December 2010 (one highly compressed month!)
--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #41-42 ("TEAM HISTORY")
The JLA has yet to recover from the combined events of Blackest Night and the battle with Prometheus. Vixen is injured and Red Tornado is dead once again (for the 9th time). With the League in such dire shambles, Vixen decides to disband the team. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman meets with Donna Troy and they have a little chat. Before you know it, Donna rebuilds a brand new JLA starting with Starfire and Cyborg. Donna then flies to Gotham and greets the Dynamic Duo who have just defeated Yellow Wasp. Dick briefly mentions following the trail of the Broker's hideouts, probably on his quest to locate Zsasz, an undertaking which he would indeed be currently in the middle of at the moment. Dick already knows why Donna is there. Batman joins the JLA! The rest of the team is quickly hired on, including Dr. Light, Mon-El, Guardian, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Ray Palmer, Hal Jordan, and a bodiless Red Tornado. The team's first official mission is against a rampaging mind-controlled Atlas, whom they easily defeat. The team's next mission follows when a team of New Genesian supervillains begin stealing alien artifacts. Neon Black steals an artifact from the Smithsonian and Hunter and Doctor Impossible steal an artifact from STAR Labs. The JLA then meets to discuss how to deal with the situation. Oddly enough, Green Arrow no-shows this meeting. Where could he be? Ollie has cornered Prometheus and kills the bastard (as seen in the Epilogue of Justice League: Cry for Justice #7). Ollie will keep this execution a secret from the rest of the heroes. When Chair and Tender Mercy take out Congorilla and Starman (Mikaal Tomas) on Blackhawk Island in an attempt to steal yet another artifact, the JLA shows up to greet the villains. However, the Watchtower is left completely undefended. Hunter, Doctor Impossible, and Neon Black enter the JLA satellite freely. Meanwhile, Ollie returns to the Watchtower from his secret dirty deed and comes face-to-face with the bad guys.
RISE AND FALL Part 2
--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #43, Part 1
--Justice League: The Rise & Fall Special #1, Part 2
--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #43, Part 2
--Green Arrow Vol. 3 #32, Part 1
--Justice League: Rise of Arsenal #2-3Ollie Queen and the decapitated head of Red Tornado fight Hunter, Doctor Impossible, and Neon Black aboard the Watchtower, but the villains are able to steal another alien artifact from the trophy room and escape. Afterward, a nervous Ollie probes Reddy for valuable info pertaining to the whereabouts of Electrocutioner. The jumpy and secretive Ollie then leaves. On Blackhawk Island, the new JLA has absolutely no teamwork and fails to prevent Chair and Tender Mercy from stealing another artifact. Barry Allen then arrives with a possible clue regarding Prometheus' location. Hal Jordan immediately departs with Barry. The rest of the team returns to the Watchtower (along with Congorilla and Starman Mikaal Tomas) where they not only learn about the trophy room theft, but about Ollie's strange behavior. In Opal City, Shade takes Hal and Barry to Limbo where they discover the dead body of Prometheus, who has obviously been murdered by Ollie. Meanwhile, Ollie has cornered Electrocutioner in the rubble of Star City. Black Canary shows up just in time to prevent her husband from executing yet another supervillain. Electrocutioner takes this opportunity to escape. Hal and Barry then show up with Prometheus' corpse and the bad news that Ollie is a murderer. Ollie panics and teleports away. When the superhero community receives word of Ollie's heinous actions, a global manhunt in search of the fugitive hero begins. The JLA is shaken to its core and falls apart once again. Only Donna Troy and Batman remain along with new recruits Congorilla and Starman (Mikaal Tomas). The 4-member JLA refuses to participate in the hunt for Ollie and instead tries to go about normal League business, such as fighting supervillains like Hellgrammite, Mr. Atomic, Harpi, and Plastique. Elsewhere, the Evil God team assembles their stolen alien artifacts which creates a personal gateway to anywhere in the multiverse. Meanwhile, Ollie evades the network of heroes that are searching for him, meets up with Speedy, and together they capture Electrocutioner. Ollie then turns himself in and goes to jail. Dinah visits Ollie in prison and leaves her wedding ring behind. Oh no! Roy Harper also showers Ollie with ire and disappointment, but of a different kind. Roy is angry because Ollie "stole his revenge." Afterward, the superhero community attends the child-funeral of Lian Harper, where a pill-popping Roy wigs out, curses everyone out, and storms off in a huff. Later, after a bittersweet reunion with Lian's mother, Roy straps on a cyborg arm, pops some pills, and goes out to bash some skulls. Arsenal is back! Unfortunately, Arsenal is a pain pill-swallowing, drugged-up, hallucinating mess that actually purchases drugs from the very dealers he beats on. A shaky Arsenal winds up shooting heroin in an alley while clinging to a dead cat. Batman tracks Arsenal down and they fight, Batman obviously winning the duel. Dick and Donna immediately put Roy into rehab. Sweet Jesus, what a story. NOTE: We are told that Ollie's murder case is put on the "fast track," meaning the trial will happen super-fast. Hence, I've placed the trial scene (from Green Arrow Vol. 3 #32) on the chronology in a few short months.
