"Year One Era" (YEAR NINE)
This page has not been updated since 2011. For an updated and correct version of this timeline, please redirect to THE REAL BATMAN CHRONOLOGY PROJECT.COM.
The Dynamic Duo is famous! The adventures of the Justice League and Teen Titans have made Batman and Robin internationally known. We are "officially" in Batman's ninth year. There are a few important notes to start off this year.
--First, Bruce and Alfred move into a penthouse atop the Wayne Enterprises building and its underground bunker becomes Batman's new main base of operations (as seen through flashback in Batman #682). As they close down the Batcave in preparation for the big move, Alfred shares a fiction story he has written about what the world would be like if Bruce never became Batman.
--Shortly thereafter, Dick (who is 15-years-old now and will turn 16 this summer) leaves Gotham to attend Hudson State University in upstate New York (as seen through flashback in Batman #600). Dick, like Barbara, is really smart and begins college at a very young age.
--As the "Penthouse Year" starts, so signals the end of the Silver Age and the beginning of the Bronze Age. Bruce starts things off by initiating the Wayne Enterprises-funded Victims Incorporated Program (as referenced in Batman, Inc. #6). Victims Inc functions as a service which provides assistance to those who have lost loved ones at the hands of Gotham crime. The program also solves cold murder cases that the GCPD has been unable to crack. Victims Inc, however, is short-lived due to the dangerous exposure it places upon Wayne Enterprises.
--While quite bi-polar when it comes to mood swings and criminal habits in general, Joker begins his descent into the dark side. Pop-crime is dead. When the Clown Prince of Crime robs the Gotham National Bank, he decides to kill dozens of hostages, including his own henchmen, out of sheer boredom. Batman arrives seconds too late to save even a single soul (as seen through flashback in DC Universe Legacies #5).
--Batman and Robin will soon meet ultra crime-boss Rupert Thorne, but before they do they deal with his brother Matthew Thorne aka The Crime Doctor, an underground surgeon for injured mobsters.
--Steve Englehart's brilliant "Dark Detective" storyline (also known as "Strange Apparitions") from Detective Comics #469-476 occurs during the onset of the "Penthouse year." Technically, this Bronze-Age storyline was wiped from existence after the events of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, but references in Legends of the Dark Knight #132-136, Batman #600, Detective Comics #825, and Batman: The Last Angel make the basic elements of its plot not only completely relevant, but mostly canon as well. In "Strange Apparitions" several important things happen: We meet Dr. Phosphorus for the first time; Robin deals with Penguin; Deadshot—in his new outfit—takes on Batman in an epic battle; and a new mob led by Rupert Thorne rises and falls (the supposed "ghost" of Hugo Strange drives Thorne insane). A single-panel flashback in Deadshot #1 shows Deadshot versus Batman from this episode. But, perhaps the most important part of all is Silver St. Cloud. Silver is probably, besides (arguably) Julie Madison, Bruce's first real-deal serious love-affair in comics. Englehart details their relationship with inspiration and it builds to a point where Silver finds out Bruce is Batman. Like Miss Madison, Miss St. Cloud decides she has to leave. (A one-panel flashback detailing Silver's departure is shown in the opening montage of Batman #600). I should also mention that the Joker's "laughing fish" story was originally part of this collection as well, but it actually takes place in Year Six. The impact of "Strange Apparitions" eventually leads to "Siege" (LOTDK #132-136) towards the end of this year. Originally, there was another sequel by Englehart in 2005 entitled Batman: Dark Detective. Englehart, in interviews, refused to specifically place the six-issue miniseries, saying that it should have pleased fans of any era by being able to fit into any era. Oddly enough, the story includes Commissioner Akins and takes place when the GCPD are hunting the Bat Family, which specifically places it right after "War Games" in Year Nineteen. However, Two-Face is featured heavily in Batman: Dark Detective, yet during that time Harvey was surgically repaired and sort of rehabilitated. Thus, Dark Detective cannot really be considered canon, which is shame because it's so great. In an attempt to make Dark Detective more placeable Englehart doesn't refer to Commissioner Akins by name. His officers merely refer to him as "sir." Furthermore, Englehart never clearly states what era the story is taking place in and doesn't tell us why the GCPD is chasing after Batman. However, all signs, including the publishing date, seem to put this story smack dab right after "War Games," which (as stated above) makes it impossible to place and therefore non-canon. For more information regarding the canonicity of Dark Detective, check out about_faces' Livejournal entry (linked to the awesome We Believe in Harvey Dent Blog).
