Modern Age (YEAR TWENTY-ONE) Part Two

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Year Twenty-One, Part 2.  July 2009 to November 2009.



NOTE:  Before we continue, there is something rotten in the DCU that I, sadly, must address.  It was around this time (2006 publishing-wise) that DC editors decided that they wanted Tim Drake to remain a "perpetual teenager" who doesn't really age.  Basically, the editors were like, "the hell with continuity, Tim is better as a teen!"  Of course, you and I both know this is complete and utter bullshit.  At this point, DC editors were fine with keeping Tim 17 years-old with the intention of keeping him that way for as long as possible.  In fact, in Chris Yost's Red Robin series (2010), according to Yost and DC editors, Tim is still supposed to be 17, when in fact he should be around 20!  Essentially, what I'm saying here is that DC really screws the pooch when it comes to Tim's age, which is why we will keep seeing him in high school well past a time where he should be in high school and also why he keeps being referred to as a minor for what seems like an eternity.  I will address any following problems regarding Tim's age when they arise, but I will definitely miss a lot of them.  But don't worry, all you devoted blog readers need to know right now is that Tim is about to celebrate his 19th birthday, NO MATTER WHAT DC WOULD HAVE US BELIEVE OTHERWISE.  Let's move on!

--Booster Gold Vol. 3 #1, Part 2
Love this series.  The second part of issue #1 begins on "Week 61, Day 1."  Booster has spent the last week trying to impress the new JLA in order to gain membership on the team.  Meanwhile, Supernova has spent the past couple of months mooching off of Booster and playing Online Madden Football all day, every day.  As Booster cleans up after his juvenile roommate, Rip Hunter shows up and exclaims that all of history pre-dating Infinite Crisis/52 is in a "malleable" state due to the actions of Superboy-Prime (during IC) and Mr. Mind (during 52).  Although, Rip does mumble that "punching history" is a ridiculous concept!  Basically, the entire past of the DCU is like wet cement and is filled with temporal anomalies in the form of very accessible worm-holes.  These worm-holes are vulnerable to manipulation by evil forces and thus, Rip has recruited Booster (and Skeets) to travel throughout the timestream to seal up the holes and fix any possible errors.  Rip plans to travel through the timestream in his Timesphere, from which he can send Booster through the worm-holes and retrieve him after he has done his temporal bandaging.  In essence, Booster will operate from the "shadows of time," thus becoming the most important hero to ever grace the DCU.  However, when Booster learns that no one else will ever realize this fact, and he will be forever stuck with his B-list "loser" reputation, he tells Rip to piss off and leaves to meet with the JLA.  At the meeting, the JLA offers Booster a spot on the team!  However, when Booster sees a premonition of Hal Jordan's death as a result of his involvement on the team, the former realizes what his destiny is.  Batman is stunned as Booster turns down JLA membership and becomes Rip's official secret "time-cop" instead.  NOTE:  This issue amazingly has a flash-forward to "Week 104, Day 1" which would put us around the end of April of our next Bat-Year (2010).  In this one panel flash-forward we see a little event called Final Crisis!  Holy shit!  Wonder what that's all about?  Also, don't forget, the Countdown 37 title on the cover is WRONGCountdown hasn't started yet. 

--The Brave and the Bold Vol. 3 #29
Everyone’s favorite reanimated dummy hippie/trash Elemental, Brother Power the Geek, has been dormant since the 1960s (besides a very brief reemergence in Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #5 way back in Bat Year Thirteen). But now he’s back in Gotham and Batman finally meets the strange character. After a night of regular patrol, Batman fails to arrive on time to save a baby from an arson fire. Luckily, Brother Power is on hand and saves the child.

--Martian Manhunter Vol. 3 #3-8 ("THE OTHERS AMONG US") 
When J'onn discovers that several of his fellow Green Martians are alive and have been tortured in a government facility in New York, he is naturally upset and goes to aid them.  As the Martians escape, a conflict ensues which results in the bloody death of several humans.  The JLA confronts J'onn with concern about the loss of life, but J'onn tells them he is in control of the situation.  After being attacked by the US Government, J'onn and the Martian refugees fight back.  Half the JLA (excluding Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman) try to bring down J'onn at the request of the Department of Homeland Security.  J'onn is able to escape, but several of his comrades suffer horrible seizures. J'onn thinks that his former lover Scorch must be responsible for the seizures, since she knows much about Marian physiology.  J'onn meets with Batman, who tells him Scorch's current location.  But Scorch is a red herring.  The Martians aren't Green at all.  Duh, they are evil White Martians in disguise!  Well, all except the one in charge.  Yes, we finally meet another Green survivor from Mars, Cay'an.  Cay'an hates J'onn because she mistakenly believes that he is responsible for the destruction of the Martian race.  J'onn fights Cay'an and the latter flees in defeat.  In the end, J'onn delivers Till'all (an extremely rare benevolent White Martian) into the care of the JLA. 

--Detective Comics #823-824
When Poison Ivy is attacked and nearly killed by a plant creature while in her Arkham cell, Batman takes her into his care inside the Batcave.  The Dark Knight's investigation takes him to Ivy's last hideout where he discovers video of Ivy feeding people to a giant mutated carnivorous plant.  Little does Batman know, all the human fodder has been absorbed into the plant and become the very angry hybrid plant monster which tried to off Ivy.  The creature, which calls itself Harvest, stows away underneath the Batmobile and enters the cave.  Batman and Robin are able to defeat Harvest and return Ivy back to Arkham.  Next, the Penguin returns to Gotham for the first time in over a year and re-opens his Iceberg Lounge.  Bruce and a ditzy date go to the grand-reopening along with several famous attendees including, Lois Lane, Riddler, and Mr. ZZZ.  Who's Mr. ZZZ?  He's a narcoleptic poker shark that wins super-duper big at Penguin's casino, basically bankrupting Penguin on the night of his big return.  (Jeez, how many times can one man be bankrupted in a lifetime!?)  Penguin cries foul, and Bruce thinks some cheating is afoot as well.  After a quick call to Zatanna, Bruce learns that genius card-counter/magician Ivar Loxias has gone missing.  Batman tails Mr. ZZZ home after the night ends and the villain leads him right to mobster Anthony Marchetti, who has kidnapped Loxias and was using him along with a secret video camera implanted in Mr. ZZZ's head to cheat at the gaming table.  Batman busts the bad guys and reluctantly returns all of Penguin's money.  Marchetti and Mr. ZZZ go free, however, because Loxias refuses to press charges. 

NOTE:  The new supervillain team known as Titans East, which is led by Deathstroke and Cassie Cain (who is once again wearing her Batgirl costume), attacks the Teen Titans (as seen in Teen Titans Vol. 3 #44-46).  Deathstroke is primarily after his daughter, Ravager, who has betrayed him and recently joined the Teen Titans as a superhero.  During the battle, Robin realizes that Deathstroke has been drugging Cassie and manipulating her for quite some time.  Robin is able to inject a counter-serum into Cassie, and the angry latter turns on Deathstroke.  A confused Cassie helps Robin and the Titans defeat their villainous counterparts, but disappears afterward.  In the aftermath of Cassie's departure, Talia Al Ghul swoops in and reclaims leadership of the League of Assassins.

--Justice Society of America Vol. 3 #1
The JSA has been inactive since WWIII.  Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman meet with the three elder members of the JSA; Wildcat, Alan Scott, and Jay Garrick.  The formers suggest that the JSA should re-form, similarly to the way the new JLA has recently reformed, with membership votes from its "big three."  Supes hands over several weeks worth of intel about both superheroes in the DCU, primarily second and third generation heroes who have been passed on the crime-fighting legacies of their forebearers.  Shortly thereafter, the brand new Justice Society of America is unveiled.  NOTE:  This issue also contains a flash-forward to "The Lightning Saga," which will happen soon.

NOTE:  Ever since escaping from Arkham 36 days ago, Killer Croc has been used and abused by a deceitful mob boss and his wife.  After murdering them both, Croc waits calmly for Batman to show up to take him back to Arkham (as seen through flashback in Joker's Asylum II: Killer Croc #1).

