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The heartbreaking reason Batman has decided to leave Gotham City

Batman #118 variant cover
Batman #118 variant cover (Image credit: Viktor Bogdanovic (DC))

Monday, December 6 is Batman's last day in Gotham City. In December 7's Batman #118, DC's Dark Knight will be leaving Gotham in the rear-view as he begins a new chapter in his life - one that'll be reflected not just in the main Batman book, but across all of the Bat-titles in the main DC Universe including Detective Comics, Nightwing, Catwoman, Robins, as well as the new Batgirls and more.

Batman #118 cover (Image credit: Jorge Molina (DC))

But why?

"There's still some familiarity there, but it's not his Gotham anymore, "Williamson tells Newsarama during a DC press conference. "It's changed; bits and pieces aren't there anymore. There's no Gordon, there's no Alfred. There's no Batcave anymore, and no Wayne family mansion."

James Gordon retired from the police force years ago, and earlier this year left Gotham entirely in an international pursuit of the Joker. Alfred Pennyworth was murdered by Bane in 2019's 'City of Bane' storyline.  Batman lost the Batcave and the Wayne family mansion when the Joker stole his money during 'The Joker War'. 

Remember, it's the loss of his birth parents that caused the chain of events that led to Bruce Wayne becoming Batman. Since he's not lost many of the key elements of the family he built for himself after, it's no surprise he'd react so strongly.

"Bruce Wayne has been living in a brownstone since 'The Joker War,' but it's a different Gotham after going through 'City of Bane,' 'The Joker War,' and both the Magistrate and the Scarecrow in 'Fear State'. All of that has changed Gotham a bit, and he now feels a disconnect. That's why he leaves."

Batman wins... but who can he celebrate with?

Batman #118

Batman #118 excerpt (Image credit: Jorge Molina (DC))

Make no mistake - Batman won in all of those battles - the Bat-family won in all of those battles - but the damage it caused and the lives that it changed has added up to make Gotham a different city than the one Batman remembers.

"With these first four issues, Batman is about Bruce learning it's okay to get a win - and to let himself celebrate a bit," Williamson says. "He does do it, but he doesn't have the resources to do it properly. There's a shot in this arc of all the things he'd do when he solved a case. But the people he'd be with aren't here anymore; Superman is off in space, Alfred is dead, him and Catwoman are on the outs, Gordon is gone, and he's not in Gotham anymore."

Robin quitting Gotham before Batman quits Gotham

Robin #1 excerpt

Robin #1 excerpt (Image credit: Gleb Melnikov (DC))

Williamson points to his current Robin series starring Damian Wayne as employing a similar tactic.

"I've already done this similarly with Damian, taking him out of Gotham and away from both Batman and the Teen Titans," Williamson says, referring to his current Robin series. "That has allowed me to tell this story with Damian that's not tied to anyone else. Now I'm doing that with Bruce.

"There's a freedom here… and a challenge. It's unfamiliar to you [as a reader] and to them [as a character.]."

And yes, for those wondering if/when Bruce and his son Damian will reunite, it is in the cards - not today, but soon.

"There's a couple of scenes in Robin #11 and #12, with Damian talking to Flatline and Connor Hawke about his dad and what he's going to do when he sees him next. We'll be announcing some of that stuff in about two weeks."

"About two weeks" is roughly when DC's March 2022 solicitations are anticipated to be released. Coincidence? We think not.

When will Batman return to Gotham City?

Batman excerpt

Batman excerpt (Image credit: Jorge Jimenez (DC))

Given the cyclical nature of comics, longtime fans can rightly speculate that changes such as Batman's move will eventually roll back, with Batman someday returning to Gotham. Williamson says it'll happen inevitably, but not for some time.

"Obviously he'll come back, but when he's ready," says Williamson. "Not when there's an emergency, but when he's ready."

Keep track of this and all the new Batman comics, graphic novels, and collections in 2021 and beyond. 

Chris Arrant

Newsarama Senior Editor Chris Arrant has covered comic book news for Newsarama since 2003, and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table. (He/him)