BATMAN #42: Is That Really..? And If So, What the..? SPOILERS

Batman #42
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

Readers got a few more clues in Batman #42 about the status of Bruce Wayne, who was assumed dead and replaced by all-new Batman Jim Gordon beginning in June.

Although Batman #41 already indicated Bruce Wayne was alive, it wasn't clear what his appearance meant, as he was only shown from the back, in silhouette, sitting on a park bench.

This week's issue #42 reveals the all-new Bruce Wayne in full — he's relaxed, wearing his hair long and sporting a beard. He's working at some type of teen center, interacting with Bat-characters Duke Thomas and Julie Madison.

And although bearded Bruce's appearance in issue #42 is brief, the issue makes it clear that Bruce Wayne is alive and well, but he either isn't aware of his life as Batman, or he doesn't care about or participate in it anymore.

To put it bluntly, Bruce Wayne seems oddly happy.

By the end of the issue, on the last page, Jim Gordon visits Bruce Wayne — although it's not clear why, leaving readers with a cliffhanger about what the connection is between Bruce and the all-new Batman.

Bruce Wayne was supposedly dead after a brutal hand-to-hand battle between Batman and Joker in April's Batman #40. In the final scene of the fight, Batman and Joker were lying next to each other when an underground chamber collapsed on them. They were both assumed dead as Batman #40 concluded the six-issue "Endgame" storyline by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.

Credit: DC Comics

Issue #42's final scene with the all-new Bruce Wayne also featured Duke Thomas, who helped Batman in "Zero Year" and "Endgame" (and is part of We Are…Robin). Duke is among the kids that hang out at the center where Bruce works.

Because Duke has seen Bruce Wayne/Batman outside his costume, he seems to be aware that something's wrong with this situation. After other teens ask him about Batman, and after he briefly speaks to Bruce, he says, "I don't know what the hell to think anymore."

Julie Madison, who's been a love interest of Bruce Wayne's during past continuities, also appears in the scene — she's Bruce's "boss" at the center — and she's shown to have feelings for Bruce.

In the New 52, it's been established that Bruce and Julie have previously dated, and in a past issue by Snyder and Capullo, Alfred even imagined the type of family Bruce and Julie would have if only Bruce would stop being Batman.

Now that Bruce has stopped being Batman, and Julie is in close proximity, can Bruce finally have a real, long-term love?

At the end of the issue, the all-new Batman comes calling on bearded Bruce Wayne, as Jim Gordon sneaks into the center's back storeroom, intending to talk to Bruce.

Credit: DC Comics

Bruce Wayne doesn't appear to recognize Jim Gordon — but to be fair, he sees him in the dark, and Jim's looking different these days (buffed up, wearing short hair in a mohawk, and no longer wearing a mustache or glasses).

However, Jim came to find Bruce Wayne for a reason. Is Bruce aware of Jim's replacement of him as Batman? Would Bruce Wayne really consciously decide to quit being Batman? Or is there something else at play here?

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