Modern Age (YEAR NINETEEN) Part Three

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December 2007 to February 2008.

--Aquaman Vol. 6 #21-22 ("WITH THE FISHES")
It has been exactly six months since half of San Diego sank into the ocean and became "Sub Diego." In the past six months Aquaman has worked hard (with a stubborn City Hall) to help the gilled-people of his underwater city. When a genetic mutation snafu occurs and underwater mommas start giving birth to air breathers, Aquaman forces the Mayor of San Diego to help his people. When a former low-level Gotham telekinetic turned new super-villain called The Eel begins orchestrating undersea mob actions, Aquaman turns to Batman for assistance. Batman does a little research and meets with Aquaman on the West Coast, delivering to him a Wayne Industries' telekinesis dampening device. Despite the failure of the dampener, Aquaman defeats the Eel.

NOTE:  With Batgirl and Robin successfully handling Bl├╝dhaven crime, Nightwing decides to move to New York City.  Nightwing becomes the newest protector of the Big Apple!

ANOTHER NOTE:  Wonder Woman is rewarded her eyesight back in exchange for helping Athena take over leadership of the ancient Gods (as seen in Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #217).

--Superman/Batman #57-59 ("NANOPOLIS")
The Prankster is able to use Ray Palmer's technology to shrink down Superman to a molecular level.  Batman and Robin capture Prankster and force him to reveal what he's done.  With the help of Dr. John Henry Irons, Batman shrinks down and goes in for the teeny-tiny rescue.  Bruce is shocked to discover Superman trapped in the middle of a race-war between microscopic anthropomorphic sentient organisms known as Nanobots and Nanomads.  Superman has also gone quite made, thinking that he's been trapped in "Nanopolis" for several months.  Batman snaps some sense into Superman and together they end the race-war, preach unity to the mini-masses, and help rebuild their society.  When Superman and Batman return to full-size, Superman has spent what feels like several months in the "Nanoverse" and Batman says that it took several days to fix the microscopic racial tensions.  Robin, however, informs them that only minutes have passed.  See, time moves differently when you shrink down to a molecular level.  See, this story is really shitty.

--JLA Classified #37-41
It's December in California and college student Frank Halloran has just found out that all his memories are false implants put there by Professor Ivo.  Frank is actually Kid Amazo.  Half human, half robot, Frank has all the powers of his "father" Amazo.  Part of him is evil, the other part is good.  After watching the JLA battle Amazo, Frank decides to fight his evil half by becoming the superhero known as The Kid.  A few days later, the Kid easily takes down a crime-gang amazingly called The Bin Ladens and then a new Gotham villain called The Glass Key.  Amazo, angry that his "son" has chosen the light side over the dark side, begins fighting him.  The JLA chooses to watch instead of act, to see how things play out.  Amazo backs down and the Kid officially earns his superhero stripes.  That is until two days later, when Wonder Woman has a chat with the Kid's girlfriend and the latter decides she wants nothing to do with a crazy robot vigilante boyfriend.  The Kid blames Wonder Woman for his loss and decides he now wants to be a villain like dear old dad.  For some reason, the JLA meets in the Batcave instead of the Watchtower to discuss the matter, and the Kid, now going by Kid Amazo, spies on the team within.  A day later Kid Amazo busts into the Batcave and fights Batman one-on-one.  The JLA then chases Kid Amazo back to California, where Batman tells everyone that unlike his dad, who can replicate the powers of each JLA member, Kid Amazo can replicate the personalities of each JLA member.  Kid Amazo runs for cover into the waiting arms of Professor Ivo, who reveals that Kid Amazo's girlfriend is actually not his girlfriend at all.  Kid Amazo's girlfriend is really Sara Shapiro-Ives, Professor Ivo's daughter.  But that's not all.  Sara is also Kid Amazo's biological mother!  Kid Amazo has been banging his own mom!  Kid Amazo freaks out, goes all Taxi Driver and shaves a mohawk into his head and begins kicking the crap out of the JLA.  At one point Kid Amazo beats up Batman, steals his costume and wears it into battle.  Eventually, having the combative personalities of each JLA member within his brain causes a major malfunction which, in turn, causes Kid Amazo to self-destruct.  The JLA is victorious, but they all learn that they each harbor vastly deep-rooted distrust and personal insecurity for each other.

--Gotham Central #26-31
The entire rest of the month of December 2007 is dedicated to issues of Greg Rucka's Gotham Central.  Batman is a secondary character in these issues and sometimes isn't seen at all.  GC #26 begins on December 10.  Batman isn't in GC #26-27.  Catwoman is wrongly accused of murder, but is quickly able to clear her name.  Continuing on with issue #28, a GCPD cop is badly burned and begins mutating into a monster after stumbling through one of Dr. Alchemy's old hideouts.  Montoya and Allen plan a trip to Iron Heights Prison in Keystone City to question Alchemy.  But before they depart, Batman visits Montoya and tells her that she shouldn't cut any deals with the racist Hannibal Lechter-esque supervillain.  But of course, they do cut a deal, and they bring Alchemy to Gotham to see the patient.  Alchemy breaks free of his restraints and "activates" the mutated cop, who has transformed into a monstrous golem.  The superhuman monster-man evades Batman and goes on a wild killing spree, rampaging through Montoya's neighborhood until Montoya's dad shoots it in the face.  This unlikely event becomes the catalyst from which Montoya will begin speaking to her estranged homophobic family once again.

