This is the second and final part to Bat-Year Seventeen. It covers August 2005 to March 2006.
--JLA #55-58 ("TERROR INCOGNITA")
Let's jump to August for our next tale. As Batman swings down from the top of a building to rescue someone, Nightwing inexplicably cuts his rope and nearly kills him! Meanwhile, Lois tells everybody at work that Clark is Superman! Nightwing can't explain why he did what he did. Lois can't either and she and Clark frantically tell everyone they were joking. Similar occurrences happen across the globe. Only after a nuclear reactor explodes in Russia and a bunch of "ghost" sightings are reported across the US is Batman able to find out what is going on. The White Martians are back and they are messing with people's heads! Batman discovers their secret headquarters and after infiltrating it, he learns that the White Martians are harvesting the brains of latent telepathic metahumans in order to achieve their ultimate goal; the destruction of the JLA. Before the Martians attack, they activate the second part of their plan, eliminating their only weakness (fire) by altering Earth's oxygen so that it is incapable of combustion into flame. The JLA is beaten back to Superman's Fortress of Solitude by an army of White Martians. Wait, aren't all but three or four Martians thought to be extinct? Where did this army of White Martians come from, you ask? Turns out that during the JLA's altercation with the Cathexis and Id (about ten months ago in JLA #54), J'onn made a wish to "not be alone" and thus, all of the White Martians were resurrected and had been biding their time in preparation for the attack ever since. Eventually, the JLA is able to restore fire and trap all of the White Martians in the Phantom Zone. For anyone that doesn't know, on the planet Krypton (before its destruction) they did not have prisons. Instead, Kryptonian criminals were sent to an alternate limbo dimension that existed outside of normal time and space, known as the Phantom Zone. Superman has limited knowledge of the Phantom Zone, but does possess the necessary "projector" needed to send villains there if need be (as he does with the White Martians in this story).
--Nightwing: The Target
When Dick is framed for murder, Batman orders him to temporarily retire as Nightwing until he can clear his name. Dick does as he is told, but takes to the Blüdhaven streets in the guise of a new superhero called The Target. Dick eventually, clears his name and returns to being Nightwing.
--Green Lantern—Legacy: The Last Will and Testament of Hal Jordan
It has been two years since Hal Jordan's death and since that time his former best friend Tom Kalmaku as had a rough time. Jobless, poor, and alone, Tom is shocked when an executor of Jordan's will shows up out of the blue with a surprise. Tom is now the legal guardian of Jordan's seven-year-old son, Marty! Tom and Jordan's ex Carrol Ferris both are dumbfounded when they learn of the existence of the little Hal lookalike, but are even more shocked when the boy produces a green power ring. When Tom and Marty are attacked by a mysterious monstrous Dark Lantern, they seek the aid of the JLA. The JLA are also suspicious of the existence of Marty and demand the powerful ring to be turned over to them. Feeling threatened, Marty uses the ring to teleport away with Tom. Tom and Marty then flee the Dark Lantern who chases them all over the universe. Eventually, the Dark Lantern is revealed to be the crazed spirit of Kilowog summoned as an assassin! (The Dark Lantern was created by former Green Lantern Corps member Boodikka and sent to destroy Jordan shortly after the events of "Emerald Twlight" when Jordan destroyed Oa and the Corps. Only now has the Dark Lantern reached Earth, but he doesn't realize that Jordan is long dead. As Tom and Marty fend off the Dark Lantern, the JLA arrives and tells Tom that Marty isn't real! Marty is really the power the Hal's former ring given shape. Kyle further reveals that the energy signatures from both the Dark Lantern and from Marty have been emanating from the sun, where Hal sacrificed his life in order to reignite it. Apparently, the energy that Hal sacrificed was not completely used. This remaining energy fed off of memories from Hal's dying mind and then slowly (over the course of two years) gained sentience. It finally took form as Marty and appeared with an "executor" on Tom's doorstep. The JLA watches on as the ring energy splits into a Parallax-construct and a Marty-construct. Tom, Marty, and the Dark Lantern defeat the Parallax-construct and then chat with the spirit of Jordan (aka Spectre). Tom, Marty, and Kilowog's now calmed spirit then travel to the center of the universe. There, Tom uses Jordan's old power ring to recreate the entire planet of Oa and a new Green Central Power Battery! Kilowog's spirit then becomes peacefully one with the Battery. Jordan's old ring and Marty follow suit, disappearing into the Battery. Tom returns home.
