INTRO TO THE “YEAR ONE ERA”
This section of the website is an attempt to put all Modern Age (basically post-Crisis on Infinite Earths/Zero Hour/Infinite Crisis/Final Crisis, but pre-Flashpoint) Batman stories in chronological order. There are other sites that have tried to do this. However, I have found that a number of these resources are seriously incomplete or just plain wrong. Therefore, this is meant to be the ultimate resource for all things Batman continuity/chronology related.
Before going further, I want to give a big shout-out to Ivan, who aided and abetted me in the early stages of this venture. (Ivan would have had dozens of annotations peppered throughout this chronology if I hadn’t lost the original messages and files he sent me back in late 2009). Also, a big shout-out to Valheru, who advised me significantly once the basic framework was set in place. This is a “diver’s hands” process and Valheru was quite handy. Many thanks to Renaud Battail who was extremely helpful as well. And last but not least, Ashley Jean Mastrine, for encouraging me to start this project in the first place.
First of all, I should preface this introduction by saying that there is no right answer. There can never be a right answer. But, what is the question, you ask? The question is: “What is the correct chronological order for reading Modern Age Batman?” The answer is: There is no correct order because there are too many stories and too many retcons and too many other things going on to even begin to answer properly. In fact, many of the Batman stories, especially Legends of the Dark Knight stories, are indeed canon, but essentially interchangeable on a timeline. So how do we know what the correct reading order is? We don’t and we never will. I can’t stress that enough. We never will. So, is this project a complete waste of time? No, this project is a labor of love and if you examine each panel of as many Batman stories as you can get your hands on, you will see that things do fit into a timeline in the most pleasantly unexpected ways. Of course, the maddeningly opposite happens almost just as often.
This branch of the project attempts to offer the best and most comprehensive suggested reading order for MODERN AGE Batman. Theoretically, if the perfect suggested chronology is compiled, then we have the closest thing to answering our dreaded question, and the closest thing is the best thing when there technically is no thing. Confused? Just you wait. I’ve also attempted to apply ages to the characters featured in these comics and also dates and times to the world in which they exist. However, the DC Universe seems to be a place where the concept of time (and consequently the concept of age) are soundly rejected. But I’ve tried to do it anyway, and if I’ve failed in that endeavor then I apologize, and you can simply use this timeline as a reference for the correct chronological order of Batman’s life. More confused? Just you wait!
Since we are dealing with the Modern Age (the era of comics ushered in after The Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986), the Modern Age chronology begins with Batman: Year One by Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli. This is a great place to start because The Crisis on Infinite Earths had recently been published and this was DC’s big attempt to reboot all of its characters, including the Dark Knight. Unsurprisingly, 1986 is where things first get muddled. But to fully comprehend the perplexity, we must go way back to the beginning. Batman’s history began with Detective Comics #27 by Bob Kane/Bill Finger in 1939. The Caped Crusader had countless adventures for a long, long time before The Crisis on Infinite Earths was published in 1986. The original Crisis not only rebooted Batman as a character, but functioned as an epic, earth-altering, time-shattering, crossover event that essentially erased Batman’s storied 46-year history—the DCU had been rebooted once before in the 60s, but we’ll get to that in a moment—and replaced it with a group of stories that DC publisher’s hoped were relatively continuity error-free. The original Crisis also folded several character universes into one single universe with one single collective history, most notably Earth-One (the home of Silver Age Batman), Earth-Two (the home of Golden Age Batman), Earth-Four (the home of the Charlton heroes), Earth-S (the home of the Fawcett heroes), and Earth-X (the home of the Quality heroes).
Hold on. What the hell is the deal with the Silver Age Earth-One Batman versus Golden Age Earth-Two Batman, you ask? Well, as briefly mentioned above, the Crisis on Infinite Earths was not the first time DC publishers tried to reboot their primary universe. By 1961 DC editors already were fearing that Batman, with a now 22 year history, might be in need of a reboot. Thus, the concept of the multiverse was introduced: The current (at the time) early 1960s incarnations the superheroes (including Batman) were retconned so that they became separate characters from the versions that had their origins in the 30s and 40s. The heroes that had had adventures in the 30s, 40s, and 50s (fighting in World War II, fighting in the Korean War, etc…) now became the Golden Age heroes of Earth-Two, while the current 60s versions became the main DCU versions of the Silver Age Earth-One.
