2001 (January to June)
–REFERENCE: In Manhunter #17. A new Sportsmaster debuts by robbing and trashing a club belonging to the NFL’s Gotham Wildcats owner Tom Melcher. Batman examines the crime scene and chats with Commissioner Gordon.
–Detective Comics #604-607 (“THE MUD PACK”)
The original Clayface (Basil Karlo) is released from prison and together with Lady Clay (Clayface IV), they are able to free Preston Payne (Clayface III) from Arkham. Karlo also steals the earthly remains of Matt Hagen (Clayface II) in a failed attempt to revive him. After capturing Batman, the foursome (including Hagen’s muddy corpse) are in mid-celebration, when Karlo turns on his teammates, knocking them out and injecting himself with samples of their blood to become the strongest “Ultimate Clayface.” Batman’s ex-Outsiders teammate, Looker, comes to his aid and saves him. Karlo is defeated. On another positive note, Clayface III and Clayface IV fall in love and fly off into the sunset! (Hint: Clay Baby coming soon.)
–Captain Atom #33
Captain Atom’s powers have disappeared (temporarily) and he is in panic mode, unsure if he can hack it as a super-hero without quantum abilities. Fearing that he will lose his position with the JLE, Captain Atom visits Batman in Gotham and begs him to call Max Lord and tell him he’s still good to go. Batman agrees, but not before he verifies firsthand whether or not a powerless Captain Atom is worth a damn. Batman and Captain Atom go on patrol, meeting with Commissioner Gordon, who shows them a grisly murder scene. Scarecrow henchman Stan Trowell and his entire family have killed themselves while under the influence of a new strain of Fear Gas that Scarecrow had been testing. Batman and Captain Atom then take to the streets, bust a few crook heads, and then confront Scarecrow, who doses Captain Atom with the new fumes. Captain Atom freaks out and has a nightmare where a crazed General Wade Eiling nukes the entire city, killing everyone. This is an amazing bit of foreshadowing here since Eiling will later become an insane super-villain. The heroes shake off the effects of the drug and bring a subdued and depressed Scarecrow back to Arkham. Batman says he will make the call to Lord—it’s a moot call anyway since Captain Atom will soon regain his quantum powers.
–Detective Comics Annual #2
When a cold case involving former members of the KKK seemingly warms up, Bruce takes a trip down memory lane, reminiscing about his training years with Chu Chin Li, specifically when the master sent him (under the pseudonym “Frank Dixon”) to racially-torn Birmingham, Alabama to study under detective extraordinaire Harvey Harris. While Bruce studied under Harris, the latter was murdered by the KKK. Now, all these years later, Bruce is finally able to solve the mystery behind his mentor’s death.
–Justice League Europe #9-10
The adventures of the JLE continue on in France and Batman is present to oversee everything.
–NOTE: In flashbacks from The Batman Chronicles #5, Part 1. With her Richard Dragon training having ended three weeks ago, Babs uses the codename Oracle (!) to help her dad crack the computer fraud case against Ashley Mavis Powell. Babs quickly realizes that she can still be a part of the superhero game, even without the use of her legs. (The Batman Chronicles #5, Part 1 features Babs narrating the story of how she became Oracle, which is shown through a series of flashbacks. I’ve placed The Batman Chronicles #5, Part 1 here because at the end of her story, Oracle states that it has been about a year since she “died and was reborn.” I take that as meaning a year since her shooting, which would place it right about here on our timeline.)
–NOTE: In Suicide Squad #23. Empowered by her recent training with Richard Dragon and her defeat of cyber-criminal Ashley Mavis Powell, Babs, as Oracle, begins sending information to Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad. Oracle will continue to remotely inform the Suicide Squad (and its network of ex-members) for the next few weeks until she eventually officially joins the Squad as their computer expert under the pseudonym Amy Beddoes.
