Post “Year One Era” (11-15)

INTRO TO THE POST “YEAR ONE ERA” MODERN AGE

 

If you didn’t read the end note for the Bat Year Ten section of the website then here it is again in all its glory. The Modern Age is officially upon us! (Technically, we’ve been in the Modern Age this whole time, but now that the Crisis is over in narrative terms, we are officially Modernized story-wise as well.) And the new era begins (specifically for Batman) with Batman #401 by Barbara Randall/Trevor Von Eeden. (It would/should have started with Batman #392, which was the first Batman issue to be released after the original Crisis. However, the storyline that takes place from Batman #392 through Batman #399 was written before the original Crisis had concluded, so it didn’t reflect any of the changes that had occurred. Also, Batman #400 is an out-of-continuity anniversary special, so obviously that doesn’t count either). We’ll pick up with Batman #401 (following both the funeral of Barry Allen and the Modern Age JLA story that precede the issue) a bit later, but first there are some nerdy things you should know…

Let’s talk about time for a moment. Time itself functions differently in the fictional DC Universe than it does in real life. We’ve already established that Batman’s “Year One Era” is actually about ten years long–the first couple solo years then the couple years with Dick at his side, or the “Modern Silver Age” and “Modern Bronze Age” combined.  In Miller’s Year One, Batman is 26.  The next chapter of the Modern Age picked up right after the “Year One Era” ended in publishing year 1986 with Bruce 36 years-old.  As the mid-Nineties approached, DC editors realized that Batman was already in his early 40s. Fearful of a future where all the other heroes were getting too old, and because there was money to be made and tons of great (and bad) tales yet to be told, DC Editors felt they needed to make Batman and company more contemporary, and they did so in 1994 with Zero Hour: Crisis in Time. Since not everyone can write a badass geriatric superhero the way Frank Miller can, DC wanted to make sure that they dealt with the issue of superheroes getting too old too fast as soon as possible.

In the Zero Hour storyline, Green Lantern Hal Jordan goes insane and becomes the cosmically-powered being known as Parallax. Wielding immense power and a equal amount of rage to match, he alters time, eventually compacting the entire 18 year DC Universe timeline (10 years of “Year One Era” plus 8 years of post-original Crisis stuff) into fewer in-story years.  DC’s next move was to make those first years lead up to the current year which, at the time, was 1994.  The timeline then later further slid and led up to 1998, then 2000, then 2002.  How?  Why?  DC editors (through the character of Parallax) had invented a sliding timeline which used Zero Hour as a place-marker. To keep stories contemporary, DC editors kept sliding the entire DC history forward for several years, continuously bringing the debuts of the major heroes to a more current date. Technically, the year 2000 was the last time they officially slid the timeline (in Guide to the DC Universe 2000 Secret Files), but it is pretty apparent that the Zero Hour place-marker was shifted once more to 2002 based upon character ages and current story-arcs as of 2011.  One can even argue that DC slid the start of its post “Year One Era” timeline beyond 2002, but that is debatable, and for the purposes of this blog, we’ll ignore that argument, especially since the company-wide Flashpoint reboot would occur in 2011 anyway.  To reiterate, one of the end results of this massive time upheaval is that Bruce becomes Batman in 1988 (instead of in 1976).  See, it’s more contemporary!  Not only is it more contemporary, in fact all of the time-sliding and time-shifting combined with the incredibly vast multitude of stories that were produced, at one point, actually moved DC’s universal clock ahead of our “real-time” calendar in order to compensate.  More than contemporary, these stories were set in the future, albeit the very near future.  I always hoped that DC editors would have eventually shifted to “real-time” storytelling, but they never did and they probably never will.

After all is said and done with sliding timelines, the “Year One Era” ends in 1999 and Bruce is age 36.  The 8 actual years’ worth of stories that take place between the end of the “Year One Era” and Zero Hour have been compacted into 4 in-story years, which changes the in-story date of Zero Hour to 2002.  The 15 actual years worth of storytelling that make-up the rest of the Modern Age from that point until today have been compacted into 7 in-story years. Still following me? If we do the new math correctly, 36 (Bruce’s age at the end of the Year One Era) + 4 (the years leading up to Zero Hour) + 8 (the rest of the Modern Age so far) = 48.  So, Bruce is 48 years old in 2011 when the Modern Age ends.  Grant Morrison drove me into a frenzy when he had Jezebel Jet say that Bruce was merely in his thirties in the 2009 “Batman RIP” story-arc.  However, this dialogue was delivered from a character that might not have known his true age, especially since at this point Bruce would have been resurrected by a Lazarus Pit, mystically healed, bathed in a “fountain of life,” and returned from the dead among many other things.  Basically, Bruce, even in his late 40s, would appear to be much younger.

