The Dark Knights
THE WAR HAS RAGED FOR YEARS: A Timeline
1939: Thomas Wayne and Martha Kane are married after a five year courtship, uniting Gotham’s two most affluent families. World War II begins in Europe.
1940: Arkham Asylum for the Mentally Deranged closed due to malpractice, Amadeus Arkham sent to Black Gate Penitentiary.
1942: Alfred Pennyworth arrives at Wayne Manor and is hired as Thomas’ personal butler.
1943: Bruce Foster Wayne is born in the master bedroom of Wayne Manor, delivered by Alfred Pennyworth.
1945: World War II ends and organized crime begins to steadily rise in Gotham.
1952: The Asylum on Arkham Island reopens under the management of Dr. Cavendish with a new name: Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
1953: The Wayne Murders. Bruce takes a solemn oath to wage war against crime. Alfred Pennyworth becomes Bruce’s legal guardian and begins home schooling him and finds him counselling at The Cobblepot Center for Wayward Youth. Lucius Fox is named Acting CEO of Wayne Enterprises until Bruce turns 18.
1961: Bruce gains ownership of Wayne Enterprises, but instead of running the company disappears to embark on a global odyssey to transform himself into the smartest, strongest man possible. This quest unfolds over the rest of the 1960s. Notable teachers include John Zatara the magician, Ted “WildCat” Grant the boxer, Henri Ducard the master thief, Big Al the stunt driver, Kyodai Ken the last samurai, and R’as Al Ghul leader of the League of Shadows.
1966: Dr. Jonathan Crane Jr. becomes head psychologist at Arkham Asylum.
1968: Bruce enlists in the marines under a false name and deserts once he witnesses actual combat.
1969: Bruce returns to Gotham and takes ownership of Wayne Enterprises. He begins anonymously fighting crime as an unnamed masked vigilante and is nearly beaten to death by a motorcycle gang. He has an epiphany while bleeding in the study and staring at a bust of his father as a bat flies through a window and lands atop it. He decides to become a bat. Detective Jim Gordon moves to Gotham.
1970: Batman begins his war on crime, targeting the “Five Families” of Gotham Crime: the Falcones, the Maronis, the Thornes, the Zuccos, and the Moxons. The Falcones are the first to get taken out.
1971: Barbara Gordon is born in Gotham General. Batman forms an alliance with Detective Gordon and Harvey Dent, Attorney at Law.
1972: Dent get promoted to D.A. A violent thief calling herself Catwoman appears on the scene targeting the same set of gangsters.
1973: Dick Grayson is born in Moscow to a family of travelling aerialists in Haley’s Circus.
1974: The Maroni Massacre. Harvey Dent’s face is horrifically scarred while prosecuting the Maronis. He escapes from Gotham General and goes on a rampage, gunning down the entire Maroni family over the course of two bloody weeks. He is publicly apprehended by Batman. This takes place in February, and over the course of the year a long trail takes place and he is eventually sentenced to life in Arkham Asylum. Dr. Hugo Strange is assigned to his therapy.
1975: The remaining gangster families form an alliance and begin wearing masks to conceal their identities while performing crimes, dubbing themselves The Red Hood Gang. This string of crimes comes to a conclusion during a bloody shootout with the GCPD at Ace Chemical Plant in December. After this raid Gordon is appointed Police Commissioner.
1976: Roxanne Machin, a homeless woman at the time, gives birth to Alonso “Lonnie” Machin at the Kane House for Women, a non profit clinic. She soon finds employment at “Gotham-A-Go-Go” a gentlemen’s club run by Holly Go Nightly. On the bicentennial celebration at Circle Park, hundreds are poisoned by contaminated fish that cause them to laugh uncontrollably, many to the point of cardiac arrest. A man in a purple suit and clown makeup gives a speech and addresses himself as The Joker. At the end of the speech the fireworks are set off on the ground, killing dozens. He is then picked up by a helicopter and Batman chases him around the city, eventually catching him. His fingerprints have all been burned off and his lack of any discernible identity lands him in Arkham Asylum.