--Detective Comics #825-826
Dr. Phosphorus is back in Gotham for the first time in fifteen years!  And the powerful supervillain wants revenge against the man who originally turned him into the flaming monster that he is; Rupert Thorne!  Thorne has been quietly incarcerated in Blackgate for the past seven years!  Paul Dini is really channeling his inner-Steve Englehart, bringing back these great characters we haven't seen for so long.  Anyway, Phosphorus breaks into Blackgate, but Commissioner Gordon and Batman are waiting for him with a large helping of baking soda, which neutralizes Phosphorus' powers long enough for the good guys to take him down.  Issue #826 is up next, but it is definitely August, so the Christmas-time setting of this tale must absolutely be ignored.  In the issue, Joker kidnaps Robin and takes the gagged-and-bound Boy Wonder on a bloody DeathRace-esque joyride around Gotham.  Robin is forced to watch from the front seat as Joker casually runs down pedestrians and shoots McDonald's drive-thru workers.  In the end, Robin is able to loosen his binding ropes while distracting Joker with a conversation about the Marx Brothers.  Robin tosses Joker out of the moving car, and despite suffering serious injury, the Clown Prince of Crime manages to limp away.

NOTE:  An injured Joker contacts magician Ivar Loxias, befriends him, and then murders him in order to steal his identity (as seen through flashback in Detective Comics #834).

--Manhunter Vol. 3 #28
High profile attorney Kate Spencer (who secretly moonlights as the superhero Manhunter when not in court) defends Wonder Woman from a grand jury indictment for Max Lord's death.  The public trial is wilder than OJ and MJ put together and when "Blue Beetle" supposedly returns from the dead, things only get weirder.  Manhunter teams-up with Batman and together they discover that "Beetle" is actually the shapeshifting supervillain Everyman.

NOTE:  Wonder Woman is acquitted of all charges relating to Max Lord's death (as seen in Manhunter Vol. 3 #30).

--Detective Comics #827-832
Right off the bat (no pun intended), I must address several things about issue #827.  First of all, it certainly cannot be January.  Secondly, Batman and company seem to be unsure of whether or not Scarface was merely a dummy or a supernatural being.  I think at this point in Batman's career, Batman would believe that Scarface has the ability to speak and move on his own, especially since he has seen it happen with his own eyes.  My only explanation for his doubt in this issue would be the fact that Robin recently stumbled upon an old Ventriloquist hideout filled with Scarface robots (in Robin #153).  Thirdly, Batman mentions the death of Matches Malone at the hands of Scarface a few years ago and how he cannot use the Malone disguise.  Batman must simply mean that he cannot use the Malone disguise on a case specifically regarding Scarface, because the villain can see right through that disguise.  Okay, with that all out of the way, let's move on.  If you haven't guessed already, Scarface is back, but this time with a new female Ventriloquist.  Bruce first met this new Ventriloquist, Peyton Riley, ten years ago, but he doesn't remember it yet.  Peyton found Scarface immediately following Arnold Wesker's death several months ago, and is now finally officially debuting as a supervillain.  In issue #828, Bruce throws a masquerade party on his yacht.  During the party, Bruce's childhood friend, Matthew Atkins, falls overboard and drowns.  Both Batman and the Riddler suspect foul play and begin examining the clues.  Their investigations cross paths at the museum where it is revealed that Atkins' girlfriend and a co-conspirator murdered Atkins for monetary gain.  In our next two issues, Bruce holds an anti-terrorism conference at Wayne Tower, during which a terrorist bomber named Vox tries to blow up the whole building after detonating several calculated explosions.  (This is not the female Vox incarcerated at Arkham).  Bruce can't change into Batman in front of so many civilians, so its up to Robin to save the day.  Robin does an ace job, but Bruce is able to suit up and kick Vox's ass in the end.  This narrative thread concludes when Vox suicide plunges to his death.  In issue #831, Bruce, as a new member of the board of directors at Arkham, denies Harley Quinn parole.  However, Harley gets out anyway when she is busted out by Moose (Rhino's sister) on the orders of the new Ventriloquist and Scarface.  But Harley is trying to go straight.  This new straight mentality combined with the fact that the Ventriloquist gives a bad first impression causes Harley to betray her benefactor and actually help Commissioner Gordon and Batman take the villainess down.  The Ventriloquist, however, is able to escape custody.  Two days later, Bruce approves Harley's parole and she becomes a free woman!  NOTE:  A news report incorrectly mentions Ivar Loxias' abduction as occurring "late last year."  The abduction occurred only two months ago.   Next, in issue #832, the original Terrible Trio returns to Gotham for the first time in over thirten years!  After the Shark goes crazy, fakes his own death, and then tries to kill the Fox and the Vulture, Batman steps in a busts all three of them.  Locked up in Arkham, the Shark is terrorized by the Great White Shark, cause y'know, there's only room for one big shark in jail.

--Nightwing Vol. 2 #129
It's been a while since Dick has seen Bruce, so he takes an injury break and flies down to Gotham from New York.  At a Wayne Manor gala, Dick chats with Bruce and gets advice about a recent case and how to best heal his crime-fighting injuries.  After the gala ends, Dick and Bruce talk about everything under the sun until two o'clock am when the latter departs for his nightly patrol.  Afterward, Dick returns to New York for Nightwing business as usual.

--Detective Comics #833-834 ("TRUST")
For two months now, magician Ivar Loxias (actually Joker in disguise) has been touring his live stage show across the US with disastrous results.  Mishap after mishap has occurred and finally one of his stagehands is killed during a Gotham performance.  Batman shows up to scold Loxias and Commissioner Gordon shuts him down.  After reviewing video of the performance, Batman and Zatanna realize that Loxias is a killer.  The heroes confront Loxias, who reveals his true identity.  The Joker shoots Zatanna in the throat, tosses her into a tank filled with water, and then straps Batman into an electric chair, before fleeing the scene.  Batman breaks free of the restraints and is able to save Zatanna and sit by her side as she recovers at Wayne Manor.  The heroes then stop Joker from massacring hundreds of Loxias fans.  The crazed clown then heads back to Arkham.  NOTE:  Both Batman and Zatanna incorrectly refer to Loxias' murder as occurring six months ago.  Joker killed Loxias only two months ago.  NOTE:  We again, must ignore the Countdown 47 to 43 titles on the covers to these issues.  In order to accommodate Joker's uninterrupted stint posing as Loxias and his upcoming appearances in and out of Arkham, this story must take place here, and not during Countdown.

NOTE:  What's Bane been up to?  Well he has recently lost a Presidential election in Santa Prisca, thanks to voter fraud by a meddling Amanda Waller (as referenced in Checkmate Vol. 2 #11-12).  After discovering evidence of the fraud, Bane foolishly leads his country into civil war.  This is all just a big ruse perpetrated by Waller in order to ruin Bane's life and recruit him into the Suicide Squad.

ANOTHER NOTE:  A six year-old Kryptonian boy named Lor-Zod (son of Zod and Ursa) crash lands on Earth similarly to the way Clark did so many years ago. (We find out later that Lor-Zod was born in the Phantom Zone).  Clark and Lois adopt the child and give him the name Chris Kent (as seen in Action Comics #844-845).

--Black Adam: The Dark Age #2-6
Black Adam has been powerless and in hiding ever since his World War III defeat.  He steals the remains of his former wife Isis and immerses her body in a Lazarus Pit in the Himalayan mountains. (The existence of this Lazarus Pit is a new reveal, as there are only two other Lazarus Pits we currently know the exact locations of; the sealed-up Pit deep below the Batcave and the League of Assassins Pit in Europe.  However, unknown to Batman, dozens of new Pits have already begun re-appearing all over the Earth and will continue to do so over the course of the next couple of months).  Isis returns to life, but only for a minute or so because she is missing both her ring finger and magical amulet.  The distraught Adam carries her bones through the snowy mountain terrain.  Meanwhile, Superman stops an assassin from shooting up the Khandaqi embassy in Gotham.  Batman then interrogates the assassin inside the Batcave and learns that several nations have hired covert hit-teams to assassinate Adam.  After scouring the globe in an attempt to try to remember his magic word, Adam bumps into Felix Faust, who temporarily endows Adam with powers.  Adam then scours the globe once more and collects his wife's missing items with relative ease, despite being chased by countless assassins, the JLA, the JSA, and Martian Manhunter.  Once Adam's temporary powers cease, he figures out his new magic word, "Chocolate Egg Cream," and regains the mighty power of Shazam.  Eager to resurrect Isis, Adam returns to Faust, but the latter tricks the former into thinking that the resurrection is a failure.  After Adam storms off angrily, Faust does indeed revive Isis as his mind-controlled slave. 

