Many of the major Batman storylines since the 1990s have been inter-title crossovers that run for a number of issues. In 1993, DC published "Knightfall". During the storyline's first phase, the new villain Bane paralyzes Batman, leading Wayne to ask Azrael to take on the role. After the end of "Knightfall", the storylines split in two directions, following both the Azrael-Batman's adventures, and Bruce Wayne's quest to become Batman once more. The story arcs realign in "KnightsEnd", as Azrael becomes increasingly violent and is defeated by a healed Bruce Wayne. Wayne hands the Batman mantle to Dick Grayson (then Nightwing) for an interim period, while Wayne trains for a return to the role.
Meanwhile, Batman's relationship with the Gotham City Police Department changed for the worse with the events of "Batman: Officer Down" and "Batman: War Games/War Crimes"; Batman's long-time law enforcement allies Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Bullock are forced out of the police department in "Officer Down", while "War Games" and "War Crimes" saw Batman become a wanted fugitive after a contingency plan of his to neutralize Gotham City's criminal underworld is accidentally triggered, resulting in a massive gang war that ends with the sadistic Black Mask the undisputed ruler of the city's criminal gangs. Lex Luthor arranges for the murder of Batman's on-again, off-again love interest Vesper (introduced in the mid-1990s) during the "Bruce Wayne: Murderer?" and "Bruce Wayne: Fugitive" story arcs. Though Batman is able to clear his name, he loses another ally in the form of his new bodyguard Sasha, who is recruited into the organization known as "Checkmate" while stuck in prison due to her refusal to turn state's evidence against her employer. While he was unable to prove that Luthor was behind the murder of Vesper, Batman does get his revenge with help from Talia al Ghul in Superman/Batman #1–6.
The color design elements are unusual, as Capullo debuted a number of unique color ideas, like having the bat symbol on the chest surrounded by a yellow line rather than a yellow oval and purple lining in the cape. In a lot of ways, he seems to be trying to evoke the entire history of Batman's color schemes, which is appreciated. It is a good-looking costume. The cowl also pays homage to Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Returns" Batman cowl.
This Russian version of the Caped Crusader was part of a mini-series in which the rocket ship carrying an infant Superman landed in a collective farm in Stalin's Soviet Union instead of the Smallville farm of Jonathan and Martha Kent. To fill this alternate reality with other recognizable DC comics characters, many others had their own alternate takes. The Batman of this world is an anti-Stalinist who's parents were gunned down by Stalin's police force instead of American street criminals.
Attaching a protective mask, Batman creates a propulsion tunnel to blast through the vat. The propulsion blast allows Batman to escape, but the corrosion heavily damages his suit. Returning home, Batman sends a message to his allies to warn them that the Joker might be targeting them individually. At the manor, Bruce finds a cassette tape, in which the Joker reveals he has kidnapped Alfred. Batman later visits Gordon, who was designated as Joker's next victim. Gordon begins to bleed uncontrollably, so Batman sends him to the hospital. Knowing that the Joker is re-enacting his previous crimes, Batman goes to the Gotham Reservoir, the first place he faced the Joker in his current identity. There, the Joker traps Batman with cables, immobilizing. The Joker says that Batman's care for his allies has made him weak, so he plans to kill them all in the next 72 hours.
On Earth-One, Catwoman and Batman were often at odds since they were on different sides of the law, but eventually, Catwoman reformed and Batman accepted her as a vigilante in Gotham City. Coincidentally, Bruce Wayne also started a romantic relationship with Selina Kyle. Despite these developments, Catwoman realized Batman and Bruce could not fully trust her and she left Gotham.
Batman makes his way through the asylum, overcoming Mr. Freeze, Scarecrow and Clayface. He finds Joker with Two-Face, Riddler, and Penguin, but before he can stop them, Joker shows him a video of Robin, Red Hood, Nightwing, Batgirl and Red Robin being captured. Joker orders Batman to take his place on his throne, an electric chair, to spare their lives, and Batman does so, receiving an electric shock
While the Crime Syndicate imprisons the Justice Leagues inside the Firestorm Matrix, Batman, Catwoman and a critically injured Cyborg escape in a sewer system and go to S.T.A.R. Labs. There, they find Doctors Silas Stone and Thomas Morrow. As Batman and Catwoman explain their situation, they discover the Crime Syndicate has taken over the world and revealed Nightwing's identity. Batman decides to find Nightwing.
