–DC Bonus Book #11
Early January. Mr. Freeze is transferred from Arkham to Gotham Penitentiary where he easily escapes his new home. Typical Mr. Freeze deathtrap-with-lasers scenario here that is easily thwarted.
–REFERENCE: In Batman #441. Bruce very publicly buys a ridiculously expensive Pierre-Auguste Renoir painting and hangs it in Wayne Manor.
–Batman Annual #12, Part 1
Mike Baron is one of the best comic-book writers out there, and if you’ve ever read Nexus, you understand why. However, in the first part of this Annual, Baron scripts a pretty pathetic tale. Bruce is invited to upstate New York to attend a “Murder Mystery Weekend” at haunted Slade Mansion, which was designed by Satanists, and therefore, looks like a giant Jack Kirby Machine. Naturally, the host of this titillating affair gets murdered for real. Batman takes the case, which includes; a 75-year-old metahuman weirdo living in a cave that helps the Caped Crusader solve the crime, and the exorcising of a demon that has been possessing the house when the entire residence slides off a ravine. Oh, and the explanation for Batman appearing randomly in upstate New York, while at the same time Bruce Wayne mysteriously disappears? Well there isn’t one really. Bruce shows up later and says Batman escorted him down the treacherous mountain path in exchange for a large donation to charity.
–Justice League International Annual #2
The beautiful bombshells Green Flame and Ice Maiden have recently joined the JLI in Batman’s absence. You might know them better by their more contemporary names of Fire and Ice, which they will switch to soon. The League decides to throw a BBQ to celebrate the inception of the new members and guess who shows up? The Joker! The JLI expects the worst so they send Batman an emergency signal. By the time he gets there Mr. Miracle’s wife Big Barda has so-intimidated the clown that he begs Batman to take him back to Arkham! Batman is disgusted and drives off annoyed. Big mistake. The JLI casually allows Joker to flee, and he does so all the way to Bialya where he will soon acquire a nuclear missile. This missile will be the sole reason the Joker returns to the Middle East a bit later. Guess who will also be traveling in the Middle East a bit later? Jason Todd. Batman should never have let Joker go.
–DC Bonus Book #7
Batman makes a cameo in this fluffy comedy piece where diminutive JLI team manager Oberon accidentally destroys Miracle and Barda’s suburban home, forcing them to move into the JLI Embassy.
–Justice League International #15
This issue contains a short Batman cameo that shows Guy begging him to return to the JLI.
–REFERENCE: In JLA Incarnations #6, Part 1. Batman rummages through Penguin’s abandoned lair and discovers a video message that has been delivered by Bialyan military dictator Rumaan Harjavti to most of the prominent super-villains in America. In his video Harjavti offers political asylum to convicted American felons. Several villains, including Penguin, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Killer Croc, Dr. Polaris, Monsieur Mallah, and The Brain, are already relaxing on the beaches of Bialya, as can be seen in the film. There are a few more villains there as well, notably Blockbuster, Dr. Phosphorus, Weather Wizard, Cheetah, and Captain Cold.
–JLA Incarnations #6, Part 1
Batman rejoins the JLI (even though he’d never admit to it). The Dark Knight meets with the team and shows them the Harjavti video he found in Penguin’s lair, but Max Lord says that Bialya is out of their jurisdiction. Batman angrily storms off. Blue Beetle and Booster Gold decide to go into Bialya disguised as villains in order to arrest Harjavti and to impress Batman. Of course, Beetle and Booster get caught and jailed. Batman convinces Max to let the JLI enter Bialya clandestinely to rescue them. Sending in Green Flame and Ice Maiden first, the ladies stage credit fraud that makes it seem like the Bialyan government has cleaned-out the bank accounts of its guest villains. Naturally, a huge riot erupts and Harjavti is forced to ask for help from the UN. The JLI, along with Superman and Wonder Woman, legally enter the country and round-up the villains.
–Justice League International #16-17
Batman meets with Max Lord and they both agree that something must be done about the terrorist nation of Bialya (especially in light of dictator Rumaan Harjavti’s recent actions in JLA Incarnations). So, off the books, Batman, Beetle, Booster, and Green Flame go undercover and return to Bialya. Can who guess who Batman goes undercover as? He dresses up as Bruce Wayne! Whaaa? You see, they are infiltrating a presidential ball which is being thrown by Harjavti so Wayne is the perfect disguise. At the ball, the dictator unveils the first ever Bialyan lab-created metahuman, Wandjina The Thunderer. However, the grotesquely nuclear-deformed monster immediately kills Harjavti. Batman, who has now switched to a Max Lord disguise for some reason, realizes that the villainous Queen Bee is pulling all the strings. Captain Atom flies in and kills the rampaging Thunderer, but in the end Queen Bee’s coup is successful and Batman and company head back to the States defeated.
