"Superheavy, Part Nine": Bruce Wayne, having finally acknowledged the secret he had forgotten - that he is the Batman - has returned to his family home at Wayne Manor, but in an effort to dissuade his long-suffering ward from reopening a wound he hoped had been heale
- For Batman to live, Bruce Wayne always has to die!
Synopsis for "Superheavy, Part Nine"
Bruce Wayne, having finally acknowledged the secret he had forgotten - that he is the Batman - has returned to his family home at Wayne Manor, but in an effort to dissuade his long-suffering ward from reopening a wound he hoped had been healed, Alfred Pennyworth now stands between him and the entrance to the Batcave, where the remaining answers to Bruce's questions lie waiting. Bruce tries to explain that he now knows the truth, but Alfred desperately tries to deny him - and the truth that he wished neither of them would have to acknowledge again. Pushing past him, Bruce finds his way through the grandfather clock to the caves, insistent on stopping the threat that Mister Bloom poses.
Alfred explains that there is nothing down there for him. He already destroyed the machine that was to be the Batman's legacy. It was meant to produce clones, who could be imbued with his knowledge and skills without the time and effort required. Unfortunately, the machine was not calibrated for the human mind. Every simulation caused the host to die from the shock of the trauma that was inflicted. Being the Batman was too much for another living mind to handle. Bruce is aware, though, that the Batman would have installed a failsafe somewhere, even if Alfred had dismantled the original. Using the Batcomputer, he discovers a file called the Alfred Protocol, which proves to be the backup Bruce suspected must exist - named for the one man Batman trusted to father the next generation of Batmen.
Realizing that he has failed, Alfred tries again to beg Bruce to consider the life that he would be giving up. Bruce explains that he is thinking of that life - because it is currently in danger. He asks Alfred to tell Julie Madison that he loves her, and ask that she understand his motivations. As for Alfred, he pleads with him to understand him now. Could Bruce - this Bruce - live with himself if he walked away without trying. Sadly, Alfred must concede that he could not, and watches Bruce as he straps himself into the machine.
As the machine is activated, Bruce's mind is filled with images and false memories of other, possible Batmen, and their trials. Alfred senses that the images are tearing Bruce's mind apart, and begs him to give up, lest he be lost to the machine. He has spent his life trying to foster and build upon the faint traces of the boy that Bruce Wayne was, inside of the thing he became. He had waited all this time for a Bruce Wayne who was not held back by his pain. Now, Bruce has asked him to be the man who creates the Batman - to become Joe Chill. Unexpectedly, Julie Madison appears in the cave, and announces that she will be that, if Alfred cannot. She admits that she has always known the truth about him, and that things are so bad in Gotham City that she can't help but agree that Bruce needs to do this. Though she is aware that he will lose all memory of their time together, she accepts that heartbreak for the sake of so many lives - including her own.
As Julie forces the machine to work harder, it emits one final burst of energy, leaving Bruce brain dead. As tears for both hers and Alfred's losses stream down their faces, they wait for Bruce to revive - if he will revive. A burst of light sends a swarm of bats screeching from their beds, and they see that Bruce is alive. Alfred calls out, knowing he should explain the situation, but Batman tells him to save it for the car - there's work to do.
Appearing in "Superheavy, Part Nine"
- Clayface (Hallucination)
- Batmen (Hallucination)
- Batman (Hallucination)
- Martha Wayne (In a photograph only)
- Thomas Wayne (In a photograph only)
- Olivia (Mentioned only)
- Moon (Hallucination)
- Batmobile (Mentioned only)
- This issue is reprinted in Batman: Bloom.
- Batman relates the purpose of his "final invention", his encounter with dionesium, and the experience of seeing many versions of himself die to Hal.