--The New Teen Titans form from the ashes of the old Teen Titans team (as originally told in New Teen Titans #1 and canonically flashed-back to in Secret Origins Vol. 2 Annual #3—bear in mind that not all of Secret Origins Vol. 2 Annual #3 is canon, but the flashbacks to the formation of the New Teen Titans are for sure). The New Teen Titans is bankrolled by Dr. Silas Stone (Cyborg's dad) and features Robin, Beast Boy (Changeling), Raven, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl. Raven visits the JLA to ask for support with the new team, but she is mistaken for a villain due to her dark aura and gets no help at all. Afterward, the Titans recruit Cyborg and Starfire to their team.
--One of the New Teen Titans' first fights is against Deathstroke the Terminator (Slade Wilson) and his son Ravager (Grant Wilson), as referenced in numerous comics, including Secret Origins Vol. 2 Annual #3. Ravager dies in battle, further fueling what will become Deathstroke's lifelong ire for the Titans. Meanwhile, Booster Gold time-travels from 2010 (Bat-Year 22) back to this point on the timeline in order to prevent future supervillain Black Beetle from altering history by killing the Titans. Booster, as he often does, plays dress-up, knocking out Deathstroke and wearing his costume during the skirmish, ensuring that the Titans win. Booster (as Deathstroke), before fleeing, whispers to a confused Dick, "Embrace your heritage. Guide Damian." Very cool. Later, Booster lets Raven in on the secret and she helps implant memories of the battle, including his son's death, into Deathstroke's head so it will seem to him as if he was always there, thus ensuring the future timeline is corrected entirely. Booster then returns back to 2010 when all is fixed (as seen in Booster Gold Vol. 2 #21-24).
97. "Night of the Bat" by Len Wein/Bernie Wrightson (Swamp Thing #7/Batman Hidden Treasures #1) December 1973
I know this story was written in 1973, but it was re-printed in December 2010, and there is no reason why this shouldn't be canon. Alec Holland has just been turned into Swamp Thing (!) recently and makes his first trip to Gotham in an attempt to track down the man responsible for his horrific transformation. Not only that, the same villain has kidnapped his friends, Abigail Arcane and Matthew Cable. (Abby will later marry Matthew and then marry Swamp Thing. Matthew will later die and become a raven in the Dreaming). Batman, who co-incidentally is tracking the same criminal, has his first clash with Swamp Thing, who has not yet re-mastered the powers of speech. Wayne Foundation executive Nate Ellery is revealed as the baddie that both Swamp Thing and Batman are after. Ellery, after being outed as leader of the criminal organization known as The Conclave, falls off a penthouse balcony to his grisly death. A new Chief O'Hara also makes an appearance here albeit drawn very small and from a great distance away. This must be the original O'Hara's younger relative (also seen in Batman #700 as "Officer O'Hara") who has now been promoted.
98. "The Cat and The Bat" by Fabian Nicieza/Kevin Maguire (Batman Confidential #17-21) July 2008 to November 2008
Batgirl must have done something to get in the good graces of Batman, because in this story we learn that Batman has gotten over her lack of training and put his faith in her, having made her an "official" member of the Bat-Family. Batgirl finally meets Catwoman and they sure don't get along. After a nude brawl at the Gotham Hedonist Society (!), the sirens are forced to team up against the Russian mob. We see some great Maguire renditions of all of the Arkham inmates and after cameos from both Batman and Robin, our tale comes to a close.
