April 2010 to May 2010.
--Wednesday Comics #1-12
When rich investment banker Franklin Glass is murdered, his young trophy wife, Luna, stands to gain his entire fortune, as long as Franklin's son, Carlton, doesn't get in the way. Luna tries to frame Carlton for murder, but when that fails, she has him killed instead. When Luna winds up killing the assassin her plot quickly unravels. Batman chases her down and Luna tries to kill herself, eventually getting gunned down by police anyway.
NOTE: After Bruce petitions the FBI to investigate Penguin's dirty business dealings, the latter hires a sniper to kill the former on the golf course (as seen through flashback in The Brave and The Bold Vol. 3 #13). Of course, the assassination attempt fails. In case you were wondering, Penguin now reluctantly works for Intergang, but still has his own secret criminal ventures on the side.
--Vixen: Return of the Lion #1
Vixen hasn't been officially cleared for JLA duties yet after her encounter with Anansi, but she is out and about patrolling with the team anyway and Batman and Superman don't seem to mind. During a raid on an Intergang warehouse, the JLA finds evidence that Vixen's mom, who was previously thought to have died in an accident, was actually murdered by Intergang member Aku Kwesi.
NOTE: Penguin tries to assassinate Bruce Wayne again, this time by poisoning his drink at a charity ball. Robin crashes the party and prevents Bruce from ingesting the deadly brew (as seen through flashback in The Brave and The Bold Vol. 3 #13).
--Vixen: Return of the Lion #3-5
The JLA travels to Zambesi, Africa to help Vixen take on Aku Kwesi. In Zambesi, Black Canary and Superman are poisoned with a chemical which makes them turn against their teammates. Intergang lieutenant Whisper A'Daire (!) then shows up to help her fellow Intergangers, but in the end the JLA is victorious.
--The Brave and The Bold Vol. 3 #13
Batman teams-up with Jay Garrick on a murder case. Meanwhile, Penguin hires TO Morrow to kill Bruce Wayne. Morrow sends a small army of Samuroids (samurai androids) to attack Wayne Manor. Jay easily defeats the robots. Batman and Jay then locate Morrow, who was responsible for the original murder, and defeat the villain. Bruce never even learns that it was Penguin who was trying to kill him.
NOTE: The events of Booster Gold Vol. 2 #11-12 take place now. Rip tells Booster of a mishap in time involving the 27th Century physicist/thief Wiley Dalbert, who slowly traveled backwards through time with the goal of reaching the "simpler, better era" of the 19th Century. Along the way, he stole a ton of loot, eventually becoming rich upon reaching his desired era. It turns out, Rip continues, Dalbert's time-traveling played a pivotal role in the creation of Batman. Dalbert traveled to the 19th Century and founded a hospital, which coincidentally pointed Dr. Thomas Wayne's career in a specific direction, which in turn, led to his death in Crime Alley, which of course, led to birth of the Dark Knight. Rip then explains the error which has affected the time-stream: in Bat-Year 8 Batman, Robin, and Batgirl nabbed Dalbert and sent him to jail, thus preventing the physicist from reaching his final destination in the 19th Century, thus preventing the birth of the Caped Crusader. This, obviously is not correct, and not good. SO, armed with this knowledge, Booster travels back in time (the first time he actually fails to fix the error, knocking out Killer Moth and playing the role of the villain). The second time, however, is a charm. Booster and his sister Goldstar travel to Bat-Year 8, fix the error, and return, ensuring that Bruce will become Batman like he was supposed to.
ANOTHER NOTE: In order to yet again fix the timestream (which has now been damaged by an army of time-traveling Starros), Booster (as usual) does a million things and goes on a frantic jaunt across time and space (as seen in Booster Gold Vol. 2 #14). Specifically, Booster time-travels back to Bat-Year 11 and borrows an ice gun from Mr. Freeze, travels back to the present, fixes the timestream using the stolen weapon, then travels back to Bat-Year 11 to return the ice gun. Batman and Robin (Jason Todd at the time) have no idea Booster was even there, and Freeze is just really confused.
--Batman Confidential #39, Epilogue
This is supposed to take place three months after Batman Confidential #39, but it takes place more like a-month-and-a-half afterward. Bruce, Tim, and Lady Blackhawk attend a corporate party sponsored by Blackhawk Inc. Tim meets one of his biggest heroes, WWII ace Janos Prohaska.
--Solo #1, Part 1
Tim Sale's issue of Solo was published well before now (2005), but the Batman story within didn't seem to fit anywhere at the time. However, it seems to fit well right here. Ever since returning from the prison planet, Catwoman has had a whole new outlook on life and has begun stealing again. In this tale, Selina simply wants to "play" with Batman and lures him in with a phony museum heist. After a boisterous chase, Catwoman has Batman tied-up and hanging upside-down. After a few "Spider-Man" kisses, she bolts away.
NOTE: Bruce, to maintain his playboy image, goes on a series of dates with billionaire media mogul Una Nemo. As he usually does quite coldly, suddenly, and without explanation, Bruce dumps Una on their sixth date (as seen through flashback in Batman & Robin #18).
ANOTHER NOTE: While we haven't seen Jezebel Jet in any comics lately, Bruce has indeed still been casually dating the femme-fatale, albeit non-exclusively. However, beginning now Bruce and Jezebel will enter into what the public media refers to as a "serious relationship" (as will be mentioned repeatedly in several of the upcoming story-arcs).
