Modern Age (YEAR EIGHTEEN) Part One

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April 2006 to August 2006.

--Batman: Gotham Knights #27
--Batman #601-602 ("TURNING THE TOWN RED")
--Batgirl #27
--Nightwing Vol. 2 #68
--Batman: Gotham Knights #28-29 ("THE MORTICIAN")
--Detective Comics #768-770 ("PURITY")
--Nightwing Vol. 2 #69
"Bruce Wayne: Fugitive" continues with GK #27, which is possibly the strongest GK issue yet (and that says a lot since all of Grayson's work is amazing).  Superman comes to Gotham and tells Batman he knows he could never kill anyone, but Supes wants to know why Batman has decided not to clear his own name.  Batman explains that there is no Bruce Wayne.  Batman is his real identity.  Back in the cave, Alfred has been studying Bruce's journal and doesn't like how detached he had become in the last couple months.  When Alfred tries to talk to Batman, Batman claims that the journal contains Bruce Wayne's thoughts, not his.  Batman then meets the new serial-killing supervillain Nicodemus, who has a vendetta which involves killing corrupt policemen and city officials (because his parents were murdered by corrupt cops when he was a boy).  Meanwhile, Batgirl digs up Vesper's corpse and discovers that Vesper had been struck with a very specific martial-arts maneuver known as a "nerve punch" before her death.  The Bat-family considers this their first breakthrough in their investigation.  Another breakthrough occurs when Nightwing discovers that there were several Wayne Manor power outages the night of Vesper's murder.  Nightwing also learns that someone had covertly installed several electronic devices inside the Batcave which masked several break-ins in the weeks leading up to the murder!  For the third part of the investigation, we turn to Robin, who discovers the Wayne Manor security tapes have been doctored!  Concurrently, Batman continues busting crooks all over town and is surprised when a zombie gets involved in a Chinatown gang dispute.  Batman soon learns that a local mortician, who aptly goes by the name The Mortician, has been re-animating corpses just like Herbert West.  After the zombie-battling extravaganza/interlude ends, a deadly strain of heroin hits the streets.  Batman goes after the Triad drug pushers, but realizes a third party is poisoning the heroin instead.  Ekin Tzu returns, now even more deformed into an eagle-creature thanks to a two-year addiction to Whisper A'Daire animal elixir.  Even though Tzu is technically on Batman's side, he is completely insane and the Dark Knight is forced to take him down.  The mysterious David Said is mixed-up in the case as well and when Batman questions him, Said reveals that he is an agent of Checkmate sent to discover the source of the bad heroin. (Batman hasn't dealt with Checkmate in over 7 years).  Batman's and Said's co-investigation leads them to a man named Evan Halsey.  However, before Batman can find him, Halsey is murdered.  Back to Vesper's murder case; Alfred, Robin, and Nightwing scan the Wayne Manor property for unknown openings into the Batcave (which may have been created during the earthquake) that could have been used as entry points for the real killer.  The boys strike gold when they examine an old barn at the edge of the Wayne property.  It ain't easy, but Nightwing is able to spelunk his way into the Batcave through the narrow barn entrance.  As an added bonus, both Nightwing and Robin find hard evidence; a damaged electronic device and a piece of torn fabric.

--Catwoman Vol. 3 #1-4 ("ANODYNE") 
Selina hasn't worn the Catwoman costume in "over six months."  (It's actually been ten months).  In these ten months Selina has been seeing Leslie Thompkins regularly (who knows her secret identity) and feels better about life in general.  After an altercation with the Riddler, Batman focuses on saving people from a burning bus.  A small-time crook sees this burning bus distraction as an opportunity to put a bullet in Batman's back, but Selina happens to be on-hand and throws a brick at the dude.  The next night, Selina dons a brand new costume and takes to the rooftops.  She meets with Batman who thanks her for the brick chucking.  Batman also tells Selina that he believes in her and he always will.  Later, when Holly Robinson shows up and tells Selina that prostitutes are being killed, Selina is on the case.  By the way we haven't seen Holly since she was a 13 year-old prostitute way back in Bat-Year One!  Holly is 30 years-old now and will become one of Catwoman's closest allies in the future.  Catwoman is able to corner the serial killer, who reveals himself as the debuting Clayface VII (Todd Russell)!  We don't know much about the new Clayface other than the fact that he was in the army and was experimented on after getting injured.  We can assume the DEO is responsible for creating this new Clayface, as they inadvertently created the last one.  Catwoman is able to defeat Clayface VII and deliver his shriveled body to Batman in a portable freezer.

