with the Suicide Squad capturing Man-Bat and Clayface and shipping them off to the prison planet.  Meanwhile, Batman goes undercover in his Matches Malone guise as Penguin’s new number one henchman.  Batman is well aware of fact that the Suicide Squad has been apprehending criminals.  In fact, he has seen it first hand for months now.  However, he still doesn’t know why.  Batman, as Matches, has infiltrated Penguin’s mob because he suspects Penguin has been helping other villains evade capture by the Squad.  Sure enough, Two-Face, Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, and Hugo Strange (jesus, did everyone escape from Arkham?) all show up looking for help.  Just then, the Suicide Squad barges in and apprehends them all except Scarecrow, who gets away.  The Squad also arrests Penguin, but just for show, since it was Penguin who actually sold out the villains to the Squad.  Then, Bane sneaks up and knocks out Matches. (Batman will later claim that he “let” Bane capture him, which may be a lie).  Concurrently, a gang war has erupted all over Gotham (again) to fill the top mob spot which has been long vacated by the deceased Black Mask and ineffective Great White Shark.  Tobias Whale, leader of the criminal organization known as The 100, then makes his Gotham debut by claiming leadership of all of the gangs.  In Blackgate Penitentiary, Batman (as Matches) is held prisoner, and attacked by Mr. Zsasz in his cell.  Meanwhile, Bane studies Matches from afar and quickly ascertains that he’s really Batman!  Matches discovers Great White Shark in the infirmary, having been transferred to Blackgate from Arkham after having been nearly beaten to death by Bane.  White tells Batman that the Suicide Squad is sending super-villains to another planet.  Batman is shocked but finally knows the truth!  Back at Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge, Dick Grayson becomes Penguin’s new number one henchman using the disguise of mobster “Freddie Dinardo.”  When Ventriloquist and Scarface learn of Penguin’s deal with the Suicide Squad, they assemble a unit consisting of Lock-Up, Killer Moth, Firefly, and Scarecrow.  These villains attack the Iceberg Lounge but are easily driven-off by Penguin’s hired guns known as The New Rogues (Dick is “Heatwave” in the New Rogues).  The New Rogues are just a small part of Penguin’s new army.  Penguin has recently been supplied with the costumes, paraphernalia, and weapons of all the super-villains that have been sent to the prison planet, courtesy of the US Government, who would rather see Penguin in charge of Gotham crime rather than anyone more carnal.  Using these supplies, he now controls an army of replacement super-villains.  Penguin also has a mystery person don a Spoiler costume to attack Oracle and Robin, a warning for them to stay out of the deadly gang war that is to come.  (SPOILER: This is actually a returning Stephanie Brown (!), but Oracle and Robin assume it is an impostor).  Across town, Intergang member Johnny Stitches arrives to contest Whale and Penguin for top mob status in Gotham.  A huge three-way gang war breaks out between the replacement super-villains, the 100, and Intergang.  At the outset of the war, the new Vigilante (Dorian Chase, brother of the original Vigilante) shoots Dick (disguised as Freddie/replacement Heatwave) in the stomach.  As Riddler saves Dick’s life, Robin, Wildcat, Batgirl, and Huntress interject themselves into the middle of the battlefield.  Vigilante kills a ton of replacement super-villains until Batman, who has been broken out of jail by Alfred, shows up to kick his murderin’ ass.  When the dust settles, Whale sells-out and takes a high-ranking position working for Intergang in Metropolis and the replacement super-villains are defeated.  Intergang is victorious.  Johnny Stitches becomes the new crime lord in Gotham.  Penguin will still run the club, but he works for Johnny now.

–Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 2 #1-3
Countdown 19.  Batman learns that Thunder (Anissa Pierce) and Grace Choi are romantically involved.  Batman also sends his Outsiders (including Catwoman!) into a heavily defended science compound in Central City run by the evil Mr. Jardine, where the team discovers an OMAC.  The Outsiders defeat the OMAC and bring the deactivated machine back to Batman in Gotham.  After this first mission Batman fires Thunder again and J’onn quits because he finds Bruce’s leadership methods questionable.  Batman then delivers the OMAC to Dr. Francine Langstrom for analysis.  Francine tells the Caped Crusader that she is worried because Kirk has gone missing.  (He’s been abducted by the Suicide Squad and taken to the prison planet).  Black Lightning, Hawkgirl, and Geo-Force show up to chastise Batman and the Outsiders for tampering with a potentially dangerous OMAC.  As the argument heats up, the OMAC comes alive and attacks!  However, the combined force of the heroes easily takes down the android.  Afterward, Geo-Force quits the JLA and re-joins the Outsiders.  Batman then tells Geo-Force that he had already decided to demote him to the Outsiders beforehand anyway.  Batman also has contacted Cassie Cain and invited her to join-up.  Batgirl is now on the Outsiders!  Also, Bruce and Francine alter the OMAC’s programming and turn it into a brand new superhero and newest member of the Outsiders, called ReMAC.  (ReMAC doesn’t have a mind of its own and must be controlled by remote).