--Catwoman Vol. 3 #81-82 ("FINAL JEOPARDY")
As I mentioned earlier, ever since returning from the prison planet, Catwoman has had a whole new outlook on life and has begun stealing again. Batman ain't happy 'bout that. The Dark Knight catches up with Selina and tells her that she is above the thievery game and things have to change. A playful game of cat and mouse (or bat and cat) ensues as the two chase each other across the rooftops of Gotham. Once Batman corners Selina, she starts clawing and kicking the Caped Crusader and then they start making out! (Don't tell Jezebel Jet). Batman then tells Selina that she didn't have to give up Helena for adoption. There were other options, like running away and living quietly overseas. Selina gets mad at Bruce's candor at first, but then realizes it's true. Selina then tells Bruce that she made her decision and stands by it, announcing, "I'm Catwoman. This is who I am." Catwoman then steals the Batmobile from right under Bruce's nose, sticks her tongue out, waves goodbye, and drives off into the sunrise!
Countdown 18 to 9 (obviously, we must completely disregard these Countdown numbers). Bruce and Jezebel Jet continue going on public dates. The TV show The Source (basically a DCU version of The View) intently covers the heated celebrity romance, although co-host Vicki Vale (!) seems a bit jealous. Meanwhile, the third and final "replacement Batman" (Michael Lane) returns to the scene and attacks the GCPD HQ. Several of the officers who originally tried-out for (and failed) Simon Hurt's "Batmen program" fifteen years ago are still on the force today. These cops, including an Officer Pete Farelli, remember and recognize Lane, and even address him by name, much to the confusion of Commissioner Gordon. Batman battles Lane and the former gets shot in his bulletproof Kevlar-protected chest. However, the impact of this fight is at such an intense level, Batman suffers a heart attack (!) and passes out. Lane takes the Dark Knight, whose heart stops beating for four minutes, into the basement of the GCPD building where the substitute Batmen were originally trained. Batman is strapped into a chair and tortured by Lane. The Dark Knight drifts in and out of consciousness and views various spastic visions which include the following: Bat-Mite (who has a scary-looking parasitic spider alien attached to his spine which is most likely a Hyper-Adapter), the words "Zur-En-Arrh," flashbacks involving Joe Chill, and the Thogal ritual. When Batman awakes, Lane rants and raves about Dr. Hurt's substitute Batmen program. Bruce finally remembers Dr. Hurt's name, but is distressed to learn that it had been somehow been repressed from his memory for so long. On the roof of the building, Farelli spills the beans about the Batmen program to an angry Gordon, who rallies his troops and heads down to the dungeon beneath where they stand. In the basement, Batman breaks free of his restraints and defeats Lane in combat. A Venom-crazed Branca smashes his way in, but is immediately shot dead by Farelli. In the tumult, Lane escapes. NOTE: Gordon is angered to learn that the alternate Batmen emerged during Commissioner Vane's short tenure as GCPD leader in Bat-Year 16. I wanted to mention that the alternate Batmen began training ten years prior to their debut, during a time when Gordon would have been commissioner, although Hurt's program would have been kept a secret from Gordon.
--DC Universe #0
Countdown 0. We've finally reached the end of our countdown, but don't expect anything too exciting. Final Crisis is on it's way, but still isn't quite ready for us. Batman goes (yet again) to visit the Joker. At Arkham, Joker is silent and sullen, even with his signature smile. The Clown Prince of Crime deals out some playing cards (a "dead man's hand" to be exact) while Batman speaks to him. Joker, who has recently been secretly visited by the Black Glove, tells the Dark Knight that someone will soon hurt him in a way he will never recover from. Key word: HURT. A certain Dr. Hurt to be exact, although Joker doesn't actually give the spoiler. Bruce also mentions that Joker has been acting strange ever since his "death." This comment was originally meant to reference the Joker's getting shot by Josef Muller. However, since that event took place so long ago and we've seen the Joker so many times after that, this must be incorrect. Funny though, how the dialogue still works in my chronology since Joker has recently been horribly scarred during a beating by Oracle. We also see the formation of the brand new Secret Society of Supervillains, this incarnation led by Libra (who happens to be an evil prophet for the second-coming of Darkseid). Speaking of Darkseid, he has been recently killed by Orion, but the ultimate god of evil didn't go bye-bye so easily. Instead of passing on to wherever-it-is-that-gods-go-when-they-die, we learn that Darkseid's soul falls backwards through time to Bat-Year 19 (Part 4 to be exact) where it inhabits a human host body. There, (in the past) Darkseid adopts the name of Boss Dark Side and begins re-creating his minions within human host bodies. So, paradoxically (or amazingly (or both)), Darkseid and his vile cronies have all been killed, but they have also been planning their return for the past two years as well. Libra is the only non-god that knows this, and he secretly works for Boss Dark Side, hence his whole "prophet of evil" label. It's also interesting to note that Darkseid (as Boss Dark Side) has watched everything that has occurred in the DCU throughout Infinite Crisis, 52, Countdown, and even his own demise, all from the shadows, biding his time, without taking any interfering action (besides a few appearances in Flash, Birds of Prey, and Teen Titans). I'm sure Boss Dark Side has a big surprise for everyone soon.
Superman and Batman eavesdrop on two dweebs nerd-raging over who would win in a fight: Batman or Superman? Afterward, Bruce tells Clark that this was a complete waste of time because everyone knows that the Dark Knight would win.
