Salad Days

New Age (“Rebirth” aka Post-“Superman Reborn”) Salad Days[1]

 

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–FLASHBACK: From All-Star Batman #11—and also referenced in Flash Vol. 5 #21 and Batman Vol. 3 #22. Bruce Wayne is born to billionaires Dr. Thomas Wayne and Martha Wayne in Gotham City. He is cared for by the Waynes and their trusted butler Jarvis Pennyworth. Note that All-Star Batman #11 seems to place Bruce’s birth right around the time of the Falklands War, meaning 1982. This would mean that Bruce is merely 19-years-old when he becomes Batman. However, it is possible (and likely) that the image of the Falklands, which doesn’t specifically have the label of “Falklands War,” is showing some covert British ops years prior to the actual war. If we go with the latter explanation, Bruce’s birth year could be in the range of 1975 to 1982, meaning Bruce could be anywhere from 19 to 26 when he debuts as Batman.

–REFERENCE: In All-Star Batman #11, Dark Nights: Metal #2, and Batman: Lost #1. Bruce is three-years-old. The centuries-old illuminati group known as The Court of Owls causes Jarvis Pennyworth to get into a car accident while transporting a pregnant Martha Wayne. Both Jarvis and Martha survive the crash, but Martha loses the baby, whom she was going to name Thomas Wayne Jr. (Super-villain Lincoln March will later claim that he is Thomas Wayne Jr, having actually survived and lived a secret life away from the Waynes at Willowwood Asylum. Of course, there is no way of verifying whether or not March’s claims are true. All we know is that Martha was pregnant, got in a crash, and there was no baby to speak of following the tragic incident.) Note that the Court of Owls involved in Jarvis and Martha’s accident is merely the local Gotham chapter of the greater international network known as The Parliament of Owls. Within the Parliament of Owls there are many Courts located in major cities across the globe. Also note that the Parliament of Owls/Court of is the contemporary evolution of what was once known as Judas Tribe, an ancient Hath-Set-worshipping cult. The Judas Tribe still exists in the form of a handful of semi-immortal high priests, collectively known as The Strigydae, who work for and worship Barbatos—demon god of the Dark Multiverse. (The Dark Multiverse is the evil mirror version of the local Multiverse that contains various Negative Universes within.) The Judas Tribe itself has origins connected to the Hath-Set-led Bat Tribe, which existed as far back as 3300 BCE and was an evolution of the Miagani Tribe, which formed as a direct result of a time-displaced Batman appearing in 38,000 BCE. Barbatos has been waiting since 38,000 BCE for the birth of Bruce Wayne, who he knows will one day become Batman. Barbatos has carefully guided his minions—first the Bat Tribe, then Judas Tribe/Strigydae, then Parliament/Court of Owls—for over 40,000 years, manipulating certain events while biding his time. Ever since the Parliament/Court of Owls’ inception, Barbatos has been orchestrating their every move. Now that Bruce is a toddler, Barbatos and his minions secretly watch the child from the shadows. The Strigydae—in league with the Court of Owls—hope to eventually initiate their “Mantling” ritual upon an adult Bruce in the future to achieve Barbatos’ very nefarious goals. These villains will continue to monitor and sometimes manipulate certain aspects of Bruce’s life, moving forward on our timeline—although, these actions won’t be specifically listed. We’ll get into more details of Barbatos’ plan much further down the line.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 3 #22-23. A young Bruce poses with his parents for a professional photograph and a painted portrait, both of which he will keep and cherish long into adulthood.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman Vol. 3 #22. Bruce falls into a cave filled with bats underneath the Wayne Manor grounds. His dad rescues him. (This cave, of course, will one day become the Batcave.)

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #961. Bruce meets Dr. Leslie Thompkins, who will remain a close friend for decades and become a mother-figure to him.

