Modern Age (YEAR EIGHTEEN) Part Four

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Year Eighteen Part Four.  Welcome to the action-packed, super-compressed single month of March of 2007!

--Teen Titans Vol. 3 #1
The adults convince their young counterparts to join-up with the latest and greatest incarnation of the Teen Titans!  Batman mentions it to Robin while they take down Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee.  Superboy, Robin, Wonder Girl, and Impulse meet up with the team elders Starfire, Beast Boy, and team leader Cyborg at the Titans headquarters in San Francisco.  Superboy, who has always known that he has 50% of Superman's exact cloned DNA, is shocked to learn that the other half of his genetic makeup was cloned entirely from Lex Luthor!  Conner receives this information from an instant message from a mystery person! 

NOTE:  Nightwing replaces Arsenal as leader of the Outsiders.

--Teen Titans Vol. 3 #6
The adults and the teens can't get along!  It's the Titans versus the JLA all because Diana doesn't want Cassie (Wonder Girl) on the Titans.  Things are getting ugly until Nightwing arrives and breaks it all up.  Dick scolds both teams for being immature and offers some sage wisdom before everyone goes back home.  In Gotham, Tim receives an instant message from Conner's mystery person.  There's a hilarious final splash page revealing the mystery person to be President Lex Luthor sitting at a desktop computer with a shit-eating grin on his face.  NOTE:  Impulse has officially changed his name to the more classic Kid Flash.

NOTE:  The third Reverse-Flash (aka Zoom) murders Wally's unborn twins.  Zoom is able to use his powers to cause Wally's pregnant wife to miscarry.  Flash then defeats him in battle and the villain is incarcerated.  A distraught Wally decides to quit being Flash.  Barry Allen--on his way back from the future to fight in the original Crisis (!) via the Cosmic Treadmill--appears and has a brief consoling chat with Wally.  The duo then comes up with an unorthodox idea.  The Spectre (Hal Jordan), according to Wally's and Barry's wishes, makes everyone forget that Flash is Wally West.  He also makes the world forget that Barry Allen was Flash as well.  The problem here is that Wally West forgets that he is Flash too (as seen in Flash Vol. 2 #199-200).  Special thanks to Flash Fan on this one!

--Teen Titans Vol. 3 #8
The Dymanic Duo busts an escaped Clayface.  On the Batplane trip to San Francisco, Robin tells Batman that he can't handle lying to his father anymore.  In San Fran, the Titans prepare for the return of former team member Raven.

--Batman: Gotham Knights #50-55 ("PUSHBACK")
As Riddler is being escorted to the airport which will fly him to the Slab, a series of explosions rock the parade of police vehicles.  At the same time, Oracle discovers a bomb is set to detonate at Gotham General Hospital.  Batman has his hands full.  Riddler escapes, but runs right into the man responsible for all the chaos; Hush.  Hush beats the holy hell out of Riddler, but Joker and his henchmen beat the holy hell out of Hush.  Joker then discusses what should be done with the out-of-control Hush with Penguin and Riddler.  Riddler, in exchange for continued protection, gives Joker the name of the man who killed his wife 18 years ago; crooked cop, Oliver Hammet.  NOTE: Writer A.J. Lieberman says it was 12 years ago.  Trust me, it's 18.  Anyway, 18 years ago the Riddler (months before making his supervillain debut) coincidentally was renting the apartment directly across from Joker's apartment and was witness to Hammet's crime.  Back to our present day narrative, Robin meets with the Tailor, a man who designs armored, high-tech costumes for both superheroes and supervillains alike.  (Batman, Robin, Huntress, Prometheus, and Harley Quinn all wear fashionable designs by the Tailor.  In fact, Batman has secretly employed the Tailor for seven years now).  Afterward, Hush pays the Tailor for information, which leads him to Star City in search of Prometheus.  However, once Hush locates Prometheus, an innocent police officer dies and Prometheus is badly injured by Green Arrow (Ollie Queen).  Hush preforms emergency surgery which saves the villain's life, and together they travel to Gotham to take on Batman.  However, Batman happens to be in Star City and Ollie is pissed that one of the Dark Knight's rogues has killed a Star City cop on his watch.  Ollie and Bruce fight (!), but eventually calm down and go their separate ways.  Batman returns to Gotham to find a badly beaten Joker at the hands of Hush and Prometheus.  The Caped Crusader fights off Hush and Prometheus, but the villains escape.  Riddler then goes to Poison Ivy for protection.  Meanwhile, the injured Joker retreats to a hideout which he hasn't used in 7 years; the old abandoned amusement park from The Killing Joke!  His old circus freak-gang, including the evil dwarfs, is waiting there for him!

