YEAR TWENTY-TWO (P. 2)

2010 (May to August)

 

FINAL CRISIS Continued…
——————–Final Crisis #2, Part 2
——————–Batman #702, Part 2
——————–Final Crisis #2, Part 3
John Stewart examines the Orion murder scene and discovers the Radion bullet that killed him. Oddly, the bullet is buried under concrete and is carbon-dated to be over 50-years-old. John immediately teleports the evidence back to Batman at the Hall of Justice, where the Dark Knight begins his own scientific analysis (as seen through flashback from Batman #863). Before John can leave the crime scene, he is attacked and critically injured by one of the Alpha Lanterns (who is possessed by an Apokoliptian New God).  Back at the Hall, Batman has discovered the secret of the bullet.  He meets with Wally West and gives him the details. The magick bullet, Batman explains, was fired backward through time (!) and traveled through a reverse slipstream until it appeared at the correct destination in space and time where it needed to be in order to strike the unsuspecting Orion.  The bullet then passed through Orion’s skull, killing him, and landed in the street beneath him.  The bullet stopped moving at this location, having hit its mark, but continued to travel backward in time for about 50 or so years, hence its older carbon-date.  Wally and Jay Garrick then investigate the crime scene of Martian Manhunter’s murder and are shocked when a time slipstream opens up revealing original Flash Barry Allen!  Barry screams for the Flashes to run as the backwards time-traveling Radion bullet and the New God of Death, Black Racer, follow behind him.  (Black Racer is not Death, but he does act as the psychopomp that takes the New Gods, or anyone else in close proximity, to their final resting place on behalf of Death of the Endless). The three Flashes run backward in time through the slipstream and witness the death of Orion as he is struck by the bullet and laid to rest by Black Racer. The Racer then turns his attention to the Flashes. Jay escapes back to the present, but Wally and Barry get chased by the Racer back into the slipstream.  Essentially, the Racer begins chasing Barry and Wally through the reverse slipstream (against the current) back to the future where it originated (as seen through flashback from Final Crisis #3). At the Hall of Justice, Batman takes the Radion bullet in order to further study it in the Batcave (as seen through flashback from Batman #683). But before he can even leave, a Granny Goodness-possessed Alpha Lantern Kraken assaults and captures Batman, delivering him to the “Evil Factory” in Blüdhaven.  At the factory, Darskeid is now inhabiting Dan Turpin’s body since his old Boss Dark Side body had begun to mummify.  There, Darkseid and Granny oversee a process that turns humans into slaves using the Anti-Life Equation.  The Apokoliptian New Gods Simyan and Mokkari perform brutal surgeries that inject the souls of their dead comrades into new host bodies. But their biggest project will begin a two days later: Mining the captured Batman’s brain in order to create the perfect army of cloned Batmen!  The Dark Knight screams out for someone, anyone, to warn the JLA, but it’s too late.  Batman is restrained and goes under. Batman will be secretly held captive in Blüdhaven for the next twenty-five days! Meanwhile, in Metropolis, Libra (with Clayface) detonates a bomb in the Daily Planet building, critically injuring Lois Lane.

–NOTE: In Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 3D #1-2, Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #1, Final Crisis #3, a flashback from Red Robin #3, Final Crisis #4-5, Final Crisis #6, Part 1, and Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #2-5. With Batman held captive by Mokkari and Simyan in Blüdhaven, he will miss the action of the next twenty-five days. A ton of stuff happens. Here’s the rundown. First of all, Superman saves the injured Lois’s life by traveling across the multiverse, through the Bleed, into Limbo, and into the Overvoid, before returning to Earth-0 (as seen in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 3D #1-2). Bear in mind that this adventure to save Lois takes up zero time on the clock since a Monitor freezes time.  Once time starts moving again and Lois is okay and recovering in the hospital, Superman is then summoned to the 31st century by the Legion of Three Worlds aka the combined force of the Legions of Earth-0, Earth-247, and Earth-Prime (as seen in Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #1). Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, the rest of the superhero community begins mobilizing against a still mostly unknown threat. Mokkari uploads the Anti-Life Equation onto the Internet, sending it through a mass worldwide E-mail, immediately infecting a billion people. Thus, via the Internet, Darkseid gains controls the Earth and makes mindless slaves of most of the populace (as seen in Final Crisis #3). Through the influence of soldiers known as Justifiers, several of Earth’s heroes submit to the evil power of Anti-Life, including Catwoman, Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Giganta (who are each possessed by the Female Furies), and Mary Marvel (who is possessed by Desaad). Dozens of other heroes are defeated by Justifiers, including Robin (as seen through flashback from Red Robin #3). An epic war to decide the fate of the entire multiverse erupts. Over the course of few weeks, Earth’s heroes lose more and more battles against Darkseid until all looks hopeless. In desperation, Checkmate initiates its “Black Gambit Omega Offensive,” seeking to open an escape route into a parallel universe.  Meanwhile, Luthor and Sivana, choosing to side with humanity, betray Libra and the SSoSV (as seen in Final Crisis #4-5 and Final Crisis #6, Part 1). Concurrently, the events of Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #2-5 happen as well. Superman and the Legion of Three Worlds begin battling Superboy-Prime and his older self, Time Trapper, in both the 31st century and at the End of Time. The Legion is able to resurrect Connor Kent (!) using the same Kryptonian regeneration machine that once brought Clark back from the dead. The Legion of Three Worlds also resurrects Bart Allen (!) from within the cosmic Lightning Rod, although he is once again a teenager. Superman, the Legion of Three Worlds, Connor, and Bart (going by Kid Flash again) are able to defeat Time Trapper and Superboy-Prime, sending the latter one-way to Earth-Prime (aka the Earth that closely resembles the non-fictional Earth that you and I live in). Connor and Bart return to the 21st century, but Superman stays behind to chat with Brainiac-5 about some sort of “Miracle Machine.”