There is one huge problem created by the use of a sliding-timeline that absolutely must be discussed before we continue.  Even when the sliding-timeline does manage to solve both time and age discrepancies, it totally shits on any stories which use cultural or topical references, such as the large bunch of late 80s Cold War/Reagan Era stories that are definitively canon (“Ten Nights of the Beast” and every single issue of JLI stand out in my mind).  Is it possible that in the DC Universe, Soviet Communism didn’t fall until the late 90s instead of late 80s?  Most scholars will say that while the stories canonically should remain intact and be read in-full, any anachronistic references to the USSR, the Ayatollah, Reagan, or phrases like “It IS the Eighties!” (as Jason Todd literally proclaimed on occasion) are simply topical and therefore apocryphal, meaning they should be retconned-out in your mind i.e. just plain ignored.  Essentially, the stories should read as follows; instead of Reagan insert generic US President, instead of USSR insert Russia (and treat the country as a viable post-Cold War super power), instead of Gorbachev insert generic Russian President, instead of “It IS the Eighties” insert your favorite “Holy Batman!” catchphrase, etc…  I think I might like the idea that the Cold War lasted until 1999 in the DC Universe better now that I think of it.  Sigh.[1]

If anyone out there can answer these questions or give any more insight that would be great.  Before I go on, I just wanted to say that a lot of the information I’ve written about here was directly influenced by the unbelievably amazing Unauthorized Chronology of the DC Universe by Chris J. Miller. If you haven’t seen this site, then you aren’t a true continuity buff or worthy or the title comic book nerd.  This herculean effort is truly inspirational and I encourage everyone to check it out!

One final note. I will attempt to keep the same year-by-year format for the upcoming post “Year One Era” Modern Age timeline.  This will prove to be a bit more difficult, but anytime I can definitively extract specific amounts of time from the information given in the stories, you can be rest-assured that I will categorize them into yearly groups accordingly.  I won’t number everything like before as there are literally tens of thousands of issues in the continued Modern Age and there’s no way I can list them all numerically. However, I will list as many storylines and arcs (no matter how big or small) as possible in chronological order.  My ultimate goal is to include every single canonical issue that exists.  Like I always say, this project is meant to be comprehensive and I mean it.

-Collin Colsher

 


<<< PREVIOUS: YEAR TEN <<<
| >> NEXT: YEAR ELEVEN >>>

  1. [1]DRAKUL: Another perspective (in regard to topical references screwing up continuity) is that comic book characters are timeless and live through various eras and make cultural references as such.  Topical references can simply be viewed as quick fun nods/winks that are not a part of the continuity of the characters per say.

4 Responses to Post “Year One Era” (11-15)

  1. The Question # 26 features the Riddler and Commisoner Gordon. This also features the first time I’ve ever read about the Riddler having an original last name of Nashton before changing it to Nigma. No Batman appearance per se, but a unique Batman related issue. Would there be a place for this somewhere?

  2. Drakul says:

    I choose to not really ask myself these questions and as these characters are timeless I expect them to live through various eras ans make cultural references as such. I just look at it as a fun quick/wink not as part of the continuity of the characters per say.

  3. cirsova says:

    How did Crisis affect the Batman and the Outsiders continuity and where does that fit into the canon? For the most part, it jibes with the post-crisis Year One continuity, with a few oddball exceptions, such as Robin noting that he’s been Robin for 11 years (he’s 19, leader of the New Teen Titans and not yet Nightwing; a young Jason Todd pops up but is not yet Robin) and a reference to Superman’s strength coming from Earth’s comparatively lower gravity during a fight with Geo-Force. The original run, though, ends around the time Crisis happens; did B&tO get wiped out by Crisis or did it get grandfathered in? Some of the year 10 stuff you mentioned indicated that events such as Batman’s leaving the Justice League and forming the Outsiders is still canon… so I guess my questions are what made it and what got nuked?

    Thanks!

    • Hi. This is from a footnote on the site, but it gives your answer pretty well, I think. In a nutshell, the first 31 issues of the Batman & The Outsiders series take place BEFORE Crisis on Infinite Earths. Therefore, most of these first 31 issues are simply pre-Crisis reference materials (which get added in as skeletal notated versions based upon dialogue references in later definitively post-Crisis Outsiders issues. According to my research, only the issues I’ve listed in Year Ten (as REFERENCE NOTES) are the stories that have been canonically referenced in the Modern Age. This actually makes sense because everything’s been mega-compressed in Year Ten, meaning the Outsiders don’t debut until late November, meaning further that their abridged Modern adventures leading up to the Crisis all happen in quick succession (in the span of a little more than a month).

      Batman and the Outsiders Annual #2 and Batman and the Outsiders #28-32 were all written around the time of the original Crisis, making things confusing as to their placement. However, since we know for a fact that Looker doesn’t join the Outsiders until after Batman leaves the team in the Modern Age, logic dictates that anything prior to Batman and the Outsiders #32 (where Batman quits) has to be pre-Crisis. Some sources list Batman and the Outsiders Annual #2 and Batman and the Outsiders #28 (both published in December 1985) as the first post-Crisis Outsiders stories, but this cannot be true.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *