Membership: Don, Rob, Spike, others unnamed

Base of Operations: Gotham City, Earth-31

First AppearanceThe Dark Knight Strikes Again #1 (February, 2002)

History (The Dark Knight Strikes Again #1) - Rick Rickard was elected President of the United States, pivoting the U.S. towards fascism. Rickard was actually a computer hologram controlled by Lex Luthor, the real power behind the government. He systematically imprisoned heroes he was worried might cause his downfall. Three years after faking his own death Batman decided the time was right to strike and free the U.S. from tyranny. Carrie Kelley, now going under the name Catgirl broke into Palmer Industries, where the Atom had been permanently shrunken and kept in a petri dish by Luthor. Atom spent years fighting microbes in the petri dish, living like a savage and concentrating on surviving in the brutal environment. Catgirl returned Atom’s bio-belt to him, giving him back his size-changing abilities, and she evaded security, keeping Atom safe inside her mouth until returning to the Batcave. She vomited up Atom, which was unpleasant and embarrassing for both of them. Superman was aware of Batman returning to action and wished he could have just continued to stay underground, pretending to be dead. Superman believed the compromises he made served a greater good and was angered that Batman was always rocking the boat. Batman planned to free the Flash from the Kanemitsu Power Complex. He sent Atom, Catgirl and the “Batboys,” the former Mutants gang members and other criminals now loyal only to him to free him. The Batboys weren’t thrilled with their name or being led by Carrie, but they were unquestionably dedicated to Batman’s plans. Batman was ready to declare open war on the U.S. and was ready to make his existence known to the public, hoping to draw out Superman, who he viewed as a traitor and a servant of the oppressive class. Catgirl and company freed Flash, who’d been captured after the government threatened his wife’s life and forced him to run endlessly on a treadmill to supply power to the U.S. Batboy Spike killed one of the guards, crossing a line Batman forbade, so Catgirl severely injured him to discipline him. Batman hoped he was making enough waves to force Superman’s hand, and for his part Superman was fuming, believing Batman didn’t understand the greater good and that better things weren’t possible. He contacted Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, saying they had to have a talk. Superman was sick of them serving Luthor’s objectives, but Luthor found out about their meeting, and reminded them he still had the Amazons of Themyscira, Mary Batson and the bottle city of Kandor hostage, furious that they would even think of defying him. As a reprimand Brainiac massacred a randon Kandorian family and Luthor demanded Superman bring him Batman. Superman, filled with rage and sadness, broke into the Batcave, where Flash hit him with a number of explosive devices, Green Arrow, now sporting a cybernetic arm, shot an arrow filled with kryptonite napalm at him and Atom played havoc with his inner ear after crawling inside it. Batman was wearing his kryptonite gauntlets and battered Superman bloody, demanding he get out of the Batcave.

(The Dark Knight Strikes Again #2) - Batman, Catgirl and the Batboys stormed the capital, destroying Luthor’s databanks of material he’d gathered spying on U.S. citizens for future use as blackmail or to terrorize the public. Batman carved the Mark of Zorro into Luthor’s face, and for the first time in a long while Luthor was scared. Batman, Catgirl, Atom and their latest recruit Elongated Man broke into Arkham Asylum, which had been under the control of the inmates for years. They found the secret containment unit where Lex Luthor had Plastic Man held prisoner and freed him. The years had driven Plastic Man mad, and he attacked Elongated Man until Batman punched some sense into him. Batman knew Plastic Man was the most powerful of all the heroes he’d recruited, but he was extremely unstable. Luthor told Superman there was an alien invasion, and he had to save the world. Superman confronted the alien ship that had already slaughtered dozens, and Brainiac revealed himself as the pilot. He didn’t want Batman’s group of heroes to give the people any hope, so Superman was chosen to be the fall guy. Brainiac said he’d be completely humiliated, defeat and then destroyed as a message to the populace that there was no hope in superheroes. Superman refused to fight back or flee, and Brainiac tried to destroy Superman, but was frustrated by his invulnerability. Batman decided to make his existence completely public, appearing with Green Arrow and Black Canary and urging the youth of America to put on tights and rise up.

(The Dark Knight Strikes Again #3) - Catgirl and Green Arrow were attacked by a shapeshifting creature calling himself the Joker and Catgirl was shocked by how relentless he was. Joker injured Green Arrow and Catgirl used his trick arrows to seemingly kill Joker, taking him apart with arrows filled with acid and thermite. Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman tried to help Superman against Brainiac, but Marvel was mortally wounded. Brainiac burned Metropolis to the ground, and Superman knew all his loved ones were dead including Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane, once the love of his life. Brainiac learned of the existence of Lara, Superman and Wonder Woman’s daughter and sent her a telepathic message demanding she surrender to him or he’d destroy the bottle city of Kandor. Lara decided to finally confront her father and ask him about her Kryptonian heritage. Superman was disturbed that she had a great disdain for humanity seeing them as weak and useless. Lara had a fascistic bent, wondering why the powerful didn’t simply enslave humanity, who were constantly killing each other when they weren’t killing the planet. Batman contacted Superman via hologram, trying to convince him to defy Luthor. Batman promised he’d get Kandor back for Superman if he agreed to follow marching orders. Batman said he’d need Lara for his plan as well, and although she bristled at the idea of taking orders from him Superman convinced her to help. Catgirl interviewed a young precog named Saturn Girl, hoping to recruit her. Saturn Girl warned her that the new Joker was still alive, and hated her and Batman more than anything else in life. Lara submitted herself to Brainiac, who filled her with nanobots to ensure her compliance. He allowed her to see and touch Kandor, admitting that he took glee in treating the Kryptonians inside like ants that he could torture. A single tear fell from Lara’s eye, enabling Atom to enter the bottle city. Batman staged a breakin and allowed himself to be captured by Luthor. Batman’s idea of insurgency had spread across the nation, leading to large-scale riots and military intervention. Batman allowed Luthor to beat him while he bragged about being glad to have an excuse to unleash the military on the U.S. populace. Luthor crowed about having space cannons and orbiting nukes that could eliminate anyone who dared speak out against him. Green Lantern returned to Earth, destroying Luthor’s orbiting defense system, and then returned to the stars. Batman freed himself, and introduced Luthor to the son of Hawkman and Hawkwoman, who Luthor had killed. Their son took his mace and bashed Luthor’s head in. Lara warmed up her body, destroying the nanobots inside, and Atom freed the Kandorians, who returned to normal size, regaining their natural Kryptonian powers. Lara and the Kandorians used all their power to kill Brainiac. Superman met with Lara, having come around to her point of view, and asked her what they should do with their planet. Joker invaded the Batcave, attacking and seriously injuring Catgirl. Batman deduced that he was Dick Grayson, still bearing a grudge because Batman fired him as Robin for being useless. Robin / Joker was filled with intense love and hatred for Batman, who found him difficult to kill because he’d undergone gene therapy under the supervision of Luthor and Brainiac that allowed him to regenerate. Batman initiated a self-destruct sequence that unplugged a volcano that existed miles underneath the Batcave, destroying it and immolating Robin / Joker. Batman flew the injured Catgirl away in the Batplane, pondering their new future.

Comments: Created by Frank Miller.

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