–REFERENCE: Batman appoints Batgirl as his second-in-command of the Outsiders (as referenced in Batman and the Outsiders Vol. 2 #10). Batman also tells Batgirl (in secret) that if he should die or go missing, she must become the leader of the team.

–REFERENCE: Despite having just quit the Ousiders, J’onn agrees to go undercover disguised as the supposedly returning Blockbuster.  In accordance with Batman’s plan, J’onn allows himself to be abducted by the Suicide Squad in an attempt to figure out where the prison planet is located and what is going on there.  When J’onn eventually will arrive at the prison planet, he will be unable to contact Batman due to the distance (as referenced in Salvation Run and Justice League of America Vol. 2 #19).

–NOTE:  Countdown 19.  Catwoman is abducted by the Suicide Squad (as seen in Catwoman Vol. 3 #74).

–NOTE:  Countdown 20 (yes, this goes out-of-order and follows the previous Countdown 19).  An insubordinate Bane is kicked out of the Suicide Squad and sent to the prison planet!  Lex Luthor is then also sent to the hellish prison planet along with Catwoman, who falls into the Suicide Squad’s “once a super-villain, always a super-villain” category.  Likewise, J’onn (in disguise as Blockbuster) is sent to the prison planet as well.  (Catwoman, Luthor, and J’onn are the final three super-villains sent to the prison planet, as seen in Salvation Run #2).  Under pressure, especially now that Batman (and the rest of the heroes) know about the existence of the prison planet, Amanda Waller issues a public statement admitting that the prison planet is indeed real.  However, Waller refuses to go into any details whatsoever regarding the program (as referenced in Justice League of America Vol. 2 #17-18).  The US Government-backed process of sending of super-villains across the universe will go on hiatus, but the Suicide Squad’s orders will remain the same: Apprehend as many super-villains as possible.

–52 Aftermath: The Four Horsemen #1-6
Countdown 35 to 16 (again, a very wide numeral range, but this story fits here very well).  Bruce and Clark tour the refugee camps of Bialya, which is still in ruins following WWIII.  Azruez, Yuurd, Rogga, and Zorrm (Death, Famine, War, and Pestilence of the Four Horsemen) return in the form of a swarm of re-animated corpses.  And there are a whole lot of corpses in Bialya.  As the zombie swarm gets bigger and bigger, the manifested Four Horsemen use their thousands of new hands to begin rebuilding their gigantic techno-organic warrior bodies.  As Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Checkmate Agent Snapper Carr (!) formulate a plan of action, Mr. Terrific visits Oolong Island to dig up info on the monsters.  Eventually, Superman decides to throw a glacier into the monsters, which is a really dumb idea, because the ice actually causes a chain reaction that activates the Horsemen’s gigantic warrior bodies.  Batman, Superman, and Snapper deal with two Horsemen in Bialya while Wonder Woman and the Doom Patrol deal with the other two on Oolong Island.  Eventually, all four Horsemen are defeated and their “souls” are entrapped within the body of Dr. Veronica Cale (the evil President of Oolong Island).  Dr. Cale derogatorily refers to Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman as “The Trinity,” thus officially coining the term in DCU canon!  Afterward, Bruce, Clark, and Diana have dinner at Wayne Manor and discuss their roles as heroes.  They decide collectively that they like being the Trinity of the DCU.

–Justice Society of America Vol. 3 #10-11 (“THY KINGDOM COME”)
When Starman Thom Kallor brings Superman of Earth-22 (!)—i.e. the Superman from Kingdom Come—to Earth-0, the Earth’s heroes, including the JSA and Batman, don’t quite know how to react. Batman, for example, preps his Kryptonite ring in the Batcave. However, when everyone realizes that Earth-22 Superman is here to be heroic, they calm down, although Batman and company still discuss the need to send him back to his own reality. However, Earth-22 Superman decides to stay on Earth-0 since he mistakenly believes his own Earth to be dead. (He will eventually return to Earth-22, but not before joining and adventuring with the JSA for some time).