--Hawkgirl #63 
After a normal Thursday night of attempted robberies, muggings, and clown-themed villainy, Batman meets up with some old friends (curators) after hours at the Gotham museum.  Batman also invites along Hawkgirl, who wants to do some archeological research.  However, Hawkgirl's arch-nemesis, the evil wizard Hath-Set, is able to use the power of the Egyptian god Ra to take control of several dozen Gothamites, including the Caped Crusader.  Hawkgirl fights the swarm of possessed people and eventually is able to get assistance from Batman after he snaps out of the trance.  In the end, an entire wing of the museum burns down and Hawkgirl chases Hath-Set to Metropolis.

NOTE:  Joker escapes from Arkham by sneaking out of an emergency exit door in the shock-therapy room (as mentioned in Justice Society of America Vol. 3 #5).  However, Joker winds up right back in Arkham within days, since that is where we will see him next.

ANOTHER NOTE:  Countdown begins now, starting with Countdown #51 (the issues are numbered from highest to lowest).  The Countdown series spans over the course of the next five months (from late September to late February) and functions as a relative framework for the events which will occur in the DCU right up until the beginnings of Final Crisis.  Most issues on our chronology in the next five months contain Countdown numbers on their covers corresponding to when they fit onto the timeline.  This isn't an exact science though.  Several of the numbers are slightly out of order, but for the most part, these numbers help give order to the stories in what is a very compacted and confusing time period for the DCU.  I should also mention that several Superman/Batman issues have Countdown numbers, but I've placed them well before the actual start of Countdown as they fit a bit better earlier.  Countdown #51 begins with Jason Todd witnessing the death of Duela Dent at the hands of an evil Monitor, who wishes to preserve the sanctity of the multiverse.

THE LIGHTNING SAGA
--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #7, Epilogue
--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #8
--Countdown #50
--Justice Society of America Vol. 3 #5
--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #9
--Justice Society of America Vol. 3 #6
--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #10
Countdown 50 to 45.  Our story begins with the Epilogue from issue Justice League of America Vol. 3 #7.  If you recall, the villain known as Trident was rendered unconscious and held captive in the Batcave over three months ago.  We must assume Trident has been in a coma for these last three months, recovering from spinal damage inflicted by a Starro.  And now Batman and Black Lightning have come to inspect him since there are finally positive signs of brain activity.  Not only that, Batman's computers determine that Trident is actually from the 31st Century.  Trident is really Legion of Superhero member Karate Kid. Once Karate Kid awakes, he starts a fist-fight with the Dark Knight and actually beats him in one-on-one combat (!) until Black Lightning steps in and shocks Karate Kid back into unconsciousness.  Batman then assembles both the JLA and JSA at the Hall of Justice to interrogate Karate Kid.  After the questioning, the heroes learn that there are six Legionnaires from the 31st Century trapped in present day, who have each gone insane.  Karate Kid is one.  JSA member Starman (Thom Kallor) is another.  The JSA and JLA split up to search the galaxy for the four remaining Legionnaires.  Batman, Geo-Force, Starman, and the new Sandman (Sandy Hawkins) converge upon Arkham when they learn that one of the Legionnaires, Dream Girl, is incarcerated there.  When they arrive (as also shown in the flash-forward from Justice Society of America Vol. 3 #1), Arkham has been taken over by Doctor Destiny.  The heroes defeat Destiny and rescue Dream Girl.  Concurrently, the other heroes locate and gather Legionnaires Wildfire, Dawnstar, and Timber Wolf.  Once these five Legionnaires are together, their mental blocks fade and they escape from the Hall of Justice and meet up with the final Legionnaire, Sensor Girl, before planning to enact their grand scheme, which involves the use of Cosmic Lightning Rods.  These mystical tools from the 31st Century are used as a sort of cosmic Russian Roulette to bring back someone from the dead, at the expense of the random life of another.   The JLA and JSA try to stop the Legionnaires from playing this deadly game, but they are too late.  However, the Legionnaires are tricking the system.  The "cosmic lightning" chooses Karate Kid as its sacrificial lamb, but Karate Kid is fast enough to avoid being struck to death by the deadly bolt.  No one comes back from the dead, but Wally West and his entire family, the kids now mysteriously aged several years, have returned from their imprisonment in an alternate universe! (They have been missing ever since Infinite Crisis).  The Legionnaires then return to their correct time.  But what was their real goal?  Simply to bring back Wally and his family?  Not by a long shot.  The Legionnaires, being from the future, are aware of the details surrounding the death of current Flash, Bart Allen, which happens during this storyline.  In Los Angeles, Bart Allen is killed by The Rogues (as referenced in All Flash #1).  At the exact moment of his death, the Legionnaires are able to safely trap his spirit inside the Karate Kid's Lightning Rod which has been struck by the cosmic bolt.  So, Bart is dead, but the 31st Century Legion of Superheroes have his spirit encased in a Cosmic Lightning Rod, so you can be rest assured that we'll see Bart alive again in the future... er.. past.  Whatever.

--All Flash #1
Countdown 41. Flash Bart Allen has just been murdered by Inertia in Los Angeles. Batman delivers the terrible news to Wally West, who is in the middle of saying his hellos to all of his friends he hasn't seen in a long time (having been trapped in an alternate dimension). Wally flips out, returns to the role of Flash, and goes after Inertia—eventually fighting him, defeating him, and freezing him forever inside the Flash Museum. Don't worry folks, Bart will be resurrected during Final Crisis. PS. The end of All Flash #1 has a flash-forward to an unspecified time that shows the Batman costume coming out of a Flash ring. I have no idea what this is referencing.

--Detective Comics #841
Countdown 12 (yes 12, but an editor's note on the first page tells us that this story takes place before Mad Hatter, Tweedle-Dee, and Tweedle-Dum are sent to the prison planet, which we'll get to later).  Not to mention, the epilogue of this tale takes place a month later and all three villains are in Arkham.  In this tale, Mad Hatter escapes from Arkham and assembles his "Wonderland Gang," which comprises thugs dressed like Lewis Carroll characters, including the Tweedle-Dum, Tweedle-Dee, and the debuting Carpenter (Jenna Duffy).  After interrogating Mr. ZZZ and Anthony Marchetti, Batman goes to an old amusement park where he discovers that Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee are really in charge of the gang.  The Dark Knight easily takes down all the baddies.

NOTE: Countdown 48. The Catwomen (Selina Kyle and Holly Robinson) battle Hammer and Sickle (as seen in Catwoman Vol. 3 #68).  In the chaos of their fight, a GCPD detective is killed.  Holly is not only publicly outed as Catwoman, but framed for the detective's murder.  Holly becomes a fugitive and goes into hiding.

