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Bat-Year Sixteen runs from April 2004 to March 2005. When the year begins, "No Man's Land" is in full effect and will take up most of the year. Sarah Essen-Gordon will die this year, Gordon will retire, and Lex Luthor will become president.
This first part of Bat-Year Sixteen contains all events from April 2004 to mid-September 2004.
NOTE: For the first two months of Bat-Year Sixteen (up until May 12), Batman will still be incommunicado with Dick, Tim, Barbara, and pretty much everyone that remains in Gotham while he continues strategizing his return. When Batman finally reenters the beleaguered city, No Man's Land will have been in effect for 100 days. Our first story this year, Batman: No Man's Land #1, starts on the 93rd day of No Man's Land i.e. May 3. Here is a recap of what happened in Gotham during these first 93 days of isolation from the world (as told by Oracle in Batman: No Man's Land #1). Oracle has become not only the main source of information in NML, but has become the chronicler of events. Without law and order (or supplies or food) Feudalism and a barter system have emerged in Gotham. Desperate and starving gangs/tribes have formed and taken over their own distinct territories. Each gang or tribe is in constant warfare with the others. Spray-paint tagging has become the best means of marking territory. Black Mask, Scarface, Two-Face, the GCPD, and Huntress all control their own sectors. Poison Ivy (who is actually being controlled by Clayface) runs all of Robinson Park. The Street Demonz and their rivals the LoBoyz also control large sectors of the city. The Penguin is the richest man in Gotham now (so to speak), having turned his sector into the "Casablanca" of NML; the ultimate black market. There is some real post-apocalyptic shit going on. All bridges are down, communication is primitive, and the army patrols the city borders. Nothing gets in our out. So, let's pick up on May 5, 2004, exactly 93 days into NML. (But first, Spoiler has her baby).
ANOTHER NOTE: Stephanie Brown gives birth to her child and gives the baby up for adoption rather than become a single teenage mother. Tim is there to support her. (Okay, now we can move on to NML).
NO MAN'S LAND Part 1
--Batman: No Man's Land #1
--Batman: Shadow of the Bat #83
--Batman: No Man's Land #0, Part 2
--Detective Comics #730
--Azrael: Agent of the Bat #50-51
--Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #116
--Batman: Shadow of the Bat #84
--Detective Comics #731
--Azrael: Agent of the Bat #52It is May 3, 2004, the 93rd day of NML when we pick up our tale. The tribal wars rage in Gotham. The GCPD is making progress (by inciting a war between the Demonz and the LoBoys), although Gordon has given up all hope in Batman returning and won't even let his cops utter the Dark Knight's name in his presence. Meanwhile, a mysterious new Batgirl begins fighting crime and spray-painting Bat-symbols all across NML. On Day 100 (May 11) Batman (with Alfred) reenters Gotham and tells Oracle that he is back to reclaim the city. By Day 102 (May 13) the GCPD has taken over the territories of both the LoBoys and Demonz. Oracle re-unites with her dad. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Billy Petit's military bravado is becoming more coldly homicidal and violent as the days go on. Batman meets the new Batgirl and appropriates her spray-paint tagging idea. It is also revealed that Batman is operating out of an underground sewer-annex of the Gotham Power Company. After some old-fashioned undercover detective work, Batman brings down the Ventriloquist. But Rhino delivers a harsh lesson, "It ain't about good guys and bad guys anymore, Batman. It's just about survival." The peasants that served under Scarface don't know how to live without him as their lord and dictator. Thus, Batman becomes the new leader of Scarface's territory (with Rhino in charge). Concurrently, Bruce sends Azrael (who dons a new costume) to battle Nicholas Scratch outside of the city. Back in NML Father Christian Sounder sets up a refugee center, but refuses GCPD protection, much to the chagrin of Gordon. Huntress also has a bone to pick with the refugee center because Father Christian has allowed the Scarecrow to live there. Everyone will have a bone to pick with Father Christian soon enough because Penguin is using the refugee center's basement as a secret stash for a ton of guns and ammo. Simultaneously, Batman and Huntress use a former False Facer named Mikey as a mole to retrieve information about Black Mask's gang, which results in Mikey being shot. Bruce brings Mikey to the medical tent-city and puts him under the care of Dr. Leslie Thompkins. Meanwhile, Scarecrow has begun to stir up the residents of the refugee center with his fiery oratory. Everything boils to a head as the Penguin's men, the GCPD, and the False Facers all converge on the refugee center to retrieve the guns. Huntress is unable to contain the situation and a bloodbath ensues. Batman appears and ends the crisis. Bruce reveals to the new Batgirl that he now operates out of several mini-Batcaves, including one inside Arkham Asylum.