1977: Batman faces his first supernatural foe, The Mad Monk and his Monster Men. The monk claims to be an ageless vampire and the Monster Men are feral deformed behemoths that die of natural causes at the end of their transformation. The Mad Monk is placed in Arkham.
1978: Haley’s Circus picks up a prize fighter with alligator skin named Waylon “Alligator Man” Jones in New Weinlans (New Orleans) during a US Tour.
1979: Harvey Dent breaks out of Arkham and displays a new split personality, only responding to the name 2face. He commits a series of random bombings all involving the number 2. Barbara’s parents die on February 22nd on flight 22 to Metropolis. She is adopted by her uncle Jim.
1980: The Joker escapes and goes missing. A man claiming to be a discarded child of the Cobblepot family who has been living in the sewers emerges with an army of desperate homeless folks who have been living in an abandoned railroad tunnel called “No Man’s Mile.” Bruce Wayne diplomatically offers him property he bought from this man’s now dead family after a blood test proves his lineage, and Oswald “The Penguin” Cobblepot becomes the owner of The Iceberg Lounge. He dabbles in the world of crime but becomes a willing informant for Batman.
1982: Haley’s Circus is offered a Gotham residency by Bruce who has seen them in Rome. Waylon Jones hires hitman Tony Zucco to rig the “accidental” deaths of the Flying Graysons in hopes that it will make the Circus leave Gotham where he owes a major debt to the Thorne crime family that still operates there. Dick Grayson is orphaned in the ensuing manslaughter, which Bruce witnesses with his date Selina Kyle. Dick Grayson runs away into the city, living on the streets and hunting for his parents’ killer until he is stopped from killing Tony Zucco by Batman. In a bid to show the grieving boy that he understands what he’s going through he reveals his identity to Dick and brings him to the Batcave. Dick is officially adopted by Bruce soon after. Waylon Jones goes to The Penguin for sanctuary, who dubs him “Killer Croc” and makes him his personal bodyguard.
1983: Batman apprehends Croc and Penguin and puts them both in Blackgate.
1984: Dr. Jonathan Crane is revealed to have been experimenting on Arkham inmates including 2face and Joker, and when confronted by authorities, he is waiting for them in his office with a frightful mask and calls himself Scarecrow and gasses them with a hallucinogen that brings their worst fears to life. When confronted by Batman, he injects him with a pure solution of the toxin. While Batman is recovering in the Batcave, Dick convinces Alfred to let him go after Scarecrow on his own under a superhero persona he dubs “Robin.” He apprehends the villain despite being dosed himself by relying on a mantra his father taught him in the circus to become fearless. Crane is locked up in Arkham himself and Dr. Hugo Strange becomes head psychologist. When Batman wakes from his nightmare coma, he begins Robin’s full training and the Dynamic Duo is born.
1985: The Gotham Gazette begins receiving and printing mysterious and disturbing letters signed “Edward Nygma” that are complex puzzles leading to elaborate death traps involving hostages that need to be saved by a certain time. Batman and Robin solve the case and it’s revealed the letters were written by a mild mannered employee at the Gazette who had been assisting them the whole time named Arthur Brown. When they go to arrest him at his house he is gone and his pregnant wife hands them a final letter that leads them to Amusement Mile. It’s here they are tricked into a roller coaster death trap by none other than The Joker who reveals Arthur, now dressed in a corresponding green and purple suit, is his sidekick: The Riddler. The two have been planning this year long puzzle since Joker escaped in 1980, and the Riddler’s crimes were a distraction while Joker set up his grand finale at Amusement Mile unhindered. These foes are vanquished by Batman and Robin who send them both to Arkham. The heavily booby-trapped boardwalk carnival is shut down for everyone’s safety and remains so to this day.