NOTE: Batman apprehends small-time crooks Dawson and Trick (as seen via flashback in Superman 80-Page Giant 2010 #1).
ANOTHER NOTE: Martin Suarez is inaugurated (a month early) as the new President of the United States of America.
YET ANOTHER NOTE: Red Robin #6-8 take place now. In Red Robin #6, Tim mentions that Blackest Night has recently ended. Red Robin, on behalf of Ra's Al Ghul, along with Prudence and the new White Ghost, battle against the League of Assassins' newest rivals, The Council of Spiders. But that's not all, Tim must bounce from city to city to fight this war which he doesn't even want to be a part of, while at the same time protect his traveling companion, Tam Fox, daughter of Lucius Fox. Not to mention, Tam has learned Red Robin's secret identity. Tim defeats the Council of Spiders, saves Tam, and also does serious damage to the League of Assassins global network. Ra's Al Ghul vows to hunt Tim to the ends of the Earth. At the end of this tale, Tim tells Tam that they need to head back to Gotham right away. However, Tim must decide to wait until Ra's decides to strike again because he won't go back home for quite a while. This delay is necessary especially since the events of Red Robin #9-12 lead directly up to Tim telling Dick that Bruce is lost in time. And Dick won't begin to investigate that idea until a bit later.
YET ANOTHER NOTE: Hostilities between Earth and New Krypton continue to grow. General Sam Lane, in cahoots with both Lex Luthor and Toyman, is able to use Brainiac's army of robots as an attack force to preemptively strike New Krypton (as seen in Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton #1). Braniac's preemptive strike is defeated and the Kryptonians quickly realize that humans were involved in the attack. War will soon break out.
--Justice League Generation Lost #10
The JLI continues their hunt for Maxwell Lord even though no one else even knows of his existence. Concurrently, Batman, Alfred, and Power Girl examine video and imagery of Lord, but thanks to Lord's mind-wipe all they see are regular listings of other people who share the common name "Max Lord," not THE Max Lord. Batman and Power Girl feel like something is off, so they decide to alert the superhero community about the possibility of global psychic tampering. But before they can act, the mind-wipe makes them forget what they were doing. Lord's mental deception continues.
NOTE: The flashbacks from Power Girl Vol. 2 #16-17 pick up right where the Batman scene from JLGL #10 leaves off. Power Girl and Batman have literally just forgotten about Max Lord again, and continue with other business. Dick uses his computer database in the Bunker to help Power Girl locate a woman who has stolen millions of dollars from her tech company, Starrware. Power Girl immediately flies to Thailand only to find the suspect dead. Dick then sets Power Girl up with a Bat Bunker of her own (I guess you could call it a Power Bunker) with computer genius Nicholas Cho acting as her version of Oracle. Three days later, Power Girl and the Dark Knight bust the heads of some hi-tech arms dealers and learn that Power Girl's stolen property is in Antarctica. Power Girl briefly flirts with Dick before heading south.
ANOTHER NOTE: The Kryptonians retaliate to the human assault on their planet by beginning an all-out war (as seen in Superman: War of the Supermen #1-5). While the battle rages on Earth, one of Sam Lane's agents, Reactron, sneaks onto New Krypton and self-destructs causing a massive explosion that completely destroys the entire planet, killing all of its inhabitants not fighting on Earth (roughly 20,000). Luthor then harnesses the power of the dead god Rao to temporarily turn the sun red, which causes another 73,000 Kryptonians to die in space. The war ends when the remaining 7,000 Kryptonians are trapped in the Phantom Zone. Both Chris Kent and Mon-El return to the Phantom Zone as well. For his contribution during the war effort, Lex Luthor is given a full Presidential pardon and regains full ownership of LexCorp.
--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #44-45 ("BRIGHTEST DAY")
Batman and Donna Troy get to know their newest JLA teammates, Congorilla and Starman, a bit better by training with them in the Kitchen. When a giant green meteor crash lands in Germany, the JLA investigates and feuds with Etrigan. After subduing the demon back into Jason Blood form, Jade (Alan Scott's daughter) emerges from within the meteor and reveals that the rock is actually the Starheart, a mammoth crystal created eons ago by the Guardians which houses the chaotic emerald magic energy source of Alan Scott's power. The appearance of the Starheart is bad news which causes metas to begin acting nuts, including Power Girl, who begins fighting the JLA and JSA. After defeating Power Girl, the super-teams learn of other threats across the globe, including Alan Scott himself, who has gone insane and dons his Kingdom Come armor.