FINAL CRISIS Continued…
——————–Batman #682-683 (“LAST RITES”)
Batman has been imprisoned for 25 days while the Final Crisis war has gone on without him. Simyan and Mokkari continue their rape of Bruce’s mind in Darkseid’s factory as they attempt to build their Batmen Army. (Batman #702, Part 3 also shows parts of these scenes.) Bruce is hooked up, through a complex Apokoliptian machine, to The Lump, a telepathic, parasitic creature that is forced by Simyan and Mokkari to hide among Batman’s recollections in the form of Alfred, all the while triggering, sorting, filing, and converting Bruce’s memories and biological material into the Evil Factory’s database. Mokkari’s goal is to endow each one of his cloned soldiers with Batman’s unique “superior physical prowess, strategic acumen, and courage” and fuel his troops with the Dark Knight’s “intense emotions, pain, fury, and drive.”  After the surgical brain-drain, they plan to torture and kill the genuine article.  During the memory-mining process, Simyan begins implanting Bruce with false replacement memories in order to trick Bruce’s mind into submission while they steal his real ones.  But Bruce, even subconsciously (hell, UNconsciously, for that matter), is able to realize that something is not right.  When “Alfred” mentions his death and resurrection (during his time as the Outsider years ago), Bruce knows something is off because he never told the amnesiac Alfred about what had happened to him.  Bruce then begins to resist the process, to which the Lump responds by coming clean about who he is and what Simyan and Mokkari are doing to his mind.  The Lump then begins throwing (in rapid succession) Bruce’s hardest memories at him, including the death of Jason, the shooting of Barbara, Bane breaking his back, Jean-Paul Valley as Batman, No Man’s Land, the death of Jack Drake, the Thogal ritual, Damian’s debut, his time as the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, and more.  But whereas Bruce is strong enough to handle the highest degree of stress, Mokkari’s clones—which are all linked to Bruce—cannot handle it and begin dying painfully.  Batman has turned his own life’s memories into a weapon!  With the clone army mostly dead or dying, a panicked Mokkari has no choice but to blast the Lump with a gun. Mokkari thinks that Batman and the Lump are both dead, but the still unconscious Dark Knight (who is still mind-linked to the injured Lump) motivates the Lump to rise up (something it had previously been incapable of doing) and take heroic action. The Lump destroys the Evil Factory before succumbing to its injures. Meanwhile, Batman wakes up and he’s not happy.

–NOTE: In flashback from Batman and Robin #8. Mokkari delivers the news of both his failure to create a clone army and Batman’s escape to Darkseid. Darkseid instructs Mokkari to destroy all the clone corpses except for one. “A perfect copy of Batman dead,” says Darkseid. “I can use that.”  Hmmm… I wonder?

FINAL CRISIS Continued…
——————–Final Crisis #6, Part 2
——————–Batman #702, Part 4
——————–Final Crisis #7
——————–Batman #702, Part 5
Late May. Batman takes a gun from the Evil Factory and confronts Darkseid upon his throne.  The cocky despot scoffs at the Dark Knight, who produces the Radion bullet and loads it into the weapon.  Batman breaks his vow to never use guns and fires at Darkseid’s chest, wounding the evil New God. Simultaneously, Darkseid activates an Ancestor Box and strikes Batman with his Omega Sanction beams, seemingly killing the Caped Crusader! However, this is not the case. Batman is blasted into the distant past (to circa 38,000 BCE according to the Final Crisis Director’s Cut timeline). A flashback from Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #0 appears as a psychedelic single-panel that shows the Caped Crusader falling through a silvery tunnel—presumably representing his spiraling backward through time at this moment. But what did Batman witnesses Darkseid doing with the Ancestor Box? Its activation unleashes the primordial Hyperfauna creature known as the Hyper-Adapter. In layman’s terms, Darkseid set the “time-trap” in which Batman will be mired-in/attached-to but able to move forward through—the Dark Knight’s very actions causing a threat to modern existence, should he return. As Batman spirals backward through time, he then has a near death experience, which involves various What If? type sequences and a meeting with his mother, Martha Wayne. This near death experience can be seen in Neil Gaiman’s elegy in Batman #686 and Detective Comics #853. Back to Final Crisis, Superman returns from the 31st Century, where the Legion of Three Worlds has taught him how to build a “Miracle Machine.” The Earth is in ruins as Superman crashes into Darkseid’s Blüdhaven bunker to find the charred skeletal corpse of Batman! But wait, didn’t I just say Batman was sent back in time? Remember when Darkseid said he was going to use a perfect DNA copy of a dead Batman clone? The evil New God has just fooled Superman into thinking that this skeleton is the remains of the actual Batman (as referenced in Batman and Robin #8). An injured Darkseid professes victory and fires the Radion bullet (which will travel back in time to kill Orion at the beginning of Final Crisis). Darkseid pulls the trigger and the “backwards-time slipstream” through which the bullet will travel opens up and the bullet goes on its way.  However, did you forget that the Black Racer has been chasing Wally West and Barry Allen back through the reverse-slipstream against the current?  As soon as the slipstream opens, Wally and Barry exit and run past Darkseid.  Black Racer slams right into the evil New God, killing him instantly!  Darkseid is dead, but the war against Anti-Life rages on.  Meanwhile, Checkmate’s “Black Gambit Omega Offensive” fails when the Checkmate interdimensional portal collapses.  However, the Question (Renee Montoya) is able to escape into the multiverse and recruit dozens of Supermen from alternate Earths.  Hundreds of superheroes along with nearly sixty alternate Supermen battle against the rest of the Apokoliptian New Gods, “Justifiers,” and possessed Anti-Life humans.  The epic battle then causes reality to distort and crumble as spacetime folds down and shreds itself into ribbons.  Superman builds the Miracle Machine and then confronts Darkseid’s non-corporeal form (basically, his evil spirit, which undoubtedly is probably already trying to enter a new host).  Superman sings a song that destroys Darkseid’s spirit vibrations for good.  As the entire multiverse begins to eat itself, several heroes, fearing the end is near, fill a small rocket ship with memorabilia and historical items.  This space vessel is meant to be Earth’s final time-capsule.  The rocket is shot off into the disintegrating Bleed, with hopes that it will reach some distant unharmed reality or alternate universe, so that these precious memories will not be lost forever. (It actually winds up following Batman into the past.) Mandrakk (aka Dax Novu aka the Monitor from the original Crisis), who is very evil now, then shows up along with a vampirized Ultraman (!) to further ensure the permanent destruction of the cosmos.  Nix Uotan becomes a Monitor again and summons a host of warriors, including a battalion of angels, the Zoo Crew and Just’a lotta Animals (who are all turned from regular animals back into cartoon superheroes!), the Green Lantern Corps, and the sixty-plus alternate Supermen, to battle them.  The heroes kill Mandrakk and Ultraman.  Afterward, Superman uses the Miracle Machine, which grants wishes, to restore the entire multiverse to its correct order.  The multiverse is saved (!) and existence of the multiverse is now public knowledge.  The Monitors then exile themselves to the Overvoid while Nix Uotan becomes human once again.  And Batman is stuck thousands of years in the past. In a dimly lit cave, Batman cares for and is the lone witness to the death of an elderly Anthro, a half Cro-Magnon/half Neanderthal hero that was given the gift of fire from Metron at the dawn of the human race. After laying Anthro to rest, the combined effects of the Omega Sanction and Ancestor Box Hyper-Adapter begin to take their toll on Batman, whose memory begins to fade. In his final moments of clarity, Bruce audio records the final entry into the Black Casebook, detailing the events of Batman RIP, Final Crisis, and every other recent step leading up to now (as referenced in Batman #681). Bruce then paints a Batman symbol onto a cave wall. He also paints a Superman symbol and Wonder Woman symbol (as shown in Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1). In the present, everyone thinks Batman is dead thanks to the charred skeleton corpse (actually a clone) that Superman found.