NOTE: Selina breaks up with Slam Bradley.

--Adventures of Superman #636
Batman and Superman are made aware of a huge new criminal threat to start off 2008.  Lex Luthor, Talia Al Ghul, Deathstroke, Dr. Pyscho, the Calculator, and Black Adam form the new Secret Society of Supervillains.  The actual roster of the Society consists of dozens more.  In order to join the Society, Talia leaves the League of Assassins.  The new supervillain Ruin is advised by Lex Luthor and begins a campaign of terror against Superman.  Former President Pete Ross will soon be wrongly accused of being Ruin.  Ruin will later be revealed as former STAR Labs Professor Emil Hamilton, who had framed Ross for his crimes.  NOTE:  The Lex Luthor that forms this new SSoSV is actually secretly Alexander Luthor, Jr. (of the former Earth-3) in disguise.  The former hero has broken out of his pocket universe, which he has lived in ever since the original Crisis and he has a devious plan up his sleeve.  But more on that later.

NOTE:  Tweedle-Dum dies of natural causes.  Dumson Deever (Tweedle-Dee's brother) becomes the new Tweedle-Dum.  Both Dee and Dum are recruited into the Secret Society of Supervillains (as referenced in Infinite Crisis and Detective Comics #841).

ANOTHER NOTE:  Superman deals with the events of Superman Vol. 2 #204-207 which detail the beginnings of the "For Tomorrow" story-arc.  A mysterious "Vanishing" occurs, where over a million random people simply disappear off the face of the Earth, including Lois Lane.  Superman traces the source of "The Vanishing" to the Middle East, where he gets illegally involved in a civil war.  An unhinged Superman battles the evil cyborg known as Equus, and unwittingly causes a second "Vanishing" which results in 300,000 more disappearances.  This reckless act causes Superman to once again lose the public's faith.

--Superman Vol. 2 #208
--Superman Vol. 2 #210
Batman and the JLA meet with Superman on the Watchtower and chastise him for his recent behavior in the Middle East, which caused a second "Vanishing."  Later, in Gotham the Joker makes a quick appearance.  Batman fights him off, but the Joker escapes when Superman shows up and accidentally distracts the Dark Knight.  Supes and Bats then travel to the Batcave where they engage in a dark conversation.  After their vague talk and Superman's hasty departure, Bruce realizes that Superman has learned what's going on regarding "The Vanishings."  Bruce then immediately calls Wonder Woman and tells her to get down to the Fortress of Solitude to make sure Supes doesn't do anything rash.

NOTE:   The Superman "For Tomorrow" story-arc concludes (as seen in Superman Vol. 2 #211-215).  Superman rescues the missing people (including Lois) from an alternate reality that exists within the Phantom Zone.  The Fortress of Solitude self-destructs and implodes.  Superman begins using his alternate Fortress of Solitude which is in an ancient Incan pyramid in the jungles of Ecuador.

--JLA Classified #16-21 ("THE HYPOTHETICAL WOMAN")
It's been three months since General Dvory Tuzik began secretly organizing the totalitarian nations of the world.  Tuzik releases a deadly Starro-based mind-control virus in Oregon, which the JLA is able to contain and quarantine.  Flash contracts the virus and is taken to the Watchtower for observation.  Word gets out to the public that the entire JLA team may have contracted the virus, which causes a panic.  When the JLAers refuse to quarantine themselves, the UN decides to declare war on them!  Meanwhile, the JLA heads to Santa Prisca to deal with yet another strange plague (courtesy of Tuzik).  When they arrive at the Caribbean island-nation, UN forces attack using commandeered Tamaranean warships and synthetically created versions of Chemo.  In China, Tuzik uses a metahuman known as The Hypothetical Woman to create six brainwashed metahuman warriors to serve his bidding.  The so-called Hypothetical Army quickly and easily takes control of China.  Within hours, Tuzik mobilizes the Chinese Army in an attempt to start WWIII.  The JLA is not only able to defeat the combined force of the Hypothetical Army and the Red Army, they defeat a jacked-up monster version of Tuzik as well.  In the end, Tuzik and the Hypothetical Army all die.  Tuzik's benevolent son becomes the new president of Tuzik's unnamed home nation, where an injured Batman wishes the young leader the best of luck.

