This page has not been updated since 2011. For an updated and correct version of this timeline, please redirect to THE REAL BATMAN CHRONOLOGY PROJECT.COM.
NOTE: The sliding timeline created by Zero Hour placed my Bat-Year Ten at 1994, but then was later retconned (or slid) to 1998. Therefore, if Bat-Year Ten spans April 1998 to March 1999, then Bat-Year Eleven spans from April 1999 until March 2000, and so on, and so on. Furthermore, as I stated in the intro, logic follows that you have to read the stories in this year as if they are truly taking place in 1999/2000. For example, references to the U.S.S.R. and Reagan (of which there are many) must be ignored and replaced by generic simple substitutions such as "Russia" (which we shall assume is still a viable world power) and "U.S. President." OR, and this my own unique idea that you can feel free to disregard with contempt, you can imagine that in the DC Universe Ronnie was president in the late Nineties and the Commies didn't fall until around 2000. On second thought, that sounds like a terrible idea.
Oh, and if you are trying to compare and contrast my timeline to other timelines, bear in mind that my chronology is still running from April to March instead of January to December each year.
NOTE: This Bat-Year begins with the epic funeral of the Flash Barry Allen. It is the largest gathering of superheroes during peace-time to date (as referenced in Blackest Night #0).
ANOTHER NOTE: Bruce isn't involved in this note, but it is important enough to list. Dick and Babs go on an outing with ten year-old James Gordon Junior and his young friend Ben Wolff (as referenced in Detective Comics #878). James Junior is still living with his mom and is still a little psycho. In a related note, we won't see or hear from Jim's ex-wife Barbara again until Bat-Year 23! Therefore, we must assume that she moves far, far away. James Junior will eventually become institutionalized and go off the radar until his return as an adult nearly twelve years from now.
--Justice League of America #250-255
The alien tyrant known as Despero makes his dramatic return. Batman also returns to lead the JLA, albeit temporarily, because he feels the new version of the League can't handle this threat without him. After Despero is defeated, Zatanna is kidnapped by the telepath and cult leader known only as Adam. She issues a JLA alert, which is answered by Batman and the JLA, but the powerful metahuman is able to form an illusion of Zatanna that tells the team it was merely a false alarm. With Zatanna is left to her own devices, Batman will soon once again leave the League. NOTE: Vixen knows that Bruce is Batman in these issues. This is incorrect and must be ignored.
--Detective Comics #568-570
--Captain Atom #2
NOTE: Batman: Son of the Demon is entirely non-canon, but there is one thing that is definitely canon that occurs in the story--Batman knocks up Talia! Of course, the pregnancy is kept secret from Bruce. Uh oh.
--The New Teen Titans Vol. 2 #18
Weeks ago, Nightwing and half of his Teen Titan teammates were on an adventure on the distant planet Tamaran, which ended with Dick's girlfriend Starfire revealing that she is actually married. Back on Earth, a dejected and unkempt Dick secludes himself from everyone and sulks for days. Dick, despite not being on speaking terms with Bruce, eventually is troubled enough to visit Wayne Manor, but Bruce and Jason are busy working on a case that involves rescuing the governor's abducted son. Batman and Robin give Dick the brush-off and depart to save the boy, leaving a depressed Dick to mope around the Batcave. SPOILER ALERT: Don't worry, fans! Dick and Starfire will get back together in a few months!
--Batman: Hong Kong
This 2003 prestige format manga-style book by Doug Moench and Tony Wong takes place somewhere in the earlier days of Batman's career (some people in Gotham are still surprised that he exists even though the Batsignal shines high in the sky every night and he's never been to Hong Kong before). I could have placed it earlier, but it seems to fit just fine year, shortly after the conclusion of the "Year One Era." In this story, a series of brutal snuff films are shown on the internet, which leads Batman to track the killer in Hong Kong. There, the Dark Knight shakes down the Triad underworld and confronts Triad leader Tiger One-Eye. Later, Tiger One-Eye's former bodyguard Benny Lo, inspired by Batman, becomes the superhero Night-Dragon and helps his idol resolve a Triad hostage situation at an expo center. Upon meeting, Night-Dragon explains that Hong Kong's Chief of Police, Chow Yee, and Tiger One-Eye are his uncles, and his father Lo Pao mysteriously died years ago as a casualty of his uncles' warring. Dragon also wants to avenge one of the snuff film deaths of a friend of his that worked for Tiger One-Eye. The mystery filmmaker killer makes more web movies where both cops and Triads alike are horrifically murdered, earning the ire of both parties. After three nights of chaos on the streets of Hong Kong, Night-Dragon’s girlfriend Angelica is abducted by a big kung-fu bruiser who is the mystery filmmaker's top henchman. Our heroes save Angelica and learn the mystery villain is a deformed and hulking Lo Pao, who not only is still alive but hates his brothers for causing the fire that burned him. Lo Pao then vows to blow up all of Hong Kong. The cops and Triads make peace and help Batman and Night-Dragon defeat Lo Pao. The end.
--Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #52-55
Swamp Thing attacks Gotham City when his wife Abby Holland is arrested for bestiality (for having sex with a swamp monster). Batman battles Swamp Thing and then convinces Mayor Skowcroft that the charge is ludicrous. Abby is released and Gotham is saved. Just as the couple is reunited, Swamp Thing is killed. Batman is the lone superhero to attend Swamp Thing's funeral. It won't be long before the Earth Elemental returns from the grave.
--Batman #402-403 ("ONE BATMAN TOO MANY")
Insane ex-cop Tommy Carma thinks he's Batman, so he dresses up as the Dark Knight and kills criminals. Bruce also goes on a date with famous Gotham photo-journalist Vicki Vale, who will become his main love-interest a few years later.