Batman Annual #12, Part 2
The back-up story to Batman Annual #12, cleverly titled “The Back-Up” is all about Jason’s adventures in Junior High! It takes place while Batman is “away at the JLI Embassy in New York” for a meeting with Max Lord (previously in JLI #16).
–Cosmic Odyssey #1-4
This is how crossovers are supposed to be. Short, sweet, and spectacular. And when Jim Starlin teams up with Mike Mignola, that is exactly what you get. This story was retconned many, many times, and only in the 2000s through the combined efforts of Starlin and Grant Morrison, was Cosmic Odyssey made completely canon again. As you can imagine, there is a lot going on here plot-wise, but I’ll do my best to summarize. For almost 300 years, Darkseid has been searching for the Anti-Life Equation, the cosmic mathematical formula with which one can dominate all life everywhere. And now he’s found it, but to his surprise the formula exists as a sentient “shadow-based” Anti-Life Entity that seeks the annihilation of the entire Milky Way Galaxy. Several of Earth’s heroes (including the demon Etrigan) Boom Tube teleport to the alternate dimensionial planet of New Genesis (home to the benevolent New Gods, as opposed to Apokolips, which is home to the evil New Gods). On New Genesis, the heroes are forced to team-up with Darkseid (!) against the greater threat, splitting into four teams designed to save four respective planets. Batman and Forager save Earth! Superman and Orion save Thanagar! Lightray and Starfire save Rann! But Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern John Stewart aren’t so lucky. Because of Stewart’s overconfidence and inexperience, Xanshi is destroyed and literally billions perish. J’onn is furious and Stewart is so distraught he nearly commits suicide. In the end, the heroes prevail, but Forager dies as well. There is a great scene where Orion makes a racist comment about Forager after his death and Batman punches him out! We’ll find out much later (in Final Crisis to be exact) that the Anti-Life Entity is the evil half of the cosmic deity known as The Source and through knowledge and mastery of the combination, one can indeed know the true evil mathematical formula for futility.
–REFERENCE: In JLA Classified #1. Batman obtains a Boom Tube Gauntlet, a high-tech alien glove that theoretically allows its user to teleport wherever they want. Batman places the Boom Tube Gauntlet into his Sci-Fi Closet. Where did the Boom Tube Gauntlet come from? We are never told, but it seems like Batman could have either gotten it during his recent Boom Tube adventuring in Cosmic Odyssey or cobbled it together with Boom Tubes taken from his recent adventuring in Cosmic Odyssey—hence my placement of Batman’s acquisition of the Boom Tube Gauntlet here and now. Despite acquiring the Boom Tube Gauntlet, Batman won’t use this tech until Bat Year Nineteen! Why? Well, my conjectural response is that Batman is distrustful of most alien tech. Also, the Boom Tube Gauntlet is probably quite dangerous.
–FLASHBACK: From Detective Comics #828. Bruce has dinner with a childhood friend, Matthew Atkins, and meets the beautiful socialite Peyton Riley. Riley will become the new Ventriloquist in about nine years.
–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #600. Batman saves the life of GCPD Officer Jake Burnside.
–FLASHBACK: From Detective Comics #600. Batman rescues a hostage from an escaped Two-Face.
–Batman: The Killing Joke
The infamous 1988 Alan Moore/Brian Bolland classic. We don’t need to say much about the plot, right? Joker’s origin is revealed in detail through flashback and he does the unthinkable. He shoots Barbara Gordon in the spine, crippling her for life. He also takes pornographic pictures of Babs and tortures Jim Gordon at his abandoned amusement park hideout, complete with evil circus-freak henchmen, including bizarre diaper-wearing, razor-sharp toothed, evil dwarfs. I do want to point out that The Killing Joke: Deluxe Edition was came out in 2008 and Bolland was given free reign to alter his original work as he saw fit for the re-release. While I enjoy the beautiful dramatic color changes, I don’t enjoy the removal of the yellow-oval from Batman’s chest. When questioned about the removal by Wizard magazine, Bolland stated, and I’m paraphrasing here, that he got rid of it because he simply didn’t like how it looked. So, to re-iterate, if you were wondering about this, there’s your answer. Batman should have the yellow-oval. Period. I also want to point out that Booster Gold attempts to change history by preventing Barbara Gordon from ever being shot by the Joker (as seen in Booster Gold Vol. 2 #5). An older Booster (from ten years in the future i.e. Bat Year 21) time-travels to the events of The Killing Joke (right now), but he is unable to alter Babs’ fate. It is Babs’ destiny to be shot and paralyzed and you just can’t screw with destiny. So, despite Booster’s time-tampering, the events of The Killing Joke are left seemingly unaltered when all is said and done, except for one giveaway. Joker has snapped several Polaroids of the badly beaten future Booster. Batman discovers the photos (as referenced in Booster Gold #1,000,000) and quickly realizes that an older version of Booster has made a time-traveling attempt to save Babs. The Dark Knight will keep the Polaroids a secret for the next ten years, but will always be appreciative of Booster’s gallant efforts.