--The Brave & The Bold Vol. 3 #1-6 ("THE LORDS OF LUCK")
Countdown 45 to 37.  The Rann-Thanagar War had a brief stoppage during Infinite Crisis, but the seemingly never-ending conflict continues to rage on. Our narrative begins when Hal Jordan discovers a corpse floating in space, while at the exact time an exact copy of the corpse shows up inside the Batcave.  Batman and Hal Jordan soon realize that 64 identical corpses are scattered all over the globe.  The Dark Knight demonstrates how if a wound is given to one of these men, the same wound appears on the other 63.  Hence, when one was killed by a laser blast, the others all died the same way.  What mostly concerns Bruce is the fact that one of these doppelgangers had infiltrated the Batcave and was spying on him!  Batman and Hal then follow up their only clue, a playing card in the dead guy's pocket, which leads them to the villainess/casino owner Roulette in Las Vegas.  Batman saves Roulette from two aliens from the planet Ventura, who steal the Book of Destiny from her (as in Destiny of the Endless's book which tells the past, present, and future)!  Hal teams-up with Supergirl and chases one of the Venturans back to their home planet.  While they search for the Book of Destiny, Batman teams-up with Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) and goes after the other Venturan.  In El Paso, Texas, the second Venturan uses the Haruspex (a weapon which "alters probability to maximize the odds of a kill") to drop the temperature to -25 degrees before going into hiding.  Batman and Beetle quickly find the alien trying to sell his weapon to a local gun-runner named La Dama, but before they can act, Epoch (The Lord of Time) shows up with The Fatal Five (a supervillain team from the 31st Century of Earth-Prime), trying to steal the Haruspex for himself.  A battle erupts and in the chaos Epoch is injured and retreats to another time, stranding the Fatal Five in the 21st Century of Earth-0.  Concurrently, La Dama shoots both the cyborg Fatal Fiver Tharok and Batman with the Haruspex, which causes them to merge together into a literal half Batman-half Tharok being.  In a panic, Beetle activates the Haruspex again, which sends Batman/Tharok and the Fatal Five hurtling forward to the 31st Century of Earth-Prime!  Meanwhile, at the other side of the universe in the 21st Century of Earth-0, Supergirl teams-up with Lobo and they are pulled into Destiny's realm.  Destiny (!) speaks with Supergirl and Lobo and explains the importance of the Book and how the alien Lords of Luck originally pulled it out of his realm.  Supergirl then meets up with Hal who has tracked the Book to Rann (which is in the middle of the Rann-Thanagar War).  A crazed Rannian general named Mondrath now holds the Book.  In the 31st Century of Earth-Prime, Batman meets the Legion of Superheroes (a new alternate version of the other two Legions he's met before, this being the incarnation from Earth-Prime, known as the "Threeboot Legion"), who are able to separate Tharok from Batman.  Most of the Legion are excited to meet the legendary comic book hero Batman, but some are assholes.  Batman thinks they are all assholes, steals a flight ring, and flies away, becoming a fugitive from the law.  As Batman makes his getaway, time-rifts (which spew out hideous alien monsters and random characters from various times) keep opening up around him as a side-effect of being zapped by the Haruspex.  Batman then fights Threeboot Karate Kid, but escapes into the subway.  Threeboot Phantom Girl aims the Haruspex at Batman, but is unsure if she should pull the trigger.  A young version of Threeboot Dream Girl shows up out of a time-rift and tells her to do it, so she does.  In an instant, Batman is held prisoner, Earth-Prime is in cataclysmic ruins, and the Lords of Luck are rulers of the universe, thanks to the Book of Destiny, which they have held for a thousand years (after stealing it from Mondrath in the 21st Century of Earth-0).  Back on Rann in the 21st Century of Earth-0, Supergirl uses her super-vision and x-ray vision to read the entire Book of Destiny to find out where Bruce is.  Once located in the horrible alternate Earth's future, Green Lantern energizes Adam Strange's Zeta-Beam with his ring and teleports Bruce back to Rann where the Challengers of the Unknown appear out of nowhere to help out.  (For some unknown reason, the Challengers are not in the Book of Destiny, and thus, Mondrath cannot account for their actions, which makes them the perfect ace up Batman's sleeve).  The heroes defeat Mondrath and prevent the Lords of Luck from ever acquiring the Book of Destiny and destroying the Earth.  Batman gives the Book to the Challengers (and we can assume that Destiny comes to claim it).  PS.  It's worth noting that Earth-Prime is an Earth in an alternate universe that closely resembles our Earth in actual reality.  It is very much like the pre-original Crisis Earth-Prime that Superboy-Prime was from.  On Earth-Prime in the 21st century, both Marvel and DC are simply comic book companies and all of their respective characters are fictional.  HOWEVER, by the 31st century superheroes DO EXIST in the form of the Legion of Superheroes.

ANOTHER NOTE:  Wonder Woman is arrested and detained by the DEO after she is suspected to be involved with the kidnapping of Nemesis.  Diana is then tortured by the US Government's Department of Metahuman Affairs (as seen in Wonder Woman Vol. 3 #6-7).  Diana's arrest and treatment causes an uproar amongst the Amazons, who have remained hidden from the Earthly realm ever since Infinite Crisis.

AMAZONS ATTACK! Part 1
--Amazons Attack #1-2 
--Wonder Woman Vol. 3 #8-9
--flashback from Catwoman Vol. 3 #69
Countdown 48 to 41. Circe resurrects Hippolyta (who has been dead for years) and magically manipulates her to start a huge war.  Hippolyta flips her lid when she learns that her daughter, Diana, is being tortured by the US Government. The angry mom assembles the Amazon army and attacks Washington, DC in full bloody force, killing hundreds of innocents.  Meanwhile, Nemesis resurfaces and breaks Diana out of prison.  Diana confronts her mom and tries to talk down the Amazon forces.  The horrible war begins to spread throughout the country while Diana, Donna Troy, and Hippolyta fail to agree upon a peace treaty.  President Horne is nearly killed several times and internment camps are set up all over the United States to hold female metahumans of any kind.  As the body count continues to rise, Batman deduces that the deadliest attacks outside of Washington, DC are being done by a rogue Amazonian tribe known as The Bana.  The Dark Knight picks up Selina and baby Helena and drives them to the Batcave.  (The Batmobile has a baby-car-seat in the back)!  While Alfred babysits, Batman dispatches Catwoman to infiltrate a Gotham Bana cell, which Selina is able to do successfully.

--Countdown #43-42
In issue #43, an entire stadium sells-out for Bart Allen's celebrity funeral.  Many heroes attend and speak publicly about their friend, including Robin.  Batman and Alfred watch the funeral on TV.  Yes, according to the way Countdown is structured, this funeral takes place in the middle of the Amazon-American War.  Maybe the US Government thought this would function as some sort of morale booster for the troops, sort of a "let's win this one for the Flash, guys" kinda thing.  In issue #42, Karate Kid meets up with Batman to pay his respects to a legend and also to say that he's heading back to the 31st Century.  The Dark Knight comes off very snarky here and even a bit jealous of their last martial arts encounter where the Kid got the better of the Caped Crusader.  This interaction is indicative of the relationship between Batman and Karate Kid that we will see from now on.  These two do not get along. 

AMAZONS ATTACK! Part 2
--Wonder Woman Vol. 3 #10-12 
--Amazons Attack #3-6
--Catwoman Vol. 3 #69
Countdown 41. On the front-lines, Batman and both the JLA and JSA help save Nemesis' life after he is stung by giant Amazonian war wasps.  Batman then uses a magic spell, courtesy of Zatanna, against Circe, which allows Hippolyta to come to her senses.  Hippolyta immediately surrenders, ending the week-and-a-half-long Amazon-American War.  Meanwhile, Catwoman takes care of some Bana Amazons who refuse to surrender like the others.  Athena then appears, raises the island of Themyscira out of the ocean, and turns all the Amazons into normal human women, scattering them throughout the world with no memories of their past.  Athena also punishes Hippolyta by exiling her to the empty Themyscira.  SPOILER:  This isn't really Athena.  It is Granny Goodness, who has imprisoned all of the Greek Gods and stolen Athena's identity.

NOTE:  The Second Feature from Countdown #49-38 debuts The Monitors.  The Monitors assemble at their headquarters which exists in a nexus inside the timestream.  Basically, this headquarters exists outside of normal time and space and functions as an all-seeing eye upon the multiverse.  After re-telling the history of the pre-original Crisis multiverse and explaining how the real history of the multiverse was erased by the original Crisis, the Monitors assert their vow to protect the sanctity of the primary 52 universes, meaning they wish to both prevent knowledge of the multiverse from spreading and also to eliminate anyone who may be in an incorrect universe or anyone who wishes to travel to an alternate universe.  One of the Monitors explains that when the original Crisis occurred, there was only one Monitor assigned to protect the entire multiverse, which is why he failed in his task.  Now, each universe has its own Monitor.  We also learn that the Source Wall exists at the edge of each universe and operates as as the first barrier between gaining access to an alternate universe (although there are other means of traveling to alternate universes such as Boom Tube technology, metahuman speed/vibrational/teleportation abilities, etc...).  Furthermore, beyond the Source Wall, also separating the various universes is the Source itself, within which resides the mysterious and dangerous Anti-Life.  And of course, let's not forget the Bleed also exists beyond the Source Wall, a tesseract space which serves as the final blank void/highway between universes.  At the end of their meeting, the Monitors vote to preserve the sanctity of the primary 52 universes by using violent force if necessary, and begin a chain of destructive events to do so.  However, one lone Monitor votes against his brothers and sisters (which leads to his gathering and leading a team of Donna Troy, Jason Todd, and Kyle Rayner to travel all over the multiverse in search of the missing Ray Palmer, who apparently is the key to stopping the Monitors).  So how does this effect Batman?  Well, the Monitors sort of help to explain (in layman's terms) the "science" behind the multiverse Batman lives in.  It's important to the DCU and, therefore, it's important to Batman.