--Detective Comics #571-574
Holy homo-eroticism Batman! In issue #571 Jason encounters Scarecrow for the first time and there are some pretty bizarre panels depicting Robin watering down Batman with a firehose. In issues #572-574 Jason encounters a returning Mad Hatter II (!) and gets a bullet in the chest. Batman immediately rushes the dying Boy Wonder to the intensive care of Dr. Leslie Thompkins, who is able to save his life.
--The Question #2
Batman meets The Question!
--Justice League #1-4
The newest version of the Justice League (sans "America" in the title) has its first meeting and adventure and it's a rough one. No one gets along (duh, Guy Gardner is there and Batman hates everyone) and to make matters worse we find out who's really running the show; entrepreneur/secretly evil-maniac Maxwell Lord (!!!). Lord recruits (without Batman's permission) Dr. Light and Booster Gold into the League.
--Justice League Annual #1
A sentient virus takes control of thousands of people including the entire League except for Martian Manhunter, who saves the day solo. Oh, and Batman is mean to everyone.
--Batman and The Outsiders #32
After a disagreement Batman tries to dissolve the Outsiders by quitting the team. The Outsiders vote to stay together without their leader.
--The New Teen Titans #29-31
The Titans begin to falter in a battle against The Church of Blood until Batman, Booster Gold, and members of the Green Lantern Corps help them out.
--The Outsiders #17-22
In issues #17-18 Batman re-unites with the Outsiders to battle Eclipso. In issues #19-20 Batman and the Outsiders take on the Masters of Disaster. Windfall joins the Outsiders. In issues #21-22 Batman leads the team against the terrorist Kobra (Jeffrey Franklin Burr) and his cult of followers. Kobra has turned one of his henchwomen, Sondra Fuller, into Lady Clay aka Clayface IV.
--The Outsiders Special #1
Batman is still with the Outsiders following their victory over Kobra when they are forced to fight with the returning super-group known as The Force of July. Fellow crime-fighting team Infinity, Inc. joins in the fray to make sure the battle is won.
NOTE: Batman and Robin take down Captain Boomerang (as seen through flashback in Batman #645).
--Action Comics #606
John Stewart has been arrested for the murder of Star Sapphire (Carol Ferris), who has actually faked her own death and framed Stewart. While Stewart rots in prison, Hal Jordan tries in vain to help him by pleading with all of his old former-JLA pals for help. Unfortunately for Jordan, nobody wants anything to do with him, least of all Bruce, who he visits at Wayne Manor. Alfred and Bruce give Jordan the brush-off. Don't worry friends, Sapphire will soon get exposed and Stewart will be exonerated.
--The Weird #1-4
Ok, so the Macrolatts and the Zarolatts are sentient light beings that live in an alternate dimension. The Macrolatts decide they want to rule Earth, and only one lone Zarolatt is there to prevent it from happening. This Zarolatt takes a human host body, is dubbed The Weird, and chaos ensues. The Justice League and Captain Atom initially believe the Weird is their enemy until the Macrolatts show their evil nature by taking possession of Superman and Nuklon. Eventually, Batman and company save the day and the heroic Weird exiles himself to space where he explodes. (The main action of The Weird series is also flashed-back to in the second feature of Mystery in Space Vol. 2 #1).
--The Fury of Firestorm #63-64
When Firestorm vows to eradicate all of the nuclear warheads on the planet, the U.S. government sends both Captain Atom and The Suicide Squad to fight him. When the battle gets out of hand in NYC, the Justice League shows up.
--Firestorm, The Nuclear Man Annual #5
The conclusion to the previous two Firestorm issues. The Justice League gets involved in an all out war with The Suicide Squad and Firestorm. However, everyone joins together to take down an escaped Parasite. Eventually, Firestorm leaves to combat the USSR's own nuclear man Pozhar in the deserts of Nevada. However, the fight is merely a setup by both the US government and the USSR government to destroy the two dangerous entities. They are nuked, but an unexpected result occurs: the dual host bodies of Firestorm, Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond, merge with Pozhar to form an even more powerful Firestorm.
--Batman Annual #11
The first part of this annual is Alan Moore's classic story about Clayface III's love affair with a mannequin. The second part is Max Allan Collins' not-so-classic story about Penguin's love affair with the rotund Dovina Partridge.
Enter The Mime! Seriously. She's a supervillain mime and it takes Batman and Robin one issue to catch her.
NOTE: Talia gives birth to Bruce's child, Damian! Of course, both the pregnancy and birth of the child are kept secret from Batman, so he won't meet his child for another ten years! The details of this historic conception/birth were originally told in Batman: Son of the Demon (1987), and while the essential elements of this story are canonical, the story itself is still out-of-continuity for many, many reasons. I should mention that Damian's birth is a rather strange one. According to Batman #666, a few months into Talia's pregnancy, a very underdeveloped Damian is removed from the womb in a science-fictiony surgical procedure. He is then placed in an artificial womb where he is genetically perfected until the full nine-month term ends.
--Justice League #5-6
The Justice League teams-up with the Creeper to take on the occult-powered Gray Man. Issue #5 is one of the most famous JL issues by Giffen because it's the one where Batman punches out Guy Gardner. Amazing read.
NOTE: One of the many flashbacks from Justice League of America Vol. 2 #0 occurs now. Wonder Woman and Superman visit Batman at the JLI Embassy simply to laugh about him knocking out Guy.
ANOTHER NOTE: The flashback from JLA 80-Page Giant #3 takes place now. Kind of. This event, known as the "Century War," is almost like a mini-Crisis on Infinite Earths in many ways. In this story the JLA battles against Valkus the Centurion. At the conclusion of the Century War, JLA member Moon Maiden is able to destroy Valkus' time/reality-altering device known as the Erasure Weapon. Wait. Who are these people? We don't know who they are because when Moon Maiden destroys Valkus' machine, she permanently erases both of their existences from the timestream. Prior to the destruction of the machine, Moon Maiden had been a long time JLA member and Valkus had been one of the team's top rogues, but after this event, they simply never existed. Only Moon Maiden's father has any recollection of her daughter's life. The rest of the JLA will only have dreamlike memories of her from now on.