–Superman Vol. 2 #23
Batman acquires a magickal ancient Gaelic tome from a fence. The book, despite being hundreds of years old, details Superman’s first fight against Silver Banshee. Curiously, the book begins to write new pages in itself, depicting Batman’s movements after obtaining it. The next day, Batman delivers the mysterious magick book to Superman, leading him on a Scottish adventure to fight Silver Banshee and her family members of the Clan McDougal: brother Beven McDougal and uncle Seamus McDougal. Superman saves Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen from Silver Banshee and the McDougals.
–NOTE: In Birds of Prey #1. Barbara Gordon, in the wake of her recent tragedy, breaks up with her fiancé Jason Bard.
–FLASHBACK: From the second feature to Birds of Prey #127. Bruce visits Babs in the hospital and, without words, they cry together.
–FLASHBACK: From Nightwing Annual #2. Bruce, this time with Alfred, visits Babs at the hospital again, but Jim Gordon is there, so they have to act like smiling, awkward buffoons in front of Babs. Bruce tells Babs that Dick is “out of the country.” Dick is actually on interstellar Teen Titan business on the planet New Cronos and won’t be back for six months.
–FLASHBACK: From Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Oracle #1. Bruce pays Barbara another hospital visit, this time solo, and it isn’t pretty. They exchange caustic words and Bruce tells her, “You can overcome this or you can wither and die.”
–Batman #426-429 (“A DEATH IN THE FAMILY”)
As if one tragedy wasn’t enough for Batman. This is arguably the most important storyline of the year: the death of Jason Todd. I mean, this was Jason’s year, so this is mega-super-huge. And once again, Starlin is at the helm. Here’s how it all goes down. Batman hasn’t allowed Jason to accompany him since the events of “The Diplomat’s Son,” but the former finally caves in. The Dynamic Duo take to the streets once more, but once again, Jason is reckless, and Batman is forced to put him on inactive duty. A disgruntled Jason then discovers that his birth mother is alive and living in the Middle East. He immediately runs off to find her. Batman tracks the freshly escaped Joker to Lebanon (where he is trying to sell the nuclear missile he received in JLI Annual #2) and joins up with Jason again. After a Lady Shiva cameo, the Dynamic Duo is off to Ethiopia where we finally meet Jason’s real mom! The reunion is short-lived. You can guess what happens next. The Clown Prince of Crime beats Jason with a crowbar and sets off a bomb killing both him and his mother. After a quiet funeral, the tragedy continues as the Joker is named Iran’s ambassador to the UN! (This has long since been retconned from Iran to the fictional Qurac in an attempt to make this part of the story more timeless). Superman informs the bereaved Batman that the Joker now has diplomatic immunity. This doesn’t last long, however, as the newly appointed ambassador tries to gas everyone in the UN building. A few awesome flashbacks from Batman: Gotham Knights #44 fill in a some gaps in “A Death in the Family”—although, I should also mention that Bruce is wearing the wrong costume in all of these flashbacks. Writer Scott Beatty tried to retcon Batman’s history here to make it that he doesn’t switch over to the yellow-insignia costume until now, which is absolutely one-hundred percent wrong. Note that Deadman is also present when Jason dies and even possesses Joker’s body momentarily in an attempt to stop the fatal beating from occurring (as detailed in Deadman: Dead Again #2). Deadman, of course, fails in his mission. The powerful witch-man Darius Caldera then hijacks Jason’s soul, which is on its way to the Afterlife, and steals it away to a realm outside of time and space. Deadman is able to free Jason’s soul from Caldera, releasing it into the great beyond where it belongs. Since Caldera’s realm exists outside of time and space, this entire soul-stealing episode registers as mere seconds on our timeline.
–FLASHBACK: From Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #197. Batman captures first time crook and weapons expert Erik Webber. Webber will serve seven years in jail for his attempted armored car robbery and vow revenge on Batman upon his release. Batman is depicted wearing the wrong costume in this flashback. He should be wearing the yellow-insignia costume.
–FLASHBACK: From Secret Origins Special Vol. 2 #1. Penguin captures and tortures a metal-toothed convict named Sharkey, who used to bully him when he was a boy. Batman rescues Sharkey, but never finds out why Penguin had it out for him. We (the readers) are treated to that back-story, which includes a pretty amazing and legit Penguin origin tale.
