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.
It just has to be done this way. Don't blame me. Blame DC. It's only going to get more compressed in the future. This huge chunk of stories runs from November 2001 to March 2002. Oddly, most of the heaviest compression is limited mostly to November. After that, from December through March, there isn't much going on.
--Batman: Shadow of the Bat #1-4 ("THE LAST ARKHAM")
Arkham Asylum is razed and a brand new state-of-the-art facility is erected with eccentric Jeremiah Arkham in charge. Arkham has a complete control of all the famous rogues like Scarecrow, Cornelius Stirk, the Joker, Amygdala (first appearance), the Spook, Penguin, Ivy, Batman... Wait, Batman!? That's right, Batman is committed to Arkham Asylum! Secretly, he's undercover trying to figure out how Zsasz keeps escaping the new madhouse. At one point, Batman defeats fourteen of his deadliest rogues at once! Batman and Nightwing eventually nab Zsasz.
NOTE: Batman will apprehend the mad poisoner known as Kryppen after the villain poisons an entire boy scout troop. This case has never been written about in detail, but it is mentioned in Underworld Unleashed: Batman - Devil's Asylum #1 which takes place next year. I've placed it here because Dr. Arkham is very familiar with the patient when we next see him.
Crash & Burn are the new one-shot Bonnie & Clyde.
--Batman: Penguin Triumphant, Part 2
Mere weeks after announcing that his life of crime is over, the Penguin has become a rich socialite thanks to his computer manipulation of the stock market. After schmoozing with big-wigs at a Wayne Manor party, Bruce invites Oswald to house-sit while he is away on vacation. While Oswald throws raucous parties every night, Batman and Robin spy on him from the Cave and try to figure out his computer scheme. Batman and Robin solve the mystery at the same time Penguin's bloodthirsty business rival does. Batman winds up saving Penguin's life, but not before the latter gets shot in the shoulder. Penguin goes back to jail.
--Detective Comics #647-649
The Cluemaster is on the loose again. Batman and Robin meet the newest teenage superhero, Stephanie Brown aka Spoiler! Stephanie is the Cluemaster's daughter. She will also become the first female Robin a few years later, and then one of several Batgirls. There is also a notable flashback to this story-arc in Bruce Wayne: The Road Home - Batgirl #1).
ECLIPSO: THE DARKNESS WITHIN
--Detective Comics Annual #5Dr. Bruce Gordon, the original host-body for the demonic force known as Eclipso, warns Jim Gordon (no relation) and Batman that some the black diamonds which release Eclipso have found their way to Gotham. Commissioner Gordon comes into contact with one of the diamonds and Eclipso is indeed released. It happens to be the second anniversary of Barbara's shooting, so Jim is feeling quite upset. His negative emotions allow the dark spirit to manifest into a giant Eclipso beast, which goes after the Joker, who has just escaped Arkham with the aid of the Ventriloquist. Meanwhile, Anarky has escaped Juvenile Hall and uses the black diamonds on himself to become a super-powered Eclipso. When the diamonds turn a young girl into a vicious Eclipso T-Rex, Robin and Anarky team-up to defeat it. When the Joker turns himself into an super-powered Eclipso, Batman does the same! The two monster versions of each other battle it out like King Kong and Godzilla until the sun comes up, reverting them back to normal. Once in their natural states, Batman easily apprehends the Joker. Before moving on, I wanted to mention that both the commish and Batman have met Dr. Bruce Gordon before, I'm assuming during one of the many gigantic DC crossover events. Also, Tim refers to Anarky as being 14 years-old. He could definitely be no older than 13 at this point.
--Robin Annual #1
--Batman Annual #16
--Detective Comics #651
Excellent Harvey Bullock one-shot story by Chuck Dixon where Harvey enlists Batman to find out who has been making threats on his life. His would-be-killer is revealed to be his landlord, who wants him to move out because he's a fat slob.