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #959. While Bruce’s dad finishes a late shift, Bruce’s mom takes Bruce to the top of the hospital. She gives him words of inspiration and shows him the city lights from high above, noting each visible neighborhood. For the next few years, Martha will often take Bruce atop the hospital (although we’ll have to imagine these occurrences scattered invisibly below). Young Bruce will familiarize himself with the location, look, and vibe of many Gotham neighborhoods, growing to truly love the city in which he resides.

–FLASHBACK: In Batman Vol. 3 #29—and also referenced in Batman Vol. 3 #29. Martha Wayne tells Bruce, “When all is lost, have dinner—a traditional nine course French dinner.” (Jarvis is a culinary master that can deliver such a dinner.) Martha’s staid motto is that the Art of Eating, when done right, can save one’s soul. Young Bruce scoffs at this seemingly ridiculous bourgeois ideology, but a nine course French dinner is had nevertheless. And wouldn’t you know it? After fancily filling his belly, Bruce will feel tip-top. Moving forward on our timeline, Bruce will often scoff at his mom’s haute-cuisine-solves-everything mantra, but, he will find comfort in his mom’s idea, the food, and company kept in the years to come. (Upon his arrival in America, Alfred will continue his father’s work by cooking nine course French dinners for the Waynes and various party guests. Alfred will also continue to, on occasion, cook nine course French meals for Bruce long into his adulthood.)

–REFERENCE: In All-Star Batman #10 and All-Star Batman #13. Bruce becomes best friends with young Tommy Elliot, hanging out with him often, including at the Elliot’s beach house in the Florida Keys. Hating his parents, the troubled Tommy secretly severs the brake line of the Elliots’ car, causing an accident that kills his father and permanently injures his mother.

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #958-960. Bruce goes on unspecified travels with his parents, during which time he befriends young Zatanna Zatara, daughter of stage magician (and secret legit magick user) John Zatara, who is on tour. Bruce will hang with the Zataras every so often (although invisibly on our timeline), moving forward. Note that these hangouts will not be in Gotham—we are not told the details of where Bruce and Zatanna see each other, but we can presume that they see each other in random cities where the Zataras are on tour.

–REFERENCE: In All-Star Batman #14. Bruce sees a Zorro movie and becomes obsessed. His parents purchase a Zorro costume and toy sword, which Bruce will wear and play with quite often.

–FLASHBACK: From All-Star Batman #14—and also referenced in All-Star Batman #11-14, Dark Nights: Metal #2, and Super Sons #10. Jarvis Pennyworth dies under mysterious circumstances. (The Court of Owls has secretly assassinated him.) Shortly thereafter, Jarvis’ son Alfred Pennyworth—a former soldier, MI6 secret agent, theater actor, and gourmet chef—moves into Wayne Manor to replace his father as butler of the estate. Alfred meets an eight-year-old Bruce. (According to panels in Scott Snyder’s All-Star Batman #11, which are admittedly vague and open to interpretation, Alfred is roughly nineteen or twenty years older than Bruce.) Like his pop before him, Alfred will care-for and help raise Bruce. Alfred’s moral code and values (and his passion for theater) will rub off on young Bruce over the years.

–REFERENCE: In All-Star Batman #12. Eight-year-old Bruce sees a show about spelunking and attempts to imitate by rappelling to a chandelier. This results in a bad shoulder injury which will leave a permanent scar and require weeks of bedrest. During this time, Alfred reads Robinson Crusoe to Bruce, which the boy comes to love (except for the ending).

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 3 #36. Alfred, in addition to cooking gourmet meals, begins making his specialty snack—mini cucumber sandwiches—for Bruce. He will make these sandwiches for Bruce every week, long into his adulthood.