Former attorney, anti-hero, ex-con, and ex-Suicide Squad member Mark Shaw (now calling himself Manhunter) acts as a bounty hunter, rolling into Gotham to collect on the new Sportsmaster, whose ID is still unknown. At a Wayne Foundation hotel gala, Shaw introduces himself to Bruce and they chat. Bruce doesn’t trust Shaw, quite aware of his criminal history since Batman has tangled with him before. During the gala, Victor Grover, a pro football player recently fired for taking steroids, angrily accosts the owner of his former team before being shooed-off by Shaw. Later, after a consultation with Oracle (!), Shaw learns that Grover is the new Sportsmaster. Across town, Bruce deduces the same. Both Manhunter and Batman go after Sportsmaster but wind up fighting each other, giving the villain the upper hand. Eventually, Batman takes-down Sportsmaster and leaves him for Manhunter, stating gruffly, “I don’t do it for the money.” Manhunter vows never to return to Gotham again.
–FLASHBACK: From the second feature to Detective Comics #789. Batman puts the super-villain team known as Mayhem behind bars. Only The Tailor escapes unscathed. The Tailor quickly becomes one of Batman’s secret allies, designing new high-tech costumes for the the Dark Knight. The Tailor will continue to do so for years to come.
–REFERENCE: In Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #3. Bruce goes undercover as Matches Malone and affiliates Malone’s name with the Whiskey Road Gang and the miniscule but devilish mobster known as Small Fry. The Whiskey Road Gang is a reference to an old Chuck Dixon story (if I’m not mistaken), but for the life of me I cannot recall which one.
–REFERENCE: In Batman and Superman: World’s Finest #8. Late March. Since Batman and Superman: World’s Finest #8 is linked to Armageddon 2001, it has to take place a little later. However, the annual meeting between Batman and Superman to commemorate Harrison Grey’s death (which is mentioned in Batman and Superman: World’s Finest #8) must still occur here and now.
–Swamp Thing Vol. 2 Annual #4
Early April. This Annual takes place roughly two years after Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #55. Batman and the GCPD examine a corpse that has been infected with a strange white fibrous spore. Batman checks up on Floronic Man and Poison Ivy in Arkham just to make sure they aren’t responsible. Batman then discusses the possibility of Swamp Thing’s involvement with Commissioner Gordon and Detective Bullock before heading to Chinatown to prevent a suicide attempt. The troubled victim, however, happens to be infected by the spore, which subsequently infects Batman. As the virus-spore takes over Batman’s mind and body, he remains hidden in the Batcave for nearly two weeks—this two weeks probably has to be retconned down to a few days to fit correctly—before traveling to Louisiana to find Swamp Thing. Swamp Thing is able to save Batman’s life and hold the spore at bay. He reveals that the spore preys upon the healthiest creatures on Earth, hence its ability to easily infect Batman.
DARK KNIGHT OVER METROPOLIS
———————–Superman Vol. 2 #44
———————–Adventures of Superman #467
———————–Action Comics #654
Batman comes into possession of Lex Luthor’s Kryptonite ring! Batman stumbles upon a shiny green ring during a random mugging-bust and his investigation into the odd piece of radioactive jewelry takes him to Metropolis where he teams-up with Superman against Dr. Moon and the criminal organization known as Intergang. The mystery of the ring is revealed Maltese Falcon-style through a long Batman monologue at the end of Action #654. Basically, Luthor had recently hired an expert to determine the secret identity of Superman. Following a few months of investigation, Amanda McCoy reported her findings to Luthor: “Superman is Clark Kent!” However, Luthor refused to believe a bumbler like Kent could ever possibly be the Man of Steel and promptly fired her! McCoy became obsessed with proving her findings to be true, stole Luthor’s Kryptonite, stalked Kent, and nearly killed him with the ring. Randomly, McCoy was then killed by the aforementioned thieves, the ring found its way to Gotham, and our story begins. Following the case wrap-up, the Man of Steel entrusts the Kryptonite ring to Batman. Should Superman’s enemies ever gain control over him, Batman will have the fail-safe needed to defeat him.
–Batman Annual #13, Part 2
An innocent man is about to be executed on death-row and the real guilty party, and old associate of Two-Face, is roaming free on the Caribbean island of Santa Prisca. Batman has 72 hours to apprehend him, but he needs Two-Face’s assistance to do it. Batman breaks Two-Face out of Arkham, drags him to Santa Prisca, and captures the criminal, but not before Two-Face escapes clean. Back in Gotham, Gordon chastises Batman, saying that the loss of Two-Face far outweighs one saved life.
