Modern Age (YEAR TWENTY)

April 2008 to March 2009.




--Infinite Crisis #7
Once the smoke clears around the collapsed reality-altering tower, Conner Kent is dead.  Batman, Kal-L, and Kal-El mourn the loss.  Robin shows up and is particularly devastated at losing such a close friend.  Meanwhile, the Secret Society of Supervillains releases every single supervillain from every single prison on the planet. This mass of villainy begins heading toward Metropolis.  Batman messages Sasha Bordeaux asking her and Checkmate to eliminate Brother Eye, who has crashed in Saudi Arabia (as seen in The OMAC Project: Infinite Crisis Special #1).  Sasha, of course, complies.  With the villain army finally assembling in Metropolis, cue an epic splash page with just about every character imaginable. Hell, even Bane (!) has suited up in his costume just for kicks.  Bane fights against both heroes and villains and even winds up killing Judomaster.  (Last time we saw Bane he supposedly had retired for good and claimed he was going to lead a positive healthy life.  So much for that.)  Many more characters die in the "Battle of Metropolis," including Charaxes, Baron Blitzkreig, Ballistic, Geist, Razorsharp, the Trigger Twins, Lady Spellbinder, and Breach.  Many other characters are seriously injured.  For instance, Riddler gets his skull bashed in by Shining Knight (as seen in Villains United: Infinite Crisis Special #1) and goes into a coma that will last for a year-and-a-half!  Amidst the chaos, Superboy-Prime asks Alexander Luthor what the "New Earth" is like.  Alexander can't be sure of all of the changes, but he does rattle off a list of changes in a very editorial fashion i.e. Diana is now and was always a founding member of the original JLA, Superman was active before moving to Metropolis, and Joe Chill was the Waynes' murderer.  (Of course, our chronology has reflected these retcon changes all along, so they should come as no surprise to us).  Kal-L and Kal-El continue to lead the world's superheroes into battle against the world's supervillains (a battle which spills outside of Metropolis and results in even more countless character deaths).  During the war, several of the heroes, mostly JSA members, recall some memories of their pre-original Crisis lives upon re-meeting Kal-L for the first time.  Eventually, the heroes defeat all the villains.  When Superboy-Prime realizes that this "New Earth" isn't what he had planned for, he decides to destroy the entire universe by flying into Oa and creating a Big Bang.  The superheroes chase after Superboy-Prime to stop him, but Superboy-Prime runs right into the Green Lantern Corps.  Cue epic space battle.  Back on the "New Earth" (Earth-0) Alexander energy-blasts Nightwing, nearly killing him.  Dr. Mid-Nite takes Dick into his care and induces the fallen hero into a coma in order to save him.  An enraged Batman beats down Deathstroke and starts thrashing Alexander, even putting a gun to the latter's head!  Wonder Woman flies in and talks Batman down, which unfortunately, allows Alexander to escape.  Across the universe, Superman beats Superboy-Prime bloody on Oa and the Green Lantern Corps trap the crazed villain.  The threat of Superboy-Prime has ended, but at a price: Kal-L is dead.  The Crisis is over.  A few days pass.  The Speed Force is still gone, which means there are no more Flashes, except Jay Garrick (who has natural metahuman speed powers).  Meanwhile, Alexander Luthor goes into hiding in Gotham, but can't stay hidden from Joker and Lex Luthor.  Lex tells Joker where to find Alexander.  Joker then promptly murders Alexander.  Why?  Remember, Joker was upset because he never got invited into the Secret Society of Supervillains.  But how does Lex benefit from helping Joker?  Simple, Lex takes Alexander's corpse, slightly modifies it, and now has an exact DNA copy scapegoat of himself to blame for all the crimes he committed during and after his presidency!  NOTE:  Thus concludes this incredible and mind-bending tale.  Like the late Alexander told us, many changes have occurred within the DCU, far too many to speak of actually.  But like the changes stemming from the original Crisis or Zero Hour, these new changes alter time in a way that history has indeed changed, but to our characters points of view, they won't really know the difference.  However, unlike previous time-altering retcon events, this event was eye-opening enough that our heroes now have a far greater knowledge of the fact that their histories are indeed altered, but what can they really do, except continue on.  And as far as Infinite Crisis reflects our chronology, it really doesn't, since I've been writing this blog to reflect the changes made by IC ever since day one!

NOTE:  So we have ourselves a brand new "New Earth" aka Earth-0!  But that's not all folks.  Alexander has not only re-created a "New Earth," he has also inadvertently created 52 brand new parallel universes, which each have their own lengthy and unique histories (as seen in 52 #52). In fact, one of these new Earths mirrors the old pre-original Crisis Earth-2, meaning in a sense that Golden Age Batman's history—although he is deceased by this point—is restored (as seen in Justice Society of America Vol. 3 Annual #1)!  A time traveling Booster Gold, Rip Hunter, and Supernova not only witness the creation of these 52 parallel universes, but they also witness the hungry alien worm known as Mr. Mind attempting to literally consume these new universes.  Booster and Rip will have spent a full year (from April 2008 to April 2009) trying to figure out the mystery behind an evil Skeets.  As they get close to solving the mystery in April 2009, the clues lead them time-traveling back to this very point on our chronology where they learn of the 52 universes and Mr. Mind's plot.  The heroes are able to stop Mr. Mind, thus altering the histories of the 52 universes once again, but successfully trapping Mr. Mind in a permanent time loop.  Basically, Mr. Mind will have to relive the events of 52 over and over again forever.  It's a great story, but it would get boring after the billionth time.  Anyway, Booster, Rip, and Supernova travel back to April 2009 after trapping Mr. Mind in the loop.  I should note that due to the time-alteration in this tale, it is revealed that this new version of the multiverse always existed.  However, much like at the end of the original-Crisis, we know that there are countless other parallel universes unscathed by the craziness of Infinite Crisis (such as the Antimatter Universe or the Marvel Universe).

ANOTHER NOTE:  Reflecting on his short time so far as the host for the Spectre, Crispus Allen decides he has a strong distaste for playing the role of the Wrath of God (as seen in Infinite Crisis Aftermath: The Spectre #1).  Allen parts ways with the Spectre and becomes a normal spirit again.  The Spectre allows this to occur, but tells Allen that he will return in a year's time to see if he is ready to accept his fate.  Allen, in invisible spirit form, watches his own funeral, visits his family, and spies on Batman as he busts some masked thugs.  Seizing the opportunity to spy on Batman further, Allen follows him home and learns his secret identity!  Allen will spend the next year traveling freely as a roaming spirit until the Spectre comes a-calling once again.  At that point, Allen will accept his destiny and become the Spectre's host.

YET ANOTHER NOTE:  Batman recruits the surgically restored Harvey Dent to become Gotham's newest protector.  They begin a month-long training period to turn Harvey into an effective superhero (as seen in Batman #653).

ONE MORE NOTE:  Dr. Light and Merlyn attack Star City and leave half the city in ruins (as seen in Green Arrow Vol. 3 #54-59).

--Superman/Batman #26
The Teen Titans pay tribute to their fallen friend, Conner Kent.  A statue is erected in his honor in San Francisco.  Robin tells a story about the time Conner and he fought a bunch of Hiro Okamura's silly Toyman robots just for kicks.

NOTE: With newfound knowledge gained during Infinite Crisis, Batman meets with Selina and tells her a bit about the true history of the cosmos, including the fact that on a former alternate Earth, they were married and had a baby (as referenced in Catwoman Vol. 3 #76).

ANOTHER NOTE:  Ever since a year ago, an unnamed government organization (most likely on behalf of the US Armed Forces) has been training new high-tech hand-to-hand combat equipment against the best possible test subject in the world: Batman.  Mission number two occurs now as a random soldier is tasked to fight the Dark Knight.  Batman easily defeats him (as referenced in Batman 80-Page Giant 2011 #1, Part 2). 

--Nightwing Annual #2, Part 1
Three weeks have passed since the end of Infinite Crisis.  Dick wakes up from his coma.  Babs is at his side and they reminisce about the positive aspects of their romantic history together.

NOTE:  Nyssa Al Ghul uses her personal Lazarus Pit to resurrect Lynx (who died during "War Games").  Lynx becomes second-in-command to the League of Assassins (as referenced in Robin #148).

--Nightwing Annual #2, Part 2
Dick has been training for a full week with Babs as a coach, trying to recover from Alexander Luthor's attack.  They discuss Dick's marriage proposal which occurred just prior to "The Battle of Metropolis."  The couple reminisces about the negative aspects of their romantic history.  Bruce then meets Babs and tells her that he is planning on taking a long vacation from crime-fighting.  Bruce then meets with Dick and tells him the same, adding that he would like it if Dick came with him.  Back at Oracle's headquarters, Babs gives her engagement ring back to Dick.  They decide it's best to remain friends.

NOTE:  Sasha Bordeaux becomes one of the leaders (Black Queen) of a re-organized Checkmate.

ANOTHER NOTE:  The Penguin moves back to Gotham and becomes the city's primary crime-broker once again (as referenced in Detective Comics #819).

YET ANOTHER NOTE: Harvey Dent and Batman team-up and bring down Mr. Freeze and Firebug (as seen through flashback in Batman #653).  Harvey officially becomes Gotham's newest vigilante superhero.

ONE MORE NOTE:  With the Batman about to leave for a year, Onyx moves out of Gotham for parts unknown.  She becomes an official contact for Oracle's Birds of Prey.

ONE ADDITIONAL FINAL NOTE: Superman fights Gog, who claims to be from the a future that mirrors what happens on Earth-22 aka the Earth of Kingdom Come (as seen via flashback in Justice Society of America Vol. 3 #13). This Gog, mind you, is not the Gog or Magog from Earth-22. He is actually a former priest named William Matthews who, while on travels in the Congo, stumbled upon the resting place of the Old God known as Gog and was bestowed with metahuman powers. For anyone wondering, the Old God Gog was also responsible for bestowing powers to Earth-22's Gog, who later chooses Magog as his successor, who is responsible for all the trouble in Kindgom Come. Unfortunately, the Old God Gog's gift caused Matthews to go insane and witness visions of Kindom Come, which he came to believe were his own memories, hence his claims of being from Earth-22's dark future and of being Gog. After defeating Matthews, Superman recruits Batman to find out his secret ID, which the Dark Knight does with ease.

--Infinite Crisis #7, Epilogue
Over a month has passed since the end of Infinite Crisis.  It is early May.  In light of all that has happened, Bruce, Clark, and Diana each agree to take a full-year off from crime-fighting.  In fact, Clark is completely de-powered as a result of the fallout from Infinite Crisis.   Bruce goes abroad and takes Dick and Tim with him.  DC's holy trinity leaves the DCU in the capable hands of the rest of the superheroes.  Meanwhile, on Oa, Superboy-Prime is held captive in a Guardian-protected Green Lantern Corps prison.  A crazed Superboy-Prime permanently scars the Superman symbol into his chest and vows to escape one day.  NOTE:  The Epilogue from Nightwing Annual #2 overlaps with this Epilogue as well.  Dick and Tim meet up with Bruce to begin their global travels.  Dick and Babs also send each other letters professing their love for one another and the hope that one day they can be together as a couple again.   

NOTES:

--"Week One, Day One" of 52 begins immediately following the epilogue of Infinite Crisis.  All of these notes are from 52 unless otherwise stated.  Remember, this is Bruce's year-off, so there isn't nearly as much to report as in prior years.  However, I will list the most important DCU stuff and of course, anything that effects the world of Batman specifically.  I won't mention the amazing intimate details regarding the origin of Batwoman and the birth of Renee Montoya as the new Question, nor will I mention the awesome specific details of what happens to Starfire, Adam Strange, Animal Man, and Lobo (!) in deep space, nor will I speak about Ralph Dinby's crazy quest to revive his dead wife, Sue.  BUT, you should absolutely read 52 and find out for yourself!  52 is great!

--"Week One":  Bruce, Tim, and Dick travel abroad on a ship.  They watch Marx Brothers movies, work out, and talk about the mysterious past of the Joker (as seen through flashback in Detective Comics #826). 

--"Week Three":  John Henry Irons (who has come out of retirement and become Steel once again) does an autopsy on the modified corpse of Alexander Luthor, Jr. and publicly confirms that he has Lex Luthor's exact DNA.  Lex is able to prove in a court of law that Alexander replaced him during the middle of his presidency and was actually the one responsible for all the crazy shit that he did.  Of course, this is a lie, but the DNA completely exonerates Lex.  Lex becomes the sole owner and head of LexCorp once again and begins rebuilding his public image.  I can't believe Lex was able to use the "it was my evil clone excuse" AGAIN.

--"Week Five":  Lex Luthor begins his "Everyman Project" which can turn anyone willing into a super-powered metahuman, as long as their genetic make-up syncs with the procedure.  People begin lining up around the block to become superheroes.  Unknown to the public, Lex has the control to turn the "Everyman" powers on and off.

--Around "Week 12" massive corruption within the GCPD begins to show its face (as referenced in Detective Comics #817).

--"Week 16":  Selina Kyle tells Holly Robinson that she is pregnant!  (The father is Sam Bradley, Jr.).  Holly begins training with Wildcat and Alan Scott to become Selina's replacement (as seen through flashback in Catwoman Vol. 3 #56).  Sam, unfortunately, is killed by Black Mask's leftover thugs, and will never get to see his baby girl (as seen through flashback in Catwoman Vol. 3 #62).