--Green Arrow Vol. 3 #75
Countdown 46.  The JLA helps Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Mia Dearden defeat Deathstroke and Constantine Drakon in Star City.  Afterward, Ollie resigns as mayor, citing that his being a superhero has placed the city in danger far too many times.  Ollie then proposes to Black Canary and Dinah says yes!

--Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special, Part 1
Ollie and Dinah send out wedding invitations.  Bruce RSVPs and says he won't attend.

--Green Lantern Vol. 4 #15-17 ("WANTED: HAL JORDAN")
When Hal Jordan is falsely accused of murder, he illegally enters Russia to rescue his fighter-pilot friend Cowgirl from a government mission-gone-wrong.  In Russia, Hal fights his way through an army of Rocket Reds, a mind-controlled Global Guardians, and a bunch of alien bounty hunters.  Things are getting out of hand fast, so the JLA (with Alan Scott) shows up to both confront Hal and also to offer him assistance in the melee.  A day later, after easily apprehending Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, an evil yellow power ring rockets into Earth's atmosphere and attaches itself to Batman!  (Sinestro is in the process of recruiting soldiers for his Sinestro Corps and has sent out dozens of rings from his headquarters in the Antimatter Universe.  Each ring searches for warriors who "instill great fear" in their opponents).  Batman is able to use his willpower to reject the power of the yellow ring, sending the cosmic jewelry on a new search.  Afterward, Batman has no idea what the hell the ring ordeal was all about.  The yellow ring intended for Batman then moves on and instead selects Amon Sur (son of Abin Sur) as the newest member of the Sinestro Corps.

--Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1
Countdown 44. Batman contacts the JLA and tells them that he was recently accosted by a yellow power ring searching for a recruit for Sinestro. The JLA apprehends Reverse-Flash Zoom and demands to know what the Sinestro is up to with the yellow ring business, but Zoom's lips are sealed. Across the universe, the massive Sinestro Corps assembles—including Parallax, the Anti-Monitor (!), Superboy-Prime (!), Cyborg Superman, and hundreds of reprogrammed Manhunter robots. The evil yellow ring-wielding army of fear officially debuts and attacks the Green Lantern Corps head-on and kills dozens of its ranks. Parallax is able to control Kyle Rayner, adding him to Sinestro's ranks. The Sinestro Corps War isn't for a little while down the road, but everything is set in motion and it doesn't look good for the heroes of the DCU.

--Superman/Batman #37-42 ("TORMENT")
Countdown 44 to 24 (so somewhere in-between this wide range aka here)!  Darkseid is up to his old tricks again.  Under the evil god's orders, Desaad hires Scarecrow and mutates him into the Apokoliptian monster known as Schrocken.  Schrocken forces Killer Croc to steal some Kryptonian technology from Lex Luthor's Gotham headquarters.  Using the stolen tech, Desaad and Scarecrow create a machine which turns Superman into a raving, frightened lunatic.  Desaad then kidnaps Superman and delivers him as a mindless slave to Darkseid.  Meanwhile, Batman chases Scarecrow through a Boom Tube hole to the New Genesian dwarf planet/interstellar battleship called Tartaros, where a mindless Superman is waiting to attack him.  Superman does some serious damage to Batman, until the latter is saved by Bekka (Orion's wife).  Hidden deep beneath the planet's surface, Bekka puts the dying Bruce into a healing chamber, which not only saves his life, it erases most of the scars from his body!  Bekka then reveals the truth about Darkseid's complete power-loss to Bruce, although she mistakenly refers to his entrapment in the Source Wall as happening a year ago, whereas it happened two years ago.  Anyway, Bruce is not only shocked to learn that Darkseid has been powerless for two years, but also that the evil god plans to use Superman to retrieve the deceased Highfather's staff, an artifact which can restore Darkseid's Omega Power, from within the Source Wall.  After Supes retrieves the staff, Desaad tests its power by literally ripping an opening in the Source Wall.  He then sends Superman beyond the Wall, trapping him in the very heart of the Source itself!  Meanwhile, Batman rescues Bekka from danger and succumbs to her seductive meta-power.  Bekka constantly emits pheromone-like waves which cause anyone near her to become physically and emotionally attracted to her.  Bekka (who has a strong desire to bone Batman) reciprocates and they go at it like cats in heat.  Unfortunately, the love-fest is quickly interrupted when Desaad uses the staff to open up a portal to the Omega Realm, the source of the Omega Power.  Desaad then becomes power-hungry and attempts to use the power for himself, but he can't handle the pure evil surging through his body.  Darkseid, on the other hand, is more than capable.  The Omega Power flows into the evil god restoring his vast cosmic strength immediately.  Batman and Bekka burst onto the scene and the former nabs Highfather's staff, which not only re-opens the Source Wall, but gives Superman his sane mind back.  As the Source Wall seals up, Batman, Superman, Bekka, and Scarecrow teleport away before all of Tartaros is sucked into oblivion.  Back on Earth, Orion shows up to claim his wife and gives Bruce the stink-eye.

CHECKOUT
--Checkmate Vol. 2 #15
--Outsiders Vol. 3 #49
Countdown 45 to 43.  Due to new international laws following Infinite Crisis, the Outsiders have been forced to operate covertly outside of the United States.  After botched missions in Russia and Africa, Checkmate agents arrest every Outsider except for Nightwing.  Nightwing then brokers a deal with Checkmate in which he will aid the organization on any Checkmate mission in exchange for the release of his teammates.  Nightwing and his Outsiders, along with Sasha Bordeaux, infiltrate Oolong Island in order to take down Egg Fu.  When they get there, things get ugly and Egg Fu captures Nightwing, Sasha, and Captain Boomerang.  Egg Fu moves his captives to a secret location in North Korea and begins brutally torturing the three heroes.  The remaining Outsiders and Checkmate agents are failing miserably in a rescue attempt, until Batman shows up and bails out both sides.  The Dark Knight easily locates the missing heroes and organizes their retrieval.  Batman personally carries Sasha out of harms way, although she is badly injured from the torture.  Back at the Outsiders' HQ, a disgraced Nightwing turns over leadership of the team to Batman!

--Robin #164-167
Countdown 41 to 27 (another wide range, so I've placed it here).  Tim asks Bruce if he should join his school's tennis team.  Bruce thinks it's a bad idea.  Meanwhile, Dodge has recovered from his injuries, but blames Robin for what happened.  The troubled teen assembles a ragtag supervillain team to go after Robin, which includes Z-listers like Macro, Micro, Tapeworm, The Cheater, Brutus, and Skill.  Batman, Robin, and the GCPD respond when Dodge's team holds the entire Gotham General Metahuman Injuries Ward hostage.  Robin mans-up and goes in solo and is able to send Dodge's entire team packing.  We also learn that Skill is actually Ravager in disguise, placed onto Dodge's team as a mole by Robin himself!  A few days later, while Batman deals with a double-homicide, Tim orders Ravager to lure Dodge's team into a trap.  Robin, Ravager, and Zachary Zatara (Zatanna's teenage cousin) ambush Dodge's team.  When the Cheater and Brutus prove to be much more evil than Dodge planned on, he has a change of heart and turns against his own crew.  In the chaos of battle, Dodge saves the day, but his teleportation powers overload, causing him to vanish completely.  Following the Dodge affair, Riot Act and Lock-Up break out of Arkham.  Robin is able to apprehend both of the villains and then visit his father's grave.  Batman joins the Boy Wonder and they pay tribute to the memory of Jack Drake.

Blue Beetle Vol. 7 # 17
Countdown 40. Typhoon (David Drake) attacks El Paso, using his weather powers to cause a giant hurricane. Blue Beetle fights him, but things are going poorly and people are dying. In desperate need of shelter for those who have lost their homes, Blue Beetle calls Bruce and sells him a little white lie, stating that Typhoon is targeting WayneCorp oil rigs and if he doesn't help the people somehow then his property will be lost. Bruce immediately purchases a hotel in El Paso, thus giving all of the dispossessed people a free place to stay. With everyone safe, Blue Beetle can focus on Typhoon and easily kicks his ass.

