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Bat-Year Sixteen Part Three. October 2004 to March 2005.
--Superman: Emperor Joker #1
--Superman Vol. 2 #161
--Adventures of Superman #583
--Superman: The Man of Steel #105
--Action Comics #770At long last, we've finally reached October 2004. A bored Mr. Mxyzptlk makes his usual visit from the 5th Dimension, but decides to give one percent of his power to the Joker just for kicks. The Joker is then able to trick Mxyptlk into revealing the imp's true name, thus stealing nearly 100% of his magical powers. Using these powers, Joker is able to re-shape the universe into whatever he pleases, and boy, it sure ain't pretty. No one remembers their true past. All the heroes are villains. All the villains are heroes. Everything is cartoon wacky. Joker becomes the evil ruling Emperor of the world. Millions die just for his amusement. Even Darkseid, Lex Luthor, and Lois Lane are made into Joker's puppets. As Joker deforms more and more of reality, the very fabric of the cosmos begins to tear asunder. Mxyzptlk is able to snap some sense into Superman, who is then able to remember the true universe and begin a counter-offensive. Meanwhile, Joker painfully sews Batman's lips shut and begins further torturing him. In fact, every night for a week Batman is mutilated, beaten, killed, and resurrected only to be persecuted again and forced to watch as Joker plays god with the universe. Joker soon tires of his games and eventually decides to end the entire universe. With the snap of his fingers, everything is quickly destroyed. Eventually, only our solar system remains, and a gigantic Joker fistfights with a gigantic Superman in the black abyss of space. Joker rips Superman's heart right out of his chest (!), but Supes is able to feed off the sun's energy to stay alive. In his dying moments, Superman tells Joker that he (Joker) wouldn't exist without Batman and that the Dark Knight constantly haunts his (Joker's) subconscious. As the Joker begins to realize this is true, millions of Batmans (Batmen?) fill the void left in the wake of the Joker's destruction. Dumbfounded by the fact that, even as a god, Batman still controls his life, Joker's power returns to Mxyzptlk. Superman, Mxy, and the Spectre are able to return space and time to the status-quo. However, they are the only three that have any memories of what has occurred. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, this week never happened. Also, Superman is forced to bear the burden of holding the emotional damage that went along with Batman's multiple deaths at the hands of the Joker during this event—the price for Spectre's assistance. In the morning, Superman insists that he and Batman check up on Joker at his new home at Slabside Metahuman Prison (The Slab) in New York. The Joker is lifeless and drooling, but keeps repeating "Emperor Joker" backwards over and over. NOTE: We must ignore the summer setting of this tale. It is October. Also, to reiterate, this story takes a week, but is erased from existence at its conclusion. Only Superman, the Spectre, and Mr. Mxyzptlk have any memories of the events of Emperor Joker. Although, Mxyzptlk decides he likes some of the Joker's "original characters" and decides to keep them alive-and-well in reality, most notably the fire-controlling femme-fatale Scorch.
NOTE: Jeremy Samuels quits his job at Wayne Enterprises (as seen through flashback in Batman #582).
--Superman Vol. 2 #162
This is primarily a Superman and Aquaman story. Bruce Wayne makes a cameo.
--Azrael: Agent of the Bat #65-67
Issue #65 supposedly takes place a month after the last Az issue. However, due to time compression, it must take place only about a week-and-a-half later. Az celebrates his birthday with Leslie Thompkins and Batman tells him the startling news that his long-lost mother may still be alive. Meanwhile, Az's former unrequited love Lilhy, now evil, returns to Gotham with the new Azrael of the Order of St. Dumas. Jean-Paul dons the new-style Azrael costume yet again and boards a plane in search of his mother, while the St. Dumas Azrael stows-away in the same plane. They start a huge brawl mid-flight, causing the plane to crash in the desert. (Jean-Paul will later find a woman who may or may not be his mother, but she dies before he can find out).
--Azrael: Agent of the Bat #70-71 ("PROPHET")
Leslie Thompkins asks Jean-Paul to go back to the desert to search for her missing missionary brother Jeremiah Thompkins. Jean-Paul does a 180 and heads straight back to where he just came from. Upon arriving overseas, Jean-Paul is immediately captured by mercenaries led by none other than Jeremiah Thompkins. Jean-Paul is also disturbed to learn that the new St. Dumas Azrael works for Jeremiah Thompkins.
