Instead of doing reviews(as usual), I'm going to try something a little bit different tonight. If this works out then I'll make this whole, "Let's talk about" feature regular here on my little piece of the Internet. As is the case with everything I do on this blog, I'm doing this to open up a dialogue with my fellow comic book fanatics, so feel free to chime in with your opinions when you're done reading.
Alright, with that said, let's get to the meat of this post, the Batman. And no, I don't mean Dick Grayson, I mean the real Batman, Bruce Wayne. I don't think I'd be surprising anybody when I state that Bruce is set to return to the DCU later on this year. I doubt this news is going to take anybody by surprise, right? I mean, we all knew Bruce was coming back once we finished reading Final Crisis, correct? Anyway, when Bruce does return, what is his role in the DCU going to be? That is the question I'm going to pose here. What happens to Bruce and the rest of the Bat-family upon Bruce's inevitable return? Let's take a look at each member of the Bat-family, and I'll give my ideas as to what will/should happen to them when Bruce pops back up.
Bruce Wayne: Well, this one's easy! Bruce comes back and reclaims the Mantle of the Bat. I can't see how that doesn't occur. I guess there's a 0.0008% chance that Bruce comes back and doesn't immediately become Batman again, but come on, that's NOT going to happen. No, once Bruce comes back, he's Batman again, period.
Dick Grayson: With Bruce(presumably)becoming Batman again, where does that leave the current Batman, Dick Grayson? I can only see one of two things occuring, #1, Bruce returns from the past(or where ever the hell he is)and decides to allow Dick to continue playing Batman. From there Dick(and/or Damian)gets egregiously injured(or even killed), which leads to Bruce becoming Batman again. Now being a huge Dick Grayson fan, I obviously hope that doesn't occur. If not that, then upon Bruce's return Dick voluntarily hands over the Bat-mantle since he's never really felt 100% at ease trying to fill Bruce's shoes. Then Dick becomes... Well, I'm not really sure who he becomes! Chris Kent is currently using the Nightwing name, and Damian is Robin, so either Dick takes on a new role(again)or he goes back to being Nightwing and there will just be two Nightwings running around the DCU. It's not like that hasn't happened before, hell, there are no less then 3 current Flashes and hundreds of Green Lanterns, so what's the big deal about there being two Nightwings? Personally, I think Dick takes on a new identity upon giving up the Cowl.
Damian Wayne: This one is pretty easy as well. As long as Grant Morrison is the driving force behind the Batman family of books, Damian will be heavily featured. When Bruce reclaims the Mantle of the Bat, my guess is that Damian stays on as Robin. Hopefully working with Bruce will give Damian the humility he so desperately needs to make him a more likeable character. I can't imagine Grant killing Damian off or writing him out of the Bat books, so there's really nothing else for him to do but continue being Robin.
Tim Drake-Wayne: See, now this one's really interesting. It's my understanding that Tim took on the Red Robin moniker because it was already sullied, and as long as Bruce was gone, he was going to continue wearing it. But when Bruce comes back, then what? He obviously can't go back to being Robin, he has definitely outgrown that position. It would have made sense for Tim to have become Nightwing, following in the footsteps of Dick(Robin->Nightwing), but if Dick doesn't decide to take back the Nightwing name, I doubt Tim would... Unless Dick was to die in battle. If Dick were to perish, I could see Tim taking up the Nightwing name as a show of respect for his fallen "brother". Since I don't think(or want!)Dick will to die, that puts us back to square one with Tim. My best guess is that Tim will continue serving as Red Robin and will return to Gotham, where he can occasionally work with Bruce again. In a perfect world, Tim would keep the costume, but lose the name, because I just HATE that he's running around with the name of a fast food joint!
Alfred Pennyworth: Alfred goes back to Wayne Manor and serves as Bruce's confidant again.
