Modern Age (YEAR TWENTY-TWO) Part Four

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Modern Age (YEAR TWENTY-TWO) Part Four
January 2011 to March 2011

--Red Robin #11-15
January 2011.  These issues pick up right where Red Robin #10 leaves off.  Ra's Al Ghul forces Tommy Elliot (still playing the public role of "Bruce Wayne") to work for him, thus gaining vital access into the inner-workings of Wayne Enterprises.  Ra's Al Ghul also sends ninjas to kill Alfred, Babs, Tam Fox, Lucius Fox, Batgirl, Batman, Robin, Catwoman, Jim Gordon, Vicki Vale, and Julie Madison.  Yes, Julie Madison has apparently moved back to Gotham for the first time in 20 years and Ra's feels she is relevant enough to put on the hit list.  Weird.  Unfortunately for the ninja sent to kill Tam, she is being interviewed by Vicki Vale, who is one tough cookie and knocks out the assassin.  Vicki tries to get Tam to admit that Tim is a superhero.  Tam, about to crack under the pressure, blurts out that she and Tim are engaged to throw Vicki off course.  Meanwhile, Red Robin meets with Batman and Robin, who demand to know what is going on with Ra's Al Ghul in Gotham.  Tim tells Dick that he is leading this mission and that everything is under control.  And everything is under control.  Tim has already protected everyone on the hit list by providing them each with their own personal protector from either the Network or Teen Titans.  An angry Ra's Al Ghul begins sword fighting with Tim, who also reveals that his play to control Tommy Elliot has been counteracted as well.  Lucius Fox has invoked a special clause in Bruce's will deeming him unfit to run the company, based upon his (Tommy's) recent erratic behavior.  Tim is now the CEO of Wayne Enterprises!  This is the reason Lucius sent his daughter abroad to locate Tim months ago.  This legal clause also supposedly makes Tim an emancipated minor, which is INCREDIBLY STUPID.  For the love of christ, Tim is 20 years-old!  The only way Tim could still be a minor would be if he became Robin when he was like 8 years-old.  Listen, Chris Yost and DC editors, Tim is 20!  Age the damn kid already!  Okay, moving on before I flip out even more, Tim reunites with the Bat-family in the Batcave and finally tells them that Bruce is alive and lost in time somewhere!  Tim also says that there are clues to finding him in Wayne Manor.  Dick and Alfred give each other a sheepish look, probably thinking that it was crappy of them to keep Tim out of the loop for so long.  The whole "lost in time" and "clues in the Manor" are exciting new angles which Alfred and Dick had never even thought of.  However, Damian is quite skeptical about the "lost in time" aspect.  In any case, a legitimate investigation can finally begin.  Damian also tells Tim that he's filed motions for a "vote of no confidence" in his leadership of Wayne Enterprises in an attempt to become a ten-year old CEO himself.  We (the reader) also learn that Ra's Al Ghul was merely testing Tim to see if he was a worthy heir to his third as-of-yet unnamed mystery daughter!  The next night, Alfred re-opens Wayne Manor and sweeps the property in search of clues (as referenced in Batman & Robin #10) while Batman, Robin, and Red Robin all go on patrol.  Dick and Damian apprehend Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee while Tim apprehends Lynx and marks her off on his "wanted supervillain checklist" in the Bunker.  Afterward, Dick goes on unspecified official JLA business, possibly regarding the investigation into locating Bruce.  While Dick is away, Tim continues going after targets on his hit list, easily busting Brutale.  Meanwhile, Damian learns that Tim also has a "not to be trusted superhero list" as well.  And guess who makes the number one spot on the list?  Damian.  Robin then angrily fistfights Red Robin in Crime Alley until Dick returns to break them up.  The action continues as Tim comes up with a plan to fool Vicki Vale into thinking that he isn't Red Robin.  The ruse, which involves Miss Martian shapeshifting into the form of Tim Drake and getting shot by Scarab, serves to both successfully fool Vicki and also to capture Scarab.  However, Tim must now publicly wear leg braces and will walk with crutches for several months in order to continue tricking Vicki.

--Superman #700, Part 3
Nearly a month has passed since the tragic end of the Kryptonian-Earth War.  Superman is called before a congressional committee to determine if he can still be trusted as Earth's primary savior.  In the end, Superman proves his allegiance and addresses the media.  When a tearful woman slaps Superman in the face and yells at him for being away on New Krypton while her husband died on Earth, the Man of Steel is shaken to the core.  After meeting with Dick aboard the Watchtower to test a new cosmic threat detector which has been stationed outside Jupiter's orbit, Superman chats with Flash and decides that he has ignored the little things for far too long.  Supes decides he is done ignoring the average man in favor of the metahuman supervillain and begins a walking tour of the United States designed not only to help with all "normal" problems, but to reconnect with the average American citizen.

--Detective Comics #869, Part 1
The past six days of the Impostor Wars have been quiet (hence the gap which I've filled with other stories).  Batman meets with Gordon to discuss the lull in action between the Jokerz and Guardian Bats.

--Batman: Streets of Gotham #12-13 ("THE CARPENTER'S TALE")
Batman busts some pool-playing mobsters and briefly bumps into Jenna Duffy (The Carpenter).  Jenna is then offered a lucrative job from the Broker, who has just set up eccentric newcomer, The Director, with an abandoned movie-house hideout.  The Carpenter rebuilds the theater and constructs various death traps so that the Director can achieve his ultimate goal: shooting a snuff film where Batman dies.  Haven't we seen this exact gimmick done before?  Has Paul Dini given up entirely?  Meanwhile, Damian meets with Colin Wilkes (Abuse) and provides the ten year-old hulk with a private downtown garage and a superhero motorcycle "Abuse-mobile" (without Dick's permission).  Batman teams-up with the Carpenter, who is betrayed by her employer, and easily defeats the Director and his crew.  Afterward, Batman tells Jenna to leave town for good.

--Superman/Batman #75, Part 5
Tim tells Dick about how he (Tim) and Cassie Sandsmark make-out when they are sad.  Dick tells Tim never to tell Conner Kent about the smooching, since Conner and Cassie have dated on-and-off again for years.

--DCU Halloween Special 2010 #1, Part 2
This is a Halloween Special story, but it doesn't necessarily take place on Halloween, hence why I've put it here.  Dick and Damian do some vampire slaying in Gotham and team-up with benevolent vampire Andrew Bennett (I...Vampire!) to eliminate the evil coven of nosferatu known as The Cult of the Blood Red Moon.

--Superman #702-703 ("GROUNDED")
Dick hears about Superman's walking tour of America and decides to check up on him.  After spying on him in Detroit and Cincinnati, Dick is surprised to find the Man of Steel using Bruce-like intimidation tactics on small-time offenders.  Dick confronts Superman and tells him that this whole "grounded" thing is a negative reaction to the loss of New Krypton, which Superman has yet to recover from.  Before departing, Dick continues by saying that Superman can't ignore the larger metauman problems in the DCU in favor of the plight of the average man as it would be irresponsible.  Afterward, when rock debris from the destroyed New Krypton plummets onto Earth and bestows normal humans with super strength, Superman battles one of the new metas, but winds up demolishing most of the small town of Danville, Ohio in the process.  Aboard the Watchtower, Dick watches a news broadcast of the event, which highlights the complaints of many Danville residents, in stone cold contemplation.  (Shortly after his encounter in Danville, Superman will heed Dick's advice and decide to stop ignoring the larger threats in the DCU.  However, his "Grounded" walking tour will still continue sporadically for the next two months, so have no fear, average man).

--Superman/Batman #77
While Dick is away on unspecified official Justice League business, Damian captures Killer Croc all by himself and then is confronted by Supergirl, who is looking for Batman's help on a mass murder case in Metropolis.  With Dick busy, Damian travels to Metropolis with Supergirl.  They go undercover at a college Halloween party and find the murderer: Scarecrow.  Scarecrow had killed a few LexCorp interns as revenge for his altercation with Luthor during Blackest Night.  Halloween is merely topical here and unfortunately must be disregarded for this story.  Let's call it a college masquerade party instead. With the case closed, Supergirl drops Damian back home at the Bunker, where Dick teases the Boy Wonder about "going on a date with Supergirl."

--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #50-53 ("OMEGA")
While the newest incarnation of the JLA trains at the Hall of Justice in Washington, DC, a distraught Tangent Green Lantern shows up claiming that the populace of Earth-9 have been decimated by a plague of lethal energy which was released by a dark-matter bomb.  The dark-matter bomb was apparently created by Alexander Luthor and triggered when he was murdered by the Joker (at the conclusion of Final Crisis)!  The wave of devastation was on a time-delay and only now has begun to wreak havoc upon random sections of the multiverse, including not only Earth-9, but the Antimatter Universe as well.  (The dark-matter bomb actually began to mess with the Antimatter Earth several months ago).  With their world in ruins the Crime Syndicate of Amerika sneaks onto Earth-0.  I should mention that, due to the ever-shifting reality of the Antimatter Universe, Ultraman has been resurrected from the dead.  (If you'll recall, he died during Final Crisis).  Not only has Ultraman been resurrected, he actually retains hazy, dream-like memories of his own death.  Oh yeah, remember when Doctor Impossible and his cronies stole all those cosmic artifacts months ago and used them to build a machine which can access any Earth in the multiverse?  Well it turns out that Impossible was working for Owlman, who is finally executing his master plan.  The CSA (with Impossible, Hunter, Neon Black, and Tender Mercy) attacks the JLA (with Tangent Green Lantern).  Owlman is able to fight off Batman and break into the Hall morgue, hauling Alexander Luthor's corpse out of its coffin.  Apparently Impossible's "Multiverse Machine," when combined with Owlman's tech and the power of a kidnapped Blue Jay, also functions as a "Resurrection Machine" which Owlman wants to use to revive Alex Luthor, the only man who knows how to stop the dark-matter wave from destroying the multiverse.  However, Impossible and crew double-cross Owlman and attempt to resurrect their their fallen leader Darkseid!  The attempt fails and instead causes the dark-matter energy to manifest into an anthropomorphic being known as the Omega Man.  Omega Man immediately kills Hunter, Neon Black, and Tender Mercy then proclaims that he will not only steal everyone's souls, but he will continue to destroy the multiverse.  Jade is able to create a giant impenetrable energy-dome around Washington, DC which prevents Omega Man from leaving, but unfortunately seals everyone inside with him.  Outside, literally every DCU superhero tries in vain to break through the wall.  Inside, the JLA continues to battle the CSA while dealing with Omega Man at the same time.  Supergirl damages the Resurrection Machine and frees Blue Jay from captivity.  Omega Man is then able to activate the hidden Starheart energy within Supergirl, who transforms into the old black-costumed "bad-girl" version of her character (from her debut story arc in Superman/Batman).  Bad-girl Supergirl then makes out with Batman and proclaims her badness to all.  Batman then forms a truce with Owlman and the CSA joins forces with the JLA against Omega Man, who easily murders Power Ring.  In a twist, Ultraman and Supergirl join forces with Omega Man.  Shocked, Batman submits and kneels in surrender.  Omega Man then orders the JLA and CSA to fix the "Resurrection Machine," which he can use to escape from Jade's prison.  Once the "R-Machine" is rebuilt, the CSA double-crosses the JLA and reveals that they were aiding Omega Man all along.  The JLA appears to be defeated, but when Omega Man activates the "R-Machine" a surprising result occurs.  Supergirl reveals that she may have a new attitude, but don't worry guys and gals, she's still a hero and has only been pretending to be on Omega Man's side.  Likewise, Batman anticipated that the CSA would double-cross him, so he countered with a double-cross of his own!  Before completion of the "R-Machine," Tangent Green Lantern had used her convenient "power to resurrect someone so that he or she can complete one final act of redemption" to resurrect Alexander Luthor!  Luthor is able to tweak the "R-Machine" causing it, upon activation, to suck Omega Man inside and turn him into a cure for the deadly dark-matter plague.  Omega Man, reduced to "good" energy, is shot around the multiverse, curing what is left of all the damaged worlds.  Jade's protective dome is released and all the heroes celebrate the victory.

