Modern Age (YEAR SIXTEEN) Part Two

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Bat-Year Sixteen Part Two is the most compressed section on our entire chronology so far.  This entire section comprises only the two final weeks of September 2004.  Really.

--Superman Vol. 2 #157
--The Adventures of Superman #579
--Superman: The Man of Steel #101
--Action Comics #766
When Braniac-13 attacked Metropolis two weeks ago, amidst the chaos and confusion, Lois Lane was kidnapped and replaced by the shapeshifting Parasite.  Superman, who has been suffering from a severe case of Kryptonite radiation poisoning, finally realizes that his wife is missing and enlists Batman to aid in her rescue.  I should note that, originally, Parasite had replaced Lois for four months! However, due to time compression, in our chronology Lois would have only been replaced for about two weeks.  We should also disregard any internal dates mentioned in this story-arc as it definitely, without a doubt, late-September.  Moving on, Batman drags the near lifeless Superman along on the investigation.  Eventually, Supes and Bats find Lois alive and well, but Superman succumbs to the radiation poisoning and dies!  (Okay, he doesn't really die, but he almost does!)

NOTE:  On Monday of this week (which overlaps with "The Search For Lois") Batman battles the Triads in Chinatown (as seen in Detective Comics #743).

--Batman: Gotham Knights #1
When a Senator and his wife are found dead in their home, their young son Barrett is the only witness.  Batman, Robin, and Nightwing investigate some Xosha gang members who lived with the Senator during NML.  But in the end, Batman is floored when he discovers the truth.  Barrett killed mom and dad because "they bugged [him]."  Also, Wayne Manor is rebuilt and Batman brings a prominent political candidate to justice after the politician impregnates and then murders a prostitute.  If you haven't guessed, Gotham Knights is going to be a dark book that don't pull no punches.

--Batman #575
Gotham's new rapid transit system is still under construction, but it is already running to most parts of the city.  Buildings are sprouting like flowers in Spring.  The new federal building is the centerpiece of the new Gotham high-rise skyline.  Things are slowly getting better, but the fanatical vigilante known as The Banner is still pissed off at the US government for having abandoned Gotham during NML.  Thus, the Banner aims to destroy the new federal building.  Batman teams-up with FBI Agent Leary and prevents the terrorist act from happening.

NOTE: Batman meets debuting superhero Savant during a wave of arson fires (as seen via flashback in Birds of Prey #58). Batman does not approve and voices his opinion harshly. Savant, taken aback, will switch sides and become a super-villain. (He will eventually switch again and join the Birds of Prey, but that's not for a few years). This flashback is supposed to take place four years before the time period where "Hush" occurs and Azrael dies. However, it more correctly takes place roughly two years before instead.

--Batgirl #1
Seventeen year-old Cassandra Cain is Batgirl.  She's been training with Batman ever since the end of NML and now shares an apartment with Oracle.  Together Batman and Batgirl are quickly becoming the new scourge of the underworld in Gotham.  But what is her true origin story?  We know assassin David Cain raised and taught Cassandra to be an unstoppable martial artist by training her in isolation and depriving her of human speech as an infant.  But is he really her father?  Only David Cain knows for sure.  And David Cain also knows a terrible secret and has a home movie which shows the truth.  In the decade-old film, a very young Cassandra kills several men with her bare hands.  What will Batman think when he finds out the details of Cassandra's childhood?

NOTE:  On Tuesday of this week Batman battles the Colombian Mob (as seen in Detective Comics #743).

--Batman: Turning Points #5
Former criminal Dr. Hale Corbett (remember him from way back in Bat-Year Five?) has returned to Gotham and sends a message to Batman and Gordon saying that he "owes [them]."  After Corbett activates a fake Bat-signal, Batman and Gordon rush to the scene and prepare for the worst.  However, when they get there, Corbett is with his new wife and child and simply wants to thank the two men who changed his life for the better.  NOTES:  New GCPD Chief Michael Akins debuts here.  Also, the Gotham Zoo has reopened in this issue, which seems unbelievable considering NML ended only weeks ago, but whatever.

NOTE:  The cheesy Larry Hama villain known as Orca debuts and steals a diamond necklace from Bruce Wayne's evil acquaintance Camille Baden-Smyth  (as seen in flashback from Batman #579).  Orca is an anthropomorphic female killer whale with human limbs that would be better suited battling the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Camille Baden-Smyth is like the younger female version of Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.

--Batman: Gotham Knights #2
The human-trafficker known as Raton kidnapped a bunch of people during NML and now is attempting to sell his captives on the Arabian human-slave trade.  It's an untraceable crime since all of his victims are presumed dead due to having been missing for so long during NML.  But Batman and Batgirl are able to trace the untraceable and stop Raton.  Batman and Batgirl are also able to save the missing persons from a sinking ship.  In this tale's conclusion Batman convinces Batgirl that every mission need not be a suicide mission.

NOTE:  On Wednesday of this week Batman battles the Odessa Mob (as seen in Detective Comics #743).