Batman confronts Jeremy Samuels and tries to give his depressed friend a positive pep-talk. Less than 24 hours later, Samuels is hired (along with the Penguin) to mastermind a bank heist for the newcomer supervillain Philo Zeiss. The heist is actually nothing more than a charade designed to lure Batman to the crime scene so that Zeiss can study the Dark Knight in action. After setting up a second heist, Samuels realizes that the crime is a ruse, but unfortunately he is shot and killed by police. Zeiss leaves Gotham considering his scouting mission a complete success, and checks in with his mysterious boss (we will find out who it is later). In issue #584 two college students interview prominent Gothamites for a documentary they are filming about Batman. Both Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon ludicrously deny the existence of Batman and condemn the film. After the students interview Penguin, he tells them to talk to Two-Face at Arkham. At Arkham, a riot breaks out and Batman saves the lives of the amateur filmmakers. Issue #584 may or may not be out-of-continuity based upon the fact that it revolves heavily around the now retconned-out post-Zero Hour editorial mandate that Batman was considered to be an urban legend.
--Detective Comics #751-752 ("A WALK IN THE PARK")
Asshole Mayor Dickerson orders the GCPD to forcibly remove Poison Ivy from Robinson Park, which she has controlled ever since NML. Dickerson remarks that she has been in control of the park for over a year. This isn't true. According to his information, it would be more like seven months (although much of that time Clayface was actually in control). Meanwhile, Lucius Fox hires Sasha Bordeaux (!) as Bruce Wayne's new personal bodyguard (mainly because he is worried about Bruce's condition following Hugo Strange's attack a month prior). Bruce ducks out of his initial meeting with Sasha to deal with the tense situation at the park. Ivy has been living peacefully in the park (also keeping it lush and green even though it is November) and taking care of the orphaned kids that live with her for months now, but all the mayor sees is a crazy person illegally barricading off 30 square city blocks. Batman enters the park and convinces Ivy to send the children out. With tears in their eyes, the youths leave the only person they have ever loved. But not for long, as they quickly run back into the green. Batman tails only to witness one of the children touch Ivy. Upon the touch, the child absorbs Ivy's poisons and begins convulsing. Ivy proves she is more human than plant, and surrenders herself in order to save the dying child. Bruce then meets back up with Sasha pretending to have run off on a romantic tryst.
Ever since the death of Jeremy Samuels, Batman has had it out for Penguin, since he knows Cobblepot was involved with Zeiss. For example, Bruce Wayne had recently purchased a building that Penguin was headquartered in just so he could evict him. Penguin, feeling persecuted for no reason, takes Wayne to court. Bruce mentions that its been "over twenty years" since his parents' deaths. Odd thing to say since it's been about 34 years since his parents deaths. Anyway, Penguin loses in court and puts unsuccessful hits out on Bruce's lawyer and the residing judge. Afterward, Batman distributes winning gambling numbers to fifty people, not only ruining Penguin's casino racket, but bankrupting the crime-lord as well!
--Azrael: Agent of the Bat #72-75 ("LOSSES")
Jean-Paul has been M.I.A. for almost a month now and Oracle is worried. Jeremiah Thompkins and his evil Azrael show up in Gotham and start killing people. Meanwhile, Jean-Paul is able to escape and rushes to meet with Oracle and Batman to debrief them about Jeremiah and the bad Az. Batman is able to apprehend Jeremiah, but the bad Az escapes. Concurrently, Lilhy shoots Jean-Paul, but it's only a flesh wound. Shortly thereafter, bad Az breaks Jeremiah out of jail. Back in the Batcave, Bruce gives Jean-Paul yet ANOTHER new Azrael costume and sends him after the villains. Jean-Paul, who is still in love with Lilhy even though she just shot him, saves her life from bad Az. In their subsequent battle, bad Az is killed. Jeremiah flees to fight another day.
NOTE: Lex Luthor makes Talia the head of his corporate empire (as seen in Action Comics #773) because he is elected President of the United States of America (!) (as seen in Superman Vol. 2 #164). Talia goes by the clever name of Talia Head.
--Azrael: Agent of the Bat #76
Jean-Paul moves to the small town of Ossaville to live in a castle previously owned by the Order of St. Dumas. Bruce sends Harold to help him with the old fixer-upper. When a biker gang invades Ossaville, Jean-Paul protects his little village.
--Batman: Gotham Knights #12
Someone is mugging and beating handicapped people in Gotham. Barbara visits Alfred at Wayne Manor and together they scour the evidence and figure out who the culprit is. The mugger is a construction boss who holds a grudge against the disabled ever since he was forced to pay a bunch of his employees' medical bills when they lost their limbs in a work-related accident. In order to lure out the bad guy, Barbara goes on live TV and claims that she is filing a lawsuit against both Wayne Tech and her father. The lawsuit involves compensation for her crippling injuries received at the hands of the Joker years ago. Babs explains that her father's line of work put her in danger and that Wayne Tech's Arkham security systems were inadequate. It's funny how both of these things are true, even though Babs doesn't mean them. The handicap-mugger shows up to wail on Babs and she socks him one in the gut before the police arrest him. NOTE: The B&W second feature by Dave Gibbons is non-canon. This is a 70s Silver Age-style story about the "Black and White Bandit" Roscoe Chiara who has a pet dalmatian, rides a zebra, and sometimes dresses up like a nun when committing crimes. I really wish this was canon, but it really isn't.