Jump to 1986. The collection of replacement stories spawned by the original Crisis fell under the label “Year One,” and most of them had yet to even be written around the time of Crisis. In fact, because there was a blank-slate where Batman’s history used to be, there were still some gaps which writers continued to fill even as late as 2011. But why did this Crisis event take place? One, because it was a compelling and crazy story at the time. But also because Batman’s history was previously riddled with cheesy hackneyed plots and plagued by campy, unrealistic, and extremely dated stories that editors wanted to do away with or repair. So, along came the ultimate super-being known as the Anti-Monitor and he altered everything and combined the infinite Earths into one single Earth with one collective, shared history. Bear in mind, while the Anti-Monitor combined hundreds of thousands of Earths into one “New Earth” that became the main DCU’s Earth, an unspecified number of alternate universes and entire alternate multiverses remained unscathed and out of his vast reach (i.e. the Marvel Multiverse, Image Multiverse, Wildstorm Universe, Elseworlds universes, and more). In this way, the omniverse continued to exist. I should also mention that the term “New Earth” is not used until much later (not until after the events of Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis when the Earth and its history are remolded once again). To re-iterate, the new Earth created during the original Crisis is originally simply referred to as “Earth-One.” ”Earth-One” then becomes renamed “New Earth,” which is later known as “Earth-0″ at the conclusion of Final Crisis. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s not forget Zero Hour.
Zero Hour (fully named Zero Hour: Crisis in Time) was published in 1994. In this storyline, Green Lantern Hal Jordan goes insane and becomes symbiotically linked to the cosmically-powered being known as Parallax. Wielding immense power and a equal amount of rage to match, Jordan alters time. Jordan’s time-altering compacts the entire 20-plus-year DC Universe timeline into fewer “in-story years.” Those “in-story years” then became restructured so that they led up to 1994 (the year of the tale’s publication), but then later restructured so that they led up to 1998, then 2000, and then 2002). Another way of explanation is to say that a sliding timeline was created which used Zero Hour as a place-marker. To keep stories contemporary, DC editors kept sliding 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 apparent that the Zero Hour place-marker was shifted once more to 2002 based upon character ages and specific story-arc references in the late 2000s. DC editors stopped shifting the timeline after the the unofficial move in 2002, but would have likely continued the trend if not for the reboot/relaunch in 2011 (but we’ll get to that later). Because of these intense time-alterations associated with Zero Hour, some parts of Batman’s past obviously changed yet again in 1994. It is important to understand that some DC editors wanted Zero Hour to function the exact same way as the original Crisis, meaning they wanted a blank historical slate leading up to 1994 (and then 1998, then 2000, then 2002, following the time-sliding). While my Modern Age Batman chronology gives a quasi-blank slate to the historical timeline of the DCU for everything prior to 1986, I’m hesitant to do the same regarding Zero Hour‘s sliding timeline. I mean, really, were DC editors trying to tell us that only stories published from 2002 to 2011 were officially canon and the rest were just retroactive reference materials? They totally were, but I don’t buy that for a second. Moving on.
In 2006 Infinite Crisis was published, shaking the roots of the DC Universe to its very foundations once again. The story’s narrative reveals that Superman from the original Earth-Two, Superboy from the old Earth-Prime, and Alexander Luthor, Jr. from the old Earth-Three (all characters whose Earths were erased from existence during the original Crisis) have been watching the DC Universe from within a crystalline limbo pocket universe to which they have been exiled. Years and years have passed and they aren’t too happy with what they’ve seen. This unhappiness leads them to break out of their prison, which unleashes intense vibrational ripples that distort the fabric of time. So, once again time was adjusted significantly and “New Earth” (aka “Earth-0″) was recreated. In fact, for Batman specifically, much of the character-metamorphosis that happened during Zero Hour was reversed or undone, so to speak. Also, 52 brand new parallel Earths were not only added to the mix but, thanks to Infinite Crisis, were retconned to have always existed. Our chronology reflects all of the changes made by Infinite Crisis, thus making it the official unofficial detailed historical record of Batman’s existence on “New Earth” aka the primary Earth which functions as the epicenter for the canonical continuity and history of the entire Modern Age DCU. Since this is an up-to-date chronology, I shall refer to the primary DCU Earth as “Earth-0″ once we get rolling.