--JLA: Scary Monsters #1-6
Flash and Green Lantern are injured at a resort in North Dakota.  The JLA (along with Jade) comes to their aid only to find themselves in a war against gigantic demonic monsters straight out of Godzilla or Cthulhu mythos.  After Wonder Woman's body is taken over by the creatures, the JLA is nearly defeated.  However, the Earth's spiritual Avatar of Sun and Fire, Kishana Lewis, is able to help save the day and defeat the scary monsters.  Kishana and J'onn fall madly in love with each other and kiss passionately, but they cannot consummate their relationship since J'onn's weakness is fire and Kishana is a Fire Elemental.

--Superman Vol. 2 #183
In mid-May Clark Kent publicly accuses President Luthor of knowing in advance about Imperiex's attack (which occurred nine months ago).  Luthor, eager to clear his name (even though he is truly guilty as charged) submits to a mind-probe by J'onn.  A bummed JLA watches dejectedly as the probe turns up nothing.  Unable to corroborate his story, Clark is fired from the Daily Planet!

--Birds of Prey #43
--Batman #603-604
--Detective Comics #771
--Batgirl #29
--Batman: Gotham Knights #30
--Azrael: Agent of the Bat #91-92
--Detective Comics #772
--Batman: Gotham Knights #31
--Batman #605
The Bat-family gathers more shocking evidence in BOP #43.  Oracle learns that the real killer had not only entered the Batcave undetected on multiple occasions, but he/she had also hand-edited Bruce's journal and even penned brand new fake entries!  In the next issue Batman visits with an old retired cop on his deathbed, who talks about the impact the Dark Knight had on his life.  The cop is able to snap Batman out of his current anti-secret identity mentality when he asks Batman to solve the only case he never closed, the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne.  However, since the Wayne murder case has been solved (Joe Chill = guilty), we must either ignore most of this issue OR we must assume that this old dude is incredibly senile and simply thinks the case was never solved.  (His recollection of Batman's history is garbled, out-of-order, and full of holes, so maybe his brain is garbled, out-of-order, and full of holes as well).  In any event, we must take one important thing from issue #603.  At its conclusion, Batman realizes that he is Bruce Wayne and therefore, he must clear his name.  Batman then visits Crime Alley (where his parents died) and Brubaker gives us a flashback to Frank Miller's Year One before continuing with the narrative.  After a rejuvenated Caped Crusader teams-up with Catwoman to take down Joker's former clown gang, Batman smiles.  Bruce Wayne is officially back!  Bruce (as Batman) decides to follow-up on the high profile heroin case he's been working on by examining murder victim and former suspect Evan Halsey.  After receiving a tip from Checkmate higher-ups, Batman then hunts down suspect Branford Landis.  When he finds Landis, Batman realizes he's been set-up for an ambush.  Landis is actually NSA Agent Robert Amherst.  Amherst is ready and waiting for the Dark Knight and nearly kills him.  Meanwhile, despite being harassed by Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen, Alfred attends the trial of Sasha Bordeaux.  Sasha is found guilty and sentenced to life!  Back at Wayne Manor, Nightwing and Batgirl run down all the evidence they have collected and come up with a scenario of what might have actually happened.  They then reenact the murder and finally think they have enough to begin going after the real killer.  But before they can act, Jean-Paul learns that he is dying of a rare blood disease (as a result of his St. Dumas programming).  He snaps and begins seeing hallucinations again.  Jean-Paul then breaks into the Batcave, steals his Az-Bats costume and attempts to reclaim the mantle of the Bat.  Begin mini-"Knight's End" reprise interlude!  Az-Bats challenges Batman in the cave and accuses Bruce of violating the Bat-code by having murdered Vesper in cold blood.  Batman then chases Az-Bats to his Ossaville castle (which is rigged with explosives) where they fight until the entire place goes kaboom.  Az-Bats is able to snap out of his blind rage in time to save Harold (who lives with him).  BTW, the B&W second feature from GK #30 is non-canon.  Moving on, by June NSA Agent Robert Amherst offers Sasha complete freedom and immunity if she goes on record saying Bruce is guilty.  After Alfred visits her at Blackgate, Sasha delivers her message to Amherst; "Go to Hell."  NOTE:  Amherst says that Sasha has been in jail for six months.  It's been more like five months.  Continuing on, Batman finally tracks down Amherst, but the heroin case is just a red herring at this point.  Amherst spills the beans.  He was ordered to pay Vesper's killer $20 million to commit character assassination using any means necessary.  And he was ordered by the man at the top; the President of the United States of America, Lex Luthor.  By July, Batman is finally ready to clear Bruce's name.  Batman pays his respects at Vesper's grave (which is incorrectly marked "January 4, 2002" instead of "January 4, 2006") and then meets with his family for the big reveal before the strike.  Luthor has wanted revenge against Bruce ever since NML.  So, through Amherst, the president hired David Cain to ruin Bruce's reputation.  Cain, knowing that Bruce is Batman, took the job even further than Luthor could have imagined.  When Batman finally corners Cain and beats the tar out of him, Cain reveals that he only took the job because he wanted to test Batman's loyalty to his family.  Cain turns himself into the authorities and confesses to the murder of Vesper, although there are no ties to the government's involvement.  Bruce is cleared of all charges!  Our epic tale ends with Amherst incarcerated at Arkham under a false name, trying to convince eye-rolling doctors that he works for the NSA.

