The Caped Crusader is being put to the test in the most recent Batman arc, and it looks like that's manifesting in some pretty dark ways.
Spoilers for this week's issue of Batman, "The Fall and the Fallen: Part 2", below!
The issue alternates back and forth from two different points in time, the first of which is after Flashpoint Batman makes his presence known by briefly turning the Bat-signal red. After that catches the attention of Barbara Gordon, she recruits as much of the Batfamily as she can to come to Bruce's aid. Bruce explains how Bane recently held him hostage while he took over the rest of the city from Arkham, and asks the Batfam to help take everything back.
The group arrived at Arkham, where there was no trace - physical or digital - of Bane's uprising. The rest of Bruce's story begins to be questioned, as Barbara says that Alfred has been worried about him ever since the fallout with Catwoman.
Tim Drake attempted to console Bruce, saying that he understands how Bruce would be in pain after what happened with Selina. Bruce promptly responds by punching Tim in the face (and creating a pretty dark version of an iconic Batman meme in the process), proclaiming that he doesn't "know a damn thing" about how he's feeling.
This action adds a lot of context to the second storyline covered in the issue, which sees Wayne Manor being infiltrated by Bane and Flashpoint Batman. Bruce decides to attempt to break Bane's back, but doesn't succeed, and suddenly realizes that he's alone. Alfred then tries to console Bruce, explaining that he needs to admit that he's already lost to Bane.
When put together, all of these revelations spark the question about what Bane is doing to Bruce's sanity, and which sequences are or aren't in his head. With all of that in mind, it's unclear if Bruce actually punched Tim in reality or if it's just an extension of the "Knightmares" (it's especially hard to tell when you remember that he did something similar to Jim Gordon in last November's issue).
The notion of Bruce's emotional stability has been a through-line of Tom King's Batman run thus far, and it's hard to deny that the idea of him being willing to punch Tim crosses yet another line with that.1comments
"This marriage and happiness that Batman had achieved was being manipulated by Bane, and it was all in some way a setup to break him," King said after Batman's landmark 50th issue. "That’s going to play out over the next 50 issues. So we’re halfway through what I hope to be an epic story of the Batman’s heart being broken and perhaps rebuilt and perhaps broken again.”
Batman #71 is in stores now. Issue #72 will be available on June 5th.