THE RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE Part 1
——————–Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1
——————–Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2, Part 1
In the year 38,000 BCE Bruce has been living out of Anthro’s cave for an undetermined, but short, amount of time before finally exiting into the light of day.  His memory vanished, Bruce confusedly examines the rocketship time capsule, the contents of which have been mostly destroyed.  Bruce then immediately gets involved in a tribal war between the Deer People and Vandal Savage’s Blood Mob.  (Savage has presumably killed the Hyper-Adapter in giant Barbatos bat form, thus gaining immortality.  The corpse of the Hyper-Adapter in giant Barbatos bat form appears in 38,000 BCE having retreated backward through time from the year 2011, BUT we will get to THAT later)!  After being captured by the Blood Mob, Bruce is freed by one of his Deer People allies.  Bruce, referred to as “Man of Bats” by his companions, then dons the flesh of the giant bat god as a makeshift cape and cowl and defeats Savage in combat.  The Deer People change their tribal name to Miagani, meaning “Bat People,” and vow to protect the Gotham caves and their most treasured relic: The cape, cowl, and utility belt of Batman.  The Miagani will do so for thousands of years to come.  Rip Hunter, Superman, and others time-travel from several months into the future (when they will eventually learn that Bruce is still alive) to 38,000 BCE shortly after this in a failed attempt to locate Bruce, BUT we’ll get to that later too, when everyone finally realizes that Bruce ain’t really dead.  Meanwhile, a solar eclipse, in accordance with the rules of the Omega Effect, sends Bruce hurtling thousands of years into the future where he winds up in the Puritanical Gotham of 1640.  Naturally, the Hyper-Adapter has followed him (this is the Hyper-Adapter which Darkseid attached to Bruce via the Ancestor Box, the being which will conceivably destroy the universe if Bruce ever makes it back to his correct time AS OPPOSED TO the Hyper-Adapter that retreats backward through time in giant bat form after being defeated, BUT LIKE I SAID, we’ll get to that later).  The Hyper-Adapter traveling with Bruce in 1640 appears in its true form: A vile tentacled Lovecraftian monster.  Bruce, still amnesiac, temporarily defeats the monster with a sword, sending the creature to hide deep in the forest.  Bruce is then taken in by a witch named Annie, who becomes his lover.  Bruce will take the name Mordecai and quickly become a prominent member of the community.

–Superman/Batman #76, Part 1
Early June. Superman and Wonder Woman deliver the terrible news of Bruce’s death to Alfred, Tim, and Dick at the Batcave.  In this scene Superman holds Batman’s tattered cape and cowl, but he won’t actually hand them over to the Bat-Family until after the autopsy. NOTE: Alfred should be in an arm-sling since he was injured during Final Crisis.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman #687. Wonder Woman, Superman, Nightwing, and Robin return from Bruce’s autopsy, which has confirmed the identity of the body. Superman gives the remains of Batman’s costume to Alfred, Dick, and Tim. Very awesome emotional Judd Winick stuff here. Supes makes a strange comment about Batman’s cape and cowl getting lost temporarily, which is odd since he had it right before Bruce’s autopsy. The heroes decide to forgo a public memorial service. A small private funeral is held and “Bruce” is buried beside his parents in the family plot adjacent to Wayne Manor.  Afterward, Dick addresses Wonder Woman, Superman, Ollie Queen, Black Canary, and Tim, saying that he and Alfred have decided to keep Batman’s death a secret from the masses. Dick explains that Batman is too important and must never die. This funeral scene is also shown in Superman/Batman #76. NOTE: Alfred should be in an arm-sling since he was injured during Final Crisis.

–NOTE: In Detective Comics #850 Epilogue. Mid June. Selina gets her revenge against Hush by siphoning/embezzling all of the money out of his bank accounts.  Tommy Elliot is now flat broke and goes into hiding.

–NOTE: In Blackest Night #0, Part 1. Hal Jordan and Barry Allen pay their respects at Bruce’s unmarked grave in the Wayne Family plot.  Black Hand watches from the shadows in anticipation for Blackest Night. Black Hand has recently become the Avatar for the Black Lantern Power Battery, which is bad news for superheroes across the galaxy, but we’ll get to that when we do. This scene clearly takes place soon after Bruce is buried, but the actual events that begin Blackest Night won’t occur for another five months yet. Thus, the final page of this issue, where Black Hand clutches clone-Bruce’s skull, won’t actually take place until one day before Blackest Night #1.

