Batman 80: Dark Knight from 2000s to Flashpoint

The Dark Knight is celebrating his 80th birthday! (Logo property of DC Comics)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

Did you miss my CliffNotes on the Dark Knight’s comics from 1986 to 1999? Make sure you read that article before reading this one!  This article focuses on the Batman comics from 2000 to 2011.  

Warning! Spoilers are ahead!

President Lex Luthor

One of the Dark Knight’s biggest headaches was when Lex Luthor successfully ran to become DC Comics’ President of the United States. Before the Metropolis tycoon took the Oath of Office, the Dark Knight worked with Superman and Lois Lane to steal the real kryptonite ring from under Luthor’s nose.  As Bruce Wayne, he severed ties between Wayne Enterprises and the U.S. Government as a sign of protest. However, these actions would come back to bite Batman years later.

Joker’s Last Laugh

At the end of Batman: No Man’s Land, Joker was temporarily transferred to the Slab penitentiary. However, some of the institution’s staff decided to play a prank on the Joker and convinced the Clown Prince of Crime that he was going to die of a terminal brain tumor. The 2001 companywide crossover event, Joker’s Last Laugh, showcased how Batman’s archvillain transformed the DC Comics’ Rogues Gallery into “Jokerized” versions of themselves.

Bruce Wayne: Murderer + Fugitive

2002 tested the Dark Knight’s relationships with his closet allies. In Batman: The 10 Cent Adventure, Bruce Wayne’s former girlfriend, Vesper Fairchild, was found lying dead in Wayne Manor. After the gruesome discovery, the Gotham City Police Department arrested Bruce and his then bodyguard Sasha Bordeaux. This unfortunate situation forced the Batman Family to figure out if Bruce really committed the crime. Throughout Bruce Wayne: Murderer?/Fugitive, the Batman Family discovered that Batgirl (Cassandra Cain)’s father, the deadly assassin David Cain, framed Bruce. He acted under President Luthor’s orders. Eventually, Bruce Wayne was cleared of the crime, but Sasha disowned Bruce and began a new life with the Checkmate organization.

Batman and Catwoman DC Comics
Batman and Catwoman’s romance heated up during the “Hush” storyline. (Artwork by Jim Lee, Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair; Property of DC Comics)

Batman: Hush

Just as Batman began a new chapter in his life, comic book icons writer Jeph Loeb and artist Jim Lee teamed up for the blockbuster 2002-2003 “Hush” storyline. The creative team introduced the Dark Knight and readers to the mysterious Hush, who created a massive chess game using Batman’s greatest allies and foes as pawns.  Eventually, Hush turned out to be Bruce Wayne’s long lost friend: Dr. Thomas Elliott, who never forgave the Waynes for saving his mother. The story also showcased the Dark Knight and Catwoman’s romance, a monstrous Killer Croc, and the “return” of Jason Todd!

Superman/Batman

Following the success of “Hush,” Jeph Loeb reunited with Superman artist Ed McGuiness for a brand new title called Superman/Batman. The first story arc, “Public Enemies,” showcased the World’s Finest and their allies take down then-President Lex Luthor.  Next, Loeb collaborated with the late Michael Turner to bring Superman’s cousin, Kara Zor-El, back to the DCU in “Supergirl.” Sadly, Loeb left the title in 2006 and ended his run with a tribute to his son, Sam, who passed away from cancer. The book’s issue 26 featured a plethora of comic book icons, who finished Sam’s story. The tale focused on Robin (Tim Drake) and Superboy (Connor Kent) traveling to Japan to find Toyman II (Hiro Okamura).  The title continued with various creative teams until its final issue was released in 2011.

Jack Drake’s Discovery & War Games

The Dark Knight’s world took a turn for the worse during 2004 and 2005.  Robin (Tim Drake)’s father, Jack Drake, discovered his son’s true after school job. He forced Tim into retirement, or he would reveal Batman’s true identity. Reluctantly, Batman partnered with Tim’s longtime girlfriend, Stephanie Brown, who becomes the fourth Robin. Sadly, when Batman fired Stephanie, she decided to prove herself; she initiates one of Batman’s deadliest strategies: the War Games. This scenario kicked Penguin out of Gotham and opened up a vast power vacuum where Black Mask became Gotham’s top kingpin of crime. Eventually, Black Mask’s army successfully destroyed Oracle’s watchtower and the crime boss “murdered” Stephanie.

Commissioner Michael Atkins, James Gordon’s temporary replacement, calls Batman “an enemy of Gotham” and rescinded the GCPD’s longtime relationship with vigilantes.  The storyline also forced Oracle, James Gordon, Batgirl, and Robin (Tim Drake) to leave Gotham temporarily. Also, longtime allies Dr. Leslie Thompkins and Renee Montoya questioned their respective relationships with the Caped Crusader.

Fans were shocked to learn that Zatanna wiped the Dark Knight’s memories in Identity Crisis. (Artwork property of DC Comics)

Identity Crisis

Death hit the Batman Family once again in Identity Crisis thanks to Jean Loring’s mental breakdown. The Atom’s ex-wife murdered fan-favorite Sue Dibny, while she arranged Jack Drake and longtime Flash enemy Captain Boomerang to kill each other. Batman also discovered that some of his closest allies (Zatanna, Hawkman, Black Canary, Green Arrow (Oliver), Flash (Barry), and Atom) voted to remove his memories. Batman’s anger lead to the creation of the Brother Eye satellite, which was created to spy every single metahuman on Earth.  