--Batman: Shadow of the Bat #5
The previously retired Black Spider returns to kill drug dealers. Why? Because his ex-girlfriend dies of an overdose and their son dies by accidentally mistaking her heroin for sugar and putting it on his cereal. Black Spider tracks down the dealer and detonates a bomb strapped to his chest, committing suicide and getting revenge in one foul swoop. In a side note, Black Spider returns from the dead when Lucifer abdicates his throne allowing many of the eternally damned to escape Hell (from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman).
--Detective Comics #652-653
Batman and Huntress team-up against European terrorists. Batman and Huntress do not get along.
--Batman: Shadow of the Bat #6
John Kennedy Payne is your average racist post-9/11 xenophobe, who just happens to have been given metahuman powers by the CIA in exchange for a shortened prison stretch. Payne runs foreign cars off the road, stomps out puppies, and flips his lid when he discovers his daughter is married to an Asian man. The Dark Knight kicks cracked-out Captain America's ass and scolds some CIA agents.
--Batman: Birth of the Demon
Many would place this story earlier on the timeline, but I've placed it here because it was released around this time (1993) and it fits here well. Batman travels to North Africa to confront Ra's Al Ghul. Upon arriving at the mystical Lazarus Pit, Talia spins him a yarn which details the ancient origins of her father. Ra's then emerges from the Pit and kicks the shit out of Batman! After a moment's hesitation, Ra's impales a shovel deep into Bruce's chest, seemingly murdering him. Luckily, Bruce topples into the Lazarus Pit. When he awakens in the desert, his wounds are healed, but Ra's and Talia have long gone. Bruce's revitalization in the Lazarus Pit is extremely important because this act will have long-term effects upon his physical nature. Bathing in the primordial ooze in Birth of the Demon is one of only a few reasons why Bruce's body is able to retain its youth and resiliency as he starts to reach an age where he should be losing a step-or-two.
--Legends of the World's Finest #1
Scottish teenager Branwyn McDougal finds a thousand-year-old magickal tome while exploring a tiny island off the coast of the Outer Hebrides. The book releases the ancient demon known as Tullus the Damned, who uses Branwyn as a host to bring back Silver Banshee from Limbo. (Tullus and Silver Banshee have both long been linked to the McDougal clan—Tullus has ties to the Crone that created Banshee and Banshee first inhabited Branwyn's relative Siobahn McDougal). Tullus needs Banshee's help to break free of his his master, the demoness Blaze, who he refers to as the ruler of Hell. This requires a point of clarification. Blaze is actually the ruler of Purgatory, whereas the ruler of Hell would be a bit more complicated. The rulers (emphasis on the plural) consist of a triumverate of demons, which include "The First of the Fallen" and two others, while the angels Remiel and Duma, given authority by Dream of the Endless, nominally rule. Tullus tells Banshee that he needs help to defeat Blaze. The two then use magick to spy on Superman and Batman, the latter seen chasing after Riddler. Sensing that Tullus will try to recruit Superman and Batman, Blaze possesses Man-Bat and has him attack Superman. The Man of Steel dispatches Man-Bat and flies to Gotham to meet Batman, who has just busted Two-Face and his number one henchman Charlie, who dies. Superman helps Batman apprehend some thugs and they chat about Man-Bat. Both heroes reveal that they have recently had terrible nightmares. Later, wouldn't ya know it, Tullus appears to Superman in a nightmare and convinces him to help out by starting a spell that will slowly cause Superman to fall under his control over the course of the next three weeks.
NOTE: Jim Gordon and Sarah Essen get married! Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #2 depicts their marriage, but it's out-of-continuity because it contradicts Flass's death in Dark Victory.