–NOTE: In Robin Vol. 2 #177-182, Batman & The Outsiders Vol. 2 #13-14 , Nightwing Vol. 2 #151, Detective Comics #851, and Batman #684. While there is no Batman to speak of at the moment, a lot goes down in the continued aftermath of his supposed death. Here it all is in a chronological nutshell. Robin Vol. 2 #177-182 takes place first and overlaps with all the other stories listed, including Batman & The Outsiders Vol. 2 #13-14, which is followed by Nightwing Vol. 2 #151 and then ‘tec #851 and then Batman #684. And now, synopses. The gang war that began before Final Crisis continues, now fueled even more with Batman’s legitimate absence. Robin, Spoiler, Ragman, and Jason Todd have to deal with it. These Robin issues also show the return of Lonnie Machin (the former Anarky), who is shot and paralyzed by the also-returning Ulysses Armstrong (who dons a “Red Robin” costume before becoming the new Anarky). Robin and Spoiler get in a huge argument, alienating the two from each other. Officer Jamie Harper is promoted to detective. We also see Alfred in an arm-sling (due to injuries suffered off-panel during Final Crisis) and he cleans-up the wrecked Batcave. As the gang war rages across Gotham uncontrollably, Batgirl and Nightwing assemble the Network of Superheroes, designed to fill the void left with the death of Batman (as seen in Batman & The Outsiders Vol. 2 #13-14). Issue #13 is incorrectly labeled as a “Batman RIP” crossover. Later, as detailed in Nightwing Vol. 2 #151, all the metahuman bodies from Valhalla Cemetery are moved to a secure location beneath the Hall of Justice since evil resurrections are all the rage lately. Dick chats with Two-Face at Arkham, continues his skydiving hobby, and then watches a movie with Alfred and Tim. Bruce’s movie chair is empty and this emotional scene brings a tear to my eye. Moving on, Detective Comics #851 and Batman #684 (#684 is out of order because it is the follow-up to ‘tec #851) take place next. Nightwing meets Millicent Mayne and deals with both Two-Face impersonator Gracchus and the real escaped Two-Face.  Gotham’s gang war is still raging (as it has been in the background, highlighted in the pages of Robin Vol. 2). Robin—with help from Jason Todd—eventually ends the gang war (as seen in Robin Vol. 2 #182).

LAST RITES/FACES OF EVIL
——————–Detective Comics #852
——————–Batman #685
Obviously Bruce isn’t in these issues since he’s “dead” (trapped in time), but everyone’s favorite surgically-altered Bruce Wayne impersonator, Tommy Elliot, is present.  Tommy has lost all his money thanks to Selina Kyle and he is bummed out.  So bummed, in fact, that he tries to commit suicide by jumping off the Gotham Bridge.  Luckily for Tommy, he is saved by some stevedores and takes this new lease on life to delve into his “Bruce Wayne” persona tenfold.  Posing as Bruce, Tommy begins a three day affair with fifty-year-old socialite Connie Winters.  “Bruce” seduces her, sleeps with her, kills her, steals her yacht, and then sails to Jamaica where he purchases forged IDs and passports for himself.  “Bruce” then travels to a Wayne-owned telecommunications company in Australia and writes himself a check for $2 million.  In Vietnam, “Bruce” attempts to steal more cash from Wayne Enterprises using the same scam, but this time it doesn’t work thanks to Catwoman, who tricks some poachers into apprehending the Bruce doppelganger.  Catwoman then busts the poachers and delivers Tommy to Nightwing and Robin.  They then incarcerate Tommy in a special holding cell in the penthouse atop Wayne Tower!

–Batman & The Outsiders Special
A grieving Alfred mourns the loss of his only son.  But even in “death,” Bruce has some tricks up his sleeve.  A secret room opens up inside the Batcave, triggered in the event that Bruce doesn’t enter in a computer code for a certain length of time (basically, in the event of his death).  In a pre-recorded message, Bruce welcomes Alfred and tells him that he has a special assignment for him.  Before continuing, Bruce tells Alfred that he was always appreciative of everything he’s ever done, saying, “You’re not like a father, you are my father. Goodbye, dad.”  Makes me cry every time.  Well done, Peter Tomasi.  Alfred’s special mission: To re-assemble a new Outsiders!  Alfred immediately departs and travels across the globe.  He will eventually recruit all the new members of the team, which will include Geo-Force, Owlman (Roy Raymond, Jr. wearing a costume specially designed by Bruce based on the Antimatter Owlman’s suit), the Creeper, Katana, Metamorpho, Black Lightning, and Halo.

–Robin Vol. 2 #183
Alfred is still off recruiting the new Outsiders.  Bruce has posthumous pre-recorded messages not only for all members of the Bat-Family, but for Jason Todd as well.  After Tim views his own message, he invites Jason (who has recently helped end Gotham’s gang war) into the Batcave! After viewing his message, Jason looks solemnly at his old tattered Robin costume on display, and then leaves with a “guess I’ll see you when I see you.”  (We’ll find out what Bruce had to say to Jason later.) Robin then faces off against Lady Shiva in an open challenge and easily defeats her in combat. Nightwing shows up and tells Robin that, even with Bruce gone, they will be okay.

–Nightwing Vol. 2 #152
Alfred is in Japan recruiting Katana into the new Outsiders.  Nightwing visits the still wrecked Batcave[1] and mourns the loss of his father figure when dozens of ninjas attack him.  Nightwing then pays Ra’s al Ghul a visit at a used-up Lazarus Pit location in the Pakistani desert.  Nightwing confirms Bruce’s “death” to Ra’s al Ghul and they sword fight.  Nightwing defeats Ra’s al Ghul and returns to the States.

–NOTE: In a reference in Batman: Battle for the Cowl – Arkham Asylum #1. Joker poisons the air in Arkham Asylum with a deadly neurotoxin. All the inmates are moved to Blackgate.

–NOTE: In Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight #1, Part 1. The Order of Purity has finished training the new Azrael, Abraham Arlington. Unfortunately, the new Azrael wears the Suit of Sorrows and can’t hack it—the magickal armor makes him insane and he decapitates an undercover cop.  Panicked, the Order of Purity begins searching for an immediate replacement and decides that Michael Lane (!) is the perfect candidate. Lane has already trained for years (in Simon Hurt’s substitute Batman program) and wants to atone for his involvement with the Black Glove. Meanwhile, Talia al Ghul sends her top assassins to Gotham to retrieve the Suit of Sorrows, which she wants back.