--"Week 23": Egg Fu (Chang Tzu) has kidnapped literally all of the DCU's mad scientists and forces them to create gigantic evil mutant-robot warriors on Oolong Island.

--Around "Week 24" Harvey Bullock plays a pivotal role in exposing the corruption within the GCPD.  His record is cleared and he is given his old job back on the force (as referenced in Detective Comics #817). 

--Around "Week 25" Uncle Sam rises from the dead and begins recruiting the brand new Freedom Fighters (as seen in Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters).  For anyone wondering how Uncle Sam rises from the dead, he's the goddamn Spirit of America originally brought to life by an Occult ritual performed by the Founding Fathers in the 18th Century!  He can never really die.

--"Week 26":  Gotham City elects a new mayor.  Little is known about this character, other than the fact that she is female and defeats incumbent David Hull in the election.

--Around "Week 26" Senator Henry Knight is elected President of the United States (as seen in Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters #2).  Unknown to the world, Henry Knight has been murdered by the villain Father Time.  Furthermore, the evil android known as Gonzo the Mechanical Bastard has replaced the real Henry Knight and taken his place as President-Elect.  That's right people, your new president is really Gonzo the Mechanical Bastard.  Amazing.

"Week 27":  Harvey Dent, vigilante protector of Gotham, apprehends Poison Ivy (as referenced in Detective Comics #823).

--"Week 28":  Kate Kane aka the new Batwoman makes her debut, teaming-up with the Question and Renee Montoya against Intergang in Gotham.  It is revealed that Kate and Renee are lovers.  Kate is distantly related to the original Bat-Woman and Bat-Girl, but not by direct bloodline.

--52 #30
"Week 30":  Dick and Tim encounter Intergang smugglers in North Africa while Bruce meets with the Ten-Eyed Brotherhood in the desert in order to "release his inner demons."  Batman #673 and Robin #175 also contain flashbacks featuring the Ten-Eyed Brotherhood scenes in the desert.  Dick then returns to Gotham as Nightwing and meets Batwoman for the first time.

--"Week 32": Ollie Queen wins a special election and becomes the mayor of Star City.

--"Week 33":  Gotham city officials announce that Michael Akins will be removed as commissioner and Jim Gordon will replace him in his old post!  The GCPD throws Jim Gordon a "Welcome Back" party.  Gordon has taken up smoking his pipe again, something he hasn't done in years (ever since his heart attack).  For shame, Jim, for shame.

--"Week 34":  On New Year's Eve, a crazed Lex Luthor shuts down the "Everyman" powers without warning.  Hundreds of flying "Everyman" superheroes plummet to their deaths.  Downtown Metropolis is devastated with piles of bodies and a ton of property damage. 

--"Week 35-36":  Jim Gordon is officially re-instated as Police Commissioner of Gotham for the third time (as referenced in Detective Comics #817), replacing Commissioner Akins, who is mired with serious police corruption charges.  I should mention that Akins never came off as a character that lacked morality.  In fact, he was always very noble, admirable, and good at what he did while in charge of the GCPD.  Therefore, there is no reason to believe that Akins was involved in any wrongdoing.  However, if his entire force was corrupt, city officials would undoubtedly have had no choice but to sever his employment as well.  Poor guy! 

--"Week 38":  Vic Sage (The Question) dies of cancer.

--"Week 38":  Aquaman makes a deal with the gods of the sea in order to save the inhabitants of Sub Diego, who can no longer breathe underwater.  The sea gods raise Sub Diego back above ground, but Aquaman is mutated into the deformed, but magical Dweller of the Depths.  Aquaman, as the Dweller, loses all of his memories and goes quite insane (as seen in World War III #2).

--Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters #5
"Week 38": When terrorists supposedly threaten the President of the United States, Bruce is worried enough to return to Gotham. When the terrorists force Air Force One to land in rural Pennsylvania, Bruce is worried enough to suit up in the Batcave. However, Batman's leave of absence continues as the President gets out an order banning any metahumans besides his own elite First Strike team from responding to the crisis. While superheroes all over the country stand down, Uncle Sam and his Freedom Fighters ignore the command because they know President Knight is really Gonzo the Mechanical Bastard and the whole hijacking is merely a ruse. Despite defeating First Strike, Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters are bested by the President, who frames them for an assassination attempt and has the entire team detained. Gonzo, under orders from Father Time, uses this supposed terrorist action to quickly get authorization from Congress to pass the Meta-Union Act. The Act allows President Gonzo to amend the constitution, making non-governmental superheroes illegal!

--Around "Week 40" the world discovers Gonzo the Mechanical Bastard is President and he is immediately ousted.  Gonzo's Vice President, former President Jonathan Horne, becomes President for a second term (as referenced in Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters #8).

--"Week 40": As seen through flashback in Batman #673 and Robin #175, Bruce begins the Thogal seclusion ritual in the mystical hidden Tibetan city of Nanda Parbat, which is home to the goddess Rama Kushna.  During the intense Thogal ritual Bruce will supposedly "die and be reborn."  Dick and Tim are present when Bruce begins the ritual and wish him well.

--"Week 42":  Elongated Man (Ralph Dinby) is killed by Neron.

--"Week 42":  Nightwing and Robin take down human-traffickers in France and Switzerland (as seen through flashback in Robin #175).

--"Week 42":  Bruce has been in Thogal isolation for 13 days.  He suffers vivid hallucinations (as seen through flashback in Batman #673).

--"Week 44":  Egg Fu's captive mad scientists have created gigantic techno-organic warriors known as The Four Horsemen.  The Horsemen attack Kahndaq and there are massive casualties, including Black Adam's wife, Isis.

--"Week 44":  Dick and Tim convince a wealthy sheik to discontinue working with Intergang in Monte Carlo (as seen in Robin #175).

--"Week 44":  Bruce has been in Thogal isolation for 27 days (or possibly 30, since he has lost track at this point).  (As seen through flashback in Batman #673).

--"Week 45":  A wrathful Black Adam trails Azraeuz (Horseman Death) to Bialya.  As revenge for the attack on his people and for the death of his wife, Black Adam commits total genocide on Bialya, single-handedly leveling the entire nation and murdering all of its inhabitants.  In a matter of hours, Black Adam murders nearly a million people by himself.  Unreal.  Bialya is in complete ruins.  Thousands more perish in the aftermath.

--"Week 46":  Black Adam learns of the original source of the Horsemen and attacks Egg Fu and his mad scientists on Oolong Island, off the coast of China.  Egg Fu, miraculously, is able to use his resources to capture Black Adam!

--"Week 46":  Nightwing and Robin take down Intergang members in Hong Kong then travel to Paris where Robin unveils a new costume (as seen in Robin #176).

--"Week 46":  Lex Luthor is brought up on charges from the New Year's Eve "Everyman" disaster.

Modern Age (YEAR NINETEEN) Part Four

March 2008.  This is an ultra-mega-super compressed single month.  Infinite Crisis and its countless related crossovers will take up the majority of this month, which contributes significantly to the number of stories listed.




NOTE: Donna Troy is resurrected from the dead by the Titans of Myth (as seen in Return of Donna Troy #1-4).

ANOTHER NOTE:  Darkseid will be killed by Orion at the end of Bat-Year 21, but the evil god's soul will fall backward through time and land right here.  Virtually powerless, Darkseid's soul inhabits a human host body.  Darkseid adopts the not-so-clever name of Boss Dark Side and begins re-creating his former minions (who have all been killed  in the future as well) hidden in human host bodies. (As referenced in DC Universe #0, the Seven Soldiers series, and Grant Morrison interviews).

--Man-Bat Vol. 4 #1-5 ("THE RETURN") 
Hush is up to his old manipulative trickery again.  When several people are killed, supposedly by Man-Bat, Dr. Kirk Langstrom goes into a panic.  Kirk has been blacking out at night, and when he wakes to discover that he has brutally attacked his family (Francine, Aaron, and Rebecca Langstrom) rendering them all bloody and unconscious, Kirk goes on a rampage through Gotham.  Batman captures Kirk and takes him to the Batcave, where together they learn that the original murders were done by someone else.  Hush has hired the supervillain Murmur to frame Man-Bat, while at the same time antagonizes Black Mask.  Things reach a boiling point when Man-Bat, Hush, Murmur, and Black Mask all fight, resulting in several innocent deaths.  Bruce tries to save Kirk from the emotional trauma that Hush has made him endure, but in the end, Kirk is once again, for the first time in many years, a full-fledged supervillain.  NOTE: Writer Bruce Jones was never much of a continuity-buff and he sure isn't here.  In this story, Jones seemingly kills off Kirk's entire family.  However, this cannot be true, since we see them time and time again after this.  (Maybe a distraught Kirk leaves his family for dead and they go into witness protection for a little while or something).  Jones also kills off Murmur, but we'll see him again too.  Also, Jones makes it seem as if Kirk discovers Batman's secret identity for the first time here.  This cannot be the case, since Kirk has known Batman's secret identity for almost ten years and has even been in the Batcave several times before.  Also, it is not Summer.  It's still Spring.  But now I'm just nitpicking.  However, before moving on, I must say that Kirk is able to come-back from this torrid affair relatively quickly.  He, his wife, and his kids will all be A-OK and Kirk will soon return to his life as a wealthy super-scientist/philanthropist.

--Batman: Gotham Knights #73-74 ("PAYBACK")
People with WayneTech pacemakers are having heart attacks left and right.  Batman thinks Hush is responsible, but soon learns that the Joker is behind it all.  But the Joker isn't just trying to kill people, he wants to get revenge against Hush.  Joker kidnaps Hush and has a doctor insert a pacemaker into Tommy's chest!  Joker keeps Tommy sedated for 3 whole weeks before the latter awakes and learns what has happened.  We, unfortunately must ignore this lengthy period of time.  One week is the most Tommy could have possible been held captive for.  Feeling there is no other alternative after realizing what has been done to him, Tommy seeks help from Bruce. Bruce says he will provide for Tommy's surgery to remove the pacemaker if Tommy agrees to incarcerate himself at Arkham.  Tommy reluctantly agrees.  When he wakes up post-op, Tommy easily escapes Arkham and confronts Joker.  Batman shows up just in time to tell Tommy that no surgery was performed, the pacemaker is still inside him.  Batman turns to leave as Tommy screams in fear of being near Joker, who has a device which can cause his pacemaker to fail.  The series ends with this cliffhanger.  NOTE:  I also wanted to mention, there are multiple flashbacks in this story which depict Joker recovering at his circus hideout after his savage beating suffered at the hands of Hush, almost a full year ago.  Oddly, "Payback" makes absolutely no mention of Joker's quick recovery from his savage beating suffered at the hands of Red Hood, which occurred only a week or two prior to the beginning of this tale. Oh, well.

NOTE:  The flashback from Detective Comics #849 picks up where the Gotham Knights series-ending cliffhanger leaves off, thus, completing the series.  Batman leaves a terrified Hush with the deadly Joker.  Joker activates the heart-stopping device, which severely injures Hush, but does not kill him.  Hush then escapes and sets-up shop in an abandoned hospital.

--Batman #639-641 ("FAMILY REUNION")
Over the past five weeks, Red Hood has been royally screwing up Black Mask's affairs. (This should read three weeks to be more accurate).  Batman has finally come to terms with the fact that Jason Todd might be back, but he still doesn't believe conclusively.  First, the Dark Knight meets with Zatanna, who tells him that Lazarus Pits cannot raise the dead, they can only heal the injured or rejuvenate the living.  Zatanna isn't entirely correct here.  In some rare occurrences, the Pits can indeed raise the dead.  Anyway, Zatanna also adds, all the Lazarus Pits are sealed up or destroyed (except for the synthetic Pit owned by Nyssa Al Ghul, the sealed-off Pit inside the bowels of the Batcave, and the few hidden Pits scattered across the globe all of which Zatanna would have no knowledge of). I should also mention that the Lazarus Pits are currently in a state of flux which will turn soon turn into a state of exponential growth.  Thus, before you know it, the Earth will be full of Lazarus Pits again.  Back to our narrative, Batman meets with Jason Blood, who tells the Dark Knight of various means used to raise the dead.  Next, Bruce meets with Ollie Queen and asks him about his life after death experience.  Bruce also finally calls out Ollie on being a part of the group that mind-wiped him years ago.  Touchy.  Bruce then meets with Superman to discuss his life after death experience.  Meanwhile, Red Hood teams-up with Onyx against some of Black Mask's thugs.  Things are hunky-dory until Red Hood kills everyone with a mini-gun and turns the weapon on a shocked Onyx.  Red Hood then stabs Onyx in the shoulder with a knife.  Batman busts in and begins duking it out with Red Hood.  Eventually, they fight to a stalemate and Red Hood unmasks.  Gasp!  It's Jason Todd!  Bruce still doesn't believe it, so Jason gives him a sample of blood and hair.  Jason shouts that he will save Gotham because Batman never could, before making his dramatic exit.  Back in the cave, the DNA test results are a perfect match. Jason is back in Batman's world!