--Batman: Shadow of the Bat #7-15
These are primarily a bunch of one-shot stories that DC editors get out of the way before Doug Moench takes over and begins sewing the seeds for "Knightfall." In the first three issues, which are beautifully drawn by Tim Sale, C-List rogues Killer Moth, Calendar Man, Catman, and Chancer team-up to kidnap Jim Gordon, Bruce Wayne, and newly elected Mayor Armand Krol. Robin (with Ace) teams-up with Nimrod the Hunter to rescue everyone. Issue #10 focuses on an old Scottish man's M.C. Escher-inspired castle and his son, who is basically Sloth from The Goonies. In issues #11-12 Mortimer Kadaver learns he has a terminal brain tumor, so he breaks out of Blackgate with the intention of releasing a deadly pneumonic plague across the city as his final act. Batman teams-up with The Human Flea to stop him. In issue #13 a crime-boss finds out Batman's secret identity and attempts to auction off the information to the highest bidder. During the chaotic auction a riot ensues and erupting gunfire kills the auctioneer, who takes Batman's secret to his grave. In issues #14-15 Batman busts the returning minor villain Mirage.
--Justice League America #66
Superman has some issues with Guy Gardner. Batman makes a cameo and remembers why he wants nothing to do with the JLA anymore.
Black Mask has escaped Arkham and kidnapped Lucius Fox. Batman and Robin take down his False Face Society gang and rescue their friend, but Black Mask escapes. Batman refuses to give up the chase. The Dark Knight hunts him for a full 24 hours before calling it a day because his nose is broken and it's been gushing blood at a steady pace. In fact, Batman has dried blood all over his face for the entirety of issue #486 when Metalhead interferes with his search for Black Mask. Very badass Doug Moench writing here as he's slowly setting the pace for "Knightfall." Batman is becoming more and more obsessive, with less regard for his physical well-being. "To hell with the blood," grumbles Batman. To hell, indeed! Awesome. Issue #487 has a lot going on. Batman saves Jim Gordon's life from the assassin known as Headhunter. The battered Bruce Wayne thinks about seeing Dr. Shondra Kinsolving professionally. And Sarah Essen-Gordon tells Batman to stay out of Jim's life, going so far as to shoot the Bat Signal with a gun. Batman takes a week off to nurse his injuries after his battles with Metalhead and Headhunter, but due to time compression, this little vacation just isn't possible. No rest for the weary!
NOTE: Batman, thanks to the influence of the demon Tullus the Damned, has gotten off his game and begins screwing up cases left and right, including an ongoing investigation into the criminals Poppa Bear Figueroa and Rags Dentine (as referenced in Legends of the World's Finest #2). Shaken by nightmares, Batman still patrols but stops answering the Batsignal.
ANOTHER NOTE: Oracle (Barbara Gordon) unveils her clock-tower apartment headquarters to Bruce (as seen through flashback in Bruce Wayne: The Road Home - Oracle #1).
--The Batman Chronicles #23, Part 1
When a bomb blows up Bruce Wayne's car nearly killing Alfred, Batman goes out in search of the criminal responsible. Alfred teams-up with Bullock and basically solves the entire case himself.