Penguin kills Batman! And then he kills Bruce Wayne! Wait, that doesn't make any sense. Oh, it was all a dream! A dream story!? What was the point, Brubaker?
--Detective Comics #753
A doctor at Arkham Asylum reads a comic book that Two-Face made in art therapy. Apparently Two-Face had both the time and talent to script, pencil, ink, letter, and color his masterpiece. Thus, we are treated to the amazing Adventures of Copernicus Dent With His Best Girl and Plucky Assistant R'Nee in the Janus Double-Down! graphic novella. That's all I'm going to say about this one.
--Batman/Scarface: A Psychodrama
Alan Grant examines the origins of the Ventriloquist and Scarface. It's already been hinted that Scarface may be more than just a dummy. Carved from an old gallows tree, Scarface might have evil spirits housed within his wooden body. Or maybe the Ventriloquist is just a crazy-ass psycho? Nope, Scarface finally reveals that he is a sentient life-form of his own. He runs around and talks on his own for the first time ever! The little bastard can't venture far from Arnold Wesker for very long as they are metaphysically linked. Over time, Scarface will break his metaphysical link to Wesker and eventually, the evil dummy will be able to roam free-range.
--Batman: The Ankh #1-2
Immortal ancient Egyptian Khatera Thal teams-up with Killer Croc and commits a series of robberies and kidnappings in Gotham. After Khatera begins turning dead people into mummies, Croc kidnaps Robin. Before Khatera can suck Robin's brains out through his nasal cavity, Batman makes the save and busts Croc. The Dark Knight is able to reason with Khatera and even goes so far as to give her a Wayne Enterprises research grant. Khatera will eventually discover a "cure" to her immortality (which she considers a curse) and assimilate into modern society.
--Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #164-167 ("GODS OF GOTHAM")
The Greek Gods are running wild in Gotham. Phobos, God of Fear, has taken over Scarecrow's body. Eris, Goddess of Discord, has taken over Poison Ivy's body. And Deimos, God of Terror, has taken over Joker's body. Using Maxie Zeus as their pawn, they have amassed a devoted cult. Batman and Huntress charge in to battle, but are quickly outmatched. Much to chagrin of the Dark Knight, Wonder Woman and Artemis arrive to assist them. Eventually, the heroes are joined by Nightwing, Donna Troy, Wonder Girl, and Robin, who all watch in horror as the Gods begin to open a dimensional rift with which to usher in their all-powerful father, Ares, God of War. After a huge melee and the near death of Maxie Zeus (who takes a sacrificial sword in the face that was intended for Harley Quinn, but somehow miraculously survives), Phobos decides Batman would make a better human host that Scarecrow and takes possession of the Dark Knight. The ultimate God of Fear, dressed in a Batman costume, descends upon Gotham and chaos reigns as Ares makes his dramatic entrance onto the mortal plane. The heroes, however, band together and defeat the three children of Ares. Ares is so disappointed in his kids, he banishes them away, releasing their human hosts. Before Ares can then take over the entire planet, Wonder Woman reasons with him and convinces him to leave. All the villains are apprehended, except Harley, who gets away clean.
--Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood #1-3, Part 1
After a mobster is found dead with an arrow in his chest, Huntress is the prime suspect. When yet another arrow murder occurs, Batman and Nightwing go after Huntress and a fight ensues. Huntress manages to (accidentally) shoot Batman in the belly with an arrow, so Nightwing knocks her unconscious into the Gotham River. A day later a bruised Huntress wakes up in Canada courtesy of the Question and Richard Dragon.
--Second Feature from Batman: Gotham Knights #13 (Batman: Black & White)
This is a B&W second feature to Gotham Knights #13 by the legendary Harlan Ellison! Some would-be counterfeiters think they have outsmarted the Dark Knight. However, after going undercover and infiltrating their operation, the Caped Crusader has printed himself the last laugh. If you look under a microscope at the back of the fake hundred dollar bills you will see in one of the windows of the common house a tiny waving Batman with the inscription "You are so busted."