BRIGHTEST DAY / THE DARK THINGS
--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #46
--Justice Society of America Vol.2 #41
--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #47
--Justice Society of America Vol. 2 #42
--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #48Batman and Supergirl take down the Water Elemental known as Naiad in Gotham while the JLA and JSA deal with similar Starheart afflicted threats across the globe. Meanwhile, the possessed Alan Scott forms a colossal, heavily fortified emerald palace on the moon. Along with Obsidian (Alan Scott's son) and the new Dr. Fate (grandson of the original Fate), Alan Scott is able to capture several heroes. Batman responds by leading a team which includes Hourman, Liberty Belle, Mr. America, Mr. Miracle, and Donna Troy into the lunar citadel. The heroes, along with Kyle Rayner, battle a merged Jade and Obsidian and dozens of anthropomorphic green energy constructs. Eventually, Jade breaks free from her brother's merged body and, endowed with the power of a White Lantern, defeats her father in battle. (This was the reason Jade was brought back to life by the White Lantern Entity at the end of Blackest Night). The Starheart is defeated and Alan Scott is restored, although it is revealed (to the reader) that part of the Starheart is hiding within Supergirl. Afterward, Liberty Belle is recruited into the JLA. Following this story, a sickly Alan Scott will take up permanent residence in the lunar Emerald City, which becomes a refuge for wayward aliens and creatures of myth.
NOTE: Jeremiah Arkham introduces his new opulent and mammoth-sized Arkham Asylum to the public (as seen in Arkham Reborn #1).
--Batman #692-694 ("LIFE AFTER DEATH")
The National Guard has had Black Mask and his False Facers, who hold thousands of hostages, cornered in Devil's Square for several weeks now. (Although Black Mask has been able to secretly come and go as he pleases). Meanwhile, a mysterious third party has also been attacking Black Mask's men. Two days later, Dick meets with Selina Kyle (which is a swimming pool scene, and it's December, so we must ignore this) and asks her for information about the "third party." Selina was always willing to help Bruce for free, but for Dick it costs him a cool $25 thousand. Selina points Dick in the direction of a Slaughter Swamp mansion that has recently been purchased by rich mobsters. Batman pays the mansion grounds a visit and learns who the "third party" is. The Falcone mob led by Mario Falcone (who we haven't seen since Dark Victory in Bat-Year 6) is back in town in an attempt to take over Gotham's crime rackets. In an underground lair within Devil's Square, Black Mask assembles his new team called the Ministry of Science, which comprises of Fright, Dr. Death, Hugo Strange, and a revived Reaper (Dr. Gruener). At a gala ball to celebrate Arkham's re-opening, which is set to occur within a week's time, Dick and Helena keep their watchful eyes on "Bruce Wayne" (Tommy Elliot), who tries to strong-arm Jeremiah Arkham into releasing Arkham's security details to him. Tommy has been under constant watch by members of the JLA and the Outsiders, and while he can no longer freely spend the Wayne family fortune, he still tries to use his influential position to scheme as often as possible. (This ball scene is also shown from another angle in Arkham Reborn #2). Mario Falcone's teenage sister, Kitrina Falcone, sneaks into the party and detonates a bomb, which destroys a laboratory vital to Black Mask's cause. No one is hurt, but party-guest Riddler gets concussed and awakens with what seems to be his old crazy puzzle-themed mind back. (Riddler may be nuts again, but he's not so insane that he turns back to crime. Riddler will remain on the straight-and-narrow, but he will just be a bit zanier. Eventually, he will succumb to his criminal ways, but not for a while). Batman then enters Devil's Square wearing a new armored Bat-suit looking for info relating to Kitrina, who he knows is responsible for the lab bombing. Intel has told him that Kitrina had been hanging around with Devil's Square gangs and traveling freely in an out of the warzone for the past couple weeks. When a teenage boy tries to talk to the Caped Crusader, Black Mask snipers shoot the boy instantly. Batman interrogates Penguin and learns that Kitrina Falcone isn't working for her family, but did bomb the lab on behalf of Penguin, who was trying to double-cross Black Mask. However, Kitrina is no longer working for Penguin, and has instead gone solo. Shortly after this conversation, Penguin goes into hiding because Black Mask learns of his double-cross. Meanwhile, Mario Falcone thinks that his sister, Kitrina, has stolen valuable maps of the Devil's Square underground (which were actually stolen by Catwoman earlier). Mario then tries to kill Kitrina, but Kitrina escapes since she is a "master escape artist."
--Arkham Reborn #3
The new Arkham has only been open for one week and a riot breaks out, thanks to help from someone on the inside. (To clarify, the new Arkham has been operational for a week now. Technically, it's been open for almost two weeks). Batman and Head of Security Aaron Cash quell the storm and corral Killer Croc, Mr. Freeze, Clayface, and Dr. Phosphorus back into their cells. Two days later, after studying the blueprints for the new Arkham, Batman learns that a secret underground wing has been constructed. Batman confronts Jeremiah Arkham with the news, but Jeremiah is shocked and a bit confused. We (the readers) learn that new chief doctor, Alyce Sinner, was responsible for releasing the inmates, working under orders from Black Mask, who is also her lover. Afterward, a despondent Jeremiah wanders into the catacombs beneath new Arkham, and as various writers have been hinting at over the past few months, it is revealed (to the reader) that Jeremiah has gone quite insane, suffering constant hallucinations about non-existent patients and blacking out for days at a time.
