They'd never do it.
He's one of the "Big Three" -- perhaps THE biggest.
He's their biggest seller.
He transcends the medium of comics and the genre of the superhero.
They'd never do it…
If any event could shake the foundation of the comics industry as we know it, that event would be the downfall of The Dark Knight. The demise of the World's Greatest Detective.
The death of Batman.
There are rumblings that FINAL CRISIS, written by current Batman scribe Grant Morrison, will feature Batman's ultimate demise. "But they'd never do it! That'd be stupid!"
Well, luckily for all of you, I'm a huge nerd. If you don't read a book in the DCU, chances are that I do. And the sad fact is that many books, including BATMAN itself, have hinted at the death of The Dark Knight.
Let's work backwards from the most recent one, shall we? In this regard, the first omen was BATMAN #666. If you read Batman comics, then I'm sure you're familiar with this issue. It was set in the future, where Batman's son Damian has taken up his father's mantle. Take a close look at the first few pages that detail this Batman's origin. If you'll notice Damian mourning over his dead father's bloodied body, you'll see that he's wearing a very similar Robin variant costume that he wore at the end of the penultimate issue of BATMAN AND SON. You know, after he trashed Tim Drake in the Batcave?
Going off of this, we can infer that due to Damian's age, which is not too far off from where he is right now, that in this version, Batman's death is in the near future. I didn't see an "Elseworlds" tag at the beginning of this issue, did you? That's what scares me.
The next most recent one would be the ALL FLASH #1 special, which heralded the return of Wally West into the mantle of The Scarlet Speedster. At the very end, it gives a preview of what the future holds in The Flash's world, and one of his children has one of the Flash costume rings in his hands. But when he activates it, a Flash costume doesn't come out: a Batman costume does.
Another prospect vying for the Mantle of the Bat?
Then of course, if you can remember back, there was a story in TEEN TITANS called "Titans Tomorrow." It took place in a future ten years from now, where the Teen Titans got to meet future versions of themselves. Tim Drake had since taken up the mantle of the Bat and replaced the destroyed remains of Arkham Asylum with a graveyard containing all of the regular Batman rogues. Tim as Batman had become brutal. A sadist. A murderer. And when the subject came up of how he turned this way, Batman-Tim said to Robin-Tim, "You don't understand yet. So many heroes fell during it all. During the Crisis." Infinite Crisis already happened, and there's a Final one still on the horizon. Could the Crisis that the future Batman is referring to be the one that hits shelves next May?
And, the final one (which may be the biggest) was in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #0. This issue jumped around time freely, and one scene settled above Crime Alley in Gotham City. Superman was sitting there, in his current costume, and was joined by Wonder Woman, also in her current costume. "How'd he go down?" The Amazon asked the Man of Steel. "Fighting." He said. Wonder Woman then smiled.
Am I being like one of those damned Wikipedia editors and digging way too deep at something that isn't there? Maybe.
And in this case, I hope so.