Lately on the Something Awful forum, there’s been a thread about the upcoming Injustice: Gods Among Us game. A good percentage of the people who read and write in that thread aren’t comic fans, but are simply interested in the new game. That leads to a lot of questions based on various discussions. Questions like, “Who is Black Adam and why is everyone excited about him being in the game?” “Wait, what happened to the Green Lantern with the funny crab mask?” “What’s the deal with Flash, again?” “Hold on, Black Adam gets his powers from saying ‘chocolate egg cream’?” and mainly, “What the hell are any of you even talking about?”
For the hell of it, I started writing up profiles for each of the 24 announced characters. A guide that explains what each guy is about in a way that gives their backstories and notable moments, while spotlighting the stupid and cool aspects of their histories. I did a couple and it went over really well, so I’ve been trekking on. It’s actually been a complete blast to write.
So I figured, what the hell, I might as well repost them here. Send your non-comic reading friends and be edutained.
Before I get to the game’s cast, let’s take a quick look at the DC universe itself.
DC’s continuity is a complicated mess. Originally, back in the 30’s and 40’s, DC hit the scene with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash and other Golden Age heroes. Popularity died down a bit except for the first three (early Wonder Woman sold a lot through the years due to being a thinly-veiled fetish comic) and during the late 50’s/early 60’s, DC reintroduced a lot of their ideas. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were more or less the same concepts, but Green Lantern went from being a magical dude in a cape to a space cop in spandex and the Flash went from being a dude dressed as Mercury to a masked man with lightning bolt ears. Eventually, they figured out a storyline reason for this. The Golden Age of DC takes place on Earth-2 while the “modern” stuff takes place on Earth-1. This is discovered when 60’s Flash teleports himself to Earth-2 to meet the original Flash. This also meant that Earth-2 Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were all about 20 years older than their modern counterparts.
They did a lot of inter-dimensional crossovers and over the next twenty years created a lot of new universes with their own continuities. This became a huge headache and DC wanted to simplify things so new readers could get into comics easier. In the mid-80’s, DC did a huge event story called Crisis on Infinite Earths. While an epic, it’s also incredibly dense and boring. New readers think to check it out because it’s important, only to be knocked into a coma. Anyway, the story has this big villain the Anti-Monitor show up to destroy most of the various alternate dimensions. In the end, the handful of remaining ones are merged together, Anti-Monitor is destroyed and continuity sort of rewrites itself.
Now DC can write a ton of stuff from the ground up. A chunk of the continuity stays the same, only it’s decided that Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were never part of the Justice League for the sake of writing stories where Superman and Batman meet for the first time. Also, characters like Captain Marvel (Shazam) and Blue Beetle, from other comic companies DC had bought out, are now part of the same world instead of just being from alternate realities.
Then in the 90’s there this story called Zero Hour where an evil Hal Jordan and another guy try to change history and… hell if I know. I tried reading it and couldn’t get past the first issue. This again changes DC continuity, but more of a quick fix of different details than a major reboot.
In mid-00’s, DC has some alternate universe survivors from Crisis on Infinite Earths show up to cause trouble in a big story called Infinite Crisis. In an attempt to bring back the multiverse and/or create a better world where comic heroes aren’t violent asshole failures, the villains accidentally cause another quick fix to continuity because why not (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were part of the original Justice League after all!). Also, there are now exactly 52 alternate universes.
Two years ago, DC sales were completely in the shitter for anything that wasn’t Batman or Green Lantern. Pressured by the higher ups, they desperately turned one of their upcoming Flash stories into an excuse to do another major reboot. The story Flashpoint – which involved the Flash accidentally changing the world radically via time travel – ends with Flash setting things back to normal…ish. Characters from other continuities DC had written (like superhero teams the Authority and Gen 13 from their Wildstorm line) become integrated into DC’s “New 52″. DC ended all of their comics and restarted them at #1 with 52 titles. Batman and Green Lantern more or less kept their continuities in check, but nearly everything else got the axe.
Superman is no longer involved with Lois, certain popular characters don’t even exist anymore, Shazam has gone from pure-hearted to kind of a dopey asshole, the original Batgirl can walk again just because, nobody’s wearing underwear on the outside of their pants and superheroes have been in the public eye for five years.
Injustice obviously isn’t canon with DC continuity, but its character portrayals and inspirations comes from the universe from just before Flashpoint happened. Meanwhile, the costume designs are based on the post-Flashpoint depictions.