--Detective Comics #773
While Bruce has been officially cleared of all charges and walks free, Sasha still rots in Gotham State Penitentiary.  The world knows she now had nothing to do with Vesper's murder, but Sasha learns that she will have to wait in jail until her appeal is heard and she is formally declared innocent of the charges.  Only a day later Alfred goes to visit Sasha in prison only to be told that she has been killed during a fight with another inmate!  Bruce doesn't buy it and begins searching for Sasha.  NOTE:  Batman says that Sasha was in prison for three months.  It was closer to four.

--DC First: Batgirl/The Joker #1
Oracle tells Batgirl about the time she, as a former Batgirl, fought Joker for the first time (detailing the events of Batman: Batgirl). Cassie gets it in her head that she should break Joker out of Arkham and challenge him in order to prove herself worthy. And wouldn’tcha know, Cassie does exactly that. Bad things happen, Batman gets involved, but in the end the Dark Knight allows Cassie to capture the Clown Prince of Crime by herself.

--Action Comics #792
When newspaper vendor Valentin Reyes, an acquaintance of Clark Kent, goes missing Superman is on the case.  In between normal Superman action and an off-panel JLA victory against a giant wind-up baby doll robot—all we see is the damaged robot being examined by Batman, Plastic Man, and Batman, so we must assume that Toyman was involved, the Man of Steel eventually learns Reyes was murdered.  With Lois' help, Supes busts Reyes' killer.

--Second Feature from Detective Comics #773-775 ("THE HUNT")
A new demon-like vigilante sporting a high-tech costume is in Gotham.  He calls himself The Tracker.   (The Tracker will later reveal himself to be a key member of Celia Kazantzakis' criminal network).

NOTE:  Batman meets the superhero known as Faith.  He respects her immediately, which is quite uncommon for the Dark Knight.  Part of Faith's superpower is the ability to garner trust in those around her, even people she has never met before.  In some down-time during their team-up, Batman tells Faith how proud he is of Nightwing.  This is all referenced in JLA #69 and JLA #73.

