Modern Age (YEAR NINETEEN) Part Four

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aquaman attempts to regroup the JLA and starts by trying to recruit Nightwing.  Nightwing turns him down and meets with Bruce in the Batcave to discuss the matter.  Aquaman does assemble John Stewart, Green Arrow (Ollie), Black Canary, Red Tornado, Supergirl, Manitou Dawn, and Flash into a ragtag temporary version of the JLA.  While the temp team battles OMACs, the Key goes on a grisly killing spree and then kidnaps Dawn.  Batman investigates the murders from the Batcave and realizes the Key is responsible.  As Batman races after the Key, Ollie and Black Canary are already fighting the crazed supervillain, while Dawn's life hangs in the balance. 

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

Batman arrives just in time to help Ollie and Black Canary fight the Key.  Unfortunately, the Seven Deadly Sins have just escaped from their prison within the Rock of Eternity.  Ollie, affected by the combined powers of the Key and the demon Envy, turns against Batman and tries to kill him.  The Key then sees that Envy is manipulating the entire situation and realizes that Envy is a threat to all humanity.  Surprisingly, the Key uses his powers to suck up a shit ton of psychic energy from the citizens of Gotham and blasts the energy directly at Envy, sending the demon rocketing away.  The heroes then restrain the Key, who begs Batman not to send him back to Arkham.  The Key explains that his powers will not allow him to stop absorbing the psychic energies of those around him, and at Arkham, there is a whole bunch of bad juju in the air that makes him go a lot crazier than anyone should ever be.  Batman doesn't care and wants to send him back, but Ollie argues with Bruce that he's making an inhumane mistake.  Dawn agrees and banishes the Key to the Astral Plane.  A pissed off Batman leaves, proclaiming that the JLA, in any incarnation, is finally dead.  And according to the Dark Knight, that is a good thing.  Meanwhile, Infinite Crisis continues as reality begins to tear itself asunder and the center of the universe literally shifts.  Donna Troy assembles a group of superheroes to travel into deep space to investigate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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