–FLASHBACK: From The Batman Chronicles #5, Part 1. Late March. Batman pays Barbara another visit at the hospital. Last time, Batman gave her a rough talking to in the hospital, but this time Babs has had enough. She has also somehow found out about the events pertaining to Joker’s arrest at the end of The Killing Joke. Babs tells Batman to buzz off.
–FLASHBACK: From Green Arrow and Black Canary #5. Batman locates Green Arrow’s long lost son, Connor Hawke, and reports the news to Ollie, who thanks Bruce and gives his condolences regarding the death of Jason Todd.
–FLASHBACK: From Batman and Superman: World’s Finest #7. Superman has just returned from a long mission in deep space—(the reason he missed the annual Harrison Grey meeting)—and comes to talk to Batman about how the latter has been dealing with the recent tragedies that befell Jason and Barbara. Supes flies Bruce to Smallville where they have dinner with his parents (Martha and Jonathan Kent).
–Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #37
Batman goes down memory lane and narrates a tale of yesteryear (which occurred in shortly before Batman donned the yellow-oval costume). The Dark Knight reminisces about the time he trained rookie cop Mercedes Stone in the art of vigilantism, only to see her killed shortly thereafter. Compared to Jason’s death, Mercedes’ death doesn’t really seem to bother Bruce that much does it? It does make sense, in the wake of Jason’s death, for Bruce to be recalling others that he has let down in the past.
–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #598. An overworked, stressed-out, and horribly depressed Batman begins having a reoccurring nightmare that features a disfigured version of himself holding a gun and laughing maniacally. Bruce will have this same dream every time he sleeps for the next two-plus months.
–Justice League International #19-21
Big Barda, J’onn, and Green Lantern G’nort are off on a mission in deep space to rescue Mister Miracle from the interstellar villain Manga Khan. Meanwhile, Black Canary has just quit the team. With the JLI in a particularly weakened state, it’s time for a membership drive! Batman will do anything to keep his mind off recent tragedies, so he takes charge and is able to recruit the Thanagarian husband-and-wife-duo of Hawkman and Hawkwoman. (This Hawkman and Hawkwoman will both later be revealed as impostors. They are actually Thanagarian spies). Moving on, Superman rejects Batman’s invitation into the JLI. Also, Green Flame and Ice Maiden change their names to Fire and Ice, respectively (although it takes a while for the new names to actually stick). And Max Lord recruits Lobo (!), who is actually a double-agent working against the team on behalf of Khan. J’onn and company chase Khan to Apokolips where Barda teleports the rest of the team to their location. Batman and the stunned rest of the team are instantly thrown into an all-out-war with dozens of Parademons. Just when things are looking at their worst, terrified little JLI manager Oberon accidentally stumbles into Darkseid’s living room. Surprisingly, Darkseid treats him to a nice conversation and hearty lunch and then simply commands everyone to leave, claiming they are a mere annoyance to him! Great stuff. Highly recommended.
———————–Detective Comics #595
Invasion! is a gigantic crossover event in which several intergalactic races form an alliance with the goal of eradicating all metahuman life on Earth (our world deemed most threatening because it has the most metahumans). Secretly, the Dominators, evil leaders of the alien alliance, want to replicate the metahuman gene and create their own super-warriors. By the time ‘tec #595 occurs, the aliens have already taken over several parts of the Earth and Max Lord has asked Batman to help the JLI in Australia. Batman politely turns him down, stating that the alien war is a metahuman issue and therefore, out of his league. However, Batman soon encounters a shape-shifting Zheerfang on the streets of Gotham and realizes the war has come to him. Batman winds up in Cuba battling Khund hooligans and Thanagarian hawkmen. Invasion! #2-3 finish out the story and involve literally hundreds of heroes, including Batman. First, a superhero summit is organized, which gathers nearly every superhero in the DCU. Superman, Captain Atom, Amanda Waller, Max Lord, and General Wade Eiling lead the meeting, which briefs everyone on how the war will be fought. A detailed slice of this scene is also shown in Hawk & Dove Vol. 3 #1. Then, during the main action of the war, the Gene Bomb is set off, which has various effects. While it kills many metahumans, it also grants powers to some normal humans, most notably Max Lord, who will soon manifest the telepathic ability of persuasion, although the use of the power will give him severe nosebleeds. The Gene Bomb also resurrects Metamorpho! Eventually, the alien hordes are defeated. Batman angrily delivers an incapacitated Major Force back to General Eiling. After the Invasion dust settles, a new status-quo has arrived.