NO MAN'S LAND Part 2
--Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #117
--Batman: Shadow of the Bat #85-86
--The Batman Chronicles #17, Part 1
--The Batman Chronicles #17, Part 3
--The Batman Chronicles #16, Part 2
--Detective Comics #732
--Azrael: Agent of the Bat #53
--Anarky Vol. 2, #1
--Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #118
--Detective Comics #733
--Azrael: Agent of the Bat #54-55
--Young Justice in No Man's Land #1
--Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #119
--Batman: Shadow of the Bat #87Following the fall of the LoBoys and Demonz, the Wreckers and the Xhosa quickly replaced them and the GCPD now have their hands full again. However, Gordon reluctantly makes a deal with a mystery person (later revealed to be Two-Face) and within hours the rival gangs are brutally and murderously eliminated. Concurrently, Batman enters himself into Penguin's prize-fighting contest and beats everyone silly. At the end of the tourney, Batman has not only successfully turned the populace against the Penguin, but has strong-armed the latter into handing over his operations. (Basically, Bats now runs two territories with Rhino and Penguin under his thumb). Speaking of being in charge, Batman also controls and operates Blackgate prison, which he uses as an actual prison. The Caped Crusader appoints KGBeast and Lock-Up as his wardens! (Tally Man is the absolutely unofficial Blackgate judge). Next, after Bat-boy Aaron Langstrom is kidnapped, Francine injects herself with the Man-Bat serum and turns into a Woman-Bat (!) to find her son. Meanwhile, Black Mask has become more sadistic than ever. His False Facers no longer wear masks. Instead, they morbidly mutilate their faces and bodies and act like a fanatically religious cult. Batman sends the new Batgirl on a mission to shut down the entire gang, which she is able to do all by herself! Oracle sees the new Batgirl in action and is furious. Simultaneously, Azrael's quest to bring Nick Scratch to justice continues on. Batman then tangles with Anarky and forces him out of NML. Next, the JLA prevents the super-criminal organization known as Locus from taking over NML. Robin then disobeys Batman's orders and crashes into NML with his Young Justice teammates. The teens do battle with one of Poison Ivy's Ferak plant-women until Batman saves their asses. He scolds Robin and tells him to get outta dodge. While leaving, Young Justice prevents the Kobra organization from invading NML. On Day 129 (June 9) (which cannot possibly take place in Winter) Two-Face and Penguin begin simultaneous massive attacks on Batman's territories. At the exact same time the GCPD attacks Penguin's territories (which unknown to them are actually Batman's territories). So basically, Batman's sectors are getting shit-on really badly (Batgirl is unable to defend any of them) and the Dark Knight is out of the picture because he's been drugged and knocked unconscious by Two-Face's hired Russian femme-fatale, Echo. By the time Bruce wakes up at the end of the day, he's has lost everything. Two-Face now controls virtually all of NML!