--Green Lantern: Rebirth #1-6
Guy Gardner's body begins rejecting his Vuldarian DNA and he literally explodes inside the Warrior Bar, destroying everything inside except for a statue of Hal Jordan.  Then, all the buildings disappear in the area where Coast City used to be, except for Hal's old apartment building.  After that, Spectre Hal Jordan brutally severs Black Hand's hand much to the shock of Ollie Queen and the new teenage female Speedy (Mia Dearden).  While Dr. Mid-Nite stabalizes a deformed and critical Guy Gardner aboard the Watchtower, Batman trashes Hal as he always does, saying that Hal is an insane supervillain and always has been.  Finally, Geoff Johns gives us the emotion that I've been waiting to see in John Stewart ever since he joined the JLA.  Stewart lashes out at Batman, exclaiming that he's sick and tired of Bruce's unfair treatment of Hal.  However, this time John is in the minority as the rest of the team thinks Hal has snapped again too.  Meanwhile, Kyle Rayner crash lands a spaceship on Earth with a warning that Parallax is coming.  Accompanying Kyle is the Oan Guardian Ganthet, who has Hal's corpse with him!  Back on the Watchtower, Guy turns back into a Green Lantern, but goes nuts.  Similarly, John Stewart attacks the JLA, while Kilowog attacks Ganthet.  Eventually, Ganthet returns the GLs to their senses.  Kyle rushes to the Watchtower with Hal's corpse in tow, meets with Ollie, and explains that the power rings are based on the Emotional Spectrum (!) and that Hal never became Parallax.  Not quite, anyway.  Parallax is an evil yellow (fear based) alien symbiote which had latched onto Hal and brought out his inner demons.  Meanwhile, in Haven (formerly Coast City), Parallax overpowers the Spectre and takes over Hal's soul.  While Kyle and Ollie battle a returning Sinestro aboard the Watchtower, the rest of Earth's heroes battle Parallax/Hal Jordan.  The fight is going poorly on both fronts until the Spectre is able to evict Parallax from Hal's soul.  Afterward, the Spectre is pretty fed up with Hal's crazy ass soul and decides it's time to move on.  Hal's soul floats towards Heaven, but the call of the power ring is greater than the call of God, I guess.  Hal's soul rockets into his corpse aboard the Watchtower.  Green Lantern Hal Jordan is reborn! (Not to mention, his gray hair has color again, and he has de-aged significantly).  Hal teams-up with Kyle and defeats Sinestro and then joins the rest of the heroes to attack a monstrous Parallax-infected Ganthet.  But before the heroes can strike, Batman wants a word with Hal.  He still doesn't trust him and wants some answers.  Hal punches Batman in the face and puts the Dark Knight on his ass!  Guy chuckles and references the time that Bats one-punch knocked him out years ago.  An angry Batman grumbles how arrogant Hal is and tells the JLA to regroup for an assault on Parallax.  Just then, Alan Scott holds the JLA back, telling Batman that this is a Green Lantern-only feud.  The GLs defeat Parallax and the Guardians of Oa make their triumphant return.  The all new Green Lantern Corps is back!  After the dust settles, Batman and Hal face off.  Batman stubbornly shouts that he will never believe that the only reason Hal went crazy was because he was influenced by an evil alien symbiote.  Hal replies by saying he doesn't give a shit what Batman thinks and he's back for good.  John Stewart adds the tough blaxploitaion line, "Is that a problem?" to which Batman replies, "Not right now."  Bruce backs down and our narrative concludes.  A+ story.  Oh, I also wanted to mention that the floating alien city of Haven leaves Earth and the reconstruction of Coast City begins during this storyline.

NOTE:  John Stewart remains in the primary lineup of the JLA as a full-time member, but skips out on the next couple JLA missions (most likely because he doesn't want to work with Batman following the events of GL: Rebirth).  Kyle Rayner joins the team once again as a part-time reserve member.

--JLA Classified #26-31 ("SECRET HISTORY, SACRED TRUST")
When the rogue South American dictatorships of Santa Bertriza and Del Canto both begin using metahuman guerrilla fighters, the world fears a threat from something worse than metahuman supervillains; metahuman terrorists.  After a meeting with President Horne, the US government sends the JLA to check-up on the totalitarian nations.  However, the UN is strongly against this course of action (as they would be, especially since the UN recently sent its troops against the JLA in "The Hypothetical Woman" story-arc).  After a brief interlude where Batman busts some kidnappers in Gotham, the JLA comes up with a plan.  With President Horne's secret backing, half of the JLA (including a returning Faith) goes undercover and enters Santa Bertriza and Del Canto as civilians.  Meanwhile, President Horne has J'onn, Kyle, and Aquaman form a distraction to make it seem as if the JLA is occupied elsewhere.  Bruce (as Bruce Wayne) visits with the Santa Bertrizan president while Clark Kent visits with the Del Cantoan president.  Things are going smoothly until Wally and Faith accidentally cause a metahuman war to break out between the two nations.  Bruce, Kyle, Clark, Faith, Wally, and Diana (all psychically linked to President Horne via J'onn's telepathy) enter into the fray and begin taking out as many metahumans as they can from both sides.  Meanwhile, Diana and Kyle let themselves be captured and then pass themselves off as defectors from the opposing sides in order to infiltrate the armies as spies.  When everyone regroups, Bruce tells the team that a third party has been manipulating both countries from the get-go, and this third party has basically been using these countries as a giant metahuman lab experiment.  After more investigation, the JLAers learn that Dutch industrialist Shyuler Cristoffels is behind the South American war, simply because he wants easy, cheap access to a rare ore deposit beneath the border of the two countries.  When this news goes public, the JLA steps out of the shadows, easily ends the war, apprehends both dictators, and defeats the arriving Cristoffels and his team of Dutch metahumans.  And I'm sure you were wondering why President Horne was being so helpful and chummy with the JLA all of a sudden in this story-arc?  Duh, Horne had his own team ready to swoop in to begin mining the precious underground ore as soon as Cristoffels was out of the picture.  But as always, Batman is one step ahead of everyone.  Before the US team even arrives, the JLA has the ore (which is more radioactive than plutonium) safely aboard the Watchtower where no one can get it.