JOKER: LAST LAUGH
--Joker: Last Laugh Secret Files #1
--Joker: Last Laugh #1
--Detective Comics #763
--Joker: Last Laugh #2
--Batman: Gotham Knights #22
--Joker: Last Laugh #3-5
--Action Comics #784
--Action Comics #784
--Wonder Woman Vol. 2, #174-175
--Joker: Last Laugh #6
--Batman #596It is October. At Slabside Penitentiary for Metahumans in New Jersey, Joker learns that he has a brain tumor with only months to live. Deciding to go out with a bang, Joker incites a huge riot. He then gets a hold of fellow-prisoner Multi-Man and keeps killing the poor guy until he gets a desirable superpower with which he can use to further the riot. In the span of minutes Joker kills Multi-Man thirty-six times! Eventually, Joker is able to lead a swarm of metahuman villains into a room which contains a metagene inhibitor (a very-Bendis' Powers-like device that causes superhumans to lose their powers while in its radius). The Slab's security system continues to omit a noxious gas that induces vomiting. However, Joker knows a secret; when the gas mixes with the effects of the metagene inhibitor (combined with Joker's non-metahuman, but bizarre DNA chemical makeup) everyone in immediate proximity turns into a stark raving, green-haired, white-skinned Joker! When the smoke clears, Joker has a "Jokerized" army of a hundred deadly metahuman villains at his command. Blue Beetle (!) helps Black Canary get inside the Slab, but she winds up getting the holy crap kicked out of her by dozens of Jokerized metahumans. The bad guys then begin flooding out of the Slab. In Gotham, Sasha Bordeaux meets and teams-up with Huntress to take down Jokerized escapee Alesandra Taracon (who turns out to actually be an undercover DEO agent). Nightwing cuts short a sexy date with Oracle to enter the Slab with Batman. At one point Lady Spellbinder creates a hallucination where Nightwing thinks he is fighting a giant Bat-Mite. While Batman, Nightwing, and Blue Beetle rescue Canary, Joker has Black Mass create a localized black hole which sucks in everything from the surrounding area and spews it into Limbo. Joker then escapes to Easter Island where he conducts his Jokerized army from afar. In Gotham, Batman and Spoiler deal with a swarm of Jokerized cockroaches. Yes, apparently non-human life can be Jokerized as well. Sigh. Moving on, Joker then sends his army after Harley Quinn because Mister J wants to impregnate her before he dies to make sure that he has an heir! As much as Harl loves J, she definitely is not cool with this and begs Oracle for help. Babs sends in Batgirl, Spoiler, and Power Girl to protect her. Concurrently, Jokerized metahumans are causing major damage and mass fatalities all over the world, but the JLA and the US Army are holding their own. Annoyed, Joker takes action. First, the mad clown sends the weather-controlling villain known as Stormfront on a mission to make it rain Joker venom all over the world. Second, he has his army inject everyone at Arkham with Joker venom. A headstrong Robin enters Arkham, but is easily captured by the Jokerized Arkham inmates. Huntress goes in after Robin and knocks out Killer Croc. Kirk Langrstrom (Man-Bat) is then able to synthesize a cure for the new Joker poison. In Metropolis, the Joker rain has turned hundreds into crazed maniacs, including Kyle Rayner. Batman and Superman barely contain the power of a Jokerized Green Lantern, but are able to restore Kyle back to his normal state. The JLA then defeats Polaris and, with Langstrom's anti-toxin, is able to restore much order. Circe then casts a magick spell that renders every male hero on Earth inert—Batman for instance is morphed into a snake-creature. This prompts Wonder Woman to leads an army comprising of every female hero in the DCU, including former League of Assassins member Onyx (!), against Circe's army of villains. Following this epic battle, Nightwing confronts Joker (who is dressed up as Elvis) one-on-one inside Gotham Cathedral. Dick winds up nearly pummeling him to death. Batman, Robin, and Huntress are all on hand to deliver Joker to the authorities. (By the way, I think artist Rick Burchett accidentally drew Bullock among the authorities. I say "accidentally" because Bullock has quit the force at this point. Dixon names the Bullock-esque cop "Johnson," probably an attempt to cover for the error). Meanwhile, Slabside security head Shilo Norman (Mister Miracle III) is able to send the prison out of Limbo and back onto Earth, albeit in Antarctica instead of New Jersey. The prison will remain permanently in the more secure locale of Antarctica from this point on. In the aftermath of the week-long anarchy, Philo Zeiss finds out it was the Russian mob that had put a hit out on his boss Lew Moxon, and he tries to kill a Russian mobster and his daughter. Zeiss is stopped thanks to interference from both Batman and the Jokerized villain known as Santa Klaus. PS. Black Canary discovers that Joker's catscan had been altered. He doesn't actually have a brain tumor after all. Last Laugh is finally over. Good unique idea for a Joker plot. Poorly executed.
