DC Histories: Future Batmen

Welcome back to another DC History. A lot has been happening in the New 52 over these past few months. Creators seem to be straining to hit their deadlines so DC is mostly taking a break for this Leap Day fifth week and allowing many creators to have a bit of down time. Of course, this doesn’t mean that nothing is being published this week. In honor of the launch of the print version of Batman Beyond Unlimited #1 today, we’re going to be looking at the history of the mostly in-continuity future Batmen.

Batman Beyond (Vol. 1) #1 (1999) Cover

It’s common knowledge to even the least pop culturally aware among us that Bruce Wayne is Batman. In fact, Bruce Wayne has been Batman since 1939. That’s one long streak. It’s seems natural that Bruce simply can’t be Batman forever. Normal people eventually retire from their jobs for one reason or another. So who will be Batman in the future? That’s not an easy question to answer. There have been a lot of candidates for the role.

One of the first Batman of Tomorrows presented to readers was Brane Taylor from the 31st century. First appearing to the present day Batman by recruiting Dick Grayson to help in on a case in the future, Brane was shown to have been inspired by the original Batman to fight crime. Based in a Bat-Belfry miles above future Gotham, Brane and his nephew operated as Batman and Robin.

From Detective Comics (Vol. 1) #216 (1955)

Years after Dick helped Brane on a case, Bruce summoned Brane to help out our duo. Bruce Wayne had been seen in public pulling his shoulder out of its socket. If Batman appeared with a similar wound, figuring out that Bruce was Batman wouldn’t have been too hard. Instead of asking for help from Superman, Green Arrow, or any of the other Justice Leaguers, Bruce called upon Brane to step in for him.

From Detective Comics (Vol. 1) #216 (1955)

Almost a decade before this story, in Batman (Vol. 1) #26, a slightly different Brane appeared. Sadly, I’ve never read this issue. It apparently tells the tale of Brane, a descendant of Bruce Wayne who overthrows an alien race that has conquered Earth. Grant Morrison later resurrected this older version of Brane as a gritty fighter in a post-apocalyptic future during a one-page cameo near the end of one of Grant’s final issues of Batman.

From Batman (Vol. 1) #700 (2010)

Personally, I enjoy the 1950s version more.

This isn’t the only in-canon Batman to be in a post-apocalyptic setting. As mentioned last week in DC Histories: Jonah Hex, during the series Hex there was a Batman patrolling the streets of New York City in the year 2050. Like Brane before him, this Batman had no ties to the Wayne family. He was his own man with his own specific agenda.

From Hex #11 (1986)

This Batman hated guns. No one was allowed to carry a firearm in his city, even those few remaining members of law enforcement. This kept Batman pretty low in local popularity polls.

Operating out of the Statue of Liberty, this Batman was an athlete and had his Doctorate in Criminology. Just before a nuclear war hit which wiped out much of civilization, this unnamed Batman discovered that Bruce Wayne was the original Batman. His research led him to the Batcave, which he was examining when the war started. The cave’s underground location saved Batman from the nuclear fallout which killed so many others. His parents, prominent members of the Jewish community, also survived.

From Hex #11 (1986)

After his parents were killed by the National Reconstruction Alliance, our hero took up the role of Batman. It was because of his parents’ efforts that he vowed that no firearms be allowed inside New York City limits.

Of course, the evil syndicate who ran the United States wasn’t happy with this arrangement, so they smuggled giant laser shooting automatons into the city. Seems like a reasonable response to me. Jonah Hex and Batman were able to destroy them all but not before Batman’s Batwing was damaged and he crashed into the Hudson River.

From Hex #12 (1986)

Apparently, this Batman died though I’m sure he would have been back had Hex survived longer as a series. He only appeared in issues #11 and #12.

Another future Batman showed up a decade or so later, this time in DC One Million, a major DCU event. In that story, heroes from the future Justice Legion Alpha based in the 853rd century appear before the then-current Justice Leaguers. Among them was a Batman from the prison penal planet of Pluto. Try saying that three times fast.