--JLA Classified #42-46 ("THE GHOSTS OF MARS")
While undergoing an ancient Martian ritual, J'onn suffers a psychic backlash and goes into a coma for three days.  Using Zatanna's magic, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman enter J'onn's mind and bring him back to consciousness.  NOTE:  Issues #42 through #45 are all a part of J'onn's detailed hallucination while he is in the coma.  Therefore, Batman only really makes an appearance in issue #46.

--Batman 80-Page Giant 2011 #1, Part 7 

A young boy who doesn't have the physical capability of forming words gets into the middle of a scuffle between Solomon Grundy and Batman.  The Dark Knight saves his life and puts Grundy down and out.  Later, much to the surprise and joy of his parents, the boy says his first word in nearly a decade: "Batman."
--Batman: Gotham Knights #60-65
Hush and Prometheus kidnap Alfred.  With Poison Ivy's assistance, Batman rescues Alfred.  Bruce doesn't know it yet, but Hush has set the seed for some of his old fashioned trickery.  Once again, Hush has a Clayface pretend to be someone else in order to fool Batman and company.  This time Clayface VIII (Johnny Williams) morphs into Tommy Elliott in order to make Bruce and Alfred doubt that Tommy was ever really Hush in the first place.  Only Alfred bears witness to this ruse, but he is drugged and also winds up hitting his head which causes him to forget the incident.  Meanwhile, Poison Ivy learns that all of the former orphans that lived under her care during and after NML are infected with toxins which cause them to commit suicide.  There is a flashback to 'tec #752 which supposedly takes place "2 years ago."  It should read "3 years ago."  Batman meets with Ivy and is convinced that someone else is killing her former "children".  Pamela Isely busts into the old laboratory (where she was originally turned into Ivy) looking for information leading to Jason Woodrue aka Floronic Man.  A lab assistant tells her that Jason died three years ago after getting hit by a car.  Ivy, desperate to reverse her biology to become normal again, contacts Bruce Wayne for help.  Ivy contacts Bruce because he has had a penchant for helping Arkham patients in the past.  Bruce meets with Ivy in her secret lab and builds rapport with the lovely Miss Isley.  A jealous Hush, who has not only made himself immune to Ivy's deadly touch, but has fallen madly in love with her, visits the villainess and tells her that Bruce doesn't really want to help, because he's Batman!  Bruce then has Alfred dress up as Batman in order to trick Ivy back into believing that he isn't the Dark Knight.  After this unbelievable charade actually works, Bruce creates a cure for Ivy.  Shouldn't Ivy think it's a bit odd that a billionaire playboy is all of sudden a scientific genius?  Well, I guess she did fall for Alfred dressed up as the Caped Crusader.  Moving on, Bruce and a cured Pamela Isley celebrate!  Pam is then visited by a cured Jason Woodrue.  Woodrue reveals that he cured himself and faked his death three years ago to hide from the secret criminal organization known as The Division.  He also tells Pamela that he originally turned her into Poison Ivy all those years ago while under orders from the Division.  Furthermore, Woodrue adds,the Division is still active and has created several more "Poison Ivies" that will be unleashed upon the world as agents of evil.  In an instant, Division agents shoot Woodrue in the head and Pamela runs off.  (Woodrue doesn't die here, which means, despite having been "cured," he still has the power of the Floronic Man living within him).  Pamela feels the only way she can survive is if she turns back into Poison Ivy.  Bruce refuses to do it, but Hush is more than willing.  Hush, Ivy, and Batman then scuffle with agents of the Division, and during the chaos, Ivy injects herself with Hush's serum.  But the serum is no good and Pamela dies!  A few days later, Bruce visits Pamela's grave.  Don't fret.  Like the "death" of Jason Woodrue, Pamela Isley's "death" doesn't stick either.

NOTE:  The interplanetary space-opera known as the Rann-Thanagar War begins on the other side of the universe (as seen in Rann-Thanagar War #1).