--Second Feature from Batman: Streets of Gotham #7-8
Two-Face sends his henchmen into Gotham disguised as False Facers in an attempt to set-up Black Mask. Manhunter (Kate Spencer) stops them, captures one of the henchmen, and realizes it's one of her friends from Los Angeles, Dylan. After getting him off the hook as DA, Dylan recovers in the hospital. Two-Face sneaks back into town and tries to fatally silence Dylan. Manhunter saves her friend yet again and is literally beating Two-Face to death when Batman and Robin show up to stop her. Manhunter takes off and the Dynamic Duo hauls Two-Face off to jail. At Two-Face's initial hearing, Jeremiah Arkham acts as a character witness and claims that Harvey Dent is competent enough to defend himself in a trial. Kate prepares for a very public trial as the hungry media lines up for what promises to be a wild ride.
--Batman #695-697 ("LIFE AFTER DEATH" Conclusion)
Batman burns down Mario Falcone's mansion and then questions Jeremiah Arkham about the possible identity of Black Mask. Meanwhile, Kitrina Falcone tries to steal back the maps of Devil's Square from Catwoman, but gets caught. Kitrina explains that she drew up the maps while working for Penguin's gang inside Devil's Square. Kitrina further explains that she is neither working for her family, nor as a part of Penguin's double-cross against Black Mask. She's working solo and wants to collect on the government cash bounty for the capture of Black Mask. Selina rolls her eyes and ties up Kitrina. Across town, Mario Falcone tries to flee Gotham, but is attacked by the Reaper. Batman and Huntress save Falcone's life and chase off the Reaper. Catwoman then messages Batman that she's got Kitrina, but by the time Batman arrives, the master escape artist is long gone with the maps. Batman tracks Kitrina to an abandoned amusement park, but the Dark Knight is captured by Mad Hatter, who now works for Penguin. Penguin then sends Batman (mind-controlled by a combo of False Face mask chemicals and a Mad Hatter chip) as his personal one-man army to attack Black Mask. The mind-controlled Batman attacks Mayor Hady, steals the False Face antidote from his office, tails Catwoman to Kitrina's hideout, knocks out Catwoman, and forces Kitrina to lead him into Black Mask's lair using her maps. Once there, Batman fights the Ministry of Science, but in his drugged-up state Dick is defeated and knocked into the bay. The next day, Damian retrieves a washed up Dick, who has been completely blacked-out since being mind-controlled and remembers nothing. Dick passes out and awakens hours later in the Batcave. He has seen Black Mask without his mask and he now remembers everything. Black Mask is Jeremiah Arkham! Oracle has already called in the entire Network, including Batgirl and Red Robin, who returns briefly to Gotham. We must assume that in the chaos, Red Robin never crosses paths with Batgirl since Tim doesn't find out that Steph is Batgirl until later. Anyway, the Network systematically takes out all the False Facers in Devil's Square, while a competent and sober Batman kicks the Ministry of Science's collective asses. Jeremiah Arkham is incarcerated in his own prison. Afterward, Catwoman goes on patrol with Kitrina Falcone, who debuts as Catgirl!
NOTE: Dick decides to start his own trophy room in the Bat Bunker. Batman then teams-up with Supergirl to defeat "The Heinous Horns of the Murder Maestro" and claims a giant saxophone as a trophy (as referenced in Justice League of America Vol. 2 #49).
--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #49
Batman and Supergirl hang out at the Bat Bunker, organize the trophy room, and eat Alfred's famous chicken salad.
--Azrael Vol. 2 #4
Batman and Robin bust a bunch of Crime Bible cultists and retrieve a ton of stolen artifacts and weapons. Upon examination of the weapons, some of which are many years old, Batman discovers that one of the swords in the mix was the very weapon used to slaughter Michael Lane's family. The twist is that Jennifer Lane's (Michael's former sister-and-law and current girlfriend) fingerprints are on the blade. Azrael freaks out when he learns the news and goes to confront his Jennifer in her apartment. As he begs for her to come clean about the murders, she admits that she blacked out the night of the killings. Az explains that if she plunges herself upon his dual magical swords, she will remember the truth. Batman then crashes into the apartment and restrains Azrael. But Jen is freaked out and does the thingy with the magic swords and her memory is restored. She did kill the rest of her family, but she swears something evil made her do it. Jen passes out as her young kids run up crying. Batman and Azrael are dumbfounded. Dick steps away and lets Michael handle this one. Only Azrael alone must confront the evil power which has invaded his life.
