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Here's the list of Batman's "Year One Era" or, if you prefer, the "Silver Age." These are the first fourteen "official continuity" Batman stories chronologically. Some of them overlap each other and I've indicated where. Also, I just wanted to note that I'm generally not including flashbacks into the numbered time-line because they are just that; flashbacks. By definition, they take place in continuity exactly when they occur. They just look back upon an event/events from that current point. I will, however, for the sake of being comprehensive, make detailed notes where flashbacks occur chronologically. Any character names (or group names) highlighted in red denote the first appearance of a reoccurring character (or group) in the Bat-verse. Some of these red highlighted items may appear only once in the Bat-verse, but appear elsewhere throughout the DCU, and thus have been given the crimson treatment as well.
1. "Batman Year One" by Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli (Batman #404-407) 1986-1987
This is where it all starts. Batman #404 begins in January, but Bruce doesn't actually become Batman until issue 405 which begins in April. Batman #407 ends in early December of the next year, so here are the first 8 months of Batman's career. We meet Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordon, Barbara Gordon, baby James Gordon, Jr., Harvey Dent, Sarah Essen, Alfred Pennyworth, Catwoman, Holly Robinson, the corrupt GCPD including Det. Arnold Flass, Carmine Falcone, Sal Maroni, etc. I also wanted to note that Bruce is 25 years old when he returns to Gotham. Bruce's birthday, according to pre-original Crisis stories was February 19, so if this still holds true, then Batman debuts at age 26.
Miller's Year One is literally one year long, spanning January until December. However, since Batman doesn't go out in costume until April, you could argue this is really only the first eight months of his career with a four month prelude. So, for the purposes of this blog, our Bat-years will run from April to March instead of the normal January through December calender years. I should also note that, after all of the insane editorial changes spawned from the results of Zero Hour and subsequent "contemporary time-sliding" (we'll talk about that more later) the correct calendar period for Bat-Year One runs from April 1989 to March 1990. Nuff said!
NOTE: Catwoman: Her Sister's Keeper #1-2 by Mindy Newell takes place during Miller's Year One storyline as well, right about now. However, the first two issues (of this four-issue series) are mostly non-canon (except for the certain
aspects–Maggie Kyle is indeed kidnapped by Stan the Pimp and Catwoman is
indeed part-time trained by Wildcat). Early parts of Her Sister's Keeper #1-2 overlap with Catwoman Annual #2 by Jordan Gorfinkel (1995) as well. Catwoman Annual #2 is canon, but Bullock’s appearance must be ignored. Check out the comments section of this post for details about how these Catwoman issues fit into Miller's Year One. Our friend Valheru has worked it out quite nicely.
ANOTHER NOTE: You will have to always completely ignore the coloring of Gordon's hair and chalk it up to artists' liberties. Yes, Gordon has red hair, but sometimes it's grey, and then it turns red again. We just have to assume that he dyes it every once in a while? Oh, and for clarification, Gordon is initially a police lieutenant, but near the end of Miller's Year One, he is promoted to captain.
YET ANOTHER NOTE: Bruce obtains patents on thousands of individualized mechanical parts which he will use over the following decades to create secret Bat-technology and weaponry (as mentioned in Superman/Batman #85). Bruce will also begin pilfering tech from his own company, which at this time is a publicly traded company. Thus, Bruce is technically committing a major string of felonies by defrauding the Wayne Tech stockholders! Oh, well.
2. "Shaman Part 1" by Denny O'Neil/E. Hannigan (Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #1) Nov. 1989
The first issue of "Shaman" overlaps with Batman #404 and #405. It begins with Bruce's last training stop in Alaska before he comes back home to Gotham for good. This issue concludes with Dr. Leslie Thompkins' first encounter with Batman on his very first night out. Also, the Zero Hour tie-in issue of Detective Comics #0 by Chuck Dixon/Graham Nolan has a notable flashback to Batman's preparations during this time period.
3. "Got a Date With an Angel" by Steve Englehart/J. Pulido (The Batman Chronicles #19, Part 1) Winter 2000
This story specifically details Bruce's 4th through 6th days as Batman, so it also overlaps with Batman #405, especially since in that issue we don't see Batman in action until April 9. In this story, Bruce leaves his girlfriend in order to fight crime full-time. And Brucie thought he could juggle a playboy's social life and vigilantism. Duh, no way.