--Justice League International #7
Great, great Giffen stuff here. Unknown to the actual members of the Justice League, the U.N. is debating on whether or not to pass a resolution that would grant the team status as a globally sanctioned peace-keeping force that operates as an independent "city-state." As President Reagan (who is obviously beginning to become senile in this issue) meets with both the U.N. Security Council and Superman, a destructive Brother-Eye-like satellite appears in the Earth's atmosphere and the League heads into space to take it out. When they get there, Batman realizes it is all a hoax designed to make the League look good. Max Lord has done it again, and because of his scheme, the U.N. resolution passes. That's right, the Justice League will have embassies in every country and is now known as the Justice League International! This is huge news and the ramifications are just as colossal. Both Dr. Fate, Dr. Light, and Captain Marvel quit the team. The U.S. and U.S.S.R. each add a member, Captain Atom and Rocket Red, respectively. And finally, Batman, fearing over-exposure, passes the torch of leadership to Martian Manhunter. What's Max Lord's hidden agenda? Well, yeah we know. And if you don't, I won't spoil it for ya.
--Dr. Fate #3
The JLI meets with Dr. Fate to find out why he quit the team. Duh, he's Dr. Fate. He has way more important occult shit to deal with, like the evil Anti-Fate. The JLI then winds up fighting the evil Anti-Fate. Oh, and no one cares about why Light and Marvel quit. NOTE: Guy is written into this storyline with his normal arrogant bravado. This is incorrect as he would have had his temporary meek personality at this point.
--Teen Titans Spotlight #14
Batman is knocked out with a tranquilizer while fighting drug dealers led by the pusher known as Drakkar. When Batman doesn't come home, and with Jason on business on the West Coast, Alfred calls Dick for help. Nightwing tracks Batman to an abandoned subway line where he discovers Drakkar bidding the Dark Knight to various crime-lords via a twisted underground auction. Nighwing swoops in, kicks ass, and rescues Batman. Afterward, Nightwing, still on very shaky terms with his former mentor, gives Bruce an earful but tells him that he respects everything that he has done for him. Batman is silent, but smiles after Dick leaves.
--Action Comics Annual #1
Typical Batman/Superman team-up where they kill a vampire.
NOTE: Thirty people die in a fiery midtown explosion as Batman fights Killer Croc and wrestles him back toward Arkham Asylum (as referenced in Secret Origins Vol. 2 #23). This incident leads directly into Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #66.
--Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #66
This is another great issue, but then, most late 80s Swamp Thing issues are. Rick Vietch's amazing panels (written and penciled) depicting the loonies in Arkham are second to none. We see the Joker laughing in tears while he reads Kant, Clayface III in bed with his beloved mannequin, and Floronic Man in his cell being harassed by John Constantine! I won't get into the details of the Swamp Thing/Floronic Man storyline, but there is a great scene where Constantine is being interrogated by a doctor and Batman crashes through a window with Killer Croc in tow.
--Detective Comics #579
The return of the Crime Doctor, Matthew Thorne, is foiled by the Dynamic Duo.
A marital-arts expert and a curator team-up to rob a samurai exhibit at the museum! Jason and Alfred team-up to do Jason's homework! Batman and Robin team-up to stop the thievery! Jason gets really into the whole samurai thing and wears a weird black leotard and Japanese mask instead of his Robin outfit for this case.
NOTE: Detective Comics #580-581 were retconned out-of-continuity by Ed Brubaker's run on Detective Comics #777-782. This story originally was about the alternate Two-Face known as Paul Sloan. Brubaker retells Sloan's origins in 2003 and completely ignores 'tec #580-581, thus rendering it non-canon.
--Booster Gold #22
Booster Gold enlists the Justice League to stop an invasion by aliens from Dimension X. The League is successful, but Booster's sister Michele dies. (Thanks to the miracle of time-travel, we'll see Michele again years later when she returns as the superhero known as Goldstar).
--Action Comics #594
An evil android replica of Booster starts an anti-Superman campaign in Metropolis until the real one shows up to stop the charade. However, the real reason this story is important is because Jason meets Superman for the first time and even gets his autograph!
--Booster Gold #23
Bruce makes a brief cameo in the follow-up to Action Comics #594. Booster is able to end the android replica plot.
--Action Comics #595
Bruce makes a brief cameo. Superman fights Silver Banshee.
Batman meets the vigilante known simply as Vigilante (Adrian Chase) and learns about the secret government organization known as Checkmate, formerly Amanda Waller's organization known simply as The Agency. (Amanda Waller leaves to lead and focus primarily on Task Force X, which runs the Suicide Squad). Harvey Bullock is briefly recruited by Checkmate during this time.
It's really strange to read the silly, dare I say it, campy style of Collins and Barr followed by the intellectual, gritty style of Giffen and Starlin. I will say it makes for quite an interesting late 80s mix for Batman. In issue #414, Starlin takes the reigns and when Batman's friend is murdered by a serial killer, things become personal. Blinded by emotion, Batman uses bad judgment and allows the killer's deadly streak to continue when the former mistakenly apprehends the wrong man. The actual murderer, known as the Dumpster Killer, will remain at large for several more months thanks to Batman's error.
--Justice League International #8
It's time to set up the JLI Embassies and Giffen-style hilarity ensues. Booster and Beetle bond in Paris. J'onn and Captian Atom struggle with a crappy building in New York. And comrades Batman and Guy set up the Soviet Embassy, which is about as much fun as it sounds.