NO MAN'S LAND Part 3
--Detective Comics #734
--Nightwing Vol. 2 #34
--Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #120
--Azrael: Agent of the Bat #56-57
--The Batman Chronicles #17, Part 2
--Batman: Shadow of the Bat #88
--Detective Comics #735
--Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #121
--Catwoman Vol. 2, #72-74
--Batman: Shadow of the Bat #89
--Batman #569Superman comes to NML and Batman gives him 24 hours to "make a difference," knowing full-well that Supes will be totally out of his element. Superman is able to apprehend Mad Hatter and get one power plant up and running, but when he realizes that the Gothamites cannot function democratically anymore, the Man of Steel leaves defeated. Another result of Superman's visit to NML; Mr. Freeze takes control of the city's only functional power plant. Batman infiltrates Freeze's ice palace and their subsequent battle causes the power plant to explode. Freeze floats down river on a giant glacier as he curses and shakes his fist in the air, vowing revenge. This has to be the lamest moment in all of NML. Moving on as quickly as humanly possible, the world's premier assassin (and one of the men who trained Bruce) is in NML; David Cain. Cain (hired by Two-Face) attempts to assassinate Gordon, but is stopped by his own daughter, one of Barbara's agents, Cassandra Cain. Batman meets the Cassandra, who is mute, and only knows "the language of violence" as she was trained by her father to be the ultimate martial artist since birth. While Batman apprehends David Cain, he sends the more-than-capable Cassandra on a mission to bring down Two-Face. With relative ease, Cassandra defeats Two-Face (and his ally Tally Man). Just like that, Batman regains his territories. The Dark Knight finally meets with Gordon, and the latter promptly punches the former in the face and tells him to get bent! While Bats can't smooth things over with Jim, he makes things a hell of a lot easier in NML by calling in the troops. Oracle, Azrael, Nightwing, Robin, and Cassandra all gather together and make plans to retake Gotham as a team. Batman then fires Batgirl (who reveals herself to actually be Huntress!) for her failure to defend his territories. Cassandra is officially appointed as the new Batgirl! Batman and Robin then fight against Tommy Mangles, Ratcatcher, Gearhead, and the already returning Mr. Freeze. Azrael continues to fight Nick Scratch. Catwoman also returns to Gotham and the Dark Knight passionately kisses her! When SOTB #88 begins, we are supposedly at NML Day 189. However, it should correctly read NML Day 139 (June 21). Billy Petit and his splinter group of sadistic followers breaks off from the GCPD. Gordon loses a bunch of his officers to Petit's violent militaristic faction. Huntress, feeling like a kindred spirit to Petit since she's been kicked out off the Bat-team, joins the madman's group! Meanwhile, Batman and Robin sneak into Robinson Park and discover that Poison Ivy (now with her new green-skin look) has been held hostage by Clayface (Basil Karlo) for the past four months! (Ivy says "six months," but trust me, it's been four). Batman frees Ivy and together they are able to defeat the crazed Clayface. Batman allows Ivy to remain in control of the park as long as she continues to protect the innocent orphaned children under her care. Back on the other side of town, Two-Face has come to collect on his prior assistance deal with Gordon. What does he want? Renee Montoya. (Harvey has fallen in love with her). When Gordon refuses, Harvey gets what he wants by kidnapping her! Batgirl Cassie Cain then busts some gang members in her first successful solo mission in costume. And last but not least, Lex Luthor has plans for NML and hires Bane to help him. PS. Mercy Graves makes her comic book debut as Luthor's bodyguard!
--The L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons) #1-5
When the supervillain known as Avatar places the entire Watchtower (and the JLA within) into suspended animation, the President forms a temporary super-team known as The Living Assault Weapons (LAW for short). This was DC's attempt to integrate the anti-heroes of The Watchmen into the DCU (in a sense). The LAW comprises of all the old Charlton characters. The heroes from The Watchmen were a thinly veiled conglomeration of these same Charlton characters. Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Nightshade, the Question, Sergeant Steel, Peacemaker, and Judomaster form the LAW and with their combined might, they are able to rescue the JLA and defeat Avatar, who turns out to be Judomaster's old sidekick. Afterward, LAW disbands. I should mention that the Second Feature of DC Universe Legacies #10 contains a one-panel flashback which shows the aftermath of the the LAW's battle with Avatar. However, in this flashback Beetle is shown rejoining Giffen's old version of the JLI. Obviously this is incorrect and must be ignored.
NOTE: Flash (Wally West) temporarily disappears during a battle against Barry Allen's twin brother, Cobalt Blue and the second Reverse-Flash. Thus, he will be absent from the next JLA story (JLA #33). This is a confusing Hypertime event in which Walter West aka Dark Flash (an older Wally from an alternate future) travels through the Bleed to assist Wally. Barry Allen also makes a brief return to assist Wally in the battle against his twin brother! Barry has been dead for six years, but part of his spirit still resides within the Speed Force, and it has been exploring the time-stream for the past six years. Barry's spirit is able to manifest itself into human form to aid in this fight. So, basically we have three Flashes versus two evil-Flashes. And in the end, Wally temporarily disappears and Dark Flash (Walter West) replaces him on the DCU's main timeline until he returns.