–Power of The Atom #9
It’s “V.I. Day” in New York, a giant citywide celebration of the human victory over the alien hordes (from Invasion). J’onn tries to recruit the Atom into the JLI, but the Atom declines, specifically citing the drunken antics of Guy Gardner as reason enough not to join. Batman tries to recruit Green Lantern Hal Jordan, who is on the fence until the Atom shows up and convinces him to say no as well. Damn you, Atom! The Atom then works crowd control in the bustling party-filled streets of Manhattan. After a second awkward conversation with Batman, the Atom returns to Ivy Town to reunite with Jean Loring.
–NOTE: In The Batman Chronicles #5, Part 1. After ten weeks and three days in the hospital, a wheelchair-bound Barbara Gordon checks-out of the hospital. She begins a depressing six month-long rehabilitative stint.
–Batman: Turning Points #3
It’s been over two-and-a-half months since the death of Jason and the paralysis of Babs. The so-called “Garbage Man,” a serial murderer with the same exact MO as last year’s Dumpster Killer is at large. Despite working the case, the still-depressed and dejected Dark Knight hasn’t responded to the Batsignal in a while. The wheelchair-bound Barbara visits Bruce in the Batcave. There, she chastises him and tells him to meet with her dad, which he does. On the roof of the police HQ, the old friends chat and Gordon talks to Batman about the loss of Robin.
–Justice League International #24
Max Lord’s meta-gene power of telepathy kicks-in. Later, Oberon and Max decide to have an “open house” at the New York Embassy and all the big names (and some small ones) in the hero game decide to show up and mingle, including Batman, Major Force, Elongated Man, the Creeper, Metamorpho, Hal Jordan, Power Girl, Flash, Animal Man, Starman (Will Payton), G’Nort, Firestorm, and more. Hawkman, who is embarrassed and disgusted with the current League, winds up quitting, citing blatant disregard for the values of the original League. When some Khunds show up, the big group of heroes kicks their asses. After the easy victory, Max and Oberon upgrade the JLI by splitting it into two separate factions; the current members re-assemble as the New York-based Justice League America, while fresh recruits assemble the brand-spanking new Paris-based Justice League Europe! Rocket Red (Dmitri Pushkin) and Captain Atom remain JLI members, but switch over from the JLA to the JLE.
–Justice League International Annual #3, Part 2
Sooo goood. Batman and J’onn get to know each other a little better when they team-up for a case. Also, Guy Gardner reads an issue of “JLI,” a chronicling of the team’s adventures in comic book form, and is pissed off about his characterization. After yelling at Max, who authorized the comic, he storms off to attack the writers! Giffen loves intelligent self-reflexive meta-fiction and I love Giffen.
–NOTE: In a reference in Red Hood: The Lost Days #1 and a flashback from Batman Annual #25. Exactly six months after his death, Jason Todd now returns from the dead! When Superboy-Prime alters history during the future events of Infinite Crisis, he inadvertently revives Jason, who crawls out of his coffin, stumbles into town, and eventually collapses into a coma. We won’t see Jason for quite a while, but here is what happens next for the former Boy Wonder (as referenced in Red Hood: The Lost Days #1). Jason will wake up from his coma almost a full year later, at which time he will wander the streets as a mute amnesiac. Jason will then be discovered nearly another year later by Talia and Ra’s Al Ghul. Talia will order the League of Assassins to fix the cemetery to make it look like Jason never was revived in order to hide the fact from Batman. The League of Assassins will then eliminate anyone that can possibly be linked to Jason as a preventative measure as well. A year after that, Talia will immerse him in a Lazarus Pit. Jason will remember everything and then spend the next several years secretly training before reemerging in Gotham. But we’ll get to that when we get to it.
–NOTE: In a flashback from Nightwing Annual #2. Dick returns from lengthy adventuring on the planet New Cronos to learn that Babs has been crippled for nearly six months! With no way of communicating with Earth while he was away, Dick had no idea about the death of Jason or Barbara’s injury. Dick has sex with Babs and in the morning tells her that he’s engaged to Starfire! Babs freaks out and kicks his sorry ass out of her apartment.
–The New Titans #55
Dick (having just returned after having been away for months) finally learns that Jason has been killed. He angrily confronts Bruce and lets it all out, causing Bruce to punch him in the face. Dick and Starfire then visit Jason’s grave. Later, Dick regroups with the battle-weary Titans. A version of the confrontation with Bruce can also be seen via flashback from Nightwing Vol. 2 #62. In this flashback, Jason also mentions Babs’ paralysis.
–Detective Comics #596-597
The Caped Crusader shuts down a snuff-film ring. Lieutenant Kitch of the GCPD debuts.