--The Outsiders #23-24
Batman just can't seem to fully part ways with his Outsiders. First they take on the Russian super-team known as The People's Heroes...
--The Outsiders Annual #1
Then Batman and the Outsiders get stuck in the middle of a war between the evil SKULL terrorist organization and the reemergent Kobra Cult.
--The Outsiders #25-26
Batman aids the Outsiders against Major Disaster. Immediately afterward, Batman leads his troops against the villainous Helga Jace.
--Millennium #1If Legends was like Civil War, then this was the equivalent of Secret Invasion (and just as lame). Turns out that loved ones and close friends of the superheroes have been replaced by evil Manhunter androids, who were the predecessors to the Green Lantern Corps. For instance, Commissioner Gordon has been replaced with a doppelganger intent on killing Batman when he least expects it. Why? It's all part of the Manhunters' plan to stop the Oanian/Zamaronian Millennium Project, which will spawn brand new Guardians of the Universe. The heroes learn of this complexity and vileness of this Manhunter plot in Millennium #1, but there is a flashback to the issue in Teen Titans Spotlight #18 as well. The are against the Manhunters begins on Earth and in outer space, with hundreds of heros and villains involved. Several regular people are chosen by the Millennium Project to become the new Guardians, including Hal Jordan's best friend, Tom Kalmaku (who ultimately decides that being a superhero isn't for him since he has a family to take care of). The "chosen ones" then join with Earth's heros in California to prepare for the impending war. The fierce battle against the Manhunters rages on with ups (multiple victories) and downs (the defeat of the Outsiders). Eventually, the heroes learn where the secret Manhunter base is and plan an attack. In the end every hero, and I mean every hero, bands together and defeats the Manhunters. A side result of Millennium is the disbanding of the Outsiders, due to their horrible defeat. The "chosen ones" also form a team known as the New Guardians. Oh, PS. Green Lantern Vol. 4 #3 has a one-panel flashback to Millennium that shows Batman.
--Justice League International #9
--Green Lantern Corps #220
--Detective Comics #582
--Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #13
--Blue Beetle Vol. 6 #21
--Blue Beetle Vol. 6 #22
Batman and the rest of the heroes chat about the conclusion of Millennium, which has just ended. Blue Beetle departs, but is temporarily whisked away into the time-stream to battle his nemesis Chronos.
--Suicide Squad #10
Batman discovers what the Suicide Squad really is (a government program that offers supervillains a clean slate in exchange for joining a "superhero team") and he's not happy about it. Batman dons the Matches Malone disguise and infiltrates the Squad's headquarters in Louisiana. While there, he confronts the Squad and their leader Amanda Waller, who threatens that she can easily discover his secret identity if she wants to. Batman backs down (for now).
--Justice League International #11-13
In issues #11-12 we learn that Max Lord's rise to power and subsequent manipulation of the JLI was a direct result of the influence of a sentient computer program. The JLI teams-up with the New God, Metron, and together they eliminate the evil AI. If you are giving Max an excuse because he was brainwashed by a computer, you really shouldn't. He's genuinely one bad dude and his scheming is only in its early stages. In issue #13 the American superhero Nemesis (Tom Tresser) is being detained in a Russian prison and the Suicide Squad isn't too happy about it. The Squad heads overseas to attempt a rescue, but the JLI is ready and waiting for them at the request of the president, who fears an international incident.
--Suicide Squad #13
This is the conclusion to the events of JLI #13. The JLI and Suicide Squad square-off, but eventually come to realize that Nemesis is wrongly imprisoned. The fight ends, Nemesis is taken to the JLI Russian Embassy and secretly returned to the States, and a disgruntled Batman quits the team yet again! Secret Origins Vol. 2 #28 also contains a flashback to this story.
This is a huge issue. Bruce and Dick haven't spoken in 18 months... until now! (They have interacted in adventures with the Outsiders and the Titans and once when Dick tried to talk to Bruce after breaking up with Starfire, but besides those times they have refused to converse with each other). Dick finally confronts Bruce and gets him to admit that Jason was initially nothing more than a simple replacement for him. Some really good Starlin dialogue here. Dick also mentions that it's been six years since he first trained to be Robin. Sounds about right!
--Batman Confidential #13-16 ("WRATH CHILD")
I've placed this story here because it fits based upon the events that take place in Batman #416 (Bruce and Dick are speaking again, but on shaky terms). This tale is the follow-up to the events which occur in the Batman Special #1 by Mike W. Barr (1984). However, since Barr's story is out-of-continuity (pre-original Crisis) Tony Bedard includes a great flashback that re-tells the needed information in the first issue of "Wrath Child." We learn that when Dick was in his second year as Robin, Batman faced the villain known as Wrath one-on-one and barely beat him. The encounter ended up with the villain's death and both Alfred and Captain Gordon in the hospital. Flash-forward to now. Nightwing and Batman team up after Wrath mysteriously re-appears. How has Wrath seemingly come back from the dead? Well, because it isn't Wrath, it's Wrath's son and he's out for revenge.
--Batgirl Special #1
This is the last Batgirl story ever! Four years ago (Batgirl's debut year) the villain known as Cormorant nearly killed Batgirl. Flash forward to today. Batgirl thinks Cormorant is committing murders and goes after him. However, it turns out the real killer is the new female vigilante, Slash, whose M.O. is to track down and execute sex-offenders. This case is highly emotional for Babs, and after its conclusion she decides to retire as a crime-fighter permanently! She will, however, don the costume two more times after this (in flashbacks from Batman: Gotham Knights #43 and Batman Annual #13).