Batman meets with the JLA on the Watchtower and tells them he's discovered the man responsible for NML; Bruce Wayne! Since only Superman knows that Batman is Bruce Wayne, the team heads to the French Riviera to apprehend the billionaire playboy. What the hell is going on here, you ask? Bruce has discovered a phony Bruce Wayne has been gallivanting around Europe and wants the JLAers to take care of the situation while he is occupied in Gotham. GL, Plastic Man, Steel, Orion, and Barda arrive at a casino on the French Riviera and the men put on tuxedos while Barda puts on an odd-looking, but sexy skin-tight red dress. She's wearing Plastic Man! Hilarious stuff. Back to the case at hand. The JLAers soon discover that "Bruce Wayne" is actually one of the Hyperclan White Martians (from JLA #1-4) in disguise! They defeat the creature and save the day. NOTE: Dark Flash (Walter West) replaces the missing Wally as a JLA team member in this issue. Wally will be back before you know it.
DAY OF JUDGEMENT
--Day of Judgement #1
--Batman: Day of Judgement #1
--Day of Judgement #2-5
--JLA #35Major shake-up in Hell! Etrigan's scheming bonds the Spectre to fallen angel Asmodel, who uses the divine power to release hordes of demons upon the Earth. In NML, old Gotham mafia bosses begin to rise up from Hell, which is bad news for Batman, Robin, and Nightwing. Eventually, the heroes make their stand. With help from the newly formed Sentinels of Magic the Spectre is forced to make a choice; either keep Asmodel as host, appoint Neron as new host, or appoint the deceased Hal Jordan as new host! Hal wins (or loses depending on your perspective) and his soul becomes the new host for the Spectre. Batman is pissed, but what can he do. (This scene is recapitulated in a quasi-canonical flashback from DC Universe Legacies #9, Part 2. I say quasi-canonical because it is narrated by an unreliable narrator and some of the facts are indeed wrong). As far as the long term effect in Hell? Neron has played one too many cards as of late. The evil lord of Hell is demoted to a rhyming-class demon. Satanus replaces him as the new King of Hell. JLA #35 ends the Day of Judgement. New Spectre Hal Jordan is a judgmental dick and wants to punish the JLAers for every little sin they have committed. J'onn telepathically takes everyone on a ride through the Joker's corrupted soul and shows Hal that even in the most damned and twisted of human beings, there is at least a tiny spark of hope and love. (Joker's tiny spark looks a lot like the life he tried to live way back in "Going Sane"). Satisfied, Hal goes forward as the new Spectre, one that has a more human outlook on life. NOTE: I wanted to mention that while Hal's soul becomes the host for the Spectre, his corpse still remains buried on Earth. Shortly this tale ends the remaining Guardians of Oa secretly take his body for safekeeping.
--JLA Annual #3
--Batman Annual #23
--Martian Manhunter Annual #2Gorilla City, African home to a race of highly evolved gorillas (including the villain Grodd), has long been a secret from the modern world. However, King Solovar, leader of the apes, decides to reveal his race to the world. After being accepted into the UN, Solovar is assassinated and replaced by the evil King Uglo, who wages war on humanity. Uglo and his army are able to temporarily turn the JLA into apes. After reverting back, Batman and Nightwing battle some well-dressed gangster apes (along with Blockbuster and Lady Vic) in Blüdhaven. Uglo is dethroned and Solovar's son becomes the new king. Sadly, Gorilla City becomes isolated from the world once again.
Jerome Cox aka The Disciple is the descendant of evil ancient god-like beings and he's one bad dude. The Disciple attacks the JLA and devolves them. The humans become neanderthals, Aquaman becomes an amphibious creature, Zauriel becomes a cherub, and Wonder Woman becomes a free-floating pure soul. However, even in their devolved states, the team is able to defeat the Disciple.
A huge prison riot occurs at the metahuman correctional facility in Belle Reve, Louisiana. The JLAers (minus Batman, who is with Oracle in NML) are able to contain the situation and take down nearly every B-list villain in the DCU. Concurrently, a mysterious alien (Zazzala) recruits the General in deep space and heads toward Earth. Mister Miracle arrives on the Watchtower and announces the bad news that Mageddon will arrive shortly to end all life in the universe. That is bad news. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor and Prometheus are able to disable GL's ring. Luthor reveals that the Injustice Gang is in league with the alien who has rescued the General. What is their plan? Stay tuned. "World War III" is about to begin.
