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Comic Book / Batman (Tom King)

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"I was alone. Like everyone else. Like everyone in Gotham, I saw everyone in Gotham, all of us. We're all on our knees, our hands together, the blood and the blade warm between them. We pray. And no one answers. I saw. And I understood."

When the New 52 started, Batman (1940) was relaunched with the creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. However, after five years, they decided to do something a bit different; so while Snyder wrote All-Star Batman, he handed off the reins of Batman (2011) to Tom King (Grayson, The Vision, Omega Men), which had been relaunched as Batman (2016) as part of the DC Rebirth initiative. The series is biweekly, with the rotating art team of David Finch (New Avengers, Forever Evil (2013)) and Mikel Janin (Grayson, Justice League Dark), with occasional guest artists.

King's run is an examination of Bruce Wayne's psyche and what being Batman means to him, and how this is challenged as he comes under attack from all sides as a shadowy villain works to destroy him. Also heavily featured is Batman's relationship with Catwoman, which is similarly examined from numerous angles as the two restart their relationship on a more serious note.

King's run has been notable for keeping the same dark, noir tone of Snyder's run while also bringing back a lot of the sillier villains of the Silver and Bronze Ages like Doctor Double X, Colonel Blimp and Kite Man. Though at the same time the run goes a step further than Snyder's run by removing Batman's more upbeat and quippy demeanor that came with his "rebirth" after Batman: Endgame.

After 85 or so issues, King's run on the title ended, 15 issues earlier than planned. Instead, he launched a Batman/Catwoman series alongside artist Clay Mann to continue his story. (Think of it as a splinter timeline scenario.)

As for the main Batman book, James Tynion IV (who's had experience with the Caped Crusader) took over as the new writer starting with issue 85's epilogue. Find the page for that run here.

King's run includes examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Gotham Girl's past tense narration in the first arc gave the idea that Batman "dies" in this run. We just don't know how or why, and whether it's a literal death or not. King plays with expectations regarding this quite a bit, but it never came to pass in any way — the only way it could apply is if she were referring to Thomas, because it's unclear if he died or not in the end. Similarly, said narration says she and Duke Thomas end up married. There isn't even an inkling of romance between the two throughout the entire run, and Duke himself barely appears past the third arc and certainly doesn't talk to Gotham Girl.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: In Batman #23, why Batman needs a car.
    Swamp Thing: Why...Do you need...A car?
    Batman: I don't know. Why do you need a body?
    Swamp Thing: Heh.
  • Amicable Exes: After Catwoman beats her in a sword fight, a wounded Talia al Ghul crawls up to Batman and they act rather friendly with each other despite her attempting to kill him earlier that day. She also approves of Selina being Bruce's fiancée.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Joker, as usual, but in this run, Bane is arguably the more dangerous and personal of Batman"s villains, up to and including killing Alfred.
  • Arc Words:
    • "The Monster Men are Coming."
    • "It's not impossible. It's Batman."
      • "Not impossible. Bane."
    • "I am Bane."
    • "It was on a boat." "It was on the street."
    • "I'm still here."
  • Art Shift: Batman's memory of first meeting Catwoman was during the events of Batman #1, which leads to a flashback drawn in the same style as Bob Kane. Catwoman remembers it as when she defended Holly Robinson from a disguised Bruce Wayne as shown in Batman: Year One, the flashback to which takes on the same style as David Mazzucchelli.
  • Back to Front: Mixed in with How We Got Here. #84 tells us how Flashpoint Thomas Wayne became a violent Papa Wolf for Bruce, how he became Batman, how he ended up in the main DC Universe, and how he got involved with Bane.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In Batman #9, Batman talks with a masked prisoner in Arkham using dialogue identical to his conversation with the Joker in The Killing Joke. The prisoner turns out to be Catwoman.
  • Big Bad:
    • The Big Bad of "I Am Gotham" and "Night of the Monster Men" was Hugo Strange.
    • The Big Bad of "I Am Suicide" and "I Am Bane" is, of course, Bane.