--Detective Comics #583-584
Batman finally meets the Ventriloquist (and his dummy Scarface)! The GCPD first apprehended the Ventriloquist in Bat-Year One, but Batman never deals with him until now. The Ventriloquist and gang have been smuggling a new designer drug into the country from Mexico by sewing up kilos into the bellies of corpses and shipping the cadavers to funeral parlors. Batman eventually stops the Ventriloquist and Scarface (who already has his patented speech impediment where he can't say the letter "B"), but not before getting accidentally dosed with the intense drug. Batman has been drugged so many times in his first decade of action, it's unreal. No wonder Morrison loves to write about how Batman's early years were a drug-filled haze. They actually were!
--Batman #417-420 ("TEN NIGHTS OF THE BEAST")
The KGBeast; rogue Russian agent, killing machine, and master of all known lethal arts. Anatoli Knyazev is the deadliest man on the planet and he's entered Gotham with the goal of crippling the government by assassinating all the leaders of the U.S. defense department. Issue #420 ends when Batman outwits the Beast and saves the President! We also learn that the CIA is pro-Batman, whereas the FBI hates his guts.
--Adventures of Superman #440
Batman makes a brief Metropolis cameo in John Byrne's Superman story-arc involving the villainous Morgan Edge. Originally, the most important part of this story was that Superman and Batman both discovered each others' secret identities! This revelation stood as canon for twenty-three years! However, thanks to a late Modern Age retcon in April 2011 (in Superman #710) Batman and Superman have already known each others' IDs since Year One. Thus, we must ignore the bulk of the conversation between Batman and Superman in this issue. However, we don't have to ignore when Superman makes-out with Wonder Woman—this is during their ill-fated and extremely brief attempt to date.
--Detective Comics #585-589
Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle really start to bring out a whole heapin' bunch o' new rogues this year including the nefarious Otis Flannegan aka The Ratcatcher! Batman deals with this psychopath in issues #585-586 and then deals with both Derek Mitchel aka Corrosive Man and Mortimer Kadaver in issues #587-589. For those of you that don't know, Corrosive Man's skin, as a result of a freak accident, constantly exudes massive amounts of concentrated acid. And Mortimer Kadaver is a torture expert morbidly obsessed with death and movie vampires, much akin to the way a goth teenager is.
NOTE: Robin shatters a drug-dealing pimp's collar bone and nearly kills the man in the process. Batman chastises Jason for his reckless and dangerous behavior (as seen through flashback in Batman #645).
It's been almost three months since the events of Batman #414, and the mysterious serial killer known as the Dumpster Killer is still at large. In issues #421-422 Batman finally takes care of business and catches the misogynist psychopath. We are then treated to a flash-forward to three months later where, because evidence was gathered illegally by Batman, the criminal is set free only to be murdered by the vengeful sister of one of his victims. There's also a great scene where Jason is beating a pimp to death and Batman restrains him asking, "What were you trying to do, kill him?" to which Jason replies, "Would it've been that big of a loss if I had?" Starlin really writes some of the best damn Batman and it's no surprise that issue #423 has a label on the cover that reads, "DC Comics Aren't Just For Kids!" Speaking of that very issue, in it three beat-cops at a diner each tell their own anecdotes about personal interactions with Batman. Great read. Highly recommended.
--DC Bonus Book #5
Poison Ivy is back and she's teamed up with The Grip, a man who has undergone surgery with the notorious Dr. Moon that has given him cybernetic hands. Little does the Grip know, Ivy's immunity to her own natural poisons has worn off and she's slowly dying. Batman defeats the duo and doctors are able to restore Ivy's powers in order to save her life.
--Martian Manhunter #1-4
H'ronmeer, the Martian "god of death, fire, and lies," manifests on Earth and torments Martian Manhunter. Batman comes to his aid and calls the JLI for help. One by one the JLIers fall until J'onn learns the simple reason behind H'ronmeer's visitation. The dark god only wants J'onn to know the true horrible details of the final days of Mars, not the false information which was fed to him by Dr. Erdel years ago. After returning to Mars, J'onn comes to terms with his past and can finally move on, much happier and with a calm heart.
--Detective Comics #590-591
Fact; on the main DC Universe Earth there are a lot more cities and countries than there are in our world. For example, Iraq and Iran aren't the only Middle Eastern countries with ties to terrorism. There's Bialya, Qurac, and Syraq, just to name a few. In issue #590 Batman travels to London on Guy Fawkes' Day ("Remeber, remember the 5th of November") to capture some Syraqi terrorists. Their leader goes on an anti-America rant that makes Batman pause for a moment. Wait? Is America evil? Before Batman can contemplate this shocker, the terrorists try to decapitate him with a wire. And just when they were about to sway him to their cause... In issue #591 an Australian Aborigine vigilante travels to Gotham to retrieve an ancient artifact stolen from his people during a massacre by White settlers. Upon arrival in the big city, the Aborigine warrior starts killing people. Batman gets involved, but in the end his unnamed foe escapes without a trace.
--Secret Origins of the World's Greatest Super-Heroes
Part One of this 1989-1990 trade is the original Denny O'Neil/Dick Giordano story entitled "The Man Who Falls." In this tale, it's a cold November night and Batman perches high above Gotham and recalls his origins before leaping dozens of floors below to punch out some bad guys. In the story Denny O'Neil and Dick Giordano treat us to a ton of canonical flashbacks documenting Bruce's near 13 year training period before becoming the Dark Knight. Batman also recalls the events of "Shaman" and "Batman Year One." This wonderful story serves as a perfect jumping-on point for the Modern Age of Batman. (Special thanks to long-time follower "DC" for reminding me about this one).
NOTE: Much to the chagrin of her father, a retired Babs dons the Batgirl costume yet again to aid Bruce and Jason in apprehending Two-Face (as seen through flashback from Batman Annual #13, Part 1). Jason wears snow-gear in this flashback!