Stephanie Brown: This is another character that could go any number of ways. Currently Steph is serving as Batgirl, since Cassandra Cain quit upon learning of Bruce's "death". Since Bruce did allow Steph to temporarily serve as Robin, and since she is getting mentored by Barbara Gordon, I don't think Bruce would have any problems with Steph remaining Batgirl. However, I don't know if Cassandra would have the same feelings... With Bruce back, maybe she would want to reclaim the Batgirl moniker, which could lead to a Battle for the Batgirl Cowl. Personally I think Steph is 10 times the character Cassandra is, so I'm hoping DC decides to keep Steph as Batgirl. If worse came to worse, she could always go back to her former identity of Spoiler, but I think she'll remain Batgirl into the foreseeable future.
Barbara Gordon: I doubt Barbara's life is going to change up much, if at all when Bruce reemerges. She'll still be the brains of the Bat-family, and hopefully she'll still be mentoring Steph. The only thing I hope is that Babs gets an expanded role, because she deserves more then a supporting part in the Batgirl comic.
Selina Kyle: Hmm hmm hmm... At the end of the Batman: RIP storyline in Detective Comics, Bruce proclaimed his love for Selina and then he was promptly "killed" by Darksied. When Bruce returns, where exactly will the relationship between Bruce and Selina stand? Selina doesn't currently have a love interest, which is interesting to me. I'm hoping that Bruce and Selina rekindle their romance. She's the perfect woman for him, in my opinion at least. She already knows he's Batman, she's also a costumed adventurer, and she's a strong character with a loyal fan following. Hell, if it was up to me, I'd move Selina into Wayne Manor and marry them already! I doubt that's going to occur, but I do think they will resume their on again/off again relationship.
Azrael & Batwoman: I really don't know enough about either of these characters to make any predictions or guesses, so I'm going to skip them for now.
Batman's villains: Bruce's return to the cape and cowl probably won't matter much to most of his villains, since few of them know Bruce Wayne and Batman are one and the same. With that said though, there are a few who are aware of Bruce's dual persona, so I'll take a quick look at them.
Hush: Since Tommy Elliot currently looks like Bruce Wayne due to some cosmetic surgery, it's pretty obvious SOMETHING has to be done with him when Bruce returns, because there isn't any reason for there to be two Bruce Wayne's running around. I kind of suspect that Hush may actually be the current Black Mask(although I think Hush was incarcerated when Black Mask began reappearing). If Hush IS the Black Mask, then he could just keep Bruce's face since it will be hidden under a mask most of the time, plus when he fights Bruce that can add more fuel to the fire, because I know I'd be pissed is I was fighting a guy who had my face! If he isn't Black Mask though, then I'm going to say he gets cut up/disfigured in some way by an old enemy like Two-Face or the Riddler, thereby solving the problem of there being two Bruce Wayne's
Jason Todd: What happens with Jason Todd can go one of two ways, either he continues being a background/garbage character, or DC finally smartens up and actually does the right thing with Jason, and that would be reforming him. If I had my way, Jason would learn that Bruce had returned to life, and would decide to try to bury the hatchet with his former mentor, since I think all Jason wants deep down is Bruce's approval. From there, he could operate out of Gotham and act in a similar manner that the former Azrael(Jean-Paul Valley)did, fighting crime with more of an edge. That way Jason actually becomes an interesting character again, and there would be plenty of intrigue as to whether or not he could continue walking the path of a hero. Unfortunately, I don't think any of that is going to happen, and when Bruce returns Jason will continue to be nothing more then a c-list villain to be disposed of periodically by a member of the Bat-family.
Ra's Al Ghul: Ra's will be thrilled that Bruce is back! I figure Ra's is probably in a depressed funk somewhere since he can no longer match wits with The Detective. Once he finds out Bruce is alive, he'll probably do a celebratory dance before continuing to be a thorn in Bruce's side.
Talia Al Ghul: Talia will probably continue to try to persuade Bruce that he should be with her, but I just don't see that happening. If Bruce does hook-up with Catwoman though, that could lead to some interesting stories between the two women. If nothing else, Talia will be in Bruce's life for as long as Damian is around.
Well, I think I've covered a variable who's who in the Batman Universe! Let me know what you think of my ideas for the future of the Batman, and feel free to tell me what you think will happen to the Batman status quo when Bruce returns. As always, Long Live The Legion!