WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Detective Comics #981 by James Tynion IV, Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira, on sale now.
With Detective Comics #981, James Tynion IV ends his course-altering run on the title with the conclusion of his "Batmen Eternal" arc. During his reign, Tynion increased the range of Batman's reach by establishing the Bat-family as a formal organization closer to the heart of Gotham. The Gotham Knights, and their Belfry headquarters, also held the potential to extend Batman's legacy, and for a time, seemed poised to do exactly that.
Both external and internal conflicts have, for now, all but doomed that notion. While these tensions have largely been resolved with the conclusion of Tynion's run, the idea of Batman's acolytes carrying on his legacy with any immediacy now seem slim. Most notably, the Dark Knight's own desire to have his work carried on now seems in doubt – if one's to believe his future self. Two years' worth of stories have gone a long way towards cementing the place of the Bat-family within the overall fabric of Batman's world, but the final issue leaves some uncertainty.
A Tale of Two Futures
In Detective Comics #977, Brother Eye had shown Tim Drake a dire near-future. In this scenario, Batman was making a failed last stand against the forces of the government-sanctioned Colony, and faced his demise at the hands of Batwoman. The government had come to see Batman as an enemy after he activated Brother Eye and tried to put it into service – an action that he had faced repercussions for already in the pre-Rebirth era. In issue #981, though, Spoiler has hacked into Brother Eye and shown Tim that the above vision was simply a fabrication to try and win Tim over to his side.
Spoiler goes on to show Tim what actually happened – that is, what actually will happen, at least in one timeline. While the outcome is no different – Bruce Wayne is still killed by Kate Kane – the reasons behind it are diametrically opposite.
In this revised scenario, Bruce is dying already from radiation poisoning resulting from his construction of the Brother Eye satellite. He's also realized the grievous mistake he's made with the whole Brother Eye idea, and has set the satellite to self-destruct, taking all his technology with it. The government is still after Batman, though, and Kate still follows through on her orders by taking him out. Only now, her shooting of Bruce is more along the lines of mercy killing, and Brother Eye is still stopped – only by Bruce's own actions this time.