BATTLE FOR THE COWL
——————–Battle for the Cowl – Gotham Gazette: Batman Dead?
——————–Nightwing Vol. 2 #153
——————–Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1, Part 1
——————–Batman: Battle for the Cowl – Arkham Asylum #1
——————–Batman: Battle for the Cowl – Man-Bat #1
——————–Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight #1, Part 2
——————–Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight #2-3
——————–Batman: Battle for the Cowl – Commissioner Gordon
——————–Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1, Part 2
——————–Batman: Battle for the Cowl #2
——————–Batman: Battle for the Cowl – The Underground #1
——————–Batman: Battle for the Cowl – The Network #1
——————–Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3
July. Vicki Vale breaks the news story that Batman may in fact be dead, especially since no one has seen the Dark Knight in almost four months. (Ignore the date on the newspaper article. It should be July.) No one seems to be concerned with the fact that Bruce Wayne is missing since his Tommy Elliot lookalike has been spotted globe-trotting recently. (And before that, Tim and Alfred had said that Bruce was traveling abroad while playing videos of a digitized fake Bruce to keep the media/paparazzi satisfied—as revealed in Robin Vol. 2 #182.) Leslie Thompkins finally moves back to Gotham. And Detective Jaime Harper is made Bullock’s new partner. Harper’s dialogue implies that it’s been three weeks since her promotion. However, it’s been maybe a week-and-a-half tops.  Dick then moves back into Wayne Manor and has a melancholy chat with Alfred and Tim about the good ol’ days.  Tim, as a coping mechanism of denial, refuses to accept Bruce’s “death.”  Dick, Tim, and Alfred then finish cleaning up the Batcave, which has been a bit messy due to the insanity of the past several months.  In Batman’s absence, yet another gang war has erupted in Gotham and adjoining multiple riots have caused over a thousand casualties already as Penguin and Two-Face are now battling to claim the title of Gotham’s top crime-lord (which is currently held by Johnny Stitches).  Nightwing calls in Batgirl’s Network of Superheroes, which includes Oracle, Knight, Squire, Black Canary, Wildcat, Man-Bat, the new Lynx, Batwoman, Huntress, Catwoman, Lady Blackhawk, Ragman, Manhunter, Misfit, all of the Outsiders, and Damian Wayne (who has recently moved into Wayne Manor and is living with Alfred).  A mysterious new Black Mask then blows up Arkham and frees all the inmates from a Blackgate prison transfer bus.  Using radio-activated chemical implants, Black Mask controls all of Arkham’s crazies with the threat of instant death at the mere flip of a switch.  Eager to fill the Batman void, Tim dons the old yellow-oval costume and takes to the streets!  Even more eager is Jason Todd, who wears his own unique Batman costume and deals out his own brand of homicidal justice.  Meanwhile, Michael Lane becomes the new Azrael, fighting both Nightwing and Talia al Ghul before making truces with both and gaining Dick’s blessing to keep the Suit of Sorrows to fight crime.  Nightwing and Damian then confront Batman-Jason, who shoots Damian in the chest (just a fleshwound) before escaping to his own makeshift Batcave.  Catwoman and Batman-Tim locate Jason’s cave, but Jason ambushes them and winds up stabbing Tim in the chest.  As the gang war escalates, both the Network and the GCPD deal with numerous threats including Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Dr. Phosphorus, Penguin, Two-Face, Zsasz, Firefly, Jane Doe, Catman, and Hugo Strange.  Eventually martial law is declared when Black Mask begins detonating bombs all over the city.  Nightwing goes after the critically injured Tim, who is held captive by Jason.  As Nightwing fights Jason, the latter declares that he is the new permanent Batman.  We now learn what Bruce told Jason in his posthumous Batcave recording, which is the reason why Jason is acting so insane again.  Everyone in the Bat-Family received a message of love, but Jason received a message of tough love.  Bruce called Jason his “biggest failure and offered the advice that he should seek therapy.”  Nice message, Bruce.  And just when Jason was starting to play hero again.  Back to our narrative: While Damian and Squire rescue the bloody and beaten Tim, Nightwing defeats Jason and claims sole ownership rights to the mantle of the Bat.  Dick, however, is very hesitant to assume the role of Batman, and doesn’t step into Bruce’s old shoes just yet.

–NOTE: In a flashback from the second feature to Batman: Streets of Gotham #1. Kate Spencer (Manhunter) becomes Gotham’s new District Attorney. The previous DA was assassinated by Jane Doe during Battle for the Cowl.

–Batman #687, Part 1
Mid July. We are told it’s been a month since Bruce’s funeral. (This is some serious editorial compression, but oh well.) Nightwing stops a robbery while driving the Batmobile, but doesn’t actually get out of the car to do so. Meanwhile, Damian skips out on an Alfred tutoring session and tries to apprehend Dr. Phosphorus.  Nightwing gives Damian an assist and returns the boy back home.  Dick, with Alfred’s nudging, realizes it’s time to stop fighting crime from the shadows.  Dick tells Alfred that he will indeed become Batman, but they must move their base of operations from the Batcave to the bunker beneath Wayne Tower.  The planning begins.

–NOTE: In Superman #685. A global law is declared banning all Kryptonians from Earth. All the Kryptonians (who aren’t already there) decide to move to New Krypton.  Superman, Power Girl, and Supergirl are among those that decide to leave. Superman chooses Mon-El, John Henry Irons, and Guardian to serve as his replacements. Mon-El joins the newly formed Science Police and uses the secret identity of Clark’s cousin, “Jonathan Kent.” Mon-El also begins dating Detective Jamie Harper, who has just transferred to the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit. Superman, Superboy, and Mon-El are the only Kryptonians that have a pass to travel freely between Earth and New Krypton. Supergirl will illegally return to Earth shortly after moving and go by the secret identity of “Linda Lang.”