--Flash Vol. 2 #204-205 ("IGNITION")
Flash has been missing for a few days (since Wally has forgotten that he is Flash thanks to the Spectre).  Flash was originally written as missing for over two months at this point, but due to extreme editorial compression, it can only have been a few days.  Anyway, Wally discovers that he has super speed and is shocked!  He also discovers his superhero costume and remembers that he is Flash.  Hal didn't plan this very well did he?  Batman, however, being the super-detective that he is, deduces that Wally is Flash and confronts him in his apartment.  They chat in a Keystone City cemetery and Bruce reveals his secret identity to Wally.  In an instant all of Wally's memories come flooding back.  Wally tells Bruce that Hal was responsible for making everyone forget.  Bruce is furious at Hal, but really, when isn't he?

--JLA #84-89 ("TRIAL BY FIRE")
An unknown telepath causes all of the Earth's villains and evil-doers to become overwhelmed with a sudden feeling of remorse and regret.  President Lex Luthor, being one of the most evil men ever, drifts into a catatonic state.  When the JLAers begin to feel the effects of the telepath as well, the team visits Vandal Savage who tells them a 20,000 year-old Martian is the cause of the crisis.  When the evil Martian, known as Fernus, takes control of Martian Manhunter's body, the League fears J'onn was responsible all along.  While the Fernus-controlled J'onn begins unleashing a nuclear holocaust upon the world, Batman uses Plastic Man's son, Luke McDunnagh, to lure Plas out of retirement and back onto the team!  Plas and the rest of the League are able to separate Fernus from J'onn and defeat the evil Martian, but not before an entire North Korean city is nuked.  Sadly, J'onns girlfriend, Scorch, winds up in a coma.

--Breach #3-4 
Major Tim Zanetti aka Breach has awoken from a coma and is endowed with the exact powers of Captain Atom due to military experiments conducted on him twenty years ago.  Meanwhile, a group of aliens known as The Rifters have begun to invade Earth and assimilate human beings with the goal of killing everyone on the planet.  C'mon guys, it's been tried before.  Anyway, when both a rogue Rifter known as Herdsman and Talia Al Ghul seek out Breach in an attempt to thwart the alien invasion, the JLA gets involved.  Unsure of which side Breach is on, Superman, Batman, and J'onn wind up fighting him.  Breach never does come to amicable terms with the JLA, but the threat of the Rifters is eventually nullified. 