--Legends of the World's Finest #2-3
Three weeks have passed since Legends of the World's Finest #2. Batman has been having nightmares ever since then and is way off his game (thanks to the meddling of Tullus the Damned). Things have gotten so bad that Batman has stopped answering the Batsignal. The Dark Knight reluctantly continues the Poppa Bear Figueroa case and shakes down Rags Dentine, but the latter gets away, much to the chagrin of Commissioner Gordon. While Batman tries to figure out what is happening to him in the Batcave with Alfred, Superman fills-in, busting Killer Croc and Riddler in Gotham. Tullus, messing with Superman as well, has used his power to make him more and more increasingly out-of-control and violent. Batman and Superman, on a tip, visit Arkham where Joker tells them that Tullus was recently inquiring (via dreams) about using the services of Arkham's inmates for an upcoming war against Blaze. While Batman does research, an out-of-control Superman joins Tullus, Silver Banshee, and a bunch of zombies in a direct attack against Blaze and her demon army in Purgatory. Blaze is quickly defeated. Tullus declares himself the new King of Purgatory and says that Superman will wed Silver Banshee. Superman, completely brainwashed, cannot refuse. In Gotham, Batman has a hallucination involving Catwoman, Penguin, and a giant sewer monster before realizing that Tullus is to blame. Batman travels to Scotland where he infiltrates the black wedding between Superman and Banshee, which is held by Tullus and attended by hundreds of zombies and demons. Also present are a kidnapped Man-Bat and Lois Lane, reverted into a child by Tullus. A sword-wielding Batman frees Man-Bat and they begin tearing through demons left and right. Tullus opens a Hellmouth, which hundreds of demons pour through. When things look bleak, Blaze (who was hidden inside of Man-Bat) takes over Man-Bat and grows him to the size of Godzilla. Blaze also endows her power into Batman, who turns into a demon-armored super warrior. Super demon Batman fights possessed Superman in an epic battle. Eventually, Superman snaps out of his trance and helps Batman defeat Tullus and send Blaze back to hell. Lois is altered back to her normal state and Banshee goes back to Limbo.
--Batman: Sword of Azrael #1-4
Since the 15th Century Azrael has served the Sacred Order of St. Dumas as their avenging warrior knight. Jean-Paul Valley dons the new mantle of Azrael after his father (the former Azrael) is murdered by the international arms dealer Carlton LeHah, who has betrayed the Sacred Order and now serves the demon Biis. Due to years of subliminal mind-programming known simply as The System, the unassuming Jean-Paul turns into a possessed, incredibly skilled war-machine. Azrael hunts down LeHah across Europe, but Batman and Alfred get to him first. Bruce charges into battle, but surprisingly LeHah beats Bruce in a fight, discovers his secret identity, and holds him captive in Texas. LeHah even wears the Bat-costume and drugs and tortures Bruce! Azrael eventually saves Bruce and easily defeats LeHah with his new-found fighting abilities.
--Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1
Sword of Azrael introduced us to Jean-Paul Valley. And now, Vengeance of Bane introduces us to Bane! The wheels are ever turning us closer and closer to "Knightfall." This issue gives us the detailed history and origin of Bane and also shows Bane's first confrontation with Batman. Batman doesn't know who he is, but it won't be long before he'll never forget him. If there ever was a truly great introduction to a new villain, this book was it.
NOTE: Superman is killed by Doomsday (as seen in Superman Vol. 2 #75). Justice League of America Vol. 2 #0 contains a flashback which shows Batman and Wonder Woman mourning as they hear the news of Superman's death. This mega-event occurs in late November.
--Batman: Gordon's Law #1-4
Gordon deals with rampant corruption within the GCPD (what's new?) and rogue federal agents in this crime story. "This is a police affair," says Gordon, and he forces Batman to wait in the wings, a move that nearly costs Gordon his life.
Robin begins training Azrael and even makes him a new superhero costume. Bruce hopes that Jean-Paul will be able to control his twisted "System" mind-programming and use his abilities for good. Also, Bruce, who is completely burned-out, finally gets around to scheduling his doctor's appointment with Dr. Shondra Kinsolving.
--Detective Comics #654-656
The General, a teenage delinquent in the vein of Anarky, begins assembling Gotham's gangs into a giant anti-Batman army. The army eventually strikes, but it's not enough to overcome the weary, but stalwart Batman. Bane observes the Dark Knight from afar, studying his every move and tactic.