The story for Injustice is really derivative of a lot of other stories. So what is it similar to?
– The Justice Lords: A 2-part episode of the Justice League cartoon, an alternate universe has Lex Luthor become president and one of his actions is to have the Flash executed. The League storm the White House, Superman murders Luthor and the team takes over the world. They start a fight with the main Justice League, who are eventually able to convince Justice Lords Batman to join their side.
– Kingdom Come: Years into the future, the Joker goes on a killing spree and murders everyone at the Daily Planet, including Lois and Jimmy. Before Superman or Batman can catch him, he’s taken into police custody and new hero Magog fries him on the spot. Superman wants Magog tried for murder, but everyone agrees that what he did was completely fucking awesome and he gets off free. Having lost faith in mankind, Superman goes into solitude for a while until Magog’s gung-ho attitude causes a nuclear explosion that takes out all of Kansas. Superman gets a bunch of his old buddies back together and they go around abducting vigilantes they don’t like and shoving them in a big prison he’s concocted with no due process. Batman is uneasy about this to the point that he and Luthor start working together on a solution.
– Red Son: Instead of Kansas, Superman’s rocket lands in the Ukraine during the Cold War. Superman becomes a Soviet superhero and Lex Luthor is considered America’s greatest hero for opposing him. Superman ends up becoming the USSR’s leader and helps spread communism across the globe with the US being the last bastion of democracy, led by President Luthor. Batman becomes the face for the revolution against Superman and when he’s taken out, others take his mantle. This comic is also notable for tying into Injustice via pre-order DLC. While Superman and Wonder Woman have prominent roles, “Soviet Grundy” is created specifically for the game, probably for the sake of having a sickle sticking out of his back.
– Squadron Supreme: When an old attempt at a Justice League/Avengers crossover fell through, Marvel figured to just create the Squadron Supreme, a group of superheroes from an alternate universe who were so blatantly the Justice League. In the mid-80’s, they got their own 12-issue limited series where after their world is messed up pretty badly, they decide to take over for a year and make the world a better place. Nighthawk (Batman) is opposed to this and quits the team. Led by Hyperion (Superman), they make the world a better place, but at many points, their power corrupts their actions. Like how they’d capture villains and reprogram their minds to follow orders or else, even when being mistreated by the heroes. Nighthawk gets together with some of his villains to revolt against Hyperion, leading to a final battle with a huge body count, which was shocking at the time for a superhero comic.
– The Secret Society of Superheroes: In this world, Clark Kent grew up aware of and intrigued by the Freemasons. When he puts the Justice League together, he decides to keep them out of the public eye. Using invisibility and other technology, they’d take the law into their own hands by capturing criminals and sending them off to the Phantom Zone, including Joe Chill, the man who shot Thomas and Martha Wayne. It gets really sketchy, especially when other members of the League use the secrecy and power for their own needs. FBI agent Bruce Wayne and tabloid reporter Lois Lane join up to get to the bottom of it to expose the Justice League to the world.
– Civil War: Marvel’s big event story from a few years ago and the basis for Ultimate Alliance 2. It shares similarities in how the superhero community is split between the more powerful government side (Superman/Iron Man) and the underdog anti-government side (Batman/Captain America) after the events of a major national tragedy. Then again, the reasons for them fighting are vastly different.
Now the characters, going in alphabetical order.
Alias: Arthur Curry, Orin
First Appearance: More Fun Comics #73 (1941)
Powers: Can breathe underwater, mentally communicate with sea life to make them do his bidding, has the strength and durability that allows him to exist in the deepest depths of the ocean.
Other Media: Lots of cartoons (most notably Superfriends and Batman: the Brave and the Bold), a failed live-action TV pilot and an Xbox game that everyone hated.
Aquaman has a handful of different origins from over the years. Originally he was a human boy whose father taught him how to breathe underwater (it was the 40’s). Then he was the son of a man and an Atlantian woman. Then he was just purely from Atlantis, but ended up adopted by a human. They’ve since gone back to the mixed parentage idea.
Aquaman became the king of the seas, got a couple sidekicks in Aqualad and Aquagirl, and a queen in Mera. Mera herself is some kind of human-looking alien or something. I don’t know. He was a founding member of the Justice League, but in terms of that team, he’s more remembered for being part of what’s considered the worst Justice League incarnation.