I just wanted to note that there is some pretty loose writing here by Nicieza in regard to continuity. Technically, most of the inconsistencies can be explained away, but when Babs refers to her dad as the "newly minted" commissioner, that's just plain wrong. He would have been the commish for at least three years now, but oh well. Maybe it still "feels" new to her.
99. "Terror Times Three!" by Len Wein/Tom Mandrake (DC Retroactive: Batman - The 70s #1) September 2011
A new high-tech Terrible Trio arrives in Gotham hellbent on chaos and robbery. The new Shark, Vulture, and Fox claim they have bought the franchise from the original villains. After tangoing with the new badguys, Batman supposedly learns two of the originals are still in jail, while a third is dead. The Bat-computer seldom delivers incorrect info, but the third original member is definitely still alive because we will see him later on down the road. Back to our story at hand, after the new Terrible Trio successfully robs the Marine Society Charity Ball, Bruce baits the team by holding a charity event high atop the Wayne Enterprises Building in his own penthouse suite. Alfred, Lucius Fox, and Batman easily apprehend the villains. Lucius is saddened to learn that the new Vulture is none other than his own son (from a previous marriage) Timothy Fox. In a backstory, it is mentioned that evil billionaire Gregorian Falstaff is attempting to buy out Wayne Enterprises. We also learn that Talia Al Ghul (!) was behind the new Terrible Trio. We'll meet her in our next story.
100. "The Saga of Ra's Al Ghul" by Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams (1987)
"The Saga of Ra's Al Ghul" was originally from Detective Comics #411, Batman #232, Batman #235, Batman #240, and Batman #242-245, which were all erased from history after the events of The Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985. However, every single panel of every page of this classic story is in-continuity (except for Batman #242) and the tale is referenced constantly in modern continuity, so its major elements are definitely canon. And if you are having problems with me including a pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline on the list instead of just mentioning in in a note, have no fear. You see, we can include this storyline because it was collected and re-released in 1987, therefore making it officially a part of Batman's modern continuity. Ok, so maybe the DC editors didn't release the collected edition to make it official, but it totally works for me. And really, who's to say they didn't?
In "The Saga of Ra's Al Ghul" the treacherous League of Assassins has reared its mysterious head once again. Batman's investigations into the secret criminal empire take him to the Far East where he battles with one of the League's operatives, Dr. Darrk. It is during this confrontation that Bruce first meets the woman who will mother his child, Talia Al Ghul. After returning to the States, Batman learns that Robin has been kidnapped from Hudson University. He frantically swings over to the Batcave, only to find that Talia's father and leader of The League of Assassins, Ra's Al Ghul, is already there waiting for him and knows his secret identity. (Ra's is accompanied by a member of the Ubu tribe, a cult of warriors loyal to the death to the League of Assassins). Ra's then informs Bruce that Talia has also been kidnapped. Reluctantly, Bruce teams-up with Ra's and they head out across the globe in search of the missing persons. Batman deals with numerous deadly situations and eventually rescues Robin. Turns out Ra's and Talia set-up Batman, but he knew the whole time and played along anyway. But why did they set him up? Because Ra's wanted to make sure that Batman was a worthy successor to lead the League and to wed his smitten daughter, of course.
Not long after their first encounter, Batman meets Talia yet again after she attempts to execute a traitor to the League of Assassins in Louisiana.
The third meeting between Talia and Batman comes shortly thereafter when a prominent U.S. Army scientist is murdered and his brain is removed from his skull. Ra's has a vested interest in the case, so he sends his daughter to team-up with Batman on the investigation. Together, they catch the murderer, but Batman learns that Ra's had cut out the man's brain in order to learn the government secrets hidden within. There's a lot of weird sci-fi stuff going on here with a re-animated talking brain, sodium pentathol, reverse-sodium pentathol, and more. Maybe Bruce was having a Joker toxin/Scarecrow gas related freak-out while this escapade was going on. Although, we do meet the head scientist of the League of Assassins, Dr. Moon, and whenever he makes future appearances, strange things always occur.
