WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Batman #77 by Tom King, Mikel Janín, Tony S. Daniel, Norm Rapmund, Jordie Bellaire, Tomeu Morey and Clayton Cowles, in stores now.
Things are not going well for the Dark Knight and his home city, Gotham. After Bane viciously beat Bruce to a pulp, he's become the ruler of the city, lording over all of its denizens thanks to the mind-controlling abilities of the Psycho Pirate. Worse still, the government is somehow letting the supervillain rule over Gotham. In fact, the Justice League and any other member of the Bat-family cannot enter the city. If they do, then Bane and his allies will kill their hostage, Alfred Pennyworth.
There truly seems to be no hope left. Bane has won and there's nothing anyone can do about it. But then again, Damian Wayne has never been one to follow the rules -- or to accept defeat. In Batman #77, the young Robin, sick of standing on the sidelines, infiltrates Gotham to take matters into his own hands.
And, as it so happens, he may have just set the pieces into motion that will eventually lead to him becoming the demon-powered Caped Crusader from the classic Batman #666.
Batman #666 by Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert took a break from the then-creative team's ongoing Bruce Wayne saga by taking a trip into the future. The issue showed a world consumed by war and dangerously warm temperatures that likened life to a living hell. In this dystopian Gotham City, an adult Damian Wayne operated as the one and only Batman. However, Damian now had unusual, supernatural abilities. We would eventually learn that, in his mission to keep Gotham City safe, Damian once made a deal with the Devil himself. He gave him his soul, and in exchange, Damian was granted abilities to help in his never-ending struggle to save Gotham.
While this future has been teased in other books here and there throughout the years, it's always been portrayed as an alternate reality -- something that would never come to be in the regular DC Universe. Well, that is, until now.
In Tom King, Mikel Janín and Tony S. Daniel's Batman #77, Damian Wayne infiltrates Gotham, only to be met with severe force in the form of Bane's enforcer, Gotham Girl. In the series' previous issue, we saw that Gotham Girl is powerful enough to knock down the super-powered Captain Atom himself. So, what hope would there be for the all-too-human Damian Wayne? Well, if you're as resourceful as the young Robin, you simply come prepared.
When Gotham Girl catches up to him, Damian whips out a magical wand that he uses on his opponent and, without even lifting a finger, subdues the incredibly powerful Gotham Girl. But this is where things gets interesting: He tells her that all he had to do to get this wand was make a deal with a demon. "Draw a circle on the ground. Then a pointy star. Chat with some demon. Blah, blah, blah, my soul, blah, blah, blah."
The dialogue passes by quickly, but what it might entail is actually pretty massive because, by the sound of things, it sure sounds like Damian has just sold his soul to the Devil. Now sure, it might be played for laughs a little bit here, but given what we know of Damian's possible future as a demon-powered Batman, we can't help but wonder if the two are related.
After all, all we know about Damian's deal was that it was made to keep Gotham safe. And that is exactly what he does in Batman #77. The deal is struck so that Damian can have the power to defeat Gotham Girl and help bring order back to Gotham. While it's not exactly the supernatural abilities we saw Damian exhibit in Batman #666, perhaps these powers could grow and evolve over time. Or perhaps he already has them?
There is also the simple mathematics of it all. Tom King is a meticulous writer -- that much we know. The scribe has been weaving an intricate tail ever since he started writing Batman during DC's Rebirth relaunch. Could it be he knew exactly in which issue to feature this deal? Think about it: Morrison and Kubert's original story was in Batman #666 -- and Damian's deal to defeat Gotham Girl just took place in... Batman #77.
Coincidence? We think not!