--Superman/Batman #81-84 ("SORCERER KINGS")
I've placed this story here based upon Bruce's costume, the appearance of Klarion, and Detective Chimp's reference to 'tec #845. Our tale begins outside of Metropolis with the Shadowpact aiding a fully-armored mystery man against demons from the future. The demons are thwarted, but the mystery man is killed and revealed to be Superman (albeit Superman from the future). As a perplexed present-day Superman meets with the Shadowpact and views his own corpse, Batman and Scream Queen (both from from the future) show up, kidnap the Man of Steel, and teleport back to the future, where the world has been ravaged and filled with wild magic thanks to the combined efforts of Felix Faust, Blackbriar Thorn, Brother Blood, and Morgaine Le Fey. Meanwhile, present-day Batman meets up with Detective Chimp, who tells the Dark Knight what is going on. Along with Doctor Occult, Batman and Chimp do a little investigative work and recruit Klarion the Witch Boy into their team-up. Amazingly, this is Batman's first encounter with Klarion since all of Klarion's prior adventures with him were erased from everyone's memories (see Young Justice: Sins of Yough #2 for details). Klarion even seems confused, believing that they haven't met before, and yet at the same time retaining vague memories of their previous meetings. In the future, future Bruce tells Superman how the magical villains combined their abilities to cast the "final spell" that destroyed the sun, thus destroying most of the planet. The magical heroes of the DCU were able to restore the sun with magic, but the Earth was decimated and forever altered. In this future, dark magic permeates the planet and the four villains responsible rule the world with iron fists. Furthermore, Batman rides a dragon named Batwing and is teamed-up with Scream Queen. All three are members of the new Justice League which includes Traci Thirteen, Aquaman, Jason Blood, Stanley Dover and his Monster, and an adult Klarion. Back in the present Klarion guides Batman and company to the "final spell" ritual site where he and the Shadowpact fight against hundreds of cultists led by Faust, Thorn, Blood, and Le Fey. Meanwhile in the possible future, Superman and the future League also battle the same four sorcerer villains, who are attempting to seal the "final spell" deal by sending a giant demon known as Gargora back through time to assist their younger selves against the present-day Batman and Shadowpact. In the future, Superman defeats Gargora, which not only defeats the sorcerers, but prevents Gargora from going back in time, thus ensuring victory for the present-day heroes against the sorcerers as well. Superman returns to his correct time, thus restoring the status quo and eliminating the possible dystopian future.
--Supergirl Vol. 5 #30
Kara tracks down Batman to discuss her conflict of interests as a Kryptonian living on Earth. She mentions that life on Earth is easier for Kal-El because he never knew his parents. Bruce reminds her that unlike Clark, she had to see their faces one last time, and that is not easy. (This is before the upcoming New Krypton arc, which will bring her parents back). Kara alerts Batman to a carjacking four blocks away and Batman responds that he already knows and will take care of it. Kara then speaks with Pa Kent before viewing holographic videos of Jor-El in the Fortress of Solitude. Special thanks to SAM GROOVER on this one!
--Detective Comics #846-850 ("BATMAN R.I.P. - HEART OF HUSH")
It's taken two-and-a-half years for Hush to fully recover from his near-fatal encounter with the Joker. With rumors swirling about the mysterious Black Glove organization moving into Gotham and with the gossip columns reporting that Bruce and Jezebel Jet are "getting serious," Tommy decides its time to make his presence felt again. Tommy announces his return by shooting and hospitalizing the debuting Dr. Aesop, just as Batman and Catwoman are about to apprehend the new villain. A night later, while busting the escaped Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee, Batman discusses Hush's return with Nightwing and Robin. The Dark Knight then chases after Scarecrow, who has been hired by Hush to abduct a ten-year old boy, Colin Wilkes. After Batman saves the child, who Scarecrow has pumped full of Venom, the Caped Crusader sends Scarecrow back to Arkham, but learns that this encounter with the villain was a mere distraction. NOTE: Scarecrow has unwittingly created a new superhero. Colin has a unique reaction to the Venom and can now "hulk up" into a monster-man at will following this incident, although we won't see him again for a while. Back to our story at hand, Hush has stabbed Selina Kyle and surgically removed her heart! Batman rushes to the hospital where he learns further that Selina has been hooked up to an experimental Mr. Freeze-based life support tech which is barely keeping her alive. Bats confronts Hush at his abandoned hospital hideout, where the latter reveals Selina's heart, still functional and attached to another Freeze system. Hush, before knocking out Batman, also reveals that he has undergone plastic surgery and now looks exactly like Bruce Wayne! Hush (as Bruce) goes to Wayne Manor and tries to kill Alfred, but Batman has already escaped the hospital hideout and warned Alfie by phone. Batman delivers the heart to Mr. Terrific and Dr. Mid-Nite and then rushes home to fight his lookalike in the Batcave. During the fight, Hush crashes a Whirly-Bat and washes away in one of the underground caverns. Meanwhile, the superhero docs perform live saving surgery on Selina and Zatanna gives her a magical healing lotion. Afterward, Bruce comforts Selina and they confess how much they both deeply and truly love each other. In a tender embrace, they share an ever-unfaithful-to-Jezebel, heartwarming, and passionate Bruce/Selina kiss. There is also a single-panel flashback showing Bruce valiantly waiting by Selina's bedside from this story-arc in Bruce Wayne: The Road Home - Catwoman #1.
NOTE: Martin Suarez, winner of the special primary election earlier in the year, wins a special congressional mandated Springtime Presidential Election. Suarez will be inaugurated later in the year. Horne remains President for now, which is unfortunate for him since he will have to deal with the upcoming Final Crisis.
ANOTHER NOTE: Superman's adopted father, Jonathan Kent, is killed by Braniac (as seen in Action Comics #870). Also due to Braniac's meddling, the bottle city of Kandor is restored to full-size in Antarctica. There is now an entire city of Kryptonian Supermen on Earth.
YET ANOTHER NOTE: Batman offers his condolences to Superman regarding the loss of his father (as seen through flashback in Justice League of America Vol. 2 #31).
--Batman in Barcelona: Dragon's Knight #1
This story takes place from April 22 to April 23. Scarecrow and Mad Hatter are able to convince a crazed Killer Croc that he is the dragon from the myth of Saint George. Croc breaks out of Arkham and travels to Barcelona, Spain where he begins killing random women. Batman travels to Barcelona, where he has a secret headquarters underneath the National Art Museum of Catalonia, thanks to Waynetech overseeing construction of any new wings to the building. The Dark Knight then dukes it out with Croc all over scenic Barcelona. Eventually, Batman slays the dragon, literally stabbing Croc in the shoulder with a sword. Oh, and Bruce's Spanish friend Kris is disappointed that he never amounted to anything in life more than a party-minded playboy.