--Batman #576-577
The Larry Hama one-shot era has begun, and boy is it lame.  When international terrorist Cipher kidnaps a young Arab prince using a Blackhawk helicopter, an elite group of soldiers, and Wayne Enterprises tracking technology, Batman is on the case.  Using high tech Wayne Enterprises satellite technology of his own, Batman is able to rescue the prince.  In issue #577 Alfred has the Batcave up-and-running again, but due to the tectonic shifting which occurred during "Cataclysm," the Batcave is now opened up to the remnants of the old Gotham storm drain system, which itself connects to the city's labyrinthian sewage system.  (This isn't all that shocking to Batman since the cave has always been connected to the old Gotham subway system).  What is shocking to Batman; Allie, a young blind girl that has a dozens of pet alligators, has been living in the drain system for an undetermined amount of time, probably since NML.  While Batman chats with Allie, a trio of thieves tries to rob the newly built Wayne Manor by accessing the basement through the drain system.  After breaking through, the thieves quickly realize that the basement of Wayne Manor is the Batcave and that Bruce Wayne is Batman!  The leader of the thieves kills her two partners and tries to escape through the sewers with the most valuable information of all; Batman's secret identity.  Unluckily for her, she runs into Allie and becomes dinner for a hungry alligator.

NOTE:  On Thursday of this week, Batman battles the Sicilian Mob (as seen in Detective Comics #743).

--Second Feature from Batman: Gotham Knights #4 (Batman: Black & White)
Another B&W short.  When a petty criminal is apprehended by Batman, he writes his mom an excited fanboy postcard from his jail cell telling her that he met the famous superhero while traveling in Gotham.

NOTE:  The flashback from Batman: Gotham Knights #8 happens now.  Supposedly, this takes place six months before the events of the "Transference" storyline.  However, this isn't possible (or necessary for that matter) since six months ago would be smack dab in the middle of the "Road to NML."  This flashback should more appropriately take place six days before "Transference."  In this flashback Hugo Strange has returned to Gotham for the first time in ten years.  He captures Catwoman and interrogates her about the secret identity of Batman. 

--Detective Comics #743-746 ("EVOLUTION")
Greg Rucka's epic 'tec run begins!  After battling the Burnley Massive crime syndicate Bruce attends the grand reopening of the Gotham Library and meets new Mayor Daniel Dickerson.  He also meets the seductive and sultry Whisper A'Daire, who is secretly one of Ra's Al Ghul's top agents.  While on patrol Batman encounters another one of Al Ghul's top agents, Kyle Abbot, who blows up a building.  What are Al Ghul's agents up to?  They are trying to start a huge gang war between all of the new post-NML crime elements in Gotham.  As Whisper and Abbot manipulate and murder their way to the top of the Gotham gangs, they even are able to influence the new mayor.  As Batman tries to slow their efforts he learns a shocking bit of information.  Whisper and Abbot are senior-citizens, but don't show any signs of their true age due to a designer drug they both ingest.  The side effects?  Whisper has a forked tongue, spits venom, sheds her skin, and has the DNA of a king cobra.  Abbot, on the other hand, can turn into a full-fledged werewolf.  Whisper and Abbot plan to distribute the highly addictive drug all over the country using their newly gained crime connections, thus turning America into a hotbed of raving animal-creatures.  Al Ghul's plan is thwarted when the leader of the Triads, Ekin Tzu (who sprouts eagle wings after being given the drug), turns on Whisper.  NOTE:  Both Green Lantern Vol. 3 #125 and Gotham Knight's "Samsara" overlaps with this story, as does the following note and Batman: Gotham City Secret Files & Origins #1.

--Green Lantern Vol. 3 #125
Kyle Rayner misses a JLA meeting and, as punishment, is ordered by the Big Three to use his power ring to excavate beneath the surface of the Moon and begin construction on some new basement levels for the Watchtower.  After some digging Kyle discovers a secret alien tomb that becomes active with deadly protective robotic guards.  After defeating the robots, Kyle defeats a giant ancient alien that had been in suspended animation for god knows how long and secures the tomb.

--Batman: Gotham Knights #3-4 ("SAMSARA")
When an eight year-old boy dies in a car accident, his spirit gets stuck in a Hindu reincarnation loop known as Samsara.  His spirit travels from corpse to corpse in an effort to reunite with his mother.  After sending Killer Croc back to Arkham, Batman encounters a dozen or so zombie corpses possessed by the aforementioned boy's soul.  When Batman figures out what is going on, he is able to convince the spirit that the latter is truly dead and must let his parents live in peace without his earthly presence.  Thus, the karmic loop is broken.