--Blood of the Demon #2-5
The ancient immortal sorceress Morgaine Le Fey is in Gotham and that is very bad news.  Etrigan is in Gotham too and this is also bad news.  When Etrigan attacks some GCPD officers, Batman is pissed and begins a downtown brawl with the demon.  With the aid of Zatanna and Randu Singh, Batman forces Etrigan to morph back into Jason Blood.  Blood tells Batman he can control the evil force within him.  Batman gives Jason Blood twelve hours to do so.  When the clock runs out, Etrigan is still raising hell, this time under Morgaine Le Fey's complete control.  Things get so out of hand, Wonder Woman and Superman come in to help (against Batman's wishes, of course).  Eventually, Morgaine Le Fey's scheming is ended and Jason Blood winds up with the ability to exert willpower over the demon's evil nature.  For the first time ever (and from now on), both Jason Blood and Etrigan co-exist (albeit still in the same bodily vessel).

--Birds of Prey #84-85
After a recent encounter with Braniac, Barbara Gordon is a bit under the weather. Fearing something terrible has happened to her, she has a long heart-to-heart with Huntress and then goes into the care of Dr. Mid-Nite. The doc determines that Braniac has indeed implanted some horrible cybernetic organism inside of her. While Babs rests up for what will hopefully be her life-saving surgery, Batman pays her a secret visit and kisses her on the forehead while she sleeps. Dr. Mid-Nite (along with Superman and Cyborg) begin an operation to rid her of the Braniac Virus and save her life. Batman makes another appearance to wishe her well. While the Birds of Prey battle drug-runners on the Gotham streets, Babs goes under the knife and makes a full recovery!  Meanwhile, Huntress begins organizing a gang-war scenario similar to the gang-war during "War Games," except she thinks she can pull it off.

--Batgirl #63
Bruce is happy with the work that Batgirl has done thus far in Blüdhaven.  Bruce commends her and extends his own financial wealth to needy people in Blüdhaven.  The Secret Society of Supervillains is not happy with the work that Batgirl has done thus far in Blüdhaven.  They extend their own Deathstroke, who comes to town and picks a fight with Batgirl.  However, Deathstroke is really just sizing her up, because he wants his daughter Ravager to fight Cassie.  Cassie defeats Ravager in battle.  Onyx travels to Blüdhaven to train Batgirl.

--Batgirl #65
This story supposedly takes place on Father's Day, but this is just not possible.  It is mid-March, not June.  Batgirl talks with Batman and Onyx when suspicions arise that Lady Shiva might be her mother.  Batgirl visits her dad, David Cain, to question him, but of course Cain is an evil bastard that wants only to mess with Cassie's head, rather than divulge information about her mom.

NOTE:  Batgirl leaves Blüdhaven when she discovers that Lady Shiva is indeed her true mother.  Traveling abroad, Cassie finds her mom in the employ of Nyssa Al Ghul.  Shiva is the new sensei of the League of Assassins.  When Cassie makes her presence known to the League, a rift is formed.  The League splits into two factions, one that backs Cassie as the proper heir to the title of sensei and the other that backs Shiva as the rightful sensei.  An assassin war begins within the League.  Nyssa hires Mr. Freeze to help quell the chaos, but this is a big mistake.  When Freeze discovers that Nyssa has a Lazarus Pit, he immediately submerges his dead wife, Nora, into the Pit.  Nora is revived (!), but she is revived as an insane metahuman that is able to raise an army of zombies.  Cassie, Mr. Freeze, and the entire League of Assassins are forced to kill her once again.  The battle for power within the League between Cassie and Shiva continues on.  All of this craziness can be seen in Batgirl #66-70 and it all overlaps with the next bunch of stories on our list.

--Batman Villains Secret Files and Origins 2005
Black Mask narrates all that has happened on our chronology from "Hush" up until now on our timeline (at least everything that he is aware of from his POV).  This issue also includes the normal SF&O bios as well, some of which are a bit out of date.  We do learn from Killer Croc's bio that his antiviral treatments are failing, his surgeries aren't holding, and his hair-plugs have fallen out.  Croc has begun to mutate into his old monstrous green crocodile form once again, mostly due to the fact that the mutation virus put into his system by Hush (a year ago) is still active in his system.  This issue also contains an awesome Mike Mignola tale which is non-canon and even tells us that it takes place in "another continuity."

--Batman Allies Secret Files and Origins 2005
Batman chases some small-timers and then gets chased by the GCPD, who still have orders by Commissioner Akins to shoot-to-kill Batman on sight.  Renee Montoya chastises her fellow officers for following an order which she feels is ludicrous.  Batman then meets in secret with Montoya and gives her evidence which can help convict gang member Jack Hunter.  Meanwhile, Killer Croc has mutated into a rampaging crocodile monster once again, so we can say goodbye to his "human" hair-plug look.  In Blüdhaven, Cassandra and Tim watch a nationally televised news report which links the deceased Stephanie Brown to Batman.  The news report, by famous journalist Arturo Rodriguez, claims that Steph was one of Batman's sidekicks!  Again, some of the SF&O bios in this issue are not quite up to speed on current events.

--Batman #642
Black Mask has kidnapped Killer Croc and has been torturing him for several days.  The crime lord also hired Mad Hatter to control his mind.  Croc does the bidding of Black Mask for a bit, but is able to break free of Hatter's mind-control.  Croc tries to kill Hatter, but Batman breaks them up.  Batman also saves Croc's life by injecting him with an anti-virus which defends against the Hush mutation virus flowing through his veins.  We also learn that Bruce has purchased Jim Gordon's former house and has turned it into an alternate Batcave. 

WAR CRIMES
--Detective Comics #809
--Batman #643
--Detective Comics #810
--Batman #644
While Batman beats information out of Alexandra Kosov, Arturo Rodriguez's tell-all news report hits the airwaves.  Rodriguez interviews horribly-scarred anti-terrorist activist Aaron Black, who reveals that after a thorough investigation, Stephanie Brown was not only the costumed vigilante known as Spoiler, but was also Batman's sidekick Robin, before dying during the gang-war.  Black goes on to reveal that Steph was in stable condition when she arrived at Leslie Thompkins' clinic for care, and that mysterious circumstances surround her death.  Furthermore, Black continues on live television, while he hasn't been unable to identify any other current or former members of the Bat-family besides Steph, he believes that several others, including children, have died while serving the Dark Knight.  Black then accuses Batman of fatally silencing Steph!  An enraged Batman goes to visit Leslie only to find that she has quit her job, cleaned out her apartment, and left town.  Batman then finds one of Leslie's clinic associates murdered.  The Caped Crusader then confronts Aaron Black, but Black is already being accosted by Joker, who in turn is being accosted by a fake Batman (in a yellow-oval costume), who turns out to be a masquerading Black Mask.  Everyone scatters and gets away.  The next night, Aaron Black goes on live TV and accuses both Commissioner Akins and Arturo Rodriguez of being on Black Mask's payroll!  As the city begins to recoil in political turmoil amidst all of the wild accusations, Batman realizes who Aaron Black really is and how he knows so much about Steph.  Aaron Black is Arthur Brown aka the Cluemaster aka Steph's dad!  The world had mistakenly presumed Cluemaster was dead ever since his disappearance during a Suicide Squad mission last year.  Meanwhile, Arturo Rodriguez interviews Steph's mom on live TV.  During the interview, Black Mask (still dressed up as Batman) attacks both the journalist and his guest before knocking out the live feed.  Batman then busts in and chases the fake Batman out of the building.  Black Mask runs right into Joker, who shoots him!  Joker is jealous that he didn't get to kill another Robin.  Batman steps in and beats the shit out of both Joker and Black Mask.  Joker goes back to Arkham and Black Mask immediately escapes from his arraignment hearing.  Arturo Rodriguez is outed as indeed having been working for Black Mask and is sentenced to a prison term, thus nullifying the credibility of his previous newscasts.

--Batman #645-647
First off, Alfred says that Batman has just dealt with the OMACs a day prior, which is incorrect.  In this instance, Judd Winnick fails in his attempt to link his Batman run to DCU current events.  Batman wouldn't have dealt with an OMAC for over a month now.  Anyway, Bruce finally gets around to examining Jason Todd's coffin.  His examination determines startling results; there was never a body inside.  Speaking of Jason, he has still been successfully screwing up Black Mask's operations for the past month plus.  Speaking of Black Mask, Deathstroke invites him to join the Secret Society of Supervillains.  Black Mask says he will join if the SSoSV helps him kill Red Hood.  The Society sends Captain Nazi, Hyena, and Count Vertigo after Red Hood.  Batman winds up teaming-up with Jason (!) to fight them off.  In the end, Jason kills Captain Nazi, and Bruce is upset that Jason resorted to fatal force, even on a Nazi.  NOTE:  For anyone wondering why there was never a body inside the coffin, it's because way back in Bat-Year 13, Talia had the League of Assassins fix the cemetery with a new coffin to make it look like Jason was never resurrected in order to hide the fact from Batman.  They also eliminated anyone that could possibly be linked to Jason as a preventative measure as well (as seen and referenced in Red Hood: The Lost Days #1).

--Gotham Central #32
Poison Ivy is back and secretly operating out of Robinson Park again.  She has also assembled a group of orphans under her protection once again.  Ivy kills two corrupt cops and then hides in the park with her children.  We must assume that the GCPD tracks their missing officers to the park and discovers Ivy has returned from the grave.  Next time we see Ivy (in two days), she will be locked up back at Arkham.

--Detective Comics #815-816 ("VICTIMS")
In one of the very few times Alfred accompanies Bruce to a black and white charity event, Zsasz coincidentally has escaped from Arkham and stalks the party-goers.  Alfred winds up getting stabbed in the belly!  Zsasz tries to finish off poor Alfie in the hospital, but Batman is able to elude the annoying GCPD to save his friend's life from the sadistic killer.  This tale takes three or four days to complete, but due to editorial compression, this can only take up, at most, one day. 

--Gotham Central #33-36
The media goes into a frenzy when a teenage boy dressed as Robin turns up dead on the streets of Gotham.  Batman tells Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen that the real Robin is safe in Blüdhaven.  The Dark Knight then pays Arkham a visit and interrogates all the inmates, including a visit with Joker during which Batman breaks Joker's arm.  Poison Ivy is back at Arkham.  Also pictured; Scarebeast, a monstrous Killer Croc, and a surgically repaired Harvey Dent, who confesses that he is still in love with Montoya.  At the Iceberg Lounge, GCPD Detective Romy Chandler interrupts Batman while he is savagely beating information out of Penguin, who is visiting Gotham to check up on his club.  Chandler shoots Batman in his bullet-proof chest, which results in the Dark Knight breaking Romy's nose and taking her gun.  Meanwhile, the Teen Titans visit GCPD headquarters to tell all that Robin is alive and well.  Across town, a second teenage boy is found murdered wearing a Robin costume.  After the killer kidnaps a third boy, he turns himself in to authorities, revealing that he purchased some Robin costumes from the Tailor and killed the boys because he wanted to "be a part of the world of superheroes and supervillains."  The crazed fanboy Jack Dunning will only tell Batman personally where the final victim is hidden, so Commissioner Akins reluctantly turns a back-up Batsignal on and summons the Dark Knight.  Batman quickly gets the info out of Dunning and the case is closed.

--Birds of Prey #89-90
The Secret Society of Supervillains wants to shut down Oracle and the Birds of Prey.  Calculator has sold the "Hellhound franchise" to Jack Chifford and sold the "Black Spider franchise" to Derrick Coe.  Thus, we have a brand new Hellhound and brand new Black Spider.  (This also means we have two Black Spiders again, since Eric Needham is still active as Black Spider in Star City).  Black Spider and Hellhound capture and torture Bird of Prey member Savant. Meanwhile, Deathstroke warns Oracle that if she doesn't turn over control of her satellites, Savant will die.  Concurrently, Babs decides to come completely clean to her father, Jim Gordon, about being Oracle.  He already knows about her past as Batgirl, but is shocked to learn of her continued status in the superhero community.  (NOTE:  Jim has known about Babs' past as Batgirl ever since she first wore the costume.  Plus, when Babs first retired from crime-fighting in Bat-Year 11, she openly admitted to Jim that she was Batgirl).  Moving forward, Batman busts in on the sentimental moment and orders Oracle to shut down her operations because he's pissed off at Huntress' plan to start another "War Games" (which has been in effect for over a week now).  In the end, the Birds of Prey rescue Savant and defeat Black Spider, Hellhound, and Deathstroke in battle.  Batman scolds Huntress, but then learns that Huntress was successful.  Gotham's mobs are in control and no blood was shed.  She hands the Dark Knight a detailed file containing all the Gotham mob information one would ever need.  Black Canary then kisses Batman on the mouth (because she always wanted to)!  Bruce tells her that she is strange before swinging away.

--Supergirl Vol. 5 #5
Supergirl has literally split into two people, a dark half and a light half, thanks to being exposed to Black Kryptonite by Lex Luthor. The two Supergirls fight each other, fight the JLA, and then fight each other some more before crashing into Gotham Harbor where Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman patiently await them. Superman can't tell which is the real Kara so he attacks both of them. After some Kryptonite ring action from Batman, Wonder Woman lassos the Supergirls, which merges them back into one.