--Batman 80-Page Giant 2011 #1, Part 4
Arkham doctor Amanda Reeve pulls a Harley Quinn and falls madly in love with Victor Zsasz. She breaks him out of the asylum and takes him to her lair, where she reveals a mutilated corpse. Batman quickly tracks down Zsasz, thinking that he has kidnapped Reeve. The Dark Knight quickly learns the truth when Reeve stabs him and puts him down from behind. Reeve is about to kill Batman when Zsasz decides he doesn't want to be one-upped by his fanatical copycat. Zsasz murders Reeve giving the Caped Crusader the edge he needs to take out Zsasz and send him back to jail.
--Batman 80-Page Giant 2011 #1, Part 6
It's been fifteen years since a young Nick Pierce witnessed the Dynamic Duo fighting the Riddler. Inspired to become a supervillain ever since that fateful day, Nick is finally ready to emerge as Gotham's newest evil. After shooting Scarecrow (drawn here to resemble the Nolan-verse version of the character) in order to make a dramatic entrance into the crime-scene, Nick dons a fancy bird-headed costume and calls himself The Falcon. Batman easily defeats the Falcon in their first encounter.
--Superman: New Krypton Special #1
Bruce and Alfred attend the funeral of Jonathan Kent. Meanwhile, the world faces either the new possible threat or possible boon of having 100,000 Kryptonian Supermen living on Earth. President Horne is bizarrely drawn to resemble George W Bush in this issue. The new Kryptonians will eventually use Braniac's technology to create a whole new planet in the solar system, equidistant from the sun, but on the opposite side of Earth. The Kryptonians will then all move to this planet, known as New Krypton.
While Robin and Nightwing tackle numerous Gotham losers like the Dog Bandits and the Ray-Gun Rider, Bruce and Jezebel go on a date at an expensive high-rise sushi house. Across the globe, Talia and Damian (who is now training with Merlyn) have been reading the tabloids intently and have come up with the conclusion that Jezebel is not to be trusted. And with a name like Jezebel, who can blame them? When the Ten-Eyed Man (!) interrupts the dinner date, Bruce goes ape-shit and beats the holy crap out of the supervillain in the kitchen. Away from the viewing public, Bruce questions Ten-Eyed Man about the Black Glove rumors that have been plaguing Gotham lately. However, Jezebel witnesses the whole beating and interrogation. Miss Jet now knows that Bruce is Batman! A+ story by, who else, Grant Morrison. It has been said by just about everyone on the Internet that this is not the original Ten-Eyed Man and is a new character called The Fiend With Nine Eyes. My personal theory is that this is indeed the Ten-Eyed Man, minus a finger. There are also huge Jezebel spoilers which I could include here, but I won't.
NOTE: The flashback from Robin #176 takes place now. Batman meets with Spoiler and tells her that his investigation into the Black Glove will bring about something very bad in the near future. Bruce tells Stephanie to lead Robin astray so that he doesn't get involved. Bruce explains that he would rather have Tim continue on without him, if something terrible should occur. Fearful of the disaster which might lay ahead, Bruce also records personalized messages for Alfred, Dick, Tim, and even Jason, to be played in the event that his death should occur.
ANOTHER NOTE: Bruce drafts a will which transfers his shares and position as CEO in Wanye Enterprises to Tim Drake in the event that he dies or is mentally unfit to run the company (as seen through flashback in Red Robin #11).
YET ANOTHER NOTE: It is right around this time that Bruce begins to suspect Jezebel Jet is actually working for the Black Glove. Unfortunately, he's right. Batman finds evidence of her horrific back-story after looting her hotel safe, thus confirming his suspicions (as referenced in Batman #681).
--Batman #676-678 ("BATMAN R.I.P.")
Dr. Simon Hurt recruits the arch-enemies of the "Club of Heroes" (Le Bossu, Charlie Caligula, King Kraken, El Sombrero, Pierrot Lunaire, Scorpiana, and Swagman) into his Black Glove organization, announcing that Batman will soon be ruined forever. On the streets of Gotham, Batman and Robin apprehend a wannabe supervillain in a homemade costume known as the Green Vulture. The Dynamic Duo returns home and Batman greets and kisses an open-armed Jezebel Jet inside Wayne Manor. (Bruce plays dumb to the fact that he knows Jez is evil). Afterward, Jez shows Bruce an invitation addressed to both of them, inviting the couple to attend a "Danse Macabre" on behalf of the Black Glove. Two days later, Batman is stabbed while fighting one of Le Bossu's Gargoyle henchmen. The blade has been dosed with librium, which will make Batman more susceptible to the trigger phrase that Hurt post-hypnotically entered into his mind sixteen years ago. Back in the Batcave, Bruce tries to link the deceased John Mayhew with Simon Hurt and the Black Glove, but all he can find is an old movie entitled The Black Glove starring Mangrove Pierce and directed by Mayhew. While Alfred studies the film for clues, Bruce goes on a date with Jez. Downtown, Mayor Hady shares a secret dossier with Commissioner Gordon (which has been forged and leaked to the press by Hurt) which says outright that Thomas and Martha Wayne were maniacal drug addicts with a secret history. The dossier includes (faked) photos of Martha Wane shooting heroin with Thomas, Alfred, and Mayhew. The document, supposedly compiled by a missing private investigator decades ago, also insinuates that Martha had an affair with Alfred. SPOILER: The missing private investigator in question was actually an amnesiac time-traveling Bruce Wayne (!), but we will get to that later, kids. Back to our narrative, in the Batcave, Bruce (still playing dumb to the fact that he now knows about Jez) chats with his lover. Jez refers to Bruce (as she does several times, and not just in this issue) as being in the range of thirty to forty years-old. Of course, Bruce should be in his late forties now, so Jez is very wrong about her boyfriend's age. Anyway, Bruce turns to view the Bat-computer and his post-hypnotic trigger word is sprawled across the screen: "Zur-En-Arrh." As Jez reads the word aloud, Bruce goes into convulsions. Alfred returns from the movie and is immediately attacked and beaten by Le Bossu, King Kraken, and Gargoyle henchmen who take control of the Batcave. Hurt then calmly enters, injects Bruce with heroin and crystal meth, and dumps him on the streets of Gotham. Elsewhere, Robin successfully escapes the clutches of Pierre Lunaire and Swagman, but Nightwing isn't so lucky. Scorpiana and Charlie Caligula capture and beat Nightwing and then have him drugged and incarcerated at Arkham! In one foul swoop, Hurt has eliminated both Batman and Nightwing. The eccentric villain then dons Thomas Wayne's old masquerade ball Bat-costume and sips champagne as he sits on his new throne inside the Batcave. Confused, intoxicated, and suffering from almost complete memory loss, Bruce stumbles through Gotham. Seeing a hallucination of "Honor Jackson," a homeless man he once knew, Bruce re-gathers as much of his mind back as he can and sews together a patchwork, red and purple Bat-suit. Bruce comes alive with adrenaline and announces that he is the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh!
