Ever since I made a slight comment about Batman's demise, many people have been asking me "how can Batman be dead?" or "there's no way, I don't believe it. Superman didn't stayed dead for too long." It's actually quite a confusing story so let me attempt to explain how this seemingly "demise" of Bruce Wayne has come about. Be warned there are parts where you will have a long audible pause, then shake you head in disbelief, which will quickly be followed by vocalized "WHAT?!?!" which will cause a huge cacophony of echoes to bleed through the hallways of your house shaking it causing the rest of your family to wake up from their naps.
Thanks to writer Grant Morrison, the demon writer of the DC comics universe, in issues #676 - 681,Batman was put into a sticky situation where an criminal organization called The Black Glove has a plot to not only put an end to the Dark Knights disruption of their evils ways, but ultimately kill him. Lead by the evil mastermind The Black Glove and Dr. Simon Hurt, plot is concocted to test the Batmans limitation both psychologically and and physically. Batman, who seems to be prepared for anything, created an alter ego deep in his sub-conscious mind long ago in case psychological attacks of the magnitude the Black Glove organization was giving were to ever happen. this alter ego was called The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, an alien world that batman concocted. His suit was now different, red a purplish colors. With Batman's subconscious now emerged, the primary goal was to go after his attackers and put an end to the attacks on his life.
With everything going according to the Black Gloves plans, he is lead to Arkham Asylum which has now been taken over by the criminals contained within it. This is where Batman has a final confrontation with the enemy of enemies, The Joker. Of course, this battle is just a diversion where the Black Glove traps Batman and seemingly kills him. Batman is buried and for a moment, everyone believes Batman is dead. So criminals run free in Gotham with the new found joy that they have with no Caped Crusader patroling the streets of Gotham. However, this is not how Batman dies. (Get ready for confusion city!)
A series called Final Crisis back in the summer of '08 called Final Crisis (also written by Grant Morrison, ggrrrr) where evil being Darkseid plots to enslave humanity. In issue number #2, Batman is captured by Darkseid because Batman was trying to put an end to Darkseid's evil plot. So somewhere in between being buried and being captured by Darkseid Batman learned of Darkseid's evil plot, dug himself out of the grave and made his way toward Darkseid mile and miles away from Gotham. (??????)
Batman escapes captivity in Issue number 6 of Final Crisis. Darkseid shoots batman with his Omega Beams. When shot by the Omega beams of Darkseid's, one is sent to what is called the Omega Sanction. So we can deduce from this that Batman, once he was shot with the Omega Beams was sent to the Omega sanction correct?? NOPE! batman at the last second shoots Darkseid with a special bullet that is designed to kill him, but the Omega beams still hit Batman's head. The last page of issue #6 of final crisis shows Batman's body burned to a crisp. You could see nothing but the skeleton. Superman is carrying Batman's bones. We know it's Batman's bones because they are clothed in the bat suit. So what we can deduce now is that because Batman shot Darkseid, Darkseid lost control of his omega beams and the beams actually did kill Batman by completely frying Batman's body until nothing but the skeleton is left.
So, this is how Batman dies. But yet, the confusion is not quite over. Batman issue number 853 shows Batman's body in a coffin at a funeral. (wait, wasn't his body scorched to the bone?) no explanation for this, it just happens to be this way. However, the story finally gets good! Writer Neil Gaiman (Sandman, American Gods) writes a farewell to the Dark Knight that helps to explain Batman's life better than anyone could in the two part series called "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?" which can be found in Batman #686 and part 2 found in Detective Comics #853.
As we know, Batman has had many many MANY different incarnations. Throughout the years batman has seemed older, younger, had different styles of costumes, different takes on his origin, and different takes on his enemies origins. batman's history never seems to stay constant, even the death of his parents. at one time the killer is an unknown, another we discover it's the Joker. Sometimes The Waynes are shot in an alley way, sometimes out on the street. We can never keep it straight. What Neil Gaiman has done is add to Bruce Waynes curse of Being batman. throughout the read we discover that Batman is looking at himself in the coffin. People are there for the service, but people only see Batman's dead corpse. Batman, while looking at himself, tries to figure out what is going on and is consulted by another mysterious figure of whom I will refrain from giving away. (you'll have to read batman #686 and Detective Comics #853 to find who he is talking to, it's so good!!!) But we no that Batman's soul and another soul with whom he has a deep connection too are talking together during the funeral service.
Batman starts to figure out what has happened to him. He has all the different incarnations of himself, so many different stories about him were told at the funeral service by his enemies and frinds as batman. The stories weren't the same, the only constant was Batman, but batman seemed different in each story. The question in Batman's mind now while this is happening, while he is hovering over himself is "Do I relive my life over and over again, each time differently?" The mysterious figure that is with him tells him this...""You don't get Heaven or Hell. Do you know the only reward you get for being Batman? You get to be Batman." the next page shows Bruce Wayne, being born in a hospital with his mother Martha Wayne holding him, saying hello to him.
So there we have it, batman is cursed. He doesn't technically die. He lives his life, dies, and is reborn into another dimension and becomes Batman again. I can only assume that every time he is born, he forgets his previous life and lives the new one as if it were the only life he has ever lived.
It is to start off very confusing and strange. But with Neil Gaiman coming on board for those two issues, he helps to make sense of Batman's always changing lifestyle throughout the years. I for one don't see Bruce Wayne ever returning as Batman. However, that doesn't mean he wont come back. But its an almost spiritual, yet cursed way of ending Bruce Waynes time as Batman, and alow for someone else to take up the mantle as the Dark Knight. Who will it be????