1986: Catwoman is sent to prison and revealed to be Selina Kyle, a con woman pretending to be a socialite that was courting Bruce Wayne at the time. When Batman visits her at blackgate she says she was caught by a “redheaded tart playing dress up as you” and is incredulous when Batman says he doesn’t know who she’s talking about.
Meanwhile, in an explosive argument, Roxanne tells young Lonnie that his father was a silver tongued con man named Jack Napier who joined the Red Hood Gang and who she fears became Joker. Lonnie runs away, and is taken in by a homeless war veteran named Legs who teaches him how to pick pockets and shoplift. Among the first things he steals is a copy of The Anarchist’s Cookbook.
Meanwhile, people start becoming deathly ill after visiting Circle Park because of a new kind of ivy with flowers that produce deadly spores that’s been planted there and growing rapidly into the downtown area. The mysterious Batgirl, aka Barbara Gordon, is independently working the case and meets with Robin at the bat signal to deliver evidence she has on her prime suspect: a radical scientist named Dr. Isley who has been brainwashing mindless henchmen with a poison lipstick and made her skin venomous to the touch. Batman and Robin to solve the Poison Ivy case and vanquish this new foe with help from their new ally.
1987: What the papers call “freak crime” escalates in Gotham. Batman is initially blamed for a series of random and gruesome murders involving people falling from great heights committed by Dr. Kirk Langstrom who has transformed himself into a frightening half-bat monstrosity. Thespian Basil Karlo, the toast of the Milky Way (gotham’s Broadway), goes through a horrific transformation of his own, becoming a hulking shape-shifting mass of living clay intent on revenge against those who transformed him. Even gangland violence becomes more bizarre as a gang called the Dockside Dummies lead by a ventriloquist puppet takes over the streets. All these foes and many many more are defeated by the joint efforts of the Dynamic Duo, the mysterious Batgirl, and the GCPD. Arkham Asylum runs out of rooms and expands with increased security. 2face escapes during construction.
1988: A deranged inventor named Jervis Tetch develops a way to control people’s minds using radio signals beamed from the brim of hats. He kidnaps several people for a tea party at the Gotham Zoo, including Barbara Gordon. When rescued by Robin she reveals that she’s Batgirl and they team up to take down the Mad Hatter. They begin dating and soon thereafter she reveals her identity to Batman who reciprocates and reveals that he’s known all along. Robin is allowed to go patrolling on his own while Batman focuses on Batgirl’s full training.
1989: Lonnie returns home and creates an alternate identity for himself called Anarky. He uses this masked persona to rob an escalating number of financial institutions around Gotham. He eventually targets Wayne Tower and cuts off all the power in the building to escape. This power outage unfreezes a scientist and his dying wife who were hooked up to a cryogenic chamber in the basement science lab since 1950. Batman is able to stabilize Dr. Vincent Fries by restoring power to the building and plummeting the temperature in the basement to subthermal levels, but Nora Fries dies and Anarky gets away after being chased across town by Batgirl and Robin. They eventually corner him at his headquarters in an abandoned building and Batman knocks him out and realizes he’s a child. Lonnie’s sentencing is interrupted by Victor Fries who has built himself a cold containment suit that shoots icy blasts when it’s hoses are detached and freezes the entire courtroom. Our heroes take him out and thaw Lonnie, who spends his thirteenth birthday in The Cobb which has become a juvenile detention center.
1990: Dr. Hugo Strange loses his job at Arkham after being persuaded to come to work in the nude by Joker. Joker’s appointed a new doctor who made a reputation for herself by publishing an astonishing thesis at the age of 17 titled “Super Sanity: Mental Illness as an Evolutionary Defense.” The now 24 year old Dr. Quinn Zeldini legally changes her name to Harleen Quinzel and begins a controversial therapy experiment with the Joker that involves her dressing up as a clown during their sessions to gain his trust.