--Detective Comics #835-836 ("ABSOLUTE TERROR")
Countdown 39 to 34.  Bruce begins dating Kay Scott.  Robin convinces Bruce to take a night off and enjoy spending time with his new lady.  However, Bruce's vacation doesn't last very long because Scarecrow escapes from Arkham in a bloody fashion.  I should note that Jonathan Crane had been moved to the "non-supervillain" wing of the asylum, which probably means he's been cured of his Scarebeast powers.  We can assume that Desaad's recent scientific experimentation and torture of Crane has purged him of the Scarebeast.   Anyway, Scarecrow now uses hypnotism and good old fashioned mind-games instead of his trademark fear gas, and within a week's time, dozens are dead and the city is paralyzed with fear.  After the week long reign of death, Batman and Robin finally track down Crane and put him back behind bars. (Although, we see Scarecrow again right away, so we must assume he escapes immediately).  Oh, and don't get too attached to Bruce's new love interest Kay Scott.  We don't see her again.  Dumped.

--Batman Confidential #44-48 ("BATMAN vs. THE UNDEAD")
Several months ago, Professor Herbert Combs was released from Arkham.  Ever since then, he has been in hiding.  Bruce, having finally tracked him down to New Orleans, decides to take a business trip to the Big Easy.  After publicly donating money for Hurricane Katrina relief (either Katrina occurs in 2008/2009 rather than 2005 in the DCU or Bruce is showing up even later than FEMA), Bruce suits up and meets his old vampire acquaintance Marius Dimeter.  Together they discover Combs up to his old tricks at a museum, this time using voodoo magic to re-animate corpses, mummies, skeletons, and even a taxidermy-stuffed timber-wolf.  After fending off the monsters, Bruce makes another public appearance at a party before calling Superman for assistance.  Supes flies down and joins Batman, Dimeter, and good guy werewolf Janko to fight Combs ever-growing army of zombies.  Meanwhile, Combs and his partner, voodoo priestess Mama Elizi, kidnap Dimeter's vampire girlfriend Olivia and haul her off to Corto Maltese.  Dr. Fate shows up in Louisiana and points the heroes in Olivia's direction.  Dimeter, Janko, and Superman all hitch a ride in the Batplane to earthquake-ravaged Corto Maltese where Combs has allied himself with the island's corrupt army.  Cue ultimate reference panels to Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns.  The four heroes battle yet another zombie army while contending with Combs, Mama Elizi, her mutant zombie son, and a resurrected evil voodoo shaman.  Dimeter and Supes recruit white magic voodoo priestess Geneva, who casts a spell that helps the heroes defeat the villains with relative ease.   

--DCU Halloween Special 2010 #1, Part 1
It's Halloween and Bruce is nervous about his rogues gallery acting up. While patrolling in the suburbs, the Dark Knight thinks trouble is afoot, but it turns out some kids have actually nabbed Scarecrow and dosed him with his own Fear Toxin.  The cowering Dr. Crane thinks the children are intimidating Batmen.  The grinning real Batman joins in on the fun for a bit and gives the kids some candy before hauling Crane off to jail.

--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #12
Countdown 37.  Every JLA member puts in his or her time on monitor duty aboard the Watchtower.  J'onn and the new Aquaman chat about the new League (and how they aren't a part of it).  J'onn mentions Ollie's engagement to Black Canary.  Meanwhile, Deathstroke meets secretly with Geo-Force, who is apparently his mole within the JLA.  However, Batman is actually using Geo-Force as a double-agent to feed Deathstroke disinformation.  But little does Batman know that Deathstroke knows he knows and is, therefore, using this fact to his own advantage.  So maybe Batman knows Deathstroke knows that he knows that... ah, jesus, these guys are too smart for each other.  Poor Geo-Force.

--Countdown #36
Jimmy Olsen has begun to manifest a plethora of superhuman powers.  He also discovers that Clark is really Superman.  Donning a silly costume and calling himself Mr. Action, Jimmy playfully blackmails Clark into giving him a JLA tryout.  A furious Batman leaves before Jimmy's tryout can even start.  Suffice to say, Jimmy doesn't have quite that a good grasp on his new found powers yet and gets the shit beat out of him by the JLA.  Denied.

NOTE:  The epilogue from Detective Comics #841 takes place now.  Mad Hatter gets a mind-controlled Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum to fight each other.  Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee will escape from Arkham after this event, since we will see them in our next Outsiders tale.

ANOTHER NOTE:  Captain Marvel (Billy Batson) has taken over the role of the dead wizard Shazam at this point on our chronology.  Cap/Shazam now wears a white costume and has long white hair and simply calls himself Marvel.  Meanwhile, Freddie Freeman (Captain Marvel, Jr.) begins the long and arduous ritual known as "The Trials of Shazam," which if he successfully completes, will allow him to fill the vacant spot and become the brand new Captain Marvel (as seen in The Trials of Shazam! #1).

OUTSIDERS: FIVE OF A KIND
--Outsiders: Five of a Kind - Nightwing/Boomerang #1
--Outsiders: Five of a Kind - Katana/Shazam! #1
--Outsiders: Five of a Kind - Thunder/Manhunter #1
--Outsiders: Five of a Kind - Metamorpho/Aquaman #1
--Outsiders: Five of a Kind - Wonder Woman/Grace #1
--Outsiders Vol. 3 #50
Countdown 34. Now that Batman is the new head of the Outsiders, the team does not appreciate the way he leads, mainly through intimidation and insults (much the way he acted in the old JLI).  Batman sends Nightwing and Captain Boomerang to a US Government space station which has gone offline.  This space station just happens to be housing the Chemo that was used to annihilate Bl├╝dhaven.  Nightwing and Boomer combat against loose parts of the Chemo and afterward, Nightwing tries to send the monster into the sun.  However, Boomer, working under secret orders from Amanda Waller, fights off and prevents Nightwing from destroying the nuclear beast.  When Nightwing meets up with Batman after the mission, Batman says he approves of Boomer's initiative, but Bommer is obviously still involved with Waller's Suicide Squad, so he's off the team.  Nightwing, outraged at the way Bruce is handling the Ousiders, quits the team!  Bully Batman then decides to retool the Outsiders with a whole new line-up.  After discussing his plans with Zatanna, Batman scouts both Marvel (Billy Batson) and Katana and chooses the latter for membership.  Katana immediately accepts.  The Dark Knight then sends J'onn and Thunder (Black Lightning's daughter) on a mission in deep space to battle Grayven (Darkseid's son).  The heroes stumble upon an injured Grayven and J'onn is able to telepathically scan his mind, thus learning of the recent murders of several New Gods including the Deep Six, Speed Queen, and Sleez at the hands of a mysterious God-Killer.  (News of Lightray's murder went public weeks ago).  Grayven awakens, forcing J'onn to use a shape-shifting ruse to fool the evil New God into returning to Apokolips.  Upon his return home, Grayven is murdered by the mystery God-Killer.  Back on Earth, Batman reveals that J'onn is already on the Outsiders and the deep space test was solely for Thunder, who didn't make the cut.  The Caped Crusader then sends Metamorpho and Aquaman to the Sahara Desert to deal with Simon Stagg and Halcyon.  Afterward, Batman reveals yet again that Metamorpho is already on the team and the test was solely for Aquaman.  Batman tells Aquaman that he did a good job, but he's no Orin and isn't good enough for the team.  Aquaman then leaves, revealing that he has the ability to magically teleport anywhere on Earth using a network of underwater portals.  Metamorpho chastises Batman for being too hasty in his judgment, thus losing a valuable asset.  Next, Batman travels to Washington, DC to help out with the reconstruction of the capitol which was razed during the Amazon-American War.  Bruce sends Wonder Woman (who isn't a candidate for the team) and current half-Amazon Outsider Grace Choi to Cleveland to locate and dismantle a Bana nuclear bomb left over from the war.  The lady warriors are successful, and Bruce approves of Grace.  Back at Outsiders headquarters, Grace is pissed at the roster cuts, but stays on the team.  Bruce (as Matches Malone) then takes his new team undercover at a supervillain hangout club.  The Suicide Squad (including Bane and Captain Boomerang) show up and start kidnapping as many supervillains as they can, including the General (formerly Shaggy Man), a new female Crazy Quilt, Tweedle-Dum, and Tweedle-Dee.  Once Batman reveals his presence, the Squad then flees the scene with their captives.  Bruce and J'onn privately confer that the rumors are true.  What rumors?  Rumors about the Sucide Squad's involvement in a major intergalactic scheme which involves not only kidnapping supervillains, but abandoning them on a distant prison planet at the other end of the galaxy.  Despite having been fired by Batman, Thunder helps the team out on this mission and earns her spot back in the lineup.  Catwoman is also present at during the fight and decides she wants to be an Outsider too.  I should also mention that the General joins the Suicide Squad, thus avoiding being sent to the prison planet.  Okay, quick recap:  Batman leads a new Outsiders team, villains are being sent to a prison planet, and someone is killing off New Gods.  Check, check, and check.