--Detective Comics #764
It is a couple days into November and Sasha has become jealous as a schoolgirl of Vesper Fairchild, who spends every day with Bruce. Every evening Batman continues training Sasha and they go out on nightly patrols. Vesper continues her own nightly quest to photograph Batman in action. Batman confronts Vesper and tells her to back off. Sasha continuously hounds a distant Bruce and asks him if he is actually serious about Vesper, to which he replies with silent anger. The following day, Vesper arrives at Wayne Manor to find Bruce skinny-dipping with a cadre of sexy girls. Vesper leaves in disgust. Sasha is stunned. Bruce has realized yet again that Batman can never get involved with a woman, and thus, has decided to end his relationship. I'm not sure Bruce had to do it in such a dramatic fashion, but hey, it worked! Meanwhile, long-time Metropolis cop (and the first of Greg Rucka's famous lesbian characters) Maggie Sawyer is hired on at the GCPD to replace Bullock. Greg Rucka really continues to make this Bat-Year worth reading. I heart Greg Rucka!
--Batman: Gotham Knights #23
When Scarecrow is granted temporary Arkham leave to give a "motivational speech" at a corporate event, the devious Dr. Crane uses this opportunity to douse the crowd (which includes Sasha and Bruce) with his fear gas. Batman easily defeats Crane, but inhales a bunch of fear gas (as usual). The Dark Knight then goes through a hallucinogenic sequence where Sasha tells him that something terrible has happened to each of his closest friends. None of them are true of course, except for the one about Lucius Fox having a stroke. Well, actually Lucius has a near fatal heart attack which results in a coma-inducing stroke! NOTE: The Paul Grist/Darwyn Cooke B&W second feature takes place on Cooke's New Frontier Earth (Earth-21).
NOTE: The flashback from Batman: Gotham Knights #24 takes place now. Bruce goes into a deep depression after a disgruntled employee blames Bruce for causing Lucius' heart attack. The psycho employee is so mad, he even puts a gun to Bruce's head, before Sasha forcefully escorts him out of the room. In his sad state, Bruce does the unthinkable, he goes to a gun shop and purchases a handgun. Normally, there is a twenty-day waiting law, but the store owner says that a celebrity of Bruce's status can come back for the gun in a week.
Sasha finally has a moment to try to pick Bruce's brain in regard to both his dumping of Vesper and his depression as of late, but he lashes out at her and refuses to talk about anything. Meanwhile, Batman connects Philo Zeiss to another murder and visits Mallory Moxon to interrogate her about whether or not she is involved in her father's criminal empire. Zeiss busts into the room and fights the Dark Knight, but Batman is able to apprehend him with Batgirl's help.
--Detective Comics #765
A week has passed since Bruce broke up with Vesper and since Lucius had his heart attack. A cold November snow has fallen over Gotham and as Sasha and Batman spend more time on patrol together, the former is beginning to understand more and more what fuels the latter. When a small-time crook robs the vacant home of Jim Gordon, Batman takes it personally and, together with Sasha, beats down the bad guys and returns all of Jim's stuff. Batman then meets psychic GCPD detective Josie MacDonald and warns her that she may be involved too deeply with a recent high-profile kidnapping case (as seen in the second feature of this 'tec issue). Bats also doesn't trust a metahuman on the police force.
Batman assists the JSA in tracking down the supervillain known as New Wave after he kidnaps a young girl in Gotham.
--Batman: Gotham Knights #24
Before we start, there is a note that says Batman #595 took place a week ago. This is bold-faced untruth! It took place like four-and-a-half months ago. Bruce's depression hits a new low as he is tortured by a hallucination of Batman. Bruce feels sick to his stomach that he placed an order for a handgun a week earlier, but eventually goes to pick up the weapon anyway. I'm not sure if Bruce even knows what he plans to do with the firearm as his mixed-up head is all over the place. When Bruce gets home, he collapses in front of his parents' picture. In tears, he throws the gun across the room, smashing a lamp in the process. The B&W second feature to this issue may or may not be canon. Batman confiscates some pictures that a freelance photographer had snapped of him earlier that night. This back-up story may not be canon because it relies heavily on the non-canonical public mindset that Batman is an "urban legend." Although, in defense of this story Batman sure was pissed at Vesper for trying to photograph him a month ago, so maybe this is an extension of that anger, and therefore, this tale could be canonical.