    • Issue #72 sets it straight that Bane is the true villain of this run, and the one who masterminded everything. However, it's Flashpoint Thomas Wayne who defeats him, takes over Gotham and provides the final fight.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Joker and Riddler in "The War of Jokes and Riddles".
  • Bloody Hallucinations of Guilt: At the end of "The Gift", Booster Gold, who created a world where Bruce Wayne's parents weren't killed in a misguided attempt to help Bruce come to terms with it (For the Man Who Has Everything style) finds himself with the alternate Bruce in a certain alley in Gotham thirty years ago. When the alternate Bruce (who had already seen Thomas and Martha in his own timeline die) sees what happens, he shoots himself, and Booster gets splattered with blood. We then cut to him confessing what he's done to Batman, and he says there's a speck of blood on his goggles that just won't come off, saying, "You see it too, right?" The goggles are immaculate.
  • Bottle Episode: "The Best Man" takes place entirely within and outside a church.
  • Brainwashed: As it turns out, the Psycho-Pirate's figured out how to induce this on behalf of the Big Bad. He can implant emotions in people: if he implants love for the Big Bad and the regime he controls, anyone affected becomes utterly loyal. We see it done to Two-Face on-panel, but by "City of Bane" it's also been done to Batman's entire rogues' gallery. And by Issue #83, he's done it to the Bat-Family and Catwoman too.
  • Break the Cutie: What happens to Gotham Girl over the course of the first arc. First she's driven to the brink of insanity by the Psycho-Pirate, then she's forced to kill her brother, which makes her snap completely.
  • The Bus Came Back: Bird, Trogg and Zombie, Bane's associates from Knightfall finally return in "I Am Bane", after having effectively vanished following the former storyline.
  • Call-Back:
    • In Batman #2, when Batman pulls a Stealth Hi/Bye on Gotham and Gotham Girl and they say that that's impossible, Commissioner Gordon says, "It not impossible, kid. It's Batman." In Batman #13, Catwoman says nearly the same thing when Bronze Tiger says it's impossible that Batman just walked into Santa Prisca and walked out with the Psycho Pirate: "It's not impossible. It's Batman." And then during Batman #19, as Bane invades Arkham, he flips it by saying "Not impossible. Bane."
    • In Batman #5, when Alfred is pretending to be Batman, he is wearing Greg Capullo's original New 52 Batsuit.
    • When Bane is invading Arkham, Batman weakens and stalls him by releasing all of Arkham's inmates to fight Bane. This is what Bane did to soften up Bruce when they first met in Knightfall.
    • One issue shows the bar where Batman met Elmer Fudd in a DC Meets Looney Tunes special that Tom King wrote, with visual references to that same story, seemingly establishing that it is in fact canon.
    • In a fit of frustration Damian explains exactly how he would take down Superman using magic only for Superman to brush it aside by pointing out that his son Jon probably wouldn't want to go adventuring with him if he did that. The technique that Damian describes is put into action later on when Damian uses it to get the better of Gotham Girl during the City of Bane arc.
  • The Cameo: Saturn Girl likes to appear every now and then to tease Legion stuff.
  • The Caper: "I Am Suicide," complete with Batman forming his own team to steal something. That something just happens to be the Psycho-Pirate.
  • Catchphrase: Kite Man's is "Kite Man! Hell yeah!"
  • Cerebus Retcon: Kite Man! Hell yeah! Originally an extremely goofy Silver Age villain with kites as his gimmick, the "War of Jokes and Riddles" arc introduces us to his new origin. Charles Brown is seen as a joke by everyone except his son, who Charles bonds with by flying kites together. During the war Charles is manipulated as an informant by both sides and Batman which leads to Riddler poisoning his son's kite string, leading to his death. This breaks Charles, who adopts the Kite Man identity as a reminder of his son along with some Death Seeker qualities. He is permanently seen as a joke because of his theme but does his best with it. And his catchphrase? His son would say it when excited, like when flying kites. Charles admonished him, telling his if he said "hell" he will go to hell. On his son's deathbed, his son asks him if its true and before Charles can tell him it is not, his son dies. Kite Man adopted it as his own catchphrase.