I feel it is important to mention all of this in layman’s terms because we have the ability as omniscient readers to know the complete history of Batman dating back to 1939. And to really know Batman’s full history is to read every single issue of every single comic book Batman has ever appeared in since that time. However, the timeline I’m constructing here is Batman’s history as he lived it. And that is how comic book continuity works. Period. It isn’t about the whole story from beginning until end. It’s about the fictional life the character lives from his own perspective. We know that Batman fought in World War II because we read it in a comic book, but because of certain events that occur later in his life, Batman never fought in World War II, so therefore that isn’t a part of the life he would have perceived. (A different Batman fought in WWII). Batman, by 2011, looks back and sees the mid 1980s (or even the mid 1990s arguably) as his jumping off point, which makes a hell of a lot more sense than looking back and seeing the 1940s or the 1960s.
You see, while time-altering, character-rebooting, massive retcon-laden events like Infinite Crisis or Crisis on Infinite Earths or Zero Hour are extremely editorial and commercial-based stories that sometimes have more to do with economics and industry politics than storytelling, they needn’t only be viewed that way. These huge occurrences, like them or not, can all be read as happening naturally in Batman’s life, albeit as natural as a life led in a completely over-the-top science fiction multiverse could ever hope to be lived. What I’m saying here is that there are two types of retcons (short for “RETroactive CONtinuity”); one where you simply ignore past stories and change continuity (bad), and the other where you have an in-story event which alters the past and therefore modifies continuity (better–in fact, some argue that the latter isn’t even a retcon at all i.e. DC publishers who call it a “relaunch”–but for the intent and purpose of this chronology we will just say that it is indeed a retcon). These three major DC events that I’ve mentioned, for Modern Age Batman, function as in-story occurrences which revise his past. Pure retcons, if you like.
To explain this concept even further, one can look at it this way: Bruce Wayne’s parents are killed; he becomes Batman; Robin joins him; they clash with villains like the Joker and the Penguin; they fight in World War II; their adventures get progressively campier as the duo grows into the next few decades; a host of new characters are introduced; dozens upon dozens of team-ups and stupendous events transpire; by 1961 DC editors, already fearing that Batman with a now 22 year history might be stale, introduce concept of the multiverse. At this point, the early 1960s incarnation of Batman (along with the other heroes and villains) are retconned so that they are separate characters from the representations that have their origins in the 30s and 40s. The heroes that crusaded in the 30s, 40s, and 50s now become the Golden Age heroes of the alternate Earth-Two, while their current 60s counterparts become the DCU versions of the Silver Age Earth-One (the main DCU Earth at the time). Then the original Crisis occurs in 1986 and everything we have just mentioned up to this point is erased in one foul swoop as both Earth-One and Earth-Two (and a whole bunch more Earths) are merged into a single Earth with a new combined/rebooted history. But there’s no need to worry. See, Batman’s new history mirrors his old history/histories, but this one is defensibly stronger, more cohesive, and topically appropriate (arguably). Of course, this new Modern Age Batman never fought in World War II like the Earth-Two Batman of the great old Golden Age. Nor did he start in the swingin’ 60s like the Batman of Earth-One. Instead, the Batman of this new single Earth becomes a masked vigilante that begins his war on crime in the late 1980s (or early 1990s, if you like) and his adventures never get as super-campy as they did in the 50s and 60s. Batman stories continue on. Zero Hour happens and the past is mutated again; Batman stories continue on; Infinite Crisis unfolds and the past is re-calibrated again; Batman stories continue on; Final Crisis ensues and the Caped Crusader is zapped by an Omega Beam; Batman stories continue on. Bruce returns and forms Batman Incorporated; Batman stories continue on. And with Flashpoint the Modern Age comes crashing to a halt, much like the previous Ages did before, paving the way for the New Age (also known as the “New 52 Era”). But that is a chronicle best left for the New Age section of this website, although I will delve into its details briefly below.