–FLASHBACK: From Batman #669. Billionaire John Mayhew attempts to assemble the international “Club of Heroes” for the second time. Once again, the venture is a complete failure and Batman doesn’t even show up. It is important to note that Mayhew now discovers that his wife, Marsha Lamarr, is cheating on him with actor Mangrove Pierce. Mayhew murders his wife and frames Pierce for the crime.
–The Question Annual #2
After a long night’s patrol, Batman comes home to a report from Alfred regarding the Question, who has been inquiring about how to gain entry to Santa Prisca on various computer message boards. Batman sets up passage to the war-torn isle for the Question aboard a Wayne Enterprises food and medical supply drop plane. The next day, the Question and Green Arrow parachute into Santa Prisca to confront the vile Dr. Arby Twain.
A LONELY PLACE OF DYING
———————–The New Titans #60
———————–The New Titans #61
The origin of Tim Drake aka the third Robin! I’ve always found this Marv Wolfman story to be pretty silly, but here’s what goes down. Nightwing has just quit the Titans and returns to live a quiet life at the circus. Meanwhile, Batman, increasingly haunted by Jason’s death, has become reckless to the point of sloppy. Enter the autodidactic Tim Drake, a boy-genius that has followed his favorite hero’s career for his entire life. IMPORTANT RETCON NOTE: In order for the first few years of Tim’s career as Robin to make sense, we must assume Tim is 10-years-old (and soon to be 11-years-old in July), not 13-years-old as “A Lonely Place of Dying” tells us. So, the 10-year-going-on-11-year-old kid has been able to deduce the secret identities of both Batman and Nightwing, and even knows that Jason was Robin! Fearing the end of Batman’s career, Tim contacts Dick. Impressing Dick with his knowledge earns Tim a trip to the Batcave where the latter begs the former to become Robin again in order to save Bruce. Dick refuses and heads downtown to aid Batman against Two-Face (who is still loose after the events of Batman Annual #13). Alfred, on the other hand, sides with young Timothy, gives him the original Robin costume, and drives him to the crime-scene! Tim, who has trained since he was six-years-old, is able to help the original Dynamic Duo capture Two-Face. Afterward, Bruce is skeptical, but allows Tim to begin out-of-costume training to become the new Robin. It is also revealed (to the reader) that the Joker, still injured from the events of “A Death in the Family,” had been manipulating Two-Face the whole time. “A Lonely Place of Dying” is also highlighted through flashback from Secret Origins 80-Page Giant #1.
–FLASHBACK: From Secret Origins 80-Page Giant #1. Tim Drake immediately begins training to become Robin. First lesson: fingerprinting.
–Swamp Thing Vol. 2 Annual #5
Government agent Sgt. Steel phones Batman and asks him for advice on how to handle a current crisis. A NASA satellite has just crashed into downtown Tampa and released a rampaging reanimated hippie dummy/Trash Elemental from the 1960s known as Brother Power the Geek! Batman points Steel in the direction of Abby Cable (Swamp Thing’s wife), who sends Chester Williams, self-proclaimed “last of the true hippies,” to talk Brother Power down.
–FLASHBACK: From The Batman Chronicles #7, Part 3. Batman teams-up with Green Arrow to solve the Andrea Lockhart kidnapping case.
–Detective Comics Annual #3
Batman travels to Japan to take on the Yakuza and runs into his former mentor Tsunetomo. After losing a sword-fight, Tsunetomo reveals that he is dying of cancer and impales himself on Batman’s blade, claiming his final wish was to die with honor by the hand of his best student. Batman wears his all-white Batsuit during this trip to snowy Japan.
–FLASHBACK: From Secret Origins 80-Page Giant #1. Tim continues his training. This lesson involves several rounds of actual hand-to-hand combat.
–Detective Comics #608-609 (“ANARKY IN GOTHAM CITY”)
Enter Lonnie Machin aka Anarky, a brand new murderous vigilante. When Batman finally meets the new villain face-to-face, Batman punches Anarky in the gut, and it nearly kills him. Why? Because Anarky is only twelve-years-old! This little bastard will escape juvie to give Batman countless headaches many times in the future.