--Arkham Asylum: Living Hell #1
Warren White aka "The Great White Shark" has just committed the largest act of stock fraud in the history of the United States. He thinks he's getting away with one when he pleads insanity in a Gotham courtroom. Unfortunately for White, insane people in Gotham wind up in Arkham. White is terrorized by just about every Arkham inmate upon his arrival. The only person that seems to be offering help to White is a young therapist, who reveals herself to be the homicidal chameleon-like Jane Doe. After busting first time offender Doodlebug, Batman crashes into Arkham and exposes Jane Doe, who has been impersonating the murdered therapist for the past two months.
--Batman: Gotham Knights #15
(This issue takes place before Gotham Knights #13-14). Robin is worried that his relationship with Batman isn't secure since there are so many Bat-family members as of late. When Poison Ivy escapes from Arkham and threatens a group of businesspeople, including Tim's dad and his new stepmom, the Dynamic Duo are on the case. Batman allows Robin to handle the situation and the Boy Wonder saves the day. Batman tells Robin that he has total faith in him causing the latter to regain peace of mind regarding his spot on the team. The B&W second feature of this issue takes place here and now as well. In this short tale child-abductor Prave is killed after falling off a building during an altercation with the Dark Knight. Before entering the afterlife, Prave is haunted by hundreds of Batmen.
--Arkham Asylum: Living Hell #2-6
Warren White has is still being tormented and tortured by his fellow Arkham inmates, from the famous (Killer Croc, Joker, Two-Face, etc...) to the unknown (Lunkhead, Death Rattle, Junkyard Dog, etc...). Things get pretty bad until Humpty Dumpty takes White under his wing and protects him. When Doodlebug bribes a guard to let him into Magpie's cell (remember Magpie?) for a little bit of the ol' in-out-in-out, a few wrong doors get opened thanks to the guard, who happens to be Jane Doe in disguise yet again. Before you know it, all of the inmates are released and a full-scale riot begins! And the riot includes villains we haven't seen in years! I've already mentioned Magpie, but we also see the Mime and Pagan as well! Meanwhile, Poison Ivy and Magpie retreat into the catacombs beneath Arkham where they find a pile of corpses and Occult etchings scratched onto cave walls. NOTE: Supposedly, the corpses and Occult shit down there were leftover by Dr. Jeremiah Arkham's crazy ancestor who originally ran the nuthouse long, long ago. This is an error by writer Dan Slott (or a poor retcon attempt by DC editors) because we all know that Arkham moved to its current home at Mercey Mansion and is no longer at its original location. Therefore, we must assume that the corpses and Occult shit underneath Mercey Mansion have been left behind by the original Mercey family (which actually makes more sense anyway). Moving on, the corpses come to life and zombies are thrown into the mix! Concurrently, Jason Blood/Etrigan senses the uprising of undead while aiding Harvey Bullock on a murder investigation across town. Etrigan busts his way into Arkham but is subdued by the demon-possessed zombies and their master, the demon Cthugha, who has possessed the body of the now deceased Doodlebug. Turns out that Etrigan had trapped this bunch of demons underneath Mercey Mansion years ago. Meanwhile, White is locked in a freezer and his frostbitten nose, lips, and ears literally fall off of his face. The Joker flees Arkham and decides to murder anyone whose name is a palindrome. He kills Nora Baron, but Batman is able to stop him from killing Allen Evenella. Get it? Back in the catacombs beneath Arkham, Cthugha turns Ivy, Magpie, Killer Croc, and Scarecrow into mutated monster-versions of themselves. Etrigan, Jeremiah Arkham, head of security Aaron Cash, and the now deformed White all help send Cthugha back to Hell. Batman arrives on the scene too late to assist. White already looks scary with no lips, no nose, and no ears, but he gets his teeth sharpened to boot. He's finally not only worthy of being called a true Arkham supervillain, but also worthy of his nickname, "The Great White Shark."
--Second Feature from Batman: Gotham Knights #17 (Batman: Black & White)
Bruce, along with his fellow executives, takes a meditation class with a yoga master. Bruce has long since been able to reach an enlightened state through meditation, but pretends that he doesn't get it (because he's playing Bruce Wayne). Back at the cave Bruce tests his ability to block out auditory distractions while doing complex detailed tech work.
--Detective Comics #787
This issue of 'tec is way out of order, but it comes with an editor's note placing it here. Mad Hatter breaks out of Arkham and kidnaps his primary care doctor and Dr. Kirk Langstrom. After brainwashing Dr. Langstrom into creating a serum which turns his doc into a real-life Jabberwock, Batman is able to battle the monster, revert it back into a human, save Langstrom, and defeat the Hatter.