NOTE:  Commissioner Gordon is demoted (as a result of the mayor's involvement in corruption) and Chief Inspector Vane takes his place as commissioner.  While Vane is in charge, Dr. Simon Hurt decides the time is right to unleash his three substitute Batmen, who have been in constant training for the past nine years.  Dr. Hurt sicks them on Batman, but the Dark Knight is able to easily defeat them.  Batman also reveals the mayor's corruption and quickly returns Gordon back to his rightful place as commissioner.  The mayor, however, is able to avoid public scandal and continue serving his post.  Dr. Hurt remains hidden in the shadows, but is obviously unhappy with his substitute Batmen.  He decides they, like the real Batman, must be driven by rage and sorrow in order to be effective.  Thus begins an insane campaign of torture and brutality which will shape the three men for the next five years until their return.  Due to post-hypnotic suggestion implanted into Batman's head ten years prior (by Hurt), Batman's memory of battling the substitute Batmen is erased entirely, although he does record the fight into the Black Casebook, listing it as a hallucination/nightmare about “three ghost Batmen.”  These events are all referenced in Batman #674 (2008) by Grant Morrison, but reflect details which occur in Detective Comics #121 (1947).  I should mention that this instance does not technically count as a police commissioner demotion and subsequent re-christening for Jim Gordon.  Once his demotion is revealed to have been a result of corruption, it appears on the record books as if Gordon was never demoted at all.  Think of it as an annulment.  I should also mention that the ten year's worth of training for the substitute Batmen is based upon a time-frame that fits consistently with the history of Michael Lane as detailed in Azrael: Death's Dark Knight.    

--Batman: Gotham City Secret Files & Origins #1, Parts 1-2
Batgirl and Catwoman tour the newly reconstructed sectors of post-NML Gotham to get a better feel for them.  Catwoman is quickly distracted by kittens and diamonds.  Meanwhile, Robin helps Barbara rebuild her Oracle headquarters in her apartment.

--Catwoman Vol. 2 #79
Commissioner Gordon finally arrests Catwoman!  Her secret identity is revealed to the entire world and she is sent to prison for the first time in her career!  Poor Selina!

--Batman: Gotham City Secret Files & Origins #1, Part 3 
Hollywood begins filming the blockbuster Catwoman movie (and Halle Berry isn't in it, thank god) about the rise and fall of the recently arrested Selina Kyle.  Also, Batman takes on Skeleton, a one-shot supervillain that impersonates the Dark Knight's most famous rogues.

--Young Justice: Sins of Youth #1
--Superboy Vol. 3 #74
--Sins of Youth: JLA, Jr. #1
--Young Justice Secret Files & Origins #1
--Sins of Youth: Batboy and Robin #1
--Young Justice: Sins of Youth #2
Contessa Erica Alexandra Del Portenza (ex-wife of Lex Luthor and current head of both the covert organization known as The Agenda and the supervillain team known as The Point Men) hires Klarion the Witch Boy to really screw up the DCU.  Klarion uses his chaos magick to age all of the teenage superheroes to adulthood and de-age the adult superheroes to adolescence.  The members of the JLA and JSA all become little kids, whereas all of Young Justice become adults!  Despite being all switched-around, the heroes immediately take the good fight to the Agenda army on several fronts.  At one point, Bruce and Tim switch costumes in order to fool Commissioner Gordon.  "Batboy and Robin" try to get Zatanna to switch them back, but Klarion's magick is too strong.  As "Adult Justice" tries to figure out how to reverse the spell, the former grownups continue de-aging.  An adult Star-Spangled Kid (I guess Star-Spangled Woman) is forced to babysit dozens of baby JSAers.  Klarion then leads the Point Men and the "Junior Injustice League" as both teams rampage across the globe.  Eventually, Contessa realizes things have gotten way out of control, so she clones an adult version of Klarion (Klarion the Witch Man) to battle against her former ally.  Klarion the Witch Man joins forces with JLA Junior and Adult Justice to win the day and reverse the aging spell.  NOTE:  When we next see Klarion the Witch Boy (it won't be for quite some time) it will seem as if all of his prior appearances, including this one, have been completely retconned out of existence.  DC editors have really given no explanation for this.  We must assume that the reversing of Klarion's chaos spell at the end of Sins of Youth must have magically altered reality as well.  This is definitely the largest spell Klarion has ever conjured up, so one can assume that reversing it would have a significant impact as well.  The possible impact?  Reality altering itself so that Klarion's prior misadventures are wiped away.

--JLA: Seven Caskets
When evil Cthulhu-esque spirits rise up from an ancient Atlantean city deep beneath the sea, the JLA is imbued with demonic power in order to repel the demonic force.

--Batman: Gotham Knights #5
The Key (!) is back and he has completely locked-down Arkham Asylum.  Batman, Azrael, and Batgirl are able to quickly apprehend the Key and take back control of the asylum, but something isn't quite right.  Batman runs off in a violent frenzy with the intent to kill any criminals he sees.  Batgirl is unable to restrain him.  Back at Arkham, the Key tells Robin that Batman has been injected with one of his bio-chemicals, which is causing him to behave in a homicidal manner.  The Key further explains that he wants Batman to kill him, thus releasing him from the "final locked door" of life.  The Dark Knight returns to Arkham and is about to murder the Key, but the former is able to fight off the powerful drugs coursing through his veins.  The Bat-family leaves the crazy (and happy) Key in the welcoming hands of Arkham orderlies.  In the canonical backup B&W story accompanying this issue Batman tracks down a lost child that wanders off after a subway train derails.

--Azrael: Agent of the Bat #64-65
Batman and Huntress once again have another argument about crime-fighting protocol.  An annoyed Batman orders Az, who has switched back to his old costume, to deal with her.  After that, Nicholas Scratch frames Azrael for murder, which causes Az to freak-out and nearly kill Scratch until Batman and Harold are able to prove his innocence.  In the end, Az quits and burns his costume.