    • "I am Suicide" also gives one to Batman: that Batman is his way of ensuring his death.
  • The Chew Toy: Kite Man is first captured by Gotham Girl in the "I Am Gotham" epilogue, and thrown into Arkham. In his next appearance, he's free, but gets the stuffing beaten out of him during Batman and Catwoman's "date night."
  • Continuity Nod: The portrait of Bruce and all the Robins (minus Jason) that was painted in the New 52 run of Batman and Robin appears in Bruce's study in issue #23.
    • Bruce remembers his first encounter with Catwoman being the events of her first appearance in Batman #1, while Catwoman remembers first meeting him as told in Batman: Year One.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • This series portrays Batman as always having his Rebirth Batsuit since the very beginning. This is in spite of the fact that this suit was only introduced during the "Superheavy" arc in Scott Snyder's New 52 run.
    • Retconned again at the end of "Cold Days" when Batman goes back to his "original" suit: the one from Batman: Year One.
    • The War of Jokes and Riddles shows Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, Penguin, Ventriloquist, Mr. Zsasz, Deadshot, Deathstroke, Poison Ivy, Firefly, Mr. Freeze, Solomon Grundy, Man-Bat, Clayface, Cluemaster, Two-Face, Killer Croc, Kite Man, Tweedledee & Tweedledum, Mad Hatter and Scarecrow as not only being active during Bruce's 2nd year as Batman but (with the exception of Penguin) being villains he's already encountered multiple times already before the story begins. This is especially egregious in the case of Deathstroke who wasn't even considered a Batman villain until fairly recently.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: Deathstroke and Deadshot face off in issue #28. They first try sniping each other — but shoot each other's 7.62 bullet. They go on to try and kill each other for five days before Batman can finally manage to stop them.
  • Crapsack World:
    • The alternate timeline created by Booster Gold in "The Gift". To wit, Gotham is a borderline war zone overrun by Jokers who murder people and commit other crimes on a regular basis; staying inside the city apparently causes people to become "Jokered"; all of Eurasia is ruled by Ra's al Ghul with Talia set to inherit control; Damian was never born; Tim is an IT drone at an unspecified company with a severe lack of empathy; the Penguin is president; Dick is the Batman of the world, one who regularly uses murder as solution and actively makes use of both guns and grenades, no less; Jason is a tire salesman who can apparently get away with selling special tires that taze people to death if they try to steal them; Duke was lobotimized; the Joker epidemic is apparently a scheme by the al Ghuls to rule over the entire world; and Hal Jordan kills himself on the first page. Literally the only people happy are Thomas and Martha Wayne, who are alive and well (that is, until they die the next issue, anyway), who still hate the state of the world, and Bruce, who is a complete and total Rich Bitch whose response to Booster telling him that everything is technically not real is to break Skeets with a fire poker and have Alfred throw Booster out. As for Selina Kyle, she's a psychotic Serial Killer capable of only saying "meow" who Booster breaks out of Arkham to help him, and she later murders both Thomas Wayne and Alfred. Oh, and the entire Justice League died off-panel fighting Starro.
    • By the time of "City of Bane", the main timeline's Gotham City has become one of these. Bane, of course, is in complete control of the city, thanks to Psycho-Pirate, and has an army of supervillains (including the Joker, Riddler and Two-Face) working as his police force. Gotham Girl both keeps an eye on the city and attacks any superheroes trying to intervene, even as the President agrees to wall the city off and hand absolute power to Bane. And the Batman of the city is Flashpoint Thomas Wayne, who uses lethal force and, like everyone else, takes orders from Bane.
  • Crossing the Desert: Happens twice. First Batman and Catwoman cross the desert to find Talia Al'Ghul, then Batman and the Batman Thomas Wayne, his kidnapper, cross the desert so Thomas can find a Lazarus Pit and bring Martha back.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Batman's first proper fight with Bane in "I am Bane"; he can barely land weak, ineffectual blows as Bane pummels the life out of him.