--Detective Comics #572
I've placed this issue out-of-order because it is an anniversary one-shot special, so it can go pretty much anywhere, but since it is a Christmas tale, it fits better here. In issue #572 we learn that all the Victorian adventures of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes are a part of the history of the DC Universe! (Eclipso #7 furthers the link between Doyle-verse and the DC Universe as it shows Holmes battling Eclipso in 1891). This being the case, the Dynamic Duo celebrate Christmas in London with Elongated Man and Slam Bradley. After saving the life of Queen Elizabeth, the awe-struck detectives meet their hero, Sherlock Holmes, who (after Zero Hour time retcons) must be at least 135 years-old, but in good health! There is also a mini-flashback to this Sherlock Holmes story in Booster Gold Vol. 2 #6.
--Detective Comics Annual #1
--Green Arrow Annual #1
--The Question Annual #1Batman encounters Lady Shiva (!) who is traveling the globe with her mentor, 150 year-old O-Sensei. The Question also makes a cameo and references his first meeting with Batman from The Question #2. As does Talia Al Ghul (!) who has been sent by her father to retrieve a stolen neuro-chemical from the Penguin. Batman and Talia team-up and defeat the Penguin, but not before Talia nearly dies. Typical "we can never be together Talia" dialogue from Bruce in this one. This storyline overlaps into Green Arrow Annual #1 and The Question Annual #1 where Batman shares in an adventure with Green Arrow, the Question, and Shiva which results in the unfortunate death of O-Sensei.
--Batman: The Cult #1-4
When this story takes place, Bruce says he's been Batman for "nearly a decade". He has in fact been Batman for just over a decade now. As badass and reckless as Jason has been lately, Starlin depicts him a bit green in The Cult, having the character literally cry out for Batman to save him multiple times. In this tale, the centuries-old Deacon Joseph Blackfire has amassed a huge homicidal cult-following, comprised mostly of the poor and destitute. At one point, Batman is captured, drugged, and indoctrinated into the cult. By the time Batman comes to his senses, Blackfire has assassinated the mayor, killed dozens of cops and national guardsmen, and has taken control of Gotham. The governor declares the city a "disaster area" and orders an evacuation! And I bet you thought this never happened before "No Man's Land." The Dynamic Duo take to the streets in a gigantic Bigfoot-truck-Batmobile that fires rubber-bullets. In fact, the homage to Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns continues as Batman and Robin each handle high-powered rubber-bullet assault rifles! After cutting through the murderous mobs, our heroes confront Blackfire face-to-face. Blackfire eventually meets his bloody demise when Batman is able to convince the followers to turn on their leader.
Issue #424 is Starlin's "The Diplomat's Son" and you'll find it on just about every "best single issues" lists out there. And for good reason too. In issue #424 Bogatagoan drug-dealer Felipe Garzonas has raped Gloria Stanton. However, the police can't touch him because he has diplomatic immunity. Garzonas' misogynistic antagonizing continues and Gloria, fearing no way out, commits suicide. Jason immediately races to Garzonas' apartment and shortly after, the latter falls twenty stories to his death. Batman arrives a second later and asks Jason point-blank if he killed the man. Jason says, "He slipped" and coolly swings away. I still get chills when I read it. Issue #525 directly follows-up "The Diplomat's Son." Garzonas' father wants revenge so he kidnaps Gordon and invites Batman to a junkyard for a final showdown. Batman, still unsure of what to do about Jason, leaves in secret to confront the elder Garzonas alone. Naturally, Jason stows-away in the trunk of the Batmobile and saves the day, but not before realizing that his actions nearly contributed to Gordon's death.
--Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth
Many people will say this Morrison/McKean tale is out-of-continuity, but it doesn't have to be. I've placed it here because it occurs when all of the following are incarcerated at the same time; the Joker, Clayface III, Dr. Destiny, Mad Hatter, Killer Croc, Maxie Zeus, Two-Face, and Scarecrow. In the story, these inmates have taken over the madhouse and Batman comes to restore order. We learn that one of the head Arkham doctors, Dr. Charles Cavendish, has also gone insane and is responsible for the chaos within the facility. This graphic novel also details the long and tragic origin of Arkham Asylum for the first time.
NOTE: The excellent flashback from Batman: Gotham Knights #43 takes place now. Bruce asks Barbara to put on the Batgirl costume one more time and go on patrol with Jason to assess the Boy Wonder's mental stability as a crime-fighter. Batgirl and Robin take down some cigarette smugglers and afterward, Batgirl tells Batman what we already know; Jason is a mixed up kid with too much emotional baggage. Meanwhile, Joker has escaped from Arkham yet again and Batgirl warns Batman that his arch-enemy may strike at his closest allies just to get to him. Foreshadowing anyone? Also, Babs begins privately tutoring Jason after this (as referenced in a flashback from Batman: Gotham Knights #44). I should mention that Batman is incorrectly drawn with the wrong costume in this flashback story.
--Detective Comics #592-594
Cornelius Stirk debuts in issues #592-593! If you don't already know, he is a serial-killing cannibal with mental-projection powers. In issue #594 we meet everyone's favorite deformed Gotham PI, Joe Potato. He teams-up with Batman to stop a mad bomber, who turns out to be an insane Wall Street trader that has access to the unfortunate combo of a stockpile of dynamite and an addiction to Ecstasy.
--DC Bonus Book #11
Mr. Freeze is transferred from Arkham to Gotham Penitentiary where he easily escapes his new home. Typical Mr. Freeze deathtrap-with-lasers scenario here that is easily thwarted.