--Nemesis: The Impostors #1-4
Nemesis aka Tom Tresser was last seen in the aftermath of Final Crisis (Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape to be exact) where he was kidnapped and "reprogrammed" by the Global Peace Agency. Now the master of disguise/genius inventor/secret agent is back and has more than a few screws loose. Nemesis wants to bring down the international criminal syndicate known as The Council. The Council has been the number one crime group in the entire DCU for the past hundred years or so. How come you've never heard of them? Well duh, they are so good they've never been busted! No one even knows who is in charge. No one except for Tom Tresser. After the Council learns that Tresser is hot on their trail, they try to fool a crazed Nemesis with a fake Joker, but Nemesis is always one step ahead of the game. After an accident-filled high speed highway chase and the death of the fake Joker, Batman intervenes and apprehends Tresser, who can't tell if he is hallucinating or not. Flying him into custody, Dick activates a live video feed with Tresser's ex-girlfriend, Wonder Woman, who tries to make sense out of Tresser's conspiracy theories, but is unable to. Nemesis escapes from Batman's custody and continues his spy quest to hunt down the Council's leader, US Senator Andrew Bell. Batman breaks into Nemesis' apartment and hacks into his CPU system, but winds up with a virus which invades the Batcave computers. Eventually, Oracle finds out Nemesis is after Senator Bell, and Dick is on his way, but not fast enough. Nemesis executes Bell and simultaneously fights his own doppelganger. Batman and federal agents arrive and arrest Nemesis. Batman questions Nemesis in prison, but all he gets is a heavy dose of paranoid rambling. Meanwhile, a Tresser doppelganger watches the whole scene on a video screen. Or is he the real Nemesis?
--Batman #698-699 ("RIDDLE ME THIS")
When a murderer begins offing old mobsters using the killing methods of Batman's most famous rogues (i.e. a Zsasz-like stabbing, a Penguin-like Hitchcockian death, a Mr. Freeze ice fatality, and a Firefly scorching), Batman, Gordon, Kate Spencer, and Riddler are on the case. The Riddler proves his eccentric genius and quite quickly and masterfully solves the crime, fingering magician supervillain Sebastian Blackspell. But Riddler is playing too close to the edge. Blackspell decides to do his next theme-killing in the style of the Joker. Batman soon finds a Jokerized Riddler in his arms. Luckily, the Dark Knight is able to rush Eddie to the hospital in time to save his life. After some deeper investigating, Batman discovers that Riddler is playing a part in the crimes. Firefly tells Batman that, years ago, he was a member of a secret supervillain group along with Riddler, Blackspell, and several mob bosses. They stole over $10 million, which Blackspell and the mob bosses held for years (until the mob bosses murders at the hands of Blackspell at the beginning of this story). Before Batman can question Riddler, he has checked out of the hospital and received $10 million cash from Blackspell's account. When Batman finally tracks down Riddler, Blackspell has magically mutated into a giant tree-like beast and is trying to kill Riddler. The Dark Knight learns that Riddler had goaded Blackspell into killing off their old business associates. Riddler wanted Blackspell to attack him as well, but when the latter did not, Riddler faked the Joker-Venom attack. During the weird fight between Riddler and Blackspell, Riddler gets away and goes into hiding. Batman puts Blackspell (who curiously morphs into Hugo Strange for just a moment) into Arkham, but he's not talking. NOTES: One of the murdered men in this story, Lazlo Rankin, supposedly worked for Carmine Falcone ten years ago. This is impossible since Falcone died well before that. Also, Gordon speaks with Alyce Sinner at Arkham. Jeremiah, while not shown, is still in charge at this point. Jeremiah, of course, is not in charge anymore. And finally, what the hell, Tony Daniel? Stick to art, because your writing is bad. Like, this doesn't make any sense bad.
--Batman 80-Page Giant Vol. 2 #1
It's nearing mid-December and a foot of snow followed by a severe ice storm have put Gotham under a deep freeze. Riots break out and looters raid the city. The Dynamic Duo is on patrol to stop as many crimes as possible. Meanwhile, Alfred helps a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold he met recently, taking her to the Annual Wayne Foundation Winter Ball, buying her new clothes, and sending her off to Sioux Falls. In the morning, Alfred says that he spent the night with a prostitute. Dick and Damian can't tell whether or not he's joking. This issue also includes tales involving Millicent Mayne, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy dealing with the insanity that goes along with the blizzard. Batman also helps Commissioner Gordon apprehend an escaped Mr. Freeze. NOTE: There is a short story which involves three teenage kids trying to become superheroes and one getting killed by Killer Croc. This story takes place a few weeks before the storm. ANOTHER NOTE: The 1-page comic strip by Steve Niles at the end of this issue, while very cute, is non cannon.
--Green Arrow Vol. 3 #32, Part 2
It's been less than a month since Oliver Queen's arrest and imprisonment, but his celebrity trial has been put on the "fast track" and it's already time for a verdict. Thankfully for Ollie, the jury of his peers also hates Prometheus with a violent passion and Ollie is found not guilty. Ollie, however, is permanently banned from Star City. Neither Dinah nor Roy (who is still in a rehab program) decide to show up for the trial. Clark, Hal, Ray Palmer, Diana, and Dick (curiously drawn a little too much like Bruce) are all in attendance. Afterward, Ollie leaves town and begins his new life.