--JLA #115-119 ("CRISIS OF CONSCIENCE")
Wally West and Hal Jordan summon the Leaguers who were involved in the mind-wipe scandal aboard the Watchtower.  J'onn finally learns the truth and is very upset, but before he can talk to Bruce about it, the ex-members of the original Secret Society of Villains (who were the first mind-wipe victims ever) attack and reveal that they now have all of their lost memories returned, which means they know everyone's secret identities!  Batman and Catwoman, after nabbing Firefly, join up with the JLA to take on the old Society, which includes the returning Floronic Man.  The Society retreats and Batman rushes an injured Catwoman into Alfred's care.  The JLAers involved in the mind-wipe scandal meet with Batman in the Batcave and try to apologize, except for Hawkman who thinks Batman should apologize to him.  Hawkman gets punched in the face for that one.  J'onn returns to the Watchtower where Despero (!) is waiting for him.  Despero reveals that he is responsible for giving the old Society their memories back and begins thrashing the crap out of J'onn.  As Selina recovers, Bruce literally rebuilds a deceased Red Tornado piece by piece in the Batcave. (For anyone counting, this is the sixth time Tornado has died).  Meanwhile, the old Society goes after a list of anybody related to the JLA, starting with Lois Lane.  The JLA is able to save Lois and capture the old Society, but the question of what to do about them arises.  Hawkman immediately says they should be mind-wiped again and demands a vote be taken.  The vote is tied three to three with Zatanna's vote as the tie-breaker.  Zatanna is fed up, refuses to vote, and quits the team!  Concurrently, Despero telepathically controls J'onn, Aquaman, and Batman and uses them to attack Catwoman inside the Batcave.  The JLA busts in and begins battling Despero, but the villain also takes control of Black Canary.  Alfred is shocked when Superman and half a dozen other heroes crash up through the floor into Wayne Manor.  Despero and his mind-controlled League begin demolishing the mansion, but Red Tornado crashes up through the floor to stop them.  Zatanna returns and stops Despero with her magic and the villain is beaten once again.  Batman orders everyone to get the hell off his property.  But before they do, Hal Jordan addresses an important situation.  The JLA is in shambles.  In fact, the only non-reserve, primary full-time members currently on the team are Superman, J'onn, Wally, and John Stewart (who hasn't even been present for a JLA mission in quite a while).  On Bruce's front lawn, the JLA officially disbands!  At Belle Reve Prison in Louisiana, Zatanna, seeing no other alternative, mind-wipes the old Society one final time.  J'onn then meets with Batman in the Batcave, where Batman tells him that he believes that Selina was mind-wiped years ago as well.  (She was).

NOTE:  When Cassie is killed (!) by Nyssa Al Ghul's assassin Mad Dog, Shiva immediately revives her daughter in a Lazarus Pit.  Cassie then winds up fighting her mom and leaves her for dead.  Shiva drops into the Lazarus Pit and is revived (as seen in Batgirl #71-73).  Following this traumatic experience, Cassie decides to quit as Batgirl.  

--Green Lantern Vol. 4 #9
When a brand new Tattooed Man (Mark Richards) shows up in Gotham City, Bruce (via Green Arrow) contacts Hal Jordan for assistance.  They meet in the Batcave and Bruce punches out Hal, finally getting revenge for the punch he took during Green Lantern: Rebirth (a few months ago).  Batman and Green Lantern then defeat Tattooed Man.  Afterward, Hal urges Bruce to put on his power ring, an act that could conceivably heal the mental scar of Bruce's parent's deaths and finally put his avenging heart at ease.  Bruce wears the ring and begins to feel its effects, but ultimately decides that he needs to remain as dark and brooding as possible to fight crime in his own style.  Bruce removes the ring and Hal goes home.

--Batman #644, Epilogue
A little more than a week has passed since Arthur Brown revealed the details behind his daughter's death to Batman.  The Dark Knight flies to Africa and confronts Leslie Thompkins.  Leslie confirms that she could have easily saved Steph's life, but instead euthanized her in order to not only teach Bruce a lesson about endangering kids, but also to spare Steph more torture in the future.  Bruce is enraged, calls Leslie a murderer, and says she can never show her face in America again.  SPOILER ALERT:  If this seems totally out of character for Leslie, it is.  Batman really should have poked around Leslie's African camp a bit more before leaving.  If he had, he might have found Steph alive and well.  See, Leslie is trying to teach Bruce a lesson, but she certainly hasn't killed Steph.  

--The OMAC Project #6, Epilogue
Brother Eye, in hiding with his army of OMACs for over a month now, decides it's time to get sweet revenge against the superheroes of Earth.  Brother Eye broadcasts video footage of Wonder Woman executing Max Lord on every television screen on the planet.  The heroes, up until now, have managed to keep the details of Max Lord's death a secret.  The public immediately goes into an anti metahuman uproar upon viewing the gruesome murder.  Meanwhile, the OMACs enter Earth's atmosphere once again, poised for an all-out assault.

--JLA #119, Epilogue
Just as Batman is returning back to the States from Africa, the video footage of Wonder Woman killing Max Lord is airing worldwide.  On the Watchtower, J'onn tries to figure out who to assemble for the next incarnation of the JLA.  A mysterious figure then enters the the Watchtower and blows the entire moon-base into smithereens!

--JLA #120
Aquaman and Manitou Dawn gather a bunch of former JLA members to perform a sacred positivity ritual in the wake of the disbanding of the team and the destruction of the Watchtower.  Dawn meets J'onn briefly on the Astral Plane, confirming that the Martian Manhunter is still alive.  At the ritual, things get ugly fast as Batman argues with everyone, especially Ollie.  Bruce storms off in anger to inspect the remains of the Watchtower for clues leading to who might have been behind the attack.

--Infinite Crisis #1
Infinite Crisis has begun.  The skies burn red over certain parts of the globe as chaos begins to erupt all over Earth.  The OMACs gather all over the planet and begin slaughtering costumed heroes and villains, including Ratcatcher.  Meanwhile, Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters are all murdered by the Secret Society of Supervillains.  The Rann-Thanagar war rages at the other end of the galaxy, where the Guardians and Green Lantern Corps realize that some greater power is at the root all of these catastrophic events from Earth to Rann to Thanagar to realms unknown.  Where's Batman you say?  Batman is arguing with Superman and Wonder Woman amidst the smoking rubble of the Watchtower.  Mongul shows up and gets his ass kicked.  Afterward, DC's holy trinity argues some more and Batman tells Supes that the last time he really inspired anyone was when he died.  Ouch.  Meanwhile, Kal-L (of the former Earth-2) literally punches his way out of his pocket universe in order to intervene.  He, along with Lois Lane (of former Earth-2), has been watching the DCU for almost a decade now (ever since the original Crisis) and he isn't happy with what he's seen.  But shattering the walls of one reality to enter into another has devastating effects upon the multiverse and the timestream.  Unknown to Kal-L, his two other comrades, Alexander Luthor, Jr. (of former Earth-3) and Superboy-Prime, had already broken out of (and back into) their pocket universe-prison months prior to this and had been manipulating events which have led us up to this point. (For example, Alexander Luthor has been posing as Lex Luthor and has been leading the new SSoSV, while Superboy-Prime altered the timestream to reverse Jason Todd's death).  Both Alexander Luthor and Superboy-Prime had been exiting and returning to their pocket universe without Kal-L even knowing they had left. 

--JLA #121-123 ("WORLD WITHOUT A JUSTICE LEAGUE")
Aquaman attempts to regroup the JLA and starts by trying to recruit Nightwing.  Nightwing turns him down and meets with Bruce in the Batcave to discuss the matter.  Aquaman does assemble John Stewart, Green Arrow (Ollie), Black Canary, Red Tornado, Supergirl, Manitou Dawn, and Flash into a ragtag temporary version of the JLA.  While the temp team battles OMACs, the Key goes on a grisly killing spree and then kidnaps Dawn.  Batman investigates the murders from the Batcave and realizes the Key is responsible.  As Batman races after the Key, Ollie and Black Canary are already fighting the crazed supervillain, while Dawn's life hangs in the balance. 

NOTE:  Over Gotham City, the floating Rock of Eternity appears and explodes.  Captain Marvel's "magic-war" against the hostless Spectre has hit a very negative spot.  The Spectre has just killed the wizard Shazam and unleashed the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man (the Seven Deadly Sins) upon the world.  This event is depicted in Infinite Crisis #1, but doesn't actually take place until now.  Several villains seize this opportunity to run amok, including Riddler, an animated Scarface, The Scavenger, the Body Doubles, Fisherman, and Murmur.  More details of this event are also depicted in Gotham Central #37

--JLA #124-125 ("WORLD WITHOUT A JUSTICE LEAGUE" Cont...)
Batman arrives just in time to help Ollie and Black Canary fight the Key.  Unfortunately, the Seven Deadly Sins have just escaped from their prison within the Rock of Eternity.  Ollie, affected by the combined powers of the Key and the demon Envy, turns against Batman and tries to kill him.  The Key then sees that Envy is manipulating the entire situation and realizes that Envy is a threat to all humanity.  Surprisingly, the Key uses his powers to suck up a shit ton of psychic energy from the citizens of Gotham and blasts the energy directly at Envy, sending the demon rocketing away.  The heroes then restrain the Key, who begs Batman not to send him back to Arkham.  The Key explains that his powers will not allow him to stop absorbing the psychic energies of those around him, and at Arkham, there is a whole bunch of bad juju in the air that makes him go a lot crazier than anyone should ever be.  Batman doesn't care and wants to send him back, but Ollie argues with Bruce that he's making an inhumane mistake.  Dawn agrees and banishes the Key to the Astral Plane.  A pissed off Batman leaves, proclaiming that the JLA, in any incarnation, is finally dead.  And according to the Dark Knight, that is a good thing.  Meanwhile, Infinite Crisis continues as reality begins to tear itself asunder and the center of the universe literally shifts.  Donna Troy assembles a group of superheroes to travel into deep space to investigate.

--Infinite Crisis #2
Donna Troy's team of superheroes begins their travel into deep space to investigate the reality altering anomaly which has caused the center of the universe to shift.  On Earth, Alexander Luthor, Jr. (still disguised as Lex Luthor) meets with his Secret Society of Supervillains and discusses his plan to mind-wipe all the super-heroes of Earth.  (This is not Alexander's real plan.  It is only the ruse which unites his villainous pawns and keeps them in line. We'll soon find out what Alexander is up to).  Meanwhile, Power Girl fights the SSoSV and is assisted by Kal-L (of the former Earth-2)!  Kal-L takes Power Girl to meet Alexander Luthor, Jr. and Superboy-Prime at a secret location in the Arctic.  Alexander explains that Power Girl is originally from the former Earth-2.  Alexander further explains what the multiverse was like before the original Crisis on Infinite Earths!  Power Girl learns that at the conclusion of the original Crisis, her old history was erased and replaced by her current history.  Alexander reveals that this happened to everyone else too, in unique ways.  Power Girl takes all this info pretty nonchalantly.  Jesus, she's just been explained in three pages what took me like 30 pages to explain in the very first post of this blog.  Her head should be exploding!  Mine is!  Power Girl then meets a dying Lois Lane (from former Earth-2) and upon interacting with her, regains her entire pre-original Crisis memories!  She agrees to help Kal-L in his quest to re-create the Earth as a better place, not the joyless and corrupt world in which he considers the current Earth to be.  In Gotham, the Joker asks the Royal Flush Gang (before killing all of them) why he was overlooked for recruitment into the SSoSV.  The Gang tells Joker that he is the only supervillain they didn't want because he's too uncontrollable.  Elsewhere in Gotham, Brother Eye threatens Batman in the Batcave via long-distance satellite communication.  

NOTE: Crispus Allen begins an internal investigation into the corrupt practices of bad cop Jim Corrigan.  Corrigan catches wind of this, lures Allen to a warehouse, and murders him in cold blood. After a quick inquiry, Corrigan is found innocent and walks a free man.  Distraught, Renee Montoya quits the GCPD (as seen in Gotham Central #38-40).  This short tale does indeed happen in the middle of Infinite Crisis, occurring during a lull in the action as far as Gotham City is concerned.  Inifinite Crisis #2 goes right into Infinite Crisis #3, so these issues of GC overlap with the IC issues entirely.