  • Dating Catwoman: Literally the entire story of "Rooftops" is a "date night" between Batman and Catwoman. It's also a complete breakdown of their relationship; namely, how Batman and Catwoman want to stay with each other, but can't commit to each other because of their masked activities. Their relationship actually ends up being the emotional core of Tom King's entire run.
  • Dark Secret: "The War of Jokes and Riddles" is all about a moment in time during Batman's early history that would show that he wasn't this great hero Gotham needed. Namely, Batman broke his Thou Shalt Not Kill rule by attempting to murder the Riddler before the Joker stopped him, proving that the only difference between him and the criminals he puts in jail was the Joker defining who he was.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Batman #27 brings us "The Ballad of Kite Man", which focuses on the eponymous villain's tragic origin.
  • Death Seeker:
    • The run establishes in "I am Suicide" that this is part of Bruce's reason for being Batman — that he couldn't bring himself to suicide, and instead acts as Batman to help the world while hoping to receive a "good death" that will honour his parents. He moves past it during the conclusion of "I am Bane", when he talks to a hallucination of Martha Wayne.
    • Flashpoint Thomas Wayne, acting as a foil to Bruce, is also this. Except he never outgrows it and is a self-destructive, jaded Batman who is old and alone and, by the end of Tom King's run, possibly dead.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Bruce after the wedding issue. The very next issue, he rips a public urinal out in anger and is clearly lashing out against his Batman persona while on the jury.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Bane turns out to be the Big Bad of the entire run, and his second-in-command is none other than Thomas Wayne, the Batman of the Flashpoint universe. Both of them want Batman broken, but for different reasons: the Big Bad wants to prove his superiority, while Thomas wants Bruce to give up Batman so they can settle down as father and son.
  • Enemy Civil War: The "The War of Jokes and Riddles" arc is about the Joker and Riddler going to war with each other over both Gotham and the right to kill Batman.
  • Evil Counterpart: Bane's backstory is depicted as a dark reflection of Bruce's, with the deaths of their mothers being their common connection, before their different upbringings cause them to diverge.
    • Flashpoint Thomas Wayne has become one to the original Thomas Wayne, becoming obsessed with making Bruce stop being Batman so they can have a normal life again, and since Bruce refuses, and Thomas' judgement is so skewed due to his own traumatic experiences may or may not be being manipulated to do this by Dr. Manhattan, he decides to force him to by teaming up with Bane to plot against him and resurrect his alternate wife and have Bruce broken down so much that he'd quit so they could be a family and rule Gotham, something his prime counterpart would never have done.
  • Exact Words: In The Gift timeline where Bruce's parents are still alive into his adulthood, but are tragically killed, Batman tries to force Booster to use Skeets to take him back in time and avert it. After Booster tells him that it doesn't work by date, he tells Booster to have Skeets take him back to the night of his parents murder. Booster does just that, but not to the night Bruce wanted.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Flashpoint Thomas Wayne, who somehow survived his timeline's destruction at the end of The Button and ended up in the prime DC Universe, and is displeased when he finds out Bruce did not honor his Dying Wish to retire as Batman, and thus decides to force his son to stop, and does so by teaming up with Bane, a ruthless supervillain who seeks to kill him and rule his city. It's obvious Thomas is a far cry from when we last saw him as he has abandoned any goodwill he'd had in Flashpoint as an opportunity to have his family back is presented, and goes to dubious to outright villainous lengths to make it happen, including letting Bane break Bruce's back a third time, murder Alfred, his own butler/family friend, beating his own grandchildren down, and dragging his son out into the desert to find a hidden Lazurus Pit to resurrect this universe's Martha Wayne, and when Bruce reveals he'd moved her body to ensure this didn't happen, decides to subplant Bane's scheme to rule Gotham and letting Bruce see Alfred's corpse in a last deranged attempt to convince him to stop. Bruce once more refuses, knowing his father is gone.
  • Fight Unscene: In issue #33, Catwoman takes on a guard who is about three times her size. The fight starts offscreen and cuts away to another scene. When the scene cuts back, the guard is lying beaten up on the ground, while Selina doesn't have a scratch on her.
