NOTE: Dick helps out long-time crook Kevin McNulty by hooking him up with a counseling gig at a rehab center (as referenced in a flashback from Batman #713).
--Second Feature from Batman Annual #28
Batman, with help from Millicent Mayne and Leslie Thompkins, is able to stop a drugged-up dude from robbing a convenience store.
ALL THE RAGE
--Detective Comics Annual #12
--Batman Annual #28
--Third Feature from Batman Annual #28, Part 1Bruce 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 target. 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 female 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 off Montoya 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 a 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. (Bruce won't leave for Tokyo for at least another week-and-a-half). Dick (as Batman) immediately begins what will be a three week-long training course with Nightrunner.
--Third Feature from Batman Annual #28, Part 2
Dick (as Batman) trains Nightrunner in Paris over the course of three weeks. (The next bunch of stories overlap with the training sessions, so Dick will be commuting back and forth from France a lot).
NOTE: Dick still has a horrible bruise on his chest from when he was stabbed with the mystical Sword of Sin by Azrael weeks ago. Dick, while on patrol, feels an intense pain emanating from the bruise. Dick then suffers a blackout and has a nightmare about a repressed memory of his childhood in the circus (as referenced in Batman #708).
ANOTHER 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 an 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. Az will remain incommunicado with the Bat-family until he attacks Gotham, but we'll get to that when we get to it.
--Batman #704-707 ("EYE OF THE BEHOLDER")
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 and Bruce won't actually leave 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). Sensei is able to kidnap Peacock's telepathic brother Luki Lo. Dick and Peacock escape from the "Demon Horde" on horseback (!) and are joined by I-Ching, who explains that Sensei is searching for a powerful magical artifact known as the Mask of the Beholder, hidden somewhere in Gotham. When several Wayne Enterprises higher-ups are murdered, Dick rushes off to make sure Lucius Fox is okay. At Fox's apartment Dick is blindsided by Riddler and his daughter Enigma! Robin arrives just in time to save the day and chase off the villains. Sensei has kidnapped Lucius and his daughter Tam in order to obtain information which will lead him to the Beholder. Turns out the Fox family has long been burdened with secret knowledge of the hidden artifact, having been involved in a secret society known as the Jade Compass. Dick then borrows Catgirl from Selina for a quick recon assist and then converges upon Sensei's location only to get ambushed yet again. Batman, Lucius, Tam, and Luki are left to drown in the sewers. However, with a little help from I-Ching, no lives are lost. Meanwhile, Sensei retrieves the Mask of the Beholder but is unable to harness its power. Peacock and Batman are able to defeat the madman and destroy the mask. As the Lo family leaves Gotham, Luki sees a telepathic vision of the future which tells him that Dick and Sasha will become romantically involved! Across town, Riddler and Enigma deliver a list of all the secret Gotham socialites who are members of the Jade Compass Society to their mysterious benefactor: a ruby-lipped femme-fatale wearing a pearl bracelet and, most curiously, flipping Two-Face's scarred coin! SPOILER: (Although I guessed this one easily, so it's not much of a spoiler). It's Harvey Dent's ex-wife, Gilda Dent.
--Batman & Robin #17-19 ("SUM OF HER PARTS")
Dick and Damian are called to the cemetery by Commissioner Gordon to examine the unearthed grave of Bruce's former girlfriend, Una Nemo. (I should note that we are told that Bruce dated Una several months ago. The earliest he could have done so would have been about 11 months ago, right before entering into a serious relationship with Jezebel Jet). Soon after the grave robbery, Una's "corpse" is delivered to Police HQ, where our heroes learn that this "corpse" is actually belongs to a Jane Doe fished out of Gotham Harbor shortly after the time of Una's supposed death. While examining the Jane Doe, the body bursts into flames as a result of explosive materials hidden underneath the fingernails. The mystery unravels when Dick and Damian are then invited to a Gothic wedding ceremony where they meet Una, now the supervillain known as The Absence. The Absence, due to a bizarre medical condition, has a giant hole in the middle of her forehead (where she was shot by would-be robbers six weeks ago). The Absence captures Dick and Damian and explains that she wants revenge on Bruce for dumping her so callously. After detonating a bomb inside the church where the wedding ceremony is being held, the Absence departs. Dick then places a phone call to Toyko and explains the situation to Bruce. The Absence then decides to attack one of Bruce's other ex-girlfriends, Vicki Vale. Dick and Damian rush to Vicki's apartment only to realize they have wandered into another trap. Once again, the Absence easily captures the Dynamic Duo! After a lengthy monologue, the Absence lets Dick and Damian go, revealing that she doesn't give a damn about Bruce. All of these games have been a clever distraction while her operatives infiltrated various prisons and executed the robbers responsible for attacking her six weeks ago. The villainess makes a reference to the Sherlock Holmes fiction story The Red-Headed League, which has a similar premise. Again, and this has occurred before, Holmes should never be referred to as a fictional character in the DCU. Holmes existed in the DCU! (Although, I guess one could argue that there are many fiction stories written about him in the DCU). Anyway, after making complete fools of Dick and Damian, the Absence escapes unscathed. I would also like to note how, in the last two stories, Dick has been completely caught off guard and nearly killed by Sensei, Riddler, and the Absence (twice!). C'mon Dick, you're better than that!
--Teen Titans Vol 2. #89
Dick uses his alumni pull and officially inserts Damian into the Teen Titans lineup. Funny how most of the Teen Titans are not even teens anymore (with the exception of Ravager), and now they are adding a ten year-old. Anyway, the Titans don't get along with Damian because he is a little asshole who talks shit on all of them. After Dick departs the Titans battle an out-of-control super-powered telekinetic teen named Barney.
–Power Girl Vol. 2 #19
Power Girl calls an emergency meeting of the JSA All-Stars—the JSA’s splinter youth team—to try to convince them that Max Lord has cast a global deception across the Earth that is blocking his existence from everyone’s memories. Batman (Dick) attends the meeting to confirm Power Girl’s claim. The JSA All-Stars immediately begin to scramble into action stations and the Caped Crusader orders them to contact the JLI and JLA at once. However, in an instant, Lord’s massive misdirection kicks in and causes everyone in the room to forget what they were doing. Power Girl has been foiled again.
--Teen Titans Vol. 2 #92, Epilogue
Damian reunites with Dick in Gotham after completing his Teen Titan adventures, which included a few supervillain scuffles and a footrace between Superboy and Kid Flash (which was won by late-entry Krypto the Superdog). While the villains (including Calculator) were soundly defeated and much fun was had at the race, it was obvious that Damian just didn't fit in with the team. Thus, Damian's short stint with the Titans comes to an end. Dick says he is proud of Damian and hopes he learned something from the experience.
--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 the global mind-wipe, refuses to see the truth. Power Girl even convinces Dick to exhume Ted's body, but upon examination of the corpse, still nothing. Dick is ready to bounce until Bruce shows up. Bruce sets Dick straight, forcing him to remember the truth. Dick then contacts Oracle and the JLA in an attempt to make everyone else remember too. Meanwhile, Bruce joins forces with the JLI to go after Max. (Dick isn't present, but the JLI, along with Bruce and Wonder Woman, will be able to force Max to reverse his global mindwipe).
--Gotham City Sirens #16
Dick and Damian leave Gotham on unspecified business. They are shown driving the Batmobile in what appears to be a desert, so who knows? In their absence, a large magical disturbance registers in Robinson Park. Unknown to the Dynamic Duo, the disturbance has been caused by Talia Al Ghul, who has set into motion a complex ruse which functions as an attempt to mindwipe Catwoman's memories of Bruce's identity as Batman. Why does Talia want to do this? She's jealous of Selina and Bruce's love.