--Batman & Robin #4-6 ("REVENGE OF THE RED HOOD")
For the past week a new homicidal version of the Dynamic Duo has been doling out vigilante justice. Jason Todd (as the Red Hood once again) has returned with a new sidekick, Scarlet (the now insane Sasha), who has a Dollotron mask stuck to her face courtesy of Professor Pyg. Red Hood and Scarlet are the Dynamic Duo for the 2010s, Tweeting catchphrases, taking Internet pictures, leaving literal calling cards, scheduling press releases, and uploading iPhone-recorded viral videos online, all while violently killing criminals. At a celebrity party, Damian is introduced to the public as Bruce's blood-son, while Dick meets the masked detective/fiction writer, Oberon Sexton. SPOILER ALERT: Sexton is actually the Joker (!) in disguise. Later that night, Batman and Robin spy on an organized crime meeting, which includes several new masked mobsters and crime-bosses, including Penguin (who says that he works with Black Mask, but probably just says this to look tougher, since Black Mask is in Arkham). Gabriel Santo, the representative of the Mexican cartel says that his boss, El Penitente, is sending in the assassin Eduardo Flamingo to take care of both Red Hood and Batman. SPOILER ALERT: El Penitente is Dr. Simon Hurt! Later, Red Hood and Scarlet bust up the crime meeting in bloody, fatal fashion before being chased off by Batman and Robin. In the gruesome aftermath, Dick finds a domino in a mobster's pocket. Back at his mobile HQ, Jason takes off his helmet, revealing that he now has red hair and is slightly balding. Jason claims that Bruce used to make him dye his hair black to look like Dick! It's hard to tell if this is true since Jason's hair has always been black prior to this. Jason looks like a total wreck as he's broken out in zits due to the sweaty, uncomfortable Red Hood helmet. What is happening to Jason, you ask? Jason's body is slowly deteriorating since he hasn't bathed in a Lazarus Pit in a long time. Just like Ra's Al Ghul, Jason realizes that life-after-death comes with a price. Red Hood and Scarlet are then able to capture Batman and Robin, stripping them naked, tying them up, and propping them in front of a web cam. A commercial instantly hits the TV, radio, and Internet explaining that the web cam is attached to a phone system which will activate the camera after it receives one million calls. Who wants to see the Dynamic Duo naked? Call in! While Dick and Damian escape, Flamingo arrives and beats the holy hell out of Jason and Sasha. Dick and Damian then team-up with their evil counterparts and are able to defeat Flamingo, but not before Damian is shot and paralyzed. A League of Assassins medical team immediately shows up and takes Damian away. As cops drag Jason away, he asks Dick why he never put Bruce's corpse into a Lazarus Pit. Back at Wayne Tower, Dick opens a secret vault in the Bunker revealing Bruce's remains. Dick stares at the dead body and contemplates what Jason has said. Meanwhile, El Penitente calls Oberon Sexton and tells him that he knows his secret identity. Oh, and Sasha's face falls off and she leaves town with a disfigured smile on her face.
--DC Holiday Special 2009, Part 1
Batman chases a crook dressed up as Santa Claus into a warehouse full of Santas. The Dark Knight busts the correct Santa and spends the night drinking cocoa and eating cookies with all the jolly Saint Nicks.
--Batman & Robin #7-9 ("BLACKEST KNIGHT")
December 20. Alfred accompanies Damian for his surgery at Talia's tropical HQ. Damian receives a brand new spine, courtesy of mom's super-scientists. Meanwhile, Batman is in the UK teaming-up with Knight and Squire. Old King Coal is in a London gang war against Smooth Eddie English over the rights to an abandoned mine. After preventing Coal from detonating dirty bombs all over the city and saving Smooth Eddie, Batman questions Eddie's boss, The Pearly Prince, at Basement 101 (England's equivalent to Arkham). The Pearly Prince reveals that there is a multiple-use Lazarus Pit deep within the mine. Up to this point, Dick was ignorant to the fact that functioning Lazarus Pits still existed. December 21. Batman ships cloned-Bruce's corpse to Knight, who drags it down to the Lazarus Pit location. Batman and Squire meet with Knight and Batwoman, who is also in the mine investigating the supposed Religion of Crime prophecy that a monster will be resurrected on the Winter Solstice. And boy is she right. "Bruce" is dumped into the Lazarus Pit and revived! Dick and company quickly realize that something is wrong when the crazy clone attacks them and can barely form coherent words. Clone-Batman battles his way out of the cavern, but the rest of the heroes are trapped when Old King Coal collapses the mineshaft. Batwoman is crushed under rocks and is suffering intense pain, so she takes an overdose of morphine which kills her. Dick then resurrects her in the Pit! Meanwhile, instinctively, clone-Batman flies home to Gotham. December 22. Alfred and Damian (in a neck brace and wheelchair) arrive back home at Wayne Tower, where they are ambushed by the monstrous clone-Batman. While clone-Batman terrorizes Alfred and Damian, Jake Kane rescues the trapped heroes from the British mine. Batman and Batwoman use a sub-orbital rocket, which zips them from England to America in 25 minutes, just in time to defeat the clone-Batman, which has already started to deteriorate. A few hours later, Damian is already in costume and ready for action, despite having undergone radical surgery two days prior. But the big news is that there is a chance Bruce is alive somewhere! The Dynamic Duo just has to find out where. Dick delivers the clone-Batman corpse and the news about Bruce to the JLA, but for some reason doesn't bother to tell Tim, who has been saying that Bruce is still alive since day one. This really makes no sense to me and I wish I could explain it away, but I can't. Tim will find out when he returns to Gotham in about a-week-and-a-half, at which time, he will deliver the biggest clue to help the investigation: Bruce is lost in time. Although, even Tim will wait until after dealing with Ra's Al Ghul to deliver this information. Priorities! While it isn't actually shown in any issues, Dick and the JLA begin investigations into determining whether or not Bruce is indeed alive.