In Final Crisis #6, Batman confronts Darkseid in the villain's bunker. He states that he will make an exception to his "no firearms" rule and shoots Darkseid using the bullet that killed Orion and hits Darkseid. As Darkseid dies he fires the Omega Sanction (which traps its victim's soul in a series of alternate lives, each worse than the one before it), from his eyes, and hits Batman. Before the Omega Sanction hits Batman he silently says, "Gotcha". It is unknown if ' Batman knew Darkseid shot the Omega sanction or he knew it was coming and accepted his fate. (Morrison notes that Batman's use of the gun is symbolic as “the root of the Batman mythos is the gun and the bullet that created Batman. So, Batman himself is finally standing there to complete that big mythical circle and to have the image of Batman up against the actual personification of evil and now he's got the gun and he's got the bullet. It seemed to me to work.") At the close of the penultimate issue in the series, Superman returns to Earth from the 31st century, where he was given access to the reality-altering Miracle Machine by Brainiac 5 of the Legion of Super-Heroes. In a fit of desperate rage, Superman attacks Darkseid's bunker, finding Batman's charred corpse within. The Dark Knight is seemingly dead. However, the Omega Sanction does not kill its victims: instead, it sends their consciousness traveling through parallel worlds, and at the conclusion of Final Crisis, it is made clear that this is the fate that has befallen the still-living Batman, as he watches the passing of Anthro in the distant past.
Batman became a popular character soon after his introduction, and eventually gained his own title, "Batman". As the decades wore on, differing takes on the character emerged. The late 1960s Batman television series utilized a camp aesthetic associated with the character for years after the show ended. Various creators worked to return the character to his dark roots, culminating in the 1986 miniseries Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, by writer-artist Frank Miller. That and the success of director Tim Burton's 1989 Batman motion picture helped reignite popular interest in the character. A cultural icon, Batman has been licensed and adapted into a variety of media, from radio to television and film, and appears on a variety of merchandise sold all over the world. The Batman goes by numerous nicknames, such as The Dark Knight, The Caped Crusader, World's Greatest Detective and the Defender of Gotham.
1994's company-wide crossover Zero Hour changes aspects of DC continuity again, including those of Batman. Noteworthy among these changes is that the general populace and the criminal element now considers Batman an urban legend rather than a known force. Similarly, the Waynes' killer is never caught or identified, effectively removing Joe Chill from the new continuity, rendering stories such as "Year Two" non-canon.
With Batman's return to Gotham, the GCPD shut down their Batmen project and reinstated Gordon as Commissioner. After the incident under the caves, Batman decided to investigate Nth metal, believing there to be some connection between it, Dionesium and the Court of Owls. To that end, he approached the leader of the Robin street gang, Duke Thomas, and offered to train him into another hero, as opposed to another Robin. In reality, Bruce knew about his status as a metahuman and wished for him to help investigate the court's plans.
Batman is often treated as a vigilante by other characters in his stories. Frank Miller views the character as "a dionysian figure, a force for anarchy that imposes an individual order". Dressed as a bat, Batman deliberately cultivates a frightening persona in order to aid him in crime-fighting, a fear that originates from the criminals' own guilty conscience. Miller is often credited with reintroducing anti-heroic traits into Batman's characterization, such as his brooding personality, willingness to use violence and torture, and increasingly alienated behavior. Batman, shortly a year after his debut and the introduction of Robin, was changed in 1940 after DC editor Whitney Ellsworth felt the character would be tainted by his lethal methods and DC established their own ethical code, subsequently he was retconned as having a stringent moral code. Miller's Batman was closer to the original pre-Robin version, who was willing to kill criminals if necessary.
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