Abra Kadabra causes tsunamis to strike inland all over the world, causing massive flooding and devastation. Kadabra is also able to summon forth gigantic mythological creatures to battle the JLA. Guess who wins?
A criminal that has been bested by Batgirl wants revenge. He arranges a meeting with super-assassin David Cain and offers the killer-extraordinaire hit money to execute Batgirl. If only he knew that Cain is Batgirl's father. So much for revenge.
--The Power Company: Sapphire #1
The Kobra Cult has recently split into two opposing factions. When Batman gets a tip that the two rival groups will war on the streets of San Diego, the JLA rushes to California. However, the JLA is unable to intervene thanks to a giant force field erected around the battle site. During the chaos, several of Kobra's men break into a museum and steal the "Serpent's Egg," a cosmic artifact made of an alien psycho-interactive substance that can bond with its user, endowing him or her with shapeshifting armored skin. Also during the chaos, teenage runaway Candy Gennaro accidentally finds herself a stowaway aboard Kobra's undetectable stealth submarine, which flees across the Pacific. Candy touches the "Serpent's Egg" and is gifted with powers, becoming Sapphire! Sapphire fights several Kobra guards and shuts down the cloaking device, allowing the JLA to locate their position. The JLA then makes mincemeat out of the cultists. Kobra blows up his own ship and gets away. Sapphire, meanwhile, flies off without being spotted by the JLA.
It's December 18 and the psychic supervillain that knows if you've been bad or good (Santa Klaus) is a week early to bring holiday chaos to Gotham. Sasha spends the week decorating Wayne Manor for X-mas. Santa Klaus spends the week on a killing spree. Batman spends the week chasing after him. On Christmas Eve, Santa Klaus tries to blow-up the ceremonial lighting of the Gotham Christmas tree, but winds up severely burning himself before Batman apprehends him. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce spends a relaxing and happy Christmas Day with Sasha! Ah, the calm before the storm.
BRUCE WAYNE: MURDERER?
--Batman: The 10-Cent Adventure #1
--Detective Comics #766
--Nightwing Vol. 2 #65
--Batman: Gotham Knights #25
--Birds of Prey #39
--Detective Comics #767
--Nightwing Vol. 2 #66
--Batman: Gotham Knights #26
--Birds of Prey #40"Bruce Wayne: Murderer?" begins with a Greg Rucka flashback detailing the origins of the Caped Crusader. Rucka tells us that Bruce has been Batman for "over ten years." If by "over ten years" he means seventeen years, then yes, that is true. When this epic story-arc begins, we are only a few days into 2006 and Sasha Bordeaux is madly in love with Bruce, although she hasn't had the courage to tell him yet. The Batman/Sasha duo patrols the crime-filled Gotham streets and returns home one night to find Vesper Fairchild shot to death inside Wayne Manor! Bruce, in tears, cradles the body of his ex-lover as the police bust into his home. Bruce is arrested for murder and rape! Sasha is arrested as his accomplice! Oh no! A media firestorm begins as Bruce and Sasha are questioned. Alfred leaves Tim a note at Brentwood that simply reads, "He needs me" and returns to support Master Bruce. Meanwhile, Oracle studies Vesper's 911 call and sends Batgirl into Wayne Manor to find out anything she can. Batgirl doesn't find out much, but she does find out that Bruce is Batman! Concurrently, the cops find the murder weapon just outside of the mansion. Dick speeds into Gotham, visits Bruce in jail, and then meets with Oracle, vowing to find the real killer. Both Bruce and Sasha are denied bail and are sent to Blackgate where Babs visits Bruce and offers to be his lawyer (she took a correspondence course years ago and has a Master of Laws degree from Harvard!), but Bruce turns her down. Babs is then shocked to discover that Bruce had purchased a gun a month ago. Black Canary can't understand why Babs cares about the Bruce Wayne case so much. (Dinah doesn't know that Bruce is Batman). Five days into Bruce's nightmare situation and prisoners hurl both flaming toilet paper rolls and insults about his dead parents at him. When the Nazis try to make Bruce their bitch, he puts three of them in the infirmary. Headlines read, "Wayne Goes Crazy in Blackgate." NOTE: A news report says that Bruce's parents died 25 years ago. This is an error. They died 35 years ago. While Nightwing, Oracle, and Alfred continue to fully support Bruce, Leslie Thompkins and Tim actually believe he committed the crime! Things boil to a head and Bruce decides he's had enough. He escapes from prison!