--Superman/Batman #43-45
Countdown 22 to 14 (unfortunately, incorrectly labeled, these issues go right here).  Waynetech and STAR Labs have recently set up an orbiting space station run by John Henry Irons (Steel), which turns dark matter into a renewable energy source by using a machine which is linked to a Kryptonian device inside the Fortress of Solitude.  Dr. Light infiltrates the Fortress of Solitude and sends hard-light holographic versions of the original Teen Titans to attack the satellite.  Superman easily defeats the holograms, while Batman easily defeats Dr. Light in the Fortress of Solitude.  Dr. Light manages to escape in the end and is recruited into the Injustce League by Lex Luthor, which has yet to make its official debut.  After the encounter with Dr. Light, Batman and Superman watch from a distance as the new corny Superman/Batman action movie is filmed in downtown Gotham, starring the guy who plays James Bond, Jason Wish!  When Livewire shows up to cause chaos on the set, Superman flies down to kick her ass, but the Man of Steel gets hurt pretty badly when he finds out the hard way that the director has chosen to use real Kryptonite in his film.  Flash, with Batman's help, is able to easily take down Livewire and rush the injured Superman to the Fortress of Solitude.  Batman then calls in the most trusted surgeon available, Alfred Pennyworth.  Alfred saves Superman's life!  Three days later, Superman confronts Batman while on patrol and they discuss how, ever since the Kryptonite asteroid struck Earth three years ago, Kryptonite is literally everywhere now.  Batman and Superman decide that its high time they clean up the planet by getting rid of the Kryptonite.  Batman, Booster Gold, Starfire, Firestorm, Hiro Okamura, and Superman (who dons a protective lead-lined super-suit) all begin scouring the globe, collecting a mountain's worth of Kryptonite and storing it in a giant lead-lined vault.  Batman even discovers that Joker has a stash of Kryptonite hidden in a teddy bear in his Arkham cell.  When Superman and Batman try to extract a large chunk of Kryptonite from an undersea trench, Aquaman isn't happy about his territory being messed with and the new hero begins fighting Superman!  (Aquaman doesn't care much for the Dark Knight either after Batman so casually dismissed him following his recent Outsiders tryout).  Batman and Superman fight Aquaman to a stalemate, but in the end an angry Aquaman lets them take the Kryptonite.

NOTE: Batman cracks down on smuggling operations which have been bringing in "high-end off-world" tech into Gotham, including weapons from Thanagar and Apokolips (as seen through a visual reference in Helmet of Fate: Detective Chimp #1).

--Batman #655-658 ("BATMAN AND SON")
This is the best possible spot for this very-hard-to-place beginning to Grant Morrison's epic Batman run.  Bruce mentions that supervillains are being shipped off to the prison planet, which definitely is going on right now.  However, Bruce, at this point, would have absolutely no idea that the prison planet even existed yet.  So, unfortunately, this one single line of dialogue must be ignored. Having said that, here we go!  An escaped Joker poisons Commissioner Gordon with his Joker Venom.  Joker then battles Josef Muller, one of three substitute Batmen trained by Simon Hurt.  (Batman last encountered the substitute Batmen five years ago, although due to post-hypnotic suggestion implanted by Hurt in Bat-Year Six, Batman's recollection of the event is cloudy at best, if not virtually erased).  Anyway, Joker nearly beats Muller to death, mistaking him for the real Dark Knight, and begins celebrating until Muller shoots him in the face.  The real Batman then shows up and tosses Joker's bloody ass into a dumpster and delivers Gordon to the medics.  With Joker safely returned to Arkham, Alfred declares that a London vacation is in order.  Meanwhile, Talia Al Ghul obtains the Man-Bat serum from Kirk Langstrom and turns her entire League of Assassins into mutated ninja Man-Bats.  In London, Bruce attends a charity event and meets supermodel/philanthropist/political leader Jezebel Jet.  As the two get better acquainted with each other, dozens of ninja Man-Bats crash the party.  Batman is captured and handed over to Talia, who has kidnapped the British Prime Minister's wife.  Talia then unleashes a bombshell upon Bruce before departing.  She introduces him to his ten-year old son, Damian!  (Damian has not only been kept hidden from Bruce by the League of Assassins for the past ten years, the boy has been trained to be a killing machine).  Bruce takes Damian home to America, shows him the Batcave, and introduces him to Tim and Alfred.  The unruly Damian, naturally, hates everything and even gives Alfie a good old fashioned "*^*% YOU!" before storming up into the mansion to see his new room.  Tim is shocked that Bruce has a son, especially a little hellion like this kid, but Batman says not to worry.  Damian, however, is spoiled rotten, petulantly acts-out, and breaks everything in sight, forcing Batman to lock him inside one of Wayne Manor's many rooms.  Meanwhile, the Spook (!) kidnaps recently elected Mayor Sebastian Hady.  Batman saves the mayor, but when he finds the Spook, the villain has been decapitated!  Soon after in the Batcave, Damian confronts Robin and unveils the severed head of the Spook!  Damian explains that he murdered the villain to impress his father and then proceeds to kick Robin's ass.  Damian then dons an old Robin costume and meets his dad downtown.  Batman angrily drags his son back home, where both Tim and Alfred are recovering from savage beatings at the hands of the violent ten-year old.  Batman decides its time to get the British Prime Minister's wife back and have a serious chat with baby momma as well.  Since Damian is obviously too dangerous to be left alone, Batman brings him along to Gibraltar in a rocket ship!  In Gibraltar, an army of ninja Man-Bats slaughters dozens of innocent people.  Batman and Damian parachute in and start taking out as many ninja Man-Bats as they can, thus saving the Prime Minister's wife.  Amidst the chaos, Talia asks Bruce to join her and raise Damian together to become the next ruler of the world.  The Caped Crusader refuses.  The British Navy blows up Talia's submarine and finishes off the ninja Man-Bats.  Talia, however, escapes with Damian.  READ THIS STORY IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY.  Highly recommended.  

--Batman #664-665
Grant Morrison's epic run picks up right where it left off in issue #658.  Bruce leaves Gibraltar and begins dating Jezebel Jet (although the two won't be mutually exclusive for several months after this).  Back in Gotham, Batman interrogates a pimp and his sex workers, including Ellie, who will later become the lead receptionist at Wayne Tower. Batman's questioning leads him into a run-in with Branca, another one of the three substitute Batmen that Bruce has been brainwashed to forget.  Branca is dressed up in a combination Batman/Bane costume and he's hopped up on various drugs, including Venom.  Not to mention, he's living in a filthy derelict house surrounded by dead prostitutes.  Branca beats the bloody tar out of Batman, who escapes to the penthouse of the Wayne Enterprises Building.  Remember when Batman used the Penthouse as his base of operations instead of the Batcave in Bat-Year Nine?  At the penthouse, Alfred and Tim care for a delirious Bruce, who slowly begins to recollect vague details about his repressed memories regarding the substitute Batmen.  Bruce explains that in his nightmare “three ghosts of Batman” spell doom for Gotham, and the third is the worst. Bruce slowly begins to recollect vague details about his repressed memories regarding the substitute Batmen. Bruce tells Alfred that they need to scour the Black Casebook for information. In the Black Casebook, Batman refreshes his memory of a fight with “three ghost Batmen” from five years ago, which he had always thought was a mere hallucination. Of course, now it becomes painfully apparent that it was real and someone has caused him to forget. Batman and Robin then go after Branca and are able to take him down, but the leviathan escapes.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, the League of Assassins perform life-saving surgery on an injured Damian.  Talia's surgeons are able to harvest cloned organs and replace the damaged ones inside Damian.  Bruce then goes on yet another date with Jezebel, this time in Venice.  Batman also pieces together a small part of the puzzling "replacement Batmen" mystery after re-examining his Black Casebook.  The details are still sketchy, but Batman now knows that a third "replacement Batman" is out there somewhere, and warns Commissioner Gordon accordingly (as referenced in Batman #672).