--JLA #36-41 ("WORLD WAR III")
While the JLA prepares for the oncoming onslaught from the doomsday machine known as Mageddon, Lex Luthor assembles a new Injustice Gang, which comprises of Queen Bee (Zazzala), the General, and Prometheus! QUICK NOTE: The General is told that he was trapped in deep space for only a month. He's been out there for at least six months. Catching the JLA with their proverbial pants down, the Injustice Gang infiltrates the Watchtower and basically destroys it from the inside-out. Meanwhile, Zazzala's gigantic interstellar fleet of humanoid space-bees begins invades Earth and builds a giant hive in downtown New York City. Lex couldn't have picked a worse time for the attack. Mageddon has already killed everyone on Wonderworld and is nearing Earth. Mageddon's mere presence in the Milky Way Galaxy unleashes a wave of primal anger over the Earth, which causes war to break out across the globe. After assaulting Oracle in her own home, Prometheus teleports to the Watchtower and fights Batman. Batman is able to KO Prometheus. Usually, Prometheus has the combined attributes and talents of the world's best martial arts fighters downloaded into his brain via his helmet. Batman is able to download the physical attributes of Stephen Hawking into Prom's brain in order to beat him! This Stephen Hawking scene is also shown via flashback in Faces of Evil: Prometheus #1. Eventually, the JLAers realize that Lex and company are being controlled by Mageddon (which is Lex's prison-evading alibi for this case). Every former JLAer, and I mean every single one, assembles at the old North American JLA Embassy to discuss how to deal with the crisis. In the "Ghost Zone" aka Limbo, Batman stops Huntress from killing the helpless Prometheus and kicks her out of the JLA for attempting to use lethal force! Damn, Batman keeps firing Huntress from all of his teams! Anyway, Mageddon finally arrives and the gigantic skull-faced abyss of a monstrosity is so large it makes the entire planet look like a tiny little marble. The complexity of how the heroes defeat Mageddon is so overwhelming I'm not even going to try to explain it here. If you want to know read it for yourself. In a nutshell, Aztek dies, Oracle is able to communicate using "digital telepathy" thanks to Motherboxx technology, Batman and J'onn telepathically guide Superman who has entered into Mageddon, the angels come down from the Heavens, all the superheroes stop nukes from flying worldwide, and Animal Man helps build a gigantic "Purple Ray" gun which is powered by the last survivor of Wonderworld. The Purple Ray temporarily endows every single human being on Earth with metahuman powers, and all of humanity saves the day. Thousands die, but billions are saved. Whew. In the end, Barda and Orion leave the team and everything is back to normal. The JLA is actually glad to face a normal supervillain again, and the team casually apprehends Doctor Destiny. Just another day in the life. NOTE: This major crisis isn't literally World War III. Oracle simply freaks out and yells "This is World War III!" at one point, thus titling the story-arc.
--JLA Showcase 80-Page Giant #1, Part 1
Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern defeat a group of aliens called The Hand of Krona, who wish to forcibly "unify" the universe.
--JLA: Earth 2
The JLA has their first encounter with the Antimatter Universe's Crime Syndicate of Amerika! If you didn't already know, the Antimatter Universe Earth is the polar opposite of the primary DCU Earth's universe. The CSA is basically an evil version of the JLA. In the story, the JLA and CSA switch Earths and find out that their respective worlds are uniquely different. I won't go into all the nitty-gritty details, but this is one of the best graphic novels ever produced (by Morrison/Quitely, naturally) and I highly recommend it. Ultraman, Superwoman, and especially Bruce's counterpart Owlman are all brilliant characters. We also see the debut of Alexander Luthor (the Antimatter Earth's hero version of Lex Luthor) who dons the classic 70s/80s green armored super-suit. I really can't stress enough how great this story is. NOTE: Due to the events of Infinite Crisis we must ignore the title of this story and any references to "Earth-2" to avoid confusion. It is highly probable that our heroes would label the Antimatter Earth as "Earth-2" simply because it is an alternate Earth. However, there is already a pre-existing Earth-2 in the multiverse which houses the alternate superhero team known as Justice Society Infinity and that mirrors the Golden Age Batman's history. A better, revised name for this wonderful tale would simply be JLA: The Antimatter Earth.