–FLASHBACK: From Trinity Vol. 2 #16 and Doomsday Clock #2—and also referenced in Flash Vol. 5 #21-22, All-Star Batman #10, Batman Vol. 3 #24, Batman Beyond Vol. 8 #7, and Batman Vol. 3 Annual #2 Part 1 Conclusion. Thomas and Martha Wayne take Bruce to see The Mark of Zorro at the Monarch Theater on Park Row. (Note that Trinity Vol. 2 #16 incorrectly, anachronistically, and hilariously shows The MASK of Zorro on the marquee instead.) After the flick, Thomas and Martha Wayne are tragically murdered by smalltime crook Joe Chill. A shell-shocked Bruce takes and keeps a pearl from his mother’s necklace, which Chill was trying to steal. Bruce will keep this pearl, regarding it as priceless, long into adulthood. The orphaned Bruce is left in the primary care of Alfred. Dr. Leslie Thompkins will also care for Bruce time-to-time as well. A funeral is held and the Waynes are buried in a Gotham cemetery. Alfred begins the tough challenge of raising a troubled boy that has lost everything. A bit overbearing as a result, Alfred will constantly tell Bruce what to do for the next decade-plus, although Bruce will rarely listen.[2]

–FLASHBACK: From Batman Beyond Vol. 8 #7. Alfred accompanies young Bruce to the cemetery in the pouring rain. Bruce grieves by the side of his parents’ tombstone.

–REFERENCE: In Flash Vol. 5 #21, Dark Nights: Metal #1, and Batman: Lost #1—originally told in Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5. An amnesiac 21st century Bruce, thanks to Darkseid’s Omega Sanction, gets trapped in the time period shortly after the murders of his parents. While young Bruce is on a trip with Alfred, time-traveling adult Bruce gets involved in film noir-esque family-related intrigue, specifically an occult demon-summoning ritual held by the criminal organization called The Black Glove—which includes members Simon Hurt, John Mayhew, Carter Nichols, and others. When Nichols betrays the Black Glove, Bruce is able to use his Omega energy to activate a prototype time machine of Nichols’ own design, escaping to 100 Billion CE. Note that Hurt is actually Bruce’s great(x5) Uncle Thomas Wayne, endowed with quasi-immortality from a similar occult ritual performed in 1765. During the 1756 ritual, Hurt believed he had come into contact with Barbatos, hence his desire to do so again here. However, Hurt had actually mistakenly come into contact with the defeated Hyper-Adapter as it was falling backward through time. Although, unknown to Hurt, the real Barbatos was watching and manipulating everything, using Hurt and company to initiate the first rites of his own “Mantling” ritual.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 3 #35. Suffering from severe depression, a ten-year-old Bruce attempts suicide (by slashing his wrists). After recovering, Bruce vows to one day war against all criminals in an effort to avenge his parents.

–REFERENCE: In All-Star Batman #10—originally told in All-Star Batman #1-5 (“MY OWN WORST ENEMY”). Following his suicide attempt, a depressed Bruce is sent to live in a hospital for troubled youth, the Arkham Home, in Innsmouth, Massachusetts. Bruce only stays there for a couple months before returning to Alfred’s care at Wayne Manor, but during this time he meets and befriends a young Harvey Dent.

–REFERENCE: In Flash Vol. 5 #21. A teenage Bruce tries to recover the gun that was used to murder his parents, but he is unable to find it.

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #960. Bruce shows an early aptitude for all things crime-fighting related, learning how to use a lock-pick.

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #959. Bruce and Zatanna share a brief teenage romance. This affair happens outside of Gotham. We are not told the location of this event, but we can presume that it occurs in one of the random cities where the Zataras are on tour.

–REFERENCE: In Batman: The Merciless #1. Teenage Bruce dates fellow high school co-ed Julie Madison for an undetermined amount of time.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 3 Annual #2 Part 1 Conclusion. Bruce begins closely following the Gotham Knights Major League Baseball team. He will remain a lifelong fan.