–NOTE: In Justice League of America Vol. 2 #31 and Justice League: Cry for Justice #1. Superman, Wonder Woman, Red Arrow, Red Tornado, and Black Lightning all quit the JLA. Superman has moved to New Krypton. Wonder Woman has decided to live with her mom on Themyscira. Without the “big three” on the roster, Red, Red, and Black don’t want to be a part of the team. Feeling defeated by the wave of resignation, Black Canary leaves as well (as seen in Justice League of America Vol. 2 #31). Hal Jordan and Ollie Queen then form a more violent, revenge-themed splinter Justice League (as seen in Justice League: Cry for Justice #1) with Starman (Mikaal Tomas), Congorilla, Shazam (actually a scheming Prometheus in disguise), Batwoman, the Atom (Ray Palmer), and Supergirl.  This team’s primary concern is avenging the deaths of J’onn and Bruce.  On the other side of the spectrum, John Stewart, eager to keep the old team going strong, leads the main JLA, which consists of only four other members: Zatanna, Vixen, Firestorm, and Dr. Light.

–NOTE: In a flashback from Batgirl Vol. 3 #1—and also referenced in Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Batgirl #1. While fighting gangsters, Batgirl and Spoiler talk about the death of Batman. Batgirl says that without Bruce Wayne as the Dark Knight, her mission is meaningless. Cassie Cain disrobes and gives her costume to Stephanie (as seen through flashback from Batgirl Vol. 3 #1). Cassie is actually following specific orders from Bruce. In the event of his death she is to hand the mantle of Batgirl to Steph and return to Asia, staying in secret contact with Tim. (This revelation about Cassie’s orders is from Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Batgirl #1.)

Nightwing Vol. 2 #153, Part 2
Dick and Barbara celebrate the latter’s birthday by having a romantic get-together and then skydiving together.

–Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3, Epilogue
Dick didn’t want the mantle of the Bat, but he’s got it and he’ll wear it with pride and honor.  Dick suits up in the gray and black colors of the Dark Knight.[2] We have a brand new Dynamic Duo!  Damian Wayne is the newest and 5th Robin!  And Dick Grayson is the new Batman!

–FLASHBACK: From Red Robin #1. Tim, still recovering from being stabbed by Jason Todd, angrily storms out of the Batcave after getting in a confrontation with Dick and Damian upon learning that the latter has replaced him as the new Robin. After breaking down and crying in his Wayne Manor bedroom, Tim declares that he doesn’t believe Bruce could have possibly died.

–Batman: Battle for the Cowl – Gotham Gazette: Batman Alive?
Dick and a battle-scarred Tim meet up with Leslie Thompkins (whose new bodyguard is Mortimer Drake aka the Cavalier) to attend a charity event.  Tim tells Spoiler that he’s planning on leaving Gotham.  Vicki Vale also attends the event and finally realizes something she should have a decade ago: The secret identities of everyone in the Bat-Family!  She’s not 100% sure, though, and starts a fact-finding mission that will become her obsessive quest for the truth over the course of the next several months.

–FLASHBACK: From Red Robin #2, Red Robin #3, DCU Halloween Special ’09 #1, and Red Robin #4. After coming back home from the charity event, Tim packs up his things and says goodbye to Stephanie Brown (as seen through flashback from Red Robin #2). Tim then chats with Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandsmark) and tells her that he thinks Bruce is still alive out there somewhere. Cassie calls Dick in tears and tells him that Tim “needs help” (as seen through flashback from Red Robin #3). No longer Robin, a grown-up Tim becomes the new superhero Red Robin. Batman confronts Red Robin and tells him that he has to accept the truth that Bruce is actually dead and even suggests that he seek therapy. Tim fights Dick (!) to a draw and takes off. Before departing, Tim makes one last stop, visiting his parents’ graves (as seen through flashback from DCU Halloween Special ’09 #1). Tim then leaves Gotham to begin a globetrotting quest to find proof that Bruce is alive (as seen through flashback from Red Robin #4).

–NOTE: In Booster Gold Vol. 2 #21-24. Booster Gold (with Skeets) breaks into the Batcave to steal back the Polaroid photos of his attempts to save Barbara Gordon from Joker (during The Killing Joke).  Batman catches him red-handed and Booster immediately realizes that Dick Grayson is the new Caped Crusader. Booster explains how he tried to save Babs and shows Dick the pictures. All of a sudden, the time-traveling super-villain Black Beetle appears and attacks the heroes. In an instant, Batman vanishes along with the villain. Skeets informs Booster that Black Beetle has traveled back in time (to Bat Year 9) and killed the Teen Titans, including Dick, thus altering the timeline so that things are very very bad. Cue the music! Rip orders Booster to fix this mess. Booster travels back in time and prevents Black Beetle from killing the Teen Titans and it only takes him two tries to get it right. (See Bat Year 9 for details.) Having fixed the timestream, Booster returns to the present. His previous entry into the Batcave and meeting with Dick have now been erased from the timestream.

–Booster Gold Vol. 2 #25 
Booster tries to pilfer his Killing Joke photos from the Batcave again (Booster’s previous attempt having been erased due to Black Beetle’s attack and Booster’s timeline fix).  And just like before, Booster is caught red-handed, this time by Dick and Damian.  Booster re-explains for the first time how he tried to save Babs and shows Dick the pictures.  Dick is surprised that Booster knows his secret identity, but is very interested to learn about Booster’s job as protector of the timestream.  Dick is still unsure if he should trust Booster until Booster reminds him of what “Deathstroke” said to him about Damian thirteen years ago, before Damian was even born.  Dick is flabbergasted to learn that Booster had played the role of Deathstroke in the Teen Titan battle against Ravager all those years ago.  Before Booster departs, Dick asks him for one favor.  They go on a time-traveling jaunt to the past (17 years ago, NOT 15) where Dick is able to secretly watch the final Christmas he was able to spend with his parents before their untimely deaths.