--Detective Comics #869, Part 2
On the eleventh day of silence from both the Jokerz and Guardian Bats, Batman and Oracle discover the secret identity of the Impostor Joker: Winslow Heath.  Heath, who permanently looks exactly like the real Joker due to a Joker Juice attack way back in Bat-Year 10, has had a personal vendetta against the Dark Knight for almost 12 years.  The reason for the eleven day hiatus of the Impostor Wars was so that Heath and his lieutenant Dr. Kaligari could stockpile a mass quantity of extra potent Joker Juice, with which they plan to drop on the entire city.  Dick confronts Heath at Heath's pharmaceutical headquarters, but is unable to bring him to justice due to lack of evidence.  NOTE:  All scenes in the Batcave and Wayne Manor must be replaced with the Bat Bunker.  See the summary of Detective Comics #867-868 for details.

NOTE:  Dick and Alfred learn that upon further examination of the Bat-clone, the JLA has confirmed that Bruce has indeed been sent back in time by Darkseid's mysterious Omega Sanction (as referenced in Batman & Robin #10).

--Detective Comics #869, Part 3
It's been twenty-four days since the start of the Impostor Wars.  It's been nineteen days since the Jokerz and Guardian Bats laid down their arms and stopped fighting.  However, the peace is about to break. Winslow Heath, using his influence as the philanthropic head of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Gotham, organizes a large festival/carnival known as Bartholomew's Fair.  Hundreds attend the event and nearly all are immediately Joker Juiced by Kaligari.  NOTE:  All scenes in the Batcave must be replaced with the Bat Bunker.  See the summary of Detective Comics #867-868 for details.

--Detective Comics #870 ("THE IMPOSTOR WARS" Conclusion)
Hundreds of Guardian Bats are led by the Impostor Batman into Bartholomew's Fair where they battle hundreds of drugged-up Jokerz.  Batman struggles in the thick of the fray, but manages to escape into a circus fun house where he confronts the Impostor Batman.  The Caped Crusader easily unmasks the faker, revealing him to be none other than Winslow Heath!  Heath had acted out both the role of Impostor Joker and Impostor Batman from the beginning in order to play both sides against each other, purely to incite a war which would bring the Dark Knight to his knees.  In the end, the Impostor Wars end, but not before Heath escapes and 174 people are dead.

NOTE:  The Second Feature from Batman: Streets of Gotham #16 takes place now.  Two-Face makes a full recovery from his multiple stab wounds and returns to Gotham with a vengeance.

ANOTHER NOTE:  Bruce's former girlfriend, Una Nemo, is seemingly killed during a robbery attempt by several armed bandits who are immediately arrested and sentenced (as seen through flashback from Batman & Robin #18).  A Jane Doe is later discovered in the harbor and mistaken for Una's.  In actuality, Una has survived the attack despite getting shot in the head and now has a permanent giant hole in her skull.  Una will learn that she suffers from "Dandy Walker Syndrome," meaning that her head is literally empty, her brain in a snake-like coil which clings to the inside of her skull.  Thus, when she was shot, the blast gouged a permanent massive hole in her head, but went through clean where a normal person's brain would have been.  Nemo will keep her return a secret initially. 

--Batman & Robin #10-12 ("BATMAN VS. ROBIN")
Damian recently filed a "vote of no confidence" against Tim's leadership of Wayne Enterprises.  Our story begins with the ten year-old addressing the Wayne board of executives, although it is unclear if Tim or Damian is really in charge at this point.  In either case, Lucius Fox is still technically running the company.  Meanwhile, Simon Hurt orders Oberon Sexton to kill Batman.  However, Sexton disobeys, thus incurring the wrath of Hurt, who sends in his army of assassins known as the 99 Fiends to kill both Sexton and Batman.  Batman and Robin then meet at Wayne Manor (which was closed-up for six months prior to its recent re-opening), where Alfred has had a breakthrough in the investigation into the whereabouts of Bruce.  After re-hanging the Wayne family portraits in order, Alfred noticed something strange about the pictures of Mordecai Wayne, Joshua Wayne, and Darius Wayne.  Alfred also notes that Mordecai's portrait was the last painting found and added to the collection.  Mordecai doesn't seem to fit into the genealogy very well.  (SPOILER: This is because Mordecai IS Bruce).  Dick thinks Bruce is sending clues from the past somehow through the pictures (and he HAS, as we will learn shortly). Dick and Damian soon find a secret passage inside the library, from which Dick falls through the floor into a hidden room.  Meanwhile, Talia and Deathstroke are controlling Damian through his new spine!  Damian is temporarily able to fight off his controllers, escaping to the Wayne Cemetery where Sexton is hiding from the converging 99 Fiends.  Underneath Wayne Manor, Dick finds himself in a creepy Occult ritual catacomb devoted to the worship of the bat-devil demon Barbatos.  The name "Thomas Wayne" is painted everywhere.  Thomas Wayne, we learn, was the black sheep of the Wayne family, who was ostracized for Satan worship in 1765.  Curiously, the paint used to write his name is relatively fresh. (Fresh because Hurt wrote on the wall less then a year ago).  From this Barbatos room, Dick finds an underground railway which leads to a cave on the opposite side of the Manor from where the Batcave is located.  In this cave, Dick finds a statue of Barbatos and a tiny casket with a bat-symbol on it.  Upon retrieving the casket, Dick is mauled by a giant bat! (SPOILER: This is the Hyper-Adapter retreating backward through time after its defeat at the end of ROBW).  Dick runs away and realizes that he is directly below the cemetery.  Above ground, Robin and Sexton fight off the 99 Fiends.  Robin, under Deathstroke's control, knocks out Sexton.  A dazed and injured Dick crawls out of a mausoleum in the Wayne cemetery exclaiming that he has "found it," only to be attacked by Robin.  Batman electrocutes Robin, thus breaking the spinal link.  Meanwhile, the 99 Fiends steal the mini-coffin, chanting "Barbatos" as they escape.  Back in the Batcave, the heroes wonder how it is possible that all the new secret passages exist, or have gone unnoticed for so long.  Alfred also wonders if the giant bat was a hallucination.  Is it truly possible that Bruce, since getting zapped by the Omega Sanction, has been altering the past to turn the uninhabited Manor into one giant clue?  Yes!  Makes me wonder if Alfred and Dick would have found the hints right away if they hadn't decided to close-up the mansion and move downtown.  Anyway, a suborbital rocket ride and 25 minutes later, Batman and Robin confront Talia at her tropical HQ, where Talia reveals the existence of a cloned month-old Damian fetus!  (This fetus, when birthed out of its artificial womb, will be known as The Heretic).  Talia kicks Damian out for good, telling him he is now her enemy for life.  Back in Gotham, Simon Hurt has returned (!) along with the only surviving "finger" of the Black Glove, Senator Vine (The Texan).  After returning home, Dick and Damian accompany Alfred into the newly found secret cave, where they find the tattered cape and cowl that Bruce was wearing when he "died." (This is the ancient Miagani relic: the ultimate clue to finding Bruce).  Dick then visits Sexton, who reveals his true identity: the Joker!  The Joker is immediately incarcerated at GCPD HQ (as referenced in Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #3).

NOTE:  The Rip Hunter timesphere sequence from Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1 overlaps roughly with Batman & Robin #12.  While Batman and Robin are dealing with all the craziness at Wayne Manor and with Talia overseas, Rip Hunter assembles a team of Booster Gold, Skeetz, Superman, and Hal Jordan (known collectively as the Time Masters) and explains that Bruce is a living doomsday weapon now that the Hyper-Adapter is linked to him.  Hunter and his team travel to 38,000 BCE in search of Bruce, but arrive too late.  Bruce has already Omega-leaped to the 1640s with the Hyper-Adapter in tow.

ANOTHER NOTE:  Rip Hunter, Superman, and company return to the present and bring back the rocketship time capsule, which has Bruce's fingerprints all over it.  The Time Masters also bring back Bruce's final recorded entry of the Black Casebook, which they share with Red Robin (as referenced in Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5 and seen through flashback in Batman #702).  Rip and Superman (along with Booster, Skeetz, and Hal) depart into the timestream in search of Bruce once again.

YET ANOTHER NOTE:  Rip Hunter's search team continues to unsuccessfully search for Bruce (as detailed in the Time Masters: Vanishing Point series).  However, after deciding to visit Vanishing Point (the former HQ of the Linear Men which not only resides at the literal "end of time" mere moments before universal entropic heat destruction, but which also houses all the historical information that has ever existed), the team will run into complications which will result in their inability to contact the present.  Rip's team will also be knocked through time and space as well.  Rip and company will eventually make it to Vanishing Point, but not for a bit, and we'll get to that a later.

--Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2, Part 2
--Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #3-4
Flashback to the 1640s.  Bruce, as "Mordecai," has been in a relationship with Gotham witch Annie and become a prominent member of the Gotham community for quite some time now.  He has also been reluctantly working with his distant ancestor Nathaniel Wayne, the bigoted and spiteful witch-hunter extraordinaire. (Nathaniel is the earliest known patriarch of the Wayne family tree).  Bruce, as "Mordecai," poses for sketches by artist Martin Van Derm, whose future ancestor Catherine will later marry into the Wayne family.  Bruce gives Van Derm explicit instructions which will ensure that a portrait based upon these sketches winds up as a hint for his friends in the future.  And, indeed, Dick does discover this clue, as we saw in Batman & Robin #10-12).  When the Hyper-Adapter rears its ugly tentacled face once again, Bruce charges into the woods to face it in combat.  Meanwhile, Nathaniel takes this opportunity to arrest and execute a defenseless Annie.  Before being burned at the stake as a witch, Annie places a black magic curse on Nathaniel and his kin for all time, unaware that her lover is secretly a Wayne as well.  While fighting the Hyper-Adapter, the solar eclipse occurs, hurtling both Bruce and the Hyper-Adapter roughly 75 years into the future to 1718.  Bruce, with his memory of the 1640s fading fast (luckily he has with him a detailed journal which he kept during his time as "Mordecai"), washes up on the shores of the Gotham Bay along with Jack Valor aka the Black Pirate.  Valor has been run aground by his rival: Commodore Thatch aka Blackbeard aka Vandal Savage!  Yes, Blackbeard is Vandal Savage (as we know from JSA Classified #11).  Blackbeard and his men assume the stronger, tougher Bruce must be the Black Pirate and treat him as such.  The villains force Bruce and Valor into the Miagani caves, where it is rumored there is buried treasure.  The Miagani have laced the caves with numerous deadly booby traps, which Bruce, Valor, Blackbeard, and his men all struggle to avoid.  Eventually, Bruce and Valor fight off Blackbeard and his pirates and are taken in by the Miagani, who show them the ancient relic: Batman's tattered cape, cowl, and belt.  Bruce gives Valor the Mordecai journal, tells him everything else he can vaguely remember, and makes him promise to complete several tasks.  First, Valor must train with and learn the secrets of the Miagani, and with the help of the tribe, construct a tiny sealed casket with a bat symbol on it, which can only be opened with a secret whistle code.  Valor must also add everything Bruce said to the Mordecai diary and deliver the book to the Van Derms after several decades have passed.  In 1750, after a 30-year career as a superhero inspired by Bruce and the Miagani, Valor will deliver the diary to the Van Derms in a tiny sealed casket with a bat symbol on it.  Bruce's other final instruction is for Valor to write a note and place it inside the casket as well.  I won't spoil what the note says, so you'll just have to wait until we get there.  Thus, we finally have the origin of the mini bat-casket, which we've seen in Batman & Robin #10-12!  (The details regarding the origins of the mini bat-casket and its contents come directly from flashbacks in Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #6).  From 1718, a solar eclipse Omega-leaps Bruce to the late 19th Century where he settles-in and becomes a masked cowboy vigilante on horseback, starting a full-scale war-on-crime against Vandal Savage and his band of outlaws.  In response, Savage hires Jonah Hex (!) to take out Bruce.  Meanwhile, in the PRESENT Batman and Robin re-examine the still highly radioactive Blüdhaven ground zero site of Darkseid's former clone factory.  Concurrently, Red Robin addressed the superhero community and lets everyone know what has happened to Bruce and the situation with the Hyper-Adapter.  Several heroes are in attendance including the JLA, Flash, Wonder Woman, the Atom, Huntress, and Black Canary.  Shift back to the PAST now.  It's the mid-to-late 1800s.  Vandal Savage has allied himself with Thomas Wayne aka Simon Hurt!  Both villains want the secret power which lies within the bat symbol casket.  Savage sends his goons to slaughter the Van Derm family, which has possession of the casket.  (We also learn that at some point in the 17th Century a Van Derm coupled with a Miagani, thus creating an ancestral link to the Miagani for Catherine and, more importantly, Bruce)!  The Van Derms are all killed, except for Catherine Van Derm, who is kidnapped and tortured by Thomas Wayne/Simon Hurt in an attempt to obtain the secret method of opening the box without destroying the supposed contents within.  Meanwhile, Bruce, in his dark-rider cowboy garb, battles Savage's henchmen in the street outside.  Eventually, Savage and Hurt take Catherine and the casket and flee in a covered wagon with Bruce chasing them.  Hex follows as well and a huge rumble takes place which results in a wagon crash that startles a suicidal Alan Wayne.  In the chaos, Alan is able to shelter Catherine as Bruce watches over them.  This scene is, in many ways, a Back to the Future type moment, where Bruce essentially introduces his great great grandparents!  Catherine uses a secret Miagani whistle to open the casket.  Bruce takes Mordecai/Jack Valor's diary, but is immediately shot by Hex and falls into the river just as the solar eclipse sends him to roughly 1971, the time period shortly after the murders of his parents.  In 1971 Bruce collapses onto a busy street and slips into unconsciousness due to the bullet wound suffered at the hands of Hex.  In the the late 1800s Alan builds Wayne Manor in a grand macabre style to honor the masked bat-cowboy that helped him.  This fantastic architectural blueprint includes bat symbol-shaped layouts and hidden catacombs which will house and protect the casket for decades to come.  Thus, Bruce has literally altered the architecture of Wayne Manor from the past!  NOTE:  The scenes at Vanishing Point from ROBW #2 are actually a flash-forward to ROBW #6, so we'll address them later.

NOTE:  Dick, Damian, and Alfred pool their collective resources and confirm that Simon Hurt is without a doubt Thomas Wayne, the twisted black sheep of the Wayne family, born in the 1730s but endowed with supernatural extended life.  Alfred also reveals that Thomas (Bruce's father) and Martha Wayne took the wayward Hurt briefly into their lives after realizing the details of his unnatural corruption.  Shortly after trying in vain to help their ancient relative, Hurt (who Thomas and Martha referred to as Thomas Wayne, Jr.) was confined to Willowood Asylum before disappearing.  Dick, Damian, and Alfred also realize that Bruce has been in control of the mini bat symbol casket for centuries, meaning the casket which Hurt seeks is not what the villain thinks it is.  Thanks to Bruce's manipulations from the past, Dick has also learned the secret whistles of the Miagani.  Advantage: good guys.  These revelations are referenced in Batman & Robin #15-16 and Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5-6).  Dick also delivers the "cape and cowl relic" to Red Robin at the Hall of Justice (as also referenced in Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5).  Not to mention, Dick also learns that Hurt is also "El Penitente" (as referenced in Batman & Robin #16).

--Batman #703
After a high-tech supervillain robs the art museum and makes a clean escape from Batman and Robin, Dick is reminded of one of Bruce's old foes, the Getaway Genius.  Alfred mentions that no one has seen nor heard from the Getaway Genius in ten years (more like twelve years, but who's counting?).  Meanwhile, Vicki Vale is getting dangerously close to confirming the secret identities of the Bat-family.  (She basically already has, but just wants definitive proof).  Not only that, Dick believes that Vicki knows something about the museum heist since she was able to snap perfect close-up photos of the crime.  Dick then visits Vicki face-to-face and secretly puts a tracer on her purse.  This is the ultimate bonehead move (apparently) because Vicki easily finds the tracer and gains physical proof that Dick, at the very least, is a member of the Bat-family.  Back to the thievery, Batman, Robin, and Red Robin are able to nab the criminal, who reveals herself to be Olivia Reynolds, daughter of the original Getaway Genius.

--Titans #28-30 ("FAMILY REUNIONS")
The evil "villains-for-hire" Titans team led by Deathstroke has a mission to infiltrate Arkham and free Mad Hatter and the metahuman Allegra Garcia.  The Titans, which include a heroin-addicted Arsenal (now out of rehab and strung-out), Cheshire, Tattooed Man, Osiris, and Cinder, break into the asylum with ease.  Naturally, all the prisoners are released and a riot ensues as Zsasz, Clayface, Firefly, Dr. Phosphorus, Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Jane Doe, Killer Croc, and Nursery Cryme run amok.  Batman is on the scene and fights with Deathstroke before breaking up Osiris and Killer Croc.  During the melee the Titans reassemble and walk out of Arkham untouched with Garcia in tow.  Batman's mere presence is enough to quell the riot and the villains willingly return to their cells.

--Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5, Part 1
--Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #6, Part 1
--Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2 (Vanishing Point scene)
--Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5, Part 2
--Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #6, Part 2
In the present Red Robin speaks with the JLA, Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Green Arrow, and Flash in detail about how Bruce is a "living weapon" accumulating Omega energy as he travels closer to the home.  (Don't forget, Bruce has a deadly Hyper-Adapter along for the ride as well).  In approximately 1971 aka shortly after the death of Bruce's parents (although Morrison reveals that Gotham was undergoing a serious 20s/30s/40s retro phase at the time), an amnesiac Bruce awakens in the hospital where Marsha Lamarr (future wife of Mangrove Pierce), who claims to be Martha Wayne's "best friend," recruits Bruce, thinking him to be simply an amnesiac John Doe, to play the role of the deceased Thomas Wayne (Bruce's father) in a ruse which will supposedly flush out the Wayne killer.  Bruce is told that he will don Thomas' old masquerade bat-costume and is to appear at an underworld meeting in Wayne Cemetery, and all will fall into place.  A confused Bruce has no choice but to participate.  A nurse gives him a 30s style suit and returns his only possession: the Mordecai/Jack Valor diary.  Bruce reads the diary and realizes that the Mordecai parts are in his own handwriting.  Marsha and Bruce then visit Elizabeth "Betsy" Kane and Roderick Kane (Bruce's grandmother and grandfather) at the Crest Hill Estate (Kane Manor), with Bruce posing as a private-eye.   Betsy, who has no love for the Waynes, makes wild claims that Thomas is still alive and is responsible for the execution of her daughter.  Betsy also says accuses Thomas of drug-abuse, rape, and devil-worship.  Roderick tries to moan out Simon Hurt's name, but is physically incapable of doing so, since he's been permanently injured by Hurt and confined to an iron lung.  After getting the spare Wayne Manor keys from Betsy, Marsha and Bruce travel to Wayne Manor where we learn that young Bruce and Alfred are away on a trip.  We also learn that custody of young Bruce was given to Alfred instead of Betsy and Roderick due to the intensity of the falling-out between the Kanes and Waynes.  Meanwhile at Willowood Psychiatric Hospital, where Hurt has a post, the villain bribes a nervous young Professor Carter Nichols into participating in an Occult ritual later that night.  As night approaches at Wayne Manor, Bruce thinks something is fishy as he puts on the bat-costume, but Marsha distracts him with a kiss.  The Black Glove members assemble to perform a Barbatos summoning ritual in the mausoleum at Wayne Cemetery.  Simon Hurt, John Mayhew, Carter Nichols, Commissioner Loeb (!), and Mayor Jessup are all in attendance.  Bruce emerges from the shadows only to be clubbed from behind by Marsha, who reveals herself as the sixth Black Glove member in attendance.  Hurt plans to use an invention of Nichols to open a hole in time in order to summon Barbatos. The Black Glove selected the amnesic Bruce as the perfect sacrifice for the ritual since his identity was unknown and nobody would miss him.  The ritual also serves a double purpose as Mayhew films the proceedings with Marsha dressed-up and wearing a wig to look like Martha Wayne and Bruce playing the role of his masked father, in what will be used as false documentary evidence to smear the Waynes.  After dousing Bruce with gasoline, the villains set him ablaze!  However, before things get even more out-of-hand, Nichols turns his back on the Black Glove and refuses to open the time portal.  A burning Bruce uses this momentary delay to snatch the device from Nichols' hands.  Bruce activates the machine and teleports into the future.  Hurt doesn't kill Nichols for his disobedience, but instead dooms him to a life of obscurity and failure, despite his genius (which is why Nichols, despite being one of the smartest scientists in the entire DCU goes largely unheralded and largely unseen).  Bruce emerges at the furthest point Nichols' time machine can take him: Vanishing Point, a mere hour before the total destruction of the universe and the literal "end of time."  The Bush Robot Archivists that oversee Vanishing Point are excited that famous Bruce Wayne will be a part of their final recorded historical entry.  An exhausted and still partially enflamed Bruce collapses and is either nearly dead or in fact may actually be dead, but in either case, the Archivists put him into a "lazarus transfusion" machine which heals him completely and restores all of his lost memories!  The Archivists are also able to capture the Hyper-Adapter and quarantine the beast, albeit only temporarily.  Knowing that the Hyper-Adapter will escape at any moment and that the creature is linked to his own mind, Bruce comes up with a plan.  He has the Archivists fix him up with a disguise that makes him look like a Bush Robot.  Rip Hunter, Superman, Booster Gold, Skeetz, and Hal Jordan then show up and meet with the Archivist, not knowing that it is Bruce in disguise.  Bruce reveals himself to the shock and dismay of Superman, and then steals Rip's timesphere and travels back to the present!  As per his request and in accordance with his plan, Bruce's memory is once again stripped clean when he time-travels (in an attempt to sever the mind-link between he and the Hyper-Adapter).  Bruce breaches into the Hall of Justice and appears before Red Robin in a sealed-off room.  Tim is surprised to see Bruce, who is wearing a bizarre hybrid-Bush Robot Archivist cyborg-techno Bat-suit. (I don't know how else to describe it really).  The JLA busts into the room and attacks the future-styled Batman, whose Omega radiation levels are off-the-chart.  Concurrently, at Vanishing Point the Time Masters realize that Bruce, in his last act before stealing their timesphere, has constructed a new timesphere (the most advanced timesphere ever made) using the universe's final technological resources and his temporary Archivist powers.  In the present, super Omega Batman uses indescribable powers and advanced future weaponry to easily defeat every single member of the JLA.  With Bruce's mind scrambled and his memory faded, Tim removes his mask and tries to talk down Bruce by making him remember who he is.  Bruce recognizes Tim and begins to control himself.  Wonder Woman uses her "lasso of truth" on Bruce, who immediately explains his plan to confuse the Hyper-Adapter by erasing his own memory and returning to the present.  In an instant, the furious Hyper-Adapter takes full control of Bruce's body.  As time itself begins to tear away from space and manifest into its own tangible dimension, the Time Masters arrive in the super-timesphere.  Bruce regains momentary control and exclaims that the Hyper-Adapter would have won at Vanishing Point, but it will fail here and now in the "Age of the Superheroes!"  The Hyper-Adapter vows that Darkseid will have his revenge and that in order to defeat it, the heroes must kill his host: Bruce.  The heroes fight the Hyper-Adapter Batman and Bruce is able to literally tear himself out of the killing machine attached to him.  Superman, Wonder Woman, and Hal Jordan throw the Hyper-Adapter into the timesphere and activate a self-destruct mechanism.  The Hyper-Adapter, defeated, metamorphoses into a primordial form: a giant bat.  The giant bat then retreats backward through time (similarly to how Darkseid's body fell backward through time after his death).  It appears in the catacombs beneath Wayne Manor where Dick encountered it a week or so prior, in 1765 where it endowed Simon Hurt with extended life, and in 38,000 BCE where it was slayed by Vandal Savage.  But back to the present!  The physical manifestation of time begins to splinter and shatter, before calming and returning to normal.  Severely injured from his merger with and separation from the Hyper-Adapter, Bruce dies!  Bruce enters the mammoth graveyard-esque underworld of the New Gods where he has a vivid recollection of his experiences in the desert with the Ten-Eyed Brotherhood.  Bruce then confronts the defeated spirit of Darkseid (!) one final time before Metron, the final living New God, returns Bruce to his Earthly life.  Bruce is clinically dead for over two minutes and goes into a coma when he begins breathing again.  Wonder Woman and Superman fear the worst, but Tim has faith and exclaims that as long as Gotham is in trouble Bruce will be there to protect the city.  Bruce awakens with a jolt, vomiting up black bile.  Moments later, Bruce is back in his familiar garb.  Bruce Wayne, THE Batman, is back!  NOTE:  The "Batman and Robin Must Die!" story-arc which takes place in Batman & Robin #13-15 (detailed in the next two bullet posts) completely overlaps with the events of "The Return of Bruce Wayne Conclusion" (this bullet post).

NOTE:  The flashback from Batman & Robin #13-15, which details how Hurt is able to take over Gotham and capture the Dynamic Duo in a mere three days time, begins begins at the same time as the beginning of "The Return of Bruce Wayne Conclusion" which was the previous bullet post, and therefore overlaps with that story completely).  At GCPD HQ, Damian meets Joker for the first time face-to-face.  Batman and Robin interrogate Joker about his masquerade as Sexton, the death of the actual Sexton, and the domino killings.  Joker claims he is trying to help Batman and that for once, he should trust him.  At the Bat Bunker, Dick chats with Commissioner Gordon and theorizes that the antidote that was delivered months ago which "cured" Gotham's populace of Professor Pyg's viral narcotic is in actuality an even more potent remotely-activated version of the same viral narcotic.  Pyg needs only to trigger the virus and all the citizens of Gotham could potentially turn into stark-raving junkie madmen.  As Batman and Gordon rush back to GCPD HQ, the 99 Fiends shoot down the flying Batmoblie.  Hundreds of Dollotrons swarm upon Batman and Gordon while the Fiends break Pyg out of Arkham.  Back at GCPD HQ, Damian beats Joker with a crowbar.  A bloody Joker tries to explain that they share the same goal of bringing down the Black Glove and then scratches Damian with Joker Juice hidden under his nail.  Joker then blows his way out of GCPD HQ with the incapacitated Robin in tow.  Meanwhile, at their Park Row lair Hurt and Senator Vine reunite with Pyg.  Hurt holds the bat symbol casket in his hands, but still doesn't know how to open it without destroying the supposed contents within.  The first day of chaos ends as the Dollotrons kidnap Gordon and render Batman unconscious.  Luckily, Alfred is able to rescue and patch up Dick, who is unconscious for several hours while Pyg activates his citywide viral narcotic, turning hundreds of Gothamites into crazed violent junkies.  As Pyg prepares to torture Gordon, Senator Vine is stricken with a fatal case of laughter.  Joker has used his vast resources to lace the catered snacks inside Hurt's HQ with Joker Juice.  The final "finger" of the Black Glove slowly and painfully laughs himself to death while Dick begins firebombing the building with a Bat-helicopter.  Dick then saves Gordon, but the latter has been affected by the viral narcotic and clubs the Dark Knight back into unconsciousness.  Concurrently, Joker has broken into the Bat Bunker with a tied-up Damian and a live nuclear bomb.  The third day of chaos begins with 18% of Gotham's population inflicted with Pyg's virus.

--Batman & Robin #13
--Batman & Robin #15
Hurt begins his third day of the domination of Gotham.  Batman & Robin #13 and Batman & Robin #15 pick up right where the previous post ends, and continues to overlap with "The Return of Bruce Wayne Conclusion."  Hurt makes his public debut, posing as a returning Thomas Wayne (Bruce's father), claiming that he never actually died all those decades ago.  Amidst a media blitz, Hurt makes his triumphant return to Wayne Manor where Alfred awaits him.  Meanwhile, Joker marches Damian to Wayne Cemetery and curiously drops a banana peel on the steps in front of the mausoleum.  Joker then lets Damian go so the Boy Wonder can save Gordon.  Damian easily saves the commish, who has shaken off the effects of the viral narcotic.  Gordon flees, but Damain stays and attacks the 99 Fiends head-on, chopping of arms and legs with dual sword action.  However, their sheer numbers are too much to overcome and Damian is captured and thrown alongside Dick in the Manor.  Hurt then plugs a .32 caliber pellet in the back of Dick's skull designed to cause permanent neurological damage within twelve hours if not treated.  A crazed Hurt then demands that Damian pledge his allegiance to him.  Damian stalls for time and Dick whistles the secret Miagani tune causing the mini casket to spring open.  Hurt can't believe his eyes or ears and rushes to examine the box.  Bruce invented the box as a red herring for Hurt to painstakingly chase for centuries.  What's inside?  A note that reads "Gotcha!"  Batman and Robin double-punch Hurt to the ground, who shakes out the cobwebs and looks up only to view another Batman: Bruce Wayne!  Bruce has literally just arrived directly from the final page of Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #6 which had been overlapping this story up to this point.

--Batman & Robin #16
Simon Hurt welcomes Bruce back home by turning loose the 99 Fiends on him.  Batman, Batman, and Robin kick some major ass (with a little help from Joker, who has dropped a healthy dose of Joker Juice on the Fiends).  While Damian and Dick take care of Professor Pyg by manipulating his own Dollotrons to attack him, Bruce enters the Batcave to rescue Alfred, who has been captured by Hurt.  Bruce beats Hurt to a bloody pulp before realizing that Alfred is tied-up inside gyro-copter wreckage at the bottom of the Batcave's deepest underwater pool.  Bruce dives in to save Alfred, allowing Hurt to escape.  However, as Hurt emerges from the secret mausoleum exit in Wayne Cemetery, the Joker is eagerly awaiting with his own trap.  On cue, Hurt slips on Joker's banana peel and breaks his neck!  Soliloquizing like the best of 'em, the Clown Prince of Crime shovels Hurt's limp body (and now Jokerized rictus grinning face) in an empty grave, presumably the only open empty grave in Wayne Cemetery: the former burial spot of the Batman-clone.  Laughing maniacally, Joker buries Hurt alive!  In the Batcave Bruce and Alfred reunite.  Across town Damian defuses the nuclear bomb in the Bat Bunker.  Joker sings and dances in celebration all over Wayne Cemetery until Bruce punches his lights out.  Within hours, the viral narcotic has been neutralized and Dick has made a speedy recovery following a round of emergency brain surgery from Dr. Pennyworth.  Joker and Pyg are both incarcerated, although only Joker knows the secret burial location of Hurt (right under everyone's noses).  Damian worries about what will happen to Batman and Robin now that his father is back.  Not to worry, child.  Bruce has a plan.  With Dick, Tim, Damian, and Alfred at his side, the REAL Bruce Wayne makes his public re-debut and drops one of the biggest bombshells in the history of Batman.  Bruce goes all Tony Stark and, with multiple bat-signals lighting up the Gotham skyline, announces that he has personally financed Batman's war on crime from the beginning and that from this moment forward Wayne Enterprises will publicly fund a global anti-crime network known as "Batman Incorporated."  A new era is upon us!

NOTE:  At this time the Gods alter the main DCU timeline so that Paradise Island was destroyed long ago, causing many Amazons to have been raised in the world outside of the island (as detailed in Wonder Woman #601). Wonder Woman, from this point on, will don a brand new costume (with pants) and attempt to restore her normal timeline despite the fact that she barely remembers it.  Furthermore, Diana, in this alternative (new) timeline, has been raised in New York City as an orphan, is only now coming into her powers, and is only 20 years-old!  She is aware of the presence of other Amazons, but does not remember her true history up to this point.  Likewise, the entire DCU has now has no recollection of the true Amazonian past and has no idea who Wonder Woman is.  Only the some members of the JLI and Max Lord remember the true Wonder Woman timeline.  SPOILER ALERT:  Here's what happened: the evil Goddess of Retrubution known as Nemesis, with the help of the witch trio known as the Morrigan, want to use Wonder Woman's powers to destroy the world, so the Gods take Diana's essence and place it into a pocket universe in order to protect it from being stolen.  But in the process Diana's (and the Amazons') entire history is erased and rewritten. 