NOTE: Dick contacts Zatanna and asks her to investigate the magical disturbance occurring in Robinson Park (as seen through flashback in Gotham City Sirens #18). Zatanna, along with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, is nearly tricked into mindwiping Selina Kyle by the conniving Talia Al Ghul. Thankfully, Zatanna is able to see through the trickery and take Talia down.
ANOTHER NOTE: Dick completes Nightrunner's three week training course in France (as referenced in Justice League of America Vol. 2 #55). It is now the end of the first week of March.
YET ANOTHER NOTE: Supergirl visits Dick and Damian and asks Dick to fly with her into the asteroid field where New Krypton once existed (as seen through flashback in Justice League of America Vol. 2 #55). Supergirl wants to clean up the mess in outer space and also get rid of any Kryptonite that might be free-floating in the area.
REIGN OF DOOMSDAY
--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #55
--Superman/Batman Annual #5Eclipso is back (in his old Bruce Gordon host body) and has assembled a possessed team of shadow-powered international metahumans (and one Lovecraftian Elder God), which includes Shade, Nightshade, Acrata, Shadow Thief, Bete-Noire, Danny Raven (and his spirit familiar Dark-Crow), and Syththunu (as seen in Justice League of America Vol. 2 #54). Team Eclipso now wants to add more members to their ranks, but they are going to have to go through Donna Troy, Jesse Quick, and Jade to do it. Unfortunately, Team Eclipso is pretty strong and easily takes over Alan Scott's lunar Emerald City. Meanwhile, in the asteroid field which was once the location of New Krypton, Dick (in a Bat-ship and spacesuit), Supergirl, and Alpha Green Lantern Boodikka examine all that remains of a former civilization. However, their lament is interrupted by an attack from the returning Doomsday! (Doomsday has already captured Steel and Eradicator and now he's after Cyborg Superman, whose essence is hidden within Boodikka). Starman and Blue Lantern Saint Walker quickly join the heroes against Doomsday, but the powerful monster chases them all the way back to the Watchtower, where Cyborg Superman makes his startling return as well. Cyborg Superman not only takes control of the Watchtower, but begins smashing and bashing with Doomsday. While Dick battles dozens of hard-light villains in the Arena (basically a version of the X-Men's Danger Room), Supergirl gets a pep talk from computerized versions of Dr. Mid-Nite and Dr. Fate and is able to expel the evil Stearheart energy from herself. The "Dark Supergirl" is no more and Kara returns to her old self and her old costume. Meanwhile, Cyborg Superman thinks he has killed Doomsday, but Doomsday assimilates some of Cyborg Superman's nanotechnology and survives to become an even stronger Cyborg Doomsday! Cyborg Doomsday easily defeats both Supergirl and Cyborg Superman and drags their unconscious bodies to his hidden satellite in deep space. (Superman will eventually discover that Lex Luthor was behind Doomsday's attack and save his friends. Unfortunately, Superman will also discover that there are now multiple Cyborg Doomsdays).
--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #56-59 ("RISE OF ECLIPSO")
Eclipso and his newly formed team have just taken over the Moon. While Superman and Supergirl are off fighting Cyborg Doomsdays, Donna Troy fights Eclipso's team (now joined by a possessed Jade) at the lunar Emerald City. The rest of the JLA shows up to help, along with some added firepower in the form of Wildcat, Bulleteer, Dr. Light, Animal Man, Red Tornado, and Zauriel. (Congorilla informs us that these are the JLA reserves). Despite the reinforcements, by the time Batman shows up, just about everyone on the Moon has been possessed by Eclipso. Obsidian rushes in and rescues the few remaining untainted heroes, moving them to a location protected by a temporariy re-powered Alan Scott. Obsidian, due to his metahuman link to shadow energy, is able to ascertain Eclipso's true plans and reveals that the villain has come to the Moon to use the power of the Starheart in an attempt to murder God! First step, summon and confront God's wrath: The Spectre. Unbelievably, Eclipso is able to defeat the Spectre, kill him (!), steal his powers, and split the Moon in half. Of course, the fissured Moon throws Earth into a cataclysmic state. Meteor showers, tsunamis, and destruction rain across the planet almost immediately. On the battlefield of the Moon, Batman leads the remaining heroes: Alan Scott, Starman, Congorilla, Donna Troy, Saint Walker, Obsidian, and Jesse Quick. Things aren't going well, so Batman hatches a plan. He calls up the Atom, who arrives immediately. The Atom and Starman will shrink down, enter the Shade's brain, and shut down Eclipso's hold over him. Theoretically, this action will exorcise Eclipso's control over everyone in his army because the Shade is the one possessed soldier who still retains free will. While Atom and Starman go to work and free everyone's minds via Shade's brain, Saint Walker uses his Blue Lantern powers to make Eclipso think that he's already won the battle. The heroes easily defeat a detached Eclipso. Alan Scott, Jade, Saint Walker, and Supergirl (having just returned from her Doomsday adventure with the Superman-family) combine their powers and fix the Moon. I should mention that the Doomsday drama is still going on down on Earth. Supergirl shows up at the end of Justice League of America Vol. 2 #59 to help out. During the beginning of Justice League of America Vol. 2 #59, Kara is absent because she is fighting Cyborg Doomsdays, as seen in the first two pages of Action Comics #903 (or Action Comics #903, Part 1). Immediately following the Eclipso crisis on the Moon, Supergirl will return to Earth with a bunch of heroes in tow, thus rejoining the conclusion of Action Comics #903 (or Action Comics #903, Part 3). Basically, Action Comics #903 overlaps with Justice League of America Vol. 2 #59 in a strange way with Supergirl essentially fighting both Eclipso and the Doomsdays on multiple fronts by bouncing back and forth.
--Action Comics #903, Part 3
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 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 on his deep space satellite.
--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!
NOTE: The Construct takes control of every single robot on Earth (as seen through flashback in Justice League of America Vol. 2 #60) and the JLA has their hands full against Robo-Octo-Ape, Red Tornado, Red Torpedo, Red Inferno, Red Volcano, an army of multicolored Tornadoes, Bozo the Ironman, Gonzo the Mechanical Bastard, the Metal Men, the original GI Robots, Robotman's brainless original body, Robotman, the Robot Renegades, Amazo, Kelex, an army of Superman Robots, and many, many more obscure DCU robots. With the Earth moments away from destruction, the JLA saves the day!
--Doom Patrol Vol. 5 #20
The Doom Patrol has been down on its luck lately and wants to move its HQ from Oolong Island to just about anywhere else. Problem is, nobody wants them around. Negative Man (Larry Trainor) visits briefly with Batman, not realizing that he is actually speaking with Dick and not Bruce. Dick tells him to get lost. Afterward, Trainor muses about how Batman "looks less like Clint Eastwood these days and more like Justin Bieber." Ouch!
NOTE: Dick still has a horrible bruise on his chest from when he was stabbed with the mystical Sword of Sin by Azrael weeks ago. Dick, while on patrol, feels an intense pain emanating from the bruise. Dick then suffers another blackout and has yet another nightmare about a repressed memory of his childhood in the circus (as referenced in Batman #708). This is the second time this has happened, but Dick hasn't told anyone. Worried, Dick gives himself an X-ray but nothing physically seems amiss.
--Third Feature from Batman Annual #28, Part 3
Dick (as Batman) returns to Paris and introduces Nightrunner (and reveals Nightrunner's secret identity) to Henri Lafayette. Batman stays with Nightrunner for several days before returning to Gotham. Nightrunner publicly debuts as the French representative of Batman Inc. It has been two-and-a-half weeks since his training finished.