--JLA #64
After a confusing altercation with the Riddler, the Earth literally turns flat for an hour-and-a-half and the moon turns into cheese.  To get some answers, Batman reunites with the JLA for the first time in seven months with a simple, "I'm back."  Surprised at Batman's return, Flash tells him that an "uncertainty ripple" is flowing over the planet.  Magically, truth has become subjective and all wishes, no matter how weird, are coming true.  How did this happen?  Wonder Woman tried to rescue a supposedly kidnapped child from the Shangri-La-esque paradise known as Jarhanpur.  Unfortunately, the young boy was the heir to the throne of the Eurasian nation, and not only that, the boy was magically linked to the land.  When Wonder Woman attempted to rescue the boy and reunite him with his mother, Jarhanpurian leader Rama Khan unleashed the devastating "uncertainty ripple" upon the Earth.  In the end, Rama Khan is defeated.  Sadly, Jarhanpur is wiped off the face of the Earth, although on the bright side, there are zero casualties.

--Detective Comics #774, Part 1
Bruce has spent the last two weeks (besides the Rama Khan/JLA incident) fervently searching for Sasha.  Alfred questions whether or not Bruce has romantic feelings for her, to which Bruce lies and says that he simply wants to keep tabs on anyone who knows his secret identity.  Alfred knows his Bruce better than that.  Batman will continue searching for Sasha for months to come.  What really happened to Sasha you ask?  Checkmate has faked her death and recruited her as an agent!

--Batman #606-607 ("DEATH-WISH FOR TWO")
It's been two-and-a-half weeks since Bruce was cleared of all charges in the murder of Vesper Fairchild.  Her real murderer, David Cain, is scheduled to testify in court regarding the details of the case.  Batman knows that President Luthor will have sent an assassin to silence Cain before the hearing.  Deadshot nearly kills Cain, but Batman saves his life.  Cain then nearly kills Deadshot.  At the hearing, Cain refuses to say who hired him to murder Vesper.

--Robin #106
Bruce and Tim finally have a very long overdue chat and reconcile with one another.  Robin is back on the team and the Dynamic Duo exists once again.  Can you believe that Robin quit 15 months ago?  It's been one year and three months since Batman and Robin last patrolled the Gotham streets together.  In their return outing, they are able to rescue a mob witness from a stealthy abductor.  This mysterious abductor is the debuting Freeway.  Freeway is able to escape by doing the seemingly impossible; he carjacks the Batmobile!  (Freeway will later reveal himself to be a key member of Celia Kazantzakis' criminal network).

--Gotham Central #1-5
These issues comprise June 23 through 27.  Mr. Freeze returns and gives the GCPD frozen hell, killing Detective Marcus Driver's partner, Detective Charlie Fields.  Batman apprehends the villain on the roof of Gotham University as Jim Gordon receives an Honorary Doctorate in Criminology beneath him!  More cop drama ensues and Batman makes another cameo to save the life of a child from a burning building when Firebug makes his return to crime.  Driver is determined to bust Firebug on his own, and actually does.  He then climbs on the GCPD roof and switches on the Batsignal.  When Batman shows up Driver tells him that he busted Firebug and he doesn't need Batman's help.  Batman says thanks and tells him not to waste his time by using the signal ever again.

--Batgirl #33
It is late June and Batgirl celebrates her second anniversary of the day she officially became Batgirl.  Since no one knows her actual birthday, this is celebrated as her replacement birthday.  While aiding Batman on the mysteriously named "Alpha" case, Batgirl interrogates her father, David Cain, in Blackgate Prison.  She beats up a bunch of prison guards and asks dad the burning question.  Batgirl learns that her real birthday is January 26!