THE RESURRECTION OF RA’S AL GHUL
——————–Batman #670
——————–Robin Vol. 2 #168
——————–Nightwing #138
——————–Detective Comics #838
——————–Batman #671
——————–Robin Vol. 2 #169
——————–Nightwing #139
——————–Detective Comics #839
Countdown 26 to 19 (a wide range, but this tale takes place here and now). Late December. Batman saves I-Ching (one of Wonder Woman’s original trainers during her rookie superhero years) from League of Assassins ninjas (one of which is being spiritually possessed by the Sensei) after the ninjas question I-Ching about the mystical Tibetan city of Nanda Parbat (where a magical fountain of youth exists).  Meanwhile, Talia sends Silken Spider, Tiger Moth, and Dragon Fly—(we haven’t seen Silken Spider and Dragon Fly since Bat Year Two and Tiger Moth only once briefly since then!)—to cause chaos in Gotham.  As Batman easily busts the ladies, they deliver a message: Ra’s Al Ghul is back from the dead!  And Ra’s Al Ghul is back, albeit in the decaying radiation-poisoned body of one of his former henchmen, Sam Tang.  (The Sensei wishes to challenge Ra’s for leadership of the League of Assassins and had poisoned Tang’s body so that it would be an unsuitable host vessel).  Talia introduces Damian to his grandfather, but Ra’s isn’t a very sentimental guy.  The mad villain tells Damian that he needs his young body as a host, to which Talia instructs Damian to run away.  The little hellion severs bloody ninja limbs left and right as he fights his way through the League of Assassins, who are now loyal to their returning master instead of Talia.  Escaping to Wayne Manor, Damian begs Alfred and Tim to protect him.  Alfred acquiesces to Damian right away, but Tim starts fighting him until about a hundred ninjas show up at Wayne Manor.  Meanwhile, Batman rescues Talia from ninjas in Asia and learns that Ra’s is heading toward Tibet and that Damian is in trouble in Gotham.  Bruce calls Nightwing and tells him to help Damian while he and Talia chase down Ra’s Al Ghul.  Nightwing kicks some major ninja ass, but fails in his task.  Both Damian and Tim are abducted and shipped halfway across the globe to Ra’s Al Ghul’s Himalayan stronghold.  Now also in the Himalayas, Talia gives Batman the “Suit of Sorrows,” a magickal 12th century armored suit.  I-Ching then shows up and helps the Dark Knight and Talia kick more ninja ass.  Meanwhile, Alfred and Nightwing fly into Tibet and also kick more ninja ass too.  Batman, Talia, and I-Ching then confront Ra’s who gives Bruce a “Sophie’s Choice“: He must choose who will be his next vessel, Damian or Tim.  But Bruce chooses neither and instead tells Ra’s about the fountain of youth at Nanda Parbat (which Bruce learned about during his Thogal ritual during 52).  The Caped Crusader leads Ra’s to Nanda Parbat, but when they arrive, the Sensei has already taken control of the city, having anticipated Ra’s Al Ghul’s arrival.  Upon entering the city, Batman is shocked to learn that the Sensei is Ra’s Al Ghul’s biological father!  Batman easily defeats the Sensei’s assassins (unknowingly aided by the magickal powers of the “Suit of Sorrows”), but the Dark Knight is thrashed by the the Sensei himself.  The Sensei then easily kills Ra’s Al Ghul, but when the former tries to bathe in the fountain of youth, he is burned to death.  (The fountain only works on the pure of heart).  Batman is badly injured, but rises out of the fountain of youth fully rejuvenated!  Concurrently, Ra’s Al Ghul’s spirit is able to use a random Tibetan monk’s body as a new temporary vessel for life.  Back at Ra’s Al Ghul’s stronghold, I-Ching and Talia kick more ninja ass, but Damian is captured and hauled off to Nanda Parbat.  Meanwhile, Robin runs into the returning White Ghost, who reveals a Lazarus Pit within the stronghold.  White Ghost offers Robin the chance to revive his dead parents if he baptizes himself in the Pit and joins the League of Assassins.  Tim is so overjoyed at the possibility of regaining his dead folks, he agrees!  Just then, Nightwing shows up and doesn’t like what he sees.  White Ghost runs off and Robin tries to take some samples from the Lazarus Pit.  Nightwing then tries to talk some sense into the Boy Wonder, but the two begin fighting!  Eventually, I-Ching drops some wisdom on the duo and Robin pours the samples back into the Pit and apologizes to Nightwing while crying in his arms.  Talia, Nightwing, and Robin (with Alfred) rush to Nanda Parbat only to find Ra’s Al Ghul back in his original body and ready to transfer his spirit into Damian’s body.  With a resounding “Let go of my son!” Batman beats the crap out of Ra’s and saves Damian.  Ra’s is forced to send his spirit into a permanent vessel.  Without any other choices, he picks his son, White Ghost.  At full power, Ra’s sword-battles Batman while the heroes fight ninja hordes and the League of Assassins super-team known as The Seven Men of Death.  The goddess Rama Kushna, angry at the destruction caused to her city, then rises up and expels everyone.  Talia (with an unconscious Damian), Ra’s (with his assassins), and Batman (with his Bat-Family) all escape in different directions.  On a plane home, Alfred, Dick, Tim, and Bruce ponder the wild events that have just occurred.  Alfred mentions that it is Christmas Day.