NO MAN'S LAND Part 4
--Detective Comics #736
--Azrael: Agent of the Bat #58
--Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #122
--Batman: Shadow of the Bat #90
--Batman: Harley Quinn
--Detective Comics #737
--Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #123
--Batman: Shadow of the Bat #91
--Detective Comics #738
--Nightwing Vol. 2 #35-36
--The Batman Chronicles #18
--Nightwing Vol. 2 #37
--Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #124
--Batman: Shadow of the Bat #92
--Detective Comics #739
--Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #125
--Nightwing Vol. 2 #38-39
--Azrael: Agent of the Bat #59
--Catwoman, Vol. 2 #75
--Batman: Shadow of the Bat #93Bane crashes his way into NML as Huntress/Petit's splinter GCPD group crashes its way into Leslie Thompkins' over-crowded makeshift clinic. Doc Thompkins stands helpless as a potential powder keg is ready to explode in her midst. By harboring the evil Mr. Zsasz, she upsets just about everyone, from Huntress to Killer Kroc. After Kroc and Zsasz duke it out, Batman is able to defeat the latter. In Chinatown, Batman is able to defeat Lynx and her Ghost Dragons. Bane is then able to destroy all of Gotham's recorded history by demolishing the library and hall of records with low-level nuclear weapons. But for what purpose? Clark Kent then takes a stroll through NML and chit-chats with Batman about the progress that has been made thus far. Meanwhile, it is supposedly mid-September and Renee Montoya and her brother Benny have been held captive by Two-Face for about three months now. However, this is incorrect. Montoya has been held captive for a mere three weeks, NOT months. Anyway, that makes it early July when Two-Face kidnaps Jim Gordon and puts him on trial. Acting as a mock bailiff, Renee is able to turn Two-Face's split personalities against one another. Harvey Dent successfully defeats Two-Face in the courtroom and Two-Face is brought to justice. When Jim returns back home, he finds Batman waiting for him. They have a conversation that is long overdue and, once again, form their age-old alliance. Batman takes off his mask, but Jim refuses to look. Meanwhile, the Joker has made his sickening presence known in NML, and he ain't alone. Enter Harley Quinn! Yay! Joker gets involved in a short-lived electoral race against Billy Petit to determine who will become "President of NML." Concurrently, Jack Drake learns that Tim is in NML and thinks he is trapped inside. Jack begins putting his vast wealth and influence towards ending NML and is able to "rescue" his son with an illegal helicopter airlift. (Of course Tim plays along, but immediately sneaks right back into NML to assist Batman). Meanwhile, Catwoman, Azrael, and Nightwing continue their own NML adventures. Specifically, Nightwing regains control of Blackgate Pententiary from KGBeast and Lock-Up who have begun to enjoy their prison warden privileges a bit too much. By the end of SOTB #93 there is significant lobbyist and activist pressure on the US government to rescind the NML order. Lex Luthor and a gigantic team of contractors fly into Gotham with the announcement that Lexcorp will re-build the city as soon as it is legally able to do so! NOTE: SOTB #93 supposedly ends on the 300th day of NML. However, due to editorial compression of the entire year, the latest this issue can take place would be in early to mid August (i.e. around NML Day 200).
NO MAN'S LAND Part 5
--Azrael: Agent of the Bat #60
--Catwoman Vol. 2 #76-77
--Detective Comics #740This part of "No Man's Land" supposedly begins on NML Day 311. However, as I've said, due to editorial compression of the entire year, the latest the conclusion can start would be in early August (i.e. around NML Day 200). Therefore, any text referencing the day should be disregarded. As Luthor's team of contractors prepare to re-build Gotham, Luthor also begins an extensive humanitarian aid effort in NML. Batman doesn't know whether to rejoice or to cry. Luthor obviously has ulterior motives for this sudden altruism. Batgirl teams-up with Azrael to battle the Joker and Harley Quinn. By the third week of August (NML Day 221) There are only five sectors that exist in NML. Batman's, the GCPD's, and Luthor's sectors are secure zones. The only remaining anarchic sectors left in the city are controlled by the Joker and by Petit and Huntress' "Strong Men." As Joker and Harley terrorize the safe zones, Petit becomes crazier and crazier to the point where Huntress can barely quell his Napoleonic leadership. Batman meets with Bane privately and convinces him to leave town. We also learn that Batman destroyed Gotham's public records (!), not Bane. Two days later (NML Day 223), after pressure from Lex Luthor, Jack Drake, and Lucius Fox, and with public opinion swaying in Gotham's favor, the president signs an executive order ending NML! In a press conference, Fox states that the goal is for Gotham to be officially reopened on January 1. However, this date should be ignored. In our chronology Fox would more likely choose a mid-September date, which would be coming up in a couple weeks. Any topical references to specific dates or to the Christmas season should be ignored.