In a tangential side-note, the story entitled "Clay" by Alan Grant/Quique Alcatena from Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #89-90 might have taken place here and now if it were canon, but it isn't. The story is about Batman's first encounter with one of his famous rogues; Matt Hagen aka Clayface. However, "Clay" is definitely non-canon because this story is actually a pre-Crisis re-imagination of Hagen's original origin story from the 1950s. Not to mention, Basil Carlo is the first Clayface, not Matt Hagen.
NOTE: Batman steals a new version of a high tech grappling gun from his own company and tests it in the field, saving six children from a burning building and stopping a shipment of nerve toxin headed for Gotham Bay (as mentioned in Superman/Batman #86). This story can take place right after "Got A Date With An Angel."
4. "One Night in Gotham City" by John Byrne (The Man of Steel #3)
Superman meets the outlaw Batman for the first time and, reluctantly, teams up with him to defeat Magpie. This story probably takes place in the May and overlaps with a single day of Miller's Year One. "One Night in Gotham City" is still the official canonical first meeting between Batman and Superman, even though much of the original Man of Steel series has since been retconned.
NOTE: The placement of Poison Ivy's debut is a tricky one. In "Year One Poison Ivy" by Alan Grant which is from Batman: Shadow of the Bat Annual #3
we meet a violently homicidal Pamela Isley. In this same story we are
told that Batman has been warring against crime for "almost a year"
(which is incorrect). Therefore, this story takes place somewhere
during Miller's Year One. However, this Annual
story cannot be canon because of Isley's initial homicidal nature.
Her first encounters with Batman are more playful than murderous and it
is because of this fact that she is released instead of incarcerated.
We won't see Ivy's slow turn toward the dark side until later on.
Ivy's first appearance should still be placed here on the time-line
(somewhere during Spring).
ANOTHER NOTE: Superman, Batman, and intrepid young reporter Lois Lane track a diamond smuggler aboard the SS Varanian Princess cruise ship (as canonically referenced in Superman #710 and originally told in Superman #76). When the smuggler blends in with the vacationers, Bruce and Clark assume their civilian identities to search the vessel. As fate would have it, Bruce and Clark wind up sharing a cabin and learn each others' secret identities! The World's Finest heroes dodge the snooping Lois and manage to nab the criminal. I should mention that Bruce might have already known that Clark was Superman, having witnessed Clark use superhuman strength a few months earlier.
YET ANOTHER NOTE: The Red Hood incident at Ace Chemicals also occurs now. The Joker is born (as detailed through flashbacks from Alan Moore's Batman: The Killing Joke). This takes place in early September. There are also several significant flashbacks to the origins of the Joker in Batman: Gotham Knights #54. I should mention that Joker's wife was murdered and originally it was made to look like she was accidentally electrocuted. GK #54 retcons Moore's version of the story so that she was murdered and the crime was covered up by a boiler explosion. An apocryphal version of this incident is also shown (as told through a third-hand account by someone who simply read about it in a newspaper) in DC Universe Legacies #3.
NOTE: At this point Batman has brief encounters with both Dr. Death and the Dirigible of Doom. The Dirigible case is part of Grant Morrison's attempt to make more Golden Age stories canon through use of flashbacks in Batman #682 (2009), which we'll see more of later. Dr. Death will rear his evil head again years down the road as one of DC's premier science-villains. The details of these two events are extracted from Detective Comics #29-30 and #33, respectively (both 1939). Batman #682 also gives us more details about this time in Bruce's life (specifically during the Dr. Death case). The Dr. Death case is also highlighted in a single-panel flashback in Batman: Streets of Gotham #20). Bruce barely sleeps anymore and has become a bit obsessive-compulsive. Alfred tells Bruce that he can't neglect his new responsibilities to both Wayne Industries and Julie Madison, who he has just started dating.
ANOTHER NOTE: J'onn J'onzz aka Det. John Jones of the GCPD aka Martian Manhunter meets Batman now (as chronicled in Martian Manhunter Vol. 2 #22). J'onn has been living on Earth since the late 1950s. Originally, he lived in Denver, then Metropolis, then Denver again, and then Gotham (when this story takes place), before eventually moving back to Denver.