NOTE: Bruce, dressed as the Batman of Zur-En Arrh, begins an insane trek across Gotham. The funnily clad Batman is photographed on a cell phone by some Hong Kong gang-bangers. Word gets out in Gotham's underworld that Batman has gone crazy (as referenced in Robin #176).
ANOTHER NOTE: Robin #175-176 take place now. Robin fears the worst as he has lost contact with Batman, Nightwing, and Alfred. The Boy Wonder can't even get near Wayne Manor because it's surrounded by Black Glove henchmen. Getting all the pertinent details regarding Batman's experiences with Simon Hurt from one of the Black Casebooks, Robin meets with Spoiler and fills her in. After escaping from Swagman, Robin finally sees the viral pic of crazy Batman (although it is only a bad quality head-shot, sparing Tim from seeing the flamboyant Zur-En-Arrh costume details). Spoiler then comes clean about her conversation with the Dark Knight which took place prior to Batman #676.
--Batman #679-681 ("BATMAN R.I.P." Continued...)
A baseball bat-wielding Batman of Zur-En-Arrh hallucinates Bat-Mite, which helps him to remember things more clearly. Bruce is still quite insane, but now realizes that he has slipped into his self-implanted fail-safe backup identity as a preventative measure against Simon Hurt's post-hypnotic trigger word. As the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh beats information out of Charlie Caligula and King Kraken, Commissioner Gordon goes to pay a visit to Wayne Manor, which has been turned into a giant death trap by El Sombrero. Gordon evades certain death when he is saved by Talia and Damian! Meanwhile, the Black Glove has moved their base of operations from the Batcave to Arkham Asylum where the "Danse Macabre" is about to begin. This "Dance" is the Black Glove's annual game of life and death (which we've seen played before on Mayhew's island). Hurt promises a live duel between good and evil, pitting the broken Batman against Joker. We finally meet the "five fingers" of the Black Glove, rich international diplomats of influence, who have come to bet on the evil proceedings. The loony, but extremely violent Batman of Zur-En-Arrh shows up and starts his fight with Joker. Joker is able to win when Jezebel Jet turns on Bruce. Bruce is knocked unconscious, dressed up in his correct Bat colors, and buried alive. Joker then seemingly kills General Malenkov (one of the "five fingers") in order to take his spot at the betting table. Malenkov is actually killed a few months later, so he survives this incident somehow. Similarly, Joker seemingly kills El Sombrero as well, but Sombrero actually survives too. At the Black Glove betting table Joker bets that Batman will kick the bad guys asses like he always does! And sure enough, Joker is correct. Both Batman and Nightwing break free and start winning the battle. Across town, Robin and the Club of Heroes (!) clean up swarms of Black Glove henchmen. Batman then fights Hurt one-on-one, which results in a helicopter crash involving Batman, Hurt, and Michael Lane. All three then go missing, while Batman is presumed dead! Joker is re-incarcerated, but vows to kill the remaining "fingers" of the Black Glove for using him as a puppet in their game. Speaking of revenge, Talia has her ninja Man-Bats attack a fleeing Jezebel on behalf of her baby's daddy. Jezebel goes missing after this and is presumed dead. (SPOILER ALERT: She is indeed dead, and Talia takes her severed head as a trophy). Gordon, with info from the Bat-family, is then able to prove that the slander against the Wayne family was a conspiracy by evil criminals (which it most certainly was).
NOTE: Batman & The Outsiders Vol. 2 #11 and the flashback from Batman & The Outsiders Vol. 2 #12 takes place right after Batman #681. Everyone from Superman to Intergang thinks the Dark Knight has been killed. Even in defeat, Simon Hurt sends a pre-recorded message to the Outsiders featuring a digitized fake Batman. This fake Batman instructs the team to download a computer code into ReMAC which causes an explosion, killing its host Salah Miandad and nearly killing the rest of the team. This brutal attack leads to the immediate disbanding of the Outsiders. Robin mentions that a gang war has begun in Gotham. This gang war will have a brief hiatus when Final Crisis begins, but will continue afterward. We (the readers) also learn that the Suit of Sorrows has been stolen from the ruined Batcave. The Suit was pilfered by the Order of Purity, who wish to give the armor to the brand new Azrael.
--Batman #701, Part 1
Batman returns to Wayne Manor less than 24 hours after the helicopter crash, speaks briefly with Alfred, and returns to the scene of the crime to search in vain for Hurt's body. Bruce sleeps for three days and we (the reader) learn about a secret Barbatos demon-worshiping room hidden deep beneath Wayne Manor on the opposite side of the Batcave. We also learn that Hurt has been inside the room and has scrawled the name "Thomas Wayne" all over the wall. Bruce has kept this evil lair a secret from his compatriots for decades, in accordance with his parent's last wishes.