ANOTHER NOTE:  Before Bruce returns full-time as Batman to kick-start Batman Incorporated, he wants to assess the current state of the superhero community and see how the Bat-family has fared in his absence.  Detailing his observations in the "White Casebook," Bruce dons an ultra high-tech Iron Man-esque suit (he's taking this whole Tony Stark thing pretty far now, isn't he?), calls himself The Insider, and begins a secret evaluation of his allies.  Bruce, as the Insider, takes on Dick and Damian in a brief fight to test their skills (as referenced in Bruce Wayne: The Road Home - Batgirl #1).  

--Bruce Wayne: The Road Home - Batman & Robin #1
--Bruce Wayne: The Road Home - Red Robin #1
--Bruce Wayne: The Road Home - Outsiders #1
When a coordinated terrorist attack strikes all over the globe at different political leaders, Dick and Damian save Mayor Hady from the supervillain group known as the Hangmen (not the original Hangmen who all died during Final Crisis).  Meanwhile, Vicki Vale, still debating on how best to expose the Bat-family, demands a meeting with Bruce.  Obviously Bruce couldn't care less about Vicki and sends Tommy Elliot to pose as his double.  Tommy acts like his usual creepy self and kisses Vicki.  Vicki immediately realizes that Tommy is a fake.  Upon further examination of her data, Vicki realizes that Dick is definitively the new Batman.  Across town Red Robin has set up his very own "Red Robin Bunker" HQ where Bruce pays Tim a visit.  Only Tim knows that Bruce is the Insider.  They posit theories on who could be behind the organization of the "Global Assassination Tournament."  The next day Red Robin team-ups with Prudence in Amsterdam to save the life of the city's mayor from the Council of Spiders.  Bruce (as the Insider) poses as a new supervillain, goes undercover, and joins the Council of Spiders.  The Council sends him to kill Red Robin, so he and Tim engage in a staged fight.  Once the Council is lured into the trap, Bruce, Tim, and Prudence defeat them once and for all.  Afterward, Prudence secretly reports back to Ra's Al Ghul that Bruce Wayne has returned!  Back in the states, Vicki visits Alfred, who admits the truth about the identities of the Bat-family members.  Before Vicki leaves, Alfred is able to sneakily steal back Dick's tracer.  Bruce's next stop is the tempestuous country of Markovia to check-up on the Outsiders.  Bruce learns that the team has fallen on hard times ever since getting involved in the Kryptonian-Earth War over a month-and-a-half ago.  Bruce, as the Insider, is able to defeat the entire Outsiders team single-handed.  Afterward, a disappointed but upbeat Bruce reveals his identity to Katana, who is very happy to see him.

--Batman: Streets of Gotham #14, Part 1
--Batman: Streets of Gotham #16
Long time enemy of the Wayne family, gangster Judson Pierce, has just been released from prison for the first time in 37 years.  (To accurately work in our chronology this number should probably be more like 50 years ago since Pierce was active before Bruce was born).  Allied with Mr. ZZZ and Anthony Marchetti, Pierce vows to kill Bruce Wayne.  Meanwhile, with Bruce still parading around as the Insider, Tommy Elliot is still parading around as Bruce Wayne.  Tommy has been using Bruce's position on the Arkham Parole Board to release dangerous criminals onto the streets and continues this trend by attempting, albeit unsuccessfully, to free Jane Doe.  A smug Tommy (as Bruce) attends an awards show with Zatanna, hamming it up for the media.  When a riot breaks out at Arkham thanks to an angry Jane Doe, Zatanna takes off, leaving Alfred to drive Tommy home.  En route, Judson Pierce runs the car off the road, shoots "Bruce Wayne" at point-blank range and kidnaps him.

--Bruce Wayne: The Road Home - Batgirl #1
--Bruce Wayne: The Road Home - Catwoman #1
--Bruce Wayne: The Road Home - Commissioner Gordon #1
--Bruce Wayne: The Road Home - Oracle #1
--Bruce Wayne: The Road Home - Ra's Al Ghul #1
In Gotham, Bruce (as the Insider) tests Batgirl's mettle by attacking Stephanie. After sending Steph on a wild goose chase as a further test, Bruce reveals himself to her.  Angry at constantly being tested her whole life, she slaps Bruce and runs away!  Later that night, they meet again and Steph lays it all on the table.  Bruce finally approves of her wholeheartedly and gives her his fullest endorsement, but asks her to keep his return a secret from Barbara.  Next on Bruce's list is Catwoman.  Bruce writes in the "White Casebook" that if anything was truly a motivating factor helping him get back to the present, it was his love for Selina.  Posing as the Insider, Bruce hires Selina to tail Vicki Vale.  Selina, along with gal pals Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, follow Vicki to an underground auction filled with villains galore.  Selina then breaks into Vicki's apartment and learns that the intrepid reporter has learned the secret IDs of not only the Bat-family, but many other superheroes' identities as well.  Likewise, Vicki has also discovered Catwoman's secret ID too!  Catwoman reports back to the Insider and realizes that the mystery man was more than capable of finding out this info on his own.  In a tender moment, Selina realizes she is face-to-face with Bruce!  As she says his name aloud, the Insider teleports away without a trace.  Ra's Al Ghul, who has also been trailing Vicki Vale, then leaks the information that Vicki knows the Bat-family IDs into the Gotham Underground, resulting in a wave of attention Vicki doesn't want.  After the hunted reported is placed under Commissioner Gordon's direct protection, Penguin sends in two B-list newcomers, Charger and Roundhouse, who are easily defeated by the intervention of the Insider (with a little help from Oracle).  Ra's Al Ghul then sends his assassins known as The Seven Men of Death to permanently silence Vicki out of "respect for the returned Bruce."  Oracle, who has easily realized that the Insider is Bruce by this point, sends in her Birds of Prey (Batgirl, Manhunter, Man-Bat, Ragman, Hawk, and Dove) to fight the bad guys.  At one point, Oracle asks, "Do Dick and Damian know..." but Bruce cuts her off and says, "not yet."  Since Dick and Damian ABSOLUTELY know that Bruce is back, Bruce must simply be saying that the Dynamic Duo doesn't know he is the Insider.  Moving on, the Insider battles with White Ghost while Vicki barely manages to make it home alive.  But when she manages to get to her apartment, Ra's Al Ghul is waiting for her!  The Insider deals with White Ghost and rockets (like Iron Man) to Vicki's pad.  Bruce unmasks and Ra's Al Ghul welcomes his return with a smile.  Ra's Al Ghul, satisfied now that he's seen Bruce with his own eyes, leaves town without a fight.  Vicki destroys all of her evidence against the Bat-family citing that Bruce's secrets are far too important to spill the beans.  Bruce tells Vicki that he might just have some use for her in the family.  With calm returned to the city, Bruce records a final entry into the "White Casebook" which states that he is now ready to implement Batman Incorporated.

–Azrael Vol. 2 #14-16 (“THREE MYSTERIES”)
Bruce, still wearing his Insider costume, orders Dick to recruit Azrael into the Batman Inc umbrella, as long as Az is of sound mind and not using lethal force. Unfortunately, the Suit of Sorrows has begun to take its toll on the fragile constitution of Michael Lane. Not to mention, Ra’s Al Ghul is secretly behind the mysterious Order of Purity which contributes to Lane’s mental deterioration. Dick goes to meet with Azrael only to discover that the latter is indeed using lethal force on criminals. A crazed Azrael nearly kills Dick after stabbing him in the chest with the Sword of Sin. (This mystical stabbing is also shown through flashback in Batman #708 where we learn that Dick has a deep bruise on his chest thanks to the impact of the Sword of Sin. Dick will also begin suffering random blackouts and bizarre false memory nightmares due to the mystical wound as well). After the attack, Az then leaves Dick beaten and unconscious before fleeing the scene. The next morning, a groggy Dick wakes up at Wayne Manor with an angry Bruce chomping at the bit to know what happened. Bruce reveals that Lane has been found dead by suicide, apparently somehow having been able to crucify himself with nails on a cross. After an interrogation of Lane’s acquaintances, Dick learns that Lane committed suicide by stabbing himself in the chest and his best friend, Officer Pete Farelli, nailed him to the cross posthumously in accordance with his final request. Dick then questions Lane’s former sister-in-law (now girlfriend), Jennifer, who hints that Lane’s suicide is all a part of a higher-power’s plan. Back at GCPD Dick is startled when an eerie voice begins emanating from within the Suit of Sorrows. White Ghost and his henchmen are then able to steal not only the Suit of Sorrows, but Lane’s corpse as well. At the Bat Bunker, Bruce reveals that the Suit has been treated with chemicals from a Lazarus Pit. Because Bruce has worn the Suit before, he is able to psychically track the armor to its location at Ra’s Al Ghul’s hideout. Dick watches the hideout from a distance for nearly three days until Batman shows up and decides to pay Ra’s Al Ghul a personal face-to-face visit. The Dark Knight is officially back in action as Batman with a brand new costume based on an old model–he is now rocking a slightly raised yellow bat-symbol upon his chest! Ra’s Al Ghul expects Bruce and allows him to be present, explaining that Lane is about to be resurrected. Upon resurrection, Lane will have exorcised the demons linked to the Suit, thus enabling him to wear the costume trouble-free. Ra’s Al Ghul then calmly leaves after Lane re-enters the land of the living. Although curiously surprised at Ra’s Al Ghul’s nonchalance, Bruce focuses on the matter at hand and speaks with Lane, learning that Azrael has two possible destinies: to become an ultimately pure evil or a contributing force for good which will one day save the world. Ra’s Al Ghul, obviously believes the former (the reason for his nonchalance), while Bruce hopes for the latter. Azrael won’t be joining Batman Inc, but he’ll be a trusted ally. (Hopefully).  Special thanks to BatfanReborn on this one!