The OMAC Project

In The OMAC Project, Checkmate director Maxwell Lord gained control of the satellite and hoped to use the Brother Eye satellite to do his dirty work. However, when Maxwell Lord brainwashed Superman into murdering Batman by showing the Dark Knight “torturing” Lois as Brainiac, Darkseid, or Ruin. The scheme was ultimately foiled when Wonder Woman brutally murdered Maxwell Lord. However, Brother Eye became sentient and broadcasted the video in front of the entire world. The murderous satellite also programmed its 200,000 agents to begin to assassinate Earth’s metahumans. The story also showcased Batman’s reunion with Sasha Bordeaux, who reorganized Checkmate after Lord’s death.

“Batman: Under the Hood”

Back in Gotham City, a new criminal called the Red Hood planned to take down Black Mask. After battles with Amazo and Mr. Freeze, it turns out that the new Red Hood is Jason Todd. In Batman Annual, Vol. 1 #25, It showed that Infinite Crisis adversary, Superboy Prime, destroyed the time barriers and brought Jason Todd back to life. Eventually, Jason is taken into the Al Ghul’s’ custody, and years later, Talia al Ghul pushed Jason into a Lazarus Pit, and he was reborn! Angered that the Dark Knight did not avenge his death, he took the Joker’s first identity and returned to Gotham.  

Infinite Crisis

The Geoff Johns-penned companywide 2005-06 crossover Infinite Crisis opened with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman’s fractured friendship and a battle with Mongul. While Wonder Woman dealt with the OMACs’ invasion of Themyscira and Superman with a vengeful counterpart (Earth Two Superman), Batman joined forces with Sasha, a new Blue Beetle, and several allies to defeat Brother Eye. The heroes are successful, but their victory comes at a cost. Superboy (Connor Kent) sacrifices himself to stop Superboy Prime and Earth-3’s Alexander Luthor’s plans.

When the duo summons an army of supervillains to Metropolis, Batman and his allies are pushed to their limits. When Nightwing becomes severely injured, the Dark Knight contemplates killing Alexander Luthor until Wonder Woman interferes. Eventually, Alexander Luthor is murdered by the Joker as former President Lex Luthor watches with glee. Infinite Crisis ends with the Dark Knight rebuilds his friendship with Superman and Wonder Woman, while he decides to take a year’s long cruise with Nightwing and Robin (Tim Drake).

Dr. Simon Hurt was the major villain in the first half of Grant Morrison’s ‘Batman’ run. (Artwork property of DC Entertainment)

Enter Grant Morrison

Celebrated comic book writer Grant Morrison entered the Dark Knight’s world following the One Year Later initiative. The former JLA and New X-Men scribe put Batman through a wild and emotional ride. “Batman & Son” introduced Damian to the Dark Knight’s world, while “The Black Glove” and “Space Medicine” story arcs built to “Batman: R.I.P.” where the Dark Knight faced off against Joker, the Club of Villains, and the vile Dr. Simon Hurt, who claimed he was Thomas Wayne.

Final Crisis

After defeating Dr. Hurt, the Dark Knight joined the DC Universe in Morrison’s Final Crisis. He personally confronted a reborn Darkseid in all hopes of preventing the “Victory of Evil.” It is this confrontation, where Batman mortally injures Darkseid through a radion bullet, but the despot’s deadly Omega Beams ‘killed’ him and send the Dark Knight back to prehistoric times.

The Dark Knight’s friends, family, and foes began a new chapter following his brief disappearance. (Artwork property of DC Comics)

Battle for the Cowl

With Batman ‘dead,’ Gotham fell into chaos! A new Black Mask burst onto the scene, destroyed Arkham, and rallied the inmates to join him to form a criminal empire. This situation forced the Dark Knight’s heirs to evaluate their lives. Jason Todd briefly put away the Red Hood persona and transformed into a Punisher-like Batman, which forced both Tim Drake and Dick Grayson to put on the cowl to stop him from destroying Bruce’s legacy.

Dick Grayson: Dark Knight, Act II

When Tony S. Daniel’s Batman: Battle for the Cowl ended, Dick Grayson became Batman once again. This time, he had a new Robin by his side: Damian Wayne. The new team became DC’s dysfunctional duo as they faced off against Two-Face, Black Mask II, Penguin, and Riddler, plus a vengeful Jason Todd, who once again donned the Red Hood persona. However, the duo was tested to their limits as the Joker returned and declared war on Dr. Simon Hurt.

Grant Morrison Batman Run
The Dark Knight returned to Gotham! (Artwork by David Finch & Scott Williams; Property of DC Comics)

The Dark Knight Returns to the DCU

Grant Morrison and a plethora of A-list artists released a six-part mini-series: Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne.  This mini-series saw an amnesiac Batman race through time to re-join the DC Universe. Along the way, Bruce regains those memories while facing off against Vandal Savage and the Black Glove in various time periods. Eventually, Bruce returns in the cape and cowl to save Dick and Daiman from Joker and Dr. Hurt.  Bruce allowed Dick to keep the cowl and started to bring his operation to the public with Batman Incorporated.

Flashpoint Hinderance

Just as Batman Incorporated took off, the Geoff Johns-penned Flashpoint turned the entire DC Universe upside down. In this alternate reality, Dr. Thomas Wayne became Batman and his wife, Martha, was the Joker! The reason why these two were alive because Joe Chill KILLED Bruce!  The Flash (Barry Allen) teamed up with Dr. Wayne, Cyborg, and other heroes to not only set things right but also to stop the warring Aquaman and Wonder Woman from tearing the world apart.

For more information about Batman 80, visit DC Comics’ website.

Trackbacks

  1. […] to now.  In case you missed it, part one covered 1986 to 1999, while part two covered the 2000s to Flashpoint. […]

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Copyright 2019 Jacob Elyachar