YET ANOTHER NOTE: Alfred stitches Bruce up after a particularly bloody night's patrol. While he does so, Alfred tells Bruce of about all the possible different costumed vigilante themes he could have chosen besides that of a Bat (as seen through flashback in Batman #682). Batman #682 also includes a flashback which is an homage to Detective Comics #27, which shows Bruce Wayne laughing off the idea of the existence of Batman in conversation with Lieutenant Gordon.
5. Batman & The Monster Men by Matt Wagner
Bruce's first serious relationship with Julie Madison is highlighted and Batman deals with crime boss Sal Maroni's experiments in conjunction with Hugo Strange to create "monster men" out of mental patients. Batman learns of Strange's connection to the crimes and has his first encounter with the lunatic. However, the Dark Knight is unable to publicly link Strange to the crimes, thus allowing for his appearance in "Prey". Also, the first appearance of one of the many versions of the Batmoblie.
"Monster Men" should start a day after November 3 in Miller's Year One (when Batman has just saved Gordon's infant son's life). Originally, Matt Wagner wrote "Monster Men" to take place immediately after the Red Hood incident. Thus, the following problems must be addressed: The opening scene where Julie and her dad are eating outside on their rooftop patio and she's wearing a sleeveless shirt?-- we'll assume they have heat lamps. Also, in the very same scene, Julie's dad is reading a newspaper with the top-story about the Red Hood incident. We should disregard this too or assume that he is reading an almost two-month old paper. Check out the comments section to see exactly how these next couple of stories fit into Miller's Year One.
6. Batman & The Mad Monk by Matt Wagner
Overlaps entirely with "Prey" running roughly from November 16 to November 20. Batman battles The Brotherhood, a cult led by the vampire known as The Monk and his partner Dala Vadim. Julie Madison, Bruce's first genuine love, can't deal with the fact that he is Batman and leaves Gotham. Batman #682 has a flashback which shows Julie telling Alfred that she is leaving for Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. However, Wagner tells us that Julie winds up in the Peace Corps, so we must assume that Julie is lying to Alfred or she fails in Hollywood before joining the Peace Corps.
7. "Prey" by Doug Moench/Paul Gulacy (Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #11-15)
Batman officially outs Hugo Strange as a criminal. This story originally was written to run the course of two full weeks. However, due to editorial compression this story can only span a single week. Thus, it runs roughly from November 16 to November 29. Not only does Batman battle Strange, he defeats Max Cord, the villain known as Night-Scourge. In what may very well be a huge inconsistency, Batman seemingly invents the Batmobile for the first time (again). However, we already know there are many versions of the Batmoblie (even during Batman's early years), so I argue that Bruce has either built a new model or perfected the existing version. Makes sense. Also, Gordon tests the Batsignal for the first time, so this tale has to go before The Man Who Laughs, where Gordon uses the signal again.
NOTE: It is also around this time that Batman is present when Catwoman rescues her sister, Maggie Kyle, from her former pimp, Stan, as chronicled in both Catwoman #3-4 (1989) and Catwoman: Her Sister's Keeper #3-4. The epilogue from Her Sister’s Keeper #4 takes place three weeks after the rescue of Maggie and also features Batman (see below). This tale also overlaps with "Prey" and "Mad Monk" taking place roughly around November 21. Oh. and as far as Selina Kyle being a prostitute, she definitely was working the world's oldest profession as a dominatrix for many years, but will later claim that the job was an undercover gig which allowed her to be at the heart of Gotham's seedy underbelly, and thus aided in her training as a thief and a fighter. Either way, Catwoman's official comic book origins begin with prostitution, like it or not.
8. "Guardian" by Alan Brennert/Jose Garcia-Lopez (Batman: Gotham Knights #10, Part 2/Batman: Black & White) Dec. 2000
Batman meets the semi-retired original Green Lantern Alan Scott in this Batman: Black & White tale. Alan Scott was not only the original Golden Age defender of Gotham City, but one of Bruce's childhood heroes.
NOTE: Batman saves Dr. Lynn Eagles from getting mugged and killed (as referenced in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #67). Lynn will repay the favor in a year's time.