--Batman: Orphans #1-2
This was a difficult story to place, but it fits here pretty nicely; Akins is commish, Montoya and Allen are partners, Dick is living in Bl├╝dhaven, etc...  Our tale begins when Merlyn, in an attempt to steal a package from a FedLex delivery, kills someone that he believes to be Robin.  The tabloids report the death of Batman's sidekick, prompting Dick to travel north to Gotham to make sure Tim is okay.  Nightwing and the real Robin then visit the coroner to examine the body of the fake Robin.  The coroner is actually Batman in disguise, thus proving that things aren't always what they seem, or something like that.  But if there is a fake Robin, there must be a fake Batman.  Fake-Batman, headquartered in an underground section of Gotham never rebuilt after the quake, trains five orphaned kids to become his new "Robins."  The kids believe that "Batman" is the real Dark Knight and worship him accordingly.  Teenage fighting-prodigy Lance Heart earns the right to become the new "Robin" after defeating his buddies in combat.  Lance leads his fellow teens out into the streets to complete several "crime fighting" missions, which result in the death of innocent civilians.  Meanwhile, Dick and Tim study the fake-Robin costume in the Batcave only to realize that it has been soaked in Scarecrow's fear toxin.  Across town, Bruce, who has recently handled the tainted costume, spazzes-out at a movie premiere and attacks tabloid journalist Samantha Locke.  Alfred is able to contain Bruce and drive him back home.  As a result, Bruce gets a nasty front-page write-up in Locke's tabloid rag.  Bruce then intensifies his investigation which leads in the direction of several missing orphans.  Bruce, Dick, and Tim interrogate an Arkham doctor, Charles Nigaff, who had personally taken care of all of the missing orphans in question.  After questioning Nigaff, news breaks that FedLex trucks are being attacked all over the city due to the fact that the criminal underworld has learned that one of the deliveries contains a mysterious but important package.  A violent gunfight erupts at the airport between Merlyn (working for the League of Assassins), Red Talon (working for Penguin), Riddler, the Fake-Robin and his teenage gang, Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen, and the Bat-family.  Similarly, across town Batgirl fights the Ventriloquist and The Prankster.  Black Canary fights Lady Vic.  And Spoiler, Huntress, and Catwoman fight the Body Doubles and Penguin.  In the bloody chaos many die, including the Fake-Robin.  Bookworm, part of the "Robin" gang, is able to retrieve the package and return to "Batman."  However, Bookworm turns on "Batman" when he realizes that he is actually a villain.  Angered, fellow gang member Francisco Ramirez dons the Fake-Robin costume with the intent of battling "Batman."  However, Ramirez winds up fighting the real Batman by mistake, until Tim swoops in an explains the situation.  "Batman" is revealed to be played by two crazy doctors; Hugo Strange and Charles Nigaff.  With that mystery solved, only the mystery of the FedLex package remains.  The package winds up in the hands of Nightwing, Montoya, Allen, and Locke, who are all surrounded by a bevy of rogues including; Firefly, Two-Face, Bane, Scarecrow, Killer Croc, Riddler, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Lady Shiva, and Nicodemus!  Things look pretty bad until the package is revealed to be a fake Holy Grail.  The disappointed villains disperse and the case is closed. 

--Supergirl Vol. 4 #74
Months ago, a demon separated the two halves inhabiting Supergirl's body: Matrix and Linda Danvers. Both retained superhuman powers, but Matrix became the sole Earth Angel of Fire and went missing. Linda (wearing her new white belly shirt costume) and pal Mary Marvel have been searching for her ever since. In the long lost Garden of Eden, Linda finally thinks she finds Matrix, but it is actually Bizarro Supergirl disguised to look like Matrix by Lilith (mother of all demons). When the demon Hurmizah stabs Mary to death Linda freaks out and, due to the machinations of Lilith, inadvertently causes a "chaos stream" to erupt from the River Styx. The chaos stream spreads over the globe, causing mass destruction and turning people into monsters. Batman, for instance, turns into a Man-Bat-esque creature that can barely be contained by a surprised Batgirl. Eventually, Mary will be revived, Matrix will be found, the chaos stream will recede, and everyone will live happily ever after.