--Detective Comics #871-873 ("THE BLACK MIRROR")
This story is said to take place seven weeks since the public unveiling of Batman Inc, which places us in the final week of March 2011. Alfred mentions that it's been over a year since Dick moved into the Penthouse and started using the Bat Bunker. If we are going by the true numbers, it's only been nine months. But, as always, I digress. Moving on, Dick meets with Commissioner Gordon at the new Wayne-funded state-of-the-art GCPD crime lab where he learns that a ton of old Bat-rogue paraphernalia has disappeared from the evidence room. The missing goods just happen to coincide with a recent tragedy which befell a 12 year-old boy who was transformed into a mini Killer Croc courtesy of a vial of liberated Croc Serum. (I should mention that there isn't a bunch of Croc Serum out there. We've never seen other Crocs. This is the original and only vial of Croc Serum which was used to turn Waylon Jones into Killer Croc oh so long ago). Moving on with the investigation, Batman questions the boy's butler who is gunned down by the boy's mom during the interrogation. Subsequently, mom commits suicide. The Dark Knight quickly discovers an old Mad Hatter implant as the cause of both deaths. Batman then questions two crooked ex-cops responsible for the evidence thefts who both meet with similar fates, this time delivered from Poison Ivy's arsenal. Before the murders, Batman is able to learn that someone called The Dealer has been auctioning off the Bat-villain goods at an underground event known as Mirror House. After meeting with Babs, Harvey Bullock, and Tim, an undercover Dick (using new Lucius Fox-developed Human Target-esque mask-making technology) attends the Mirror House meeting. The Dealer begins the auction with the crowbar that killed Jason Todd. Dick is almost immediately outed as Batman and is knocked unconscious after inhaling Fear Gas. James Gordon Junior (!) has not only learned Batman's secret identity, he is present at the auction to stalk Batman and actually winds up saving Dick's life (as seen through flashback in Detective Comics #881). Of course, Dick doesn't know this and we'll get to the curious reemergence of James Junior soon enough, dear readers. After a nine-hour power nap and some nursing by Babs at Kord Tower, Batman dons one of the Iron Man Bat-suits (as seen in Batman: The Return #1) and chases the Dealer who attempts to leave town in a private cargo jet. In a frenzy, as different Bat-villain costumes rain from the sky, the Dealer injects himself with Venom and Man-Bat Serum, transforming himself into a giant musclebound bat monster. Eventually the plane explodes with Dick parachuting to safety, the final fate of the Dealer unknown. I should also mention that issue #872 contains a Second Feature called "Skeleton Cases" which takes place while Dick is battling the Dealer. As we briefly mentioned above, James Gordon Junior has returned to Gotham for the first time since he was just a child and we learn a few details of this never before used adult character: he's been in hiding for nearly his entire life and he supposedly killed one of Babs' friends when he was just a boy! Very intriguing. I've always begged the question: what ever happened to James Junior!? Now, we'll soon finally find out.
NOTE: The flashback from Detective Comics #874, Part 1 continues the "Skeleton Cases" story-arc and runs simultaneously with Detective Comics #874, Part 2, which is our next tale. Commissioner Gordon meets with his long lost son, James Gordon, Jr. and we learn a little bit about his tragic history. The details are still vague, but James Junior apparently is a psychopath who began a string of murders at a very young age starting with the death of Babs' friend Bess. We can assume James Junior was institutionalized at this young age and then became a drifter as an adult, committing more murders. Now, James Junior has finally returned to Gotham, claiming that his wicked ways are behind him. A nervous Commish is having trouble believing his troubled son.
--Detective Comics #874, Part 2
The action in this tale picks up right where 'tec #873 ends. Dick, still reeling from the effects of being drugged by the Dealer, meets up with Red Robin to tackle a new case. Animal poachers are attempting to smuggle rare and endangered species out of Gotham. Batman and Red Robin are able to stop them, but Dick has a bizarre hallucination and fears that whoever leads the poachers is a brand new threat our heroes have never met before. This new threat is Tiger Shark, but Dick won't meet him for a few weeks.
--Birds of Prey Vol. 2 #10
This issue takes place in the final days of March (right after the conclusion of Detective Comics #874). The Birds of Prey begin attacking Calculator and his henchmen at his HQ. 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. It is all a ruse to fool the entire world into thinking she is. (Oracle is tired of the dangerous burden associated with so many heroes constantly coming to her for help lately). Hawk was actually 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. Oracle personally meets with Bruce, Dick, Tim, Stephanie, and Charlie (Misfit) to fill them in on the details.
JUDGMENT ON GOTHAM
--Red Robin #22
--Gotham City Sirens #22
--Batman #709March ends and April begins during this tale. Dick still has a horrible bruise on his chest from when he was stabbed with the mystical Sword of Sin by Azrael over a month ago. Dick, while apprehending small-fry Eddie Sims feels an intense pain emanating from the bruise. Dick then suffers another blackout and has another nightmare about a repressed memory of his childhood in the circus (as he has had twice before). This time the nightmare is more vivid and is about a tragedy that happened to a fellow child acrobat called The Prodigy when Dick was very young. When Dick gets home he is startled to discover that the bruise on his chest has formed the shape of a bat symbol! When The Crusader (basically an even crazier and more powerful version of Azrael who works for the Order of Purity) begins destroying whole city blocks in downtown Gotham, the combined force of Batman, Red Robin, and Catwoman intervene. The Crusader goes nuts until Azrael appears and calms him. The Crusader claims to have been sent by God (in this case Ra's Al Ghul) to be Azrael's personal disciple. Azrael warns Dick that he has 24 hours before the "purge" of the entire planet will commence. Az and the Crusader explode into the night sky and disappear without a trace. Dick is disheartened that Az is no longer working on the side of good. Catwoman begs Dick to call Bruce for help, but Dick says that Az is his own responsibility. Meanwhile, across town the Order of Purity's top scientist turns Fireball into a living nuclear suicide bomber. Ra's has successfully assembled his "Angels of Death": Azrael, the Crusader, and Fireball. Things are looking scary. A full day passes and the "judgment" begins. Az kidnaps Mayor Hady while the Crusader begins destroying the city. I should mention that the Crusader's powers include telekinesis, telepathy, pyrokinesis, flight ability, near invulnerability, super strength, and the power to make locusts and snakes appear at will. Moving on, Red Robin saves a bunch of lives downtown and from a burning cathedral before trying to get Jennifer Lane to reason with her lover via phone. After Red Robin saves Hady from Az, the latter does the flaming sword trick on the superhero and sure enough, whitebread Tim has a pure soul. Az is ready to stop the assault on Gotham based upon the successful passage of the purity test, but the Crusader enters with the claim that Red Robin doesn't believe in the Christian god! Az questions Red Robin, and whitebread Tim can't tell a lie. He doesn't believe. After Tim's failure to stop the carnage, Dick sends in Catwoman. Az and the Crusader are ready to test her faith by introducing a wild card into the mix: Maggie Kyle! Maggie has been a whacko ever since watching Black Mask I butcher her husband. The bad guys tell Selina that they will end their wrath if she sacrifices her sister to God. Selina refuses. Bruce calls Dick while on unspecified business in Hong Kong (which undoubtedly must have something to do with Cassie Cain) and asks if Dick needs help in Gotham. Dick says he can handle it and greets the "Angels of Death" in Devil's Square. Dick finally remembers the former child trapeze artist known as the Prodigy from his days at Haley's Circus long ago, when confronted with the now adult Prodigy. Turns out when Dick was just a little tyke he could have prevented the Prodigy from getting nearly beaten to death by rednecks, but instead took no action. Az judges Dick accordingly and is about to detonate Fireball, but Red Robin and Catwoman show up with Jenny Lane and her kids. Az is taken aback when he sees them and Jenny convinces him to use his fiery blades on himself. As the magical swords enter his body Az sees the truth: Ra's Al Ghul has been using him as a pawn. In a last ditch effort to end the "judgment of Gotham" Az takes the entire Fireball detonation by smothering the metahuman. Fireball dies, but Gotham is saved. A distraught Az leaves with the Crusader faithfully following.