–NOTE: In Flash Special #1. In the 27th century, the US National Academy of Science sends scientist John Fox back in time to recruit the Flashes of 1996 (should actually read 2001) to help out with a super-villain situation in the future. Fox’s mission is a failure, but the time-traveling process endows him with super speed. Fox returns to the 27th century and defeats the evil threat. Eventually, Flash (Wally West) travels to the 27th Century and meets Fox, but gets temporarily stuck there. Fox then travels back to 2001. While Wally is away, Fox becomes his temporary replacement as Flash.
Wayne Enterprises has been struggling ever since Bruce’s arrest for treason last year (way back in ‘tec #598). Desperate to turn the company around, Bruce encourages Lucius Fox to hire PR man Jeffrey Fraser, but really only because he secretly suspects him of being the Dr. Mabuse-esque mastermind known as The Crimesmith. Batman spends a great deal of time training Tim in these two issues, but says he’s not even close to being ready to wear the Robin costume again. In the end, Batman infiltrates the Crimesmith’s deadly fortress, Fraser dies, and Batman closes the case. Unbeknown to Batman, the real brain behind the Crimesmith operation was Fraser’s lovely assistant Maya, who gets away scott-free. In issue #444 we meet GCPD Detective Dana Hanrahan as well.
–FLASHBACK: From Secret Origins 80-Page Giant #1. Batman lets Tim watch and hear him via hidden camera and microphone while on late-night patrol in order to teach his protege lessons on crime-fighting.
–Detective Comics #610-611 (“SNOW AND ICE”)
The Penguin fakes his own death and a flamboyant, ridiculous, and televised celebrity funeral is held in accordance with his will. The priest even gives a “loud, bird-like squawk to end the ceremony” much to the eye-rolls of the crowd. Cobblepot is able to fake his own death by slipping into a death-like trance which is induced hypnotically by Mortimer Kadaver. After being revived, Penguin unwillingly teams-up with Kadaver, who has the ability to send him in and out of a comatose state. Batman eventually realizes Penguin is still alive and brings him back into custody, but not before Penguin shoots Kadaver point-blank in the chest. Kadaver survives, but we won’t see him for a long time.
–Justice League America #34
Justice League comedy reprieve! Booster and Beetle (and Green Lantern Kilowog) are up to their old tricks again as they embezzle all of the League funds and put the money into a gigantic superhero-themed island resort & casino in the middle of the Pacific. Max Lord completely freaks when he finds out about “Club Justice League,” but Batman actually seems slightly amused, maybe due to the fact that League business is beginning to matter less and less to him these days. The extravagant(ly tacky) club immediately goes bankrupt when villains Major Disaster and Big Sir win big at blackjack. But before Booster and Beetle can even begin to panic, the entire resort crumbles in an earthquake. Aquaman shows up and reveals angrily that the duo has built their enterprise on the living island of Kooey Kooey Kooey, and the sentient colossus isn’t too happy about it.
–Batman #445-447 (“WHEN THE EARTH DIES!”)
Late spring. I’ve come to notice that Marv Wolfman begins all of his issues with the Caped Crusader taking down some random one-shot villain with a generic name like “Slasher” or “Ravager” that we never hear from again. Anyway, remember the KGBeast? Well, like any psychopathic super-villain worth a damn, he has a protege that strives to out-do him; Gregor Dosynski aka the NKVDemon. However, unlike the KGBeast, Dosynski is too lazy to come all the way to the US, so Batman has to fly to Moscow to confront him. While there, Bruce also runs into Vicki Vale, who we haven’t seen in a long time. This story ends on Earth Day, which is on April 22. However, this is an impossibility due to the editorial compression of the year. Basically, this tale doesn’t take place in April and Batman doesn’t save Mikael Gorbachev. It takes place in late spring and Batman saves the “generic Russian president.” Sigh.
–FLASHBACK: From Batman: Battle for the Cowl—Gotham Gazette: Batman Alive? #1. Bruce begins seriously dating Vicki Vale (as seriously as Batman can date). Vicki comments on his various battle scars after having sex. Bruce tells her he got them playing polo.