--Infinite Crisis #3
The Secret Society of Supervillains, which reveals itself to have membership in the hundreds, attacks Sub Diego and Atlantis on two fronts.  Meanwhile, all of the OMACs concentrate their attack on Themyscira, wanting to eliminate Wonder Woman and her race.  The Amazons create a giant deadly variation of the Purple Ray (!) and use it against the OMACs, but their numbers are staggering and the weapon is largely ineffective.  In the Batcave, Batman argues with with Brother Eye again via long-distance satellite communication.  Unable to reason with the artificial intelligence which he has created, a weary and tired Batman breaks down almost in tears.  Kal-L (from the former Earth-2) shows up inside the Batcave, introduces himself, and tells Bruce that he still has a chance to change the world for the better.  Kal-L tells Bruce that on the former Earth-2, he still became Batman, but was able to get over his parents' murders enough to fall in love with Selina, marry her, and give birth to a crime-fighting daughter, Helena.  Wow, Kal-L sure knows a lot about Batman comics from the 60s and 70s!  Kal-L continues on, telling Bruce how it was all erased at the conclusion of the original Crisis, but that together they can end the horror and tragedy of this current Earth and make it all right again.  Kal-L explains that when he is able to restore the former Earth-2, everyone's histories on the current version of Earth will be folded into the histories of the former Earth-2, thus reshaping Earth into a "New Earth."  Bruce ain't down with that and attempts to subdue Kal-L with the Kryptonite ring.  However, Kryptonite doesn't have any effect on this Superman.  Kal-L destroys the ring and takes off.  Meanwhile, on Paradise Island, the OMACs are defeating the Amazons.  Diana does the only thing she can to save her people, she calls on the ancient Gods to remove the Amazons from the Earthly plane.  The Gods whisk away all the Amazons and the entire island of Themyscira to their own realm.  Only Diana remains behind.  Concurrently, the real Lex Luthor finally confronts the fake Lex Luthor (Alexander Luthor, Jr. from the former Earth-3), and demands to know who he is.  Alexander and Superboy-Prime beat the tar out of Lex, but the latter is able to teleport away to safety.  Power Girl comes back to the Arctic headquarters just in time to stumble across several restrained powerful metahumans, including J'onn and the corpse of the Anti-Monitor!  Power Girl is shocked and disturbed, but before she can warn anyone, Alexander Luthor and Superboy-Prime knock her out.  Meanwhile, the computer scan of the Watchtower's black box has finally completed its analysis.  Batman views the video of the Watchtower explosion and sees that Alexander Luthor and Superboy-Prime are behind everything!  He's never known of their existence before now, but he knows they are bad news.

--Catwoman Vol. 3 #51
Catwoman has just been given her mind-wiped memories back by Zatanna, who is trying to make amends for her part in the scandal all those years ago.  But Selina isn't thankful, she's pissed.  A shaken Selina spreads her many Catwoman costumes across her bed and wonders which one belonged to the real her.  Selina then breaks into Wayne Manor and confronts Bruce.  Bruce tells her that no matter what happened to her mind, she will always be Selina Kyle, the well-intentioned, genuine superhero that she is now.  Meanwhile, Black Mask kidnaps and tortures Slam Bradley.  Catwoman busts into his headquarters with guns a-blazing (she is actually so pissed she's using a handgun).  When she reaches Black Mask's torture chamber, Sam Bradley (Smart Bomb) has already saved his father.  Sam has prematurely ended his undercover work to do so, and reveals to Catwoman who he really is.  NOTE:  The beginning of Catwoman Vol. 3 #52 picks up right where this issue leaves off, but then several days pass until the conclusion of issue #52, which gives us plenty of time for the Black Mask appearance in Batman #648-650.

--Batman #648-650 ("ALL THEY DO IS WATCH US KILL")
Batman has just learned that Alexander Luthor and Superboy-Prime are behind the catastrophic events of Inifinite Crisis.  Following a quick conversation with Catwoman at Wayne Manor (as seen in our previous blurb), Bruce returns his focus on the important matter at hand.  Unable to contact any heroes, Batman battles his way through OMACs in Gotham until he receives word from Alfred that a package has arrived from Jason Todd.  Inside the package is a lock of Joker's hair.  Jason has kidnapped Joker.  Batman tracks down Jason and finds him in a fistfight with Black Mask.  Before the Dark Knight can intervene, Black Mask stabs Jason in the chest, killing him!  But wait, it was all a set-up to lure Batman and Black Mask together.  The dead guy was just a henchman dressed up as Red Hood.  Jason, via radio, invites Batman to meet him in Crime Alley, where he is holding and torturing Joker.  Batman bolts over to Crime Alley to confront Jason Todd.  Meanwhile, Black Mask escapes and returns to his penthouse, where Catwoman is waiting to ambush him (in the conclusion of Catwoman Vol. 3, #52).  Back across town, Batman confronts Jason in Crime Alley, but before Batman and Jason can even throw a single punch, a thunderous boom reverberates through the heavens and a green mushroom cloud rises over the horizon.  Alexander Luthor has just ordered the Secret Society of Supervillains to drop a Chemo (a living nuclear/chemical bomb) on Blüdhaven.  In one instant, the entire city is vaporized, destroying everything and killing everyone. Batman tries to leave, but winds up fighting Jason.  An angry Jason puts a gun to Joker's head and says he's going to execute the villain.  Batman begs him to stop, but Jason is dead set on it.  The Dark Knight takes out Jason by slashing his neck with a razor-sharp Batarang, allowing Joker to escape relatively unscathed.

NOTE:  While Batman was dealing with Jason and Joker right after the Blüdhaven explosion, Black Mask had returned to his penthouse where Catwoman was waiting in ambush.  They fought and Catwoman killed Black Mask by shooting him in the head (as seen in Catwoman Vol. 3 #52).  As I've explained, this story overlaps completely with the end of Batman #649 and all of Batman #650.

--Infinite Crisis #4
Blüdhaven has just been wiped of the map by Alexander Luthor.  At his Arctic headquarters, Alexander adds Power Girl to his collection of captured metahumans and tells her his grand scheme.  Months ago, while Kal-L was preoccupied with his ill Lois Lane, Superboy-Prime smashed his way out of their pocket universe (which resulted in many time altering anomalies, most notably, the reversal of Jason Todd's death).  Once free, Alexander traveled to Earth and began sewing the seeds for Infinite Crisis.  Alexander and Superboy-Prime both wished to re-create the Earth as they saw fit using a reality-altering machine which required very specific fuels.  Alexander manipulated the Spectre into starting the brutal "magic-war" because he needed the universe's magic to be changed into a raw state without Chaos or Order maintaining it.  Raw magic was the first ingredient needed to fuel the reality-altering machine.  Superboy-Prime collected the second material, Anti-Monitor's corpse, which was floating in deep space.  Next, Alexander posed as Lex Luthor to assemble an army of supervillains with which he could use to kidnap powerful metahumans needed to run the reality-altering machine.  After that, Alexander took control of Brother Eye (during The OMAC Project), and has been controlling all of the OMACs ever since in order to occupy the heroes of Earth, specifically the Atlanteans and Amazons.  Then, Superboy-Prime (with Kanjar Ro's help) secretly sparked the Rann-Thanagar War to occupy the more powerful armies of the universe, including the Green Lantern Corps and the Guardians.  And lastly, Superboy-Prime literally moved planets out of orbit across the universe in order to create a tear in the center of the universe which would allow for the re-creation of a new universe and hence, a "New Earth."  (This is the anomaly which Donna Troy and her team are currently investigating).  Meanwhile, back to our current narrative, Dick meets with Bruce at the outskirts of a radioactive and demolished Blüdhaven and the latter tells the former that Alexander Luthor and Superboy-Prime are behind everything.  Concurrently, Superboy-Prime tries to kill Superboy (Conner Kent) in Smallville in an attempt to "replace" him.  Conner gets beat up pretty bad, but is able to call for help.  The Teen Titans, JSA, and Doom Patrol all show up to meet and take on the evil Superboy-Prime.  Superboy-Prime, unaware of how strong he actually is, winds up killing a ton of heroes including Pantha, Risk, Red Star, Bushido, and Wildebeest.  The heroes are all struggling against Superboy-Prime's vast power until Barry Allen emerges from the Speed Force to assist them!  With Barry's help, the heroes fend off Superboy-Prime, but the battle results in the disappearance of Wally West, his entire family, and Bart Allen.  The Flashes have used the Speed Force to trap Superboy-Prime in the distant future.  In Gotham, the Spectre has found a new soul to be his host; Crispus Allen!  That's right, kids, Crispus Allen becomes the brand new host for The Spectre!

--Robin #146
Superboy (Conner Kent) is dying.  The beating he took from Superboy-Prime has left him in such bad condition, his clone body has begun to deteriorate.  Robin, lucky enough to avoid being killed in the Blüdhaven bombing, meets with the Teen Titans.  Robin and the Teen Titans break into an old LexCorp laboratory hoping to find something that can help their friend.  After battling a bunch of cloned Braniac rejects, the team is able to stabilize Conner and the latter makes a quick recovery.  Meanwhile, the Veteran, as he has for months, offers his assistance to Robin and company.  Batman contacts the Veteran and tells him to stay away from Robin.

--Nightwing Vol. 2 #116-117
Nightwing travels to Blüdhaven to try and help with the relief effort.  While saving some people, Nightwing falls and is knocked unconscious in the rubble.  Batman, who has also traveled to Blüdhaven to help with the relief effort, finds Dick and takes him back to the Batcave for medical care.  When Dick recovers, he goes after Deathstroke and then meets up with Babs.  In a shocker, Dick reveals that he's still in love with Babs and proposes to her!  Dick tells her not to answer until after the Crisis is resolved and he can return to her in good health.  They kiss passionately and Dick heads off to battle.

Infinite Crisis #4, Epilogue
In the Arctic headquarters of Alexander Luthor, Kal-L is once again so distracted by his dying wife, he not only fails to notice that Alexander is the bad guy, but fails to notice that the reality-altering machine has been constructed and activated at the horrible cost of so much death and chaos.  Donna Troy and her team of heroes at the reality-tear at the new center of the universe look on in horror as everything around them begins to quake.  Several heroes and villains simply vanish into thin air as the Earth splits in two.  And I mean literally splits in two.  We've seen plenty of alternate universes created over the years, but there are now literally two Earths defying the laws of physics in floating side by side one another.  The former pre-original Crisis Earth-2 has been re-created! (Bear in mind, this is the former, erased Earth-2 that Kal-L was originally from).

--Infinite Crisis #5
On Earth, the shocked populace looks into the sky at a re-created pre-original Crisis Earth-2.  Kal-L and Lois Lane (of former Earth-2) are transported to this re-created Earth-2 along with all of the original members of the JSA.  Kal-L is finally at peace, until Lois dies.  Meanwhile, Batman plans to recruit a team to attack Brother Eye.  Booster Gold, Skeets, and the new teenage Blue Beetle (Jamie Reyes) meet Batman in the Batcave.  Booster explains that he's just traveled back from the future once again in order to help Batman in the assault on Brother Eye.  On the re-created former Earth-2, Kal-L screams out in agony.  Lois is dead.  Superman flies to meet him, but when he arrives, Kal-L blames Kal-El for the death of his Lois and they begin fighting!  The old Wonder Woman from former Earth-2 is revived (temporarily) and pays Wonder Woman a visit.  Wonder Woman then travels to the re-created Earth-2 and calms Kal-L, ending the fight of the Supermen.  As Batman assembles his Brother Eye strike force, hundreds of parallel Earths begin filling the sky.  In the Arctic, Alexander Luthor plans the creation of a brand new multiverse with the aid of Psycho Pirate, the only human that remembers the details of the pre-original Crisis multiverse.  Meanwhile, Bart Allen re-appears (aged noticeably and wearing Wally's costume) with an armored Superboy-Prime in hot pursuit.  Superboy-Prime has spent four years trapped in the future, but has escaped and returned to pick-up where he left off.  (Wally West and his family are trapped in an alternate reality, where they will remain for years.  In the meantime, Bart Allen becomes the new Flash).

NOTE: The new Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) pukes in the Batcave before Batman briefs him about Brother Eye (as seen via flashback in Blue Beetle Vol. 2 #7). Batman, along with Blue Beetle and his already assembled team consisting of Booster Gold, Sasha Bordeaux, Mr. Terrific, Metamorpho, Black Canary, Ollie Queen, Black Lightning, Hal Jordan, and John Stewart, rocket into space using Ted Kord's old Bug-ship to confront Brother Eye head on.

--Infinite Crisis #6
As hundreds of multiple Earths begin appearing around the primary DCU Earth's orbit, they begin crashing into one another due to simple lack of space.  Superheroes and supervillains are transported to Earths that they were previously from before the original Crisis. Chaos reigns. The Spectre, now merged with Crispus Allen, kills Star Sapphire IV and ushers in a new age of magick. Meanwhile, Batman assembles his team aboard Ted Kord's old Bug-ship and flies out into space to attack Brother Eye and his OMAC army.  Batman's team consists of Booster Gold, the new Blue Beetle, Sasha Bordeaux, Mr. Terrific, Metamorpho, Black Canary, Ollie Queen, Black Lightning, Hal Jordan, and John Stewart.  In the arctic, Alexender's reality-altering machine has risen out of the ice like a Tower of Babel.  The machine allows Alexander to literally reach out with giant god-like hands and combine the multiple Earths together as he sees fit, killing millions in the process.  Nightwing, Conner Kent, and Wonder Girl decide to attack Alexander at the source and head to his Arctic tower.  Nightwing is able to free the captured metahumans, including J'onn, Power Girl, and Black Adam.  The group of freed metahumans unites and attacks Alexander.  Black Adam kills Psycho Pirate just as Superboy-Prime returns to defend the tower.  Black Adam starts wailing on Superboy-Prime, but Alexander sends him to a temporary "Earth-S" with the other Marvels.  Conner then starts fighting Superboy-Prime in a rematch from their previous encounter.  Meanwhile, Mr. Terrific and Batman infiltrate the Brother Eye satellite.  While Batman distracts Brother Eye, Mr. Terrific, who is undetectable by any technology, throws Brother Eye out of orbit.  Brother Eye spins out of control and is defeated!  The OMACs fall to pieces.  Batman orders Hal to fly the heroes to the Arctic headquarters of Alexander. All the heroes escape safely except for Blue Beetle, who gets hurled into a dimensional limbo and will remain there for the next year (as seen via flashback in Blue Beetle Vol. 2 #7). At the Arctic headquarters, Superboy-Prime's fight with Conner not only results in the destruction of the reality-altering machine, but in the tragic death of Conner as well.  The hundreds of multiple Earths instantly shatter and merge to form one single solitary Earth.  But Alexander wasn't prepared for this premature merging.  Even he doesn't know what the "New Earth" looks like.  But guess what? Alexander's "New Earth" is none other than Earth-0 i.e. the Earth which houses the entire historical chronology that I've assembled up to this point!  Pretty awesome.