ANOTHER NOTE: Batman first meets the criminal Matches Malone right about here (as seen through flashback in Batman #589 by Brian K. Vaughan (2001)). After a confrontation with Batman, Malone fakes his own death and skips town. Believing him to be dead, Batman assumes his identity for future undercover use. Batman #589 also shows a montage (in random order) which depicts several other undercover aliases used by Batman including; henchman-for-hire "Irving O'Neil", a bearded biker guy, a leather-clad Mad Max type, and the scarred army vet character from Frank Miller's Year One. This montage also depicts Batman dressed up as a black man (in blackface no less) during a confrontation with The Joker. This Joker confrontation obviously takes place later.
9. Batman: The Man Who Laughs by Ed Brubaker/Doug Manhke
Batman first encounters The Joker! Approximately three months after the Red Hood incident, placing us at November 29. At the end of Miller's Year One Gordon mentions that The Joker has been making threats to poison the reservoir (specifically Dec. 3). The Man Who Laughs technically begins in late November, but its main action (after Joker threatens to poison the reservoir) takes place in early December after Gordon has been promoted to captain. What I have to say next has nothing to do with The Man Who Laughs, but speaking of the Gotham reservoir, crazy CIA medical researcher Ted Galvin would have been dosing the city's water supply with the experimental drug known as Neurotrol for the past thirty years (as referenced in LOTDK #206). This drug is a direct catalyst for creating so many of Gotham's insane villains which we will meet all throughout the "Year One Era".
NOTE: I've been receiving a few questions about The Joker's origin as told in Batman Confidential #7-12 by Michael Green. While I'm not personally a fan of the Confidential series, the majority of the story-arcs are canon. However, such is definitely not the case for "Lovers and Madmen". Here's why. First of all, the Bat Signal and charitable Wayne Foundation would not have existed yet. (The original Wayne Foundation was Bruce's father's name for the industry end of the business. Bruce will later re-christen the Wayne Foundation as a charitable organization dedicated to helping the destitute). Also, the story tells us that Batman already tried the yellow-oval costume and found it to be "silly". Again, not true. What is silly is the reveal that The Joker pays for Harleen Quinnzell's medical school tuition after meeting her at a bar. Furthermore, at one point Batman authorizes a mob-hit on The Joker. Huh? That sure doesn't sound like the Batman I know. And finally, while I don't think it is necessarily a bad idea to change Joker's origin to a gangster, the Red Hood origin (from The Killing Joke) is without a shadow of a doubt still canon to this day. In fact, the Confidential story "Do You Understand These Rights?" clearly references the Red Hood origin and even shows the red-hooded pre-Joker falling into the vat of chemicals!
I should also mention that Green's storyline was written in conjunction with the release of the film The Dark Knight and it is obviously meant for an audience less familiar with the details of the comics. Basically, this tale is the offspring of Warner Bros. synergy and designed to tie-in with the movie, which is yet another reason why it is non-canon. To reiterate, Confidential, like LOTDK, is a series that can and will contain some out-of-continuity Elseworlds-style stories.
10. "Do You Understand These Rights?" by Andrew Kreisberg/Scott McDaniel (Batman Confidential #22-25) December 2008 to March 2009
This story overlaps with both the end of The Man Who Laughs and the flashback debut heists of the Riddler from Detective Comics Annual #8. The tale shows how, even from behind bars, The Joker has the power to manipulate the outside world to his evil whim. There’s also a trial scene where Joker kills the judge with a peanut. True. Batman uses the “Matches Malone” disguise here as well. Oh, and as mentioned above, Riddler appearance is here too! Realistically, Joker's second trial (the one following the trial where he kills the judge) should take place a few months later (in Bat-Year Two). However, we must assume that the whole affair is a rush-job (as many other DCU court cases are) in order to account for Joker's upcoming Arkham appearances this year.