--Batman Annual #12, Part 1
Mike Baron is one of the best comic-book writers out there, and if you've ever read Nexus, you understand why. However, in the first part of this Annual, Baron scripts a pretty pathetic tale. Bruce is invited to upstate New York to attend a "Murder Mystery Weekend" at haunted Slade Mansion, which was designed by Satanists, and therefore, looks like a giant Jack Kirby Machine. Naturally, the host of this titillating affair gets murdered for real. Batman takes the case, which includes; a 75 year-old metahuman weirdo living in a cave that helps the Caped Crusader solve the crime, and the exorcising of a demon that has been possessing the house when the entire residence slides off a ravine. Oh, and the explanation for Batman appearing randomly in upstate New York, while at the same time Bruce Wayne mysteriously disappears? Well there isn't one really. Bruce shows up later and says Batman escorted him down the treacherous mountain path in exchange for a large donation to charity.
--Justice League International Annual #2
The beautiful bombshells Green Flame and Ice Maiden have recently joined the JLI in Batman's absence. You might know them better by their more contemporary names; Fire and Ice. The League decides to throw a BBQ to celebrate the inception of the new members and guess who shows up; the Joker! The JLI expects the worst so they send Batman an emergency signal. By the time he gets there Miracle's wife, Big Barda, has so-intimidated the clown that he begs Batman to take him back to Arkham! Batman is disgusted and drives off annoyed. Big mistake. The JLI casually allows Joker to flee, and he does so all the way to Bialya where he acquires a nuclear missile. This missile will be the sole reason the Joker returns to the Middle East a bit later. Guess who will also be traveling in the Middle East a bit later? Jason Todd.
--DC Bonus Book #7
Batman makes a cameo in this fluffy comedy piece where diminutive JLI team manager Oberon accidentally destroys Miracle and Barda's suburban home, forcing them to move into the JLI Embassy.
--Justice League International #15-17
Issue #15 contains a short Batman cameo which basically shows Guy begging him to return to the JLI. By issue #16 Batman agrees to meet with Max Lord and they both agree that something must be done about the terrorist nation of Bialya. So, off the books, Batman, Beetle, Booster, and Green Flame go undercover. Can who guess who Batman goes undercover as? He dresses up as Bruce Wayne! Whaaa? You see, they are infiltrating a presidential ball which is being thrown by Rumaan Harjavti, ruler of Bialya and enemy of the League, so Wayne is the perfect disguise. At the ball, the dictator unveils the first ever Bialyan metahuman, Wandjina The Thunderer. However, the grotesquely nuclear-deformed monster immediately kills Harjavti. Batman, who has now switched to a Max Lord disguise for some reason, realizes that the villainous Queen Bee is pulling all the strings. Captain Atom flies in and kills the rampaging Thunderer, but in the end Queen Bee's coup is successful and Batman and company head back to the States defeated. From this point on, Batman is back in the JLI, even though he'd never admit to it.
Batman Annual #12, Part 2
The back-up story to Batman Annual #12, cleverly titled "The Back-Up" is all about Jason's adventures in Junior High! It takes place while Batman is "away at the JLI Embassy in New York" for a meeting with Max Lord (previously in JLI #16).
--Cosmic Odyssey #1-4
This is how crossovers are supposed to be. Short, sweet, and spectacular. And when Jim Starlin teams up with Mike Mignola, that is exactly what you get. This story was retconned many, many times, and only recently through the combined efforts of Starlin and Grant Morrison, was Cosmic Odyssey made completely canon again. As you can imagine, there is a lot going on here plot-wise, but I'll do my best to summarize. For almost 300 years, Darkseid has been searching for the Anti-Life Equation, the cosmic mathematical formula with which one can dominate all life everywhere. And now he's found it, but to his surprise the formula exists as a sentient "shadow-based" Anti-Life Entity that seeks the annihilation of the entire Milky Way Galaxy. Several of Earth's heroes (including the demon Etrigan) gather and are forced to team-up with Darkseid (!) against the greater threat, splitting into four teams designed to save four respective planets. Batman and Forager save Earth! Superman and Orion save Thanagar! Lightray and Starfire save Rann! But Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern John Stewart aren't so lucky. Because of Stewart's overconfidence and inexperience, Xanshi is destroyed and literally billions perish. J'onn is furious and Stewart is so distraught he nearly commits suicide. In the end, the heroes prevail, but Forager dies as well. There is a great scene where Orion makes a racist comment about Forager after his death and Batman punches him out! We'll find out much later (in Final Crisis to be exact) that the Anti-Life Entity is the evil half of the cosmic deity known as The Source and through knowledge and mastery of the combination, one can indeed know the true evil mathematical formula for futility.
NOTE: Bruce has dinner with a childhood friend, Matthew Atkins, and meets the beautiful socialite Peyton Riley (as seen in Detective Comics #828). Riley will become the new Ventriloquist in ten years time.
--Batman: The Killing Joke
The 1988 Alan Moore/Brian Bolland classic. We don't need to say much about the plot, right? Joker's origin is revealed in detail through flashback and he does the unthinkable. He shoots Barbara Gordon in the spine, crippling her for life. He also takes pornographic pictures of Babs and tortures Jim Gordon at his abandoned amusement park hideout, complete with evil circus-freak henchmen, including bizarre diaper-wearing, razor-sharp toothed, evil dwarfs. I do want to point out that The Killing Joke: Deluxe Edition was came out in 2008 and Bolland was given free reign to alter his original work as he saw fit for the re-release. While I enjoy the beautiful dramatic color changes, I don't enjoy the removal of the yellow-oval from Batman's chest. When questioned about the removal by Wizard magazine, Bolland stated, and I'm paraphrasing here, that he got rid of it because he simply didn't like how it looked. So, to re-iterate, if you were wondering about this, there's your answer. Batman should have the yellow-oval. Period. I also want to point out that Booster Gold attempts to change history by preventing Barbara Gordon from ever being shot by the Joker (as seen in Booster Gold Vol. 2 #5). An older Booster (from ten years in the future i.e. Bat-Year 21) time-travels to the events of The Killing Joke (right now), but he is unable to alter Babs' fate. It is Babs' destiny to be shot and paralyzed and you just can't screw with destiny. So, despite Booster's time-tampering, the events of The Killing Joke are left seemingly unaltered when all is said and done, except for one small huge giveaway. Joker has snapped several Polaroids of the badly beaten future Booster. Batman discovers the photos (as referenced in Booster Gold #1,000,000) and quickly realizes that an older version of Booster has made a time-traveling attempt to save Babs. The Dark Knight will keep the Polaroids a secret for the next ten years, but will always be appreciative of Booster's gallant efforts.
