Spoilers ahead for this week’s Detective Comics #967.
Detective Comics #967 takes the "Rebirth" theme of hope versus despair a step further as the dark, jaded future version of Tim Drake literally battles with his still-hopeful present-self.
By the end of the issue, the DCU gets another Brother Eye. And, Conner Kent fans, there's also another mention of the old Kon-El - and this time, writer James Tynion IV and artist Alvaro Martinez offer a smidgeon of hope that Tim could remember Conner Kent after all.
Last issue, the gun-wielding “Titans Tomorrow” version of Batman that showed up at the beginning of this storyline in Mr. Oz's prison - a future version of Tim Drake - mentioned Conner Kent, but the present-day version of Tim Drake didn't even know who Conner Kent was.
Future-Tim used the hero's absence from this timeline to decide he could actually do something to change his future.
He decided to kill Batwoman (Kate Kane), whom he apparently blames for starting his world down the path to him becoming a jaded Batman who carries Joe Chill's gun and doesn't get along with his old friend Conner Kent nor his ex-girlfriend, Stephanie Brown.
So, what happens this issue?
Bruce is investigating Tim's alleged "death" (which he's now ticked off about because he's learned it was faked - and he didn't know it).
But as we saw last issue, Tim's back in Gotham City. Unfortunately, so is future-Tim - who wants to kill Kate Kane to prevent the future that made him into a bitter, brutal Batman.
Tim's in the hospital (because he was zapped and knocked out by future-Tim at the end of Detective Comics #966), and his costume's distress signal alerts Bruce to his presence in town.
After the hospital revives Tim (with paddles, no less!), we finally get a tender Bruce-and-Tim reunion. Hugs all around!
Actually, they don't hug exactly (Bat-characters are so tough), but Tim convinces Bruce to break him out of the hospital and gather the team so they can stop a threat!
After a scene where Kate is talking to Bette, we get another reunion as the rest of the as-yet-unnamed Detective Comics team learns Tim is alive. More hugs!
Well, Cassandra hugs him anyway...
Tim tells the team about how future-Tim wants to prevent his fate by killing Batwoman. "Apparently in his timeline, you do something in the near future that essentially creates his world," Tim tells Kate.
But wait - Tim says they should wait for Spoiler, right? Where's Stephanie, he asks?
Meanwhile, Spoiler's actually being watched by future-Tim. "I'm sorry, Stephanie," he says, low enough that Spoiler doesn't hear him. "I should have listened. But now I'll put things right."
And…he does that Batman thing and disappears right as Steph senses someone there.
Meanwhile, back at the belfry, the Gotham Knights (as Tim calls the team) are preparing for the expected attack by future-Tim. As Batwoman whines about being locked up in a cage so this future-Batman can't get her, Tim tells her this version of him is super bad-ass. So stop whining. (Actually, Tim didn't say that last part - it was me - but he does convince her that future-Tim is big trouble.)
After Tim and Luke are talk geek - which bores Cassandra and Clayface - Batman and Tim get a moment alone. Tim tells Bruce about the "Conner" mention from last issue.
Hold on, Conner Kent fans.
"I feel that name (Conner) tugging on my heart, but I don't know why."
(Ugh. DC, you are such a tease.)
OK, so where is future-Tim? He's at Wayne Manor, visiting with Alfred. Another tender moment ensues, but it's interrupted by Nightwing, Red Hood, Damian, and Titus. "You're all so young," future-Tim says. "And so stupid."
Future-Tim somehow defeats the three (and the dog) as Bruce and young-Tim show up, realizing that future-Tim might be revisiting old emotions at the manor.
Nope, he's not revisiting old emotions. He's there to get to the Batcomputer in the Batcave. He wants to activate something Bruce built.
As Bruce says, "No!," future-Tim/Batman activates Brother Eye. And as we've seen in other issues, Brother Eye is future-Tim's old friend - he calls his costume's computer "brother." So this could get interesting.
The story continues in November 8's Detective Comics #968.