–REFERENCE: In All-Star Batman #11, Detective Comics #959-960, and Batman Vol. 3 Annual #2 Part 2. Bruce, at sixteen-years-old, ends high school early and leaves Gotham to go on a long training adventure all over the globe. This training will last for years before he returns. For most of his training, Bruce will remain incommunicado, even with Alfred. One of the primary motivators for Bruce’s training, besides wanting to defeat evil and avenge his parents’ murders, is knowing that the more steps he takes to push himself, the more lives he can eventually save. This concept will stay with (and haunt) Bruce for the rest of his life. He will forever be training to be stronger, smarter, faster, better.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 3 Annual #2 Part 2. Sixteen-year-old Bruce travels to a remote wilderness where he trains for a full year with a master called The Memory of the Mountain, learning to encode his own senses onto his mind. During this tenure, Bruce will often steal cigarettes for his chain-smoking master, learning how to disguise himself in order to do so. At the end of the year, Bruce has exceeded his master.

–REFERENCE: In Trinity Vol. 2 #14-15. Already an autodidactic polymath, Bruce begins studying all forms of science—from chemistry to physics to biology and more. He will study science for the rest of his life, eventually becoming a master in the field. Only slightly tangentially related, Bruce learns emergency first aid and all there is to know about the human body.

–FLASHBACK: From Detective Comics #959-961—and also referenced in Detective Comics #959-960 and Trinity Vol. 2 #17. Bruce travels to Las Vegas, where the Zataras have recently taken up permanent residence. In Vegas, Bruce asks the Zataras to train him in the art of magick, which he really doesn’t even believe in. John Zatara tells Bruce that he must learn the minor tricks of stage magic before he can learn magick proper. Bruce immediately begins studying, but is terrible even at the basics. While practicing sleight of hand, Bruce chats with a roughly 16-year-old Zatanna. (Zatanna says she was 17 in Detective Comics #960, but contradicts herself and says 15 in Detective Comics #961. So let’s just say she was around 16. It’s hard for me to recall my teenage years with clarity too.) Despite Zatanna’s guidance, Bruce is unable to master the hand trick. Later, Zatanna takes Bruce through a portal and gives Bruce a tour of her father’s magick collection. She performs some spells before showing him the ancient Gnosis Sphere (aka “The God Machine”), with which one can communicate with the dead or obtain answers to unanswerable questions. Bruce is curious, but he and Zatanna are interrupted by a returning John, who is in the middle of a meeting with Ra’s al Ghul, who is trying to recruit him into the League of Assassins! An angry John scolds Zatanna for showing Bruce such a dangerous item. He then immediately mind-wipes Bruce, making him forget he ever saw it! On the way out, a dazed and confused Bruce accidentally bumps into Ra’s al Ghul. Ultimately, Bruce trains with the Zataras for a bit, but he never masters the true art of magick. The main knowledge Bruce obtains from this venture is learning about a few simple items that can ward off certain dark spells. For the rest of his life, Bruce will regard magick very negatively.

–REFERENCE: In Superman Vol. 4 #25. Bruce learns how to throw boomerangs and shurikens.

–REFERENCE: In Nightwing Vol. 4 #24. Bruce trains himself to use his surroundings to his advantage while in combat, being able to use any item within reach as a weapon. He also studies the mindset of criminals.

–REFERENCE: In Justice League of America Vol. 5 #8 and Superman Vol. 4 #25. Batman begins studying body language and facial micro-expressions, learning the ability to “read” someone to tell if they are lying or not.

–REFERENCE: In Bane: Conquest #2 and All-Star Batman #12. Bruce begins studying world mythology and many different speaking languages. He will eventually become fluent in various tongues, including Spanish, Portuguese, Dari (Persian), Latin, and the Argot of the Ancient Sea People.

–REFERENCE: In All-Star Batman #12, Dark Nights: Metal #1, and Trinity Vol. 2 #17. Bruce studies military personnel, materiel, and tactics, familiarizing himself with all types of naval, land, and air methods of warfare. He also studies military history from all throughout time and all over the world. As part of his education, Bruce visits an aviation museum.

–REFERENCE: In Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II #2. Bruce begins studying various scholarly pursuits, including Chinese history and Chinese archeology. He will study these interests for his entire life.

–REFERENCE: In Harley Quinn 25th Anniversary Special #1 Part 4. Bruce learns about explosives and how to diffuse all manner of bombs.