–Batman & Robin #1-3 (“BATMAN REBORN”)
The new Dynamic Duo takes the new flying Batmobile out into action against newcomer Mr. Toad and some Russian drug-dealers.  They easily apprehend Toad, but the Russians get away with the drugs and attempt to skip town.  However, the drugs belong to the very insane Professor Pyg, who kills the Russians, takes his goods back, and adheres one of his horrific “Dollotron” masks on Sasha, the poor daughter of one of the Russians. The Dollotron masks turn innocent women into Pyg’s crazed, obedient followers known as Dollotrons. Dick and Alfred close-up both Wayne Manor and the Batcave and make the permanent move to Wayne Tower.  Batman and Robin then have a meeting with Commissioner Gordon at GCPD HQ when Toad’s contemporaries, the Circus of the Strange (Big Top, Siam AKA Kushti, and Phosphorus Rex), show up to try to break him out of jail.  The new Dynamic Duo battles the Circus, but have very little chemistry, and the end-result is a disaster.  Several cops are injured and, in the chaos, Toad is mysteriously killed and left with a domino in his hand.  After their debacle at police HQ, an upset Damian takes off after Pyg (leader of the Circus) by himself.  Pyg’s Dollotron henchwomen kidnap Robin right away.  Back at the Bat Bunker beneath Wayne Tower, Dick sulks and complains to Alfred,  “It’s not even Damian.  It’s Gordon… Those cops…  Nobody believes I’m Batman!  I spent years building up respect as Nightwing and now they’re looking at me like I’m one more psycho Batman impersonator!”  After a quick Alfred pep-talk, Dick mans up, saves Damian, stops the Dollotrons from releasing a narcotic flu virus across the city, and apprehends Pyg.  At the crime scene, Dick finds a domino.  Someone is sending an ominous message with the dominoes.  Meanwhile, Sasha, now with a grotesque mask permanently attached to her face, stumbles away, distraught over the fact that Batman and Robin failed to help her.  Later, Batman and Robin go after Le Bossu, which leads us directly to our very next note.

–FLASH-FORWARD: From the “Batman RIP” framing scenes (Batman #676 and Batman #681)—and also referenced in Batman and Robin #10. Batman and Robin capture Le Bossu. These framing scenes also highlight the fact that Cardinal Maggi, one of the “Fingers” of the Black Glove organization, has been murdered. Over the course of the next six months, three other “Fingers” will be assassinated: Al-Khidr, Sir Anthony, and General Malenkov (as referenced in Batman and Robin #10). The murders will be brutal in nature, but all contain the theme of the domino.  SPOILER: The “Domino Killer” is the Joker. As promised, he is offing the “Fingers.”

–Batman #687, Part 2
August.  Scarecrow has taken control of the Gotham Bay Bridge and holds hundreds of citizens hostage as Commissioner Gordon and the GCPD look on helplessly.  Dick lets the public know that the Dark Knight is back, triumphantly nabbing Scarecrow and saving everyone on live TV.

–Superman/Batman #76, Part 2
Superman hears about the Batman/Scarecrow battle on the news and angrily confronts Dick, nearly physically forcing him to remove the costume, claiming that Dick as Batman is “grotesque.”  Supes zooms off to consult with Wonder Woman, who is able to calm him down.

–Batman #688
Dick makes two more televised smiling Batman appearances before returning home to complain about how annoying the Batman-costume’s cape is.  Dick has a completely different fighting style than Bruce did.  Alfred laughs out loud at the idea of a “neurotic Batman.”  Dick then trains Damian in hand-to-hand combat.  Across town, Two-Face watches the news on TiVo over and over again and realizes that there’s a new man wearing the cape and cowl.

–Batgirl Vol. 3 #1
Dick and Damian watch Batgirl in action and realize that there is new person under the mask, someone “not as good” as the old Batgirl.  It’s new Batgirl, Stephanie Brown!  Oracle also finds out that Steph is the new Batgirl and isn’t happy about it, but decides to mentor her anyway.  Oracle will monitor and dispatch Batgirl from inside the Batcave, making the closed-down cave underneath Wayne Manor her new headquarters.

–Batman: Streets of Gotham #1-2 (“BATMAN: REBORN”)
Batman and Robin remind Harley Quinn that the Dynamic Duo is back in town and she should stay straight if she wants to remain in their good graces.  The new Dynamic Duo also meets the new Gotham superhero Abuse, who claims to be someone from Batman’s (Bruce’s) past.  (SPOILER:  Abuse is ten-year-old Colin Wilkes, who Bruce saved from Scarecrow last year.  Colin now has the ability to “hulk up” into a Venom-pumped monster-man at will.)  When Firefly breaks away from Black Mask’s group to burn down half of Gotham, a pissed off Black Mask tries to bring him down, nearly getting killed in the process.  Batman and Robin show up to apprehend Firefly, but Black Mask is rescued by his new number one man, Victor Zsasz.  At Wayne Tower, Tommy Elliot escapes from his cell and immediately calls a televised press conference (still posing as Bruce), declaring that Wayne Enterprises will donate $1 billion to the city every month.  At the Hall of Justice, the current 5-person incarnation of the JLA watches on TV and knows immediately that “Bruce” is an impostor.