--Batman: Streets of Gotham #17-21 ("HOUSE OF HUSH" Conclusion)
Bruce is back in action as the Dark Knight with a brand new costume based on an old model. He is now rocking a slightly raised yellow bat-symbol upon his chest.  New villain Bedbug uses bedbugs with tiny mind-control transmitters to turn normal people into his sleepwalking slaves.  Bedbug takes control of Harley Quinn, who nearly kills Selina Kyle, but not before Bruce swings in to make the save and knock some sense back into Harley.  Selina thinks that Dick is wearing the cape and cowl, but Bruce tells her who he is and they immediately engage in a passionate kiss!  Selina then gives the Dark Knight some guff about the whole "Insider" thing.  Bruce ends the playful tone of the scene by revealing to Selina that Tommy Elliot has been missing for days.  Across town, Judson Pierce explains exactly why he hates the Waynes in a complicated 50 year-old yarn involving Thomas Wayne, Martha Wayne, Leslie Thompkins, Dr. Death, Roger Elliot (Tommy's father), gangster Sallie Guzzo, and others.  Tommy Elliot then shows his surgical scars to Pierce, proving that he is a fake.  Tommy then exclaims that he hates the Waynes just as much as Pierce.  They decide to join forces against the real Wayne, but first Pierce wants to settle an old score with Dr. Death.  After infiltrating Dr. Death's hideout, the group realizes the mad doctor would suit their purposes better as an ally.  Thus, Dr. Death joins the team.   Meanwhile, Bruce neutralizes Bedbug's insect control method, but finds the new villain to be an adequate hand-to-hand martial artist as well.  After Bedbug evades capture, Batman meets with Catwoman and they begin searching for Hush together.  Naturally, lots of making-out occurs until Bedbug attacks the lovers.  The Bat and the Cat easily chase the newbie away.  After breaking into Wayne Tower with the assistance of a Wayne Tech employee, the new supervillain team quickly falls apart as Hush betrays both Dr. Death and Pierce by shooting them (non-fatally) and leaving them in a locked room.  Dr. Death sears his way out of the room by starting a chemical explosion which excruciatingly melts Pierce's skin off of his face and most of his body.  Meanwhile, Hush is betrayed by the Wayne Tech employee, who turns out to be Jane Doe in disguise.  Jane, believing that Tommy is actually Bruce Wayne and head of Batman Inc, brutally carves off his face with a scalpel!  The gore in this story just reached level eleven.  Just as Jane is about to kill a bloody and faceless Tommy, Batman (Bruce) barges in.  Amazingly, Bruce winds up fighting and defeating Jane Doe, who wears his face (Tommy's surgically altered-to-look-like his face) as a mask, while a helpless faceless fake-Bruce (Tommy) watches on.  Afterward, a deformed Pierce, Mr. ZZZ, and Anthony Marchetti are sent to Blackgate.  Jane Doe and Hush are sent back to Arkham.  At Arkham, Tommy tries to make his doctors believe that Bruce is actually Batman, but nobody believes him and nobody really cares.

NOTE:  The opening flashback from Power Girl Vol. 2 #24 occurs now.  Both Batman (Bruce) and Power Girl are on hand when a plane nearly crashes in Gotham.  Arab-American metahuman Rayhan Mazin, a passenger aboard the plane, is wrongfully accused and sentenced to a prison term.

--Batman: The Return #1
When Bruce catches wind of an international terrorist group known as Leviathan making waves across the globe, his investigation takes him to Abu Dhabi where Hussain Mohammed has taken Sheikh Farouk's son hostage at gunpoint with a bomb strapped to his chest.  Batman saves the boy but warns Farouk to stay out of trouble, knowing that he has a criminal background.  Twenty-two hours later in the Batcave, Bruce assembles the Bat-family: Dick, Damian, Tim, Barbara, and Stephanie.  Everyone is given assignments in sealed envelopes in relation to their involvement in Batman Inc.  For instance, Steph learns she will be moving to England whether she wants to or not.  Bruce also tells Babs that "Internet 3.0" will be up and running by Spring.  Two hours later at WayneTech, Bruce, Dick, and Damian meet with Lucius Fox.  Bruce talks about activating 1000 remote operated GI Robots (last seen way back in Batman Confidential #1-6 when Bruce first met Lex Luthor!) for Batman Inc use.  I love that Bruce can order toys from Lucius now and doesn't have to hide anything.  Thirty hours later, Bruce and Damian arrive in Yemen wearing customized modified jetsuits (again, think Iron Man meets Batman) to investigate a Leviathan laboratory where Farouk was turning normal people into designer synthetic superpowered monsters.  Bruce explains to Damian that Mohammed kidnapped Farouk's son as revenge for tests that were done to his brother at the lab.  Bruce then gets in a fight with the grotesque superhero known as Traktir.  We also meet Traktir's mutant-like multiple-limbed girlfriend Spidra.  Traktir and Spidra will later become allies of Batman Inc.  Damian disobeys an order to stay put and instead chases after a mysterious figure.  The masked figure, known as the Heretic (aka "Fatherless"), comes face-to-face with Damian and cryptically says, "I know you... but that day has yet to come."  The Heretic rockets off into the sky, but not before Damian plants a tracer on him.  (The Heretic is an adult clone of Damian built by Talia Al Ghul and her team of Leviathan scientists).  Back in the States, Bruce scolds Damian, who responds by quitting!  Bruce calms him down by revealing his wish that Dick and Damian remain the Dynamic Duo of Gotham on a permanent basis.  Bruce then contacts Selina Kyle and asks her to accompany him to Tokyo to begin recruiting international members of Batman Inc within the next few days.  Meanwhile at a secret Leviathan location (later revealed as an orbiting satellite), Farouk is punished for exposing the organization's operations in Yemen.  Farouk's young son, brainwashed and vacantly pledging allegiance to Leviathan, shoots his dad dead.

SUPER DUPER IMPORTANT NOTE:  Follow this blog to continue reading about the exciting adventures of the one, the only, the original Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne! To follow the ongoing adventures of Gotham's hometown hero, the Caped Crusader and Batman 2.0, Dick Grayson, please link to The Dick Grayson Batman Chronology.

NOTE:  Bruce begins an investigation to determine whether or not Kate Kane is actually Batwoman.  Wearing various disguises, Bruce begins tailing Kate Kane on a daily basis (as referenced in Batwoman #0).

--Red Robin #17
While Bruce begins setting the Batman Inc plans into motion in the States, he sends Red Robin to Hong Kong to recruit Cassandra Cain (!) into the fold.  Tim visits with Cass, who neither accepts nor refuses the invitation to Batman Inc.  Cass does, however, keep the Bat-costume which Tim offers her.  Tim also learns, from Cass, that Lynx may be an undercover police agent from Hong Kong.  Back in the States, Tim hires Lonnie Machin (!) as his very own version of Oracle and then breaks Lynx out of jail.  A thankful Lynx kisses Tim.  Bruce then meets with Tim and tells him that he has already set up several operatives for Batman Inc.  (Bruce has yet to make any moves yet and therefore, must simply mean he has a list of targets).  Bruce, in a touching moment, hugs Tim.  For the first time in a long time, Bruce and Tim patrol the streets of Gotham and neither can contain their smiles.

--Brightest Day #14
Deadman is on a quest to deliver his White Lantern power ring to the most deserving and capable superhero in the world.  Now that Bruce is back, Deadman believes the original Dark Knight is the perfect candidate.  After Deadman and Dove assist Bruce in apprehending Mr. Freeze, Deadman gives the ring to Bruce, who turns into the White Lantern Batman!  However, the White Lantern Power Battery (The Entity) speaks through the ring and tells Deadman that the ring belongs to him and is not to be given away.  The ring returns to Deadman, thus saving his life in the process as he had been shot by one of Freeze's henchmen.  Afterward, Bruce, having learned a ton of information when temporarily infused with the power of the White Lanterns, becomes gravely concerned about the fact that Max Lord is back.  Bruce also remembers Wonder Woman's true history!

NOTE:  "Day 4" of Bruce's investigation into Kate Kane.  Bruce follows her to the cemetery and spies on her from a distance while she pays her respects to her mother's grave (as seen through flashback in Batwoman #0). 

--Batman 80 Page Giant 2010 #1, Part 6
Alfred forces Bruce to make a rare appearance at the Wayne Foundation Annual Masquerade Ball.  Bruce hams it up for his female admirers, but quickly ducks out to take down a bunch of heavily-armed crooks.  Commisioner Gordon shows his appreciation for the original Dark Knight.

--Batman 80 Page Giant 2010 #1, Part 5
Batman encounters an escaped Scarecrow, who is able to douse the Caped Crusader with fear gas.  Bruce has a hallucination that he murdered his own parents and is on death row for the crime.  Before Scarecrow can take advantage of the situation, Bruce shakes off the effects of the drug and kicks the supervillain's ass back to prison.

--Azrael Vol. 2 #14-16 ("THREE MYSTERIES")
Bruce orders Dick to recruit Azrael into the Batman Inc umbrella, as long as Az is of sound mind and not using lethal force.  Unfortunately, the Suit of Sorrows has begun to take its toll on the fragile constitution of Michael Lane.  Not to mention, Ra's Al Ghul is secretly behind the mysterious Order of Purity which contributes to Lane's mental deterioration.  Dick goes to meet with Azrael only to discover that the latter is indeed using lethal force on criminals.  A crazed Azrael nearly kills Dick after stabbing him in the chest with the Sword of Sin.  (This mystical stabbing is also shown through flashback in Batman #708 where we learn that Dick has a deep bruise on his chest thanks to the impact of the Sword of Sin.  Dick will also begin suffering random blackouts and bizarre false memory nightmares due to the mystical wound as well).  After the attack, Az then leaves Dick beaten and unconscious before fleeing the scene.  The next morning, a groggy Dick wakes up at Wayne Manor with an angry Bruce chomping at the bit to know what happened.  Bruce reveals that Lane has been found dead by suicide, apparently somehow having been able to crucify himself with nails on a cross.  After an interrogation of Lane's acquaintances, Dick learns that Lane committed suicide by stabbing himself in the chest and his best friend, Officer Pete Farelli, nailed him to the cross posthumously in accordance with his final request.  Dick then questions Lane's former sister-in-law (now girlfriend), Jennifer, who hints that Lane's suicide is all a part of a higher-power's plan.  Back at GCPD Dick is startled when an eerie voice begins emanating from within the Suit of Sorrows.  White Ghost and his henchmen are then able to steal not only the Suit of Sorrows, but Lane's corpse as well.  At the Bat Bunker, Bruce reveals that the Suit has been treated with chemicals from a Lazarus Pit.  Because Bruce has worn the Suit before, he is able to psychically track the armor to its location at Ra's Al Ghul's hideout.  Dick watches the hideout from a distance for nearly three days until Bruce shows up and decides to pay Ra's Al Ghul a personal face-to-face visit.  Ra's Al Ghul expects Bruce and allows him to be present, explaining that Lane is about to be resurrected.  Upon resurrection, Lane will have exorcised the demons linked to the Suit, thus enabling him to wear the costume trouble-free.  Ra's Al Ghul then calmly leaves after Lane re-enters the land of the living.  Although curiously surprised at Ra's Al Ghul's nonchalance, Bruce focuses on the matter at hand and speaks with Lane, learning that Azrael has two possible destinies: to become an ultimately pure evil or a contributing force for good which will one day save the world.  Ra's Al Ghul, obviously believes the former (the reason for his nonchalance), while Bruce hopes for the latter.  Azrael won't be joining Batman Inc, but he'll be a trusted ally.  (Hopefully).