–NOTE:  Sasha Lo (who will later become the crime-fighter known as Peacock) pours a beaker of Lazarus Pit liquid into the mouth of the deceased Sensei.  The Sensei is immediately resurrected (as seen through flashback in Batman #705).  Sasha revives Sensei because she wants to be the one responsible for killing him as revenge for the latter’s slaughter of her family years ago.

–NOTE: Countdown 24 to 20 (of course, this is slightly out of order, but belongs here).  Black Canary, Green Arrow (Connor Hawke), and Speedy (Mia Dearden) rescue Ollie Queen from Themyscira.  As they leave the island, Connor is shot by a sniper.  Ollie, with help from Superman, rushes his dying son to the hospital where he is stabilized, but in critical condition (as seen in Green Arrow and Black Canary #3 and Green Arrow and Black Canary #4 , Part 1).  (We will find out the mystery of who shot Connor a bit later.)

–Nightwing #140
Countdown 17.  Dick has taken up a new hobby of sky-diving and does so, plummeting into Wayne Manor from 20,000 feet above.  Tim thinks it’s awesome, whereas Bruce is not so amused.  In the Batcave, the Bat-Family discusses the new threat that Ra’s Al Ghul poses against them.  In New York, Nightwing is unable to stop the corpse-theft of a 13th century knight from a museum tomb.  Superman then informs Nightwing that the body of Black Condor (who was killed along with his Freedom Fighters teammates back during Infinite Crisis) has been removed from Valhalla Cemetery.

–Supergirl Vol. 5 #25
Countdown 17. Supergirl has recently gotten all of her memories of her time on Krypton back. The Big Three worry how all of this emotional baggage will affect her. Batman, specifically, broods in the Batcave, unpleased with the thought. Meanwhile, a pensive Supergirl fights Reactron.

–Green Arrow and Black Canary #4, Part 2
Countdown 16.  Connor Hawke was shot two days ago and listed in stable condition. When his condition heads south, everyone in the JLA, including Batman, is present at the hospital while Connor Hawke undergoes emergency surgery.  After all is said and done, Connor is alive and breathing, but is brain dead.  Ollie mourns over his virtually lifeless son.

–Robin Vol. 2 #170
Countdown 15.  Late December. New teenage street-vigilante Violet takes down small-time thief Marcel Pincus and leaves him tied-up for the cops.  Batman and Robin stumble across her leftovers. The Dark Knight doesn’t seem to mind a newcomer as long as she isn’t using lethal force.  Robin then meets Violet and the two don’t get along very well.  Meanwhile, Pincus is released on bail and is accosted by Penguin, who hires him to kill Robin and Violet.

