The Bottle City Travel Guide: Pre-Flashpoint Gotham City
DC’s Convergence crossover is built around pitting cities pulled from different eras against each other in an ultimate battle to determine which continuity reigns supreme, and as you may already know just from reading that sentence, that can get a little confusing. With all the Gothams and Metropolises (Metropoli?) throwing their heroes against each other, we thought it might be useful to offer our readers a handy guide to telling Pre-Flashpoint from Post-Crisis with a series of Bottle City Travel Guides!
Today, it’s Pre-Flashpoint Gotham City: What it is and how it came to be!
Pre-Flashpoint Gotham City
Era: 2010 – 2011
Major Players: Obviously, the major characters in Gotham City are the Batman Family, which, at this time, was at its largest:
- Batman – In this reality, Batman is Bruce Wayne, recently returned after Darkseid’s Omega Sanction sent him on a journey through time. Judging by the costume, he has reclaimed his role as the Dark Knight, but has yet to found the worldwide Batman Inc., which explains why he was trapped under the dome. He has been fighting crime as Batman for roughly twelve years.
- Robin – Damian Wayne, Batman’s artificially aged son with Talia al-Ghul. Was primarily partnered with Dick Grayson during his tenure as Batman, now fighting alongside his father.
- Nightwing – Dick Grayson, the original Robin. Recently spent some time filling in as Batman, partnered with Damian. Returned to Gotham City following the destruction of Blüdhaven, the city across the river where he was the resident superhero for a while.
- Red Robin – Tim Drake, formerly the third Robin, who took a new identity during Bruce Wayne’s absence.
- Batgirl – Stephanie Brown, formerly the Spoiler, crime-fighting daughter of the villainous Cluemaster and ill-fated former Robin. “Died” during the events of the War Games storyline, but got better, came back as Batgirl, and once fought 24 Draculas in a single evening.
- Black Bat – Formerly Batgirl. Raised by the assassin David Cain to be a living weapon, the language centers of her brain were adapted to physical motion instead of speaking. In other words, she can fight as well and as easily as everyone else can talk, and reads body language better than anyone. Gave up being Batgirl in favor of Stephanie Brown, probably because of that time she was mind-controlled and briefly took over the League of Assassins after blowing up Ra’s al-Ghul’s oldest daughter, Nyssa, with a car bomb.
- Red Hood – Jason Todd, the second Robin, returned to life due to the reality-altering events of Infinite Crisis. Took the identity of the Red Hood and attempted to murder both Batman’s villains and Batman himself. His costume and the presence of his sidekick, Scarlet, place this Gotham City after the events of Batman and Robin #6.
- Scarlet – Red Hood’s sidekick, the only survivor of an attack by Professor Pyg that left her half-transformed into one of his creepy “Dollotrons.”
- Oracle – Barbara Gordon, formerly Batgirl. Paralyzed by the Joker, she returned to action as Oracle, an information broker, super-hacker and all-around master of anything relating to computers, first working with the Suicide Squad, then the Birds of Prey and acting as the coordinator for the Justice League of America.
- Huntress – Helena Bertinelli, last surviving daughter of a Mafia crime family who turned to superheroism after her family was killed. Teaches at a public school in her day job and also drives a Lamborghini, which, let me tell you, would blow that secret identity pretty quick. Former member of the JLA and Birds of Prey, but has a tendency to shoot people with a crossbow rather than just knocking them out with little metal bats, which tends to rankle just a bit.
- Batwoman – Kate Kane, member of Batman’s extended family (his mother was a Kane), although they have no connection beyond that. Trained as a marine before being expelled from United States Military Academy due to her sexuality. Operates as a superhero with training, supplies and support provided by her father, Colonel Jacob Kane. Renee Montoya’s ex-girlfriend.
- The Question – Renee Montoya. Not technically a member of the Batman Family, but tied pretty closely to everyone who is. Former detective for the GCPD’s Major Crimes Unit before leaving due to a scandal. Took over her superheroic identity from the original Question, Vic Sage, after he died of cancer following the events of 52. Bears the “Mark of Cain,” visible only to her, due to her battle against the cult built around the Crime Bible.
- Catwoman – Selina Kyle, on-again, off-again romantic interest for Batman and also an on-again, off-again supervillain. Currently in the off-again phase thanks to Gotham City Sirens, where she was living with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, recuperating from having her heart removed by Hush (surprisingly not fatal) and attempting to clean up Gotham’s reasonably awful East End.
