Anyone who has had even a passing fancy in the legend of the Dark Knight will have heard of the Battle for the Cowl event. Believing Batman to be dead, several heroes rise to help fill the void as various criminal factions start expanding their activities without the mystery of the Batman to keep them in check. Although many vie for the title, Richard Grayson ultimately follows in his mentor’s footsteps and emerges as the new Batman with Damian Wayne as his Robin.
But in the post-Flashpoint continuity, it is not clear if the events ever transpired. Regardless of if they did or not, Grayson is now dead to the majority of the DC universe. This leaves the spot open for if Batsy ever decides to take an extended vacation again.
The stereotypical lost boy, Jason Todd has had a tougher time trying to fit in with the Bat Family than the others. Although originally slated with origins similar to Dick Grayson’s, a retcon event quickly changed his past to a street orphan who Batman ran across stealing the wheels from his unique ride. As well as being implied as killing (or deliberately not saving) a few people during his turn at Robin, Jason was himself murdered by the Joker only to be later resurrected and served under Rah’s and Talia Al Ghul. Whilst the others applied by the strict ‘no guns’ policy, Todd seemingly delights with the ease that they bring but does not solely rely upon them for combat. In the New52 continuity, he has also studied under a mystical set of arts before he returned to the Bat Family and formed the Outlaws, consisting of himself, Starfire and Roy Harper the Red Arrow.
One of the few people to have figure out the civilian identity of Batman, Tim was recruited as the third Robin when he realized that Batman was acting out of character in the aftermath of Jason Todd’s demise. As well as operating as part of the dynamic duo, Drake was also given semi-free reign to conduct his own activities. In the New52, Tim is the Red Robin and founding member of the Teen Titans. Tim Drake is now the leader of a group of junior heroes who head their own fight against whatever threats may arise. Since Barbara Gordon regained the use of her legs and restarted her career as Batgirl, Tim took over her posting and used his skills with computers to track down and protect young meta-humans from an organization known as N.O.W.H.E.R.E.. Almost as skilled as Batman himself, Red Robin is the only other person from Batman that Ra’s Al Ghul has referred to as ‘Detective’.
Daughter of not one, but two of the most deadly killers on the planet, Cassandra Cain was the second Batgirl and one of the few people to best Batman in a fair fight. Able to read her a person’s movements to predict their next attack, few normal people can hold their own against her. From the moment she made her first kill, Cassandra knew that what her father had trained her for was wrong. Fleeing his control, she made her way to Gotham and discovered Barbara Gordon and the rest of the Bat Family. During the No Man’s Land arc, Huntress became fashioned herself a Batsuit in order to continue the myth of the Batman. After she became too violent in her methods, Batman took away her suit and gave it to Cassandra to serve as the second Batgirl. Whilst serving with Batman Incorporated, she operated in Japan as the Black Bat. In the New52, her origins are largely similar but was intended to be a gift for ‘Mother’ and was rejected.
What could be more terrifying than a dark figure who knows your moves before you make them.
The Huntress, Helena has a vastly different approach to crime in Gotham than other members of the Bat Family. Much as Jason Todd enjoys his guns, Huntress utilises a set of arrow guns and more violent methods of fighting. During the No Man’s Land, she temporarily donned a Bat logo in an attempt to try and enforce some order. Batman later stripped her of the uniform to give to Cassandra Cain. Although kept on the edges of the Bat Family due to her violent methods, after Barbara Gordon took up the posting of Oracle, she was a member of the Birds of Prey.
In Batman Beyond, Bruce Wayne is elderly and alone in his fight where he uses advanced technology to keep up with the younger generation of criminals. After suffering a painful heart attack, he is finally forced to recognise that he is no longer capable of being Batman full-time and is replaced by young Terry. In their civilian disguises, Bruce hires Terry as a ‘personal assistant’ and chauffeur. During their nocturnal activities, Bruce takes the support role formerly held by the late Alfred Pennyworth from the Batcave and provides constant updates and information to the new Batman. In this future, the Batsuit has been upgraded to include both flight and stealth capabilities and Bruce Wayne once again has a great dame called Ace.
Although born to different parents, Terry later finds out that Amanda Waller used nanotechnology to reconfigure the DNA in his father’s sperm cells to Bruce Wayne’s. Genetically, the original Batman is his father.
Nothing less than the son of the Bat and grandson of the Demon’s Head, Damian Wayne is the most recent and violent Robin. Although most of the other Bats do not always approve of his methods and tendency to use more force than necessary, he is held dear by the entire family. When Damian is killed by an accelerated clone of himself, Batman uses a machine capable of creating scenarios to see how he could have prevented Damian’s death, much to the displeasure of Alfred. Eventually, Batman discovers a way to resurrect Damian. Using the Hellbat Armor, he, Batgirl and the previous Robins launch an attack on Darkseid and his minions with assistance from Cyborg. Damian soon returns to fighting alongside his father.
Various futures of the Batman legacy have been shown but none proven above the others. Batman Beyond shows an elderly Bruce Wayne tutoring Terry McGinnis as the next Batman. Damian Wayne has been shown in one possible scenario to have an allegiance with a Brother Eye satellite as they strive for order in the chaos brought by a Jokerized Gotham City. Tim Drake was once portrayed as a Batman with guns in an aborted Titans future. Any or all of them could rise to take the place of the Dark Knight if he ever hangs up his cape. Maybe somebody completely new will step from the shadows to take his place. Bruce Wayne has been the grim hero for a lifetime now. Isn’t it time that we had a new hero step into the role?