While driving to the reopening of the Courthouse after renovations following Mr. Freeze’s attack, Dick and Bruce and Alfred are kidnapped by 2face. He ties Bruce to a chair and hangs Dick and Alfred upside down in drowning pools. He gives Bruce the choice to save one of them. He chooses Dick. Batgirl arrives to save them all, but not soon enough to save Alfred. Bruce keeps his heart beating with electric shocks and takes him on a pilgrimage to his old mentor R’as Al Ghul who claimed to have a way to raise the dead. Bruce sends Dick a code to a locked closet in the batcave that reveals a blue and grey batsuit made for Dick to wear as a new Batman while Bruce is overseas and reveals that he’s going to give Wayne Enterprises to him on his 18th birthday next year. Dick refuses both of these and during a vicious argument with Barbara he swears that he’s done being Robin forever. They break up and Dick moves out of Gotham.
Meanwhile Alfred is indeed revived and Bruce has an extended romance with R’as’ daughter Talia while R’as tries to recruit him as his heir to the League of Shadows. When Bruce discovers plans to destroy gotham, he defeats R’as and returns to Gotham with Alfred.
1991: Todd, Juvie, Criminology. A 22 year old punk named Jason Todd steals the wheels from the batmobile and Bruce takes him under his wing, at first as his personal mechanic, and after witnessing how fast he learns whatever he’s taught, he makes him a new Robin. Meanwhile Jackson Drake, the head Dean at Gotham State University, admits Barbara Gordon into the college where she begins majoring in Criminology. The focus of her first year is studying the Anarky case and she interviews Lonnie in the Cobb, and the two become fast friends. The League of Shadows attacks Gotham after all, specifically targeting Batman’s allies in a plan to break his will so he will join his place at their side. This leads to a ninja element lingering in Gotham to this day. Dick sets up residence in a town south of Gotham called Bludhaven, and begins fighting crime as a new hero, calling himself Nightwing.
1992: The Joker takes Dr. Quinzel hostage and escapes from Arkham. While Barbara is helping Dick with a case in Bludhaven, Joker confronts Batman and Robin on the rooftop of Ace Chemicals. During the fight, Lady Shiva (League of Shadow’s deadliest assassin) and twenty ninja ambush the confrontation and kidnap Joker. They shanghai him onto a passing cargo plane. Batman tells Robin to let them go, but Jason disobeys and overloads his grappling hook to attach to the plane. Batman, injured, has Alfred send the stealth jet to pick him up. He speeds after the cargo plane, and receives a live feed from a camera from Jason’s utility belt. Filmed by a third party the footage shows the ninja are all dead and bleeding on the floor of the cargo plane, and Joker busts open a box with a crowbar revealing a warhead. He taunts Batman and then starts beating Jason with the crowbar. The footage goes black. Batman opens up his cockpit, having finally caught up to the cargo plane and is about to grapple onto it when it explodes in front of him over the ocean. Combing the water he finds a corpse in Robin’s tattered outfit. Dental DNA comes back positive. Jason Todd is dead.
1993: Lonnie is released from the Cobb early with help from Barbara pleading his case. He immediately returns to his life as Anarky, but more covertly. He sets up a kind of “second internet” and pays for equipment and special tutoring by becoming a hacker for hire. Nightwing does not visit the Manor all year. While on patrol Batgirl meets an 18-year-old named Tim Drake who shocks her by revealing that he knows the secret identity of her, Batman, and Nightwing. He was in the audience the night Dick’s parents died, and became an obsessive fan of Robin after he noticed the young hero doing an aerial maneuver identical to one the flying graysons did. From there he was able to put the whole story together. She decides not to tell Bruce about him to protect the kid, but he begins sending her fan mail and news clippings he’s gathered. Bruce in the meantime has gotten completely depressed and angry and paranoid after Jason’s death. After he throws the Penguin off a roof, Barbara contacts Dick to speak with him. When Nightwing comes to town, Poison Ivy is on the loose and kills a group of loggers. Batman fights her in a brutal no holds barred clash that ends with him straddling her and spraying a poison of his own creation into her face even though she’s defenseless. Nightwing shouts at him to stop and he doesn’t. Nightwing tackles his mentor who lashes out at him and the two have an epic duel across the entire city. Barbara is able to separate them. Nightwing leaves again, and Bruce is stricken with remorse. Alfred suggests she shows him Tim’s fan mail as a way of reminding him of the old days, of who Batman is supposed to be. She does and after pouring over a lifetime of letters, Bruce asks to meet Tim. Drake is invited to Wayne Manor, and after an interview Bruce takes him through the secret entrance to the Batcave. Tim, being a computer whiz, operates out of the cave as a consultant and trusted ally. Poison Ivy is still in a coma.