The final arc of "The Saga of Ra's Al Ghul" is the most famous. However, issue #242 includes some totally incorrect Matches Malone stuff. Malone's anachronistic re-appearance and death are both totally wrong and couldn't have happened. For these reasons this single issue is definitively non-canon, so if you read this storyline either skip issue #242 or disregard the Malone parts. Anyway, our classic tale continues in issue #244 with Batman assembling a team of civilians (yeah, weird, I know) and hunting down Ra's. After finally tracking him down, Batman learns the secret of The Demon's Head; the Lazarus Pits have been keeping him alive for hundreds of years! Batman duels Ra's in the desert as Talia looks on. Epic.
The "Saga of Ra's Al Ghul" ends with a wrap-up issue (#245) where Batman solves a case involving two gangsters that are backing rival corrupt mayoral candidates. After closing the investigation, Batman jets down to South America where he is miraculously discovered wandering in the South American jungle--thus "reviving" Bruce Wayne from his faked plane crash death. Special thanks to Renaud Battail on this one!
101. "Dark Messenger of Mercy!" by Len Wein/John Calnan/Dick Giordano (Batman #307 / Second Feature from DC Retroactive: Batman - The 70s #1) January 1979
This 1979 Batman issue was canonized after being republished in 2011. Batman solves the Agatha Christie-esque whodunit mystery of the "Gold Coin Killer," a serial murderer called Limehouse Jack, who blacks out every night and kills homeless people by giving them poisoned gold coins.
102. "Duel" by Denny O'Neil/Jim Aparo/Keith Giffen/Joe Quesada/Tom Lyle/Dan Speigle/James Blackburn/Michael Golden (LOTDK Annual #1) 1991
Batman is extraditing The Joker back to the U.S. when their plane crashes in the snow-capped Korean mountains. Batman hallucinates for three days due to a concussion, but still manages to successfully drag a tied-up Joker back to civilization through a thick blizzard.
103. "Siege" by Archie Goodwin/James Robinson/Marshall Rogers (LOTDK #132-136) August 2000 to December 2000
I really wish there were more stories from the penthouse year. This is a good one. Bruce has been in living in the Wayne Enterprises Tower aka Wayne Foundation Building for almost a year now, and for anyone who is interested, Goodwin gives us some really profound insight into Bruce's psychology behind wanting to leave Wayne Manor. We also see some wonderful flashbacks to Gotham in the 1920s with Bruce's grandfather, Jack Wayne, and his ousted young rival, the future mercenary, Col. Brass. I should mention that there is NO Jack Wayne in Bruce's family tree. Jack would have to be either Bruce's grandfather Patrick, grandfather Benjamin, or great-grandfather Kenneth. It is highly possible, however, that one of these men went by the nickname Jack. In "Siege" we also witness the return of Silver St. Cloud (!) as the famous publicist comes back to Gotham to organize a gun convention for the aforementioned Col. Brass. However, it turns out Brass is using the gun convention as a front to start an all out war on Gotham. This all out war functions as a distraction so Brass can achieve his real goal; revenge against the Wayne family by destroying Wayne Manor. Of course, Batman stops the seventy-five-year-old madman, but not before the love of his life, Silver St. Cloud, leaves yet again. At the conclusion of "Siege," Bruce decides it's time to move back into Wayne Manor.
There is also a notable flashback sequence to the infamous masquerade scene where Thomas Wayne wears the original Bat-costume.
104. "TreasureQuest" by Dan Jurgens/Mike Norton (Metamorpho: Year One #6) February 2008
The JLA tests Metamorpho's abilities and finds out if the newcomer is a bad guy or a good guy. For the test, each member of the JLA dresses up as Goldface and attacks Metamorpho, who handles himself with grace and effectively demonstrates his prowess as a superhero. Afterward, the JLA offers Metamorpho membership on the team, but Metamorpho declines!