--Batman #578
Yet another bizarre Hama one-shot where an insane pimple-faced, glasses-wearing nerd skulks around an office building and tries to kill a woman with a hammer.  Nerdo thinks Batman is chasing him (even though Batman is nowhere near the building) and jumps out of a window to his apparent death.

--Batman: 80-Page Giant #3, Chapter 4-Chapter 7
Before I begin I should mention that Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 of this story are both unfortunately non-canon.  These two chapters are based around the fact that Calendar Man is enraged because he misses the Millennial New Year's celebration due to being incarcerated in Arkham.  These two chapters are so definitively and specifically topical they cannot be reconciled in any way and are therefore non-canon.  So, jumping straight to Chapter 4, Calendar Man is out on parole and despite a harsh warning from Batman, the villain dons a brand new costume and is up to his old tricks.  Batman and Robin are eventually able to stop Calendar Man from destroying the entire city.  NOTE:  Any references to dates in the story must be ignored, including the August date in which the story takes place and any mentions of Y2K or the new millennium.  Also, Calendar Man should have a noticeable tattoo on his head during the trial scene in the final chapter.  We must assume that his hair is covering it up.

--Detective Comics #747
It's Renee Montoya's birthday!  Rucka tells us she is turning 28, but due to her police academy appearance in Bat-Year Two, she would have to at the very least be turning 31 instead.  Meanwhile, the GCPD is getting subpoenaed left and right to testify at the dozens of criminal trials stemming from incidents which occurred during NML.  Not to mention, hate crime against "deezees" (Gothamites who fled the city during NML only to return later) is steadily rising.  Back to Renee's B-day; a secret admirer sends her flowers.  After a little investigative work, Renee finds out the flowers came from Bruce Wayne!  Bruce explains that the flowers are actually from Two-Face. (In case you've forgotten, Harvey was in love with Renee during NML).  Renee visits Harvey at Arkham and they share a rare tender moment.

--Batman: Gotham Knights #6-7
Epic reveal!  Devin Grayson gives us the details on both Bab's and Jim Gordon's confusing past/relationship to each other.  While searching for evidence in a fraud case, Batman discovers a bank vault which had sunken underground during the quake.  During NML, the safety deposit boxes in the vault had been thoroughly looted.  Everything was taken, including both the evidence Batman requires and also an old letter from Barbara's mother to Jim.  Batman eventually tracks down the stolen materials from the safety deposit boxes and delivers the letter back to Babs.  Babs tells Bruce that Jim was in a sexual relationship with her mother Thelma, literally right before Thelma married her father (and Jim's younger brother) Roger.  Although Grayson never specifically says it, it is heavily implied (and therefore basically made fact) that Jim is the biological father of Barbara!  In the B&W second feature to issue #6 the Riddler is on the loose and battles against animatronic Alice in Wonderland robots as he makes his way through a crazy Lewis Carroll fanatic's mansion.  At the end of the trek, instead of finding the answer to Lewis Carroll's "secret riddle," Riddler finds Batman, who is waiting to take him back to Arkham.  And next, yet another epic reveal!  In issue #7 Grayson reveals that Alfred and Leslie Thompkins have been lovers for decades!  While Batman stops a club-owner from setting an arson fire to collect insurance, Alfred and Leslie take a trip down memory lane and recall how they first met after Bruce's parents died and how their love blossomed over the years.  In the B&W second feature to issue #7 Batman is nearly killed in an explosion while tackling with a bunch of thugs.  The thugs celebrate their victory at a bar and brag about "killing" Batman.  An old drunk tells the crew that Batman is alive, but badly injured in a nearby warehouse.  The bad guys rush down to finish off poor Bats, but instead find the Dark Knight in good health and waiting to demolish them all.  Only one baddie is able to escape and he promptly hauls-ass back to the bar to accuse the old drunk of setting him up.  Surprise!  The old drunk is Batman in disguise.  What a twist!

--Batman #579-581 ("ORCA")
A week after (should read "a day or two" after) the theft of Camille Baden-Smythe's six-million dollar diamond necklace, Batman finally begins tracking down Orca.  After going undercover as a homeless vet, Batman learns that Baden-Smythe wishes to evict the hundreds of destitute people that live in her tenement buildings near the Gotham Wharf Aquarium District (a plan which involves arson).  Baden-Smythe's main opponent, marine biologist and philanthropist Dr. Grace Balin is the only person standing in her way.  In the worst and most UN-surprising reveal ever, we learn that Balin is Orca and turns into the monster by ingesting an experimental serum.  Orca tries to kill Baden-Smyth, but Batman (in his brand new high-tech underwater suit) is able to save her.  Orca takes a few bullets in the process and is dying, but Batman feeds her the rest of the serum, saving her life, but transforming her permanently into the killer whale monster.  The various conclusions to this story take place over the course of the next few weeks and are listed in those specific spots in our chronology.