–NOTE: In Justice League America #39. Mister Miracle is seemingly killed by Despero. However, the Mister Miracle that was killed by Despero was actually a robot duplicate sent to fill-in for the real Mister Miracle while he is on an “intergalactic promotional tour” with Manga Khan. Scott had no choice but to participate in the ruse because he owed Khan a favor.
–Mister Miracle Vol. 2 #16
While Mister Miracle continues on his intergalactic tour with Manga Khan, getting temporarily stranded on the Planet Colossopolis, a saddened JLA returns to the embassy and mourns the death of Mister Miracle, not knowing that the deceased is actually a robot. Barda, who has joined a militant animal rights group, destroys a warehouse full of nerve gas destined for animal testing and gets thrown in jail. There, Blue Beetle visits her and delivers the news about her husband’s death.
–Justice League America #40-42
Mister Miracle’s funeral occurs in issue #40 (and is also shown in Mister Miracle Vol. 2 #17). A small gathering of heroes, including Batman and Nightwing, mourn Scott’s tragic death at the hands of Despero. Little do they know, Mister Miracle is actually alive and well, his robot duplicate having died in his place. After the funeral, Superman expresses his concern to Batman that the League is too weak. Batman is in no mood for conversation and gives him the brush-off, but Max Lord agrees and begins a full-scale membership drive to increase manpower, which attracts Orion and Lightray. Then, in issue #42, much to the surprise of everyone, Scott Free returns. I want to mention that in issue #40 we enter Despero’s twisted mind and are able to see a vision of his “happiness.” Naturally, it’s the destruction of the Earth bit by bit, including a panel which depicts, among other various cataclysms, the collapsing of the Twin Towers in NYC! Bear in mind, this was written in 1990. Pretty crazy. I also wanted to point out that Batman has now attended two separate fake funerals this year (one for the Penguin and one for Mister Miracle).
–Detective Comics #612-614
These three issues are all Alan Grant one-shots. Issue #612 involves the return of both Catman and Catwoman. Issue #613 is a bizarre commentary about pollution (I think) where a turf war between rival sanitation companies ends at Freshfields Landfill with the death of a 13-year-old boy. In issues #613-614 Batman takes on the Street Demonz, one of the oldest and largest gangs in Gotham. We meet gang member Jon Konik. This issue feels like a really lame after-school special and even ends with a splash page featuring a grinning Batman posed in front of the American flag! That image alone makes me yearn for the sophistication of Starlin’s run in ’88, and makes me wonder why DC reverted back to using these hacky Grant scripts.
–REFERENCE: In The New Titans #65. Tim surprises Dick by showing up on his doorstep. Bruce has sent him to train with the original Robin.
–Suicide Squad #40-43 (“THE PHOENIX GAMBIT”)
Backstory: Amanda Waller has just finished serving a year jail sentence for illegally using the Suicide Squad in a personal matter against a drug cartel. (Bear in mind that time-compression probably makes her jail-term closer to five or six months long). Since that time, the government has officially ended the Suicide Squad program. Presently: Civil war is occurring in the Eastern European country of Vlatava and both Waller and Sgt. Steel have a vested interest in the conflict. Thus, they decide to reform the Squad as a freelance mercenary group. However, since Batman has given them nothing but grief in the past, they want not only his blessing, but his help as well. Therefore, Waller cuts a deal which allows Batman to help choose the new members of the Squad in exchange for aiding him in the capture of a fugitive Vlatavan murderer. Batman personally re-recruits Poison Ivy and Ravan into the Squad and they all head out to Vlatava. There are a million characters and twists and turns that happen next, so if you are truly interested, read it yourself!
–Green Lantern Vol. 3 #1
Green Lantern Hal Jordan visits the Justice League of America HQ to say hello and is warmly welcomed by Batman and the crew, who practically beg him to replace Guy Gardner on the team. Hal declines and begins a soul-searching journey across America. Meanwhile, John Stewart suffers a complete mental breakdown—a emotional rehash of his failure during Cosmic Odyssey from two years ago. An angry Guy Gardner confronts Hal and they duel. Hal gains the upper hand before the fight is stopped prematurely. PS. This issue notes that Hal has been a GL for fifteen years, which if we take at face value, means that he was a hero two years before Batman debuts, which is plausible but seems incorrect. It is also just as plausible that fifteen should read twelve.