Back in the 80’s, DC wanted to change up the Justice League and since Marvel was kicking ass with the X-Men comics, they had the classic League disband for the sake of starting a new team that was mostly made up of angsty teenagers fighting crime in Detroit. Aquaman was the leader of this Detroit League and sales tanked pretty hard.
Aquaman had become something of a joke to anyone who had knowledge of the character from the Superfriends cartoon, since his whole deal was that he was, “that guy who talks to fish”. I first noticed this from a sketch on MTV’s the State that existed just so the other heroes could make fun of him for it in the face of a crisis. DC Comics had developed something of a chip on their shoulder from this. They tried to make him more serious by having one of his villains kill his baby son, which drove Mera insane. Then they had Aquaman get his hand eaten off by a school of piranhas.
In the 90’s, they tried to butch him up by giving him long hair, a beard and a hook hand. The run of that character was supposedly pretty good, but reeked of trying too hard. Later they returned him to his classic look, only instead of a hook, his hand was made of magic water. That was kind of cool.
The last few years of the character are kind of a weird clusterfuck. In order to save Sub Diego (San Diego, which is now underwater and everyone can breathe fine) from the Spectre (the literal wrath of God, who had gone insane), Aquaman sacrificed himself and became some tentacle-faced wizard with amnesia. Then there’s a new Aquaman named Arthur Joseph who was just an underwater version of Conan the Barbarian. Tentacle-faced amnesiac Aquaman got killed and Aquaman the Barbarian took up the throne, but then DC kind of forgot about the new guy and let him fade into obscurity.
In one of the weirdest comic book moments, a zombie Aquaman appeared during the big Green Lantern event Blackest Night to haunt Mera. Mera had been empowered by a Red Lantern ring, building on her intense rage. When Aquaman held up his zombie baby to taunt her, Mera vomited napalm blood onto them both while yelling, “I never wanted to have children!” At the end of the story, this mysterious force of white light resurrected a dozen dead DC characters for its own cryptic reasons. One of them was Aquaman. After that, Aquaman had the ability to control dead and decaying marine life.
In the New 52 reboot, Aquaman was again a founding member of the Justice League, but has become a laughing stock in that world due to being “that dude who talks to fish”. This is despite being able to deflect bullets with his forehead and summon giant sharks to eat alien demons. He’s in a spot where both the humans and the Atlanteans look down at him and the only one who truly cares for him is Mera, who holds a big, “Fuck the humans for what they say about you!” sentiment. Recently, he’s taken over as King of Atlantis.
He has two main villains. One is Black Manta, a sea pirate who, in one continuity, was a black separatist who wanted all black people to live underwater. He’s remembered for having coolest voice on Superfriends. He was also renamed “Devil Ray” on the Justice League cartoon because of a dumb rule that made Aquaman characters other than Aquaman himself off-limits due to the creation of the Aquaman TV pilot. The other big villain is Ocean Master, Aquaman’s half-brother. His usual deal is that he’s jealous of Aquaman and wants to be king instead.
The recent cartoon Batman: the Brave and the Bold made Aquaman awesome by essentially making him some kind of mix of Hank Scorpio and Zapp Brannigan. Naturally, DC has made no attempt to piggyback onto this popularity.
Alias: Mars, War, Ari Buchanon, Tom Sera
First Appearance: Wonder Woman #1 (1942)
Powers: Immortality, super-durable armor, godly strength, speed and stamina, incites violence with his presence, tactical genius, necromancy, energy projection, skilled at every weapon
Other Media: A couple cartoon appearances
Every comic-loving fighting game fan let out a sigh when Ares was announced for Injustice as it reminded them all that Capcom really should have used Marvel’s version of Ares in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. DC’s Ares is kind of cool, too, but Marvel Ares is like the most badass motherfucker in comics.
Ares is in there because Wonder Woman’s rogues gallery is pretty thin. Everyone knows Cheetah, but few care about her. Other than that, her villains are Circe and Dr. Psycho. While a dwarf with mind-control powers is just as awesome as it sounds, Psycho probably wouldn’t make such a good fighting game character.
Back in the early days, Ares was a straight-up villain, living on Mars and fanning the flames of World War II while acting as a higher power to the Axis Powers. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wonder Woman’s comic was taken over by George Perez, who proceeded to write the first run on the character that anyone ever really cared about. That introduced the new blue armored version of Ares, who had taken over the underworld from Hades. At first, he wanted to create World War III, but Wonder Woman made him realize that such a thing would cause his downfall as there’d be nobody left to worship him.