--Detective Comics #748-749 ("URBAN RENEWAL")
The heat between "deezees" aka "DZs" (NML deserters/those who left) and "original Gothamites" aka "OGs" (those who stayed in NML) has increased exponentially in the last week.  When OGs are suspected of bombing a building, Batman pays one of the OG groups a visit.  The group's leader is falsely arrested, but Batman is able to apprehend the real terrorist bomber, who has been paid-off by an unknown party.  When the innocent OG leader is released from jail a day later, he is blown up in a second detonation.  After some investigative work, Batman and Gordon learn that the explosions were less a part of a war between OGs and DZs, but more a part of an insurance fraud scheme concocted by the heads of the construction companies involved.  (Although, the one construction head does really hate OGs).

NOTE:  The first part of the conclusion to "Orca" occurs now (as seen in the epilogue of Batman #581).  Bruce visits Camille Baden-Smythe at her office and takes a bottle with her fingerprints on it, which he will later use to frame Baden-Smythe for arson.  (Baden-Smythe had attempted to commit arson earlier in the week, but failed.  Therefore, this Molotov-cocktail setup isn't as dubious as it sounds).  Batman then makes a visit with a corrupt city inspector that had been bought-off by Baden Smythe.

--The Batman Chronicles #22
Lady Shiva travels across the globe and settles a score with Chadwick Moore, an assassin acquaintance from days of old.  Meanwhile in Gotham, Spoiler hits the streets for the first time since the birth of her baby!  She says it's been a year, but it's really only been six months.  It turns out crime runs in the family even more then we thought.  Stephanie's Uncle Dave is crook just like dad.  Spoiler puts yet another relative behind bars.  Meanwhile in the Middle East, Talia's helicopter is shot down in Uzickstan.  An Uzickstani-American soldier fighting in the civil war comes to her aid and together they are able to fight their way safely across the border.

NOTE:  Lex Luthor announces that he is running for President of the United States of America (as seen in The Adventures of Superman #581) only a little more than a month before the election!

--Green Lantern: Circle of Fire #1-2
Kyle Rayner, late to a JLA meeting because he was hanging with a temporarily crippled John Stewart, arrives at the Watchtower to discover that a character he created for a comic book when he was a boy, has come to life and is heading toward Earth. The JLA heads out to space to tackle the cosmic-powered Oblivion. When the opposing forces clash, Oblivion proves to outmatch the JLA. Superman sends Kyle back to Earth for help. On the way, the Spectre (Hal Jordan) appears and tells Kyle he will have to step up his hero game and also to be weary of betrayal in the near future. Kyle returns to the Watchtower to learn that the JLA has completely disappeared off the radar. Panicked, Kyle calls Oracle for assistance, but all the other heroes are busy, so she can only send Power Girl. Still panicked, Kyle makes a subconscious wish with his power ring, which summons Green Lanterns from the distant past, far future, and alternate realities to his side. Eventually, Kyle leads Adam Strange, the Atom, Firestorm, Power Girl, and the time-displaced Lanterns to Oa, where Oblivion has taken control and unleashed Killer Wraiths, monsters that Kyle dreamed up as a child as well. Things look bleak until Kyle realizes the horrible truth about the whole situation. Oblivion is simply a construct of Kyle's subconscious mind brought forth by his power ring. The worst, fearful, and darkest parts of Kyle's mind had created Oblivion and he eventually gained sentience. Kyle quickly realizes that all of the summoned Lanterns by his side are merely ring constructs as well, albeit coming from the better parts of his mind. While the heroes struggle to keep the entire universe from collapsing due to the intense power of Oblivion, Kyle fights the villain in New York City. Kyle invites Oblivion to reenter the place of his origin: Kyle's own mind. There, Kyle is able to defeat Oblivion once and for all. Back aboard the Watchtower, with the JLA rescued, an upset and embarrassed Kyle faces his teammates and tries to tender his resignation. But Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman won't hear a word of it. They are proud of how he overcame his inner demons and they want him to remain a part of the team. Overjoyed, Kyle vows to be the best Green Lantern to ever be a part of the JLA.

--Batman: Gotham Knights #8-11 ("TRANSFERENCE")
Dr. Hugo Strange returns to torment Batman for the first time since Bat-Year Four!  Batman mentions having not seen Strange since the "Prey" storyline in Bat-Year One, but he must be forgetting the "Terror" sequel from Bat-Year Four, which is the actual last time the Caped Crusader encountered Strange.  (Strange's only other appearance after that was in the "Strange Apparitions" storyline in Bat-Year Six, but he didn't come face-to-face with Batman in the tale).  Nevertheless, in "Transference" Strange has successfully deduced that Bruce Wayne is Batman!  Strange confronts Bruce at Wayne Enterprises and they duke it out on the roof of the tower as Dick and Tim watch on.  The fight ends badly for Batman as he seemingly dies in an explosion.  When Alfred, Nightwing, and Robin discover that Bruce is still alive they meet up with him only to find the latter stuck in his wimpy, pathetic playboy persona.  They can't snap him out of it.  Bruce doesn't remember that he is Batman anymore!  Meanwhile, Strange dons his own version of the Bat-costume and runs amok in Wayne Manor, threatening to reveal Batman's secret to the press.  Strange then kidnaps the hapless Bruce and takes him to an abandoned hospital outside of the city.  Nightwing and Robin chase after Strange and clash with the doctor.  When Bruce seems genuinely shell-shocked and distraught at the sticky situation he's in, Strange begins to think that he may have been wrong about his initial assumption.  Strange tries to get Robin and Nightwing to admit that Bruce is indeed Batman, but they refuse.  Defeated, confused, and certifiably insane, Strange is locked away at Arkham, convinced that he himself is Batman.  Bruce, as it turns out, had temporarily hypnotized himself to truly be completely unaware that he was Batman.  NOTES:  Tim and Dick stumble across Bruce's detailed computer files on all of his associates in this tale.  The files highlight Bruce's paranoia, and how important it is to him to have information on both foes and allies alike.  I also wanted to mention, at the conclusion of this story, an Arkham orderly mentions Strange's fifteen-year old kidnapping of Mayor Kroll's daughter.  This kidnapping did occur in the "Prey" storyline, but it was Mayor Klass's daughter (and Krol is spelled with one L, not two anyway).  This is either an error, or the character was remembering his history incorrectly.  Oh, and one more thing, it is interesting that Bruce was able to temporarily hypnotize Batman out of his system without running across the other layers of hypnotic implantation from Simon Hurt.  Interesting, nothing more.