In issue #430 Batman stops a cold-blooded rooftop sniper. Gordon asks Batman about the whereabouts of Robin, who hasn’t been seen in quite some time, and Batman dodges the question. We probably have to ignore Gordon asking the Dark Knight about Robin, since they already had this talk in Turning Points #3. Also, through flashback, we see probably the ninth or tenth completely different version of what occurred on the day that led up to the death of Bruce’s parents. It is a known in-continuity fact that Bruce is tortured by this day and his recollection of its events changes constantly. In issue #432 Batman teams-up with PI Maxine Kelly to solve a child-abduction case that is seven years cold. Bats breaks into an FBI office building and fends off dozens of government agents in order to access information vital to the investigation.
–REFERENCE: In the second feature to Detective Comics #782. November 25—the anniversary of Batman’s parents’ deaths. Batman places two roses at his parents’ Crime Alley murder site.
–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #598. Batman stops a getaway car, but gets hit by the car and injured in the process. This item occurs about a week before “Blind Justice.”
A combination of steroids and the after-effects of Gene Bomb radiation (from Invasion!) have transformed Roland Desmond (brother of the original Blockbuster) into the new Blockbuster! Batman teams-up with the fifth Starman (Will Payton) to capture the rampaging hulk in the US Southwest. A flashback from Starman Vol. 2 #36 shows this story as well.
–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #598. Batman apprehends a safe-cracker but gets injured when he falls through a skylight. This item takes place three days before the start of “Blind Justice.”
–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #598. Dr. Gleason, a head executive at WayneTech, wants to meet with Bruce, who has been seriously neglecting all of his affairs at the office. Bruce, who is totally checked-out and has become completely disinterested when it comes to WayneTech stuff, cancels on Dr. Gleason twice.
–Detective Comics #598-600 (“BLIND JUSTICE”)
“Blind Justice” is screenwriter Sam Hamm’s 150+ page Batman opus. This lengthy tale takes over a month to transpire and supposedly runs from early April into mid May. Unfortunately, we must ignore the April-May season. In this arc, a secret cartel aptly known as “The Cartel” uses WayneTech employees Dr. Kenneth Harbinger and Mr. Riordan to implant bio-chips into “Bonecrusher” soldiers, the thoughts and actions of which are controlled by the paraplegic Harbinger from a remote location. Batman and Commissioner Gordon become aware of this new threat to Gotham when they examine the liquefied corpse of a Bonecrusher victim. Batman then fights a monstrous Bonecrusher, who commits suicide. Meanwhile, Jeanie Bowen comes to Gotham in search of her missing brother and former WayneTech employee, Roy Kane. Roy, who had also been a Cartel infiltrator, betrayed the villainous organization six months ago, which resulted in a bio-chip implantation that turned him into a homeless amnesiac. Together with Bruce, Jeanie locates Roy and they begin to unearth the Cartel’s plot of using mind-controlled surrogate warriors. Roy and Jeanie move into Wayne Manor. Bruce accesses the Cartel’s project computer files, which prompts Riordan to send a Bonecrusher to attack Bruce at Wayne Manor. When the Bonecrusher is defeated, it self-destructs. Batman then goes after Harbinger, who puts his consciousness into a new body to both escape capture and to betray his oppressive Cartel overseers. Bruce then threatens Riordan, only to learn that Riordan is one step ahead of him. The Cartel has been tracking Bruce for the past fifteen years and knows all about his many years of training in the Orient and Pacific with infamous unsavory anti-Americans like Chu Chin Li, Tsunetomo, and Henri Ducard. This information is passed on to the FBI and Bruce is arrested for treason, specifically for selling spy tech to terrorists from Syraq, Russia, and Libya! A media circus ensues. As Bruce addresses the press, Harbinger, who can now use his device to control anyone he wants simply by talking to them, has a homeless man shoot Bruce, nearly killing him! Bruce goes into a coma and gets three pins put into his hip. When Alfred and a wheelchair-bound Bruce return home a week later, they find that Roy and Jeanie have discovered the Batcave and learned of Bruce’s identity as the Dark Knight! Roy is more than eager to help Batman. Since he has a bio-chip implant, Roy suits up as Batman and the injured Bruce is able to control his body using Harbinger’s technology. Henri Ducard returns to America and pays Bruce a quick visit, revealing that he now knows he is Batman. Meanwhile, Harbinger takes over the Cartel with mind-control and an army of Bonecrushers. A Bruce-controlled Roy dons the Batman costume and defeats the Cartel, but gets killed in the process. An angry Jeanie blames Bruce for her brother’s death and leaves town. In the end, Bruce is able to clear his name thanks to the mind-controlled blabbing Riordan who spills the Cartel’s beans. Bruce rehabs his injuries and makes a full recovery after a couple weeks. Afterward, Bruce destroys Harbinger’s tech and mourns the loss of Roy, which is especially troubling because it has occurred so shortly after Jason’s death.