--Detective Comics Annual #12
--Batman Annual #28
--Third Feature from Batman Annual #28, Part 1
Bruce Wayne, as a representative of Batman Inc, meets with French head of police Henri Lafayette to discuss recent riots associated with various assassinations in Paris.  After Oracle deduces that the next assassination attempt will be against a Saudi ambassador, Bruce sends Dick to save the intended victim.  Dick is not only successful but learns that the assassins have been psychically brainwashed.  Bruce then meets with the President of France and earns the right to officially work the case.  The Batmen (Bruce and Dick) take to the streets and bust some heads which leads the duo to investigate a terrorist cult known as the Golden Portal.  Bruce contacts the Question, who immediately flies to Paris.  Montoya then goes undercover inside the Golden Portal and meets its leader, the metahuman known as Korrigan.  Meanwhile, Dick learns that Korrigan's next target is rapper/political activist Leni Urbana.  Three days later, the Batmen meet the French rookie superhero Nightrunner (Bilal Asselah), but mistake him for the assassin.  When Korrigan sends a group of brainwashed cultists to kill Urbana, the Batmen realize their error and help Nightrunner protect Urbana.  The next day, after a meeting with Lafayette, Bruce joins forces with Dick, Nightrunner, and the Question to defeat Korrigan and her thugs.  Korrigan is taken to France's version of Arkham, known as the Black Garden.  After seeing Montoya off at the airport, Bruce visits Nightrunner and offers him a position as Batman Inc's French representative.  Nightrunner accepts the offer and with it, a brand new high-tech HQ and new costume.  Bruce then meets with Lafayette one more time.  The latter confirms that the President has approved the Batman Inc franchise in France!  A few days later, Bruce helps Nightrunner move into his new HQ.  Bruce mentions that his next stop on the Batman Inc recruitment tour is Tokyo.  Dick (as Batman) begins a three week-long training course with Nightrunner.  (Dick will commute back an forth from Gotham depending on when he's needed.  Thus, the three week training period overlaps with the next bunch of stories).

--Azrael Vol. 2 #17
Bruce meets with Azrael and asks him to enter into a venture which Batman Inc legally cannot, bringing down a terrorist cell deep within war-torn Afghanistan.  That's right kids, there's been an actual war going on for the past ten years that the DC editors rarely mention, but Az doesn't care: he's going all out on this one.  And it's not just a favor for Bruce.  Az has a special interest in the extremist group because it is led by a young metahuman called Fireball who just happens to also go by the nickname of Azrael.  With Bruce's blessing, Az ships out.

NOTE:  Azrael meets Fireball in Afghanistan and learns that the powerful metahuman works for Ra's Al Ghul (as seen in Azrael Vol. 2 #18).  Az also learns that Ra's Al Ghul runs the Order of Purity.  After witnessing the awful slaughter of entire village by US armed forces in Blackhawk helicopters, Az's mentality regarding good and evil is flipped completely upside down.  Az no longer sees the Afghanistanis as terrorists, but now sees the US soldiers as terrorists instead.  David Hine sure isn't masking his anti-war commentary in this one.  Anyway, Az and Fireball return back to the States with Ra's Al Ghul.  Together, they plan on creating a New World Order by "purging" the world of evil, beginning with Gotham.  Turns out, Ra's was right all along.  Az is no longer on the Bat-family's side anymore. 

--Batman #704
This story takes place on Chinese New Year ( end of the 2nd week of February) and, therefore, actually links up perfectly with our timeline!  Dick and Damian are able to take down the Reaper despite interference from Catgirl.  Bruce shows up and chastises the Dynamic Duo for allowing the young Kitrina Falcone to operate as Catgirl.  Dick tries to blame Selina for training her in the first place, but Bruce won't hear it and tells Dick to make sure Catgirl is never seen on the streets again.  Later, the mysterious businesswoman Sasha Lo meets with Dick and Lucius Fox at Wayne Tower with a proposal to purchase and gentrify Crime Alley.  After tabling negotiations, Dick heads to a charity ball where he warns Selina to take Catgirl off the streets.  Selina refers to Bruce as a "hypocrite" and tells Dick to piss off.  Selina mentions that she has a plane to catch, which we can assume is her flight to Japan with Bruce to begin recruiting Batman Inc members.  (Although, Selina doesn't actually fly out for another day or two).  Later that night Dick learns that Sasha Lo is a costumed vigilante known as Peacock.  Peacock and the Caped Crusader get in a fight with oddly dressed ninjas led by Sensei (Ra's Al Ghul's father).

--Batman, Inc. #1, Part 1
While Dick wraps up the Sensei/Peacock affair and the Absence case in Gotham, Bruce and Selina infiltrate Dr. Sivana's laboratory, fight off giant invisible robot rats and steal a part of a dangerous weapon known as Project X: a large diamond.  Afterward, the duo flies to Tokyo, Japan to continue recruiting the foreign arms of Batman Inc.  In a private hotel suite, Bruce and Selina celebrate their private time by getting re-acquainted in the bedroom.

--Batman & Robin #18
Dick and Damian have been dealing with the crazed resurrected former girlfriend of Bruce, Una Nemo, now known as the supervillain called The Absence.  In a telephone call to Toyko, Dick explains the messy situation to Bruce.

--Batman, Inc. #1, Part 2
After some fun out-of-costume action Batman and Catwoman take to the streets in-costume once the sun goes down.  Batman and Catwoman arrive at the secret HQ of Japan's top crime-fighter, Mr. Unknown, only to discover that he has been murdered.  The heroes are ambushed by henchmen wearing skeleton costumes, who are easily defeated, and claim they work for Lord Death Man.  Across town Lord Death Man (who Batman previously encountered 12 years ago in the States as "Death Man") and his cronies hold Jiro Osamu's girlfriend hostage.  Jiro, as we soon learn, took over the mantle of Mr. Unknown years ago when his predecessor had grown too old to engage in physical combat.  Jiro shoots the immortal Lord Death Man, who falls out of a window and is shuffled off to the morgue, but not before Jiro's lady is dumped into a water-filled room which contains a giant razor-toothed squid.

--Batman, Inc. #2
Batman and Catwoman arrive just in time to save Jiro Osamu's girlfirend from the killer squid.  At the morgue, the naked skull-headed Lord Death Man awakens and begins killing in dramatic form, beginning with a bus full of disabled children.  The supervillain then decides to continue his attack on Japanese superheroes continuing with Shiny Happy Aquazon, Japan's female version of Aquaman.  After nearly pulling off the execution from his souped-up Mercedes, Lord Death Man is defeated and captured by Batman, Catwoman, and Mr. Unknown.  Mr. Unknown decides to fake his death during the melee, thus freeing Jiro for a brand new identity as the Japanese representative of Batman Inc!  The problem of the immortal resurrector is taken care of as Bruce has the villain locked in a bank safe and sent into outer space trapped in a tiny satellite.  With their enemy defeated, Batman holds a special ceremony in which Jiro vows to uphold the tradition of the Bat-family as the newest international Batman Inc member.  Bruce and Selina chit-chat as a radio-broadcast declares that Batman Inc is now protecting Japan.  A giant bat symbol shines over Tokyo.  Jiro Osamu is officially Batman Japan (!), although he will remain on a probationary period for a few months.

--Power Girl Vol. 2 #20
While Power Girl fights an army of genetically engineered science fiction monsters--including a clone of Krypto that winds up helping her in the end--designed by Anthony Ivo's New Cadmus organization, her assistant Nicholas Cho hacks into New Cadmus' computer systems. After gathering an exabyte of info, Cho has no place to securely store the data, so he calls up Batman and asks if he can send him the files, which the Caped Crusader happily agrees to.

--Superman #710
Bruce meets up with Superman in Utah (after catching his attention with an ultraviolet Superman symbol signal) and they have a heart to heart, relive some old memories, and talk about the future.

NOTE:  "Day 17" of Bruce's investigation into Kate Kane.  Bruce has disguised himself as a homeless veteran for the past few days and now spies on Kate and her dad (as seen through flashback in Batwoman #0).

--Green Lantern Vol. 4 #62
First of all, Doug Mahnke fucked up and drew Batman with the wrong costume in this issue.  Interestingly enough, he drew him with the correct costume on the cover.  They'll most likely fix this in the trade.  In deep space, Hal Jordan teams-up with the leaders of the other respective different-colored Lantern Corps to battle Krona.  Things are going good until Krona unleashes the wrath of Ophidian, the living embodiment of Avarice which resides within the heart of the Orange Power Battery.  Krona and Ophidian kick everyone's asses and beat Hal to a bloody pulp.  Hal wakes up with Batman, Superman, and Flash hovering over him.  Batman makes cracks about Hal's failure to defeat Krona and his alignment with evil Lanterns during the fight.  Bruce even mentions the Parallax ordeal, to which Hal replies he's been waiting ever since Bruce returned to see how long he could go without mentioning Parallax.  Three weeks.  Despite the tension, Bruce begs Hal to let he and Superman help fight Krona.  An angry Hal dons his ring, rejoins the other multiple-colored Lantern leaders, and takes off without the aid of his regular comrades.  Batman, Superman, and Flash don't bother to follow him.  The "War of the Green Lanterns" is about to begin.

NOTE:  "Day 21" of Bruce's investigation into Kate Kane.  Bruce follows Kate to a nightclub (as seen through flashback in Batwoman #0).

--Brightest Day #21
The brutal Atlantean Civil War known as the "Aquawar" has just ended.  A ton of collateral damage has resulted at Miami Beach.  FEMA won't show, so instead the entire superhero community (including Batman) comes to help clean-up.  However, the heroes are concerned because lately those who were resurrected by the White Lantern Entity (at the end of Blackest Night) have begun to vanish into thin air, including Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Aquaman.  (The Entity is still using Deadman as a host vessel, and used him to cause the mysterious disappearances of the three aforementioned superheroes).  Meanwhile on Mars, J'onn completes his "resurrection task" by killing the evil Martian known as D'Kay D'razz.  The White Lantern Entity, speaking through Deadman, then asks J'onn to choose his true home: Earth or Mars.  J'onn chooses Earth and Deadman uses his White Lantern power ring to make the Martian Manhunter disappear as well.  Things are soon coming to a surprising climax for Brightest Day.  (See the DICK GRAYSON BATMAN Chronology for details, which include the return of Swamp Thing!)

NOTE:  "Day 23" of Bruce's investigation into Kate Kane.  Bruce, disguised as an old man, spies on Kate and her cousin Bette at a bookstore (as seen through flashback in Batwoman #0).  Bruce then dons another disguise and attacks Kate with a baseball bat on the street in order to test her skills.  Almost fully convinced that Kate is indeed Batwoman, Bruce begins tailing Batwoman on her patrols.

--Power Girl Vol. 2 #21
Power Girl once again tries in vain to convince Dick that Max Lord killed Ted Kord and has erased everyone's memories of himself.  Dick, still affected by Lord's global mind-wipe, refuses to see the truth.  Power Girl even convinces Dick to exhume Ted's body, but even upon examination of the corpse, still nothing.  Dick is ready to bounce until Bruce shows up and sets him straight.  Bruce forces Dick to remember the truth.  Dick contacts Oracle and the JLA in an attempt to make everyone else remember.  Meanwhile, Bruce joins forces with the JLI to go after Max.