 


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  1. [1]MARVofSINCITY: One would naturally try to piece Countdown‘s events in chronological order based on the “countdown number” on the bar code of each issue. However, this number is completely misleading. Basically, it’s just a number to represent the week the issue was released, essentially in conjunction with the same week as that particular Countdown issue.
  2. [2]COLLIN COLSHER: Earth-Prime is an Earth in an alternate universe that closely resembles our Earth’s actual reality.  It is very much like the pre-original Crisis Earth-Prime that Superboy-Prime was from.  On Earth-Prime in the 21st century, both Marvel and DC are simply comic book companies and all of their respective characters are fictional.  HOWEVER, by the 31st century superheroes DO EXIST in the form of the Legion of Super-heroes.
  3. [3]COLLIN COLSHER: Damian is said to be 10-years-old in Batman & Robin #2, which occurs less than a year after “Batman and Son.” This means that Damian is definitively 10-years-old in “Batman and Son.” However, in “Batman and Son,” Bruce contradicts this fact when he says that he was “not much older than Damian when his parents died.” Since most sources, including the Real Batman Chronology Project, put Bruce at around 8-years-old at the time of his parents’ deaths, this seems to place Damian at 8-years-old (or younger). I’ve gone with the more concrete reference rather than the vaguer latter reference.
  4. [4]COLLIN COLSHER: I absolutely had to include this bit of Internet heckling that I received in response to my admiration for the works of one Grant Morrison.  Here was the comment I originally received on my blog in mid-2011 by “ANONYMOUS”: “You sure love lapping up whatever Grant Morrison cooks up, don’t you, no matter how terrible it is.”  I politely responded with, “Anonymous, I most certainly do enjoy Grant Morrison’s entire corpus, and can say without hesitation that I love his run on Batman. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and I’ve had great debates and discussions with several readers of this blog, some of which were really into Morrison’s work and others who really strongly disliked it. I can definitely understand the various arguments against his work (its inaccessibility, its reference heavy nature, its unique employment of narratalogy, its often non-normative narratives in general, and hell, maybe it’s just not your thing, etc, etc…), but I definitely do ‘lap it up’ as you say. That being said, there is more than a hint of negativity/anger in your comment that doesn’t contribute much into the realm of deeper conversation.  And that’s totally cool—I’m guilty of trashing things I don’t like and I’ve done it on this site more than a few times. However, I would warmly welcome a more constructive comment in regard to exactly why you find Morrison’s work so ‘terrible’ since I’m always trying to learn more about readership, comic book trends, what people like/dislike, and all things Batman in general. Anyway, thanks for reading and I do really appreciate your input!”

    Fellow contributor Sean Levin also responded to “ANONYMOUS” with a wonderful retort: “On the other hand, Morrison isn’t a cowardly troll who posts his vitriol anonymously in the mistaken belief that it offers him some form of protection from being called out for his bullshit.”

  5. [5]COLLIN COLSHER: For more information about this 666 future, please see the Welcome to the Future section of the Modern Age.
  6. [6]COLLIN COLSHER: Unfortunately, Batman #663, which was supposed to take place here (somewhere around Batman #662-669), is NON-CANON.  This is the infamous prose-issue written by Grant Morrison, in which Joker kills off all of his old henchmen by sending them deliveries of poisoned flowers.  Joker, in the tale, is still badly injured as a result of being shot by Josef Muller, but is making a speedy recovery through intensive surgery and therapy.  The story concludes with a crazed, costumed Harley Quinn shooting Joker in the shoulder, thus, permanently ending her relationship with the madman.  However, at this point, Harley would be living the straight-life in the pages of Countdown.  If we ignore Harley Quinn’s presence in the story and Joker’s horrible post-surgical facial scars and Harley’s shooting of Joker, then we can indeed include this tale in Batman’s canon right here and now.  However, the bulk of the narrative pertains to and revolves around Harley, so it’s probably best to just completely ignore this whole issue.  However, I encourage all faithful readers to do what they feel is best regarding this situation.

4 Responses to YEAR TWENTY-ONE (Pt. 3)

  1. tiptupjr94 says:

    Hey, Collin. In Batman and Son, where exactly is the prison planet mentioned? I have the deluxe hardcover, and this reference seems to have been removed.

    • Let me re-read the original issues and see… It’s possible that I made it all up in this crazy over-stuffed and over-stimulated brain of mine. Let me get back to you on that. Either way, it shouldn’t effect placement.

      • I only have scans to look at and curiously they don’t have anything about the prison planet. I’m sure this is something that probably isn’t in the original print issues either. Don’t know where it popped into my head. There is literally no way that Morrison would reference other DC stories anyway. I’ve gotten rid of the line on my site. Thanks, tip.

        • tiptupjr94 says:

          Ha, you’re welcome. I read Gotham Underground for the first time the other day and it’s got my head swimming with all the crazy continuity stuff of the Countdown era… sigh.

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