  • Foil: The Flashpoint incarnation of Thomas Wayne. He's a Batman driven entirely by loss and the memory of his loved ones and doesn't care if he dies, even having a death wish at times. These are things that Tom King tackled with Bruce, in that Bruce was initially Batman purely because of his dead parents and it was an alternative attempt at suicide for him... but life as Batman changed him for the better, giving him new people to live for and a new reason to keep living.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the first issue, Batman attempts to pull off a Heroic Sacrifice and asks Alfred if his parents would've been proud of the man he had become. Alfred confirms that they would have. Unfortunately, Flashpoint Thomas Wayne is absolutely not proud of Bruce being Batman and the final quarter of King's run has him do everything in his power to encourage Bruce to hang up the cape.
    • The sparring match between Bane and Thomas Wayne Batman ends when the latter pulls a gun on him. The final fight between Bane and Batman ends when Tom shows up and shoots Bane dead (seemingly).
    • "Alright, Cat. Break him." Catwoman choking the villain out with her whip after that line happens in "I Am Suicide" with Bane, and then in the finale with Thomas Wayne.
  • For Want Of A Nail: The three part storyline "The Gift," where Booster Gold saves Batman's parents and accidentally sends the world into a dystopia.
  • Freudian Excuse: Batman #27 details Kite Man's: his young son was killed by the Riddler after a sting operation for Batman went wrong, prompting him to take on the Kite Man identity to seek revenge.
  • Graceful Loser: Talia al Ghul doesn't seem that bothered by being beaten by Catwoman, implying the whole conflict between them and Batman was a test to see if she was worthy of being his bride.
  • The Heart: "The Best Man" has Selina suggest that Two-Face acted as this for Batman's rogues gallery.
    Selina: Harvey held a lot of us together, people forget. He's underrated. I always thought he was the dark horse to get Batman.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Batman almost makes one in the very first issue, but is saved from doing so by Gotham and Gotham Girl. Then, in Batman #5, he tries to sacrifice himself again to stop Gotham, but is saved again by Gotham Girl. The series brings up the idea that Batman actively wants to die pulling one of these, in order to make his parents proud of him. He gets over it eventually.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The War of Jokes and Riddles is caused by this trope: the Riddler and Joker's obsession with Batman is so far reaching that they can't get over the fact that Batman refuses to laugh and all the Riddler wants to do is outsmart Batman. Riddler attempts to partner up with the Joker to get revenge on Batman, but the Joker shoots him in the gut and leaves him to die, setting off the war.
  • Hypocrite: Flashpoint Thomas Wayne is motivated by his Papa Wolf tendencies to prevent his son from experiencing the immeasurable pain that comes with being Batman. This leads him to have Alfred murdered, thereby causing Bruce immeasurable pain.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Alfred remarks how he's had the prestigious honor of being the youngest recruit in the Royal Shakespeare Company, with many touting him as having the potential of changing the face of acting itself. Instead, he's currently Batman's butler and using his considerable talent to impersonate Jeremiah Arkham.
  • I Let You Win: It's revealed that a simple headbutt really didn't bring down Bane. He feigned defeat so he could be in Arkham Asylum just as he planned.
  • Insanity Immunity: Of sorts: when the Psycho-Pirate tries to control the emotions of Alfred Wesker the Ventriloquist, it turns out he can't...because Scarface the Dummy already controls him.
  • Juxtaposed Reflection Poster: Complementary covers for issue 44, Bruce/Batman and Selina/Catwoman's Wedding Episode, see Bruce and Selina standing in front of mirrors in their wedding garb, while reflections of themselves in their "super" identities (Batman and Catwoman) look back at them from the mirror.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • The entire Rebirth one-shot can very easily be viewed as a commentary on the cyclical nature of comic book relaunches, and by extension Batman comic tropes.
    • When Batman visits Arkham Asylum, Saturn Girl breaths onto her glass and draws the Legion of Super-Heroes' symbol. The closest dialogue balloon has Jeremiah Arkham say "who's taking on that burden?". This issue was released after the possible Legion writers, a list on which Tom King is included, were revealed.