--Justice League: Generation Lost #22-24
Blue Beetle tells his fellow JLI teammates that Max Lord is in control of Checkmate and is planning to kill Wonder Woman.  Before Batman and the JLI can go after Max, they must protect Wonder Woman.  Power Girl and Rocket Red don't know who Wonder Woman is (due to the recent alteration and erasure of her history by the Gods).  After a brief explanation, the heroes meet the rookie version of Diana in NYC.  Aboard his giant Checkmate spaceship, Max Lord (along with Professor Ivo) uses his enhanced metapowers to turn random people across the globe into OMACs!  Within minutes an army of over a thousand homegrown OMACs attacks the Big Apple, gunning for Wonder Woman's head.  Once the OMACs swarm Diana, Max separates the weaker heroes from the stronger ones by teleporting everyone except for Batman and Power Girl to Los Angeles.  In LA the OMACs have all been recalled, but in their place is a towering monster OMAC known as OMAC Prime.  Not only is this guy as tall as a skyscraper, thanks to Ivo, he's got Amazo's ability to replicate metapowers.  While Booster goes for a head-on attack against Max, the rest of the JLI in LA begins to fight OMAC Prime.  While Booster fistfights Max, Power Girl and Captain Atom join the JLI and are able to defeat OMAC Prime.  Afterward, Captain Atom (who has absorbed all of OMAC Prime's energy and is going to shortly explode into a random time or alternate universe) threatens to take Max with him unless the latter finally reverses his global mind-wipe.  Defeated, Max complies and the world's memories of Max are fully restored.  Batman shows up and is ready to haul Max to jail, but Max is able to teleport safely away.

--Batwoman #0
March begins.  Batman has been watching Batwoman in action on-and-off for the past seven days (overlapping with previous stories).  Bruce finally confirms that Kate Kane is Batwoman after witnessing her handily defeat Sister Shard and a number of Religion of Crime members at the Gotham docks.

NOTE:  Dick completes Nightrunner's three week training course in France (as referenced in Justice League of America, Vol. 4 #55).

--Action Comics #900
Doomsday has returned and morphed into an even more powerful Cyborg Doomsday.  The half machine/half monster has captured Steel, the Eradicator, Supergirl, Cyborg Superman, and Superboy and holds them all captive on a hidden satellite.  A pissed off Superman goes to rescue them, but before he can Lex Luthor whisks him away into deep space.  A giant, glowing Luthor reveals that he now has attained infinite cosmic power by merging with the Zone Child, a godlike being who manifested from the negative energy within the Phantom Zone and was partly responsible for giving power to the Black Lanterns.  Luthor torments Superman by making him relive his worst nightmares and finally learns his secret identity!  As Luthor's power begins to grow, the Zone Child makes him aware that his power is no longer meant for destruction.  It must be used only for good.  In an instant, a wave of bliss washes across the universe.  The world is calm and everything is perfect.  In Gotham, Batman smiles and is truly at peace for the first time.  Even Death (of the Endless!!!) gets to take a break!  Superman begins to rejoice with Luthor, claiming that he has just created a functioning utopia.  All Luthor has to do is make peace with Superman and the utopia will be made permanent.  But Luthor really, really hates Superman and the big jerk snaps and tries to kill him anyway.  Having failed the test, the Zone Child leaves and takes his powers with him.  Luthor is left broken, shaken, and with complete amnesia.  Afterward, Superman meets with the other members of the Super-family aboard Cyborg Doomsday's satellite, where it is revealed that there are now multiple Cyborg Doomsdays.   NOTE:  In Action Comics #901 Barack Obama publicly calls Superman to arms.  Martin Suarez is definitely President, so we must assume that this is just Paul Cornell and Jesus Merino being cute, or that Obama is a part of Suarez's administration.  I should mention that the story never directly refers to Obama as President.

--Action Comics #903, Part 3
This is listed as Part 3 because it overlaps with Justice League of America Vol. 2 #59 in several parts.  The Doomslayer, basically an ultimate version of Doomsday, has arrived to destroy all Doomsdays.  Sounds good right?  It would be if the Doomslayer didn't plan on destroying the entire planet in order to do so.  Supergirl has just literally minutes ago helped Dick and the JLA save the Earth from destruction at the hands of Eclipso (in Justice League of America Vol. 2 #59) and now must rejoin the fight against the Cyborg Doomsdays.  But she's not coming alone.  Batman (Bruce), Batman (Dick), Red Robin, Hawk, Dove, Dr. Fate, Zatanna, the JLA, the JLI, the Teen Titans and Eradicator (whose consciousness now resides within Doomsday's original body) all show up ready for action.  Meanwhile, Superman confronts the Doomslayer.

--Action Comics #904
The final issue of Action Comics Vol. 1.  Superman defeats the Doomslayer with help from Eradicator (who controls Doomsday's body and sacrifices his own life).  Batman, Batman, and the rest of Earth's superheroes defeat multiple Doomsdays all across the planet.  Go heroes!

--Third Feature from Batman Annual #28, Epilogue
It's been two-and-a-half weeks since Nightrunner's training was completed.  France doesn't quite "get" masked superheroes the way the US does and Nightrunner's approval rating upon his official debut is extremely low, with dozens of protesters voicing their opinion against him.  Bruce (in costume) pays Nightrunner a quick morale-boosting visit and tells him that the people will eventually come around.

--Birds of Prey Vol. 2 #7-10 ("THE DEATH OF ORACLE!")
This tale takes place right after the concluding events of 'tec #871-874 (a Dick Grayson story-arc) which puts us in the final week of March.  Bruce meets with Oracle, who shows him her new headquarters high above Gotham Harbor in the Space Needle-esque Kord Tower.  Barbara explains that there are only thirteen allies who know her secret identity (Alfred not included), and as long as she remains as Oracle, they are all in danger.  Furthermore, notes Barbara, she is the head of a network of dozens of superheroes, which is starting to make her own life a living hell.  It's been a wild ride, but Babs tells Bruce that "Oracle must die once and for all."  Meanwhile, Calculator sends Mortis, Mammoth, Current, and nine H.I.V.E. henchmen to attack the female Birds of Prey at a strip club. (Calculator is obsessed with finding Oracle's secret identity and getting revenge against her.  During their last encounter, Babs was able to use some advanced-technology to wipe parts of Calculator's mind, including knowledge of her secret ID.  Calculator has since become aware of this mind-wipe and ain't too happy).  Babs reveals to Bruce that she actually goaded Calculator into attacking her team in order to bring him out into the open.  However, with half her team drunk at a strip club, things aren't faring too well.  Bruce swings into action to help the Birds, but Oracle radios him to take a dive during the fight, which Batman actually does.  Oracle's plan is for the team to infiltrate Calculator's HQ by "getting captured."  Calculator's team is "victorious" and escapes with a kidnapped Dove, Huntress, and Lady Blackhawk.  Black Canary is left behind, but unfortunately is mired in a psychologically damaged state thanks to Mortis's telepathic attack.  Batman carries her catatonic body back to Kord Tower.  While Hawk argues with Oracle and Batman, Black Canary is able to fight off her inner demons and push Mortis' influence out of her mind, thus restoring her sanity.  At Calculator's HQ, the Birds of Prey begin their attack.  Oracle joins the battle from a military-grade helicopter only to get blown to smithereens by Current.  Is Oracle really dead!?  Nope, of course not.  Hawk was flying the chopper and he is more then capable of surviving a little explosion.  After the Birds (with Bruce's help) defeat Calculator and company, the news of Oracle's "death" spreads like wildfire.  From this point on, Oracle can still act as "big sister" overseeing all of the DCU, but now, only several people know that she isn't dead and therefore, can seek her assistance: Batman (Bruce), Batman (Dick), Red Robin, Batgirl, Misfit, Huntress, Hawk, Dove, Lady Blackhawk, and Black Canary.  It is likely that Damian, Alfred, Proxy, and Savant know that Oracle is still alive too.  Oh, Catwoman knows too cause she isn't fooled so easily.  Likewise, now that the majority of the criminal underworld thinks that she is dead, Oracle doesn't have to worry about constant attacks anymore.

--Batman, Inc. #3-5
David Uzumeri had such a wonderful succinct recap of Batman, Inc. #3 on his annotations page, I thought I would paraphrase his write-up for part of this summary.  Our tale begins with a flashback prologue to the Falklands War in 1982, where a group of British superheroes (including the original Knight and someone who appears to be Margaret Thatcher as a metahuman!) confine the supervillain Doctor Dedalus.  In present day, Batman travels to Argentina for a team-up with El Gaucho. Our beloved heroes are tracking down three kidnapped blind kids when they get detoured into saving superhero Cimarron (of the veteran Argentinian super-team Súper-Malón) from being executed by Manteguan supercriminal El Papagayo.  After Batman and Gaucho discover a clue in the word "oroboro" and the latter refuses Bruce's offer to join Batman Inc, Bruce engages in a deadly tango with the seductive Tristessa (actually the villainness Scorpiana).  At one point, a jealous Gaucho questions Batman why he is parading around disguised as Bruce Wayne!  The two heroes jockey for alpha-male status while following the trail of clues to the murder site of a fictional author originally created by Jorge Luis Borges.  The Dark Knight and Gaucho wind up trapped inside an abandoned building in downtown Buenos Aires where they are placed in a deathtrap created by the long-thought-dead El Sombrero and his partner Scorpiana.  The deathtrap: in order for the three kidnapped children to live, one of the two heroes must die!  Back in Gotham, Batwoman chases down the murderer Johnny Valentine (aka "Son of Pyg" aka Professor Pyg's son), who drops an "oroboros serpent" pendant.  After Valentine escapes through Katherine Kane's re-opened circus, Batwoman battles and apprehends his accomplice, a femme-fatale dressed up as the original Bat-Woman!  Jake Kane does a quick intel search on "oroboros" and discovers that "oroboro" is codename for a British military secret hidden in the South Atlantic (i.e. where Doc Dedalus remains trapped on one of the Falkland Islands).  Back in Buenos Ares, Batman easily figures out how to save the children while simultaneously staging a fake fight with Gaucho to distract the viewing villains.  However, the fight turns real when Scorpiana reveals that Katherine Kane was originally recruited into Spyral by Gaucho, which ultimately was the catalyst which led to her murder.  Gaucho then reveals that he also loved Kathy and never meant for her to get hurt.  Up to this point Bruce always thought Kathy's supposed death was at the hands of the League of Assassins, but now it becomes obvious that Doc Dedalus and Spyral were involved.  Anyway, Bruce saves the kids, although Scorpiana escapes.  Batwoman, The Hood (!), Gaucho, and Batman all converge upon the Falkland Islands to confront Dedalus and stop him from detonating a meta-bomb.  While the former three kick Scorpiana's ass and wrangle old Dedalus, Batman destroys the bomb.  Batman then quickly realizes that Dedalus isn't really Dedalus.  The villain has long since switched places with a decoy.  Not only that, his three deceased handlers were working for the terrorist organization Leviathan.  From a secret Leviathan HQ (later revealed as an orbiting satellite), Dedalus and the mysterious skull-faced leader of Leviathan watch the Dark Knight.  The mystery of the Oroboro is just beginning.

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