"Year One Era" (YEAR THREE)
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When we last left Batman, it was already four months into his third year (August). Since we can assume that it takes at least two months to track down Joe Kerr in "Going Sane," we can assume that the beginning of "Venom" overlaps with the end of "Going Sane." Likewise, most of "Venom" overlaps with The Long Halloween. I've added an opening note to fully explain how everything fits into place this Bat-Year, but before moving on, I wanted to say that correctly placing "Venom" was very problematic for me. The story is obviously written to have occurred in Bat-Year Two, but placing it there would compromise much of the LOTDK tales that are already there. Therefore, I have placed "Venom" in the latest chronological spot it could possibly go without contradicting the rest of our time-line.
NOTE: Technically, the next story on our list is "Venom" followed shortly thereafter by The Long Halloween. I will now attempt to explain exactly how things work chronologically this year as it gets a bit confusing. First, "Venom" begins in May. It should be noted that Batman has a working relationship with Assistant D.A. Harvey Dent. The Long Halloween begins in early June with an alliance being formed between Gordon, Batman, and Dent (who has just been promoted to D.A. days prior). By July, Batman will also be fully addicted to the Venom drug. In early August the events of "Going Sane" reach their conclusion. Batman will then spend early August to early September in seclusion, rehabbing from the drug (which meshes nicely with a period of inactivity in "The Long Halloween" around that time period. By October "Venom" will conclude. There are, however, two errors which cannot be reconciled in regard to "Venom" which I must address. First, Batman meets with Gordon in August and supposedly they haven't communicated in almost three months. This is an impossibility because Batman clearly interacts with both Dent and Gordon all throughout the summer (as seen in The Long Halloween #1). Second, after quitting the venom drug cold-turkey Batman meets with Gordon yet again and the captain is surprised to see the Dark Knight, exclaiming "It's been six months since--", but before he can finish, Batman cuts him off. I have troubled over the meaning of this "six months" line and I am perplexed by it. A more appropriate line would seemingly have been for Gordon to question where Batman had disappeared to during his four-week seclusion. In any event we must simply disregard the line and assume that Batman wraps up the events of "Venom" in October (before the bombing of Dent's home in The Long Halloween #1). A short flashback from Batman #527 also takes place during this time period (near the end of "Venom"). Also, "Don't Blink" (Legends of the Dark Knight #164-167) takes place during the first part of The Long Halloween as well--specifically in January in-between issue #4 and #5.
ANOTHER NOTE: The flashback which takes place in Batman #527 takes place right about now in this period of time towards the end of "Venom" and the beginning of The Long Halloween. In the story Dent, Gordon, and Batman meet as usual, but this time Dent asks Batman to illegally obtain evidence to help put away criminals who have evaded justice through legal loopholes. Dent goes so far as to imply that Batman should create evidence even if it doesn't exist to ensure that known criminals serve time. Batman refuses of course. The relationship between the trio continues on, but this is an early sign that Dent is becoming more and more obsessed and unraveled.
38. "Venom" by Denny O'Neil/Trevor Von Eeden/Russell Braun (Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #16-20)
If you didn't read the opening note, know this; "Venom" takes about six months to wrap-up and starts about a month before "The Long Halloween" begins. Moving on, this is an awesome story. Batman is unable to save a drowning girl from kidnappers. Feeling inadequate as a hero after the child's death Batman begins taking Venom pills (the very same drug that Bane will pump into his own veins years later giving him the strength to snap Batman's spine in half). He becomes a raging, maniacal drug-fiend and, in less than three months, has built up a serious addiction to the stuff. In fact, Alfred is so disgusted, he actually quits for a short time! Bruce eventually has a breakdown and decides to quit cold-turkey by locking himself in the cave for a full month. There's an amazing panel that depicts Bruce finally emerging from his rehab in a tattered costume and gigantic Grizzly Adams beard. Okay, okay, I know he's sporting what appears to be like at least six-months worth of facial hair and locks down to his shoulders when he was only in there for four weeks, but it still looks cool.
In the end Batman and Alfred team-up (!) and travel to Santa Prisca (a small island nation near Haiti and Puerto Rico, also Bane's birth nation) to defeat the criminals Randolph Porter and Timothy Ashton Slaycroft.
39. Batman: The Long Halloween #1-4 by Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale (1996)
This is the big one, the story that changes everything. And it is, arguably, the most important story during the "Year One Era" besides Miller's Year One. This is the story of how the organized mobs of Gotham fade away and become completely dwarfed by the costumed super-villains. It's the definitive Two-Face origin story, with the rise and fall of the Batman/Gordon/Dent union. It begins to more fully develop the Catowman/Batman love affair that will last for years. (Batman #600 contains a brief one-panel flashback that shows Selina and Bruce as star-crossed lovers during this time period). In The Long Halloween, we see Sal Maroni, Carmine Falcone, Mario Falcone, Calendar Man, Riddler, Joker, Ivy, Grundy, Penguin, Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, and all the rest. Not to mention, there's the primary focus of the story, solving the mystery behind the Holiday murders. And again, don't forget "Going Sane" and "Venom" overlap with parts of this story.
One additional comment; when "The Long Halloween" was released, it was billed as a direct follow-up to Miller's Year One and it most certainly is. This billing led many people (and possibly even DC marketers) to label it as "Batman's official second year". However, as we've seen, we are clearly in at least Bat-Year Three. Basically, this excellent story does follow-up Miller's Year One, but not right away. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are just plain wrong! Ok, they aren't wrong. In fact, I'm sure Loeb was writing this as a direct follow-up to Miller's Year One, but even so, it totally fits and works perfectly a year later!
40. "Don't Blink" by Dwayne McDuffie/Val Semeiks (LOTDK #164-167) Apr. 2003 to July 2003
In McDuffie's follow-up story arc to "Blink," Batman teams up with Blink (Lee Hyland) yet again to take on human traffickers. This tale takes place in winter during a blizzard, thus goes here--in the Long Halloween gap between issue #4 (which ends on New Year's Day) and issue #5 (which takes place on Valentine's Day).