ANOTHER NOTE:  Dr. Light becomes fully aware of his lost memories and brain-alteration at the hands of the JLA years ago (during the "mind-wipe scandal").  He's pissed off and attacks Green Arrow (Ollie) and members of both the Teen Titans and Outsiders (as seen in Teen Titans Vol. 3 #21).  Batman is not present at these fights, but realizes why Dr. Light is so angry.  The Dark Knight puts two and two together and realizes that he also was mind-wiped years ago!  Batman immediately begins ignoring his JLA communicator.  An enraged Batman has effectively quit the JLA.  Batman then immediately and secretly begins monitoring the metahuman community using a semi-sentient satellite technology known as Brother Mark 1 aka Brother I (as referenced in The OMAC Project #2).  Batman has been gathering detailed data on the metahumans since Bat-Year Ten and has many WayneTech satellites in orbit.  However, Batman has never utilized the invasive super high-tech Brother I surveillance system until now.  Morally, Bruce had always been against using the technology, but now the gloves are off and he doesn't give a damn.

YET ANOTHER NOTE: Batman meets secretly with Superman and tells him he has resigned from the JLA because of the mind-wipe scandal.  Superman is just as upset as Batman upon learning about the mind-wipes and even considers quitting the team as well, but decides to forge-on without saying anything to anyone else (as referenced in JLA #117).

--DC Countdown #1
This is it, kiddies.  The countdown to Infinite Crisis begins now!  When Oracle informs Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) that someone is laundering money from both Kord Industries (Beetle's company) and WayneTech, Beetle visits Batman in the Batcave.  An angry Batman quickly ushers Ted away, saying that he's aware of the money laundering and he's aware of much more (i.e. his mind-wiping).  Ted then puts in an emergency call to all the heroes of the DCU when a hundred-pound stockpile of Kryptonite is stolen from a storage facility.  The hero community doesn't seem too concerned, except for Beetle, who continues his investigation with the aid of his long-time best friend Booster Gold.  After Beetle is attacked, and Booster is nearly killed and hospitalized, the former goes to visit Captain Marvel, but Cap is busy dealing with a crazed Spectre (who is currently lacking a soul ever since Hal Jordan's return to the living).  The wizard Shazam, preoccupied with the "magic war" against Spectre, speaks briefly with Beetle and warns him about Luthor before teleporting him away.  Beetle is then nearly killed when a bomb explodes on his Bug-ship.  While recovering from his injuries on the Watchtower, Beetle tries in vain to explain about his investigation to Wonder Woman.  Beetle also tries in vain to warn J'onn that something big is going down, but J'onn is preoccupied with news reports from the frontlines of the Rann-Thanagar War which is occurring at the other end of the universe.  A dejected Beetle returns home, but quickly discovers evidence which points him toward a castle in Switzerland. After failing to get Batman to respond to his calls, Beetle travels to Switzerland alone and infiltrates the castle, which is obviously a Checkmate facility.  Beetle then accesses a computer and finds a file which has highly detailed information on every, literally every, superhero in existence.  This intel, gathered together in such a way, is very bad news. But who has gathered this valuable and dangerous information?  The new Checkmate King, Maxwell Lord!  The new Checkmate King then delivers some of the most awesome comic book dialogue ever written.  I'll paraphrase.  Max explains that there are currently 1.3 million metahumans on Earth.  Ninety-nine-point-five percent of those metahumans have "nuisance level" powers.  But the other point-five percent are "gods walking the Earth" i.e. "the one's we have to watch out for, monitor, and stop."  At this point, Beetle reminds Max that he (Max) is a metahuman too, to which Max replies, "I can be trusted."  Max further explains that he wants to save Earth from the power-mad metahumans.  Max also reveals that he kept the Justice League ineffectual for years when he was the leader of the team, while at the same time he secretly planned for the eventual elimination the entire metahuman population.  Max has been preparing for this for the past nine years!  Beetle tries to escape with Max's computer files, but the latter activates an OMAC soldier (we'll learn much more about OMACs very soon) which easily takes down the hero.  Checkmate agent Sasha Bordeaux (!) helps restrain Beetle as well.  Max tells Beetle that he now controls Batman's surveillance satellite network known as the Brother Mark One aka Brother I, which will be the definitive factor in stopping the metahuman threat.  Max then offers the bloody, broken, and handcuffed Beetle a simple ultimatum; join or die.  Beetle's response: "Rot in hell, Max."  Max's reply: he shoots Beetle in the head (!) and sets his Brother I satellite to autonomous control, thus initiating "Project OMAC."  Ted Kord is dead and the DCU is about to be turned upside-down.

--Green Lantern Corps: Recharge #1
Kyle Rayner quits the JLA in order to join the new Green Lantern Corps full-time.  He says goodbye to all his friends on the Watchtower and then departs with Guy Gardner.  Guy drops trou and moons Batman through the Watchtower window before leaving.  Gotta love that Guy and his bare-assed antics. 

--Outsiders Vol. 3 #21-22
Nightwing flips out when he learns that Bruce has been secretly funding and posturing his Outsiders team.  They get in a heated argument and Bruce tells Dick that he simply is putting up money for the team and in no way wants to step on his toes as leader.  Dick also expresses his anger over the fact that Arsenal has been meeting with and collecting intel from Batman for months now.  Wait a minute.  No, he hasn't.  Batman and Nightwing quickly realize that Arsenal has been meeting with a fake Batman, namely Deathstroke!  The jig is up and Deathstroke ditches his fake Batman costume for his normal duds, but not before nearly murdering Arsenal.