NOTE: In early September Braniac-13 attacks Metropolis and takes control of the city until Superman and a host of heroes are able to defeat him.
--Superman Y2K #1
In the aftermath of the Braniac-13 crisis, the JLA (and also Robin and Nightwing) help send Braniac packing. Lex Luthor, who has briefly returned from Gotham, gives up his only daughter to Braniac in exchange for alien technology. Talk about a deadbeat dad! The Bat-family (and Luthor) will immediately return to Gotham for the conclusion of "No Man's Land."
NO MAN'S LAND Part 6
--Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #126
--Azrael: Agent of the Bat #61
--Detective Comics #741
--Batman: Shadow of the Bat #94
--Azrael: Agent of the Bat #62To re-iterate: Any topical references to specific dates or to the Christmas season should be ignored. Okay, here we go. On the eve of Gotham's reopening, Joker's thugs attack the heart of Strong Men territory. Huntress is helpless as a crazed Billy Petit begins gunning down his own men. With will and determination fueling her fire, Huntress charges Joker's men and defeats all twelve (!), but not before the Joker puts three slugs in her stomach. Just as Joker is about to shoot her in the head, Nightwing and Batman both swoop in and save her life. Joker runs off with an even more sinister plot in mind; he's kidnapped dozens of babies from all across NML. As Nightwing carries Huntress off to get medical attention, Batman finally gives her the passing grade. Huntress has earned Batman's highest praise and it's about time! Every cop and superhero in NML scrambles to locate the missing babies. After a wild goose chase, Batman finds out Joker is holding the babies at GCPD headquarters. Only one cop remains in the building; Sarah Essen-Gordon. The night ends and the sun rises over Gotham. On NML Day 232 (August 1, 2004) Sarah Essen-Gordon is murdered by the Joker. Devastated, Jim shoots Joker in the kneecap before arresting him. Sarah's funeral and wake are held a week later. On the eve of Gotham's reopening, Luthor is ousted from the city when Batman discovers his plans to own virtually all of Gotham's properties through forged public deeds. Rather than face a serious fraud conviction, Luthor is forced to leave. NOTE: Originally Gotham was rebuilt in an astounding speed over the course of only a year or so. For our chronology to work, we must delve one step further into unbelievability and accept that it takes mere months to rebuild the majority of Gotham. While extremely far-fetched, we can imagine that the combined efforts of A.C.E. Labs, S.T.A.R. Labs, Wayne Enterprises, Drake Industries, the U.S. Army, various independent contractors, the entire superhero community, and applied pre-existing DCU alien technology might possibly be able to get the job done that quickly. With that in mind, Gotham will be in a constant rebuilding process over the course of the next couple months of our chronology. (It's really not that unfeasible and there will be sporadic mention of post-NML construction up until the very end of Bat-Year Seventeen). Continuing on, "No Man's Land" reaches its end (a particularly sad end for Jim Gordon) on its 247th day i.e. mid-September. Batman ends NML by meeting with Azrael and re-donning his original costume; the Dark Knight will now wear the grey-with-black-insignia (sans yellow oval) costume from this point on!