NOTE:  Immediately following the "Transference" story-arc, Hugo Strange is put under the care of Jeremiah Arkham.  In an elaborate scheme hatched by Strange and the Joker, the latter gives Dr. Arkham a Marotte toy which the doctor saves as a keepsake.  The Marotte contains a toxin which Dr. Arkham will slowly absorb into his body over the course of the next six years.  The toxin will weaken his mental resistance so that Strange and Joker (whenever they are incarcerated as they so often are) can implant hidden suggestions into his mind (as seen through flashbacks in Detective Comics #864-865).  Thus Dr. Arkham, from this point forward, will began to mentally deteriorate and hallucinate, which will lead to some really bad news.  But we'll get to that in six years time.

--Superman & Bugs Bunny #1-4
Yo, for real. First of all, in the universe where the Loony Tunes characters exist, the DCU characters are simply popular comic book characters. And in the DCU, the Loony Tunes characters are the same famous cartoon characters that we know and love. So what happens when the crazy Dodo from Loony Tunes activates a dimensional transporter and winds up in the 5th Dimension? Why, he teams with Mr. Mxyzptlk and builds a device that wreaks havoc with the multiverse. While Toyman begins a massive assault on Metropolis using an army of giant robot toys, dozens of Loony Tunes characters begin appearing on Earth-0. Mxyzptlk and the Dodo then amp things up by switching consciousnesses of characters. For example, Superman loses all his powers, which are given to Elmer Fudd! Likewise, Batman's mind switches with Daffy Duck! Bruce beings shouting "woo hoo" over and over in the Batcave, while Daffy assumes the persona of Bat-Duck and visits Commissioner Gordon! After yuks aplenty, Mxy and the Dodo start sending DCU characters and Loony Tunes cartoons through various universes until they all wind up back on Earth-0. With Metropolis about to fall into the control of Toyman, the JLA mobilizes. The Loony Tunes cartoons want to help, but Superman writes them off immediately. That is, until Bugs mentions that his crew has saved an alternate Earth before with the help of Michael Jordan. Oh yeah, he just name dropped Space Jam. Before anyone can mention R. Kelly, an impressed Superman declares that all of the Loony Tunes characters are honorary JLA members. Toyman is soon defeated, but the threat continues as Mxy and the Dodo threaten to merge the two universes permanently. Bugs tricks Mxy into saying his own name, poofing him away. Despite being crazy, the Dodo is a bit more reasonable and fixes everything, even making it so that time literally reverses and erases this entire episode. So, why is this still on our timeline if it gets erased by the Dodo? Well, the Dodo allows the heroes involved to keep their memories of the event and he also accidentally leaves behind Michigan J. Frog—you know, everyone's favorite racist singing WB mascot—with Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White.

--Second Feature from Batman: Gotham Knights #11 (Batman: Black & White)
Bruce dreams that he's on a campy 70s Batman adventure with his son Batman Junior! Bruce is awakened from his slumber by a dog named Julie licking his face.  Julie is an obvious nod to longtime DC editor Julius Schwartz.  For the continuity purposes of this story, we will have to assume that Bruce is dog-sitting, possibly for Lucius Fox.

--JLA 80-Page Giant #3 
Valkus the Centurion returns to fight the JLA!  Moon Maiden returns to help the JLA!  Both of these characters were wiped from existence after the events of "The Century War" in Bat-Year Eleven.  The JLA learns the lost and forgotten history of both Valkus and Moon Maiden (see Bat-Year Eleven for details) and then defeats Valkus in battle.  Moon Maiden, having lost everything, elects to travel the cosmos rather than stay on Earth where all her friends have no idea who she is.  Furthermore, the League has just dealt with the return of another erased-from-existence hero (Triumph) less than a year ago!  If I was a JLAer, I would be thinking, "Damn, how many more of my close friends do I have absolutely no recollection of because they've been erased from existence!?"

--JLA: A League of One
An underground race of Swiss gnomes revives the Earth's last dragon, which begins a reign of terror all over Europe.  Not joking.  The Oracle of Delphi prophesies to Wonder Woman that whomever kills the dragon will die as well.  Wonder Woman incapacitates her fellow JLAers in order to save them and then slays the dragon herself.  The curse of the dragon immediately goes into effect and Wonder Woman's heart stops beating.  However, the curse is pretty damn old and never accounted for the existence of metahumans.  Superman is able to revive Wonder Woman with "super" CPR.