THE PENGUIN AFFAIR
———————–Detective Comics #615
The Penguin escapes prison again and takes Harold under his wing. For those of you that don’t know, Harold is a mute, hunchbacked dwarf who happens to be a mechanical genius. He will eventually become a member of the Bat-Family and live in the Batcave for many years. In this ludicrously campy Wolfman/Grant story, the Penguin forces Harold to invent a technology with which he is able to control large flocks of birds. With this Hitchcockian nightmare, the Penguin is able to commit many atrocities which result in the death of hundreds. Finally, Tim, who is still in training, comes up with a crime-solving idea and the chaos ends. Batman commissions the Tailor to quickly create a heavily-padded beak-proof version of the Bat-costume (as referenced in the second feature to Detective Comics #789). With his new padded costume, Batman defeats Penguin in a final showdown.
–REFERENCE: In Robin Vol. 2 #70. Batman continues training Tim, starting him off on a course in how to use a bow and arrow. This course will last for at least a few weeks (although we won’t see it physically listed on our timeline below).
–Detective Comics #616-617
In issue #616 the ancient, evil demigod C’th has returned and is killing people along the path of underground ley-lines. These “dragon lines” are connected to the flow of Earth’s energy and are the key to ultimate power. If you know anything about the Occult or have read Foucault’s Pendulum or Good Omens (or countless other books) then you would know this. Pretty cool stuff if it wasn’t so poorly written. I hate to shit on Alan Grant so much, but having the ley-lines coincidentally run both under Wayne Manor and under the home of this issue’s main one-shot character is ridiculous. Also, Batman is able to defeat C’th with greater ease than we’ve seen… well, maybe ever. Are you seriously telling me that the Street Demonz are a tougher fight than a real demon? Sheesh. In issue #617 Batman is nervous about that fact that the Joker hasn’t reared his demented head ever since Jason died (since last year). After busting up a robbery at a fortune teller’s, Batman gets his tarot read by the psychic, Cassandra, and we randomly segue into a flashback Joker story from “three years ago.” In issue #616 Batman also hears a curious radio report that the “Red Hood” has been committing robberies.
The Joker hasn’t felt like his old self ever since almost being killed during the events of “A Death in the Family.” Besides secretly manipulating Two-Face earlier in the year, the Joker has been unmotivated to make a complete return to crime. Willing to try anything, Joker dons the familiar ruby dome of the Red Hood and begins mugging people on the streets (hence the radio reports about the return of the Red Hood in tec’ #616). However, the Red Hood stunt serves only to further depress the Clown Prince of Crime. Things look bleak for our lovable psychopath until a fake Joker (Curtis Base) appears, who wears a cheap Joker mask, tells bad vaudevillian jokes, and has an awful flair for the dramatic. Gordon and Batman immediately know this phony isn’t the genuine article, but the public thinks he is. Fearing that his reputation will be ruined, the real Joker is finally inspired to re-emerge at the end of issue #452. By the next issue, the fake Joker has become so obsessed with his role, he actually believes he can become the new permanent Joker. Base lures the real Joker, Gordon, and Batman to the historical birthplace of the Joker: Ace Chemicals. A fight breaks out and Base reveals his plan: to dive into the chemical vats in order to transform completely into a legitimate super-villain. Base takes his glorious Olympic dive and is immediately killed in the toxic sludge! Gordon and Batman confront the Joker for the first time since the incidents with Jason and Barbara. And boy, do they ever want to capitally punish him on the spot, but you know how it is… By the book, Batman, by the book. NOTE: Batman has the original Red Hood helmet in the Batcave, so the helmet that Joker wears in this tale must be a different one.
–World’s Finest #1-3
This gorgeous Dave Gibbons/Steve Rude tale is extremely hard to place. In World’s Finest an escaped Joker (with Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee) causes public havoc in Metropolis while Luthor exacts his more subtle style of crime in Gotham. Since the villains have decided to temporarily switch cities, the heroes follow suit. Eventually, both ends meet in the middle and Superman and Batman team-up to take down the Joker and Luthor. Naturally, there is no evidence of Luthor’s involvement in any criminal activity at the end. Afterward, The Daily Planet coins the term “World’s Finest” for the Earth’s most famous heroes.