Every time, we (the reader) witness the effects of a huge temporal-renovation, the characters are unable to witness those effects because they are inside the story whereas we are outside of it. To reiterate, the past life that the character perceives becomes his one axiomatic past, even if we know the truth, even if that verisimilitude doesn’t match up.
So, you can see what I mean. Right? Well if not, then oh well. It was worth a try. My whole point was to explain the core and foundation of this chronology in the Modern Age. Without the previous knowledge, this chronology would not be possible or necessary. Basically, what I’m emphasizing is that while Modern Age Batman’s first 46 years are erased, they are still apart of his history. They form the spine of every Batman story ever written after 1986. Without them we wouldn’t and couldn’t have a Modern Age continuity (which includes the “Year One Era”). The roots of Batman will always lie in the ages of old; Golden, Silver, and Bronze. (For anyone confused already, I will refer to the first ten years of our chronology as the “Year One Era,” whereas DC simply calls it a combination of “Modern Silver Age” and “Modern Bronze Age,” reflecting the original Silver and Bronze Ages of comic book writing/publishing. However, I have always found that a bit confusing, since there are already publishing eras with the same names). Editors at DC could have taken the easy way out and just stopped Batman stories cold in their tracks and started brand new in 1986, but they didn’t. Instead, they chose to maintain the saga and that’s really what the original Crisis, Zero Hour, and Infinite Crisis were each about. If you look at it that way, it wasn’t simply about rebooting or restarting, it was a dedication of concern for rebooting without disregarding or discarding the old stories. The old chronicles form the skeletal framework of continuity. Check out this wonderful article by Greg Burgas, which ties directly into what I’ve been rambling about here: “Greg Burgas’ CBR Blog”.
Sorry, that last part went off on a huge term-paper-like tangent. Let’s talk a little about the chronology. Okay, I lied, just bear with me for one more long-winded explanation about my definition of “Year One” and we’ll be ready to go. Comic book scholars generally say the Golden Age (for Batman) ended in 1964, which subsequently brought about the Silver Age which lasted until roughly 1969, which in turn brought on the Bronze Age which stuck until around 1986.  From this point on we enter the Modern Age which continued until 2011. The precursor to the Modern Age is what we will refer to as the “Year One Age” or “Year One Era” (alternately known as the “Modern Silver Age”–years 1 through 8–and “Modern Bronze Age”–years 9 and 10) which comprises of Miller’s original Year One, a myriad of subsequent “Year One” stories that have been published, various references to old stories, and many flashbacks. 
Let me also point out that the “Year One Era” is slightly a misnomer for several reasons. One; it’s not quite a publishing era per se, especially due to the fact that it doesn’t comprise a length of actual calender time (i.e. 1964 to 1969 or 1969 to 1986). Two; story-wise, it’s longer than one year. For example, all stories up until the arrival of Dick Grayson as the original Robin tend to have the “Year One” label attached to them, but in continuity Dick doesn’t come around until about five years after Bruce takes to the streets on his crusade against crime (although there is still the heated argument that Modern Age Robin debuts in Year Three). Also, there are many “Year One” tales that include a young Robin kicking alongside of Bruce. Furthermore, “Year One” stories were published randomly and were even published as recently as 2011 whereas Silver Age or Bronze Age comics could technically no longer be written post-original Crisis. Post-original Crisis authors could write in the style of the Silver Age or even write homages to the Silver Age which involved a Silver Age Batman. However, the old “Ages” refer to the time periods in which they were actually written, whereas “Year One” refers to a time period in which the stories fit into a certain point in Batman’s early years. Thus, one would have had to been writing literally during the Silver or Bronze Ages in order to have contributed to those epochs.