--Detective Comics #875
This continues the "Skeleton Cases" story-arc. Gordon re-opens a "fifteen year-old" cold case and busts Roy Blount, better known as the Peter Pan Killer. Way back then, around Bat-Year 7, Barbara's friend Bess was supposedly murdered by a young James Junior. However, Jim now thinks that Blount may have been the actual killer. Before he can get a straight answer from Blount, Batman swings into action and apprehends the villain. James Junior is back in Gotham for good, but is he a psychopath and did he really commit multiple murders? Only time will tell. Okay, there are a ton of errors in this story, which is a clusterfuck that either deliberately ignores continuity or tries to rewrite Jim Gordon's past entirely. Where do I even begin? Number one, we don't have to necessarily ignore the snow, but it isn't winter. It is early April. Number two, in the flashbacks to fifteen years ago Gordon is a young lieutenant with red hair. However, Gordon was promoted to captain at the end of Bat-Year 1 and by Bat-Year 7 would be a gray-haired commish. Number three, in the flashbacks Gordon is already divorced and married to Sarah Essen. Gordon's marriage to Sarah doesn't take place until Bat-Year 13! I don't think there is any way to reconcile this. In fact, Sarah shouldn't even be in this story. However, we needn't ignore her presence. Instead, we must simply ignore any references to their marriage and instead retcon the story so that Sarah and Jim have briefly reconnected and are trying to date again. Number four, in the flashbacks Gordon is partnered with Commissioner McKeever. Who the hell is Commissioner McKeever? We must assume he is an assistant commissioner or a commissioner from another police force helping out on the case. Number five, in the flashbacks Babs is drawn a bit too young-looking.
--Brightest Day #23
The skies turn black as the power of the Black Lantern Avatar (inhabiting Nekron) is able to literally take control of the ecological functions of the planet by corrupting its Plant Elemental and Earth Elemental protectors known as the Parliament of Trees. Superheroes race across the globe to prevent death and destruction. Notably in Gotham, Batman, Robin, Batwoman, Black Lightning, Cyborg, and the Birds of Prey fight off giant tangled snake-like streams of vegetation and dirt. In the forest outside of Star City several heroes battle against a humongous Black Lantern/Nekron-possessed version of Swamp Thing! Deadman uses his White Lantern power ring on Firestorm and turns him not only into a Fire Elemental, but the Avatar of Fire. Likewise, the other missing resurrected heroes return as Elementals as well. Martian Manhunter is now the Avatar of Earth. Aquaman is now the Avatar of Water. And Hawkman and Hawkwoman are the Avatars of Air. As the new Avatars strike against the evil corrupted Parliament of Trees, it is apparent that their combined force will still not be enough to defend Earth. Not to worry, the White Power Entity still has a trick up its sleeve. Earth's ultimate savior: the former vessel for the real Swamp Thing, the deceased Alec Holland! Whoa.
NOTE: Brightest Day #24 immediately follows Brightest Day #23 and concludes the series. While not featured in the issue, we must assume that Dick is still fights for his life in Gotham until the crisis ends. Picking up where we left off, in order for Alec Holland to be resurrected so he can save the world, someone has to die. Boston Brand pays the ultimate price and goes back to being plain old sad, invisible Deadman again. Holland is reborn and immediately infused with the Green. The real Swamp Thing returns! Amped up, Swamp Thing grows to enormous heights and kicks the evil Swamp Thing's ass. Swamp Thing then restores the Earth back to its natural state and declares that he is back to protect the planet full-time. Before leaving for parts unknown, the White Lantern Entity strips J'onn, Aquaman, Hawkman, Hawkwoman, and Firestorm of their Avatar elemental status, returning them back to normal. (Well except for Hawkwoman, who dies). Oh, yeah, the last page features a cameo of the returning John Constantine (!) on the trail of Swamp Thing, who has just uncharacteristically murdered some eco-terrorists. Why has Swampy offed the baddies in such brutal fashion? Well, because Alec Holland has split from the green Elemental monster (as we will soon learn in the Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing series. Without his normal human soul vessel, Swamp Thing is violently raging out of control.
--Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing #1-3
Determined to figure out why Swamp Thing is acting so homicidal, John Constantine begins an investigation but is immediately attacked and infected with a virus by plants being controlled from within the Green by Swamp Thing. When Swamp Thing kills a Falcone mobster linked to eco-terrorism in Gotham, Constantine travels to America. In Gotham, Constantine infiltrates the BatBunker, takes out Alfred, and sneaks into the Batmobile just to get the attention of Batman. After a strained first meeting between Dick and Constantine, the latter takes the former into the Green but is assaulted by Swamp Thing and knocked unconscious. After awaking in the care of Batman and his ex-girlfriend Zatanna, Constantine explains his theory that Alec Holland (the original deceased human host vessel for Swamp Thing) has split from the Plant Elemental, thus causing the monster to lose any semblance of humanity. Dick then examines Constantine's plant infection, and unable to help him, sends him to Metropolis to speak with Superman. Supes and Constantine travel to Star City Forest and battle Swamp Thing. Once the duo is able to restrain the monster, they learn that Constantine's theory about Holland is correct. Constantine then consults with Madame Xanadu and Deadman to locate Holland alive and well in Louisiana. In Louisiana, Holland has been held captive in his old laboratory by LexCorp scientists who plan to create their own synthetic Swamp Thing by infusing Holland's soul into a cyborg version of the Plant Elemental. Constantine arrives with the intention of killing Holland so that his soul will re-renter the real Swamp Thing, but winds up tangling with LexCorp thugs. Both Batman and Superman show up and join in the fight against the cronies and against killer plants being controlled by Swamp Thing from within the Green. After all the villains are combed back, Batman refuses to allow Constantine to murder Holland. Instead, Holland is given the choice: re-join Swamp Thing and quell the deadly monster's rage or remain alive as a normal human being. Holland chooses the latter and Constantine walks. Looks like we now have a DCU with Alec Holland, human scientist extraordinaire with a flair for life AND Swamp Thing, Plant Elemental with homicidal tendencies.
NOTE: Aaron "Bat Boy" Langstrom is cured and no longer looks like a freakish character out of the National Enquirer. We can only assume that the scientific genius of his parents was able to concoct a remedy for his permanent bat-like appearance. When we next see Aaron (in Batman & Robin #21) he will appear human.
