Eleven years ago, Gotham City was changed forever when a masked vigilante started showing up in the night. No one knew if he was a friend or foe at first, but after one particularly long Halloween Gotham City began to trust him. Over time, Gotham became synonymous with the Batman. Now, after ten long years, the city had come to depend on his watchful protection. His family of crime fighters even grew over the years to include such notable names as Robin, Batwoman, Nightwing, Batgirl, and the Oracle. His presence has even attracted other vigilantes to the city as well, personas like the Huntress and the Spoiler, who aren’t usually seen as part of Batman’s cadre.
Then there is the darker element for which, some claim, the Batman is responsible. These odd psychotic villains were unheard of before Batman’s arrival. Eleven years ago greed, corruption, and vice flooded the streets but it was run by street gangs or organized crime syndicates. These insane costumed adversaries of the Batman are a plague that many trace to Batman’s arrival in Gotham City. Cause or effect, the role that these villains and vigilantes have had on Gotham City is immeasurable.
Then came the events of last year, when a masked villain named Bane strode into Gotham City and broke Batman’s back across his knee. Bane publicly destroyed Batman, throwing his body into Gotham Square for the world to see. While Gotham City mourned the loss of its protector, it still had other vigilantes to keep it safe at night. Batman’s allies acted quickly and saw Bane apprehended and incarcerated at the Arkham Island Mental Health Institute, or Arkham Asylum.
Word of Batman’s demise spread quickly and soon it reached the Watchtower. The Watchtower was home to the Justice League, the largest and most powerful crime fighting force that the world had ever seen. It’s leader, Superman, was a close friend to the Batman and upon hearing of his friend’s death set out for Gotham City. Knowing that Bane was recently captured and placed in Arkham, Superman didn’t waste any time with formalities. Reports of the Man of Steel crashing into Bane’s cell were all over the news that night, but if it hadn’t been for the Riddler leaking the security footage from Bane’s cell no one would know what transpired behind those walls.
The video, which went instantly viral, is of crystal clear quality thanks to recent upgrades to Arkham’s security system. The video starts with a loud crash and a cloud of dust filling the screen. When things settle the viewer watches Superman beat Batman’s killer within an inch of his life. The violence continues until Bane’s unconscious body hangs limp in Superman’s left hand while his right fist is raised for a killing blow. A voice calls out, soft and stoic, through the din. “Kill him.” Superman, clearly hearing the voice, turns slowly and the camera pans to show what he’s looking at. Across the hall, in the adjacent cell, the calm leering face of the Joker stares back at him. There is no humor in Joker’s eyes, they are a deep bloodshot red and his cheeks are lined with dryed salt. Even his permanently crimson grin seems sad and deadly serious. The Joker looks directly at Superman, “Do it. Kill the man who killed our friend. Bring us justice.” At this angle, the viewer can see Superman’s face for the first time and from his undulating red eyes we can see a solid stream of tears. His reply is almost too soft to hear at normal volumes, “No.” The Joker bows his head and mutters, “No? No no no no no” as Superman bounds out of the hole he punched into Bane’s cell. The clip ends with guards rushing into Bane’s cell and the Joker still muttering “No” over and over again.
Superman never returned to Gotham City. The responsibility for it’s protection fell to Batman’s allies, Nightwing and his sidekick Red Robin, Huntress, Spoiler, and the information network known only as the Oracle. Together they formed the Society of the Bat but they weren’t the only vigilante group in the world. Many believed that members of the Justice League would help to keep Gotham City safe too. Eventually some would, but the Justice League had its own problems. Superman had been missing since his confrontation with Bane.
A month after Batman’s death, Superman returned in a big way. A massive explosion rocked Bucyrus, Ohio and the Man of Steel burst from the ground battling a monstrosity that would come to be known as Doomsday. There has been much speculation as to how the fight started, if Superman uncovered the creature and recklessly engaged it or if he sought it out in a fit of suicidal mania. Regardless of the cause, the battle raged from Bucyrus to Metropolis ultimately ending in front of the Daily Planet. It was there that both combatants, Doomsday and Superman, succumbed to their wounds. They say that the day Batman died only Gotham City cried. The day Superman died the entire world wept.
Without Superman or Batman, the Justice League began to fall apart. Some departed. Green Lantern left when Sinestro attacked the Lantern Corps causing a war to break out. Green Arrow and Black Canary left to join the Society of the Bat and help try to stabilize Gotham City. Others vanished. Wonder Woman, in a battle with Circe, was banished to unknown realms. The Flash disappeared into a timestream, trying to stop some unheard of menace called the Third Wave. A few were killed. Aquaman died in a bloody coupe after abandoning the surface world to return to Atlantis as it’s King. Libra and his men captured Martian Manhunter and burned him alive. One by one the Justice League fell apart and the Watchtower was left abandoned.
It was put best in a, now famous, Daily Planet letter to the editor, “The world has lost it’s heroes and we have Batman to blame. In recent months we’ve watched in terror and grief as our great protectors fell one by one. Most would point their fingers at villains; Doomsday, Libra, Sinestro, Black Manta, Circe or others. This concerned citizen sees a more horrifying reality. Superman was never the same after the death of Batman. We’ve all seen the footage of Arkham and the battle with Doomsday. He became reckless, or suicidal, and cost us his life. Like a series of dominoes, Batman’s death started the chain reaction that left our world unprotected.” This line of thinking wasn’t unpopular either.
Gotham City, an outcast metropolis before Batman’s death, was isolated even further. Many were content to leave the city to fend for itself and it didn’t take long for Gotham to become a nightmare. Its already insanely high crime rates skyrocketed and only a skeleton crew of honest policemen were left. The Society of the Bat tried its best to carry on with Batman’s work, with some notable success. They worked over the last year to arrest and detain the majority of Gotham City’s more nefarious criminals. For a brief moment, Gotham had hope. But hope isn’t an easy feeling to nurture in Gotham’s rotten soil. The end started when Black Mask ordered the attack that killed Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Huntress. Then came the attack on Blüdhaven.
Already split between Gotham City and Blüdhaven, Nightwing was forced to return to his new home when Chemo rampaged into the city. Together with Red Robin the duo battled Chemo in the streets, and in an eerie replay of the Superman vs. Doomsday conflict it ended with the death of every combatant. Unlike the Superman vs. Doomsday conflict, this one also destroyed a city. Chemo erupted, spilling toxic sludge from which Red Robin barely escaped. Wounded and deathly sick with radiation poisoning, Red Robin informed the press that Nightwing was killed in the blast. Less than two weeks later Red Robin passed away from his poisoning. With the last of its allies gone, the Oracle network stopped transmitting the day before Red Robin’s death.
Today, the world is a dark place. There are no heroes left. All because one year ago Bane broke the Bat.
|Monday, December 23rd 2013||Batman is killed by Bane|
|Sunday, Febuary 2nd 2014||Superman is killed by Doomsday|
|Saturday, March 8th 2014||Aquaman is killed in a coupe|
|Saturday, March 22nd 2014||Wonder Woman is exiled by Circe|
|Wednesday, April 2nd 2014||Green Lantern leaves for the Sinestro War|
|Thursday, July 3rd 2014||Martian Manhunter is burned alive|
|Friday, August 8th 2014||The Flash vanishes into the timestream|
|Thursday, September 11th 2014||Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Huntress are killed by Black Mask|
|Saturday, November 22nd 2014||Nightwing is killed by Chemo|
|Wednesday, December 3rd 2014||Oracle’s last transmission is received|
|Thursday, December 4th 2014||Red Robin dies from his wounds|
|Wednesday, December 31st 2014||Current Date|