MANY NOTES: Here's what else happens this year...
--One of the flashbacks from Batman: Absolution occurs now. It's taken Batman two years to track down terrorist bomber Jennifer Blake. He tries to apprehend her in Missouri, but she escapes. Blake will then go off the radar for the next eight years. I should mention that Batman is wearing the wrong costume in this flashback! He should be wearing the yellow-oval costume. Even though this is a pretty bad error, this flashback definitely takes place here and now.
--Barbara Gordon, madly in love with Dick, goes to visit him at Hudson University, only to discover that he's already in a relationship with Teen Titan teammate Starfire (as seen through flashback in Nightwing Annual #2). Dick and Starfire will date on-and-off for a few years.
--Barbara Gordon begins dating former GCPD cop (now private investigator) Jason Bard.
--When the JLA learns that Teen Titan member Raven, whom they already don't trust due to her dark magickal aura, is the biological daughter of the evil demon Trigon, they go after her. This prompts the Teen Titans to battle with the JLA! Eventually, the Titans are able to convince the JLA that Raven is a hero at heart. This event is shown in a single-panel flashback from the quasi-canonical Secret Origins Vol. 2 Annual #3.
--Epoch (The Lord of Time) escapes from prison in the 853rd Century and travels to the present where he encounters Batman, Superman, and Robin. Using advanced technology, Epoch is able to trap the heroes in an Omega Barrier. With the big guns out of the way, Epoch is also able to defeat the Outsiders, Teen Titans, and the JLA. Things look bleak until Supes, Bats, and Robin escape their obsidian cube jail and kick Epoch's ass (as seen through flashback in Superman/Batman #79-80). I should mention that there is a cool two-page splash with shows Epoch fleeing into the future and getting his ass kicked by several future versions of the "World's Finest": an adult Damian Wayne and Connor Kent in the 2030s; Brane Taylor (Batman), Elna Kent (Superwoman), Kent Shakespeare (Superman), and Thomas Wayne (Robin 3000) in the 3000s; Unknown Superman and Batsman in the 46th Century; and finally Superman and Batman of Justice Legion-A in the 853rd Century. Pretty damn cool!
--Much to the disappointment of Bruce, Dick drops out of college and moves to New York City. Robin splits time between leading the Teen Titans in the Big Apple and backing-up Batman in Gotham.
--Evil billionaire Gregorian Falstaff has been trying to ruin Wayne Enterprises by any means necessary for several weeks now (as referenced in DC Retroactive: Batman - The 70s #1 and originally told in Batman #322). Falstaff, secretly backed by Ra's Al Ghul, is accidentally killed by Talia Al Ghul during a scuffle with Batman, thus ending his reign of terror.
--Batman fights Maxie Zeus for the first time.
--The JLA battles the Ultra-Humanite.
--Flash and Batman team-up to face Carl Bork (as originally told in The Brave & The Bold #81 and canonically re-told in Power Company: Bork #1).
--Batman encounters Victor Zsasz for the first time. Zsasz's first appearance in the comics isn't until Batman: Shadow of the Bat #1 by Alan Grant, which takes place in Bat-Year Thirteen. In that issue, Jeremiah Arkham says that Zsasz has killed 47 people. However, if we are to truly believe the tally marks on Zsasz's body, he's killed hundreds, which would make it seem like he's been around for at least a couple years. Therefore, I've placed him here.
--Superman's "cousin" Kara Zor-L arrives seemingly out of nowhere and debuts as Power Girl (as seen via flashback in JSA Classified #1). Dr. Mid-Nite and Batman, both suspicious, run tests on Power Girl in a failed attempt to figure out where she came from. Kara, who will later adopt the surname "Starr," has no memories of her past and will believe a couple different versions of her origin until she finally discovers the truth years later. And what is the truth you ask? Well, it's a bit complicated. Kara is actually from an alternate universe (formerly known as Universe-Two) that is destroyed during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. When the Crisis occurs (in about a year) and Kara's timeline is erased/altered/merged into the main Universe-0 timeline, she, unlike most of her friends and peers, will miraculously survive with her new debut right here and now. However, Kara is truly unique because most of the DCU characters that were rebooted via the Crisis had their origins completely revamped whereas she keeps her alternate universe history intact (although she won't be able to recall it until later).
