SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Detective Comics #967 by James Tynion IV and Alvaro Martinez, on sale now.
Part three of "A Lonely Place of Living" – James Tynion IV and Alvaro Martinez' story arc featuring the return of Tim Drake to the ranks of the Bat-family – continues in Detective Comics #967, following Tim's escape from the prison of Mr. Oz last issue. In fact, this issue sees Batman and his allies reunited with Tim twice over, for reasons that will make sense to anyone having read the storyline's previous installments.
For those who haven't been keeping up, here's the situation: A darker, future version of Tim has also freed himself from Oz's prison. This Tim has not only taken on the role of Batman in his timeline, but also reveals a sinister secret that the Batman of Earth-0 has been withholding from his teammates.
Batman's Got a Secret - Again
Batman is no stranger to withholding dark, sinister secrets from his colleagues, of course. In fact, it wasn't so long ago that he was caught keeping a very similar secret from them. After future Tim, in full Batman getup, arrives at Wayne Manor and later engages in battle with the past and present Robins, this world's Batman and Red Robin likewise arrive to face off against Bat-Tim in the Batcave. The future Tim, rather than partake in a five-on-one confrontation, reveals that he's made his way to Batman's lair to get his hands on the secret that his alternate-reality mentor has been working on: a computer program that Tim claims helped shape the history of his world. That program? An early incarnation of the autonomous, all-seeing, artificial intelligence Brother Eye.
Yes, Batman's at it again – creating an artificial entity named Brother Eye for arguably questionable purposes. Fans will recall that Batman had created an orbiting satellite that housed the intelligence of a being he named Brother Eye, with the intent of observing and gathering data on metahumans across the globe, including his own Justice League colleagues. The hijacking of Brother Eye by Checkmate leader Maxwell Lord led to an army of OMACs waging war against the world's superheroes, which in turn uncovered Batman's secret plans and sowed the seeds of distrust amongst the League, which itself ultimately led, in part, to the events of 2005's Infinite Crisis. The Brother Eye satellite was eventually destroyed, though, in The OMAC Project: An Infinite Crisis Special #1, an epilog to the main series.
Brother, Can You Spare an Eye?
Of course, this isn't necessarily DC Comics simply retreading old ground – there are notable differences between Brother Eye 2.0 and 3.0. For one, Bat-Tim notes that the completed intelligence is controlled directly by him, with no orbiting satellite required, indicating that the eye in Brother Eye will be watching things from the ground, rather than up above – presuming that surveillance will even be its intent, as its name and history imply. And, there's no indication, at least yet, that Batman created the intelligence with the intent of spying on his allies.
Continuity nitpickers could even argue that Batman isn't creating Brother Eye "again" – it's not fully clear which pre-Flashpoint elements of DC continuity have survived into the Rebirth era. Should past continuity remain intact, though, it's possible that Batman might have learned his lesson about spying on his crimefighting coworkers, and that this iteration of Brother Eye might have been created for more altruistic purposes – perhaps just to keep an eye on the bad guys, for example. Any hero that names himself after an animal who's blind could always use an extra pair of eyes, or even one – especially a hero who's learning that his presence has an impact across the multiverse, and beyond, as seen in Dark Nights: Metal.