NOTE: Batman investigates a corrupt insurance company called Three Piece Suit and their hired henchman, a bizarre cyborg made of petrified wood called Wooden Nickel (as referenced in Catwoman Vol. 3 #39).

ANOTHER NOTE:  Superman encounters an OMAC for first time.  The techno-organic warrior is as strong and powerful as the Man of Steel (as seen in Superman Vol. 2 #217).

--The OMAC Project #1-3
Two days have passed since Ted Kord's murder.  While a confused Batman wonders why he's been locked out of his own Brother I surveillance system, Max uses the hijacked satellite tech to monitor the Earth's metahuman activity.  Brother I's spying abilities are so great, Max can actually watch Batman inside the Batcave.  Basically, Max sees all and hears all while Sasha Bordeaux stands at his side.  But what is Sasha really up to?  Maybe trying to help an old lover?  Sasha secretly mails Bruce a letter which not only informs him that Checkmate has control of his satellite, but of Ted's death as well.  Bruce meets with Superman, Wonder Woman, and Booster Gold on the Watchtower and tells all that Beetle is dead.  He also tells them the truth about his satellite spying and the fact that the tech has been stolen.  Booster, upon learning the terrible news about the death of his best friend, flips out on the cold, unemotional Batman and even tries to blast him with a laser.  When everyone calms down, Batman explains that the entire Checkmate organization has gone rogue and is no longer affiliated with the US government.  Batman's investigations into Checkmate then take him to Chicago where he runs into Sasha.  They immediately kiss passionately, but Max is watching and the King isn't happy.  Three OMACs bust in and kidnap Sasha before she can spill the beans about Max.  Batman recognizes the OMACs as Brother I's prototype soldiers, but is surprised because he didn't construct Brother I to have weaponry.  Wonder Woman, Booster, and Guy Gardner search for Brother I, but the satellite is well hidden with various cloaking devices.  Meanwhile, Max has all the other Checkmate higher-ups executed and detains both Jessica Midnight and Sasha in a holding cell.

--Adventures of Superman #641
When former President Pete Ross is wrongly accused of being a super-villain and detained in a federal prison for metahumans, Clark visits him.  Parasite II and Parasite III cause a riot that allows Ross to escape.  As Superman fights the Parasites, an OMAC attacks yet again.  Meanwhile in the Bat-Cave, Batman chats with Lois Lane via phone, aiding her to find out the identity of a sniper who recently tried to kill her.

NOTE:  Batman boards the Watchtower to use its high-tech scanning systems to search for Brother I.  A mind-controlled Superman arrives and proceeds to pummel Batman to death until Wonder Woman shows up and chases Superman away.  A badly injured Batman goes into a coma (as seen in Adventures of Superman #642).

--Superman Vol. 2 #219
--Action Comics #829
--Adventures of Superman #642
--Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #219
Four hours have passed since Batman's brutal beating.  Superman wakes up in his Ecuadorian Fortress of Solitude with dried blood caked all over both his hands.  His recent memory is jumbled and he can't seem to remember what has happened or whose blood is on his hands.  The JLA busts in and escorts the confused Superman to the Watchtower.  There, the Man of Steel learns that Batman is battered, bruised, burned, broken, and comatose.  Superman has nearly pummeled Bruce to death.  Bruce even has Superman's charred fingerprints burned into his throat.  The JLA views the gruesome security video of Superman kicking Batman's ass and ascertains that Supes had to have been mind-controlled.  J'onn and Wonder Woman telepathically enter Superman's mind and Max Lord's aura is all over the place.  Batman awakes from his coma and Wonder Woman takes him to the Batcave so that Alfred can take care of him.  Meanwhile, Max forces Superman to attack the JLA again.  Supes then flies to the Checkmate castle in Switzerland, with Wonder Woman in hot pursuit.  But Max is ready and waiting for her and has Superman attack Wonder Woman with his full force.  As the superheroes duel destructively across the Earth, Max exclaims that he has proven his point.  According to the gospel of Max, the massive destruction these metahumans are capable of will ultimately end life on Earth.  Max wants to save Earth by killing these "gods."  The tremendous battle rages on, literally shaking the ground like an earthquake.  Despite Superman breaking her wrist, Wonder Woman is able to escape his grasp and bolt back to Switzerland.  Diana binds Max with her golden lasso.  Max tells her that he has permanent control of Superman now and only his own death will result in his release of Clark's mind.  Max then releases Superman from his control to show Supes the devastation he's caused.  Superman is shaken and blubbering.  He knows that he is Max's personal toy forever and the world is doomed because of it.  Diana doesn't hesitate for a second and snaps Max's neck like a twig.  Max Lord is dead and Superman can't believe what he's just seen.