--JLA: Heaven's Ladder
An ancient alien race has removed not just Earth, but dozens of planets, all of which have been stolen from their orbits and preserved (with atmospheric conditions, gravity fields, and tides intact) in a complex chain of machinery inside a massive spacecraft.  The alien race has learned that its own species is doomed, but they are omnipotent nature allows them the opportunity to create their own afterlife in any way they choose.  Therefore, they have "collected" numerous civilized planets in order to study the various concepts of "afterlife" that exist on each, before creating the best amalgamation for their future.  The JLA is able to help the alien race construct a suitable afterlife, and by doing so, all of the planets are returned to their correct places in their respective galaxies.

--JLA: Gods & Monsters
Early JLA rogue Xotar returns for the first time in ten years!  Xotar is able to manipulate a cult which worships the JLA as gods.  The cult constructs a fleet of super-weapons, which is used to discredit the League in the eyes of the public.  Eventually, with the help of Guy Gardner, Captain Atom, the Atom, and Captain Marvel, the JLA is not able to defeat Xotar and the cultists, but restore the public's faith in the heroes.

--Catwoman Vol. 2 #83-84
Selina Kyle is transferred from regular prison to the Cinque Center for Rehabilitation upstate. There, she and fellow inmate Harley Quinn take hostages and escape. Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and Renee Montoya are then sent on a scavenger hunt by Harley. Harley then helps Catwoman kidnap Gordon. Catwoman plans a horrific revenge on Gordon for sending her to prison, but first, while Gordon is held captive by Quinn at the graveside of his late wife Sarah Essen, Catwoman robs a bank and declares that Gordon will be executed unless all Cinque Center patients are released. Catwoman's plan fails and a bloodbath between cops and inmates ensues at the Cinque Center. Back at the cemetary, Catwoman tries to shoot Gordon, but Batman arrives just in time to stop her. Batman reveals that Harley has been manipulating Catwoman the whole time. Angered, Catwoman runs off. Harley gets away too, but Gordon is saved.

--Batman Annual #24
--JLA Annual #4
--Batgirl Annual #1
"Planet DC" was the DCU Annual story-arc in 2000 (publishing year) in which a new one-shot international superhero was introduced in each issue.  In the Batman Annual Bruce travels to England when Alfred winds up in a bizarre catatonic state while vacationing there.  After investigating the nearby Malvern Corporation, Batman learns that the privately-owned company, in an attempt to create British superheroes, genetically enhanced fetuses (with parental consent) with the psychic power of the Id.  (The Id is possibly linked to the "Idiot Zone," a supernatural dimension that Batman entered after eating hallucinogenic drugs in Bat-Year Thirteen.  Or perhaps that is a stretch and the Id is simply the Freudian Id).  Each metahuman child being studied at the Malvern Corp has a partner entity that psychically manifests into tangible existence.  For example, some kids have little fairies while others have monkeys.  However, Alfred's young friend Rosemary births into existence a feral Peter Pan-ish leather jacket-wearing troublemaker known as The Boggart.  Batman, Rosemary, and the Boggart are able to help Alfred by defeating former Malvern security man/double agent Grayle and his psychic manifestation, a giant demon beast.  After this, Batman joins his fellow JLA teammates in Turkey where a Muslim general has summoned Etrigan to do his evil bidding.  The first ever birqa-wearing female Muslim superhero, Janissary, helps the JLA out in this one.  Next stop India, where Batman and Batgirl team-up with yet another international female hero, Aruna.  NOTE:  "Planet DC" takes about a week to wrap-up.  However, this just isn't possible due to the insane time compression going on right now.  This storyline can last, at most, two days.  Impossible, you say?  Oh well. 
--JLA Secret Files & Origins #3, Part 1
--JLA #43-46
--JLA Secret Files & Origins #3, Part 2
Ra's Al Ghul has yet another foolproof plan to thin the Earth's population, but he has to get the JLA out of the way, starting with the most capable members first.  Batman is sent on a wild-goose chase after Ra's steals Bruce's parents' corpses from their graves.  Talia is able expose J'onn to nanites, which cause his body to ignite in flames when in contact with oxygen.  Plastic Man is turned brittle.  Aquaman fears water after inhaling a mind-warping chemical.  Kyle Rayner is left blind as a result of post-hypnotic suggestion.  Wonder Woman is implanted with a VR chip which takes her out of the equation.  The Flash is similarly implanted with a chip that gives him "light-speed epilepsy."  And Superman is exposed to an engineered form of Kryptonite.  Once the JLAers are neutralized, Al Ghul begins his nefarious plot.  He activates a device which "steals" the entire world's languages by spreading a "global dyslexia" over the planet.  The device renders the neural center of the human mind incapable of comprehending any written language.  Batman (in disguise) finally tracks his parents to Al Ghul's Himalayan lair, where the Demon's Head threatens to submerge Bruce's parents into a Lazarus Pit.  Batman then realizes how Al Ghul had so easily defeated the League.  Remember Bruce's paranoid detailed computer files from our last Gotham Knights tale?  Al Ghul gained access to these files, which included foolproof ways to take down every JLA member.  Using the stolen protocols Batman had designed as a contingency against his own teammates, Al Ghul was able to defeat them with relative ease.  Retreating to the Watchtower, which, on the moon, is out of range from the "babble machine," the Justice League regroups and repairs itself.  Batman explains what has occurred and meets the rest of the team in Antarctica, where the "dyslexia signal" emits from.  The combined force of the JLA is able to defeat (and injure) Talia and shut down the machine.  But they ain't done yet.  Batman and Superman rescue the Wayne cadavers from Al Ghul, but the latter is able to escape.  Meanwhile, the rest of the team is able to stop Rhapastani terrorists working with Al Ghul from unleashing a biochemical attack upon Turkey.  Back at the Watchtower, everyone is extremely pissed at Batman for even having fail-safe plans against them in the first place, let alone allowing those plans to get in the hands of the deadliest man to ever live.  The team is so mad, in fact, they vote on whether or not Batman should remain on the team!  Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Plastic Man vote to kick him out!  Green Lantern, Flash, and J'onn vote that he should stay.  Before Superman can cast the deciding vote, Batman decides he's heard enough.  The Dark Knight leaves the Watchtower, and just like old times, Batman has once again quit the Justice League of America! (Although, in the past Batman was always leaving a group which he considered to be a bunch of losers and crybabies.  This League consists of his friends and equals, so this is definitely a big big deal.  Not to mention, no one trusts Batman anymore.  Furthermore, no one trusts Nightwing, Robin, or Oracle either because of their affiliation to the Caped Crusader).  This is great Mark Waid stuff that really sets the tone of the DCU for the next five or six storyline years to come.  NOTE:  I also wanted to mention that Batman tells Superman that he began collecting detailed info on his fellow heroes after the Agamemno body-swap incident in Bat-Year Ten.  (The Agamemno body-swap incident and the first part of the JLA "mind-wipe scandal" are one-and-the-same, for anyone wondering).