--DC Holiday Special 2009, Part 3
It's the morning of December 24. Wally and Donna help Batman apprehend Killer Croc. After which, Dick reminds Wally of all the present purchasing and holiday preparation he has forgotten about. Good thing Wally is the Flash. With blinding super-speed, Wally makes it a merry X-mas for his family, zipping across the entire globe to gather the right gifts and to attend various school pageants and such. In the evening, before patrol, Dick attends the JLA Holiday Party/Secret Santa Gift Swap.
--Batman: Streets of Gotham #7-11
It's Christmas Eve! The vigilante known as Abuse has been tracking missing children for months now. Batman and Robin (with Abuse watching from a distance) corner the confused Humpty Dumpty who, dressed as Santa Claus, wants only to help "fix" the children he's been finding washed up by the riverside lately. The Dynamic Duo goes to Humpty's hideout and discover a bunch of dead children. Who has been killing the kiddies? Zsasz of course. And now that his boss Black Mask is in jail, Zsasz has no one to hold him down. The crazed serial killer forces his dozens of children to knife fight to the death for his own amusement. The heroes don't know the details, but Dick, Damian, (and Abuse) vow to save the kids. The Zsasz case is temporarily postponed when another string of murders occur. Batman and Commissioner Gordon realize the dead in this new case are all linked to a sex club. Upon further investigation and undercover work at the club, Batman thinks he's found the killer, a prostitute and her boyfriend who have been blackmailing family men. Red herring. Then Batman thinks it's the ex-boyfriend of the prostitute. Red herring. After Gordon goes undercover at the sex club (wonder why everyone is so eager to go undercover at a sex club?), Batman nabs the actual killer. It was the doorman at the prostitute's apartment. Now that that little case is solved, Batman and Robin can get down to real business. Victor Zsasz has been running underground kiddie death fights since the beginning of the month. But Damian is sick of Dick's methodical ways and goes off solo in search of Zsasz. After poking around near the river where Humpty Dumpty found dead bodies on X-mas Eve, Damian and ten-year old Colin Wilkes (Abuse) are both kidnapped by Zsasz's men. Once in Zsasz's lair, Damian starts kicking ass to such an extent, Colin immediately knows that he must be Robin! Damian is then lured into an arena of bloodthirsty gamblers and forced to knife-fight against Zsasz himself. Zsasz cuts up Damian and is about to kill him when a Venom-engorged Abuse busts into the Arena a starts beating on the supervillain. Damian smears his own blood on his face creating a literal crimson mask and then helps Abuse fight off the angry crowd which pours out of the stands. Robin and Abuse successfully chase off the raving mob. Robin then gives Zsasz a nasty, but non-lethal, sword slice in the belly. Like most Gotham villains, Zsasz falls into the river and washes into the bay. We see him next injured at Arkham, so we must assume the cops find him. Batman then shows up and is abhorred at the amount of blood which covers the ground and is splattered all over Robin and Abuse. Damian pinky swears that no one was killed in the melee.
--Detective Comics #861-863 ("CUTTER")
Nine years ago, Batman (Bruce) apprehended kidnapper Austin Phelps, but his victim, Vanessa Hansen-Grey, suffered from Stockholm Syndrome and sided with her abductor. Now, Phelps is out of jail and, with an insane Vanessa guiding him, becomes the serial killing, body part-collecting supervillain known as Cutter. Cutter has been brutally butchering college girls at Gotham University. When student Bette Kane is abducted by Cutter, Batwoman, who has been fighting and tracking him all week, goes in for the rescue. Batwoman defeats Cutter and Vanessa and saves her cousin, who realizes that Kate is underneath the Bat-mask. Afterward, Bette meets with Kate and reveals that she is the former superhero Flamebird and wants to partner up.