--The OMAC Project #4-5
As soon as Max Lord is executed by Diana, Brother I switches into "survival mode" and begins launching several Chinese nukes and shutting down power grids all over the planet.  Brother I then begins its purge of Checkmate.  OMACs begin slaughtering all the remaining Checkmate agents.  Sasha Bordeaux and Jessica Midnight are able to defeat their OMAC attackers when Sasha discovers that she's been turned into an OMAC-like cyborg!  Brother I then contacts its injured creator in the Batcave and tells him that he is no longer Brother I.  He is now fully autonomous.  He is now Brother Eye and he is alive.  Bruce tells Brother Eye that he was designed to monitor metahuman activity for possible abuse of powers, not to kill.  Brother Eye tells Bruce that Max has taught him a valuable lesson: the only way to prevent metahumans from abusing their powers is to eliminate all metahumans.  OMACs begin attacking metas all over the world.  This is where we first learn of the "threat class" of the super-powered.  For example, Fire and Booster Gold are Epsilon-level threats, whereas Metamorpho is a Beta-level threat.  The strongest of the strong, like Guy Gardner (who has a power ring) or Mary Marvel (who has the magic of Shazam) are labeled as Alpha-level threats.  At the Checkmate castle, Sasha learns that Max had experimented on her with OMAC nano-technology, thus transforming her into a cyborg.  Cyborg Sasha contacts Bruce and tells him that the OMACs download into human host bodies using Brother Eye nano-tech, and Brother Eye has just activated the entire OMAC lot, which consists of 1.3 million super-soldiers.

--Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #220
Wonder Woman visits Batman in the Batcave and tells him that she has murdered Max Lord. Bruce simply tells her to "get out."

--Adventures of Superman #643, Conclusion
Superman visits Batman in the Batcave an hour after Wonder Woman's visit to apologize for recent events and to chastise the Dark Knight about the OMAC situation.  Batman and Superman argue—Bruce tells the Man of Steel he can never trust him again and to leave immediately.  Supes leaves and, visibly shaken, is consoled by Lois.

--The OMAC Project #6
Almost immediately, tons of C-list and D-list DCU metahuman characters begin getting slaughtered by the recently activated 1.3 million OMAC soldier army controlled by Brother Eye.  So if you are a big fan of Fastball, Demolition Team, or the Supermen of America, sorry—all dead within minutes.  Sasha also tells Bruce that someone else gave Brother Eye its autonomy, not Max.  While Sasha organizes the world's defense against the OMACs, the injured Batman discovers that Max wasn't trying to steal Kryptonite (during DC Countdown #1).  Max tried, and failed, to steal a special EMP generator which can disable OMACs.  After swallowing his pride and meeting with Hal Jordan and John Stewart, Batman sets his plan to defeat Brother Eye into motion.  While Sasha downloads a virus into the OMAC system, Batman activates the EMP device, which destroys the majority of the OMACs, but spares the human hosts within.  Realizing that defeat is imminent, Brother Eye retreats with over 200,000 OMACs still under his command. (A few scattered OMACs remain on Earth).  At the ruins of the Checkmate castle in Switzerland, Bruce meets with silver-skinned cyborg Sasha.  The latter, in tears, tells Bruce that all of her humanity has been erased and she is fully a machine now.  Bruce denies that as a possibility and kisses her, turning her skin back to flesh-tone momentarily.  After the events of The OMAC Project, Wonder Woman decides it is best if she leaves the JLA, and does so.  But who did give Brother Eye autonomy if it wasn't Max?  We'll find out soon enough.

--Catwoman Vol. 3 #39
Batman pays Catwoman a visit at her apartment to discuss the bizarre cyborg made out of petrified wood that has been hired by the corrupt Three Piece Suit company to find out Catwoman's secret ID. After having sex (!!!), Bruce gives Selina a post-coital scoop on the villain, named Wooden Nickel. Meanwhile, Wooden Nickel has threatened Sam Bradley, Jr., which causes Slam Bradley to spill the beans on where Catwoman lives. Wooden Nickel attacks Catwoman in her own home, but the latter is able to fight him off.

--Batman #635-638 ("UNDER THE HOOD")
"Under the Hood" actually begins with a flash-forward to five weeks later when Batman will be fighting Red Hood in the rain, which leads to Jason Todd's epic reveal. (This should more accurately read three weeks later).  But let's focus on the present for now.  Lucius Fox visits Wayne Manor with the distressing announcement that Bruce has lost Wayne Enterprises’ controlling interest in Kord Inc (Ted Kord's company and a part of Wayne Industries Research & Development) to a German conglomerate.  In layman's terms, this means that Bruce no longer has a huge billion dollar R&D company with which to raid new weaponry and armor technology, which Bruce has done for the past 19 years.  Alfred tells Bruce not to worry since they already have plenty of "toys" left in the cave.  Meanwhile, a mysterious new Red Hood (aka Jason Todd!) begins honing in on some of Black Mask's territory and makes his presence known in Gotham.  Bear in mind, Batman and company still have no idea that Jason is alive.  Batman then meets with Nightwing who is shown wearing a knee brace.  He recovered from his leg injury over three months ago, but it isn't far fetched to think that he may still require a brace every once and a while.  When Batman and Nightwing are almost blown to smithereens by Red Hood they pursue him, but instead run right into Amazo, who has been purchased from Professor Ivo by Black Mask.  Despite being outmatched, Batman and Nightwing are able to defeat Amazo.  Concurrently, Red Hood steals a cache of over one-hundred pounds of Kryptonite (the missing Kryptonite from DC Countdown #1!) from Black Mask and asks for fifty million dollars to return it.  Instead of the cash, Black Mask sends Mr. Freeze to take out Red Hood.  Batman and Nightwing interrupt their fight, but both villains get away.  Red Hood then visits Joker at his circus hideout and beats him bloody with a crowbar.  Jason has been waiting for this revenge for a long, long time.