--Batman & Robin #20-22 ("WHITE KNIGHT VS. DARK KNIGHT")
According to Dick it's been "a few weeks" since Bruce did a "tango of death with a hot Latin number" i.e. about one-and-a-half weeks since the events of Batman, Inc. #4, which places us in early April. As for the snow on the ground, it must be a late cold wave in Gotham. Our story begins with all the boys (Bruce, Alfred, Dick, Tim, and Damian) joined together at Wayne Manor for smoothies, popcorn, and screening of The Mark of Zorro! Later that night after patrol, Dick attends a fundraiser at the opera, but before the show begins a John Doe dressed as an angel falls 80 stories to his gruesome death. After a quick autopsy and discovery of what appears to be a fake suicide note, Dick and Damian are attacked by an out-of-control Man-Bat who claims his family is in danger. Dick and Damian easily track Kirk Langstrom's wife Francine (who has had a tracer implanted in her shoulder ever since her days with the Outsiders) and sure enough, Francine, Rebecca, and Aaron are all dressed up as angels and hopped up on drugs. Dick and Damian snap them out of their drug-induced trances and save their lives just in time to witness the debut of The White Knight, a brightly glowing supervillain responsible for the death of the John Doe and the attempted murder of the Langstrom family. After a quick debriefing with Alfred in the Bat Bunker, our heroes learn that the White Knight's original victim is Douglas Zsasz, brother of Victor Zsasz. The White Knight is trying to kill relatives of anyone that has ever been incarcerated at Arkham! Across town, the White Knight savagely murders the Mad Hatter's parents, brother, and sister. Unknown to our heroes, the White Knight has already slaughtered Dr. Phosphorus's entire family too. A full day later and the White Knight reveals that he has kidnapped dozens of Arkham relatives, drugged them up with Special K, administered hypnotic suicidal suggestions via radio ear bud, dressed them up as angels, and placed them all at the top of Gotham's tallest midtown buildings. Alfred is able to jam all citywide radio signals using a WayneTech satellite, preventing most victims from leaping to their deaths. Dick and Damian, meanwhile, are able to rescue the majority of the others. Before Batman and Robin can blink their eyes the White Knight has taken control of Arkham Asylum, which is lit up like a blinding flash of continuous lightning. Inside Arkham we learn the White Knight's real name, origin, and motivation: as a young boy Louis Bayard's father was a prison guard who was killed by Doc Phosphorus during one of the asylum's many riots. Hellbent on revenge, Bayard ingested Arclight Serum which turned him into a glowing super-powered metahuman. Back to the story at hand, the White Knight tries to drown the Arkham inmates (including Joker, Calendar Man, Phosphorus, Zsasz, Croc, Jane Doe, and Mad Hatter) in illuminated white liquid. Damian is able to save them all, but not before adding a few nasty scars to Zsasz's flesh. Damian references Zsasz's child fighting ring from "a few weeks back." That Zsasz story occurred around Christmas, which would mean it happened about three-and-a-half months ago, not "a few weeks back." Moving on, atop Arkham's roof the White Knight tries to fly away from the Dark Knight with mechanical wings. The Dark Knight beats the White Knight silly and causes a hard-light explosion which permanently fuses the metal wings to the White Knight's back. Afterward, the White Knight is safely incarcerated.
--Batman & Robin #23-25 ("THE STREETS RUN RED")
For over four months the red-headed stepchild of the Bat-family, Jason Todd, has been locked away in an Arkham cell. With his identity still a secret from the Arkham staff, the Red Hood doesn't pose a threat to Batman's security. When we last saw Jason, he was a wreck, his hair falling out and his body deteriorating due to a dependence upon and withdrawal from Lazarus Pit bathing. However, it looks now as though Jason has overcome his demons; the Red Hood is in the best shape of his career. Batman (Bruce) finally meets with Jason for the first time since returning from his Omega Sanction jaunt through time. But it's not a personal visit; Bruce has learned that Jason will soon be transferred to a minimum security facility and wants to warn him to be good. In the Bat Bunker, Bruce tells Dick and Damian to prepare for the worst. At Gotham City Corrections, Jason immediately begins killing his fellow inmates without mercy. Jason kills 97 men, most of them poisoned in the cafeteria! When the Dynamic Duo learns of Jason's murderous rampage, little can be done, and Jason easily escapes custody en route back to Arkham thanks to the assistance of the TMNT-esque South American supervillain team known as The Menagerie. However, Jason starts fighting his rescuers when he learns that they are actually there to kidnap him under orders from their mysterious femme fatale leader. Batman and Robin show up just in time to join the melee. Jason further learns that the new unnamed villain has taken a hostage that she holds at Thomas Wayne Middle School: Jason's former sidekick Scarlet! Dick and Damian have no choice but to join-up with Jason, who dons a combination of all his previous Red Hood outfits. Dick, Jason, and Damian are able to save Scarlet from the mystery abductor and a bunch of ninjas, but the mystery woman escapes without ever revealing what her agenda was or who she was. Jason and Scarlet also escape when Dick and Damian are forced to clean-up after explosions that Jason has triggered on the Gotham Metro railway tracks.
--Batman, Inc. #6
Bruce gives a television interview regarding Batman Inc. When Emoticon-Man and his thugs show up Alfred kicks ass (!) and the villain is left surrounded by a bunch of GI Bat Robots and a grinning Bruce. Batman (Bruce), Batman (Dick), and Robin then meet with Commissioner Gordon to discuss the fact that Mayor Sebastian Hady has gone super-corrupt and has even been trying (unsuccessfully) to frame Gordon for murder. In the Batcave, Bruce appoints Red Robin as the new leader of the Outsiders. Subsequently, Bruce holds a meeting with his closest allies and declares war on Leviathan. The following are in attendance: Batman (Dick), Robin, Red Robin, Batgirl, Huntress, Oracle (via satellite), Halo, Looker, Katana, Metamorpho, and Freight Train. Later at the BatBunker, Bruce explains to Dick and Damian that many people will now be trying to expose the secret IDs of all the Batman Inc members. After examining an Internet message board, Bruce demonstrates that much of the Internet community already believes that Bruce is indeed Batman! Bruce isn't worried, claiming that a "blizzard of rumor, denial, and misinformation" will keep their IDs safe and keep the masses guessing. Bruce and Alfred then begin a trip around the globe. In France, Batman (Bruce) and Nightrunner attempt to rescue kids from a child slave ring. However, the children have been brainwashed by Leviathan and brutally slaughter their own kidnappers, the crime franchise known as Les Stereotypes. Bruce and Alfred then travel to Kuala Lumpur, where Oracle informs them that Les Stereotypes was linked to Hong Kong criminal Jimmy Song. In Hong Kong, Cassie Cain debuts as BlackBat (!!!) and takes down Song's organization. Bruce and Alfred then shoot on down to Melbourne where Batman (Bruce) and the debuting Aboriginal Dark Ranger (former sidekick of the original Dark Ranger) apprehend the remaining associates of the child slave ring. Then it's off to North Africa where Batwing, Traktir, Spidra, and Batman (Bruce) shut down a Leviathan training camp. Following the African safari, Bruce appoints a mystery man, who knows Bruce's identity as the Dark Knight, as the new Wingman. SPOILER: It's Jason Todd! Bruce then returns to Gotham where he goes undercover as an alien-like, obese metahuman PI named Nero Nykto to infiltrate the ranks of the Pennsylvania crime syndicate known as the Average Joes. The Joes are trying to break into the Gotham scene, but Nero Nykto reveals himself as the Caped Crusader and quickly sends them packing. Aboard the Leviathan satellite HQ, Doctor Dedalus and the mysterious leader of Leviathan begin their final preparations for an all out assault against the entire planet. On the twinkling blue Earth below, Batman Inc is ready and waiting. Artist Chris Burnham gives us a two-page splash that shows the members of Batman Inc in action. Batwing kicks ass in Africa. Nightrunner kicks ass in France. Gaucho kicks ass in South America. Cassie Cain kicks ass in China. Red Robin kicks ass in Haiti. Jiro Osamu kicks ass against Clayface in Japan. And Dark Ranger kicks ass in Australia.
--Gotham City Sirens #23-24 ("X FRIENDS")
The shit has hit the fan for the lovely ladies of Gotham. Ivy, Harley, and Selina are no longer on speaking terms. An upset Harley has gone quite mad again and, yearning to reunite with her puddin Mistah J, breaks into Arkham and starts a prison riot. While Harley and Joker kiss passionately amidst the blood and gore of the riot, Dick unsuccessfully tries to recruit Selina to help. Selina reveals that she knows a dark secret about Dick that took place around the time of Battle for the Cowl, but we'll have to wait to find out what it is. At Arkham, Black Mask begins feuding with Joker for control of the prison while Poison Ivy shows up in an attempt to reason with Harley. Harley speaks passionately about her sexual history with both Joker and Ivy, but eventually takes down the latter, proclaiming her true love for the Clown Price of Crime. Meanwhile, Selina has a change of heart and meets up with Batman (Bruce) in an attempt to quell the riot. After easily defeating Clayface and Zsasz (with help from Aaron Cash), Batman and Catwoman bust Harley and Joker as well. Bruce then tells Selina that he too knows Dick's mysterious secret. Hmmmm. Following the riot, Catwoman definitively ends her friendship with Ivy by serving the supervillain over to the police, who lock her up in Arkham.