    • Issue #44 basically has Batman point out to Catwoman that their personalities keep changing and wonder if their marriage will last. Half of the issue is flashbacks to famous Batman and Catwoman moments in comics history, stretching back to the Golden Age with Selina's first appearance.
  • Legacy Character: Dick Grayson again fills in as Batman while Bruce is on jury duty.
  • Loving a Shadow: Catwoman accuses Talia Al'Ghul of loving the paragon of mankind and destined partner she believes Batman is and not the flawed, emotionally damaged man Selina knows and intends to marry.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": All of the Robins when Alfred announces that Bruce had proposed to Selina Kyle and she's accepted.
    Damian:...What the HELL did you just say?!
  • Manipulative Bastard: Bane. So much of his Evil Plan depends on knowing how to manipulate people into doing what he wants, especially Batman and Catwoman.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In Batman #1, Hugo Strange first makes an appearance saying "Observe the clock, Batman," exactly like his first appearance in Detective Comics #36.
    • In Batman #4, Gotham tries to prevent a suicide that's extremely similar to a scene in All-Star Superman. Except instead of it working out, the person still commits suicide by blowing themselves up.
    • In Batman #6, Colonel Blimp says to Gotham City, "I have your submarine! Again!" This is in reference to Batman #352, where Colonel Blimp first steals Gotham City's submarine.
    • In Batman #9, Batman is talking to a masked prisoner in Arkham and says, "I have been thinking lately. About you and me." Which is dialogue identical to his conversation with the Joker in The Killing Joke, leading the readers to believe he is talking to the Joker. He isn't: it's actually Catwoman.
    • In Batman #14 Magpie briefly shows up, resembling her Beware the Batman incarnation.
    • In the same issue, Batman and Catwoman argue over the circumstances of their first meeting. Batman recalls Catwoman dressed as an old lady and trying to steal jewels, the original Golden Age version, while Catwoman recalls Bruce getting his ass kicked by some thugs trying to protect Holly Robinson, the "Year One" version.
    • In Batman #26 has a line-for-line rendition of Joker's Rage Against the Reflection scene from Tim Burton's Film/Batman. But instead of the Joker it's the Riddler.
    • Batman says that he'll have to "kick a lot of trees" to work off a corndog. This is a reference to one of his preferred methods of exercising that appears in King's run, that is itself a reference to "Year One".
    • Batman #40 has Wonder Woman reference her pet kangaroo Kanga. This is a real character that hasn't been referenced in literal decades.
    • At one point, Bruce tells Alfred to get him his first Batman suit. It's notably not the "Zero Year" suit — it's the "Year One" suit.
    • In Batman #86, the Riddler's lair is behind a video billboard with the slogan "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?" This was the title of his introductory episode of Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Neck Snap: Alfred is killed by Bane through this.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Or rather, Kite Man never got to assure his son that he won't go to hell for swearing before he passed away.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: The superweapon everyone's fighting over in "I Am Suicide"? The guy who manages to control all of Gotham City on behalf of Bane and Thomas Wayne? Psycho-Pirate, finally using his powers for all they're worth.
  • Not So Stoic: Swamp Thing initially seems to be unbothered about his father's death, citing the Green's Blue-and-Orange Morality as his reasoning. Upon hearing the killer brag about the murder, Swamp Thing suddenly goes berserk and gruesomely kills him. Afterwards, he goes through a complete Heroic BSoD and flees as Batman furiously berates him for his actions.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Batman gives Bane a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown in his cell after Nightwing is shot in the head.
      Batman: You framed Freeze. Killed those women. Tried to kill Alfred. And from that, it's not hard to see. worked with shot my boy!
    • The reason for Thomas Wayne warring against his son. In a twist of Bruce's oath to fight crime in the name of his late parents, Thomas swore to his son that he will war against anything he thinks causes Bruce pain. And after experiencing all the pain and misery of being Batman in his own universe, Thomas resolves to include Bruce's life as Batman among the things that would hurt his son, thus joining Bane as one half of the run's Big Bad Duumvirate.