NOTE:  Wonder Woman and Superman get in a huge argument with Batman about his secret information collecting and distrust of the League, following "Tower of Babel" (as seen through flashback in Justice League of America Vol. 2 #0).

ANOTHER NOTE:  The second part of the conclusion to "Orca" occurs now (as seen in the epilogue of Batman #581).  Police discover the planted Molotov-cocktail with Camille Baden-Smythe's fingerprints on it, thus linking her to arson.  This evidence allows the police to discover a plethora of illegal doings attached to Baden-Smythe.  With her empire in ruins, she goes to jail.  Meanwhile, Batman lays flowers on the fresh grave of a man who died in vain during the Orca/Baden Smythe case.

--Nightwing Vol. 2 #47
It's still late-September due to ultra-mega-über time compression.  In Blüdhaven, Oracle and Nightwing team-up to take down the murderous Nite-Wing, while Torque takes over the Blüdhaven underworld.  Oh, and as always, Blüdhaven police are still the most corrupt in the country.  Batman makes a cameo. 

--Detective Comics #750
Batman is on a rampage looking for information leading to the secret location of Ra's Al Ghul.  When Oracle brings up his recent departure from the JLA, Batman gets upset and tells her that the case has nothing to do with the League.  Bruce says that finding Al Ghul is simply a Gotham affair, and is solely about punishing Al Ghul and associates for the attempt at distributing his designer animal-morphing elixir a week or two ago.  Sure it is, Bruce, sure it is.  Anyway, Bruce ends up face-to-face with Talia in Switzerland, and after interrupting some brilliant Rucka dialogue, Whisper A'Daire and Kyle Abbot bring the fight to Batman.  Abbot delivers Talia back to her father, while Batman subdues Whisper and gives her an antidote to the physical chemical addiction the elixir induces. Batman explains to Whisper that she will still be mentally dependent on the drug and will still retain her snake mutation powers, but she now has a new lease on life.  She thanks him and he goes after Talia.  After locating and infiltrating Al Ghul's new secret desert encampment, Batman is quickly ambushed by Al Ghul's thugs (including Whisper, who calls the Dark Knight naive for thinking that she would ever turn on her master).  Amazing stuff.  Al Ghul sentences Bruce to death, but gives Talia one more night to convince her beloved to join the League of Assassins.  Talia, madly in love with Bruce, but knowing he will never join, knocks out Whisper and Abbot, freeing her man.  Bruce tells Talia to meet him at the getaway plane in ten minutes after he battles his way out of the encampment.  At the plane, Bruce sees a forlorn Talia ride off on horseback into the desert.  This is really good stuff because it alienates Talia from her father for good (more or less anyway).  In a sense, this is Talia finally becoming her own woman.  NOTE:  Batman mentions Whisper's debut as happening "last spring."  Wrong. It happened like a week-and-a-half ago.


  1. NML no more, and Batman makes use of his new gadgets, a lot of them, alienating himself even more as seen on Tower of Babel, good stuff in there. Plus the files he keeps on the Bat-family too, I sense so much good stories from now on. Also Planet DC should be before the Tower of Babel arc, not too much to loose anyway, didn't like it though.