NOTE:  Batman #666 takes place now, but the entire issue is a flash-forward to approximately 20 years in the future.  Bruce is dead and Damian is the new Batman.  Barbara Gordon is the new GCPD Commissioner.  In this dark and scary global-warming-effected Grant Morrison-concocted future, we meet several Batman rogues including Professor Pyg, Phosphorus Rex, and Flamingo.  We also witness the death of the third substitute Batman, Michael Lane, at the hands of Damian.  (Lane is also one of many Azraels).  It's hard for me to even begin to explain how amazing this issue is and exactly why, but I will try my best in layman's terms.  At this point chronologically, we have yet to meet Pyg, Rex, and Flamingo (these characters won't debut chronologically until next Bat-Year), but here we are meeting them publishing-wise for the first time in a flash-forward to 20 years later!  Similarly, publishing-wise we haven't been introduced to Lane until now either.  Sure, Lane is on our chronology in both Bat-Year Six and Bat-Year Sixteen, but in both instances he is placed there retro-actively through in-story textual references (originally in Batman #672).  Batman #666 is the first time we visually see Lane.  The first time we actually visually see Lane on our regular timeline (as opposed to in a flash-forward) won't be until Batman #672.  Therefore, the textual retro-active reference to Lane in Bat-Year Six functions chronologically as his debut, but his published debut isn't until right now (a future scene), which is unbelievable because we have yet to actually visually see the character on our regular current timeline (i.e. not in a flash-forward)!  Sorry if this seems confusing.  This is a very hard concept to articulate, but if you can grasp it, it's a truly beautiful thing.

--Batman #667-669
Billionaire John Mayhew invites all the old members of the "Club of Heroes" to a reunion on his private tropical island.  Without anything better to do, Batman and Robin decide to attend, along with Knight and Squire as well.  However, the nostalgia doesn't last long because a video is played which shows a mystery man literally wearing a bloody, ripped-off face, which he claims belongs to the murdered Mayhew.  SPOILER: The mystery man in the video is Dr. Simon Hurt and he's actually wearing the skin of actor Mangrove Pierce.  Moving on, the mystery man explains that he controls the criminal organization known as The Black Glove and the international heroes will soon suffer Mayhew's fate.  The heroes' planes then explode, stranding them on the island.  Everyone splits up and The Legionary and Wingman are both murdered.  However, Batman soon realizes that Wingman is in cahoots with the villains and has switched costumes with Dark Ranger, whom has actually been killed.  Batman and El Gaucho are able to take out Wingman, who reveals that he is jealous of Batman's career and has been paid-off by the Black Glove.  Wingman further explains that the Black Glove has set everything up in an attempt to destroy Batman.  Before he can spill even more beans, Mayhew reveals himself to be alive and well on the island by silencing Wingman with a bullet.  Mayhew then activates a bomb which will destroy the entire island.  Batman gathers the heroes onto an escape plane and everyone flees to safety.  Shortly before the island explodes, Dr. Hurt tells Mayhew that he has lost the deadly game against Batman.  Mayhew goes up in smoke along with his island.  Batman is now aware of the Black Glove, but he knows virtually nothing about the organization, and has yet to learn of Hurt's involvement in the group.  Oh, for anyone wondering about Mangrove Pierce, it was 8 years ago (Bat-Year 13) when Mayhew discovered Pierce was sleeping with his wife, Marsha Lamarr.  Mayhew murdered his wife and framed Pierce for the crime.  Eight years later (now), we see Hurt has skinned him alive.

NOTE:  Unfortunately, Batman #663, which was supposed to take place here, is NON-CANON.  This is the infamous prose-issue written by Grant Morrison, in which Joker kills off all of his old henchmen by sending them deliveries of poisoned flowers.  Joker, in the tale, is still badly injured as a result of being shot by Josef Muller, but is making a speedy recovery through intensive surgery and therapy.  The story concludes with a crazed, costumed Harley Quinn shooting Joker in the shoulder, thus, permanently ending her relationship with the madman.  However, at this point, Harley would be living the straight-life in the pages of Countdown.  If we ignore Harley Quinn's presence in the story and Joker's horrible post-surgical facial scars and Harley's shooting of Joker, then we can indeed include this tale in Batman's canon right here and now.  However, the bulk of the narrative pertains to and revolves around Harley, so it's probably best to just completely ignore this whole issue.  However, I encourage all faithful readers to do what they feel is best regarding this situation.

ANOTHER NOTE:  Joker has made a full and incredibly speedy recovery after getting shot by Josef Muller.  Maybe he was just grazed by the bullet.  In any case, Joker is well enough for Lex Luthor to break him out of Arkham to attend a very important crime-meeting.  Lex, Joker, and Cheetah meet to vote on team members for the brand new Injustice League (as seen through flashback in Justice League of America Wedding Special #1). 

--Batman Annual #26
Countdown 35 (incorrectly numbered).  Hidden at a secret Lazarus Pit location in Australia, Talia Al Ghul tells Damian Wayne the long history of his grandfather, the notorious Ra's Al Ghul.  Little does Talia know that White Ghost, Ra's servant since the 18th Century, plans to enact a prophecy which will revive Ra's Al Ghul from the grave.  Not only that, Talia has no idea that White Ghost is actually Ra's Al Ghul's only son, Dusan Al Ghul, and thus, her biological brother! (She won't find this out until later).  Anyway, White Ghost plans to use Damian's body as the new host for Ra's Al Ghul, whose spirit he believes is trapped within the Australian Lazarus Pit.  But of course, once Talia and Damian catch on to his game, they kick his ass and take off.  Meanwhile, Batman, who has been tracking two missing Waynetech ecologists, shows up, fights League of Assassins ninjas, and winds up tossing White Ghost into the Lazarus Pit.  This is a one-time-use Pit that dries up and loses its power hours after White Ghost falls into it.  White Ghost sinks into underground caverns, washes away, and then goes missing.  NOTE:  Following these events the League of Assassins splits into two factions; one which is loyal to Talia, and the other which is loyal to Ra's Al Ghul's longtime second-in-command, The Sensei.  (We will later learn that the Sensei is Ra's Al Ghul's biological father)!

5 comments:

  1. You sure love lapping up w/e Grant Morrison cooks up don't you no matter how terrible it is

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  2. Anonymous,

    I most certainly do enjoy Grant Morrison's entire corpus, and can say without hesitation that I love his run on Batman. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and I've had great debates and discussions with several readers of this blog, some of which were really into Morrison's work and others who really strongly disliked it. I can definitely understand the various arguments against his work (its inaccessibility, its reference heavy nature, its unique employment of narratalogy, its often non-normative narratives in general, and hell, maybe it's just not your thing, etc, etc...), but I definitely do "lap it up" as you say. That being said, there is more than a hint of negativity/anger in your comment that doesn't contribute much into the realm of deeper conversation. And that's totally cool--I'm guilty of trashing things I don't like and I've done it on this site more than a few times. However, I would warmly welcome a more constructive comment in regard to exactly why you find Morrison's work so "terrible" since I'm always trying to learn more about readership, comic book trends, what people like/dislike, and all things Batman in general. Anyway, thanks for reading and I do really appreciate your input!

    --Collin C

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  3. Anon.: On the other hand, Morrison isn't a cowardly troll who posts his vitriol anonymously in the mistaken belief that offers him some form of protection from being called out for his bullshit.

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  4. Did you not forget to put in your chronology Green Lantern 9 where batman team up with green lantern ?

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  5. Thanks, Anon. GL V4 #9 and GL V4#17 will be added shortly!

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