NOTE: Batman & The Outsiders Vol. 2 #12 takes place two days after Salah Miandad's death. Salah's funeral is held now.
--Batman #701, Part 2
After Bruce awakes from a three day sleep, Alfred bursts in with terrible news; the skies have turned blood red, signifying that Final Crisis has begun! Superman contacts Bruce and tells him that Orion is dead. (The scene where Batman learns of Orion's death is also shown verbatim in a flashback from Batman #683). Batman examines the murder scene and then leaves to meet with the JLA.
--Final Crisis #1
--DC Universe: Last Will and Testament #1
--Final Crisis: Requiem #1
--Final Crisis #2, Part 1Batman meets with the JLA in the Hall of Justice to discuss Orion's tragic mystery murder. (This scene is re-shown verbatim in Batman #702, Part 1). Meanwhile, Libra (secretly working for Boss Dark Side) recruits the A-listers (Lex Luthor, Vandal Savage, Dr. Sivana, and Gorilla Grodd) into his Secret Society of Supervillains, but it will take some convincing to get these guys fully on board. So, (as seen in Part 2 of Justice League of America Vol. 2 #21), Libra unveils a captured Martian Manhunter. In order to impress the big-wigs, Libra grants the wish of Z-list supervillain Human Flame and does something that has never been done before; he murders J'onn! As J'onn dies, he sends out a distressing psychic shock-wave to all of his allies (as seen through flashback in Final Crisis: Requiem #1). In New York City, Nightwing discovers J'onn's mutilated corpse on display. That night, in J'onn's final telepathic act, his spirit posthumously enters the minds of his five closest friends: Batman, Superman, Hal Jordan, Black Canary, and Gypsy. The five sleepwalk, recite, and transcribe J'onn's requiem, Mars: A History by J'onn J'onzz. Meanwhile, retired cop Dan Turpin investigates the disappearance of a bunch of missing children. Turpin beats information out of a hapless Mad Hatter (as seen through flashback in Final Crisis #2) which leads him to the Dark Side Club, a seedy bar in the shell of a ruined city once known as Blüdhaven. Turpin is immediately captured by the club's owner, Boss Dark Side (who is actually Darkseid in a human host body). All of the other evil New Gods are present at the club as well (in human host forms). Dark Side then reveals his big surprise, he has discovered the Anti-Life Equation! Lightning storms erupt all over Earth. Final Crisis is beginning! For two days the sun refuses to rise. Nothing has happened yet, except for an eerie and silent darkness. Batman, Nightwing, and Robin patrol together. Elsewhere, Geo-Force improbably defeats Deathstroke in combat, although both are left critically injured. The next black morning, the entire superhero community gathers and travels to Mars for the funeral of J'onn Jonzz. J'onn is buried in a pyramid on his home planet with his historical memoirs at his side. Superman delivers a eulogy at the service, which is broadcast live on Earth (as shown in Final Crisis: Revelations #1, Part 1). Luthor isn't impressed with the Martian's death and tells Libra that he will only join the new SSoSV if the latter hurts Superman. Later, at the Hall of Justice, an autopsy of Orion reveals that the god has both a fatal entry and exit wound from a gunshot (although, curiously, no weapon or bullet are actually found). The JLA meets Kraken, the hardass no-bullshit leader of the Alpha Green Lanterns who have been sent to Earth to investigate Orion's death on behalf of the Guardians themselves. Also noteworthy, Mr. Miracle (Shilo Norman) recruits a bunch of Japanese metahuman teens onto a team designed specifically to combat against the return of Darkseid, which Miracle has become aware of. And one more final note, the Monitor Nix Uotan is sentenced to life as a human on Earth-0 for failing to protect his Earth (Earth-51) during the events of Countdown #13.
NOTE: Final Crisis: Revelations #1, Part 2 takes place now. The Spectre, angered about Martian Manhunter's death, takes his frustrations out on random supervillains present at the scene of the crime. Spectre kills Dr. Light, turns him into a wax candle, and delivers his remains to the JLA.
--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #27-30
After three days without sunlight, there is a calm in the storm and the sun rises. Kimiyo Hoshi (the former Dr. Light) is accosted in her apartment by the superhero team known as the Shadow Cabinet. The SC is from the Midwestern US city of Dakota. (The SC is formerly from the Milestone Earth aka Earth-Dakota of the alternate universe known as the Dakotaverse, which recently merged its history with that of Earth-0 when an interdimensional tear damaged the multiverse due to a release of energy when Darkseid was killed by Orion in Countdown to Final Crisis #2. The characters from the Dakotaverse, from that point on, believe that they have always lived on Earth-0 in the city of Dakota. Only Superman, Icon, and Dharma know the truth, but their lips are sealed). Now, back to our story. While half the JLA responds to Kimiyo's old JLI emergency alert, the SC breaks into the Hall of Justice and tries to steal the deceased wax candle remains of the original Dr. Light. Batman and his team fight Payback and Starlight in Metropolis while the rest of the JLA fights the rest of the SC. Meanwhile, Superman and the SC leader Icon (basically an African-American Superman) hang out in space and chit chat, since they are the only two that know of the existence of the now erased Dakotaverse. Eventually, the JLA joins forces with the SC when the greater threat of Shadow Thief (who has been endowed with the power of Starbreaker) emerges. Using the remains of Dr. Light, Hardware is able to restore Kimiyo's full meta-abilities. Dr. Light (the good one) is back and she kicks Shadow Thief's ass. After returning to their secret HQ in the Himalayas, the SC meets with their godlike mentor Dharma. Dharma foresees the end result of the terrible crisis that currently plagues the Earth. Very specifically, Dharma sees the Final Crisis skeletal remains of a dead Batman!
FINAL CRISIS Continued...