--Detective Comics #876-878 ("HUNGRY CITY")
When a dead orca mysteriously appears overnight in the lobby of a Gotham bank run by Sonia Branch (daughter of the Grayson family murderer Tony Zucco), Dick and Commissioner Gordon are on the case. At the GCPD crime lab Dick and Gordon discover the corpse of Sonia's closest friend inside the belly of the whale. After bugging Sonia's apartment Dick learns that she is being blackmailed by gangster Bixby Rhodes aka Roadrunner. Dick suits up as Batman and apprehends Rhodes. Sonia then meets with the Dark Knight and explains that her friend was killed because she refused to do business with Rhodes and his boss, the supervillain known as Tiger Shark. The Caped Crusader easily locates Tiger Shark's lair, a colossal underwater mobile fortress attached to a yacht parked in Gotham Bay. Upon arrival Dick is immediately captured by Tiger Shark, a dapper masked villain who wears designer suits made only of endangered species, and his band of tattooed pirates. After a failed attempt to feed Dick to hungry orcas, Tiger Shark has no choice but to detonate a bomb aboard his vessel, effectively destroying his own crime organization in order to escape justice. Dick then, per Jim Gordon's request, meets with a seemingly level-headed James Junior. However, Dick wants to be better-safe-than-sorry so he secretly implants a tracer in James Junior's hand (as seen through flashback in Detective Comics #881). After his meeting with James Junior, Dick has a revelation about the Sonia Branch case. Sonia used Batman as a pawn to eliminate the supervillains that were threatening her. As Batman muses about Sonia, across town we (the readers) learn that James Junior isn't quite so level-headed after all. He is indeed what his father feared most: a psychopathic serial killer who has violently chopped up and tortured his childhood acquaintance Ben Wolff.
--Batman #710-712 ("PIECES")
Two-Face begins one of his patented killing sprees in an attempt to locate his missing coin. Dick and Selina try unsuccessfully to coax Kitrina Falcone to go to a boarding school. While the Dark Knight scours the underworld looking for Two-Face, Mario Falcone and Gilda Dent locate and capture the supervillain first. Gilda immediately plugs her ex-husband with a bullet. Why is Gilda teamed-up with Falcone? Well, dear readers, we learn that Gilda faked her own death many, many years ago and began an affair with Mario Falcone (shortly after the events of Long Halloween). Now, Gilda and Falcone are desperate for money and are attempting to sell the list of the secret members of the Jade Compass Society. While Dick continues his painfully slow investigation with Damian, Two-Face crawls out of his ex-wife's fake grave, having survived the gunshot thanks to a special bullet-proof vest courtesy of the Riddler. Riddler tells Two-Face that Gilda is being held against her will by Falcone. (Gilda has hired Riddler to help reunite her with her former hubby or Riddler is manupulating everyone, I'm not quite sure). The supervillains join forces and recruit an army to attack Falcone's gang. While the bad guys assemble their henchmen, Batman and Catgirl apprehend Enigma and get one step closer to catching up with everyone else. Cut to a skyscraper construction site where Mario thinks he's selling the Jade Compass info to a random buyer. But instead Two-Face shows up and confronts his wife. Batman also shows up, fights everyone, and nearly gets killed by one of Gilda's .22 caliber bullets. Dick blacks out and wakes up in the care of Alfred, courtesy of Damian. So, Tony Daniel ends this abysmal tale and we don't know what happened to Two-Face, Gilda, or Mario. We DO know that Kitrina decides to go to boarding school after all and that a psychotic Riddler decides to possibly kill his daughter, Enigma, who is magically free again after having been captured earlier in the story. I use the word "possibly" because this vague scene occurs off-panel. In summation: I can't believe that Tony Daniel writes Batman. It's not good. Not good at all.
NOTE: The JLA gets involved in the Saturn-Thanagarian War (as seen through flashback in Justice League of America Vol. 2 #60). An army of Thanagarian warships attempts to invade Saturn. The JLA teams up with Jemm (ruler of Saturn) to defeat the Thanagarians.
NOTE: Detective Comics #879 takes place now, but it one of the rare (if only) times Batman (either Batman) does not make a single appearance. James Gordon Junior has been working for Leslie Thompkins for a few days now and he seems to be doing quite well. Everyone at the clinic loves him, including Leslie, but Jim Gordon knows his son too well. Jim and Barbara not only learn that James Junior is not well, but that he plans on mixing a psychotropic drug into the factory chemical vats of a large baby formula distributor. Oh, Joker escapes from Arkham too.
--Detective Comics #880-881 ("SKELETON CASES" Conclusion)
Barbara Gordon (Jim Gordon's ex-wife) returns to Gotham for the first time in well-over-a-decade. She is in town, presumably to reunite with her long-lost (now found) son James Junior. Worried that the recently released Joker will go after his ex-wife, Jim rushes to her hotel room only to find Barbara naked, bloody, and Jokerized. Luckily, Barbara's life is saved and the unconscious victim is put into critical condition at the hospital. Batman (with help from Red Robin) tracks a particularly crazed Joker to a crypt beneath an old Gotham church, where the Clown Prince of Crime seems genuinely annoyed that he's dealing with Batman #2. While they scuffle, Joker claims he doesn't know anything about the attack on Barbara. Across town, Barbara wakes up and delivers the shocking news to her ex-husband: it wasn't Joker who attacked her; it was James Junior. At the Kord Space Needle, Babs is ambushed by her psycho brother, who kidnaps her and lodges two knives deep into her paraplegic legs. At a secret location James Junior delivers a twisted monologue to his older half-sis, who slowly bleeds out. James Junior tells a few truths and a few more lies about his past, but one thing is for sure; he is certifiably homicidal. One small caveat: James Junior claims that he first met Babs when he was a little boy and Jim and Sarah Essen took her in. This isn't true, obviously. Babs has known James Junior since he was a baby. Not only that, Jim took in Babs well before reconnecting with Sarah. Moving on, Batman and Red Robin frantically scour the city for Babs. James Junior directly contacts Batman via radio and gloats that he knows that both he and Bruce are Batman and Batman! It is in fact, heavily implied here that Jim also knows the truth, but I suppose that isn't too shocking of a revelation since it's always been insinuated. James Junior continues his rant in prime Adrian Veidt style, claiming that it doesn't matter that Dick has discovered his scheme to spike the baby formula distribution vats with a psychotropic drug, since he's already done it! Whether or not this is true is debatable, but if so, thanks to the way the drug functions, Gotham's next generation will be composed of brand new psychos. Babs tries to escape her brother and pulls a knife out of her own leg and stabs James Junior in the eye! Batman shows up just in time to save Babs' life. Meanwhile, Jim shoots his son in the legs and reels him into justice in a scene which mirrors the climax of Frank Miller's Year One. Afterward, Dick and Jim talk solemnly about all that has occurred as they permanently shut down the Wayne Enterprises GCPD Crime Lab since the department has decided to only un-officially cooperate with Batman Inc.