Modern Age (YEAR NINETEEN) Part Three

December 2007 to February 2008.




--Aquaman Vol. 6 #21-22 ("WITH THE FISHES")
It has been exactly six months since half of San Diego sank into the ocean and became "Sub Diego." In the past six months Aquaman has worked hard (with a stubborn City Hall) to help the gilled-people of his underwater city. When a genetic mutation snafu occurs and underwater mommas start giving birth to air breathers, Aquaman forces the Mayor of San Diego to help his people. When a former low-level Gotham telekinetic turned new super-villain called The Eel begins orchestrating undersea mob actions, Aquaman turns to Batman for assistance. Batman does a little research and meets with Aquaman on the West Coast, delivering to him a Wayne Industries' telekinesis dampening device. Despite the failure of the dampener, Aquaman defeats the Eel.

NOTE:  With Batgirl and Robin successfully handling Blüdhaven crime, Nightwing decides to move to New York City.  Nightwing becomes the newest protector of the Big Apple!

ANOTHER NOTE:  Wonder Woman is rewarded her eyesight back in exchange for helping Athena take over leadership of the ancient Gods (as seen in Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #217).

--Superman/Batman #57-59 ("NANOPOLIS")
The Prankster is able to use Ray Palmer's technology to shrink down Superman to a molecular level.  Batman and Robin capture Prankster and force him to reveal what he's done.  With the help of Dr. John Henry Irons, Batman shrinks down and goes in for the teeny-tiny rescue.  Bruce is shocked to discover Superman trapped in the middle of a race-war between microscopic anthropomorphic sentient organisms known as Nanobots and Nanomads.  Superman has also gone quite made, thinking that he's been trapped in "Nanopolis" for several months.  Batman snaps some sense into Superman and together they end the race-war, preach unity to the mini-masses, and help rebuild their society.  When Superman and Batman return to full-size, Superman has spent what feels like several months in the "Nanoverse" and Batman says that it took several days to fix the microscopic racial tensions.  Robin, however, informs them that only minutes have passed.  See, time moves differently when you shrink down to a molecular level.  See, this story is really shitty.

--JLA Classified #37-41
It's December in California and college student Frank Halloran has just found out that all his memories are false implants put there by Professor Ivo.  Frank is actually Kid Amazo.  Half human, half robot, Frank has all the powers of his "father" Amazo.  Part of him is evil, the other part is good.  After watching the JLA battle Amazo, Frank decides to fight his evil half by becoming the superhero known as The Kid.  A few days later, the Kid easily takes down a crime-gang amazingly called The Bin Ladens and then a new Gotham villain called The Glass Key.  Amazo, angry that his "son" has chosen the light side over the dark side, begins fighting him.  The JLA chooses to watch instead of act, to see how things play out.  Amazo backs down and the Kid officially earns his superhero stripes.  That is until two days later, when Wonder Woman has a chat with the Kid's girlfriend and the latter decides she wants nothing to do with a crazy robot vigilante boyfriend.  The Kid blames Wonder Woman for his loss and decides he now wants to be a villain like dear old dad.  For some reason, the JLA meets in the Batcave instead of the Watchtower to discuss the matter, and the Kid, now going by Kid Amazo, spies on the team within.  A day later Kid Amazo busts into the Batcave and fights Batman one-on-one.  The JLA then chases Kid Amazo back to California, where Batman tells everyone that unlike his dad, who can replicate the powers of each JLA member, Kid Amazo can replicate the personalities of each JLA member.  Kid Amazo runs for cover into the waiting arms of Professor Ivo, who reveals that Kid Amazo's girlfriend is actually not his girlfriend at all.  Kid Amazo's girlfriend is really Sara Shapiro-Ives, Professor Ivo's daughter.  But that's not all.  Sara is also Kid Amazo's biological mother!  Kid Amazo has been banging his own mom!  Kid Amazo freaks out, goes all Taxi Driver and shaves a mohawk into his head and begins kicking the crap out of the JLA.  At one point Kid Amazo beats up Batman, steals his costume and wears it into battle.  Eventually, having the combative personalities of each JLA member within his brain causes a major malfunction which, in turn, causes Kid Amazo to self-destruct.  The JLA is victorious, but they all learn that they each harbor vastly deep-rooted distrust and personal insecurity for each other.

--Gotham Central #26-31
The entire rest of the month of December 2007 is dedicated to issues of Greg Rucka's Gotham Central.  Batman is a secondary character in these issues and sometimes isn't seen at all.  GC #26 begins on December 10.  Batman isn't in GC #26-27.  Catwoman is wrongly accused of murder, but is quickly able to clear her name.  Continuing on with issue #28, a GCPD cop is badly burned and begins mutating into a monster after stumbling through one of Dr. Alchemy's old hideouts.  Montoya and Allen plan a trip to Iron Heights Prison in Keystone City to question Alchemy.  But before they depart, Batman visits Montoya and tells her that she shouldn't cut any deals with the racist Hannibal Lechter-esque supervillain.  But of course, they do cut a deal, and they bring Alchemy to Gotham to see the patient.  Alchemy breaks free of his restraints and "activates" the mutated cop, who has transformed into a monstrous golem.  The superhuman monster-man evades Batman and goes on a wild killing spree, rampaging through Montoya's neighborhood until Montoya's dad shoots it in the face.  This unlikely event becomes the catalyst from which Montoya will begin speaking to her estranged homophobic family once again.

NOTE: Selina breaks up with Slam Bradley.

--Adventures of Superman #636
Batman and Superman are made aware of a huge new criminal threat to start off 2008.  Lex Luthor, Talia Al Ghul, Deathstroke, Dr. Pyscho, the Calculator, and Black Adam form the new Secret Society of Supervillains.  The actual roster of the Society consists of dozens more.  In order to join the Society, Talia leaves the League of Assassins.  The new supervillain Ruin is advised by Lex Luthor and begins a campaign of terror against Superman.  Former President Pete Ross will soon be wrongly accused of being Ruin.  Ruin will later be revealed as former STAR Labs Professor Emil Hamilton, who had framed Ross for his crimes.  NOTE:  The Lex Luthor that forms this new SSoSV is actually secretly Alexander Luthor, Jr. (of the former Earth-3) in disguise.  The former hero has broken out of his pocket universe, which he has lived in ever since the original Crisis and he has a devious plan up his sleeve.  But more on that later.

NOTE:  Tweedle-Dum dies of natural causes.  Dumson Deever (Tweedle-Dee's brother) becomes the new Tweedle-Dum.  Both Dee and Dum are recruited into the Secret Society of Supervillains (as referenced in Infinite Crisis and Detective Comics #841).

ANOTHER NOTE:  Superman deals with the events of Superman Vol. 2 #204-207 which detail the beginnings of the "For Tomorrow" story-arc.  A mysterious "Vanishing" occurs, where over a million random people simply disappear off the face of the Earth, including Lois Lane.  Superman traces the source of "The Vanishing" to the Middle East, where he gets illegally involved in a civil war.  An unhinged Superman battles the evil cyborg known as Equus, and unwittingly causes a second "Vanishing" which results in 300,000 more disappearances.  This reckless act causes Superman to once again lose the public's faith.

FOR TOMORROW
--Superman Vol. 2 #208
--Superman Vol. 2 #210
Batman and the JLA meet with Superman on the Watchtower and chastise him for his recent behavior in the Middle East, which caused a second "Vanishing."  Later, in Gotham the Joker makes a quick appearance.  Batman fights him off, but the Joker escapes when Superman shows up and accidentally distracts the Dark Knight.  Supes and Bats then travel to the Batcave where they engage in a dark conversation.  After their vague talk and Superman's hasty departure, Bruce realizes that Superman has learned what's going on regarding "The Vanishings."  Bruce then immediately calls Wonder Woman and tells her to get down to the Fortress of Solitude to make sure Supes doesn't do anything rash.

NOTE:   The Superman "For Tomorrow" story-arc concludes (as seen in Superman Vol. 2 #211-215).  Superman rescues the missing people (including Lois) from an alternate reality that exists within the Phantom Zone.  The Fortress of Solitude self-destructs and implodes.  Superman begins using his alternate Fortress of Solitude which is in an ancient Incan pyramid in the jungles of Ecuador.

--JLA Classified #16-21 ("THE HYPOTHETICAL WOMAN")
It's been three months since General Dvory Tuzik began secretly organizing the totalitarian nations of the world.  Tuzik releases a deadly Starro-based mind-control virus in Oregon, which the JLA is able to contain and quarantine.  Flash contracts the virus and is taken to the Watchtower for observation.  Word gets out to the public that the entire JLA team may have contracted the virus, which causes a panic.  When the JLAers refuse to quarantine themselves, the UN decides to declare war on them!  Meanwhile, the JLA heads to Santa Prisca to deal with yet another strange plague (courtesy of Tuzik).  When they arrive at the Caribbean island-nation, UN forces attack using commandeered Tamaranean warships and synthetically created versions of Chemo.  In China, Tuzik uses a metahuman known as The Hypothetical Woman to create six brainwashed metahuman warriors to serve his bidding.  The so-called Hypothetical Army quickly and easily takes control of China.  Within hours, Tuzik mobilizes the Chinese Army in an attempt to start WWIII.  The JLA is not only able to defeat the combined force of the Hypothetical Army and the Red Army, they defeat a jacked-up monster version of Tuzik as well.  In the end, Tuzik and the Hypothetical Army all die.  Tuzik's benevolent son becomes the new president of Tuzik's unnamed home nation, where an injured Batman wishes the young leader the best of luck.

--Green Lantern: Rebirth #1-6
Guy Gardner's body begins rejecting his Vuldarian DNA and he literally explodes inside the Warrior Bar, destroying everything inside except for a statue of Hal Jordan.  Then, all the buildings disappear in the area where Coast City used to be, except for Hal's old apartment building.  After that, Spectre Hal Jordan brutally severs Black Hand's hand much to the shock of Ollie Queen and the new teenage female Speedy (Mia Dearden).  While Dr. Mid-Nite stabalizes a deformed and critical Guy Gardner aboard the Watchtower, Batman trashes Hal as he always does, saying that Hal is an insane supervillain and always has been.  Finally, Geoff Johns gives us the emotion that I've been waiting to see in John Stewart ever since he joined the JLA.  Stewart lashes out at Batman, exclaiming that he's sick and tired of Bruce's unfair treatment of Hal.  However, this time John is in the minority as the rest of the team thinks Hal has snapped again too.  Meanwhile, Kyle Rayner crash lands a spaceship on Earth with a warning that Parallax is coming.  Accompanying Kyle is the Oan Guardian Ganthet, who has Hal's corpse with him!  Back on the Watchtower, Guy turns back into a Green Lantern, but goes nuts.  Similarly, John Stewart attacks the JLA, while Kilowog attacks Ganthet.  Eventually, Ganthet returns the GLs to their senses.  Kyle rushes to the Watchtower with Hal's corpse in tow, meets with Ollie, and explains that the power rings are based on the Emotional Spectrum (!) and that Hal never became Parallax.  Not quite, anyway.  Parallax is an evil yellow (fear based) alien symbiote which had latched onto Hal and brought out his inner demons.  Meanwhile, in Haven (formerly Coast City), Parallax overpowers the Spectre and takes over Hal's soul.  While Kyle and Ollie battle a returning Sinestro aboard the Watchtower, the rest of Earth's heroes battle Parallax/Hal Jordan.  The fight is going poorly on both fronts until the Spectre is able to evict Parallax from Hal's soul.  Afterward, the Spectre is pretty fed up with Hal's crazy ass soul and decides it's time to move on.  Hal's soul floats towards Heaven, but the call of the power ring is greater than the call of God, I guess.  Hal's soul rockets into his corpse aboard the Watchtower.  Green Lantern Hal Jordan is reborn! (Not to mention, his gray hair has color again, and he has de-aged significantly).  Hal teams-up with Kyle and defeats Sinestro and then joins the rest of the heroes to attack a monstrous Parallax-infected Ganthet.  But before the heroes can strike, Batman wants a word with Hal.  He still doesn't trust him and wants some answers.  Hal punches Batman in the face and puts the Dark Knight on his ass!  Guy chuckles and references the time that Bats one-punch knocked him out years ago.  An angry Batman grumbles how arrogant Hal is and tells the JLA to regroup for an assault on Parallax.  Just then, Alan Scott holds the JLA back, telling Batman that this is a Green Lantern-only feud.  The GLs defeat Parallax and the Guardians of Oa make their triumphant return.  The all new Green Lantern Corps is back!  After the dust settles, Batman and Hal face off.  Batman stubbornly shouts that he will never believe that the only reason Hal went crazy was because he was influenced by an evil alien symbiote.  Hal replies by saying he doesn't give a shit what Batman thinks and he's back for good.  John Stewart adds the tough blaxploitaion line, "Is that a problem?" to which Batman replies, "Not right now."  Bruce backs down and our narrative concludes.  A+ story.  Oh, I also wanted to mention that the floating alien city of Haven leaves Earth and the reconstruction of Coast City begins during this storyline.