--Robin III #1
In Robin III Tim is portrayed as a freshman in high school and depicted as being around 14-years-old. However, due to retcons, he should actually only be in junior high and only 11-years-old. Batman and Robin take down a White Power gang known as the White Wolves. Across town Huntress spies on tob mobster Tony Bressi. Later, Tim attends the birthday party of his friend Sebastian Ives in Litte Odessa, Gotham's Russian neighborhood. He overhears some of Bressi's thugs roughing-up a local shopkeeper and helps him out. Tim meets the shopkeeper's daughter Ariana Dzerchenko, whom he will begin dating in a year or so. After that, Tim meets with his wheelchair-bound dad, who has finally returned home from the hospital. With dad home, Tim will have to start doing a lot of sneaking around to attend to his vigilante duties as Robin from now on. When Bressi's men go after the Dzerchenkos again, Robin is on hand and winds up facing off head-to-head with the returning KGBeast!
FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND
--Justice League America #70
--Superman: The Man of Steel #20
--Superman Vol. 2 #76
--Superman: The Man of Steel #21It's taken a while to organize Superman's funeral. Literally all the superheroes attend the service. Batman, along with hundreds of thousands, mourn Superman's passing. Bill and Hillary Clinton attend as well, but the correct president at the time, due to retcons, should either be George W or some generic fictional prez. Issue #21 is the seventh part of Superman's funeral. Jeez, no one else could have ever warranted multiple issues for funeral coverage, let alone seven of 'em.
In issue #489 Killer Croc says he last fought Batman six months ago in August. This obviously isn't true. It should instead be two months ago in January due to time-compression retcons. Also, this story is written as if it is winter when it should be late March. Anyway, Bruce takes sedatives as prescribed by Shondra and is out-of-action while Croc is on a rampage. Robin dresses Jean-Paul up as Batman (some foreshadowing huh?) and they go to confront Croc. Before they have a chance to do anything, Bane is already there and he absolutely destroys Croc, snapping his arm like a twig. NOTE: All the heroes around this time (including Robin and Jean-Paul) sport black Superman arm bands in honor of the fallen Man of Steel. Pretty cool. In issue #490 Bane injects the Riddler with Venom (!) and the pumped-up Nigma goes berserk. Once Bruce realizes Venom is involved, he solemnly recalls the dark time he spent getting to know the drug far too well (see the end of Bat-Year Four for details). This mention is notable because it is the first time in the Modern Age that any LOTDK stories are specifically referenced!
--Black Condor #12
Batman teams-up with Black Condor in the final issue of this series.
--Showcase '93 #6
Robin takes down gangster Ramon Bracuda on a solo mission, but Bracuda goes free due to circumstantial evidence. Robin then uses himself as bait to entrap Bracuda and send him to prison for good. Batman secretly watches Robin from afar and proudly approves of his methods.
--Detective Comics #657-658
Batman, Robin, and Azrael prevent Cypher from using his hypnotism to command Lucius Fox to commit suicide.
–Batman/Judge Dredd: Vendetta in Gotham
Judge Dredd (from an alternate post-apocalyptic Earth in the twenty-second century) returns to Earth-0 to pick a fight with Batman. After battling for nearly forty-five minutes straight, Dredd reveals that Batman was set to die earlier in the night from an explosion involving the Ventriloquist—citing a Gotham newspaper from the next day. Dredd was merely keeping Batman occupied to save his life. Realizing that children are in danger, Batman takes-off to the Ventriloquist’s location, where the mad villain (with Scarface) is attempting to blow up a stage-play of Goldilocks and the Three Bears being performed for a senator’s family and a bunch of kids. Dredd follows and helps Batman not only bring down the Ventriloquist, but save everyone’s lives too. Before departing, Dredd reveals that he only saved Batman’s life because a telepath on his Earth predicted that Batman will help save Mega-City One from a dire threat one day in the future.
NOTE: The flashback that occurs in Batman and Superman: World's Finest #9, Part 1 occurs here. In Metropolis, Batman meets the substitute Supermen—Superboy (Kon-El, who later takes the name "Conner Kent"), Steel (John Henry Irons), Cyborg Superman (Hank Henshaw), and The Eradicator. As soon as he returns to Gotham, Bane will unleash hell on Batman and our next Bat-Year will begin with a bang.