In the comic book sagas that make up the DC universe - and this is canon - in particular, the recent storylines of Batman R.I.P., Whatever Ever Happened to Batman and Final Crisis (where the characters of the DC Multiverse encounter each other) one can witness the demise of the Caped Crusader.
I'm shocked, appalled, but mostly confused. So confused I thought I'd ask a work colleague about this turn of events. Sam seems to be switched on when it comes to the Bat dude. I asked him the obvious question.
Not at all. In fact I'd argue that he hasn't been so alive in a long time. Here is a Batman who really has to earn his victories, who when he's beaten down may well not have the strength to get back up, who when he wins - smiles.
Gotham's criminals are cowering and the Gotham City Police Dept. rallies under the batsignal. Batman is very much alive.
Bruce Wayne, however... now he's not in such great shape.
A year ago I probably would have agreed with you. There have been other attempts to replace Batman. When he was crippled by Bane back in the eighties Azrael tried to fill the void for a while, but the audience was never in any doubt that this was a pretender to the cowl.
Batman grew in a much more organic way from two main stimuli. Firstly from Bruce Wayne's vengeance-as-therapy approach to lifestyle (call it justice if you really feel you must) and secondly from the demands Gotham City places on its champion.
These two aspects have been intermeshed since day one in Bruce Wayne's Batman and it wasn't until this year's Battle for the Cowl (the comic issues covering the chaos immediately after Bruce Wayne's death culminating with Dick Grayson becoming the new Batman) that this dualism was really analysed.
While Dick gives Gotham what it needs, he manages to leave behind those Bruce derived parts of Batman he doesn't need. Though Dick lost his parents as a child in a manner not dissimilar to Bruce, Dick doesn't rely on that anguish to motivate him day to day. For Dick, just doing the right thing is enough.
I guess what the argument comes down to is "Can there be more than one Batman?" and while thinking of Dick Grayson as Batman 2.0 might help some of us who are slower to deal with change, it isn't doing justice to the challenges Dick has faced and overcome to maintain the illusion that Batman never left.
The first thing he did way back when he was fired from the post of Robin was get rid of the cape he felt restrained his fighting style. As Batman he fights with a cape twice the size he wore as Robin; he doesn't like it and he makes a few minor changes, but for the most part he adapts himself to suit Batman, not vice versa.
Firstly, no publishing house with half a brain would eliminate the possibility of such a solid seller being restored.
Secondly, the circumstances surrounding Bruce's death are messy to say the least. Crazy amnesia / hallucinations, pseudo gods, some time spent in a very confusing purgatory. You'd be forgiven for not being sure what actually happened there and I'm not really clear myself. So maybe he's not really dead. Maybe he's - big voice -TRAPPED IN TIME as the last few pages of Final Crisis might suggest.
Either way, he's out of the way now. Dick is Batman. Damien Wayne is Robin. This is the line up from here on in. Perhaps one day he'll be brought back as a support character. Perhaps one day he'll even be Batman again (hell, Hal Jordan's Green Lantern and Barry Allen's The Flash both came back in the past few years) but I've got $50 that says you will not see Bruce Wayne as Batman in present-day Gotham City any time in the next five years.