1994: When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, a gigantic explosion at Arkham Asylum kills 25% of the population and releases the rest. Mayor Hill is murdered and the Gateway (now called the New Hill Bridge) is destroyed, and the other bridges out of Gotham are blocked off, as are the tunnels. No Man’s Mile is flooded, nearly killing Lonnie. Batman fears this all to be the work of The Joker, whose body he never found in the plane explosion that killed Jason. He calls all his allies into action, even telling Tim to suit up (who selects Dick’s last Robin uniform). The Justice League are even called but are out of contact on Earth 3. Catwoman fights alongside our heroes for the first time and takes out the Dockside Dummies. Nightwing rides into town with allies from Bludhaven, Black Canary and Huntress. Nightwing fights Scarecrow. Batgirl fights 2face. Robin fights Riddler and teams up with Nightwing to take down Mr. Freeze. Alfred remote controls the stealth jet, ferrying people across the town and fighting Man-Bat and preventing villains from fleeing Gotham at the airport. Batman fights Solomon Grundy, then Clayface and then Killer Croc, who nearly kills him. After defeating Croc he can’t get a hold of Alfred so he races back to the cave. It’s inside the cave that he meets Bane, the mastermind of this chaos. Bane was born inside a hellish prison in South America and singlehandedly killed everyone there and then came sought to defeat the greatest champion living in the outside world and decided that was Batman. So he hid in Gotham patiently observing since 1986. He even spent a year living in the dark of the batcave system without detection. So here he is and he fights Batman, who almost wins until Bane injects himself with a potent muscle enhancer of his own creation called Venom that supercharges his strength. Bane breaks Batman’s back over his knee and carries his unconscious body to Robinson Square (Gotham’s version of Time Square located on the North side of Circle Park). Here Bane claims Gotham as his own and throws Batman’s body into the gathered crowd. Nightwing collects Bruce and brings him back to the cave. Barbara and Tim are already there and reviving Alfred who was knocked out by Bane. The four of them decide the cave isn’t safe and flee Gotham for Bludhaven. It’s there that Bruce is operated on by Dr. Thomas Elliot, a childhood friend from his days at the Cobb who grew up to be Gotham’s best surgeon. Over the next months Bane and the new armies he gathers are slowly defeated by our heroes as Bruce tries to heal. Eventually order returns to the city. Bruce is taken to Themyscira, home of Wonder Woman, and fully healed there. Tim’s training as Robin is shared by Batgirl in Gotham and Nightwing in Bludhaven. Bane is placed in the high security wing of the rebuilt Arkham.
1995: On New Year’s Eve Batman delivers a speech to the citizens of Gotham. It seems a new golden age is finally on the horizon. Then in the early morning of Janurary 4th, Robin never returns from what should have been a routine patrol. That was three very long days ago. Batman is outside a warehouse he hopes holds the answers to Tim’s disappearance. Nightwing is spying on the League of Shadows in the middle east. Batgirl is delivering a criminal to Arkham Asylum. Anarky is about to fall asleep in his van at 1:00pm after a long night of coding. There is a knock at his door…