The modern age had robbed many of the gods of their powers, mainly because nobody was worshipping them, but Ares was one of the few exceptions, as he still thrived on all sorts of conflict. He reverted to his old habits, but went with smaller scale moves, like starting gang wars instead of world wars. Still a lot of death and destruction, but without the threat of wiping out all of humanity.
For a little while, Ares allied with Wonder Girl, his half-sister. She had lost her powers, but Ares offered her some of his in preparation for an upcoming war in return for her accepting him as family. I don’t think anything really happened with that other than a ridiculous story where the Teen Titans introduced comic versions of Marvin and Wendy as caretakers of Titans Tower. Wonder Dog turned out to be this hideous hellbeast that ate Marvin, hospitalized Wendy and ended up being a creation of one of Ares’ sons. Yep.
Ares created a being named Genocide who was billed as, “Doomsday, but for Wonder Woman!” Wonder Woman ended up taking her out, then split Ares’ head in two.
After Flashpoint, Ares had been redesigned again. Now he’s known as War and appears as a frail, old man with no eyes and usually bloody feet. He’s become tired with war and the world in general, but enigmatically helps Wonder Woman occasionally. He’s something of an estranged father figure.
Ares also appeared in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon in what many regard as the worst episode. Mainly because it starred Hawk and Dove and Hawk and Dove fucking suck. Though one thing that redeemed it was having them voiced by the brothers from Wonder Years.
Alias: NONE! HE IS ONLY BANE!
First Appearance: Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1 (1993)
Powers: Great fighter and brilliant tactician, injects himself with “venom” a super steroid that enhances his strength
Other Media: Many cartoons and a couple movies. You might have heard of them.
Bane comes from the fictional South American shithole known as Santa Prisca. His father died in prison and due to a ridiculous law, he had to take his place upon birth. He grew up in the world’s worst prison and survived, becoming stronger every day. He learned to speak many languages and taught himself to read. As an adult, he had become like royalty to the inmates, so the warden had him used as a guinea pig as they experimented with venom. It worked too well and Bane gained super strength, ultimately escaping the prison.
Bane had heard stories of Batman and Gotham City and was intrigued. He journeyed to Gotham with the mission of destroying Batman. He created a massive breakout at Arkham Asylum, causing all of Batman’s worst nutcases to roam the streets. Batman became so obsessed with apprehending them all that after a couple weeks, Bane simply broke into the Batcave and beat the hell out of an incredibly exhausted Batman, crippling him over his knee.
Soon after, Batman was replaced by Jean-Paul Valley, otherwise known as Azrael. The new Batman (nicknamed “Azbat” by fans) defeated Bane, but eventually went crazy. Bruce Wayne healed up from his wounds and took up the mantle again to defeat Azbat.
Afterwards, Bane became a bit of an anti-hero. He helped rid the streets of venom and went on a journey to find out the truth about his father. Briefly, he believed that Thomas Wayne was his real father, making Batman his half-brother. That turned out to be false. For a little while, he became an ally of Ra’s al Ghul, who was prepared to marry Bane and Talia. Ra’s went back against his word after Batman bested Bane in combat.
Bane became a victim of one of comics’ most annoying tropes: rubber-banding. Rubber-banding is what happens when a character is developed in a new way and a new writer decides, “Fuck all that. I’m making him like he was during his Greatest Hits phase so we can tell the same stories all over again.” Other victims of this include Magneto, Riddler, Sandman, Two-Face and Deathstroke. Riddler’s pissed me off the most.
Anyway, Bane appeared in a whopping one panel of Infinite Crisis where he broke a D-list hero over his knee and yelled, “I finally know who I am! I am Bane! I break people!” Eventually, he got arrested and used as part of the government’s Suicide Squad, a group of villains assigned missions in return for their freedom. The government betrayed him and he eventually found a home as a member of the Secret Six, a group of dysfunctional mercenary anti-heroes.
Bane spent the series straight-edge, refusing to put venom in his veins and instead getting by on being naturally built like a tank. He acted like a father figure to the team’s leader Scandal Savage (daughter of immortal supervillain Vandal Savage, unrelated to professional wrestler Randal Savage) and helped her get over her own brief venom addiction. She also tried to get him laid by setting him up with a stripper friend of hers, leading to many misadventures of Bane trying to make sense of dating (“I wish to mate. Here are bargaining tokens they told me to purchase. Shall we begin negotiations?”).