–Batman: Bride of the Demon
Ra’s Al Ghul wants a male heir, so he gets married and stops using condoms. He also wants to save the ozone layer by eliminating all life on the planet. Batman prevents both things from happening.
–REFERENCE: In Ms. Tree Quarterly #1. Batman struggles with Penguin for four straight days, but eventually puts him behind bars.
–Ms. Tree Quarterly #1
Denny O’Neil’s prose story entitled “The Name.” Bruce and Alfred attend a fancy party at the home of Anders Cawthen to commemorate the discovery of an ancient riddle artifact that once belonged to the despicable Order of the Black Rose, a 15th century occult group that one of Alfred’s ancestors was a part of. After hobnobbing at the party, Alfred is kidnapped by unknown men. Batman visits Cawthen, who is in the midst of trying to decode the “Presents of the Black Rose,” which Batman learns will reveal the name of the man who betrayed the Order and led to its downfall—either Alfred’s relative or a relative of Texas businessman Randall Maxwellian. Batman further learns that British industrialist Acton Haliburt wishes to kill the ancestor of the Benedict Arnold and has orchestrated the kidnappings of both Alfred and Maxwellian. Batman locates Haliburt’s hideout and crashes in, beating up his henchmen with ease and rescuing Alfred and Maxwellian. Later, Batman swings by Cawthen’s home and learns the name of the betrayer, but he opts to keep it to himself.
–FLASHBACK: From Detective Comics #630. Batman goes to Florida and encounters Stiletto and the conjoined-twin mobsters known collectively as Two Tone. By the way, one of the conjoined-twins is Black and the other is White. You figure that one out.
–Batman/Green Arrow: The Poison Tomorrow
Batman and Green Arrow team-up against Poison Ivy and save Black Canary’s life in the process.
–Batman: Run, Riddler, Run #1-3
The Riddler is free on parole and gets hired as a security consultant for a major real estate corporation. He is then promptly fired after the same company hires a small team of super-powered Iron Man-esque warriors known as Perfect Security. After Perfect Security are deputized by mayor Julius Lieberman, the security force begins violently and forcibly evicting minorities from the slums, paving the way for the corporation to construct new projects. Talk about gentrification! When Batman interferes, they frame him for murder. The Riddler and Batman team-up (just like they did for the King Tut affair a few years ago!) and not only prove Batman’s innocence, but are able to publicly reveal the evil nature of both the corporation and Perfect Security. In the end the Riddler, unfortunately for him, misses a meeting with his parole officer because Batman punches his lights out, and has to return to jail.
–Batman 3-D, Part 1
In this 3D story entitled “Ego Trip,” the Penguin’s grade-school rival Hardiman Twine commits suicide after being dosed with a hallucinogenic drug (by the Penguin). The Penguin, knowing full well that Twine is already dead, then offers a contest to his fellow rogues to see who can kill Twine first. Once the body turns up, Two-Face, Joker, and Riddler all claim victory. Batman endures various death traps from all of the villains, but is able to solve the mystery in the end.
–REFERENCE: In Legends of the World’s Finest #1. Batman busts Two-Face’s number one henchman Charlie, who goes on probation and vows to go straight.
–Batman #452-454 (“DARK KNIGHT, DARK CITY”)
This is one of my favorite Batman story-arcs of all time. Written by the evil genius Peter Milligan, this sordid tale turns the Riddler from a campy crook into a sadistic psychopath. At one point, his own henchmen remark that they have never seen him so “bloodthirsty” or “crazy” before. Quote: “You’re starting to make the Joker seem positively sensible.” And how. Nigma, who has escaped jail, has Batman running in circles by putting him in bizarre, violent situations. The Riddler is actually having Batman perform Occult rituals, though Batman doesn’t even realize it, in order to summon the demon Barbathos aka Barbatos. At one point, the Riddler shoves a ping-pong ball down a baby’s throat and Batman has to perform an emergency tracheotomy. These issues are filled with true nightmarish Gothic horror at its finest and it all comes to a ghoulish boil as we learn that Barbatos has possessed the Riddler the whole time. Also, my favorite Mignola covers too. Definitely read this if you haven’t already. I should also mention that we are shown a flashback to 1765 where several prominent figures of the time, including Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Wayne (Dr. Simon Hurt), engage in an Occult ritual to summon the demon. The summoning is a failure, although Hurt does come into contact with the evil Hyper-Adapter (whom he mistakes for Barbatos), which endows him with extended life. It’s not clear whether Nigma, in Dark Knight, Dark City, is possessed by Barbatos or the Hyper-Adapter (or whether the Hyper-Adapter was Barbatos all along). Grant Morrison brilliantly retroactively added Hurt to the 1765 scene, which is also re-told with more detail in a flashback from Batman & Robin #16.