I’ve made mention of the Modern Age ending in 2011. What’s that about, you ask? Well another huge reboot/relaunch/massive retcon occurred in 2011, the largest since the original Crisis; Flashpoint. Flashpoint functioned similarly to the original Crisis in that, due to a spacetime anomaly (inadvertently created by Barry Allen), all of the DCU’s history was erased and several universes were merged into one single new universe with a shared history. Thus, the Modern Age ended (arguably, since there isn’t a specific name for the new age yet) with Flashpoint. Not coincidentally, Flashpoint is the final entry in this Modern Age Batman chronology.
Phew. I hope you learned something in there. If you didn’t read it all, no worries. On to the meat and potatoes. The MODERN AGE section of The Real Batman Chronology Project. 
<3 site author, researcher, comic book historian Collin Colsher
-  COLLIN COLSHER: This has been posted earlier, but I will re-iterate an important point here again: For the intents and purposes of this project, I will refer to the classical comic book ages that are born from line-wide continuity reboots—the GOLDEN AGE, the SILVER AGE, the MODERN AGE (and later the New Age). One can also split the Modern Age into subsections: The early years of the Modern Age in the late 1980s being the IRON AGE, DARK AGE, or COPPER AGE where comics became more “adult-themed” and darker in general; the CHROMIUM AGE or IMAGE AGE of the 1990s, named after Image Comics and the subsequent Liefeld/Lee style that permeated all companies in that decade; the DYNAMIC AGE of the 2000s where DC and Marvel began branching out with more forward-looking, diverse storytelling by contracted big-name talents; and post-2011 DC, with its huge New 52 reboot, spawning the NEW AGE of comics (as I like to call it). Both DC and Marvel ushered in the New Age around this time with a re-purposed focus on nostalgia, even darker themes, decompressed continuity, and more mega event crossovers. Since the New Age really won’t be officially categorized until after its has ended, it currently has several different names such as: the NEW GOLDEN AGE (as claimed by Douglas Wolk); the PRISMATIC AGE (as defined by Andrew Kunka, Grant Morrison, and the Mindless Ones blog); the BOUTIQUE AGE (as labeled by Ken Quattro); and the MEGA-CORPORATE AGE (as coined by Charles Hatfield). But as I was emphasizing, for the purposes of this site, these subdivisions will be ignored—our Modern Age begins in 1986 and ends in 2011. ↩
-  COLLIN COLSHER: The DC Multiverse, in which DC’s primary Universe-0 exists, is a part a larger omniverse. The entire Modern Age comic book omniverse contains a multitude of combined multiverses (such as the DC Multiverse, Marvel Multiverse, Image Multiverse, Dark Horse Multiverse, and Archie Multiverse—in fact, pretty much any publisher of comic books can be said to have its own multiverse including: Oni, Top Shelf, America’s Best Comics, Top Cow, Acclaim, Viz, Boom!, Dynamite, IDW, and many others). That being said, almost everything falls into the realm of the omniverse. In fact, Marvel has even stated in one of its 2004 Handbook issues that DC Comics is a part of the same omniverse as Marvel, further extrapolating, “[The omniverse] includes every single literary [item], television show, movie, urban legend, universe, realm, etc… ever.” Each multiverse in this infinite-seeming omniverse operates with different sets of unique internal universes, planets, solar systems, characters, and physical laws that generally contrast with (but sometimes only slightly differ from) each other. However, there is always the occasional but rare omniversial crossover—where entire multiverses crossover with each other. Of course, multiversial crossovers are much more common—where alternate universes within a shared multiverse interact. ↩
-  IAN @ TRADE READING ORDER: The Silver Age is a tough thing, because it seems to start in different places for different characters or publications. I tend to start it around 1954 where the Strange Adventures Showcase Volume starts – at least for ease of organizing my reading order, since I include Golden Age stories as starting much earlier, then the Silver Age and Modern Age retcons intermixed. It’s kind of weird, but I haven’t figured out a better way to do it if you’re looking at multiple characters and not just a single timeline. ↩