BRUCE WAYNE: FUGITIVE Part One
--Birds of Prey #41The Bat-family is falling apart! A month passes and Batman finally returns to the cave where Tim, Dick, Cassandra, and Oracle (via satellite) are waiting for him. The evidence overwhelmingly points to his guilt in the Vesper murder case, and the worried team questions the Dark Knight. Batman brushes them aside saying he has work to catch up on. When Dick and Tim ask Batman what their next step should be in clearing Bruce's name, Batman replies that the case is closed and he is content to let the world think Bruce has fled the country permanently. The Bruce Wayne persona, he continues to explain, has become a liability and now Batman can be Batman full-time. Obviously, the Bat-family is upset by this, and even more so when Oracle reveals that Vesper had discovered Bruce's secret and was going to reveal it to the public a week before her murder. (This encrypted info was discovered hidden on Vesper's laptop). Batman seems surprised by this reveal and even claims that it isn't true. He then tells everyone to stay away from him in the foreseeable future. Feeling betrayed, Dick punches Batman in the face and they begin to brawl in the cave. Eventually Batman leaves, sets up camp in a temporary downtown base of operations, and swings into the Gotham night to fight crime once again. For the first time ever, Batman doesn't have a secret identity. He simply is. And boy, does he feel free. Continuing her investigation, Babs sends Black Canary to rob a bank vault in order to retrieve a data disc from Vesper's safety deposit box. Canary completes her mission and delivers the info to Babs. Turns out that Vesper actually didn't know Batman's secret identity after all. Someone who does know Batman's secret identity had inserted fake info into Vesper's laptop and was going to use this info to further condemn Bruce. Dick and Babs realize that this mystery person is responsible for framing Bruce! But who? NOTE: "Bruce Wayne: Fugitive" begins with a flashback montage which references, among other things, Bruce's most important love interests that didn't pan out because of his commitment to crime-fighting. Highlighted are Selina Kyle, Silver St. Cloud, and Vesper Fairchild. What about Julie Madison, Kathy Kane, and Shondra Kinsolving? Bruce was engaged to all three of them! (Well, he was going to propose to Shondra but never got the opportunity). Not to mention, Vicki Vale crapped on his heart pretty bad too.
Drake Industries is bankrupt. Tim's family loses everything. Tim is forced to drop-out of Brentwood and his family moves into a downtown apartment. As Robin patrols a section of the city that has yet to be rebuilt after NML, he discovers a man sleeping in a car with a Bat-tracer attached to his arm. When the Boy Wonder goes in to investigate, Batman knocks him unconscious. The Dark Knight told Robin and company to stay out of his business and he sure meant it.
NOTE: In March, Batgirl officially (outside of training) faces the deadly Lady Shiva in one-on-one combat for the first time. Batgirl soundly defeats her (as seen in Batgirl #25). This is noteworthy because even Batman has never won a clean solo fight against Shiva.
--Second Feature from Batman: Gotham Knights #28 (B&W)
Batman talks down a suicidal bridge jumper.
--Second Feature from Detective Comics #770-772 ("JOSIE MAC: LOST VOICES")
The conclusion to Judd Winick's Josie Mac story-arc from the Second Features of 'tec #770-772 take place now. GCPD Detective Josie MacDonald has been working the high profile Anthony Anotelli kidnapping case for three months. Now her own father has been murdered, supposedly by the kidnapper. Batman joins the case when he learns the kidnapper is none other than Two-Face. When Josie Mac and Batman rescue the missing boy, Two-Face explains that he didn't kill Josie's father, and he had in fact been paid by the Anotellis' own lawyer to kidnap and hold the boy for so long. The Anotellis' lawyer was trying to make a play to take over the family business and fortune and had murdered Josie's father when Josie was getting too close for comfort.
--Second Feature from Batman: Gotham Knights #31 (B&W)
While tracking down a criminal named Nails Grieg, Batman discovers the remains of a 4 year-old girl in the subway. The Dark Knight deduces that the girl accidentally died while in the care of her grandfather. The grandfather had covered it up and made it seem as if the girl ran away because he was ashamed of his terrible deed. Batman joins the girl's father at the hospital as grandpa gives a confession before passing on.
NOTE: The one-page flashback from Superman/Batman #32 takes place here. Batman battles Joker in the rain and stops him from detonating a nuclear device. Batman secretly stores the nuclear bomb in the Batcave (as referenced in Superman/Batman #33). I've placed this here because it is mentioned as taking place a "couple years ago" prior to Bat-Year 21. Writer Mark Verheiden could be referencing a specific past nuclear threat involving Joker, as there have been several. However, it seems probable that he isn't referencing anything at all, which is why I've added this note.