After a trip into Hell, Bane found out that no matter how honorable he tried to be in his actions, he was going to be damned regardless. He orchestrated the capture of his team and escaped, deciding to go back to being the evil dude who breaks people.
After Flashpoint, Bane’s only shown up in one story in the pages of Batman: The Dark Knight, which is known as the Batman comic series nobody should ever read. I haven’t read the story, but the cover shows him jacked to the gills and breaking Batman over his knee, so… yeah.
I did read the first issue of that story, which ended with Batman confronted by Two-Face injected with venom. It was funny because he referred to himself as One-Face. Everybody reading scratched their head over this one because he’s still got two faces.
Bane made a handful of appearances on the Batman cartoon and its spinoffs. Most of them were great, especially the episode where Batgirl is killed and Gordon springs Bane from prison to help get his revenge on Batman. Batman Beyond showed that in the future, Bane is a comatose string bean in a hospital due to years of venom addiction. The best appearance is still a Superman episode where Superman dresses as Batman and kicks the shit out of Bane. Also, Bane’s shown up on the Young Justice cartoon as voiced by Danny Trejo. Brilliant casting.
You might also know Bane as the guy who everyone does an impression of. At the very least, having to use a modern villain that the public likes in your film sequel and making it work shows that Nolan is leagues more professional than Sam Raimi. Yeah, I’m still bitter.
Alias: Bruce Wayne, Matches Malone
First Appearance: Detective Comics #27 (1939)
Powers: No superpowers, but is one of the world’s foremost geniuses with a finely-tuned body that’s at peak physical conditioning, super rich, incredibly sexy
Other Media: Not that I’ve heard of.
No matter how many times they rebooted continuity, it always remained the same. Two parents were shot in an alley. An orphan boy dedicated himself to snuffing out crime. Young Bruce Wayne proceeded to travel the world and spend years training himself to be the perfect man. Understanding that criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot, he fought crime in the guise of a bat.
Batman was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, although the former fucked over the latter something fierce and Finger never got any credit. Meanwhile, Bob Kane’s headstone features five paragraphs about how God himself bestowed the gift of creating Batman for the world. Literally five paragraphs. Look it up, it’s insane. Speaking of Kane, according to Jerry Lewis, meeting Kane was one of the biggest thrills in Dean Martin’s life, second only to first meeting Sinatra.
Even before getting his own series, Batman was given a sidekick in the form of Robin the Boy Wonder. As was the style of the time, the comic had no qualms about killing and we’d even see Batman use a gun here and there. Then some douchebag who I don’t even feel like looking up wrote up some big article about how violent the comics were and that Batman was turning Robin into a delinquent, plus they were probably gay. The comic industry as a whole started a “Comics Code Authority” to give their comics the equivalent of G ratings and part of that involved turning Batman into a far more colorful and upbeat character. Coincidentally, the gay subtext between Batman and Robin became more blatant in response.
Batman’s popularity hit peak levels in the 60’s when Adam West portrayed him on TV. Coincidentally, they added the character Aunt Harriet because having any kind of female supporting character made Bruce and Dick seem a little less gay. Like Aquaman and Superfriends, the Batman show gave Batman a stigma that would take hold for decades. It took the darker run by Dennis O’Neil and the works of Frank Miller to help break the mold, allowing people to take him seriously again by the time the Michael Keaton movie arrived.
Fun fact: As part of the Burton/Schumacher Batman movie series, there were already plans for a fifth movie before Batman and Robin took a dump. Other than appearances by Man-Bat and Harley Quinn (as the Joker’s daughter) Batman Triumphant would have featured Howard Stern as the Scarecrow and a scene where Batman, tripping on fear gas, would have been confronted by Jack Nicholson reprising his role as the Joker. Would have been interesting at the very least.
Miller’s Dark Knight Returns is must-read. It tells of a future where Bruce Wayne’s been retired for ten years and goes back to being Batman at 55. He took on the likes of futuristic street gangs, Two-Face, the Joker (who had been comatose during the entire retirement) and Superman. Years later, Miller followed with a sequel called Dark Knight Strikes Again and you can actually watch the man go insane while writing it. 9/11 happened during the creation of the book and it shattered the man’s mind. He wanted to write a story called Holy Terror Batman where Batman would hunt down Osama Bin Laden, but DC wouldn’t touch that shit and instead he released a disturbingly racist graphic novel called Holy Terror featuring a similar hero he made up named the Fixer.