--The flashback that occurs in Batman & Superman: World's Finest #5 occurs. Batman and Superman team-up with Batgirl and The Thorn against the criminal organization known as The 100. Batgirl meets Superman for the first time. Commisioner Gordon also meets Superman for the first time as acting commissioner. Barbara makes it seem like he hasn't been commissioner for very long, but it's definitely been a couple years.
--Batman is able to prevent Ra's Al Ghul from launching a "genocide satellite" which would have eliminated the majority of Earth's population. Batman then tracks Ra's Al Ghul to an oasis hidden deep within the Himalayas. At this secret location, the Dark Knight witnesses Ra's Al Ghul meet with a Tibetan monk who chants a rhythmic Buddhist mantra repeatedly (as seen through flashback from Year One: Batman - Ra's Al Ghul #2). After this encounter Bruce makes this Himalayan oasis a protected Wayne Tech research site, but won't return to the site for ten years. We will learn ten years later that the strange Buddhist mantra phonetically converts into the chemical formula for creating a Lazarus Pit! NOTE: Batman is incorrectly drawn by Paul Gulacy. He should be wearing the yellow-insignia costume.
--Catwoman joins the Secret Society of Supervillains aka The Injustice Gang as a part-time member.
--The ultra-powerful, but quasi-retarded midget alien named Zook appears on Earth (stranded from an alternate universe). He's really annoying and everyone hates him except for J'onn, who decides to keep him as a pet/sidekick (as originally told in Detective Comics #311). Zook becomes a team mascot for a short time, but is always in the way. Batman constantly berates the little guy.
--When the JLA prepares for a fight with Weapons Master, Batman holds an official team meeting to discuss strategy against the supervillain. Zook keeps interrupting and saying dumb things like, "Zook help too!" Batman angrily tells J'onn, "For God's sake, keep that thing quiet!" Batman surely says many other obscenities which aren't fit for little Zook. Tired of Batman's insults, Zook leaves the universe (as seen in Superman/Batman #31). (SPOILER: Zook will return for revenge in 12 years!)
--Batman reluctantly poses for a picture with Superman and Wonder Woman, which is signed and given to World War II hero Tex Thompson (who was a famous superhero in his own time, known as both Mr. America and Americommando). This framed picture can be seen in Hero Hotline #5, the famous issue which references Dr. Manhattan's (yes, THAT Dr. Manhattan of Watchmen fame) only trans-dimensional visit to the DCU proper, which occurs after the events of Watchmen.
--The Sensei (Ra's Al Ghul's second-in-command and his actual biological father) tries to seize control of the League of Assassins from Ra's Al Ghul, prompting a brief war between two ninja factions. When the war spills into Gotham, Kathy Kane (the retired Bat-Woman) mysteriously gets involved. Ra's Al Ghul sends a warning message to Bruce that Kathy may be in danger. Bruce fights off League henchmen at Kathy's circus and sure enough, his former fiance is being held captive. After being blindsided by Bronze Tiger and getting knocked unconscious, Bruce awakens to discover that Kathy has been stabbed to death! Bruce never finds out what her involvement was in the League war or who was actually responsible for murdering her. This epic and mysterious death scene was originally told in Detective Comics #485 and made canon when referenced in Batman, Inc. #4). Ra's Al Ghul will quickly regain full control of the League of Assassins after this and we won't see the Sensei for over a decade. When he eventually returns, Ra's will welcome the traitor back into the fold, but some leopards never change their spots. SPOILER ALERT: Kathy Kane isn't really dead. Her murder is actually an elaborately orchestrated ruse perpetrated by herself, Spyral, and Talia. We won't see Kathy again for fourteen years.