--Batman: Gotham Knights #33-36 ("TABULA RASA")
Batman, Robin (who is still a little salty about being left out of the loop for so long), and Nightwing apprehend three old-school villains who have ditched their corny supervillian alter-egos in an attempt at straight-crime.  Signalman, Kite Man, and Corrosive Man are easily caught.  NOTE:  This is the first time we've seen Corrosive Man in four years, and he now appears to have either lost his powers or gained complete control of them.  When the Bat-family returns home to Wayne Manor, Bane (!) is waiting for them and asks Bruce to aid him in his quest to destroy all of the world's Lazarus Pits (to piss off Ra's Al Ghul).  Bane has already destroyed quite a few.  After meeting with Jason Blood (Etrigan), Batman and Bane learn that Achilles (minus his famous heel) was one of the first documented cases of anyone bathing in a Lazarus Pit!  The former rivals then travel halfway across the globe and destroy a Lazarus Pit.  As the duo celebrate the victory, Bane tells Batman that his real father is also Thomas Wayne!  Bane and Batman are half-brothers!  But is it true?  A week goes by and the Bat-family eagerly awaits the results of a blood test.  In the meantime, Bane joins the Bat-family and patrols the Gotham streets as a superhero!  Huntress catches wind of this and is pissed.  She swoops down and knocks Batman on his ass, calling him a hypocrite for letting Bane in the club, but not her.  Bane tells Batman that he knows that Huntress and Nightwing have been lovers in the past.  Batman tells him he's crazy.  Ha!  When Nightwing finally chases down Huntress, she kisses him.  Watch out Babs!  Don't worry, Dick is totally in love with Babs.  While stuck in traffic, Dick and Babs play "Six Degrees of Black Lightning."  This is too amazing.  Meanwhile, when a tattoo artist is gang raped, she becomes Pix (the female version of Tattooed Man) and hunts down her rapists, killing them one by one.  While Batman deals with the tragic new vigilante, Bane unsuccessfully tries to fake the DNA test results.  When things don't go his way, a lab tech gets murdered.  Leslie Thompkins is on hand to witness the crime, but rather than condemn Bane, she opens up to him and they have a heart-to-heart.  Bane visits with Batman and tells him they are not brothers, and can never truly be friends.  Batman, however, is able to reach out to Bane before he leaves town.  Bruce sets up a trust fund for his former foe (similar to the one he set up for Jean-Paul Valley years ago) and will remain in constant contact with Bane.

--JSA #37
It is revealed that since this Bat-Year began, everything in the entire DCU has been a lie.  None of what we've read about in the chronology for Bat-Year 18 has transpired.  Instead, Batman and the other heroes have had completely different adventures.  Huh?  Let me explain.  The Ultra-Humanite, months ago, had taken over the Earth using the stolen power of a Lightning Elemental djinn, putting numerous heroes under his brainwashed control, the rest experiencing a complex virtual reality i.e. The Matrix.  The combined forces of the JSA, JLA, and Titans are able to see the Matrix reality for what it is, enter actual reality and defeat Ultra-Humanite.  For anyone asking about the canonical status of the last couple of Matrix months, have no fear.  J.J. Thunder (with his own lighting djinn) is able to undo everything Ultra-Humanite had done.  In a very bizarre space-time anomaly (one of the oddest anomalies we've encountered in all 18 years of this chronology thus far) the several Matrix months are completely erased from the timeline.  However, everyone retains their knowledge of what the Ultra-Humanite has done.  Also, the hundreds of deaths which occur as a result of Ultra-Humanite's evil scheme?  They're dead for real and they ain't coming back.

NOTE:  A benevolent alien symbiote, which origins stem from the Emotional Spectrum, merges with Green Lantern.  Kyle Rayner is bestowed with cosmic powers even greater than the power within his ring.  He dons a new costume and calls himself Ion (as seen in Green Lantern Vol. 3 #145).  In a couple months Kyle will release his powers back into the Central Power Battery on the planet Oa, re-creating the long dead Guardians of the Universe!  Kyle will then go back to being plain ol' Green Lantern again.