--Birds of Prey #27
--Catwoman Vol. 2 #90
--Nightwing Vol. 2 #53
--Detective Comics #754
--Batman: Gotham Knights #13The Commish celebrates his birthday (November 29) at a bar with Gotham's finest. En route to meet up with Babs, Gordon gets in a confrontation with recently escaped-from-jail Catwoman. Gordon is shot three times in the back and immediately rushed to the hospital. Naturally, Catwoman, who has sworn revenge upon Gordon and kidnapped him a couple months ago, becomes the primary suspect. Batman sends the entire Bat-family (Nightwing, Robin, Azrael, and Batgirl) after Catwoman. Catwoman's new buddy Harley Quinn leads them astray for a bit, but the Bat-family quickly captures and interrogates Selina. She tells them it was a cop who shot Gordon. After some investigative work, Oracle finds out that rogue cop Jordan Reynolds (aka Jordan Rich) is the culprit. Meanwhile, Batman and Alfred get in an argument about Bruce's "childish" behavior and Alfred quits (although he is in our next Batgirl story, but we'll address that when we get to it). The GCPD get a confession out of Reynolds, a former mobster who was busted by Gordon two decades ago in Chicago. (In the confusing aftermath of NML, Reynolds was able to join the police force under a fake name). Unfortunately, the confession is off-the-record and Reynolds walks free. Gordon then makes a miraculous comic book-speed recovery and is up and about extremely quickly. However, hobbled with a cane and severely dejected, Gotham's top lawman has had enough. James Gordon officially retires and Michael Akins becomes the new commissioner! Rucka ends "Officer Down" brilliantly as Montoya breaks into Reynolds' apartment to kill him, but Bullock follows her and talks her down. After Montoya leaves, Bullock taps into his darker street resources and is able to arrange for Reynold's murder! Really good stuff. We can already see Rucka setting the GCPD characters up for award-winning material (and deservedly so).
--Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood #3
Midway through issue #3 picks up a week after Huntress is transported to Canada. Huntress trains both her body and mind with the master sensei Richard Dragon. This training will go on for the next three months.
Batgirl completed her first solo mission right before the events of "Officer Down." However, Batman is upset because Batgirl was unable to save an innocent man's life during the case. Batman shows up at Oracle's apartment to bitch out Batgirl, but Barbara stops him from doing so. Instead, the duo heads out to rescue a mobster's daughter who has been kidnapped because of incriminating evidence hidden inside her teddy bear. Batgirl encounters and defeats her first metahuman opponent and saves the child, while Batman retrieves the evidence (a video tape). Back at the cave, Bruce is stunned when he plays the movie. The tape shows a seven year-old Cassandra committing cold-blooded murder. While Batman and Alfred debate over what they have seen, Batgirl is out beating crime to a pulp. She manages to save a random metahuman named Jeffers, who in turn uses his psychic powers to reorganize Batgirl's brain, giving her the ability to speak! When supervillain Ezra attacks, Batgirl realizes that the power to speak has come with a price; she's lost her expert fighting abilities! After the quickest trip ever to Macau to interrogate David Cain, Batman quickly returns to Gotham when he learns that Jeffers has a price on his head and dozens of assassins are after him. After meeting up with Batgirl, Batman takes Jeffers into the woods outside of Gotham and successfully holds off a swarm of killers. Batgirl, without her marital arts superiority, is shot three times. She survives, and under the care of Leslie Thompkins will soon make a miraculously speedy recovery. NOTE: The last time we saw Alfred (during "Officer Down"), he got in an argument with Bruce and quit! He's in this tale, but he definitely did quit, so we must assume that this Batgirl story-arc occurs before Alfred literally packs up and takes off. I should also mention that while Alfred quits his post at Wayne Manor, he remains loyal to Tim and continues to chaperon him at Brentwood Academy.
NOTE: Batman begins recording a hologram video of himself teaching martial arts maneuvers specifically for Batgirl (as referenced in Batgirl #7).