--Detective Comics #864-866
This tale begins with a reference to the "Transference" storyline in Batman: Gotham Knights #8-11 way back in Bat-Year 16. It turns out, Jeremiah Arkham was given a marotte toy from the Joker following that storyline which the doctor kept as a keepsake. The marotte contained a toxin which Jeremiah slowly absorbed into his body over the course of years which weakened his mental resistance so that Hugo Strange and Joker could implant hidden suggestions into his mind. Thus Jeremiah began to deteriorate, then hallucinate, then turned into the Black Mask. Now, the schizophrenic Jeremiah is imprisoned in his own asylum. Downtown, corporate financier Conrad LeBlanc begs for help, revealing that Black Mask had surgically implanted a bomb inside his chest weeks ago during the Devil's Square fiasco. Batman meets with Jeremiah at Arkham to get the deactivation code. As they chat, the truth comes out about the marotte and the toxins. After flushing the toxins out of his system, Jeremiah seems stable and sane once again. He hands over the code, but LeBlanc explodes just as it is entered. Batman and Gordon believe that the bomb went off by a timer, but in reality, Jeremiah isn't sane at all, he's quite evilly mad and had handed over the activation code. Alyce Sinner then tells the Dark Knight that she has just been officially promoted to the new director of Arkham Asylum, despite her own checkered past, which involves a string of possible cult murders. As Batman leaves, a scream permeates the air. Jeremiah has assaulted Victor Zsasz (who is still wounded from his last encounter with Robin and Abuse), carving his initials into the inside of Zsasz's eyelid. After the commotion dies down, in private, Alyce kisses Jeremiah. The crazies are still in love and this is bad, bad news since they run the madhouse. That night, Batman visits Loomis, an old bed-ridden criminal who has just gotten out of jail. Batman questions Loomis about an encounter he (Loomis) had with the Joker a long time ago (specifically on Robin's first ever patrol with Bruce in Bat-Year 6) regarding a missing Order of St. Dumas medallion. This encounter was the reason Loomis has been in jail for the past 16 years. The Dark Knight returns to the site of the missing medallion and finds the lost jewelry, thus exonerating Loomis of the theft. Batman returns to Loomis, but the Joker has killed him.
TWO-FACE: THE LONG WAY DOWN
--Second Feature from Batman: Streets of Gotham #14
--Batman: Streets of Gotham #15Two-Face gathers his troops celebrate the incarceration of Jeremiah Arkham. Batman shows up and tells Two-Face to turn himself in to the GCPD. The FBI shows up right behind Batman and starts a bloody shit show. Two-Face and his cronies escape only to get into another shootout with Mario Falcone's mob. Afterward, Two-Face escapes yet again, but only with three of his men alive, one of them an outed FBI undercover agent with a bullet in his belly. Two-Face goes on a murder spree in the subway and then drags the fed to a doctor's house. Two-Face orders the doc to patch up the traitor so he can get information out of him, but the double-agent dies, causing the villain to go on an insane rampage where he threatens to kill the doctor and his wife. Two-Face's final two henchmen, fed up with what they have seen, stab their boss multiple times, and dump his body into the river. A comatose Two-Face washes into the countryside and is later discovered by fishermen. Two-Face winds up confined to a bed and will be slowly nursed back to health for the next 26 days by a small-town preacher.
--Detective Comics #867-868 ("THE IMPOSTOR WARS" Part 1)
These issues overlap with Red Robin #9-10 and Batgirl Vol. 4 #8. Before we begin, let me quote writer David Hine from a Newsarama interview regarding this tale: "Batman isn’t readily identifiable as either Dick Grayson or Bruce Wayne. That was deliberate... My brief was to write this story with an archetypal Batman whom regular readers could identify as either Dick or Bruce. Knowing that readers would be looking for clues, I was very careful to make the character plausibly ambiguous." Very annoying. With that in mind, we should ignore every time Dick acts a bit too Bruce-like. Also we should replace every scene that occurs in the Batcave and/or Wayne Manor with the Bat Bunker. Ok, here we go. For the past six days The Jokerz, a group of non-criminal thrill-seekers, have been organizing flash mob acts of vandalism all over Gotham. The Jokerz take temporary doses of Joker Juice (Joker Venom) and run amok. Batman had been ignoring the Jokerz, but when lives are lost during a flash mobbing, the Dark Knight is forced to get involved. The leader of the Jokerz, known simply as the Impostor Joker, leads a violent rally against the GCPD, during which more lives are lost despite the intervention of both Batman and the Question. In response, a debuting Impostor Batman declares publicly that he and the Guardian Bats will use lethal force to eliminate the Jokerz. The Impostor Wars begin! In order to better understand the mentality of the crazed Jokerz, Batman tries a dose of Joker Juice and trips for a while, much to Alfred's dismay. The first four days of the Impostor Wars are bloody and violent.
NOTE: Despite being under the watchful eyes of various superheroes, Tommy Elliot (posing as Bruce Wayne) uses his position on the Arkham Parole Board to release dangerous criminals. Over the course of the next few weeks, Tommy will help release Tweedle-Dee, Tweedle-Dum, Lock-Up, and Humpty Dumpty with clean bills of mental health (as referenced in Batman: Streets of Gotham #15).
ANOTHER NOTE: Red Robin #9-10 take place now. Tim is finally back in Gotham. After beating up Killer Moth, Tim ponders whether or not he should tell Dick about the cave painting in Iraq. After Ra's Al Ghul announces that he is in Gotham and threatens to hurt the Bat-family, Tim rushes to the Batcave and is shocked to find Stephanie Brown there wearing her Batgirl costume. Red Robin then teams-up with Batgirl to prevent ninjas from assassinating Leslie Thompkins (as seen in Batgirl Vol. 4 #8). Prudence then joins them in the fight against the League of Assassins.