--Final Crisis #2, Part 2
--Batman #702, Part 2
--Final Crisis #2, Part 3John Stewart examines the Orion murder scene and discovers the Radon bullet that killed him. Oddly, the bullet is buried under concrete and is carbon-dated to be over 50 years old. John immediately teleports the evidence back to Batman at the Hall of Justice, where the Dark Knight begins his own scientific analysis (as seen through flashback in Batman #863). Before John can leave the crime scene, he is attacked and critically injured by one of the Alpha Lanterns (who is possessed by an Evil God). Back at the Hall, Batman has discovered the secret of the bullet. He meets with Wally West and gives him the details. The magic bullet, Batman explains, was fired backward through time (!) and traveled through a reverse slipstream until it appeared at the correct destination in space and time where it needed to be in order to strike the unsuspecting Orion. The bullet then passed through Orion's skull, killing him, and landed in the street beneath him. The bullet stopped moving at this location, having hit its mark, but continued to travel backward in time for about 50 or so years, hence its older carbon-date. Wally and Jay Garrick then investigate the crime scene of Martian Manhunter's murder and are shocked when a time slipstream opens up revealing original Flash Barry Allen! Barry screams for the Flashes to run, as the backwards time-traveling Radon bullet and the New God of Death, Black Racer, follow behind him. (Black Racer is not Death, but he does act as the psychopomp which takes the New Gods, or anyone else around, to their final resting place on behalf of Death). The three Flashes run backward in time through the slipstream and witness the death of Orion as he is struck by the bullet and laid to rest by Black Racer. The Racer then turns his attention to the Flashes. Jay escapes back to the present, but Wally and Barry get chased by the Racer back into the slipstream. Essentially, the Racer begins chasing Barry and Wally through the reverse slipstream (against the current) back to the future where it originated (as seen through flashback in Final Crisis #3). In the Hall of Justice, Batman takes the Radon bullet in order to further study it in the Batcave (as seen through flashback in Batman #683). But before he can even leave, a Granny Goodness-possessed Alpha Lantern Kraken assaults and captures Batman, delivering him to the "Evil Factory" in Blüdhaven. At the factory, Darskeid is now inhabiting Dan Turpin's body since his old Boss Dark Side body had begun to mummify. Darkseid and Granny oversee the processes which turn humans into slaves using the Anti-Life Equation. The Evil Gods Simyan and Mokkari perform brutal surgeries which inject the souls of their dead comrades into new host bodies. But their biggest project will begin a two days later: mining the captured Batman's brain in order to create the perfect army of cloned Batmen! The Dark Knight screams out for someone, anyone, to warn the JLA, but it's too late. Batman goes under and is held captive. Meanwhile in Metropolis, Libra (with Clayface) detonates a bomb in the Daily Planet building, critically injuring Lois Lane.
NOTE: Batman is secretly held captive in Blüdhaven for twenty-five days while a ton of stuff happens on the outside. To save Lois's life, Superman travels across the multiverse, through the Bleed, through Limbo, and into the Overvoid, before returning to Earth-0 (as seen in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 3D #1-2). While Lois recovers, Superman is then summoned to the 31st Century by the Legion of Three Worlds aka the combined force of the Legions of Earth-0, Earth-247, and Earth-Prime (as seen in Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #1). The rest of the superhero community begins mobilizing against a still mostly unknown threat. Mokkari uploads the Anti-Life Equation into the Internet, sending it through a mass worldwide E-mail, immediately infecting a billion people. Darkseid now controls the Earth and has made mindless slaves of most of the populace (as seen in Final Crisis #3). Several of Earth's heroes submit to the evil power of Anti-Life, including Catwoman, Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Giganta (who are each possessed by the Female Furies), and Mary Marvel (who is possessed by Desaad). Dozens of other heroes fall to Darkseid's Anti-Life "Justifiers" including Robin (as seen through flashback in Red Robin #3). An epic war erupts which will decide the fate of the entire multiverse. Right now, the heroes are losing badly. In desperation, Checkmate initiates its "Black Gambit Omega Offensive," seeking to open an escape route into a parallel universe. Meanwhile, Luthor and Sivana betray Libra and the SSoSV (as seen in Final Crisis #4-6).
FINAL CRISIS Continued...
--Batman #682-683 ("LAST RITES")Simyan and Mokkari continue their rape of Bruce's mind as they attempt to build their Batmen Army. (Batman #702, Part 3 also shows parts of these scenes). Bruce is hooked up, through a complex Apokoliptian machine, to The Lump, a telepathic, parasitic living creature that hides among Batman's recollections in the form of Alfred, all the while triggering, sorting, filing, and converting Bruce's memories into the Evil Factory's database along with his biological material. Mokkari's goal is to endow each one of his cloned soldiers with Batman's unique "superior physical prowess, strategic acumen, and courage" and fuel his troops with the Dark Knight's "intense emotions, pain, fury, and drive." After the surgical brain-drain, they plan to torture and kill the genuine article. During the memory-mining process, Simyan begins implanting Bruce with false replacement memories in order to trick Bruce's mind while they steal his real ones. But Bruce, even subconsciously (hell, UNconsciously, for that matter), is able to realize that something is not right. When "Alfred" mentions his death and resurrection (during his time as the Outsider years ago), Bruce knows something is off because he never told the amnesiac Alfred about what had happened to him. Bruce then begins to resist the process, to which the Lump responds by coming clean about who he is and what Simyan and Mokkari are doing to his mind. The Lump then begins throwing (in rapid succession) Bruce's hardest memories at him including the death of Jason, the shooting of Barbara, Bane breaking his back, Jean-Paul Valley, No Man's Land, the death of Jack Drake, Thogal, Damian, Zur-En-Arrh, and more. But whereas Bruce is strong enough to handle the highest degree of stress, Mokkari's clones cannot and begin dying painfully. Batman has turned his own life's memories into a weapon! With the clone army mostly dead or dying, a panicking Mokkari has no choice but to kill the Lump and shut down the Evil Factory. Meanwhile, Batman wakes up and he's not happy.
