This Batman article contains spoilers.
The Caped Crusader has gone rogue, left to pick up the pieces of a shattered engagement to Catwoman and solve a mystery that’s already amassed quite the body count. What’s Batman’s solution to his current problems? Punching everyone in the face, of course.
At the center of the mystery is Bane, the architect of the Dark Knight’s latest crisis, who has taken over Arkham Asylum and recruited a band of bad guys to help him break the Bat once and for all. With this group of baddies, the villain has managed to send Bruce’s life into turmoil. A back apparently heals much faster than a broken heart.
Batman #60, the latest issue from writer Tom King and artist Mikel Janin, teases that things are only going to get worse for the World’s Greatest Detective in the next few months. Since Selena stood him up on their wedding night, Bruce has retreated back into his war on crime, first beating Mr. Freeze to a pulp and then basically leaving KGBeast for dead (similar to the end of “Ten Nights of the Beast”) after the assassin shot Nightwing in the head.
When the Penguin confesses to Batman that he was hired by Bane to kill Alfred, the Caped Crusader decides to pay Bane a little visit at Arkham Asylum, kicking the crap out of the villain, who pretends to be ill and weak in order to keep Batman off the scent. Commissioner Gordon witnesses Batman’s increasingly violent methods in his quest to unmask Bane as a mastermind and decides that he’s had enough, smashing the Bat-Signal with a bat, hinting that the Dark Knight’s status with the GCPD and Gotham City as a whole is about to change.
But that’s not even the biggest difficulty coming up for Batman. The final panel of Batman #60 reveals that someone from Bruce’s past has returned to haunt him: Thomas Wayne, his father. Of course, this Thomas Wayne isn’t actually our Bruce’s father but a version of Batman created by Flashpoint (it’s a whole thing, Google it).
Standing over his son while Bruce tends to an injured Alfred in the Batcave (presumably, Thomas Wayne knocked him out in order to get to the Penguin, who was being kept in a cage inside the cave), it’s unclear if Thomas means to hurt his son or something else entirely. The cliffhanger seems to promise some kind of revelation or clash between these two Batmen.
The last time these two met, it was during the Batman/Flash “The Button” crossover, which saw Batman and The Flash travel to the Flashpoint universe while tracking down Reverse-Flash and the mysterious Watchmen button first introduced in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 by Geoff Johns. During their meeting, Thomas urged his son to find happiness and give up the mantle of the Bat before it was too late. Interestingly enough, it seemed that Thomas had died when the Flashpoint universe was erased from existence at the end of “The Button,” presumably at the hands of Dr. Manhattan (a whole other thing, Google it). All of this, of course, pushed Bruce to propose to Selena just a few weeks later.
It was then revealed in the final panel of Batman #50, the now-infamous wedding issue, that Thomas Wayne had actually survived and was in cahoots with Bane, part of the group of villains trying to take out the Bat, which also includes the Joker, Riddler, Ventriloquist, Psycho-Pirate, Hugo Strange, and, most surprisingly, Gotham Girl. We’ll assume that Flashpoint Batman’s reemergence in Bruce’s life is the next step in Bane’s plan.
King teased on Twitter that the upcoming issue #61, which will see the return of the maniacal Matthew Warner from #38, will be the start of a new set of stories called “Knightmares.”
“Epic arc scraping at the soul of Batman. (With a Flash break at 64, 65),” King said of the next nine issues. This doesn’t sound good for Bruce at all.
Issue #62 will mark the return of both Professor Pyg and Mister Miracle artist Mitch Gerads to the book, while #63 will be a team-up between Batman and John Constantine, with pencils from Mikel Janin. Issues #64-65 will be part of a new Batman/Flash crossover being written by regular Flash writer Joshua Williamson.
Plenty coming up for the heartbroken Bat, then. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.