Lucius Fox, a technology specialist and Bruce Wayne's business manager who is well aware of his employer's clandestine vigilante activities; Dr. Leslie Thompkins, a family friend who like Alfred became a surrogate parental figure to Bruce Wayne after the deaths of his parents, and is also aware of his secret identity; Vicki Vale, an investigative journalist who often reports on Batman's activities for the Gotham Gazette; Ace the Bat-Hound, Batman's canine partner who was mainly active in the 1950s and 1960s; and Bat-Mite, an extra-dimensional imp mostly active in the 1960s who idolizes Batman.
Upon his return, Bruce Wayne goes public with the news that he has been funding The Batman's crusade the entire time. Although Bruce Wayne still holds the mantle of the Bat, he leaves Dick Grayson as Gotham's Dark Knight and sets out to create a worldwide crime fighting organization known as Batman Incorporated. The idea behind the organization is that each country or region will have its own specific Batman, and will be funded by Bruce Wayne and his business empire.
Another writer who rose to prominence on the Batman comic series, was Jeph Loeb. Along with longtime collaborator Tim Sale, they wrote two miniseries (The Long Halloween and Dark Victory) that pit an early in his career version of Batman against his entire rogues gallery (including Two-Face, whose origin was re-envisioned by Loeb) while dealing with various mysteries involving serial killers Holiday and the Hangman. In 2003, Loeb teamed with artist Jim Lee to work on another mystery arc: "Batman: Hush" for the main Batman book. The 12–issue storyline has Batman and Catwoman teaming up against Batman's entire rogues gallery, including an apparently resurrected Jason Todd, while seeking to find the identity of the mysterious supervillain Hush. While the character of Hush failed to catch on with readers, the arc was a sales success for DC. The series became #1 on the Diamond Comic Distributors sales chart for the first time since Batman #500 (Oct. 1993) and Todd's appearance laid the groundwork for writer Judd Winick's subsequent run as writer on Batman, with another multi-issue arc, "Under the Hood", which ran from Batman #637–650 (April 2005 – April 2006).
The boy suddenly re-appears wearing a domino mask of ash and a shield with a bat on it. He frees Bruce and gives him back his belt. From his utility belt, Bruce takes a medicine capsule and dons the pelt of a giant bat to wear on his body. Using the contents of his utility belt to stave off an attack by Savage and his mob, operating on instinct more than actual knowledge of various fighting techniques, Bruce defeats Vandal Savage returning the necklace to the boy just as an unexpected solar eclipse appears in the sky which Bruce reacts to and flees with the boy. Bruce jumps over a waterfall with his young partner, only to vanish at the bottom, somehow turning up in Puritan Era Gotham City. After he has vanished, Superman, Green Lantern, and Booster Gold appear in the past via Rip Hunter's time sphere, having tracked Bruce to the past. Superman confirms with his super-hearing that Batman isn't in this time. As they depart, Superman states that they have to catch up with Batman before he can return to the present on his own or the world will be in great danger. In the new era he arrives in, Bruce surfaces from the water and finds a woman, when they are suddenly attacked by a large, tentacled creature. Bruce raises his sword to defend himself and the woman.
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