–Batman #689-691 (“LONG SHADOWS”)
This story concludes three weeks after Batman #687.  The gang war between Two-Face and Penguin rages on and Black Mask offers the services of some Arkham escapees to the latter.  Batman defeats Clayface and the debuting Lyle Blanco.  Black Mask then detonates several firebombs across the city that are meant to look like insurance fraud explosions linked to no beneficiary.  This ruse is supposed to send Batman on a wild goose chase, thus keeping him off Penguin’s back for weeks to come.  Penguin thanks Black Mask for the assistance, but learns that the price is much more costly then he had expected.  Black Mask’s Arkham goons kill Penguin’s men and Black Mask tells Penguin he now has a new boss.  Meanwhile, Two-Face hires a random metahuman teleporter named Nola to help him infiltrate the Bat-Family HQ.  Nola, using a Batarang as a mental-link, is able to teleport Two-Face to its place of origin: The Batcave!  Upon appearing inside the cave, the alarms go off and Dick immediately rushes there only to be ambushed and drugged by Two-Face.  Dick hallucinates that Harvey Dent is wearing a bizarre Two-Face Bat-costume as the latter proceeds to beat the shit out of him.  Alfred shows up wearing a Bat-costume and, hidden in the shadows, he is enough to confuse Two-Face for an instant, allowing Dick to take advantage and KO the villain.  On his way to Blackgate, Two-Face is freed from his prison van by Black Mask’s goon squad.  Black Mask then offers Two-Face an ultimatum: Work for him or leave town.  Two-Face gets the hell outta dodge. A day later Dick and Alfred clean everything out of the Batcave. Dick finds a secret case file regarding the death of his parents. That case was solved ages ago, wasn’t it?  Curious. NOTES: Oracle will continue using the Batcave. The cave will be completely empty except for the larger trophies (playing card, penny, T-rex, etc…) and Babs’ own massive personal computer system. Also, Judd Winick never follows up on this mysterious Flying Graysons casefile. Like, never ever. Neither does anybody else. Oops. We must assume that Dick questions Alfred about it and that Alfred gives him a reasonable and satisfying answer, like “Bruce was being thorough and reopened the case, but found nothing new, so he re-closed it.” As to why he hid the datafile the way he did, I don’t know if there is a good answer for that.

–Superman/Batman #76, Part 3
Superman visits the Bat Bunker for the first time and apologizes to Dick about their ugly encounter when the Man of Steel first learned that he was the new Batman. The two shake hands as Superman gives his full support and acceptance to Dick.

–FLASHBACK: From Gotham City Sirens #26. Mid August. Poison Ivy, for the past several weeks, has held a catatonic Riddler captive and drugged in his own apartment, in which she has been living rent-free (as seen in Gotham City Sirens #1-2). Catwoman speaks with Ivy and Harley Quinn at the apartment when newbie loser Boneblaster tries to make a name for himself by attacking the ladies. Riddler wakes up, and the four easily take down Boneblaster. Batman is present for this encounter and watches from the shadows. Dick has struck up a deal with Selina where she will form a union with Ivy and Harley in order to keep the ladies in line. In return, Batman will watch over them. Catwoman, Ivy, and Harley all move into an abandoned animal shelter courtesy of The Broker (Sherman Fine). For years, the Broker has specialized in leasing or selling “eclectic living spaces for eccentric clients” i.e. sales of hideouts to super-villains!  Great concept; very cool. We also learn that Talia met with Catwoman three years ago and taught her a hypnosis technique that acts as a wall preventing her from ever revealing information about Batman’s secrets, even when drugged, tortured, or telepathically probed.

–Gotham City Sirens #3
“Bruce Wayne” (Tommy Elliot) begins dating Harley Quinn in an attempt to get closer to Catwoman so that he can get his revenge against her for stealing all of his money.  Meanwhile, Riddler meets and teams-up with the new Batman to stop the serial-killing Conundrum, a femme-fatale who is eager to fill the riddle-themed criminal void now that Eddie Nigma has cleaned up his act.  Batman and Riddler apprehend Conundrum with ease.  Dick shows Riddler a lot of respect, which is something Bruce never ever did.

–NOTE: In Gotham City Sirens #4-6. Catwoman and Poison Ivy are worried about Harley, who doesn’t realize she’s dating Tommy Elliot and not Bruce Wayne. They go after her, but a jealous Joker is also going after her! After escaping from Joker’s thugs, Selina explains the complicated mess involving Tommy Elliot playing the role of a fake Bruce Wayne. Joker then tries to blow up the gals’ house using old zany gags that he hasn’t used since the early days. When the girls finally track down Joker, they realize it’s not actually Joker, it’s Gaggy in disguise! We haven’t even seen or heard from Gaggy in thirteen years! Gaggy, Joker’s original midget sidekick, has been jealous of Harley ever since her debut and has come back to kill her. The sirens defeat Gaggy, who vows he’ll be back for revenge again someday.

THE 8th DEADLY SIN
——————–Batman Annual #27
——————–Detective Comics Annual #11
Harvey Bullock and his new partner Josie MacDonald (his prior partner, Detective Harper, moved to Metropolis) investigate the murder of a priest and a related grave robbery.  Batman and Robin investigate the same crime and after questioning the Order of Purity, they realize the culprit is a metahuman known as Amon, who is a member of a cult known as La Saligia.  La Saligia wishes to perform a ritual sacrifice on eight children, so a wig-wearing Damian goes undercover as the blonde eight-year-old target.  However, the trap is a failure when Damian actually gets kidnapped.  Batman visits Azrael (Michael Lane) and later meets up with the Question (Renee Montoya), who immediately knows that Batman is the former Nightwing.  Likewise, Bullock meets the Question for the first time but instantly spots that it’s his old partner Renee underneath the faceless mask.  While Batman and the Question deal with various Seven-Deadly-Sins-themed metahuman cultists, Azrael and Robin save the kids.  Eventually, all four heroes take down Amon and La Saligia for good.

 


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  1. [1]COLLIN COLSHER: The Batcave T rex was damaged by Hush months ago in the “Heart of Hush” arc only to be repaired shortly thereafter. However, when Simon Hurt’s goons took over the Batcave during “Batman R.I.P.” (or possibly during Final Crisis) the T rex was damaged yet again. Hence, its damaged appearance in Nightwing Vol. 2 #152. In the upcoming Battle for the Cowl series, the T rex will be fixed again.
  2. [2]ERIC AGNER: Dick’s Batman costume is quite similar to Bruce’s, both having a gray tone for the suit material and a blueish-black tone for the cape and cowl. Depending on the colorist (and lighting of the scene) the cape and cowl may be depicted as more blue than black, like in Batman Incorporated, for instance. (More on the Batman Incorporated color-take below.) The same coloration effect—where the cape and cowl look more blue than black—has occurred several times before as well, notably in “Batman and Son.” Note, however, that when Bruce returns from his “death” he will adopt a Batsuit with a distinctively jet black cape and cowl (no blue tones at all). Curiously, Batman Incorporated will show a coloration difference between Bruce’s and Dick’s Batsuits despite the fact that they should bear the same color scheme. This will be done likely just for differentiation purposes.

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