--Secret Six #36
The antihero/supervillain team known as the Secret Six has plans to assassinate Red Robin, Batgirl, Catwoman, and Azrael in Gotham. However, a double-crossing Penguin alerts the hero community about the Six's arrival in town. The Six (Bane, Catman, Deadshot, Jeannette, Ragdoll, and Scandal Savage) along with King Shark and Knockout take a bunch of Venom pills and make their glorious last stand. However, they are easily defeated by what seems to be the largest gathering of collected heroes since Final Crisis. So yeah, it's eight villains versus Batman, Batman, Robin, Red Robin, Superman, Superboy, Steel, Dr. Light, Obsidian, John Stewart, Red Tornado, the Birds of Prey, the JLA, the JSA, the JLI, and the Teen Titans. Overkill, anyone? Great issue though.
--Batman: Gates of Gotham #1-5
A little history before we begin. In the late 1800s the "first families" of Gotham (the Waynes, the Kanes, the Cobblepots, and the Elliots) began construction on the advanced skyline of Gotham. Two extraordinary young sibling architects, Nicholas Anders Gate and Bradley Gate, were hired to construct the massive, elaborate Cyrus Pinkney designs. Somewhere along the way, the skyline was built by the brothers, but politics and intrigue led to a terrible accident and the death of Bradley. Unable to cope with his brother's death, Nicholas went insane and killed Cameron Kane's son, earning a lifetime sentence to Arkham. Not wanting bad publicity for the new Gotham, the "first families" covered-up the true facts of the murder and the Gate brothers never received proper credit for their involvement in the development of the city. Cut to the present. For the past two days Batman (Dick), Red Robin, and Commissioner Gordon have been searching for a cache of Semtex that has shown up in Gotham. When three major city bridges are blown up by the Semtex, Dick meets with Tim, Damian, and Cassandra Cain (!) in the BatBunker. While the Bat-family discusses how to handle the investigation, Tommy Elliot is kidnapped from Arkham. The Bat-family quickly learns that the new mad bomber has a vendetta against the buildings and ancestors linked to Gotham's "first families." Dick is able to save Hush from being blown up, but the old Wayne Tower goes up in smoke. Likewise, across town Robin and BlackBat are unable to stop Penguin's Iceberg Lounge from imploding. Batman and BlackBat then take their investigation to the old Gotham Herald Building (owned by the Elliot family) where they learn that the new villain is targeting the Kane Bridge. (This is actually a red herring as the Architect is actually planning on blowing up a retaining wall that will flood the city). Meanwhile at Elliot Manor, Robin and Red Robin are soundly defeated by the debuting steampunk suit-wearing villain known as The Architect. The heroes quickly learn that the Architect is Zachary Gate, descendant of the Gate brothers, who mistakenly believes that the Gates were victims of persecution, sabotage, and murder at the hands of the greedy "first families." I say "mistakenly," although there is some evidence that some underhandedness may have indeed occurred back in ye olden times. Anyway, after some excellent Bat-family teamwork, the Architect is defeated once and for all. Afterward, Dick reports the results of the case to Bruce, who is overseas on some Batman Incorporated business. Bruce tells Dick that he's done a great job as Batman, but he's coming home to Gotham for good soon and when he makes his permanent return to the city, they must have a talk about the future (i.e. Nightwing will have to make his return). Whoa, big news.
--Red Robin #23
Tim uses his position with Wayne Enterprises to greenlight the rebuilding/revitalization of Crime Alley. Tim then accompanies Bruce to Montreal for a series of Wayne Enterprises meetings. In Montreal a new Black Spider tries to assassinate Bruce, obviously fails, but manages to evade capture. May I kindly remind you that this is the fourth Black Spider and there are now currently three active Black Spiders in the DCU. Back in Gotham, Red Robin meets with Lynx and gets info from Lonnie Machin regarding another next assassination target: Lucius Fox. While Bruce is still on business in Canada, Batman (Dick) and Red Robin are ready for action when the assassin, a man wearing Scarab armor, shows up to off Lucius. Tim, being the master of fake-death trickery, fools the assassin (and the news media) into believing that Lucius has indeed been killed. Don't worry, as usual Lucius is fine. Red Robin then obtains a special government release for the imprisoned Scarab, who leads him to her lair in Cairo. Just as Red Robin and Scarab enter the lair, Lonnie messages Tim with the news that the "Global Assassination Tournament" has begun again! (The last one was less than four months ago!) Red Robin is then attacked by Scarab and eight Scarab-armored assassins, collectively known as the Covenant of Ka. NOTE: In the next two issues (which feature neither of the Batmans and span a week) Red Robin does the following: defeats the Covenant of Ka, discovers that the Tournament was just a lure by both super-assassin Promise and a mystery sexpot who wants Tim to impregnate her, defeats Promise and the sexpot with Cassie Cain's help, fakes his own death in order to learn who was behind it all, learns that a sinister mystery man who claims to be thousands of years old has a keen interest in him, helps Cassie in Hong Kong fighting against a ten year-old metahuman called Cricket, and gets multiple broken bones courtesy of Cricket. The last item has been included in a note further down on this timeline.
THE METHUSELAH IMPERATIVE
--Titans Annual 2011 #1
--Titans #38The JLA and the Atom chase the evil Titans to China and attempt to arrest Deathstroke (officially for the murder of Ryan Choi, which happened many months ago). After Deathstroke is able to make the JLA stand down after threatening to detonate a nuclear device, the Titans flee to the safety of their former teammate Osiris' home country of Kahndaq. In Kahndaq, the JLA fights the Titans to an epic stalemate until Isis angrily expels everyone from her country. The JLA goes home empty handed while Deathstroke delivers unto Dr. Sivana the final ingredient needed to heal his dying son Jericho: Supergirl's blood obtained during the battle via a Kryptonite sword. Once Jericho is healed via Sivana's Methuselah Machine (powered by captive metahuman DJ Molecule) Jericho decides he's tired of being his evil dad's pawn and owes him nothing. Similarly, Arsenal doesn't like the idea of Sivana and Slade playing gods. A fight breaks out between all the members of the Titans aboard Sivana's floating Labyrinth HQ. Cinder sacrifices her own life to destroy the machine, sending Sivana's HQ crashing into Center City Philadelphia. Arsenal assumes leadership of the Titans, but everyone quits and goes their separate ways (except Jericho who stays with his old pal). In Ivy Town, the long-delayed funeral of Ryan Choi is held. Most of the superhero community turns out for the event, including Dick and the JLA.
NOTE: Wonder Woman finally makes the world right again and everyone remembers her true history (as seen in Wonder Woman #613). What happened, you ask? Well, the bitchy evil Goddess of Retrubution known as Nemesis, with the help of the witch trio known as the Morrigan, originally wanted to use Wonder Woman's powers to destroy the world, so the Gods took Diana's essence and placed it into a pocket universe in order to protect it from being stolen. But in the process Diana's entire history was erased and rewritten. Now, Diana confronts Nemesis, who is endowed with the sliver of Diana's original Wonder Woman essence. After defeating Nemesis, Wonder Woman regains her history and her memories, but opts to keep her new pants costume look. Likewise, the rest of the DCU's history in relation to Wonder Woman shifts back into proper place.
NOTE: The JLA participates in the "Battle for Gemworld" (as seen through flashback in Justice League of America Vol. 2 #60). When Mordru leads an army of evil magicians from the mystic realm known as Sorcerer's World in an attempt to take over Gemworld, the JLA intervenes. Batman solves the Witch of Alrain's "labyrinth of riddles" while his teammates fight various magickal foes. In the end, the heroes prevail, although Starman's arm is severely injured by Dark Opal.
