33 years ago - 6-year-old Bruce Wayne meets Alfred Pennyworth, who has returned to Wayne Manor for his father's funeral. Alfred helps young Bruce outsmart a bully and chooses to stay on as the Wayne's butler.
31 years ago - 8-year-old Bruce Wayne falls through an abandoned well into the future batcave. His parents are gunned down by a mugger. Bruce is found by Leslie Thompkins and cared for by Officer James Gordon.
25 years ago - 14-year-old Bruce Wayne leaves Gotham City to travel the world, training for his mission. Alfred Pennyworth maintains the illusion that he is away at a series of boarding schools.
21 years ago - 18-year-old Bruce trains briefly under an assumed name with David Cain, who begins developing his theories about replacing language with movement.
20 years ago - 19-year-old Bruce Wayne studies under an assumed identity with Zatara and meets his daughter Zatanna.
15 years ago - 24-year-old Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City. He attempts to fight crime on the streets but fails, leaving him nearly dead. After an epiphany in his study, he crafts his identity a Batman. Lieutenant Gordon is the only man on the police force he trusts, and soon they are working together along with Assistant DA Harvey Dent. The League of Assassins send Lady Shiva to test him. He confronts The Joker for the first time, stopping him from poisoning the Gotham Reservoir.
14 years ago - 25-year-old Bruce Wayne takes in Dick Grayson when his parents are killed, who becomes Robin. He first meets Selina Kyle, and soon also meets her new costumed alter-ego Catwoman. His work with Lieutenant Gordon & Harvey Dent leads to Gotham's DA being brought down on corruption charges.
12 years ago - 27-year-old Bruce Wayne first meets Barbara Gordon's Batgirl. He asks Zatanna for help on a case and works with Knight & Squire. Carmine Falcone puts a hit out on Batman, bringing in some of the best assassins in the world, including Slade Wilson, Deadshot, Thomas Blake, and Patricia Trayce
11 years ago - 28-year-old Bruce Wayne is confronted by Ra's Al Ghul, testing his worth as an heir. He has a night of passion with Talia Al Ghul, but ultimately rejects Ra's offer. He works for the first time with Jason Blood. Harvey Dent is attacked with acid and becomes Two-Face.
9 years ago - 30-year-old Bruce Wayne almost kills the Joker for paralizing Barbara Gordon, but is talked down by Commissioner Gordon. When Bruce is caught by Two-Face, Dick Grayson ignores an order not to try to try to save him, and when he fails he is beaten mercilessly. Bruce fires him as a result, replacing him with Jason Todd as the new Robin.
8 years ago - 31-year-old Bruce Wayne & Jason Todd track down the Joker, who kills Jason. Without a Robin, he forms the Outsiders & joins the newly-formed Justice League.
7 years ago - 32-year-old Bruce Wayne takes over leadership of the Justice League from Arthur Curry. He approaches Zatanna for help binding the Silver Banshee within Siobhan McDougal's body again, helping her return to adventuring. Selina hands over Jack Chavez to him.
6 years ago - 33-year-old Bruce Wayne disbands the Outsiders & quits the Justice League to become a reservist. Oliver Queen stops Merlyn from making a hit on Bruce.
5 years ago - 34-year-old Bruce Wayne takes on Tim Drake as the new Robin. Barbara Gordon resurfaces as Oracle, and Jean-Paul Valley is rescued from the Order of St. Dumas. Swamp Thing tries to stop him from fighting Solomon Grundy so he can become a new Earth elemental, but is unsucessful. He saves Selina Kyle from certain death at the hands of Black Mask's men, and finally condones her work in the East End.
4 years ago - 35-year-old Bruce Wayne's back is broken by Bane. Jean-Paul Valley takes over as Batman, but has to be removed when he rebuilds it as a shadow of Azrael. Bruce retrains his body under the guidance of Lady Shiva. He reveals his identity to Selina Kyle, who helps him recover his batsuit. Dick Grayson takes over as Batman until Bruce is completely recovered. His relationship with Selina moves forward.
3 years ago - 36-year-old Bruce Wayne is among the Justice League reservists that found the Watchtower after the White Martian Invasion. Gotham is stricken by the League of Assassins Contagion bio-plague. He is contacted by Talia, who informs him that this was done by Bane, who had been selected as a new heir but who had rejected the role. Bruce must defeat Ra's Al Ghul for the right to fave Bane, who he ultimately defeats. Gotham is destroyed in an earthquake. Cassandra Cain appears in Gotham and after he battles David Cain, becomes the new Batgirl. He recommends that Selina Kyle's daughter Helena be sent to Phantom Lady's Universite Norte Dame Des Ombres. Bruce pays for her tuition and board.