  • Perpetual Frowner: The Joker of all people during The War of Jokes and Riddles. His entire mission statement in the storyline is to find something to make him laugh and smile again. He eventually finds his cure when Batman attempts to kill the Riddler, sending Joker into a hysteric laughter.
  • The Power of Love: Ivy's love for Harley is what allows Batman to save her.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: The recurring "It was on a boat"/"It was on the street" argument that Batman and Catwoman have over how they first met. Bruce's account references the original telling in 1940's Batman #1, while Selina's references the version from Batman: Year One. The story eventually clarifies that they both remember both events, they just disagree about which one "counts"; Bruce thinks of their very first meeting, before the costumes, but to Selina, they didn't really meet until they met as the Cat and the Bat. Eventually, they reconcile the difference after talking on a beach, when they've come to terms with the idea that Selina Kyle and Catwoman have finally "met" Bruce Wayne and Batman.
  • Ret-Canon: Issue #26 incorporates the Penguin's backstory from Gotham, with him starting out as a lowly henchman in the Falcone crime family whose job it is to hold an umbrella for his boss.
  • The Reveal: Issue 72 sets it straight that everything that has happened in King's run has been plotted and perpetrated by Bane, in an effort to completely destroy Batman by not hurting his loved ones or killing him, but by giving him happiness for the first time in his life before cruelly tearing it from him.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: After 30 years of being portrayed as an Arkham Asylum inmate this run finally makes the Psycho-Pirate a straight up Batman villain. Prior to this run Roger Hayden was a JSA foe who went on to antagonize almost every major DC hero EXCEPT Batman.
  • Rogue Juror: The entire premise of "Cold Days"— every juror is convinced that Batman was right and Mr. Freeze murdered a bunch of women in his experiments to save his wife—except one juror: Bruce Wayne.
  • Run the Gauntlet: At the end of "I Am Bane", Bane's hunting Batman down. Batman runs to Arkham Asylum to buy himself some time, and uses Bane's plan from Knightfall against him: releasing every inmate in the place and making Bane fight his way through. Bane succeeds.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After killing his father's killer, Swamp Thing leaves claiming that now that his mission is complete, he doesn't need to be there. Batman sees right through this and accuses him of fleeing so he doesn't have to face the consequences and hypocrisy of his actions.
  • Scrubbing Off the Trauma: After restoring the timeline and witnessing the alternate Bruce Wayne commit suicide, Booster Gold solemnly confesses to Batman and Catwoman that he's picked up the habit of cleaning his goggles, which were splattered with Bruce's blood. Even when he's sure it's completely clean, a part of him still sees a smudge of blood.
  • Secret-Keeper:
    • After her knowledge of Batman identity was Ret-Gone'd in the New 52, Selina now knows Bruce Wayne is Batman again.
    • Bane is also shown to be fully aware of Batman's identity and the location of the Batcave.
    • As of issue 41, Poison Ivy has learned Batman's identity.
  • Ship Tease: Gotham Girl's narration hints that she and Duke will be married in the future.
  • So Proud of You:
    • Bruce hallucinates Martha telling him that he doesn't need to die a good death for his parents to be proud of him.
    • Batman says that it was good to see what Gotham did with his fear.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham:
    • Batman travels to the Fortress of Solitude to hide Dick, Jason, and Damian. When Superman comes back, Batman asks him to watch over them while he fights Bane.
    • Subverted in the first issue, where Batman thinks Superman had pulled a Big Damn Heroes and stopped himself from committing a Heroic Sacrifice, only to discover that his saviors are Gotham and Gotham Girl.
    • Enforced during the City of Bane arc by Bane striking a deal with the United States government in return for keeping order in Gotham and by keeping Alfred hostage.
  • Take That!: During "The Best Man," both Joker and Catwoman note that they can't take Riddler seriously until he shaves the sideburns he's had since The New 52.
  • Talking to the Dead:
    • Gotham Girl talks to her dead brother when she starts to become more unhinged. At first, it seems like she thinks that he's still alive, but it's later revealed that she knows he's dead.