--Superman/Batman Secret Files and Origins 2003
--Superman/Batman #1-6
Superman helps Captain Atom take down Major Force, while Batman takes down a supposed terrorist.  Afterward, Batman and Superman tell Atom that his boss, President Lex Luthor, is playing him for a fool.  Batman and Superman then battle Metallo in a Gotham cemetery and Supes gets shot in the chest with a Kryptonite bullet!  As Batman carries the dying Superman through the sewers toward the Batcave they share some amazing dialogue about Magpie, where Bruce tells Superman that he is reasonably sure that the villainess is dead.  Bruce's intel is actually wrong on this one.  Magpie is alive and well at Arkham.  In the Batcave, Alfred performs emergency surgery on Clark and removes the bullet.  A distraught grey-haired Superman from the future then arrives out of nowhere and attacks Bruce and his younger-self.  The heroes are able to stop the future Clark by shooting him with the bullet which Alfred has just removed.  Old Supes teleports back to the future, but issues a warning that everyone in his time is dead as a result of Luthor.  Meanwhile, Luthor tells the world that radioactive armageddon in the form of a gigantic Kryptonite asteroid is on its way to Earth.  The President is reveals to the world that Superman is responsible for the impending doom. (Some Kryptonian tech attached to the asteroid is navigating the rock towards Superman, but we'll find out about that later).  Luthor condemns the Man of Steel and offers a one billion dollar reward for his capture.  Superman and Batman immediately fly towards Washington, DC and are attacked by a hundred or so random supervillains eager to collect on the bounty.  Their attackers include Mongul, Solomon Grundy, Mr. Freeze, Silver Banshee, Nightshade, Grodd, Lady Shiva, Polka-Dot Man, Black Spider, Cheetah, Black Manta, Mirror Master, and dozens more!  Batman and Superman put up the good fight, but are hopelessly outnumbered by the villains until a group of superheroes saves them!  However, this group of metahumans (which includes Captain Atom, Major Force, Katana, John Stewart, Black Lightning, Power Girl, and Starfire) has been commissioned by Luthor to arrest Superman.  Batman and Superman then begin battling Atom's team!  Back at the White House, Luthor injects himself with a mixture of Venom and Kryptonite (!) and goes into a gleeful roid rage as he begins to explain his master plan to Amanda Waller.  He's so hyped-up and drugged-up he even kisses her!  In Tokyo, most of Luthor's heroes realize they don't want to fight against Bats and Supes.  But Major Force is no real hero.  He's an atomic psycho and he goes ape-shit.  Force goes nuclear and Atom is able to contain the blast, but not before it seemingly kills both of them.  In actuality, Atom is shot into the possible post-armageddon future where he meets with the grey-haired Superman from earlier.  In the present, fearing that Bats and Supes are out of control, the JSA sends Captain Marvel and Hawkman in for a fight.  Meanwhile, the Bat-family (with Huntress) breaks into the White House and confronts Luthor face-to-face.  President Luthor hulks-up on Venom and is able to pound the whole team into unconsciousness!  Bats and Supes have won their fight and show up at the White House in disguise as Hawkman and Marvel.  Luthor shoots some more Venom into his body and dons a green armored super-suit, which he says was hand crafted for him on Apokolips.  This suit is clearly modeled after Alexander Luthor's Antimatter armored super-suit and Jeph Loeb could have easily written it so that Lex had kept it or replicated it following the events of JLA: Earth-2, but instead we get this lame exposition.  Anyway, 13-year-old super genius Hiro Okamura aka the new Toyman builds a gigantic Composite Superman/Batman robot spaceship which Captain Atom kamikazes into the asteroid, saving Earth.  (We will find out 3 years later that Hiro is an android).  Superman defeats Luthor and the President's insanity is broadcast to the entire world.  Batman also reveals that Talia has sold all of Luthor's assets to Bruce Wayne.  Luthor is now no longer President, is penniless, is addicted to Venom and liquid Kryptonite, and is in hiding.   NOTE:  A major part of this story-arc involves Bruce finding evidence which leads him to believe that Metallo killed his parents (because the mystery is still unsolved).  However, due to retcons we know (and Bruce knows) that Joe Chill killed Ma and Pa Wayne, so this aspect of the story must be ignored entirely.  ANOTHER NOTE:  Shame on you Jeph Loeb.  Shame on you for ruining Lex Luthor (turning him from a devilishly suave genius into a raving drug-addicted 70s costume-wearing maniac).  And shame on you for writing one of the most inane and embarrassing story-arcs of all time.  There are SO many plot-holes and so much amateurish writing going on here it's amazing that Loeb wasn't run out of town after this debacle.  I can honestly say that in Batman's 18 year existence, this is one of my least favorite story-arcs thus far.  Let's move on, before I get even more upset.

--Catwoman Vol. 3 #30
Catwoman finally tracks down Philo Zeiss and fights him in an effort to avenge Slam Bradley's stabbing from a couple months ago. However, Catwoman is no match for Zeiss, who savagely beats her and stabs her in the belly. Catwoman is about to be killed, but two members of the Cult of the Beti-Ma save Catwoman and take out Zeiss. Batman, Holly Robinson, and Slam Bradley rush to the scene, but by the time they arrive Selina is missing and feared dead. The Beti-Ma, an ancient Egyptian cult, has abducted her. Batman will spend the next month searching for Selina, a quest that will overlap with the entirety of the next month's stories (as referenced in Catwoman Vol. 3 #32).

--Batman #626-630 ("AS THE CROW FLIES")
Penguin has hired Scarecrow and the debuting super-science villainess, Fright, to spread new hallucinogenics on the streets of Gotham.  When a small-time drug dealer takes a suicide dive out of  a high-rise window, Batman sends Tim (in disguise as a female doctor) to take his blood sample from the morgue.  After another small-timer goes into a drug-induced rage, Batman's investigation leads him to Penguin, but there's no hard evidence.  Then, the 10-foot tall, monstrous "Scarebeast" shows up and starts killing Penguin's men.  Scarebeast shoots Batman with fear gas, causing Bruce to flee and hallucinate that Jason Todd is in the Batmobile with him.  Scarebeast tracks Bruce to Wayne Manor where the latter teams-up with Tim and Alfred to corner the creature down into the Batcave.  Once Batman dons an armored super-suit and knocks out Scarebeast, the monster reverts into Jonathan Crane.  Turns out Penguin had Fright genetically alter Crane into a monster in order to wipe out his own men, who were planning a coup.  Crane now has the permanent Hulk-like ability to morph into the gigantic Scarebeast at will.  In the end, Alfred finds a Robin domino mask in the Batmobile that definitely doesn't belong to Tim.  Wait a minute, maybe Bruce's hallucination of Jason Todd wasn't a hallucination at all...  Hint: This is the start of Judd Winick's infamous Batman run.  Jason is definitely back.  NOTE:  We see the giant penny in the Batcave again for the first time since before the quake.  It looks to be damaged, or discolored, so we must assume Batman finally hauled it out of the gorge in which it had been stuck for so long.