--Superman Vol. 2 #23
Superman takes on Silver Banshee and Batman makes a cameo.
NOTE: In the wake of her recent tragedy, Barbara Gordon breaks up with her fiance Jason Bard.
ANOTHER NOTE: Bruce visits Babs in the hospital and, without words, they cry together (as seen via flashback in the second feature to Birds of Prey #127).
YET ANOTHER NOTE: Bruce, this time with Alfred, visits Babs at the hospital again, but Jim Gordon is there, so they have to act like smiling, awkward buffoons in front of Babs (as seen through flashback in Nightwing Annual #2). Bruce tells Babs that Dick is "out of the country." Dick is actually on interstellar Teen Titan business on the planet New Cronos and won't be back for six months.
ONE MORE NOTE: Bruce pays Barbara another hospital visit, this time solo, and it isn't pretty. They exchange harsh words and Bruce tells her, "You can overcome this or you can wither and die." (As seen through flashback in Bruce Wayne: The Road Home - Oracle #1).
--Batman #426-429 ("A DEATH IN THE FAMILY")
As if one tragedy wasn't enough for Batman. This is arguably the most important storyline of the year; the death of Jason Todd. I mean, this was Jason's year, so this is mega-super-huge. And once again, Starlin is at the helm. Here's how it all goes down. Batman hasn't allowed Jason to accompany him since the events of "The Diplomat's Son," but the former finally caves in. The Dynamic Duo take to the streets once more, but once again, Jason is reckless, and Batman is forced to put him on inactive duty. A disgruntled Jason then discovers that his birth mother is alive and living in the Middle East. He immediately runs off to find her. Batman tracks the freshly escaped Joker to Lebanon (where he is trying to sell the nuclear missile he received in JLI Annual #2) and joins up with Jason again. After a Lady Shiva cameo, the Dynamic Duo is off to Ethiopia where we finally meet Jason's real mom! The reunion is short-lived. You can guess what happens next. The Clown Prince of Crime beats Jason with a crowbar and sets off a bomb killing both him and his mother. After a quiet funeral, the tragedy continues as the Joker is named Iran's ambassador to the UN! (This has long since been retconned from Iran to the fictional Qurac in an attempt to make this part of the story more timeless). Superman informs the bereaved Batman that the Joker now has diplomatic immunity. This doesn't last long, however, as the newly appointed ambassador tries to gas everyone in the UN building. I should also mention that Batman: Gotham Knights #44 has some awesome flashbacks which fill in a few gaps in "A Death in the Family." (Although, I should also mention that Bruce is wearing the wrong costume in all of these flashbacks. Writer Scott Beatty tried to retcon Batman's history here to make it that he doesn't switch over to the yellow-insignia costume until now, which is absolutely one-hundred percent wrong). I should also mention that Deadman is also present when Jason dies and even possesses Joker's body momentarily in an attempt to stop the fatal beating from occurring (as seen in Deadman: Dead Again #2). Deadman, of course, fails in his mission. The powerful witch-man Darius Caldera then hijacks Jason's soul, which is on its way to the Afterlife, and steals it away to a realm outside of time and space. Deadman is able to free Jason's soul from Caldera, releasing it into the great beyond where it belongs. Since Caldera's realm exists outside of time and space, this entire soul-stealing episode registers as mere seconds on our timeline.
NOTE: Batman captures first time crook and weapons expert Erik Webber. Webber will serve seven years in jail for his attempted armored car robbery and vow revenge on Batman upon his release. This flashback story is shown in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #197. Again, Batman is depicted wearing the wrong costume in this flashback. He should be wearing the yellow-insignia costume.
ANOTHER NOTE: Penguin captures and tortures a metal-toothed convict named Sharkey, who used to bully him when he was a boy (as seen via flashback in Secret Origins Special Vol. 2 #1). Batman rescues Sharkey, but never finds out why Penguin had it out for him. We (the readers) are treated to that back-story, which includes a pretty amazin’ and legit Penguin origin tale. PS. Secret Origins Special is a wonderful book, but it is non-canon. However, if any part of it can remain canon, it would be the great Penguin story, entitled “The Killing Peck”—hence its inclusion on our list here. The reason the rest of the issue is decidedly non-canon are as follows: First, there are a ton of Two-Face bits that are just way off base and don’t jive with anything else continuity-wise. I won’t even get into these errors, as there are so many. And secondly, while the Riddler tale is one of the finest comics I’ve ever perused both in its prose and for its aesthetic value, author Neil Gaiman has a bit of non-canon fun with it and treats it as a meta-commentary about how the comic industry morphed from camp (in the 60s) into the “dark age” of the 80s. Gaiman cleverly throws in lots of direct references to non-canon camp villains from the Adam West TV show. Even the dramatic oversize props that litter the mise-en-scène harken back to a different Golden era—an epoch that registers more clearly with a different past continuity.
YET ANOTHER NOTE: Barbara is about to get out of the hospital, so Batman pays her one final visit (as seen through flashback in The Batman Chronicles #5, Part 1). Last time, Batman gave her a rough talking to in the hospital, but this time Babs has had enough. She has also somehow found out about the events pertaining to Joker’s arrest at the end of The Killing Joke. Babs tells Batman to buzz off.