Introduction to the current status quo of Batman
August 17, 2010 1 Comment
Everyone knows Batman. But not everyone knows what’s going on with him now. So a brief history lesson might be useful, because comics have a lot of continuity. Hopefully this might help potential readers feel more comfortable picking up a Batman comic.
During DC’s Final Crisis event, Batman was killed by a long-time Superman villain named Darkseid, who used a weapon called the Omega Sanction. However, multiple discoveries led to the revelation that the body was a fake, and that Batman had actually been sent back in time and is bouncing back towards the present. This is potentially catastrophic, so the time traveller Rip Hunter assembles a team of ‘Time Masters’ including Superman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and Booster Gold to try to follow Bruce Wayne through time and catch him.
That gives you basically everything you really need to know to get through The Return of Bruce Wayne and Time Masters: Vanishing Point. And also possibly Batman from #701.
While Batman was believed dead, Dick Grayson, the original Robin who became Nightwing, steps in and takes over as Batman. Dick Grayson chooses the recently discovered son of Bruce Wayne, Damian, as his Robin. Damian’s mother is Talia al Ghul, daughter of the head of the League of Assassins, and thus one of Batman’s enemies.
This is probably enough to get into Batman & Robin, but due to the stuff with the Red Hood you may need the next section.
The second Robin, Jason Todd, was brutally murdered by the Joker. However he came back, and, amongst other things, has assumed the Joker’s first alias, and became the Red Hood. He was also involved in The Battle for the Cowl, which was essentially former Robins and others like Azrael trying to assume the mantle of Batman. Regardless, Jason is the Red Hood, and one of (Dick Grayson) Batman & (Damian Wayne) Robin’s enemies.
This should cover you mostly for Batman & Robin, and will help with Red Hood: The Lost Days, a currently running mini-series about Jason Todd.
Another player in the Battle for the Cowl was Tim Drake (legally named Tim Wayne, as he is Bruce’s adopted son), the third Robin, and the Robin at the time of Batman’s ‘death’. After Dick became Batman and chose Damian to be Robin (citing that Tim was his equal, not his sidekick), Tim left Gotham. Taking a costume from the Batcave, Tim took on a new persona that became known as Red Robin. During his travels he encountered the League of Assassins and also found clues pertaining to Bruce’s current condition, and set about proving that Bruce was alive.
That gives you a starting point for reading Red Robin. It’s not spoiler-y enough to ruin Red Robin #1-#12, but should be enough for anyone wanting to start from more recent issues (the last issue was #15)
Finally, I think it’s worth explaining about the new Batgirl. Stephanie Brown was the fourth Robin, after Tim’s first stint. She was previously known as Spoiler. During her time as Robin, she was killed, or so it was believed. In actuality, Batman’s doctor, Dr. Thompkins, faked Stephanie’s death in order to protect her from actually dying as Robin. She came back some time later as Spoiler, and confronted Tim Drake, and fought alongside Batgirl Cassandra Cain. In the new Batgirl series, Cassandra gives up her role as she no longer feels like fighting for the Batman, seeing as he’s dead. Taking the costume for herself, Stephanie becomes the new Batgirl, but soon attracts the attention of Oracle, the original Batgirl, and is eventually given her own costume and works with Oracle, operating out of the Batcave.
That covers you for Batgirl.
There are some holes in my explanation, hopefully nothing too big. It should also be enough to read Detective Comics, but I don’t read it myself so I’m unsure. I also don’t follow Azrael, so I have no idea what’s happening in his ongoing series, sorry.
If this helps, please tell me, especially if you decide to start reading a Batman comic. I highly recommend Red Robin and Batgirl in particular.