--Batman: City of Light #1-8
While Batman chases down some street punks, a young innocent bystander gets injured and winds up in a coma.  Originally, the Pander Brothers (authors of this story) wrote that Batman takes a full month off because he is so upset about the innocent bystander coming into harm.  However, with all of the editorial compression of this year, this simply isn't possible and I'm surprised the Panders even had the audacity to attempt giving Bruce such a lengthy reprieve in the first place.  So, to reiterate, Batman does not take a month long vacation.  We must ignore any references to his absence.  If Batman does take any time off, it can only be a few hours max.  Moving on, crazy business tycoon/scientist Evan Slate has designed a new living bio-tech which appears visibly as "hard light."  This "hard-light" can construct itself into solid structural architecture in minutes.  In a day after his pitch, the mad scientist already has his first glowing Slate Tower in downtown Gotham, which will supposedly be the first step towards the evolution of Gotham into Neo-Gotham.  Meanwhile, Batman meets with Batgirl and tells her that he has failed in his mission because of the poor young boy in the coma.  He's so upset, he tells her that both of their crime-fighting days are over!  When the boy succumbs to his injuries and dies in the hospital, Batman is so down in the dumps, he tries to cheer up by posing for a painting by once of Bruce Wayne's contemporaries, the avant-garde artist, Rahn.  Meanwhile, Slate's proposal for the creation of Neo-Gotham is rejected.  Since Slate's own DNA is linked to his shimmering bio-tech, the bio-tech has a life of its own, and it doesn't appreciate being rejected.  The phosphorescent supervillain known as Purge, which is an extension of Slate (but with a mind of its own), comes to life and begins fighting Batgirl.  Batman returns to action just in time to witness the sentient Slate Tower spread its proverbial wings and begin mutating the entire city into Neo-Gotham.  The Dark Knight and Batgirl are able to infiltrate the living tower, defeat the avatar Purge, and then take out Slate himself.  In the end, Slate winds up in Arkham while his tower of light turns into an empty, charred husk.  NOTE:  There is an odd billboard depicted in the middle of this story which reads "Slate Tower II coming next year."  This is odd because the first tower erected itself using Slate's bio-tech in less than a day.  Why would we have had to wait a year for the next one?  This is a trivial point, but I thought I'd mention it.    

--Superman/Batman #7
Batman and Superman send Robin and Superboy to Japan to check-up on Hiro Okamura (the new teenage Toyman).  Robin and Superboy wind up operating gigantic Gundam-esque battle-mechs against Metallo, who dons his own anime-style mech as well.  Metallo is captured, but not before half of Tokyo is destroyed.  (Loeb destroyed the other half of Tokyo in his last story-arc).  Batman then recruits yet another child into the Bat-family.  From now on, 13 year-old Hiro will construct all of Batman's gadgetry and vehicles from his home-base at Mt. Fuji.

NOTE:  Meteor showers of Kryptonite begin raining down on Earth as a result of the destruction of the Kryptonite asteroid a few days earlier.  Superman goes into quarantine in his Fortress of Solitude (as mentioned in Superman/Batman #8).  Also, Vice President Pete Ross becomes the new President of the United States (as referenced in Superman/Batman #6).  Lana Lang becomes the First Lady.

--Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #179 
This is an odd one-shot about two Asian assassins that get revenge on a man that abused and molested them when they were children.  Batman studies the scene of the homicide and ponders if the act was simply revenge or something much deeper.

--Superman/Batman #8
Superman has been in quarantine for eleven days, while all of the Earth's superheroes collect as much Kryptonite as they can.  While sweeping up fragments at the bottom of Gotham Bay, Batman discovers that not only Kryptonite has rained down from the exploded asteroid, but the remains of a Kryptonian spaceship as well.  Guess who's inside?  Why it's Superman's cousin, Kara Zor-El, the new Supergirl!

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