-  COLLIN COLSHER: It is important to understand that despite my labeling of the “Modern Silver Age” as Bat-Years 1 through 8 and the “Modern Bronze Age” as Bat-Years 9 and 10, many of the original Silver Age tales and original Bronze Age tales which make up the references, occurrences, and stories within the entire “Year One Era” are intermixed. In other words, there are often Bronze Age stories that wind up in the first 8 years and some Silver Age stories that wind up in years 9 and 10. Thus, the Modern Age versions of these stories aren’t necessarily married to their previous epochs. Again, another confusing concept, but I hope that makes sense. ↩
-  COLLIN COLSHER: It is also worth re-iterating an important fact that I’ve mentioned before: During these huge company-wide reboots, it’s not just universes that are being erased, the entire timelines associated with each universe are being erased. For example, with Crisis on Infinite Earths it’s not as if Earth-One’s and Earth-Two’s timelines simply end with a cataclysm in 1986. If that were the case, then any reference to future tales or stories that occur after 1986 would be null and void. The entire timelines are already complete. 1986 is simply the focal point of an event that sucks dry and evaporates the entire Golden Age timeline from the before the Big Bang to the End of Days. And likewise, it wipes the entire Silver Age timeline from its pre-Big Bang to its End of Days. To better understand this concept we must also adopt a general scientific view of time as another dimension of space—as a where instead of a when. In the case of the original Crisis, 1986 isn’t just a calendar year for our intents and purposes; it is also the point in time (or space-time) where the universe-collapsing anomaly occurs. Furthermore, it is necessary to understand that the event is exactly that, an anomaly (albeit one deliberately started by a villainous force) that ceased to exist on any timeline until its inception. The same system can be applied to Flashpoint in 2011. The Modern Age timeline doesn’t simply end dead in its tracks in 2011. Remember, the entire Modern Age timeline is already complete (from the Dawn of the Gods to the Big Bang to the End of Days). Flashpoint is merely a space-time anomaly that occurs at the physical point 2011. This anomaly erases the entire Modern Age timeline, not just the universe. ↩
-  COLLIN COLSHER: Here is a brief mini FAQ that goes well with this intro page.
1. What does this timeline include? This timeline includes every appearance of Batman from Year One to Flashpoint. This includes all guest appearances (JLA, other DCU books, and much, much more).
2. Does this timeline also include the various Bat-family books? This timeline includes issues of Batman, Detective Comics, Shadow of the Bat, Gotham Knights, Gotham Central etc… etc… etc…
3. Does this timeline also include chronologies of the other supporting characters from the various Bat-family books? There is a decent amount of the extended Bat-family included on the timeline (often in “occurrence” bullet notes when important). The timeline, however, focuses primarily on chronological appearances by Batman (starting with Bruce Wayne in Year One and going until Flashpoint). Also included: Jean-Paul Valley’s time as Batman (following “Knightfall”), Dick’s first time as Batman (during “Prodigal”), and Dick’s second time as Batman (following Battle for the Cowl) which is also detailed in its own separate space. Much of the early life of Dick (as both Robin and Nightwing), Jason Todd, Barbara Gordon, Jim Gordon, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown, Cassie Cain, countless villains, and many others can be gleaned from the text of the chronology even if it isn’t directly included. As far as Tim goes, there are a ton of Robin issues included (since Bruce makes cameos in a lot of them).
4. Why don’t I add other characters in full? I could conceivably add Batwoman, the Batgirls, the Robins, and the villains into the timeline (as I have with the Dick Grayson timeline that runs separate but simultaneously with Bruce’s), but I’d have to do it similarly to how I’ve done it there and even with one other character it was no walk in the park. Imagine a timeline (a working timeline) featuring Superman as well. Now, imagine adding every JLA member… It’s nearly impossible–although Chris Miller’s site was/is an amazing attempt–and even Chris Miller hasn’t updated in a while. Much of his initial research made my site possible in the first place, and to him I am indebted. ↩