2 years ago - 37-year-old Bruce is framed for murder. He discovers that Lex Luthor hired David Cain to frame him, but Cain is convinced to turn himself in when he is defeated by Cassandra Cain. He rejects Stephanie Brown's attempt to become Robin after Tim Drake quits, inadvertently starting the War Games. He helps Clark Kent clear his name when Lex frames him for attacking the Earth with the help of the global-monitering of Winslow Schott, battling Lex in his battle armor, costing him the presidency. He saves Harvey Dent when he jumps off a roof in an attempt to finally break away from his Two-Face identity.
now - 39-year-old Bruce's Babel protocols are stolen by Nyssa Al Ghul, proving that he had contingency plans against the Watchtower, leading to his expulsion before he is defeated by the League of Assassins and presumed dead. He is imprisoned alongside Kate Kane.
Without a doubt, Batman is the CENTRAL character of the entire DC universe. his story lines are the framework that the rest of the stories hang on. We started the entire timeline here. More than any other character we've worked on, the hardest part was trying to get the huge number of stories featuring Batman and his supporting cast to fit within a single human lifetime. The most effort went into getting all of his stories lined up in a way that feels natural. Hopefully there's a natural flow from event to event that feels like the progression of an actual person and not like the arbitrary machinations of a rotating cast of writers.
Batman's Comic History
Batman first appeared in the pages of Detective Comics in 1939. He was the invention of writer Bob Kane, who fervently protected his legacy as the creator of Batman for the rest of his life. It was only years later that the contribution to the character by artist Bill Finger finally came to light, and he finally started to be recognized as the cocreator of one of the most recognized and sucessful fictional characters that's ever been imagined.
At his core, what makes Batman so long lasting is that, whether intentional or not, Batman is not a child's power fantasy like so many other superheroes; he's an adolescent power fantasy. if Superman is what a small child imagines when they want to feel powerful, Batman is what a teenager imagines. By incorperating at least vague elements of rebellion and anti-establishment sentimen in the bones of the character, he promised to entertain people long after they came to terms with the fact that people can't fly. Batman was one of the very first comic titles where the character had an actual tragic backstory. It opens the character to be continually re-analysed as we explore what kind of psychpath decides to spend billions of dollars to dress up as a bat and punch criminals, and it will never stop being fun.
Our Batman Story
There is so much Batman content! This character has starred in at least three monthly books for nearly 80 years, and a lot of it is actually really good. Like most of our timeline, we're ignoring pretty much everything after 2011, but that still leaves a huge number of stories. We cherrypicked a lot of our favorites and tried to assemble something we liked, which came out looking fairly similar to the late 90's early 2000's version of the character. We had to make some tiny shifts to the order of events in a few places, but they tended to feed into each other and make the overall story feel more dynamic. For example, the end of the original satellite era Justice League, the death of Jason Todd, the crippling of Barbara Gordon, and the creation and end of the Outsiders all happen within a few years of each other, which all suggests a period of huge upheaval in Bruce's life.
There are a few story contentions we simply had to make to keep it all on track (Bruce heals awfully fast from that broken back), but one story element that we are REALLY proud of is that, as we continued to add in the stories of his various nemesis, a really interesting unfolding story about the criminal life of Gotham started to evolve. Bruce becomes part of the living organism that is Gotham, and we're excited that it grew seemingly on it's own as we continued to craft the overall story.
The Batman Family
The original idea of having a kid sidekick actually originates from Batman when Robin debuted all the way back in 1940, a mere year after Batman himself made his first appearance. While writer Otto Binder really invented the idea of having a whole CAST of supporting characters in the pages of Captain Marvel, there's some thing that really makes the huge family of Batman supporting characters stand out. Actually... two things.
First, that each new addition to the family seems to truely bring something special and unique to the roll. No one has ever been brought in as a simple reflection of Batman, but instead manages to be a hero with their own motivations, their own style. It's pretty amazing for them to have had five different Robins, and ALL of them are completely unique characters.
Second; there's something about the nature of Batman that seems to be so exposed and raw when you consider his tendancy to surround himself with young, talented heroes. Bruce works SO hard to project an image of being an aloof loner, but he can't hide the fact that he clearly wants to surround himself with family. It can be read into so many ways, but my take on the character is always that he's really making most of his decisions based on the loss he experienced as a child. Yes, he wants to be an effective crimefighter. Yes, helping fund the Justice League and forming the Outsiders and constantly taking in new sidekicks is a tactically sound decision... but ultimately, I have to believe that what we're seeing is someone fighting his own loneliness.
While there's already a lot of ink spent over the nature of the dozens (hundreds?) of different variations we've seen on Batman's iconic costume over the decades, I'd actually like to come at it from an opposite direction.