--Justice League of America Vol. 2 #60
It's been five weeks since "The Rise of Eclipso." The JLA meets aboard the Watchtower satellite with big news. Everyone wants to quit. Supergirl has decided to quit the team to travel in space and maybe get a college degree. Donna, disenchanted with superhero-ing, has also decided to quit the team to become a full-time photographer. Jesse Quick is also quitting, with the startling revelation of a nearly eight month old baby bump that had been previously hidden by the Speed Force. Jesse is very pregnant! Congorilla decides to quit to focus on protecting his home continent of Africa. Starman, still shaken from his injuries in Gemworld, decides he might as well quit too. Dick also decides its time to quit, citing that his responsibilities with Batman Inc are too great. Dick also hints at the future and says that he thinks Bruce wants him to return to his old Nightwing moniker in the near future! (This was also hinted at in Batman: Gates of Gotham #5). Thus, after all is said and done the JLA disbands. The final moments of the meeting are also shown in the Epilogue of Justice League of America Vol. 2 #59. The JLA is no more. Donna wonders aloud to Dick if future generations will remember this version of the team as they close-up the satellite and leave for good. And who knows? The Modern Age of Comics is coming to its end, but I know I will always remember.
--Batman 80-Page Giant 2011 #1, Part 5
Dick competes on a nationally televised celebrity trivia game show for charity. Naturally, the Riddler and his cronies ambush the program and hold everyone hostage. Dick, however, doesn't have to lift a finger as the Question (!) arrives to save the day.
--Batman & Robin #26
The Man Who Laughs, a crazy French newcomer who dresses up like the figure from Magritte's "Son of Man" and functions as France's version of the Joker, breaks several metahuman inmates out of the Black Garden (Paris' version of Arkham). Sister Crystal, Skin Talker, The Id, and Ray Man wreak havoc on Paris, warping the city's most famous landmarks into a Dadaist nightmare come true. Likewise, a large chunk of the population has either been killed or gone insane as a result. Batman, Robin, and Nightrunner are on the case and quickly save the day, apprehending all five villains.
NOTE: In Hong Kong, Black Bat (Cassie Cain) and Red Robin are soundly defeated by a ten-year old metahuman named Cricket (as seen in Red Robin #25). Tim is severely injured and suffers multiple broken bones, including his arm. He will be out of action for the next six weeks.
ANOTHER NOTE: The Dynamic Duo deals with a hostage situation at a rehab clinic and saves the life of several people, including Kevin McNulty (as seen through flashback from Batman #713). Damian learns an important lesson about victims and criminals.
The end of an era. The final issue of Batman Vol. 1. Never thought I'd say that. Dick and Damian attend a Wayne Foundation Annual Benefit for victims of the long ago but never forgotten Gotham Earthquake. At the event Damian tells three eager kids his version of the history of the Dynamic Duo. Afterward, Batman and Robin go on their nightly patrol.
--Red Robin #26
Tim has been recovering from the beating he took at the hands of Cricket for the past six weeks. It's now almost the final week of June. The whole time Tim, the master of convoluted schemes that involve the most ludicrous trickeration known to man, has been plannning the assassination of Captain Boomerang, the villain who murdered his dad. Red Robin lures Boomerang out of hiding with a complex set of baits that involve taking advantage of STAR Labs, creating a fake Black Lantern energy container, and setting up a meeting with Mr. Freeze. However, Tim has second thoughts and actually winds up saving Boomerang from Freeze. Tim then has another change of heart while fighting Boomerang and contemplates murder yet again before ultimately sparing the villain's life. Dick and Damian show up and congratulate Tim for not giving into the temptation of revenge. Bruce shows up and has a different sentiment, chastising Tim for even considering using lethal force.
–Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes! #1, Chapter 2
Bruce meets with Lucius Fox and they discuss the diamond that was taken from Dr. Sivana’s lab (way back in Batman Incorporated #1). The gem is constructed of a metamaterial that is basically a form of unkown renewable energy source. Lucius also informs him that the full army of Batman Robots is ready for action. Batman Incorporated is finally ready to attack Leviathan head-on. Batman (Bruce), Batman (Dick), Robin, and Red Robin converge on a Leviathan oil tanker far out at sea. Gaucho is already on the ship somewhere. The heroes also send out a message to all other Batman Incorporated members available to go to the site as well. Upon infiltrating the ship, the Bat-family is trapped within a deadly labyrinth. Batman (Bruce) is dosed with an experimental drug that induces early onset Alzheimer’s instantaneously. As the Dark Knight becomes separated from his group, he stumbles through the labyrinth and his mind begins to fade. Doctor Dedalus, on board the ship, is able to taunt Batman and pry precious secrets about Batman Incorporated from the struggling hero. Dedalus starts a twenty minute countdown clock and declares that every five minutes Batman Incorporated members will die. The clock hits fifteen and in Mtamba, Batwing and his comrades are overwhelmed. At ten, the Hood is assassinated in London. Meanwhile, Batman (Dick), Red Robin, and Robin knock out some masked attackers, who turn out to be Dark Ranger and Nightrunner. Both had arrived at the Leviathan ship, per Batman’s orders, but were captured and immediately brainwashed by Dedalus. After going through several rooms containing fake Dedaluses, Batman (Bruce) finally reaches the real deal. But Gaucho is there and reveals himself as a double-agent still working for his old Spyral boss after all these years. Gaucho punches the unsuspecting Dark Knight to the ground. Dedalus detonates an explosive on the ship, which causes the vessel to begin sinking to the bottom of the ocean. Concurrently in Earth’s orbit, the Outsiders, per Batman’s request, investigate the Leviathan satellite HQ. They are not only shocked to discover a cackling Lord Death Man, but a countdown clock that reads five minutes. The satellite explodes. Back aboard the sinking ship, Dedalus reveals that when the countdown reaches zero, several meta-bombs strategically placed across the world will detonate causing global death and massive damage. Dedalus then orders Gaucho to administer a poison to the Caped Crusader. Gaucho has a change of heart and betrays Dedalus, giving Batman the antidote to the Alzheimer’s drug. A surprisingly deft Dedalus then stabs Gaucho in the throat with a knife engraved by Hitler, and then attempts to shock Batman to death with an electric prod. Robin enters the room just in time to save his father by throwing the Hitler knife into Dedalus’ head, killing the villain. A nervous Damian mutters, “Father. I’m sorry. He was going to kill you.” Great stuff. Meanwhile, Oracle takes control of the army of Bat Robots via Internet 3.0 and they raise the ship out of the sea. Batman, Batman, Red Robin, Robin, and a nearly dead (but surviving) Gaucho make their way to the inner sanctum of the ship. Behind a sealed door, Bruce finds on display the severed head of Jezebel Jet and a ringing red telephone. Bruce knows who the head of Leviathan is. He picks up the phone and hears the voice of pure evil, the voice of Leviathan: Talia Al Ghul. Talia tells Bruce that the war is now started and that there is a half-a-billion dollar bounty on Damian’s head. Talia hangs up the phone from her secret location, inside the Monarch Theater on Crime Alley in Gotham City. She has eliminated key factors of Batman Incorporated in one foul swoop, controls all of Leviathan and the League of Assassins, and rules the dictatorship of Mtamba. With the mysterious Heretic as her right-hand man, Talia will stop at nothing to destroy Bruce and his family. And that’s all folks! Flashpoint occurs after Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes!, rewriting the entire chronology for a “new age.” Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes! ends with a cliffhanger–the first strike in what promises to be a brutal war. Several things are left unfinished. Did Batwing and the Outsiders really die? It wasn’t explicitly shown. And of course, there is the unfinished question of the war itself. However, the story continues in the new continuity! How can this be, you might ask? Well, a whole ton of stuff has obviously been retconned in the new continuity, including the details of this “Leviathan” story arc. So, unfortunately, the Modern Age conclusion of the Leviathan war won’t be seen. Though, the New Age version will. It would have been nice to wrap this wonderful story up before the reboot, but the proper timing just wasn’t in the cards. Oh, well. Still a great way to end Batman’s Modern Age with a bang.