NOTE:  John Stewart remains in the primary lineup of the JLA as a full-time member, but skips out on the next couple JLA missions (most likely because he doesn't want to work with Batman following the events of GL: Rebirth).  Kyle Rayner joins the team once again as a part-time reserve member.

--JLA Classified #26-31 ("SECRET HISTORY, SACRED TRUST")
When the rogue South American dictatorships of Santa Bertriza and Del Canto both begin using metahuman guerrilla fighters, the world fears a threat from something worse than metahuman supervillains; metahuman terrorists.  After a meeting with President Horne, the US government sends the JLA to check-up on the totalitarian nations.  However, the UN is strongly against this course of action (as they would be, especially since the UN recently sent its troops against the JLA in "The Hypothetical Woman" story-arc).  After a brief interlude where Batman busts some kidnappers in Gotham, the JLA comes up with a plan.  With President Horne's secret backing, half of the JLA (including a returning Faith) goes undercover and enters Santa Bertriza and Del Canto as civilians.  Meanwhile, President Horne has J'onn, Kyle, and Aquaman form a distraction to make it seem as if the JLA is occupied elsewhere.  Bruce (as Bruce Wayne) visits with the Santa Bertrizan president while Clark Kent visits with the Del Cantoan president.  Things are going smoothly until Wally and Faith accidentally cause a metahuman war to break out between the two nations.  Bruce, Kyle, Clark, Faith, Wally, and Diana (all psychically linked to President Horne via J'onn's telepathy) enter into the fray and begin taking out as many metahumans as they can from both sides.  Meanwhile, Diana and Kyle let themselves be captured and then pass themselves off as defectors from the opposing sides in order to infiltrate the armies as spies.  When everyone regroups, Bruce tells the team that a third party has been manipulating both countries from the get-go, and this third party has basically been using these countries as a giant metahuman lab experiment.  After more investigation, the JLAers learn that Dutch industrialist Shyuler Cristoffels is behind the South American war, simply because he wants easy, cheap access to a rare ore deposit beneath the border of the two countries.  When this news goes public, the JLA steps out of the shadows, easily ends the war, apprehends both dictators, and defeats the arriving Cristoffels and his team of Dutch metahumans.  And I'm sure you were wondering why President Horne was being so helpful and chummy with the JLA all of a sudden in this story-arc?  Duh, Horne had his own team ready to swoop in to begin mining the precious underground ore as soon as Cristoffels was out of the picture.  But as always, Batman is one step ahead of everyone.  Before the US team even arrives, the JLA has the ore (which is more radioactive than plutonium) safely aboard the Watchtower where no one can get it.

--JLA Classified #42-46 ("THE GHOSTS OF MARS")
While undergoing an ancient Martian ritual, J'onn suffers a psychic backlash and goes into a coma for three days.  Using Zatanna's magic, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman enter J'onn's mind and bring him back to consciousness.  NOTE:  Issues #42 through #45 are all a part of J'onn's detailed hallucination while he is in the coma.  Therefore, Batman only really makes an appearance in issue #46.

--Batman 80-Page Giant 2011 #1, Part 7 

A young boy who doesn't have the physical capability of forming words gets into the middle of a scuffle between Solomon Grundy and Batman.  The Dark Knight saves his life and puts Grundy down and out.  Later, much to the surprise and joy of his parents, the boy says his first word in nearly a decade: "Batman."
--Batman: Gotham Knights #60-65
Hush and Prometheus kidnap Alfred.  With Poison Ivy's assistance, Batman rescues Alfred.  Bruce doesn't know it yet, but Hush has set the seed for some of his old fashioned trickery.  Once again, Hush has a Clayface pretend to be someone else in order to fool Batman and company.  This time Clayface VIII (Johnny Williams) morphs into Tommy Elliott in order to make Bruce and Alfred doubt that Tommy was ever really Hush in the first place.  Only Alfred bears witness to this ruse, but he is drugged and also winds up hitting his head which causes him to forget the incident.  Meanwhile, Poison Ivy learns that all of the former orphans that lived under her care during and after NML are infected with toxins which cause them to commit suicide.  There is a flashback to 'tec #752 which supposedly takes place "2 years ago."  It should read "3 years ago."  Batman meets with Ivy and is convinced that someone else is killing her former "children".  Pamela Isely busts into the old laboratory (where she was originally turned into Ivy) looking for information leading to Jason Woodrue aka Floronic Man.  A lab assistant tells her that Jason died three years ago after getting hit by a car.  Ivy, desperate to reverse her biology to become normal again, contacts Bruce Wayne for help.  Ivy contacts Bruce because he has had a penchant for helping Arkham patients in the past.  Bruce meets with Ivy in her secret lab and builds rapport with the lovely Miss Isley.  A jealous Hush, who has not only made himself immune to Ivy's deadly touch, but has fallen madly in love with her, visits the villainess and tells her that Bruce doesn't really want to help, because he's Batman!  Bruce then has Alfred dress up as Batman in order to trick Ivy back into believing that he isn't the Dark Knight.  After this unbelievable charade actually works, Bruce creates a cure for Ivy.  Shouldn't Ivy think it's a bit odd that a billionaire playboy is all of sudden a scientific genius?  Well, I guess she did fall for Alfred dressed up as the Caped Crusader.  Moving on, Bruce and a cured Pamela Isley celebrate!  Pam is then visited by a cured Jason Woodrue.  Woodrue reveals that he cured himself and faked his death three years ago to hide from the secret criminal organization known as The Division.  He also tells Pamela that he originally turned her into Poison Ivy all those years ago while under orders from the Division.  Furthermore, Woodrue adds,the Division is still active and has created several more "Poison Ivies" that will be unleashed upon the world as agents of evil.  In an instant, Division agents shoot Woodrue in the head and Pamela runs off.  (Woodrue doesn't die here, which means, despite having been "cured," he still has the power of the Floronic Man living within him).  Pamela feels the only way she can survive is if she turns back into Poison Ivy.  Bruce refuses to do it, but Hush is more than willing.  Hush, Ivy, and Batman then scuffle with agents of the Division, and during the chaos, Ivy injects herself with Hush's serum.  But the serum is no good and Pamela dies!  A few days later, Bruce visits Pamela's grave.  Don't fret.  Like the "death" of Jason Woodrue, Pamela Isley's "death" doesn't stick either.

NOTE:  The interplanetary space-opera known as the Rann-Thanagar War begins on the other side of the universe (as seen in Rann-Thanagar War #1).

ANOTHER NOTE:  Dr. Light becomes fully aware of his lost memories and brain-alteration at the hands of the JLA years ago (during the "mind-wipe scandal").  He's pissed off and attacks Green Arrow (Ollie) and members of both the Teen Titans and Outsiders (as seen in Teen Titans Vol. 3 #21).  Batman is not present at these fights, but realizes why Dr. Light is so angry.  The Dark Knight puts two and two together and realizes that he also was mind-wiped years ago!  Batman immediately begins ignoring his JLA communicator.  An enraged Batman has effectively quit the JLA.  Batman then immediately and secretly begins monitoring the metahuman community using a semi-sentient satellite technology known as Brother Mark 1 aka Brother I (as referenced in The OMAC Project #2).  Batman has been gathering detailed data on the metahumans since Bat-Year Ten and has many WayneTech satellites in orbit.  However, Batman has never utilized the invasive super high-tech Brother I surveillance system until now.  Morally, Bruce had always been against using the technology, but now the gloves are off and he doesn't give a damn.

YET ANOTHER NOTE: Batman meets secretly with Superman and tells him he has resigned from the JLA because of the mind-wipe scandal.  Superman is just as upset as Batman upon learning about the mind-wipes and even considers quitting the team as well, but decides to forge-on without saying anything to anyone else (as referenced in JLA #117).

--DC Countdown #1
This is it, kiddies.  The countdown to Infinite Crisis begins now!  When Oracle informs Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) that someone is laundering money from both Kord Industries (Beetle's company) and WayneTech, Beetle visits Batman in the Batcave.  An angry Batman quickly ushers Ted away, saying that he's aware of the money laundering and he's aware of much more (i.e. his mind-wiping).  Ted then puts in an emergency call to all the heroes of the DCU when a hundred-pound stockpile of Kryptonite is stolen from a storage facility.  The hero community doesn't seem too concerned, except for Beetle, who continues his investigation with the aid of his long-time best friend Booster Gold.  After Beetle is attacked, and Booster is nearly killed and hospitalized, the former goes to visit Captain Marvel, but Cap is busy dealing with a crazed Spectre (who is currently lacking a soul ever since Hal Jordan's return to the living).  The wizard Shazam, preoccupied with the "magic war" against Spectre, speaks briefly with Beetle and warns him about Luthor before teleporting him away.  Beetle is then nearly killed when a bomb explodes on his Bug-ship.  While recovering from his injuries on the Watchtower, Beetle tries in vain to explain about his investigation to Wonder Woman.  Beetle also tries in vain to warn J'onn that something big is going down, but J'onn is preoccupied with news reports from the frontlines of the Rann-Thanagar War which is occurring at the other end of the universe.  A dejected Beetle returns home, but quickly discovers evidence which points him toward a castle in Switzerland. After failing to get Batman to respond to his calls, Beetle travels to Switzerland alone and infiltrates the castle, which is obviously a Checkmate facility.  Beetle then accesses a computer and finds a file which has highly detailed information on every, literally every, superhero in existence.  This intel, gathered together in such a way, is very bad news. But who has gathered this valuable and dangerous information?  The new Checkmate King, Maxwell Lord!  The new Checkmate King then delivers some of the most awesome comic book dialogue ever written.  I'll paraphrase.  Max explains that there are currently 1.3 million metahumans on Earth.  Ninety-nine-point-five percent of those metahumans have "nuisance level" powers.  But the other point-five percent are "gods walking the Earth" i.e. "the one's we have to watch out for, monitor, and stop."  At this point, Beetle reminds Max that he (Max) is a metahuman too, to which Max replies, "I can be trusted."  Max further explains that he wants to save Earth from the power-mad metahumans.  Max also reveals that he kept the Justice League ineffectual for years when he was the leader of the team, while at the same time he secretly planned for the eventual elimination the entire metahuman population.  Max has been preparing for this for the past nine years!  Beetle tries to escape with Max's computer files, but the latter activates an OMAC soldier (we'll learn much more about OMACs very soon) which easily takes down the hero.  Checkmate agent Sasha Bordeaux (!) helps restrain Beetle as well.  Max tells Beetle that he now controls Batman's surveillance satellite network known as the Brother Mark One aka Brother I, which will be the definitive factor in stopping the metahuman threat.  Max then offers the bloody, broken, and handcuffed Beetle a simple ultimatum; join or die.  Beetle's response: "Rot in hell, Max."  Max's reply: he shoots Beetle in the head (!) and sets his Brother I satellite to autonomous control, thus initiating "Project OMAC."  Ted Kord is dead and the DCU is about to be turned upside-down.

--Green Lantern Corps: Recharge #1
Kyle Rayner quits the JLA in order to join the new Green Lantern Corps full-time.  He says goodbye to all his friends on the Watchtower and then departs with Guy Gardner.  Guy drops trou and moons Batman through the Watchtower window before leaving.  Gotta love that Guy and his bare-assed antics. 

--Outsiders Vol. 3 #21-22
Nightwing flips out when he learns that Bruce has been secretly funding and posturing his Outsiders team.  They get in a heated argument and Bruce tells Dick that he simply is putting up money for the team and in no way wants to step on his toes as leader.  Dick also expresses his anger over the fact that Arsenal has been meeting with and collecting intel from Batman for months now.  Wait a minute.  No, he hasn't.  Batman and Nightwing quickly realize that Arsenal has been meeting with a fake Batman, namely Deathstroke!  The jig is up and Deathstroke ditches his fake Batman costume for his normal duds, but not before nearly murdering Arsenal.

NOTE: Batman investigates a corrupt insurance company called Three Piece Suit and their hired henchman, a bizarre cyborg made of petrified wood called Wooden Nickel (as referenced in Catwoman Vol. 3 #39).

ANOTHER NOTE:  Superman encounters an OMAC for first time.  The techno-organic warrior is as strong and powerful as the Man of Steel (as seen in Superman Vol. 2 #217).

--The OMAC Project #1-3
Two days have passed since Ted Kord's murder.  While a confused Batman wonders why he's been locked out of his own Brother I surveillance system, Max uses the hijacked satellite tech to monitor the Earth's metahuman activity.  Brother I's spying abilities are so great, Max can actually watch Batman inside the Batcave.  Basically, Max sees all and hears all while Sasha Bordeaux stands at his side.  But what is Sasha really up to?  Maybe trying to help an old lover?  Sasha secretly mails Bruce a letter which not only informs him that Checkmate has control of his satellite, but of Ted's death as well.  Bruce meets with Superman, Wonder Woman, and Booster Gold on the Watchtower and tells all that Beetle is dead.  He also tells them the truth about his satellite spying and the fact that the tech has been stolen.  Booster, upon learning the terrible news about the death of his best friend, flips out on the cold, unemotional Batman and even tries to blast him with a laser.  When everyone calms down, Batman explains that the entire Checkmate organization has gone rogue and is no longer affiliated with the US government.  Batman's investigations into Checkmate then take him to Chicago where he runs into Sasha.  They immediately kiss passionately, but Max is watching and the King isn't happy.  Three OMACs bust in and kidnap Sasha before she can spill the beans about Max.  Batman recognizes the OMACs as Brother I's prototype soldiers, but is surprised because he didn't construct Brother I to have weaponry.  Wonder Woman, Booster, and Guy Gardner search for Brother I, but the satellite is well hidden with various cloaking devices.  Meanwhile, Max has all the other Checkmate higher-ups executed and detains both Jessica Midnight and Sasha in a holding cell.