–REFERENCE: In Dark Days: The Forge #1. Bruce, while training abroad, meets and befriends tech-savvy businessman Lucius Fox.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 3 #24. Bruce trains with master detective and bounty hunter Henri Ducard and his son Morgan Ducard.

–REFERENCE: In All-Star Batman #11-12. Bruce returns to Gotham unannounced, surprising Alfred at Wayne Manor. Bruce takes over his parents’ estate, moving into the palatial mansion. A brash and headstrong Bruce, “unfocused and daring the world to kill him” as Alfred describes, tells his loyal friend about his training and all his plans to fight crime. He will have many objectives, but the primary mission will always be to make sure no one is hurt as he was when his parents were killed.

–REFERENCE: In Batman Vol. 3 Annual #2 Part 1 Conclusion. Bruce puts his mother’s pearl into a safe in Wayne Manor.

  1. [1]COLLIN COLSHER: Some very important rules before we get going on the amazing and detailed New Age Salad Days section. As before, flashbacks are included in a specific way. If a flashback is first revealed—let’s say in Bat Year 15, hypothetically—the flashback may or may not be mentioned in Bat Year 15, but the actual events that occur in said flashback will be placed one the timeline exactly when they originally occurred through bullets listed as “flashback.” Similarly, story references will be listed as unnumbered bullet “references.” Therefore, any “references” or “flashbacks” occur chronologically at the spot where they are situated on the timeline. Any character names (or group names) highlighted in red denote the first appearance of a reoccurring character (or group). Some of these red items may appear only once in the Bat-verse but appear elsewhere throughout the DCU, which is why they have been highlighted as well.

    One more thing. As also already stated earlier on the website, just about everyone eats, shits, sleeps, brushes their teeth, watches TV, and goes to the office. Believe it or not, Batman does all these things too. He’s human just like you and me! However, this kind of mundane everyday stuff won’t be on our timeline. Usually, anyway.

  2. [2]COLLIN COLSHER: How old is Bruce when his parents are murdered in the New Age? Tom King’s Batman Vol. 3 #35 implies that he was ten-years-old—in it, Selina Kyle says that Bruce made a vow to avenge his parents at that age. (Emphasis on “implies.” Just because Bruce makes the vow at age ten, doesn’t necessarily mean that his folks didn’t die a couple years earlier.) King’s Batman Vol. 3 #20 (a New 52 issue with “Rebirth” trade-dressing) also similarly implies that Bruce was ten-years-old at the time. As does King’s Batman Vol. 3 #12 (a New 52 issue with “Rebirth” trade-dressing), which reveals that a ten-year-old Bruce attempted suicide at some point following his parents’ passing. Scott Snyder’s All-Star Batman #3 (another New 52 issue with “Rebirth” trade-dressing) depicts the first meeting of a young Bruce Wayne and young Harvey Dent. This scene occurs shortly after Bruce’s parents have been murdered. The boys are drawn (by John Romita) as if they look to be eight to ten-years-old. A contradiction arises with James Tynion’s Detective Comics #943 (also a New 52 issue with “Rebirth” trade-dressing), which tells us that Bruce was eight-years-old.

    What does it all add up to? First, all the New 52 with “Rebirth” trade-dressing items listed above should be regarded as non-official or merely quasi-canonical references because they were published prior to the post-“Superman Reborn” reboot. So, keep that in mind when weighing their value. Also keep in mind whether or not something is implied or specifically stated. The latter obviously has more weight.

    King gives us three vague implied answers of ten-years-old, only one of which is officially from the post-“Superman Reborn” New Age—making two out of the three merely quasi-canonical. Snyder gives us a vague answer—again non-official/quasi-canonical—that could be read as eight or ten-years-old. And Tynion delivers another vague implied answer—and also non-official/quasi-canonical—of eight-years-old. Basically, this tells me Thomas and Martha died when Bruce was either eight or ten. It’s still a bit too early to tell, but it seems like, with King helming the main Batman title, ten might be the winning number. Stay tuned.

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