When a family unwittingly opens an ancient text the wicked Queen of Fables is released from a magical prison. The Queen transforms all of NYC into a gigantic enchanted forest filled with monsters. Meanwhile, fairytale characters from books and TV begin coming to life all over the world. While the JLA deals with the insanity, recently ousted former teammate Batman discovers the source of the chaos lies in the magical ancient text. When he opens the book, both he and the JLA are sucked into another dimension where they learn a shocking truth. The Queen and Snow White were actual human beings that existed in medieval Europe! In order to atone for the horrors wrought upon so many innocent people due simply to the Queen's jealousy of her, Snow White was able to magically erase both their existences from actual history and turn their lives into a fictional fairy tale. The Queen's "army of fairy tales" rages across the country and gives the JLA a run for its money until the team is able to magically trap the Queen in a substitute text (non-fiction this time), a US tax code manual. Afterward, the JLA members argue about whether or not the team needs Batman back in the lineup. After a struggle against Doctor Destiny, Superman then visits Batman and explains to him the negative effect that the latter's betrayal and expulsion have had on the team. Batman agrees that he needs to regain the entire team's trust. Later, Batman reveals his secret identity to the rest of the team and is accepted back into the JLA! Kinda. More like the team finds out each others' secret identities (including Superman's) when their powerless alter-egos show up out of nowhere. After some tension, the Leaguers realize that their doppelgangers aren't malicious. Every member of the JLA can now focus on crime-fighting full time, while their secret identities are able to fulfill their civilian obligations unlike ever before. For example, "Bruce" stops ducking out of meetings and even finishes his sexy dates! Unconicidentally, the supernatural force known as Id (unrelated to other versions of Id we've encountered before) is granting wishes to average everyday people all over the US, which is definitely not a good thing. Metamorpho's son wishes for his father to be "back" which brings Metamorpho back from the dead! At the same time, the 6th Dimensional race known as the Cathexis arrive and explain that Id has escaped from their capture and is responsible for the splitting of the JLAers' secret identities into alternate people. Turns out, Superman had made the wish. The Cathexis begin righting the wrongs done by Id and start by taking Metamorpho's son's words literally, thus returning Metamorpho to the grave. The JLAers begin to realize that they need their alternate personalities to balance their lives and to make their superhero personas effective. After cornering Id, the Cathexis reveal they are on the same side as Id and betray the heroes, easily defeating the stunned JLA. With the JLA decimated, only their pathetic powerless secret identities remain. The Cathexis begin toying with them by further splitting up their personalities (i.e. Aquaman becomes two people, a human mammal and an amphibian). When they split up Wonder Woman she becomes a human mammal and the godlike spirit of truth. However, Wonder Woman's spirit form is able to reveal the "truth" in the secret identities, restoring the status quo. Back in full form, the JLA destroys Id and sends the Cathexis packing.
--Superman Vol. 2 #165
Batman is back in the Justice League, although he hasn't regained anyone's trust since he didn't purposefully reveal his secret identity to anyone. It came out by accident during the crisis with Id and the Cathexis. In this Christmas story Superman meets with each JLAer to discuss their feelings regarding President-elect Lex Luthor. Batman says that he will take down Luthor when the time is right. NOTE: Aquaman is stupid enough to support Luthor's presidency because he believes the president's campaign promise to offer public support to Atlantis.
Its been "a few weeks" since Batgirl was shot—more like a week or two at the most. Since regaining the power of speech, Batgirl has lost significant combat ability. Batman wallops Cassie in a training match and tells her she's not ready to return to combat yet. Batman gives Cassie the training video that he's been working on and tells her to view it. After a day of watching, Cassie duels with Batman again and again gets her butt kicked and sent back to video room. After delivering another humbling beat-down to Cassie in the Batcave, the Dark Knight leaves for a few days on unspecified business and orders Cassie to stay out of trouble while he's gone. Of course, Cassie puts on a black outfit and some face-paint and hits the streets to play vigilante. Cassie is surprised to discover that Lady Shiva is in town.
Since regaining the power of speech, Batgirl has lost significant combat ability. Batman and Oracle put her into an intense training program with the more than capable Lady Shiva.
NOTE: Lex Luthor is inaugurated as the President of the United States of America. Clark Kent's childhood friend Pete Ross is Vice President. Ross is married to another childhood friend of Clark's, Lana Lang.
--Superman: Lex 2000 #1, Part 2
Batman secretly visits President Luthor and threatens him. Luthor warns Batman that all of the US government's resources are now at his disposal and that he had better back off. Batman leaves, but tells Luthor that he will be back for the Kryptonite ring. NOTE: Any mention of Luthor's "Lex 2000" campaign slogan should be retconned to "Lex 2004."
--Justice Leagues: JL? #1
--Justice Leagues: Justice League of Atlantis #1
--Justice Leagues: Justice Leauge of Arkham #1
--Justice Leagues: JLA #1Alien invaders use the telepathic supervillain Hector Hammond to make everyone in the world forget that the JLA ever existed. However, each JLA member winds up creating their own JLA team to fill the void. Superman and J'onn form the JL of Aliens. Wonder Woman forms the JL of Amazons. Aquaman forms the JL of Atlantis. Flash forms the JL of Adventure. Plastic Man forms the JL of Anarchy. Zauriel forms the JL of Apostles. Green Lantern forms the JL of Air. And Batman forms the JL of Arkham. Batman's team consists of Nightwing, Catwoman, Joker, Riddler, Ventriloquist, Scarface, and Poison Ivy. The JL of Arkham is able to stop Advance Man from poisoning all of Gotham, but afterward the villains turn on Batman and are left to their own devious devices. Eventually, the status quo is returned and the alien invasion is thwarted as the real Justice League of America re-forms.