--Batman: Gotham Knights #66-72
Hush and Prometheus haven't gotten along very well since the Poison Ivy affair two months ago.  When the Secret Society of Supervillains wants information about Prometheus' "key to Limbo," Talia, Deathstroke, and an army of Kobra soldiers attack Hush and Prometheus.  Prometheus keels over revealing that he contracted a deadly virus from one of the fake Ivies (from GK #65).  Talia forces Hush to perform life-saving surgery on Prometheus.  Afterward, Hush and Talia part ways on bad terms. When a videographer discovers that he has video of Bruce Wayne fighting Hush in the background of one of his shots, its not long before he realizes that Bruce is Batman.  After blood is shed in a very Coen Brothers cinematographic way, the videographer contacts Bruce and blackmails him for money.  The blackmailer sets up a meeting, but demands to do the exchange with one of Bruce's servants.  Alfred goes to the meeting and does the exchange as planned.  However, the blackmailer winds up getting murdered by Clayface VIII (Johnny Williams), who frames Alfred for the crime.  Back at Wayne Manor, Alfred remembers what had been blocked out in his brain when he hit his head (in GK #60).  Alfred tells Bruce that Tommy Elliot is alive, but is not Hush! (See, Alfie actually saw Clayface VIII pretending to be Tommy Elliot).  After a short investigation, Batman learns that Hush not only used the new Clayface in an attempt to trick Alfred, but Hush also injected Clayface DNA into Alfred, which is slowly killing him.  There are a ton of flashbacks which detail how Hush came to meet the new Clayface, Johnny Williams, six months ago.  (Williams murdered a hooker and Hush has been blackmailing him ever since).  However, like Alfred, Johnny Williams is dying and the only thing that can save both of them is DNA from a very specific Clayface, Cassius Clay (Clayface V).  NOTE:  Hush tries to get samples from all the known Clayfaces at this time.  Catwoman Vol. 3 #44-45 overlaps with this tale.  In these issues, Hush blackmails Catwoman into releasing Clayface VII (Todd Russell) from his STAR Labs prison.  Back to our tale, Batman breaks into Arkham and helps Cassius escape in order to get a sample of his DNA.  In the end, Alfred is saved and cleared of all murder charges when Johnny Williams dies and the GCPD realizes the truth.  Cassius escapes into the Gotham night.  And to round out this large chunk of GKs, Bruce visits the old Wayne summer cottage and discovers a stack of love letters addressed to his father, but not from his mother.  Bruce does some investigating and meets Eve Mackay, who wrote the letters.  Eve was indeed madly in love with Thomas Wayne, but Thomas rejected her because he would never cheat on Bruce's mom.

--Catwoman Vol. 3 #47-48 ("THE ONE YOU LOVE")
Catwoman has successfully handled crime in Gotham's East End without the aid of Batman for quite some time now.  However, now that Hugo Strange has assembled a team which consists of Hammer, Sickle, Captain Cold, Angle Man, Smart Bomb, and Cheetah, things are getting out of hand.  Selina convinces Professor Strange that she has once again turned to a life of crime to infiltrate the villain team.  When Smart Bomb dies, GCPD cop Sam Bradley, Jr. (Slam Bradley's son) goes undercover disguised as Smart Bomb.  Batman takes Catwoman to the Batcave to warn her that she is getting in over her head.  When Angle Man discovers that Selina is still a superhero, he assembles the team and shoots her in the stomach and stabs her in the head!  But wait, it's not really Catwoman.  It's a Clayface decoy!  (This is Todd Rusell aka Clayface VII, who is repaying a debt to Catwoman for recently breaking him out of his prison at STAR Labs).  Catwoman and Smart Bomb (Sam Bradley) then take down Strange's entire crew.

NOTE:  At a charity event, Bruce meets millionaire playboy plastic surgeon Dr. Wayne Franklin and his sister Dr. Amina Franklin.  Bruce and Amina begin dating for a brief time (as seen through flashback in Batman #659).

ANOTHER NOTE:  Batman apprehends Mad Hatter, who has just killed five different women in a sick attempt to find his "Alice" (as seen through flashback in Joker's Asylum II: Mad Hatter #1).

YET ANOTHER NOTE:  Batman apprehends attempted murderer Lazlo Rankin (as referenced in Batman #698).

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