--Adventures of Superman #641
When former President Pete Ross is wrongly accused of being a super-villain and detained in a federal prison for metahumans, Clark visits him.  Parasite II and Parasite III cause a riot that allows Ross to escape.  As Superman fights the Parasites, an OMAC attacks yet again.  Meanwhile in the Bat-Cave, Batman chats with Lois Lane via phone, aiding her to find out the identity of a sniper who recently tried to kill her.

NOTE:  Batman boards the Watchtower to use its high-tech scanning systems to search for Brother I.  A mind-controlled Superman arrives and proceeds to pummel Batman to death until Wonder Woman shows up and chases Superman away.  A badly injured Batman goes into a coma (as seen in Adventures of Superman #642).

SACRIFICE
--Superman Vol. 2 #219
--Action Comics #829
--Adventures of Superman #642
--Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #219
Four hours have passed since Batman's brutal beating.  Superman wakes up in his Ecuadorian Fortress of Solitude with dried blood caked all over both his hands.  His recent memory is jumbled and he can't seem to remember what has happened or whose blood is on his hands.  The JLA busts in and escorts the confused Superman to the Watchtower.  There, the Man of Steel learns that Batman is battered, bruised, burned, broken, and comatose.  Superman has nearly pummeled Bruce to death.  Bruce even has Superman's charred fingerprints burned into his throat.  The JLA views the gruesome security video of Superman kicking Batman's ass and ascertains that Supes had to have been mind-controlled.  J'onn and Wonder Woman telepathically enter Superman's mind and Max Lord's aura is all over the place.  Batman awakes from his coma and Wonder Woman takes him to the Batcave so that Alfred can take care of him.  Meanwhile, Max forces Superman to attack the JLA again.  Supes then flies to the Checkmate castle in Switzerland, with Wonder Woman in hot pursuit.  But Max is ready and waiting for her and has Superman attack Wonder Woman with his full force.  As the superheroes duel destructively across the Earth, Max exclaims that he has proven his point.  According to the gospel of Max, the massive destruction these metahumans are capable of will ultimately end life on Earth.  Max wants to save Earth by killing these "gods."  The tremendous battle rages on, literally shaking the ground like an earthquake.  Despite Superman breaking her wrist, Wonder Woman is able to escape his grasp and bolt back to Switzerland.  Diana binds Max with her golden lasso.  Max tells her that he has permanent control of Superman now and only his own death will result in his release of Clark's mind.  Max then releases Superman from his control to show Supes the devastation he's caused.  Superman is shaken and blubbering.  He knows that he is Max's personal toy forever and the world is doomed because of it.  Diana doesn't hesitate for a second and snaps Max's neck like a twig.  Max Lord is dead and Superman can't believe what he's just seen.

--The OMAC Project #4-5
As soon as Max Lord is executed by Diana, Brother I switches into "survival mode" and begins launching several Chinese nukes and shutting down power grids all over the planet.  Brother I then begins its purge of Checkmate.  OMACs begin slaughtering all the remaining Checkmate agents.  Sasha Bordeaux and Jessica Midnight are able to defeat their OMAC attackers when Sasha discovers that she's been turned into an OMAC-like cyborg!  Brother I then contacts its injured creator in the Batcave and tells him that he is no longer Brother I.  He is now fully autonomous.  He is now Brother Eye and he is alive.  Bruce tells Brother Eye that he was designed to monitor metahuman activity for possible abuse of powers, not to kill.  Brother Eye tells Bruce that Max has taught him a valuable lesson: the only way to prevent metahumans from abusing their powers is to eliminate all metahumans.  OMACs begin attacking metas all over the world.  This is where we first learn of the "threat class" of the super-powered.  For example, Fire and Booster Gold are Epsilon-level threats, whereas Metamorpho is a Beta-level threat.  The strongest of the strong, like Guy Gardner (who has a power ring) or Mary Marvel (who has the magic of Shazam) are labeled as Alpha-level threats.  At the Checkmate castle, Sasha learns that Max had experimented on her with OMAC nano-technology, thus transforming her into a cyborg.  Cyborg Sasha contacts Bruce and tells him that the OMACs download into human host bodies using Brother Eye nano-tech, and Brother Eye has just activated the entire OMAC lot, which consists of 1.3 million super-soldiers.

--Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #220
Wonder Woman visits Batman in the Batcave and tells him that she has murdered Max Lord. Bruce simply tells her to "get out."

--Adventures of Superman #643, Conclusion
Superman visits Batman in the Batcave an hour after Wonder Woman's visit to apologize for recent events and to chastise the Dark Knight about the OMAC situation.  Batman and Superman argue—Bruce tells the Man of Steel he can never trust him again and to leave immediately.  Supes leaves and, visibly shaken, is consoled by Lois.

--The OMAC Project #6
Almost immediately, tons of C-list and D-list DCU metahuman characters begin getting slaughtered by the recently activated 1.3 million OMAC soldier army controlled by Brother Eye.  So if you are a big fan of Fastball, Demolition Team, or the Supermen of America, sorry—all dead within minutes.  Sasha also tells Bruce that someone else gave Brother Eye its autonomy, not Max.  While Sasha organizes the world's defense against the OMACs, the injured Batman discovers that Max wasn't trying to steal Kryptonite (during DC Countdown #1).  Max tried, and failed, to steal a special EMP generator which can disable OMACs.  After swallowing his pride and meeting with Hal Jordan and John Stewart, Batman sets his plan to defeat Brother Eye into motion.  While Sasha downloads a virus into the OMAC system, Batman activates the EMP device, which destroys the majority of the OMACs, but spares the human hosts within.  Realizing that defeat is imminent, Brother Eye retreats with over 200,000 OMACs still under his command. (A few scattered OMACs remain on Earth).  At the ruins of the Checkmate castle in Switzerland, Bruce meets with silver-skinned cyborg Sasha.  The latter, in tears, tells Bruce that all of her humanity has been erased and she is fully a machine now.  Bruce denies that as a possibility and kisses her, turning her skin back to flesh-tone momentarily.  After the events of The OMAC Project, Wonder Woman decides it is best if she leaves the JLA, and does so.  But who did give Brother Eye autonomy if it wasn't Max?  We'll find out soon enough.

--Catwoman Vol. 3 #39
Batman pays Catwoman a visit at her apartment to discuss the bizarre cyborg made out of petrified wood that has been hired by the corrupt Three Piece Suit company to find out Catwoman's secret ID. After having sex (!!!), Bruce gives Selina a post-coital scoop on the villain, named Wooden Nickel. Meanwhile, Wooden Nickel has threatened Sam Bradley, Jr., which causes Slam Bradley to spill the beans on where Catwoman lives. Wooden Nickel attacks Catwoman in her own home, but the latter is able to fight him off.

--Batman #635-638 ("UNDER THE HOOD")
"Under the Hood" actually begins with a flash-forward to five weeks later when Batman will be fighting Red Hood in the rain, which leads to Jason Todd's epic reveal. (This should more accurately read three weeks later).  But let's focus on the present for now.  Lucius Fox visits Wayne Manor with the distressing announcement that Bruce has lost Wayne Enterprises’ controlling interest in Kord Inc (Ted Kord's company and a part of Wayne Industries Research & Development) to a German conglomerate.  In layman's terms, this means that Bruce no longer has a huge billion dollar R&D company with which to raid new weaponry and armor technology, which Bruce has done for the past 19 years.  Alfred tells Bruce not to worry since they already have plenty of "toys" left in the cave.  Meanwhile, a mysterious new Red Hood (aka Jason Todd!) begins honing in on some of Black Mask's territory and makes his presence known in Gotham.  Bear in mind, Batman and company still have no idea that Jason is alive.  Batman then meets with Nightwing who is shown wearing a knee brace.  He recovered from his leg injury over three months ago, but it isn't far fetched to think that he may still require a brace every once and a while.  When Batman and Nightwing are almost blown to smithereens by Red Hood they pursue him, but instead run right into Amazo, who has been purchased from Professor Ivo by Black Mask.  Despite being outmatched, Batman and Nightwing are able to defeat Amazo.  Concurrently, Red Hood steals a cache of over one-hundred pounds of Kryptonite (the missing Kryptonite from DC Countdown #1!) from Black Mask and asks for fifty million dollars to return it.  Instead of the cash, Black Mask sends Mr. Freeze to take out Red Hood.  Batman and Nightwing interrupt their fight, but both villains get away.  Red Hood then visits Joker at his circus hideout and beats him bloody with a crowbar.  Jason has been waiting for this revenge for a long, long time.

--Batman: Gotham Knights #66-72
Hush and Prometheus haven't gotten along very well since the Poison Ivy affair two months ago.  When the Secret Society of Supervillains wants information about Prometheus' "key to Limbo," Talia, Deathstroke, and an army of Kobra soldiers attack Hush and Prometheus.  Prometheus keels over revealing that he contracted a deadly virus from one of the fake Ivies (from GK #65).  Talia forces Hush to perform life-saving surgery on Prometheus.  Afterward, Hush and Talia part ways on bad terms. When a videographer discovers that he has video of Bruce Wayne fighting Hush in the background of one of his shots, its not long before he realizes that Bruce is Batman.  After blood is shed in a very Coen Brothers cinematographic way, the videographer contacts Bruce and blackmails him for money.  The blackmailer sets up a meeting, but demands to do the exchange with one of Bruce's servants.  Alfred goes to the meeting and does the exchange as planned.  However, the blackmailer winds up getting murdered by Clayface VIII (Johnny Williams), who frames Alfred for the crime.  Back at Wayne Manor, Alfred remembers what had been blocked out in his brain when he hit his head (in GK #60).  Alfred tells Bruce that Tommy Elliot is alive, but is not Hush! (See, Alfie actually saw Clayface VIII pretending to be Tommy Elliot).  After a short investigation, Batman learns that Hush not only used the new Clayface in an attempt to trick Alfred, but Hush also injected Clayface DNA into Alfred, which is slowly killing him.  There are a ton of flashbacks which detail how Hush came to meet the new Clayface, Johnny Williams, six months ago.  (Williams murdered a hooker and Hush has been blackmailing him ever since).  However, like Alfred, Johnny Williams is dying and the only thing that can save both of them is DNA from a very specific Clayface, Cassius Clay (Clayface V).  NOTE:  Hush tries to get samples from all the known Clayfaces at this time.  Catwoman Vol. 3 #44-45 overlaps with this tale.  In these issues, Hush blackmails Catwoman into releasing Clayface VII (Todd Russell) from his STAR Labs prison.  Back to our tale, Batman breaks into Arkham and helps Cassius escape in order to get a sample of his DNA.  In the end, Alfred is saved and cleared of all murder charges when Johnny Williams dies and the GCPD realizes the truth.  Cassius escapes into the Gotham night.  And to round out this large chunk of GKs, Bruce visits the old Wayne summer cottage and discovers a stack of love letters addressed to his father, but not from his mother.  Bruce does some investigating and meets Eve Mackay, who wrote the letters.  Eve was indeed madly in love with Thomas Wayne, but Thomas rejected her because he would never cheat on Bruce's mom.

--Catwoman Vol. 3 #47-48 ("THE ONE YOU LOVE")
Catwoman has successfully handled crime in Gotham's East End without the aid of Batman for quite some time now.  However, now that Hugo Strange has assembled a team which consists of Hammer, Sickle, Captain Cold, Angle Man, Smart Bomb, and Cheetah, things are getting out of hand.  Selina convinces Professor Strange that she has once again turned to a life of crime to infiltrate the villain team.  When Smart Bomb dies, GCPD cop Sam Bradley, Jr. (Slam Bradley's son) goes undercover disguised as Smart Bomb.  Batman takes Catwoman to the Batcave to warn her that she is getting in over her head.  When Angle Man discovers that Selina is still a superhero, he assembles the team and shoots her in the stomach and stabs her in the head!  But wait, it's not really Catwoman.  It's a Clayface decoy!  (This is Todd Rusell aka Clayface VII, who is repaying a debt to Catwoman for recently breaking him out of his prison at STAR Labs).  Catwoman and Smart Bomb (Sam Bradley) then take down Strange's entire crew.

NOTE:  At a charity event, Bruce meets millionaire playboy plastic surgeon Dr. Wayne Franklin and his sister Dr. Amina Franklin.  Bruce and Amina begin dating for a brief time (as seen through flashback in Batman #659).

ANOTHER NOTE:  Batman apprehends Mad Hatter, who has just killed five different women in a sick attempt to find his "Alice" (as seen through flashback in Joker's Asylum II: Mad Hatter #1).

YET ANOTHER NOTE:  Batman apprehends attempted murderer Lazlo Rankin (as referenced in Batman #698).