--Detective Comics #742
This post-NML tale is supposed to take place ten weeks after the end of NML. However, due to editorial time-compression this cannot be possible. This story has to take place shortly after NML. I must also note that since this story was originally meant to take place ten weeks later, much of the city is depicted as already rebuilt. We should ignore this depiction of Gotham, or assume that the areas in which this issue takes place are the first reconstructed parts. A reminder; Batman has reverted back to his original costume and will now wear the grey-with-black insignia (sans yellow oval) costume again from this point on. Batman teams-up with Gordon to take down some Russian gangsters who are trying to stake a claim on the newly re-opened and up-for-grabs mob scene in post-NML Gotham. NOTE: Bullock is promoted to Lieutenant and Detective Crispus Allen joins the GCPD.
NOTE: Bruce Wayne attends a parole hearing for his old friend and former head of Wayne Enterprises Security Jeremy Samuels, who has been in jail since Bat-Year Four (as seen through flashback in Batman #582). Bruce speaks on his behalf and Samuels is released from prison and even given his old job back at Wayne Enterprises. This flashback is supposed to take place a full month before Batman #582, but it only takes place about two weeks before it.
--Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E. #8
Relative newcomer Star-Spangled Kid and her sidekick S.T.R.I.P.E. (notable because Star-Spangled Kid is a teenager and her sidekick S.T.R.I.P.E. is an adult) takes on Nebula Man. STRIPE is also notable because he is the former Seven Soldiers of Victory sidekick, Stripsey, aka Pat Dugan! In this tale, STRIPE is worried and calls in the JLA, JSA, and Titans for help. But by the time the heroes arrive, the Kid has already easily defeated the supervillain. NOTE: Nebula Man is a unique and awesome character. It will be revealed three years from now that Nebula Man is actually a time-traveling sentient alternate universe from the future. Let me repeat that. Nebula Man isn't from an alternate universe from the future. Nebula Man IS a sentient alternate universe from the future.
NOTE: Batman begins training new Batgirl Cassie Cain (as seen through flashback in Batgirl #1).
--Robin Vol. 2 #74
Tim's dad forces him to transfer from public school to the ritzy private Brentwood Academy outside of Gotham. Thus, having missed almost a year-and-a-half of classes, sixteen-year-old Tim transfers to Brentwood to play catch-up. Batman meets with Robin and they discuss how this will effect his ability to be the Boy Wonder. The Dark Knight tells him not to worry. Tim checks into Brentwood and discovers that Alfred has been posted as his personal valet.
--The Batman Chronicles #20
First, Catwoman helps the Generation-X/PowerPack-ish teenage Relative Heroes escape from the DEO in NYC. Next, at Tim's new school Brentwood Academy, Robin teams-up with Jade to fight off some bullies from rival Cheever Prep School. And finally, back in Blüdhaven, Nightwing teams-up with Supergirl to bring some terrorists to justice. I should mention that by this point Supergirl (Matrix) has merged with Linda Danvers, an act that not only gives her/them a dual personality, but turns the ladies into the Earth Angel of Fire (Earth's primary Avatar of Fire) as well.
--Batman/Joker: Switch #1
The Joker is on a killing spree in London. Batman travels to England where he learns that the Joker had recently been transferred to a private clinic to undergo experimental plastic surgery to repair his face. After spending time under the knife with the mysterious Dr. Nigel Dalingsworth, Joker woke up with memory loss and his mouth literally moved to the back of his neck. Unsure what had happened to him, the Joker begins pretending he is Batman and attempts to solve the case. Of course, this means three days of double-digit murders and constant mayhem as the real Batman tries to trap him. Eventually, Joker does solve the case and confronts Dalingsworth, who reveals himself to be a hideously deformed monster-man that does grotesque "art surgeries" on kidnapped victims. Batman whips both their asses and the Joker has corrective surgery. In a British prison, before being extradited back to Arkham, Joker remembers that he had traveled to England to partner with Dalingsworth in the first place. NOTE: Artist John Bolton draws Batman with a unique chest emblem in this issue. This chest emblem is meant to be taken only as Bolton's personal stylistic choice. Batman should be wearing his normal old-school black insignia costume.
NOTE: Batman saves firefighter Holman Hunt from a burning building. However, Hunt is permanently burn-scarred exactly like Two-Face. Instead of becoming evil, the firefighter becomes the "good Two-Face," going on motivational speaking tours and generally helping others (as seen through a flashback within a flashback in Joker's Asylum: Two-Face #1). This flashback is narrated entirely by Joker himself, so much of it may be apocryphal. However, it's basic elements are most likely canonical.