When the first Robin got too old and moved away, Batman replaced him with Jason Todd. Pre-Crisis, Jason was really just the exact same guy as Dick Grayson, but after the Crisis, they started writing him as less of a Dick and more of a dick. He was so unlikeable that when the Joker beat him with a crowbar and strapped him to a bomb, the fans got to vote via 900 number whether he should live or die. Suffice to say, Jason died and stayed dead for about twenty years. I can spend another four paragraphs on how he came back, but I’m off-topic as is so let me just say that it was incredibly stupid and involved the term “punching reality”.
With Robin dead, Batman became depressed and darker. Eventually, a kid named Tim Drake used his own awesome detective skills to figure out that Dick Grayson was Robin and therefore Bruce Wayne is Batman. It took some time, but he eventually convinced Batman to take him in as the third Robin. Batman started to trust him more after the whole Azbat debacle and eventually started to get over what happened to Jason.
During the 90’s and first half of the 00’s, Batman became insufferable. Like, really insufferable. Instead of being simply grim, he was just plain unlikeable at times. This caused a major rift between him and Robin to the point that they split up and like a petty asshole, Batman hired Tim’s vigilante girlfriend Stephanie Brown (otherwise known as the Spoiler) to be the fourth Robin. Stephanie lasted for a cup of coffee and got killed off in a stupid story. It pissed off her fans, mainly because while Batman kept Jason’s Robin costume in the Batcave as a memorial, he never did the same for Stephanie. Eventually, they brought Stephanie back and made her Batgirl. It was really fun, but then Flashpoint happened and DC decided that she never existed for the sake of trolling the fans.
DC’s response to anything relating to Stephanie Brown is bewildering to say the least. They have seriously gone out of their way just to annoy her fans.
Two of the big “Batman is an asshole” moments include a story called Tower of Babel where Ra’s al Ghul discovered that Batman’s got files on everyone in the Justice League with plans on how to take each and every one of them down. Talia stole the info and Ra’s put it into action. The League got super pissed at Batman’s paranoia and he left the team for a little while. Then with Infinite Crisis, one of the big plots was that Batman had built a satellite to help him spy on the rest of the League. It got commandeered and gained sentience, causing the deaths of many. Batman had a nervous breakdown, but came out at the end realizing the error in his ways.
This was DC realizing that Batman was indeed broken from a storytelling standpoint and decided that Bruce, Dick and Tim would get away from Gotham for a year and spend the time training and returning to their roots. Batman was far more likeable and more loving to Tim. Tim had become an orphan by this point and Bruce opened up to him by offering to adopt him and make him his son. Bruce wasn’t sure how Tim would react to that, but the teen tearfully embraced him on the spot.
Batman had many love interests over the years, from Zatanna to Vicki Vale to Wonder Woman. His main two ladies have always been Catwoman and Talia al Ghul. With Talia, there was a non-canon story in the 80’s where they were going to settle down and have a baby, but Talia realized that Bruce would no longer be the biggest badass and faked a miscarriage. Many years later, Batman’s new writer Grant Morrison decided that the story should be canon and introduced Damian Wayne to the Bat-family. Kept a secret for years, Damian was trained to be the ultimate assassin. He was a violent brat, but was ultimately taken in and tamed into something resembling a human being.
During the big event Final Crisis, Batman confronted DC’s big bad Darkseid and went against his “no guns ever” oath by shooting the villain with a bullet filled with god poison. It was the coolest shit ever. At the same time, Darkseid fried Batman with his Omega Beams (zigzag laser vision) and Batman was seemingly vaporized. Instead, he ended up back in time.
Through a trippy story involving time travel (par for the course with anything involving Grant Morrison), Bruce returned to Gotham in the present. Fully accepting the help of his friends and family, Bruce held a press conference where he admitted that all this time, he had been funding Batman. He then introduces Batman Incorporated, franchising the concept on an international level. The idea was to go around the world and designate vigilantes as the Batmen of their regions. The Batman of Japan, the Batman of Russia, etc. This was part of a plan to end crime on a global level.
Tim moved on to become Red Robin and Damian moved into the role of Robin. While dysfunctional, the new Batman and Robin worked well together until Damian’s recent death. As of now, Batman’s enduring some serious anger issues.
Oh, and his cartoons were really cool. Not much to add on that.