NOTE: It's smack-dab in the middle of "Do You Understand These Rights?" when Batman first encounters Edward Nashton aka Edward Nigma, better known as The Riddler. His henchwomen Query and Echo debut here as well. There is a great "Riddler Year One" story entitled "Questions Multiply the Mystery" by Chuck Dixon/Kieron Dwyer that is told through flashback from the Riddler's point of view in Detective Comics Annual #8 (1995) that that is likely this series of initial encounters. This Annual actually shows Riddler’s first four heists, all of which occur in quick succession during the same time as “Do You Understand These Rights?” is going on. Riddler’s fifth heist isn’t detailed, but the fifth is a charm so to speak, since Batman nabs him on the fifth job—after which we see him being jailed in “Do You Understand These Rights?”. I also wanted to mention that during one of these first five encounters with the Riddler, Batman keeps a giant question mark as a souvenir. He will later display it in the cave as a trophy. "Questions Multiply the Mystery," is only canon as long as you ignore one Two-Face reference in the Riddler's line of dialogue on page 73: "I wasn't going to play second fiddle to the Joker or Two-Face or any of the wannabes." Thanks to Lane McD on this one!
ANOTHER NOTE: Riddler The coda/epilogue from Catwoman: Her Sister's Keeper #4 occurs now. Batman kisses Catwoman for the first time!
YET ANOTHER NOTE: Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin
makes his debut around this time. However, his M.O. would be to
commit crimes with the facade of appearing like he is running a
legitimate business, so he won't really be on Batman's true radar until
a bit later. In Batman Annual #11 by Alan Moore
it is revealed that the Penguin has been in and out of prison for at
least ten years prior to Batman's debut. It can be assumed that
Cobblepot's outrageous nature (i.e. use of umbrellas and bird-themed
crime) develops as a direct result of both the Batman's presence and
the ever-changing nature of super-villainy and "popcrime" in Gotham.
11. "Shaman Parts 2-5" by Denny O'Neil/E. Hannigan (Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #2-5) Dec 1989 to March 1990
This concludes the Shaman investigation. Bruce says that six months have passed since the events of issue #1. However, it is definitely late-December, which would make it more like eight months, so maybe his recollection is a bit shaky. The conclusion to "Shaman" gives us the origin of the Batcave as Batman deals with the criminals Carl Fisk and Tom Woodley. The scenes which detail the origin of the Batcave aren't written as if they are a flashback, but Bruce has already been using the Batcave for some time now. Therefore, these scenes must be considered a flashback.
Batman and Alfred also travel to Alaska as a part of the investigation and the story ends on Christmas Eve.
NOTE: I originally had Batman: Tenses by Joe Casey/Cully Hammer placed here, but I've gotten an overwhelming reader response that this tale just can't be canon. Thus, I've removed this gory and fun little romp from the list. If you want more details as to why I've done so, just ask.
ANOTHER NOTE: The magician John Zatara (father of Zatanna) teaches Bruce how to throw his voice (as referenced in Detective Comics #827), among other useful talents.
YET ANOTHER NOTE: Bruce attends a charity ball and chats with childhood friend Tommy Elliot (who will become the villain Hush years later). Also present at the party; a teenage Peyton Riley (who will become the second Ventriloquist years later). Tommy and Peyton begin dating. (As seen through flashback in Detective Comics #848-849).
ONE MORE NOTE: Bruce and Alfred visit his parents'
graves. Bruce mentions that he can't date anymore because it will
interfere with his work, suggesting that it's time to end his
relationship with Julie Madison. Alfred reminds Bruce, disgustedly,
that Julie dumped him months ago. Alfred shows Bruce a box of unopened
letters which Julie has been sending to Wayne Manor for months (as seen
through flashback in Batman #682).
12. Batman: Journey into Knight #1-6 by Andrew Helfer/Tan Eng Huat
Wayne officially becomes the Majority Shareholder of Wayne Industries
in this first half of this 12-issue mini series, which makes him the
Chairman of the Board, much to the chagrin of the corporate heads,
especially when the new CEO "sleeps" through every meeting.
first six issues run over the course of three
weeks (starting in February and ending in March, since Bruce's birthday takes place). Batman solves the case of Cary Rinaldi aka The Carrier
who spreads a fatal disease wherever he goes. Bruce's new love
interest, Summer Skye Simmonds, comes into his life. I guess Bruce just can't let go of the ladies after all.
Well there you have it, the first 12 Batman stories, chronologically and continuity-officially speaking, that is. Or if you'd rather, the first 12 months or so of Batman's life, starting from April and ending in March.