–Batman #434-435 (“THE MANY DEATHS OF THE BATMAN”)
Frederick Stone long ago trained a young man in the art of explosives. That young man, although heavily disguised and using an alias, was Bruce Wayne. Flash forward to now; Stone is aware of the fact that he helped train Batman because the Dark Knight uses explosive techniques that are uniquely Stone methods. Stone is paranoid that Batman’s rogues will discover his ties to the Caped Crusader and thus, threaten him and his fiancée. In an effort to lessen his link to Batman, Stone starts tracking down other possible experts who might have trained young Bruce, dresses them up in a Batman costume, and murders them. Batman solves the case.
–Detective Comics #601-603 (“TULPA”)
A Tibetan mystic creates a “Tulpa” (magickal doppelgänger) in the form of the evil demon Mahakala to defend himself against mobsters. Naturally, the Tulpa goes on a rampage and demonology is a bit out of Bruce’s league. Good thing Randu Singh and the sometimes good-natured demon Etrigan are around to help out! Gotta love Etrigan cameos.
–Justice League America #26-27
Remember when the league last visited Bialya? Well, it turns out that while Blue Beetle was there, he was implanted with a post-hypnotic suggestion by Queen Bee. Back in the States, Beetle is “activated” by a pre-programmed code-phrase delivered over the phone and immediately tries to kill Max Lord! Batman and the Huntress are able to stop him. Government agent Amanda Waller is sent in to de-program Beetle through hypnosis, but due to an “azrael block” in his programming, he slips into a coma. Notably, when Batman questions Waller’s ability to handle the situation, Waller takes a crack at Batman’s handling of the “Deacon Blackthorne situation.” This is a clear reference to Deacon Blackfire from Batman: The Cult, so the use of the incorrect name is either Giffen’s mistake or an intentional Waller slip-up (as the event would have occurred a little less than a year prior to this).
–Justice League America #29
Beetle is still in a coma, so Batman goes to get help from Dr. Fate, but when he arrives at the doc’s residence, Fate is nowhere to be found. In his place, Batman finds the supposedly deceased Kent Nelson, the former Dr. Fate. Nelson explains that Dr. Fate has been a different person for a while now (Eric Strauss), but he (Nelson) is more than willing to assist Batman anyway. (Nelson is indeed dead, but his lifeless corpse is currently being possessed by the cosmic Nabu himself.) Nelson/Nabu is able to fully de-program and revive Beetle by entering his mind.
–Batman #436-439 (“BATMAN YEAR THREE”)
“Batman Year Three” contains a detailed flashback story concerning the origin of the original Robin and his dealings with Anthony Zucco. “Batman Year Three” is titled so because Bat Year Three was originally the first Robin year. However, retcons have slid Robin’s first year to Bat Year Six, so really this story should be called “Batman Year Six.” In the tale, Nightwing returns to Gotham when he notices that, ever since Jason’s death, Bruce has become more reckless and violent. The original Dynamic Duo then learns that Zucco has been paroled and they aren’t sure how to handle the situation. However, in a twist Zucco is gunned down by rival mobsters as he takes his first steps of freedom from beyond the prison walls. I also wanted to note that the lean red-haired version of Zucco portrayed in this story is wrong. The correct and current version of Zucco was always a semi-bald, obese, cigar smoker.
–REFERENCE: In The Batman Chronicles #5, Part 1. Bruce gives a grant to Babs so she can set up a high-tech computer system in her bedroom. Using her new computer system, she meddles in the affairs of criminal cyber-hacker Ashley Mavis Powell, which nearly gets her killed. Batman then sets Barbara up with a personal trainer, one of his old mentors, the martial arts master Richard Dragon. (Bruce’s training with Richard Dragon from years ago can be seen via flashback from Richard Dragon #7.) Babs will train with Richard Dragon for several months.
THE TEASDALE IMPERATIVE
———————–Justice League America #31
———————–Justice League Europe #7
———————–Justice League America #32
———————–Justice League Europe #8
More great self-reflexivity as Booster and Beetle run-down the “JLI” comic book! The new double-gendered Dr. Fate (a merger of Eric Strauss and Linda Strauss) and Huntress join the team! The JLA and JLE then team-up in Eastern Europe against a horde of zombies controlled by both Dr. Irwin Teasdale (who wants revenge against his former employer) and the Grey Man (who wants to rule the cosmos). After growing to size of Godzilla, the Grey Man squashes Teasdale like a bloody bug and is set to do the same to the JLA and JLE until the Spectre and both the Lords of Order and Lords of Chaos come to destroy him.