--Green Lantern Vol. 3 #149
The JLA frantically prepares for yet another massive invasion, this time by alien crystal people.  Just as the team is finally able to come up with a complex strategy to defend Earth, Kyle Rayner (now Ion for the past four days) shows up and tells the team that he's already taken care of the problem thanks to his new powers.  He met the aliens head-on and teleported them thousands of light years away.  Superman then argues with Ion, telling him that he's being reckless with his new powers.  NOTE:  Plastic Man incorrectly says that "Terror Incognita" took place 176 days ago (almost 6 months ago).  Maybe he means 276 days ago, which would still be slightly wrong, but would be a hell of a lot closer.

--Robin #116-120
It's July and it's Tim's 16th birthday! When a mysterious box arrives at Tim's house, he takes it to Batman and they examine it together.  A hologram appears out of the box depicting an image of Alfred, supposedly from the future.  In his message, Alfred tells Robin that one of their closest allies will go rogue and become evil.  Future Alfred is then murdered by the former friend as the message concludes, but the Dynamic Duo can't tell who it is.  Robin spends the next ten days harrowingly and painstakingly collecting evidence and tailing his allies.  The message seems to be legit, and Robin is sick about the fact that someone close to him will betray his trust.  Robin then discovers the message was delivered by the small time crook Yak Black, and is surprised when Black turns up inside the Batcave.  Robin easily takes Black down and unmasks him, revealing none other than Alfred himself!  Batman appears out of the shadows and congratulates Tim.  The whole thing was an elaborate test just to see how Robin would handle the situation.  Tim is pissed and immediately quits again! (The Dynamic Duo had only been reunited for less than two weeks and here comes Batman rocking the boat with some asshole test?  I can't blame Tim for leaving this time).  Spoiler tracks down the pouting Tim and basically tells him that Batman will always be a dick, but he of all people should be able to deal with it.  Spoiler's pep-talk is enough to convince Tim to return to the cave and make amends with Bruce. 

--Batman: Gotham Knights #32
Almost two months have passed since Bruce Wayne's name was cleared in the murder of Vesper Fairchild and he is finally ready to return to heading Wayne Enterprises.  We see a long 24 hour day in the life of Bruce.  He spends his day doing charity work, having power lunches, going to important business meetings, attending dedications, checking up on the comatose Lucius Fox's family, playing chess with Two-Face at Arkham, and busting criminals until 5 am.  In the B&W second feature, Bruce gets a letter from three little girls which includes a fiction story about Batman fighting a dinosaur.  The girls have sent him the letter in appreciation for Bruce's funding of a dinosaur themed playground in their neighborhood.

--Power Company #15
Batman meets the vigilante known as Manhunter (actually a clone of the original Manhunter).  They kung-fu fight and Batman realizes that despite his rookie inexperience, Manhunter is expertly trained in martial arts.  Manhunter is a member of the superhero-for-hire team known as the Power Company.

NOTE:  Lucius Fox, who has been a coma for over eleven months after suffering a heart attack and stroke, finally wakes up!  Bruce will visit with him in our next story.

--Batman: Family #1-2
It's been just shy of a year since Lucius Fox has his heart attack and stroke.  He's ready to begin rehab, but is still unable to return to work.  Meanwhile, the effects of the Vesper Fairchild murder are still lingering at Wayne Enterprises.  The Board of Directors wants Bruce to resign and collect his hefty pension.  Meanwhile, Batman meets the new vigilante known as the Tracker.  The Tracker has spent the past few months serving up mobsters to the cops left and right.  However, when Batman takes on a new supervillain called Suicide King, the former finds out that the Tracker is in cahoots with the villain.  The Tracker winds up getting killed and Batman is left wondering what Suicide King's game was all about.  Bruce then returns to work.  Worried that he will lose his company to a cutthroat, heartless new leader, CEO Wayne turns the reigns over to his mother's old friend, elderly entrepreneur Celia Kazantzakis.  Secretly, Kazantzakis has manipulated her way into this position of power with the desire to use Wayne Enterprises to control the Gotham underworld.  The Tracker (her son) and Suicide King are a part of her network of supervillains, which includes Bugg, The Technician, Dr. Excess, Mr. Fun, and Freeway.  The deviously covert Kazantzakis is even able to manipulate Spoiler (through a third party) into bringing down one of the Gotham crime syndicates.  In a completely unrelated note, we also learn that Bruce's fiance from 18 years ago, Julie Madison has just had a baby!  The paparazzi supposes that Bruce is the dad.  Not true!  NOTE:  There are a bunch of flashbacks in this entire series to "40 years ago", but 50 years ago sounds more like it.  Also, I wanted to mention that every member of Kazantzakis's group changes his supervillain gimmick and moniker every several years, thus greatly lessening the chances of getting identified or apprehended.  Pretty clever idea.  With that being said, we may or may not have seen some of these guys before as supposed "one-shot" villains.  Who knows?