--Batman: Room Full of Strangers
In this Harvey award-nominated one-shot by Scott Morse, recently retired Jim Gordon takes a much needed vacation to a seaside resort. When two dead bodies wash ashore, Gordon's cop instincts kick in and he solves the murder mystery. Batman is waiting in the wings, even when Gordon leaves for vacation, to protect his good friend during this case.
--Detective Comics #755
It's mid-January. Sasha Bordeaux has been Bruce Wayne's bodyguard for exactly 106 days (roughly three months), although you wouldn't know it since Bruce avoids her with such ease that we have barely seen her. Bruce's bizarre behavior and elusiveness has finally started to make Sasha suspicious, but of what she has no idea. Bruce and Sasha attend Jim Gordon's retirement dinner. Every Gotham cop is in attendance. Remeber Kitch from a few years back? He's now working in criminal defense. Nice reference to a character that disappeared for no good reason. Anyway, Tommy Mangles shows up to mess with the proceedings, but a zillion cops easily take care of the second-stringer. However, Two-Face shows up and he's no second-stringer. Surprisingly, Two-Face flips his coin and it lands good-side up. Instead of killing Gordon, Two-Face makes a moving speech about his good friend and a lost partnership that ended far too soon. Two-Face then hugs Gordon and goes back to Arkham quietly and calmly.
--Batman: Gotham Knights #14
Azrael, who is sporting yet another new costume, does some male-bonding with Nightwing in Blüdhaven as they retrieve some stolen charity money from Double Dare, acrobatic French supervillain sisters. Penguin had originally stolen the loot, only to have it stolen by Double Dare. NOTE: For anyone wondering about the awesome Paul Dini "kissing contest" story which takes place in the B&W second feature of this issue, it is non-canon as it takes place in the DCU Animated Universe.
--Superman Vol. 2 #168
The first part of this story which involves Krypto the Superdog must be retconned out. While Krypto is indeed a canonical character, his appearance here has been officially retconned out by DC editors due to the re-scripting of the Dog of Steel's origins a few years later. Moving forward, Batman and Lois Lane covertly infiltrate the White House in an attempt to steal President Luthor's Kryptonite Ring. After successfully getting past tight security, Batman and Lois run right into the middle of someone they least expected to be there, Superman! PS. Bruce now owns the most famous Metropolis newspaper, The Daily Planet.
--Detective Comics #756
Picking up right where Superman Vol. 2 #168 leaves off, Batman and Lois have just sneaked into the White House in an attempt to steal President Luthor's Kryptonite ring. However, Superman is in their way defending truth, justice, and the American way even if it is the Lex Luthor way. Batman and Superman have an epic battle all throughout the White House until Batman snatches the ring from the Oval Office. As Batman grabs the ring Luthor and his Secret Servicemen bust in to detain him. Superman gives the ring back to Luthor who opens its lead-lined case exposing the Kryptonite to the Man of Steel. Supes is just fine, proving that Batman's ring was actually the ringer. After searching Lois, the legit ring is discovered and tested on Supes. He cries out in pain when exposed to the emerald jewelry. Superman then escorts Batman and Lois off the premises. Why aren't they arrested? Who knows. Anyway, Lois is upset because her plan failed, but Batman and Superman smirk. It was all an act. The fight in the White House was a setup. The heroes have the real ring. Superman pretended to be in pain when exposed to the fake. Supes then explains how he was able to withstand the real deal saying, "I knew it was coming. He'd held it on me any longer I'd probably have passed out." Meanwhile, Sasha Bordeaux searches through Bruce's belongings and discovers something very revealing; Batarangs. Uh oh.
--Batman 80 Page Giant 2010 #1, Part 3
It's a leap year (February 29) and thus, Calendar Man is actin' crazy! He's once again shaved his head and in the process of attempting a daring escape from Arkham, he beats up Funland! Batman shows up in time to calm Julian Day, who is escorted back to his cell. I've placed this story here because Batman's costume fits with the times and the appearance of Aaron Cash seems like an appropriate indicator as well. Oh and for anyone wondering, the serial-killer known as Funland is a Neil Gaiman character from The Sandman!
NOTE: The flashback that occurs in Batman & Superman: World's Finest #10, Part 2 occurs now. Bruce and Clark attend the wedding of Harrison Gray. The annual Springtime meetings between Batman and Superman come to an end.
--Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood #3-6
The last five pages of issue #3 take place at the very end of Huntress' three month training period in Canada. Huntress reveals her detailed origin story to the Question on the way back to Gotham. When Huntress and the Question arrive in the city they find Batman waiting for them in Helena's apartment. Batman tells Helena that he knows she is innocent of murder, and that she must clear her name by finding the true killer. I love when Batman doesn't want to work a case and sends people who annoy him on special missions. He does this a lot with Huntress and Azrael. Huntress discovers that mobster Santo Cassamento is responsible for framing her, so she goes to shake him down. Unfortunately, Huntress learns that Cassamento is also responsible for her the death of her entire family. Furthermore, Huntress learns that Cassamento is her biological father! Cassamento hates Huntress because when he was putting out the hit on her family, he meant to spare Helena's mother who he was deeply in love with. However, the hitman erroneously spared Helena instead, thus forever earning her Cassamento's wrath. The final issue of this story-arc turns into Rucka's version of The Godfather. Helena visits the don on a mob wedding day and asks of him a favor which he cannot refuse. After some wheeling and dealing, Helena is able to orchestrate the assassination of Cassamento, while keeping her hands ivory clean.
--Superboy Vol. 3 #85
Superboy visits Gotham to hang out with Robin, but winds up teaming-up with Batgirl to defeat Dr. Sin. Batman is not happy that Batgirl was fraternizing with Boy of Steel.
--Batman: Death Mask #1-4
It's debatable whether or not this 2008 series co-published by DC and its manga branch CMX is canon, but if it is it goes here because it definitely post NML and takes place twenty years after Bruce's training period in Japan before becoming Batman. In our story Bruce meets Jiro Agurama (head of a large Japanese corporation)—he's called "Jiro" in issue #1 but "Shiro" in issue #4. He also re-meets staffer Aya Himemaya, whom he had met previously under an assumed name while training in Japan twenty years ago. Meanwhile, a serial killer has been slicing people’s faces off on the behalf of Agurama, who plans on simultaneously taking over Gotham's underworld and selling traditional magickal Japanese masks as a new street drug—the masks require sliced-off faces to activate them. At an Agurama sponsored art show about traditional Japanese masks, one of the guests puts one on, goes crazy, and winds up with no face. Bruce meets the face-slicer, a man wearing a tengu-like oniyasha mask, which represents the vindictive Japanese demon known as an oni. Bruce is shocked because he’s met this man before during what he thought was a hallucination of an oni demon while training in Japan twenty years ago. Bruce never thought the experience was real, but now he’s not so sure. Aya joins forces with Batman, revealing herself as the superhero "Oniyuri." Aya explains that her family was killed years ago and Agurama was involved, but she never found out the truth. Now she seeks it. Across town, Agurama is murdered by his hired face-slicer, who reveals himself to be Kurosaki, a man who had been tempted by Agurama years ago and sold his soul to the oni curse by wearing the tengu mask. Kurosaki became the human host for an actual oni demon and wound up killing Aya's family. Batman and Aya soon find themselves in a heated battle with Kurosaki. During the fight the "curse of the oniyasha" kicks-in and sends Batman, in dark spirit demon form, back twenty years to Japan where he faces the younger version of himself in combat! Hence, the weird "hallucination!" Kurosaki eventually surrenders to Aya, who gets ready to kill him. Batman stops her, saying that she will become the new host for the oni if she does. The oni demon is expelled from Kurosaki and disappears. The building then goes kaboom and Kurosaki dies. The next day, Bruce and Aya part ways.
(Robin #85-86 take place before issue #84). Young Justice member Lagoon Boy has a giant male pet sea monster named Spotty. Spotty impregnates a giant female stray sea monster that lives in Gotham Harbor. The giant female sea monster kidnaps a bunch of people to use as incubators for its eggs. One of these people is Robin. (Why does Robin keep getting kidnapped lately? Maybe he has lost focus since his relationship with Spoiler is going down the tubes.) Batman grows concerned after Tim is missing for two days and consults Spoiler in an attempt to locate the Boy Wonder.
While Robin is missing during his sea monster adventure, Batman takes Spoiler under his wing and gives her a ride in the Batmobile and shows her the Batcave. Worried about Robin, Batman tells Spoiler Robin's secret identity (!) so that she can better assist in locating him. Eventually Robin returns and when he discovers that Batman has told Spoiler his secret, Robin is furious. In fact, Robin is so irate he storms out of the cave and refuses to speak to both Bruce or Stephanie. Robin resigns from his post as Batman's sidekick! Tim then tries to cool his head by taking Alfred's advice and heading to Spring Break with his friends from school. At Virginia Beach, Tim gets involved in an altercation with the Kobra Cult, which then takes him to the Himalayas. Meanwhile, Batman and Batgirl begin training Spoiler to be a more effective crime-fighter.