NOTE: Mokkari delivers both the news of his failure to create a clone army and of Batman's escape to Darkseid (as seen through flashback in Batman and Robin #8). Darkseid instructs Mokkari to destroy all the clone corpses except for one. "A perfect copy of Batman dead," says Darkseid. "I can use that." Hmmm... I wonder?
ANOTHER NOTE: Superman and the Legion of Three Worlds battle Superboy-Prime and his older self, Time Trapper, in the 31st Century and at the end of time. The Legion is able to resurrect Connor Kent (!) using the same Kryptonian regeneration machine that brought Clark back from the dead before as well. The Legion also resurrects Bart Allen (!) from within the cosmic Lightning Rod, although he is once again a teenager. Superman, the Legion of Three Worlds, Connor, and Bart (going by Kid Flash again) are able to defeat Time Trapper and Superboy-Prime, trapping the latter on Earth-Prime (aka the Earth that closely resembles the non-fictional Earth that you and I live in). Connor and Bart return to the 21st Century, but Superman stays behind to chat with Braniac-5 about some sort of "Miracle Machine" (as seen in Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #2-5).
FINAL CRISIS Continued...
--Final Crisis #6, Part 2
--Batman #702, Part 4
--Final Crisis #7
--Batman #702, Part 5Batman takes a gun from the Evil Factory and confronts Darkseid upon his throne. The cocky despot scoffs at the Dark Knight, who produces the Radon bullet and loads it into the weapon. Batman breaks his vow to never use guns and fires at Darkseid's chest, wounding the Evil God. Simultaneously, Darksied strikes Batman with his Omega Sanction beams, seemingly killing the Caped Crusader! However, this is not the case. Batman is blasted into the distant past (38,000 BCE according to the Final Crisis Director's Cut timeline. Moments before being hurtled into the past, Batman witnesses Darkseid activate an Ancestor Box, which unleashes the primordial Hyperfauna creature known as the Hyper-Adapter. In layman's terms, Darkseid is setting the "time-trap" in which Batman will be mired in/attached to, but able to move forward through; the Dark Knight's very actions causing a threat to modern existence, should he return. As Batman spirals backward through time, he then has a near death experience, which involves various What If? type sequences and a meeting with his mother, Martha Wayne. This near death experience can be seen in Neil Gaiman's elegy from Batman #686 and Detective Comics #853. Back to Final Crisis, Superman returns from the 31st Century, where the Legion of Three Worlds has taught him how to build a "Miracle Machine." The Earth is in ruins as Superman crashes into Darkseid's Blüdhaven bunker to find the charred skeletal corpse of Batman! But wait, didn't I just say Batman was sent back in time? Remember when Darkseid said he was going to use a perfect DNA copy of a dead Batman clone? The Evil God has just fooled Superman into thinking that this skeleton is the remains of the actual Batman (as referenced in Batman and Robin #8). An injured Darkseid professes victory and fires the Radon bullet (which will travel back in time to kill Orion at the beginning of Final Crisis). Darkseid pulls the trigger and the "backwards-time slipstream" through which the bullet will travel opens up and the bullet goes on its way. However, did you forget that the Black Racer has been chasing Wally West and Barry Allen back through the reverse-slipstream against the current? As soon as the slipstream opens, Wally and Barry exit and run past Darkseid. Black Racer slams right into the Evil God, killing him instantly! Darkseid is dead, but the war against Anti-Life rages on. Meanwhile, Checkmate's "Black Gambit Omega Offensive" fails when the Checkmate interdimensional portal collapses. However, the Question (Renee Montoya) is able to escape into the multiverse and recruit dozens of Supermen from alternate Earths. Hundreds of superheroes along with nearly sixty alternate Supermen battle against the rest of the Evil Gods, "Justifiers," and possessed Anti-Life humans. The epic battle then causes reality to distort and crumble as spacetime folds down and shreds itself into ribbons. Superman builds the Miracle Machine and then confronts Darkseid's non-corporeal form (basically, his evil spirit, which no doubt is probably already trying to enter a new host). Superman sings a song which destroys Darkseid's spirit vibrations for good. As the entire multiverse begins to eat itself, several heroes, fearing the end is near, fill a small rocket spaceship with memorabilia and historical items. This rocket is meant to be Earth's final time-capsule. The rocket is shot off into the disintegrating Bleed, with hopes that it will reach some distant unharmed reality or alternate universe, so that these precious memories will not be lost forever. Mandrakk (aka Dax Novu aka the Monitor from the original Crisis), who is very evil now, then shows up along with a vampirized Ultraman (!) to further ensure the permanent destruction of the cosmos. Nix Uotan becomes a Monitor again and summons a host of warriors including a battalion of angels, the Zoo Crew and Just Lotta Animals (who are all turned from regular animals back into cartoon superheroes!), the Green Lantern Corps, and the sixty-plus alternate Supermen to battle them. The heroes kill Mandrakk and Ultraman. Afterward, Superman uses the Miracle Machine, which grants wishes, to restore the entire multiverse to its correct order. The multiverse is saved (!) and existence of the multiverse is now public knowledge. The Monitors then exile themselves to the Overvoid, while Nix Uotan becomes human once again. And Batman is stuck thousands of years in the past. The combined effects of the Omega Sanction and Ancestor Box Hyper-Adapter begin to take their toll on Batman, whose memory begins to fade. In his final moments of clarity, Bruce audio records the final entry into the Black Casebook, detailing the events of Batman RIP, Final Crisis, and every other following step leading up to now (as referenced in Batman #681). Bruce then paints a Bat symbol onto a cave wall. He also paints a Superman symbol and Wonder Woman symbol (as revealed in Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1). In the present everyone thinks Batman is dead thanks to the charred skeleton corpse (actually a clone) which Superman found.