--Catwoman Vol. 3 #10
Selina and Bruce meet for lunch and Bruce pretends that he was shocked to learn that she was still alive.  (Selina had recently faked her own death to fool the public into disbelieving she was Catwoman).  Later, Catwoman helps a friend who is wrongfully charged with murder escape from custody and flee the country.  Batman isn't happy about it and tells her so, but their potential argument ends playfully (and sexually), with the duo racing each other on the Gotham rooftops.

--Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #177-178 ("LOST CARGO")
Catwoman encounters Matches Malone for the first time and doesn't realize that he's Batman in disguise.  Together, they bust some mobsters who are involved with a human trafficking/illegal immigration operation.  In the end Selina learns that Batman and Malone are one and the same.

--Batgirl #31-32
The cult known as The Ninth Legion is searching for an ancient artifact called the Eagle of the Ninth.  When Jack Drake (Tim's dad) turns up on a list of possible targets of the cult, Batman calls in Green Arrow (Connor Hawke), Robin, Batgirl, Spoiler, and Eddie Fyers to protect him.  Eddie Fyers attends a public event disguised as Jack and is immediately kidnapped by the cult.  The Bat-family is able to track Eddie, save him, and stop the crazy cultists.  Jack later reveals to Tim that he indeed owns the sacred artifact.

--Robin #121-122
Robin begins attending yet another new school.  After some magical artifacts are heisted from STAR Labs, the Dynamic Duo is able to retrieve all of the items except for one.  A few nights later, small-time crook Johnny Warren is imbued with a demonic power after handling the stolen artifact.  Warren becomes supervillain Johnny Warlock.  

--Detective Comics #774, Part 2
It's now August and Batman has been searching for Sasha for two months now, with no success.  He then runs into Checkmate Agent David Said and finally gets some answers that lead him to a Checkmate base outside of Gotham.  Batman infiltrates the base and gathers information, but still nothing conclusive.  The Dark Knight then warns the Checkmate Agents on hand that if he discovers they have anything to do with Sasha's disappearance, he will destroy them.  And he means it.

--Gotham Central #6-10 ("HALF A LIFE")
This award-winning Rucka tale is not to be missed.  Renee Montoya is in a whole lotta trouble.  First, she is finally outed as a lesbian and it isn't easy being queer and Latina in the GCPD.  Then, Two-Face frames her for murder!  Remember NML and her birthday flowers?  Harvey is still in love with Renee.  His twisted schizophrenic idea is that once he (Two-Face) ruins Montoya's life completely, she will have only Harvey Dent to give her affection.  A ton of great story-telling and build-up as Batman doesn't even make an appearance until the fifth issue of this story-arc, showing up to KO Two-Face and prove Montoya's innocence.  Afterward, Detective Sawyer orders Montoya to take a month off.  (Montoya takes a few weeks off, but returns to the force shortly thereafter).

NOTE:  Bruce sends Bane to Saint Louis to apprehend one of Mr. Freeze's old henchmen who has run amok with one of his former boss's old freeze-rays (as seen through flashback in Batman: Gotham Knights #47).

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