    • Bruce confesses to her that he still needs to talk to his mother. At the end of "I am Bane", it seems like he finally closes the door on the habit.
  • Title Drop: They often have double meanings, too.
    • The first arc, "I Am Gotham," is stated by the character of Gotham in issue #1 and then again by Batman in issue #5 as he tries to get Gotham (who has gone insane) to kill him instead of the city.
    • The second arc, "I Am Suicide," seems to reference the Suicide Squad, but is instead dropped by Batman about a suicide attempt he made before making his vow to fight crime.
    • When Bane is fighting Batman in a Curb-Stomp Battle, he rants that he's not just another of Batman's villains who gets locked up in Arkham, and yells "I am Bane", the title of the arc.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Gotham Girl shaves off her blonde hair once she starts to lose her grasp on her sanity.
  • True Final Boss: Flashpoint Thomas Wayne, who kills Bane and gives Batman the final fight of the run, while also being a more personal and thematically fitting villain for Bruce to fight.
  • Uncertain Doom: The last time we see Flashpoint Thomas, he's getting his back broken by Bane. Given the way it's presented and his age, it's not certain whether or not he survives this.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Sadly, a major Spanner in the Works for Batman's final showdown is how he assumes there's no way Thomas Wayne can possibly stand up to the entire Bat Clan at once. He is very wrong.
  • Wham Line:
    • This particular bit from Batman #24:
    Batman: Selina. I love you. Marry me.
    • Followed up in issue #32, the final part of "The War of Jokes and Riddles".
      Catwoman: Yes.
  • Wham Shot: #60 ends with a shot of who apparently just broke into the Batcave and attacked both Alfred and the captured Penguin: Flashpoint Thomas Wayne.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: The Central Theme of The War of Jokes and Riddles. In issue #26, Pamela Isley kills a bunch of anonymous hitmen for Carmine Falcone. Batman details the names and motives for each of them: one was an undercover cop, another rejoined Falcone because his mother had cancer and he needed the money, one left behind a wife and children, and so on. After the Joker kills more mooks, Batman ID's them and notes one was a high school football player, another was a single father, and yet another was an annual Santa at his church festival. It's further deconstructed in issue #42, in which Ivy tells Selina about this event. She admits she doesn't really know why she did it - whether it was because she was afraid of Joker and Riddler or simply wanted to show off - and it's used as an example of how she hasn't been as in control of herself as she thought for some time now.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Batman gives a big one to Swamp Thing in issue #23 when the latter kills the murderer that he asked Batman to find. This is after he spent an entire story telling Bruce about how he's at peace with his father's death, which Bruce was taking as a sign that he could also one day move past the deaths of his parents, so in the end, all Bruce can do is scream at him that he's a coward and tell him to provide comforting thoughts as Alec fades into the Green.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "The War of Jokes and Riddles" serves as this for the run. It's framed as a story Bruce is telling Selina about the war of the past.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Bane defeats pretty much every heavy hitter in Batman's Rogues gallery currently imprisoned in Arkham, including such foes as Solomon Grundy and Copperhead, for the sake of finding Batman.
    • Selina somehow beats Talia al Ghul in a sword fight despite not being anywhere near as skilled with blades.
    • Flashpoint Thomas Wayne somehow beats half the Batfamily, including Cassandra Cain, Kate Kane and Helena Bertinelli, while injured at that.
  • Worf Had the Flu:
    • During Bane's beatdown of the Arkham inmates described above, Mr. Freeze was without his suit of Powered Armor, making his defeat much easier.
    • In issue #28, Batman singlehandedly defeats both Deathstroke and Deadshot in hand-to-hand combat. He was also a relative rookie at the time, since the issue is a flashback. Usually, taking on just one of those mercenaries would be at least a small challenge for him, even as an experienced vigilante. However, at that particular point both Deathstroke and Deadshot had been fighting each other almost non-stop for five days, and were therefore not in prime condition.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: How Gotham and Gotham Girl's powers work. The superpowers come from a finite pool. Once the powers are used up, they die.