A lot of people have had a lot of ideas about the levels of technology worked into his costume. While yes, he's a billionare and can have all kinds of tech, and half of the fun of the concept is that you can imagine him using all sorts of different toys; he's not Iron Man. He's using a blend of martial arts and assasin techniques. The suit needs to move, to breath, and not weigh him down when he's zipping about on retractable lines.
Thankfully, since Batman is featured in a wider variety of media than any character EVER, it's very easy to find an exact version of him that we think fits perfectly. We've all come to a very quick agreement that the best version of Batman's costume can be found in the Arkham video game series. It's a perfect blend of stealth and technology. In the last game in the series, Arkham Knight, he exchanges his costume for an armored tech suit. Even then, it actually does feel like something he might have available for emergencies... but that would be the HEAVIEST version of Batman's costume technology. The rediculous power suit of Dark Knight Returns or Batman V Superman might look cool, but that's just not how Batman works. That's Tony Stark, not Bruce Wayne.
Batman's Inherent Mortality
There's always an understading in comic books that this is an ongoing story, and that even though decades are passing, the character isn't aging in real time. Even with that understood, however, Batman had long carried an element of fatalism in his story. As we watch him work, we all can't help but be aware of the fact that he's not superhuman, that he's been doing this job for a long time (fifteen years in our continuity, which actually matches with the pre-2011 comic timeline pretty well), and that this simply can't continue indefinitely. This was a bit of a tightrope, actually one of the very first thoughts that inspired the entire DC Continuity Project; how old IS Batman? How old are his sidekicks? Where are we in his story? We made him JUST under 40. We wanted to have given him a long enough career to allow his sidekicks to grow into adults, and to fit all the pieces of his storied career, but still gives him some time before the inevitable questions of his ultimate fate become relevant.
40 isn't old... but it also isn't young anymore. As I right this, I'm 38. I understand what that looming milestone feels like. Batman should have that too, that awareness that he's not a young man anymore. He is constantly working against the clock, pushing against his own aging, feeling his body not quite moving the way it once did, having to rely more and more on his tactical brilliance. Not every character gets to have that fatalism in their story, and it's just another reason Batman's story is so great.
As we leave the timeline, Bruce is currently a prisoner of Ra's Al Ghul as part of the larger plans of the Light. Tim Drake is looking for him, and he's bonding with fellow prisoner Kate Kane. What is planned to happen is a rescue mission by Tim, where Bruce insists that he save Kate, who joins the extended Batman family as they assault the League of Assassins castle and free him. The intention is that this leads to a larger conflict with the Light.
And then, Bruce is back. Dick Grayson has taken over a lot of the operations of Gotham, but obviously when Bruce returns, he'll be Batman again. This is more of a group operation now, freeing Bruce to dedicate himself more to his personal mission, but what does that look like now? The answer, I think, is in the fact that Damian is now the new Robin.
Bruce can dedicate himself to training his son. He would even have a moral push to do so, as Damian was trained by the League of Assassins and could be very dangerous if he doesn't recieve the proper training. Perhaps this is what the near future holds for Bruce; it holds him focusing more on fatherhood. When you also consider that Selena Kyle is currently raising her daughter Helena, and won't say exactly who the father is, perhaps this new chapter in Bruce's life is bigger than even he realizes.
Batman's (Further) Future
While there are alot of proposals for Bruce's final destiny, this one is mine. Whether this happens or not shouldn't be set in stone, it's just how I imagine his future happening.
Bruce's connection to the League of Assassins has always had a element of tragedy, because he would absolutely be able to make the League his own and turn it into force for good that will long outlive him if he was to become it's new leader. Talia wants him to rule, Ra's wants him to rule, and even he sees what it could mean if he ruled. The only thing stopping him, unfortunately, is that Ra's will only give over control if Bruce kills him, Bruce will never kill him, and no one but Bruce COULD kill him. So they're left in a perpetual limbo as enemies.
Meanwhile, Bane is somehow connected to Bruce, but he doesn't understand how. He's had visions of bats, he's actually been chosen and rejected as a new heir to the League, but as of yet, no one really understands how they're connected.
So my proposal is that Bane ultimately kills Ra's Al Ghul in battle, dying himself, clearing the way so that Bruce can assume his mantle as the new head of the League, turning it into the League of Bats. There would be loyalists following Nyssa who fight him, and converts who would follow him and aid in his new mission to use the League, not as assasins, but as extensions of his war on crime. This would be a new era of stories, watching the League evolve under his direction and his bond with Talia; all of which would be challenged in grand shakespearian fashion by his persistant bond with Selena.
That's my idea... who knows it it would ever happen or not, but where else am I going to share it?