Like I said, it’s a pretty big bunch. There are also a bunch of non-Gotham superheroes there as well:
- Superman – Going to go ahead and guess you know this guy and his deal. This particular version is happily married to Lois Lane, and wears red trunks with his costume, as is right and good. His appearance roughly 12 years before prompted the dawn of the DC Universe’s second Heroic Age.
- The Flash – Wally West, the living embodiment of the idea of heroic legacy. Formerly Kid Flash, took over from Barry Allen following the events of Crisis On Infinite Earths. Has recently returned from some time in the Speed Force, during which the role of Flash was filled by Bart Allen, formerly known as Impulse and Kid Flash. Joined by his two kids, Iris and Jai, who aged rapidly due to the Speed Force. Jai’s super-metabolism can give him temporary super-strength, while Iris can vibrate her molecules to pass through solid objects. Jai would eventually lose his powers, leaving Iris with both abilities, but apparently they were caught up in Gotham before that happened.
- The Atom – Ray Palmer, who used a chunk of white dwarf star to alter his size and mass at will. Spent some time as a tiny little barbarian king and was once also de-aged into the body of a teenager, which explains why he is basically Over It. Took back the role from his successor, Ryan Choi, after Choi was apparently killed by Deathstroke the Terminator.
- Jesse Quick – Daughter of the Golden Age heroes Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle. Can tap into the Speed Force by focusing on the formula “3X2(9YZ)4A).” Trained with the Flashes and also spent time with the Titans and, as Liberty Belle II, the Justice Society of America.
- Zatanna – Daughter of Golden Age hero Zatara, former Justice Leaguer. Professional stage magician who uses real magic to fight crime, usually by speaking backwards.
- Supergirl – Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin. Actually older than Superman, she was rocketed to Earth from Argo City, kept in suspended animation. Spent some time in the 31st Century with the Legion of Super-Heroes. Pretty good friends with Stephanie Brown — she was there for the Draculas too.
- Jade – Jenny-Lynn Hayden, daughter of the Golden Age Green Lantern and Thorn. Twin sister of Obsidian, former Green Lantern, was once a zombie but got better. Apart from her Green Lantern ring, also has powers from the Starheart (the consolidated chunk of magic that gave her father his powers) that involve similar abilities and the ability to control plants.
- Mera – Queen of Atlantis. Has the ability to control water, shaping it into weapons. Recently revealed to actually be from another dimension called Xebel, an underwater prison hidden in the Bermuda Triangle, and was sent to assassinate Aquaman but eventually fell in love with him instead.
If you’re traveling between Bottle Cities, make sure to visit the Anton Furst-designed Wayne Tower (first seen in “Destroyer” circa Batman #474), which survived the Cataclysm earthquake thanks to Wayne Industries’ stringent safety measures. Also be on the lookout for a crashed GCPD zeppelin in the harbor, a nice nod to the 2000-era Dave Johnson redesigns that brought in a few visual elements from Batman: The Animated Series.
Given their similar premises of a Gotham City cut off from the rest of the world, the biggest touchstone for the events of Convergence is probably No Man’s Land, the year-long story from 1999 that saw the city devastated by an earthquake and then abandoned by pretty much everyone except for Batman and his villains. Batgirl even mentions it in Convegence: Batgirl, and it goes a long way towards explaining the line in Convergence: Nightwing and Oracle about how there’s a pretty good number of Gothamites who are totally cool with being trapped under an impenetrable dome for a year. At least this time there’s TV.
For the Batman Family characters specifically, a good reference point would be Batman and Robin v.1, which has the most direct impact on them. It’s worth checking out #4-6 specifically, since that’s the story where Jason Todd — who was famously killed off after DC gave fans the chance to decide if he should live or die by calling into a telephone poll — attempted to kill Batman and Robin with a similar phone-in gimmick and recruited Scarlet.
You should also read Bryan Q. Miller and Lee Garbett’s Batgirl #14, where Batgirl and Supergirl fight a bunch of Draculas. Not just for Convergence, just in general.
As far as the rest of the characters, they seem to fit the status quo set by Brightest Day.
Why It Ended: In a word, Flashpoint. This is the DC Universe from immediately before the slate was wiped clean for the New 52, which reset a lot of its core elements: the 12-year sliding scale and a long history of legacy characters that went back to the Golden Age of the ’40s, as well as “older and more experienced” versions of characters like Batman and Superman. As opposed to our current New 52 era and its five-year timeline, these are characters who have gone through a heck of a lot more, for good and ill, and the sheer amount of characters operating out of this version of Gotham City stack the deck pretty hard in its favor in terms of sheer power.