–REFERENCE: In the B&W second feature to Batman: Gotham Knights #42. December 31. Bruce meets photographer Georgia Gerstner at a New Year’s Eve Party. Bruce also befriends art gallery owner J.D.. The second feature to Gotham Knights #42, which occurs in Bat Year 18, tells us that Bruce often visits J.D.’s gallery openings and always spends a lot of money at them. These visits won’t be documented on our timeline, but we should imagine them happening randomly throughout our chronology from here on out.
- COLLIN COLSHER: Welcome to Bat Year Twelve! Bruce turns 37 in February of 2000. If you are concerned about the correctness of Bruce’s age, you are not alone. It’s really hard to accurately give definitive ages to these characters. For more details on how I came up with this number, check out this section of the website.↩
- COLLIN COLSHER: DC Bonus Book #11 came as a free insert in Detective Comics #595.↩
- COLLIN COLSHER: DC Bonus Book #7 was originally packaged as a free insert with Justice League International #18.↩
- Credit to BOOSTERRIFIC.COM.↩
- COLLIN COLSHER: Here’s a little recap about how the cosmology of the DC multiverse. The Source Wall exists at the edge of each universe and operates as as the first barrier between gaining access to an alternate universe (although there are other means of traveling to alternate universes such as Boom Tube technology, metahuman speed/vibrational/teleportation abilities, etc…). Furthermore, beyond the Source Wall, also separating the various universes, is the Source itself, within which resides the mysterious and dangerous Anti-Life. And of course, beyond the Source Wall exists the Bleed, a tesseract space that serves as the final blank void/highway between universes. The Monitors refer to the Bleed as Ultramentsruum. Marvel Comics refers to the Bleed as “The Superflow.”↩
- COLLIN COLSHER: Secret Origins Special is a wonderful book, but it is non-canon. However, if any part of it can remain canon, it would be the great Penguin story, entitled “The Killing Peck”—hence its inclusion on our list here. The reason the rest of the issue is decidedly non-canon are as follows: First, there are a ton of Two-Face bits that are just way off base and don’t jibe with anything else continuity-wise. I won’t even get into these errors, as there are so many. And secondly, while the Riddler tale is one of the finest comics I’ve ever perused both in its prose and for its aesthetic value, author Neil Gaiman has a bit of non-canon fun with it and treats it as a meta-commentary about how the comic industry morphed from camp (in the 60s) into the “dark age” of the 80s. Gaiman cleverly throws in lots of direct references to non-canon camp villains from the Adam West TV show. Even the dramatic oversize props that litter the mise-en-scène harken back to a different Golden era—an epoch that registers more clearly with a different past continuity.
VINCE: “The Killing Peck” by Alan Grant and Sam Keith is a pretty good Penguin origin story from Secret Origins Special #1 (1989). Penguin captures a mob guy named Sharkey who he went to school with as a child. Sharkey teased Cobblepot because of his protruding gut and long nose, calling him “Penguin,” and years later he adopted the name and persona as a villain. Batman is in it too, pursuing the Penguin as he tortures Sharkey (which, by the way, he does by feeding him fish through a funnel..). Don’t see why it couldn’t be canon. The really cool Riddler origin by Neil Gaiman(!) and BEM (Bernie Mireault!!) in the same book where Riddler tells his own origin to reporters could be canon as well. The equally good Two-Face origin story by Mark Verheiden doesn’t line up with Long Halloween, so it should probably be excluded.↩
- COLLIN COLSHER: In Nightwing Annual #2 Dick says to Babs that he was away on Tamaran. This is incorrect. He was actually on New Cronos. (There had been a recent prior trip to Tamaran before this, but New Cronos is the correct response).↩
- COLLIN COLSHER: Dick mentions, in The New Titans #55, that he was Robin for a whopping twelve years. We may be in Year Twelve now, but Dick was Robin for about four years. Also, someone in the issue mentions that he “thinks” Jason died a week or so ago. He thinketh incorrectly. It’s been longer than that.↩
- MARVofSINCITY: The Question #26 doesn’t include Batman, but it takes place now and features the Riddler and Commissioner Gordon. This issue is the first time Riddler’s original last name of Nashton (before he changed it to Nigma) is revealed for the Modern Age.↩
- COLLIN COLSHER: Justice League America #27 was the first time Batman met Huntress in the comics. However, Huntress: Year One retconned this—Batman first meets Huntress in Bat Year Seven. Thus, we must ignore the fact that Batman seems to be meeting Huntress for the first time here.↩