–FLASHBACK: From Batman: DOA. June—early summer. Penguin, Joker, and Two-Face acquire a lethal virus from fellow Arkham inmate and chemical expert Professor Theo Partridge. The evil trio hatches a plan to give Batman the virus while avoiding suspicion since they are locked up in Arkham.
–The Huntress #17-19
Batman chases a mob boss named Rage to New York City, but in the Big Apple, Huntress protects Rage and ties up Batman—Huntress believes that Rage’s influence is the only thing that can end a brutal gang war that is currently going on in the city. Reluctantly, Huntress teams-up with Batman and they apprehend a bomber named James Cooper. Cooper explains that he means well with the bomb detonation and was only trying to escalate the gang war so that the gangs would eliminate each other. Batman goes in disguise as a homeless man and together with Huntress and Cooper, they are able to bring Rage to justice and end the gang war. Afterward, Huntress leaves New York with the stated desire to move out of an urban area. Of course, this won’t go according to plan since Huntress will move back to Gotham shortly.
–Justice League Europe #17
The JLE battles The Extremists. Batman and Superman make guest appearances.
–The Demon Vol. 3 #3-4
Batman aids Etrigan the Demon and Randu Singh in a battle against Klarion the Witch Boy and Abaddon the Destroyer.
–Suicide Squad #44
This is mainly a Captain Boomerang story, but its real relevance lies in the prologue where the Atom (Ray Palmer) dies when his apartment mysteriously explodes! Batman and the other heroes attend his funeral and mourn the loss of yet another fallen comrade. Suicide Squad member Adam Cray becomes the new Atom. SPOILER ALERT: Palmer has actually faked his own death as part of an investigation. Cray has been hand selected by Palmer to be his temporary replacement. Batman and company will find all of this out a bit later on, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. So yeah, another fake funeral for Bats. That’s the third fake one this year!
–Justice League Quarterly #2
Gigantic cosmic designer Mr. Nebula arrives to give Earth a gaudy makeover. After making New York into a garish nightmare, Nebula travels to Las Vegas and believes Earth doesn’t require his skills after all. Nebula leaves, but not before vomiting up a colossal mess which Batman and the other superheroes are forced to clean up.
–Justice League Europe #22
The irreverent adventures of the JLE continue when they foil the plans of some catnappers (guys who steal cats). Batman makes a brief cameo.
- COLLIN COLSHER: Welcome to Bat Year Thirteen. This is the most compressed year for Batman so far, comprising stories from the end of 1989 to the beginning of 1993. So, we are talking almost four years worth of tales that supposedly take up one storyline year (2001). Woof.
Because there is so much being squashed in here, including Tim Drake’s debut as the new Robin, the year has been split into two parts. Part One will comprise the first six months of 2001.↩
- RENAUD BATTAIL: In each issue of World’s Finest, Babs can clearly be seen in a wheelchair. Thus, it must go after her paralysis i.e. somewhere post Year Eleven.
SAM GROOVER / COLLIN COLSHER: Furthermore, World’s Finest must go after Batman #450-451 since Joker doesn’t make any public appearances between Jason Todd’s death and Batman #450-451.↩
- Credit to IVAN for placement.↩
- COLLIN COLSHER: Note that Penguin is incarcerated in Arkham Asylum in Batman: DOA. This is worth highlighting because this is one of the rare times Penguin is held in Arkham instead of a regular penitentiary. Penguin’s crimes as of late have been a bit zanier than usual, thus possibly the reason for a temporary switch to Arkham.↩