From DC One Million #1 (1998)

Though his actions were initially highly suspect, seeing as how he beat Bruce Wayne down during their first private meeting, this future Batman would eventually prove himself to be an ally to justice. He would pop up here and there in other comics, most recently in a two-part Superman/Batman storyline.

From Superman/Batman #79 (2011)

Just like the Jewish Batman of Hex, the 853rd century Batman was never given a real name. Here’s hoping we see him in the New 52.

Not every future Batman is someone brand new to the reader. During a Teen Titans adventure written by Geoff Johns, the Titans found themselves in the near future. There they stumbled upon a Batman who wasn’t afraid to use deadly force, which included using the gun that killed Bruce Wayne’s parents.

From Teen Titans (Vol. 3) #17 (2004)

As I described in the DC Histories: Tim Drake article, this Batman turned out to be a future version of Tim, the third Robin. Scarred by the deaths of so many friends and allies, this Tim began killing those who he deemed to be unworthy. When the present day Tim found out about the future Tim’s actions, he fought against this future, claiming that this was not going to be his path. As recounted in that past article, he may have been wrong about that. However, the New 52 rebooted that all away.

From Teen Titans (Vol. 3) #18 (2005)

Early on in Grant Morrison’s run on Batman, the character of Damian Wayne debuted. Damian was the love child between Bruce and Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter, Talia. Raised by the League of Assassins, he only came to live with Bruce after being indoctrinated to their way of life. During a one-off adventure, it is revealed it will be Damian, not Tim, who immediately succeeds Bruce as Batman.

From Batman (Vol. 1) #666 (2007)

Just like the Tim Drake Batman before him, Damian used lethal force when necessary. And it seemed to be necessary quite often. To this end, he set about booby-trapping sections of Gotham City with explosives that he would later use against foes.

From Batman (Vol. 1) #666 (2007)

There’s one more future Batman that we haven’t talked about yet and it’s the one who is certainly the most famous. Terry McGinnis is easily the most recognizable future Batman that has yet been created.

Debuting in 1999 in the cartoon series Batman Beyond, Terry was a teenager who discovered that Bruce Wayne, the crazy old billionaire, was actually the retired Batman. Through courage, will power, and an annoying habit of persevering through Bruce’s old man tantrums, Terry convinced Bruce to allow him to take over the role of Batman. Terry gained a suit that allowed him to fly, turn invisible, and easily spy on people.

A comic book mini series and an ongoing series were launched the same year that the TV show did. Though set firmly in the animated DCU continuity and the not the comic book continuity, these series still had many fans.

From Batman Beyond (Vol. 2) #1 (1999)

After the show and the comics were cancelled, Terry had only an occasional appearance. He usually did so as some sort of alternate reality and not as an in-continuity future version of Batman. That changed with the publication of Superman/Batman Annual #4. Though it did follow the television show’s lead, it was drawn in a non-animated DCU style and was in a non-animated DCU comic book.

From Superman/Batman Annual #4 (2010)

Finally, Terry would come into full continuity in Batman (Vol. 1) #700 where it was revealed that Damian, not Bruce, would be Terry’s handler. It was also implied that Terry would be only one of many Batman operatives in the future thanks to Batman Inc.

From Batman (Vol. 1) #700 (2010)

That’s all of the in-canon future Batmen that I know of. If this article was going to be expanded to include Elseworld Batmen and “Imaginary Stories” Batmen, this thing could go on for thousands of more words. Among the many other future Batmen is Bruce Wayne Jr, who can be found in stories about Superman and Batman’s Super Sons. Dick Grayson took over for a retired Batman in a series of stories that Alfred Pennyworth wrote as fan fiction. John Byrne wrote and drew three successive miniseries titled Superman & Batman: Generations, which are worth your time if you can track them down. There are plenty of other Elseworlds tales that I’m missing here, but those three are my favorites.

So who will become the next Batman? Well, no one. Bruce Wayne will always be Batman. If he leaves the role for a while, as he did a few years ago, he will be back. That’s just the way comics work. But it’s fun to speculate and read stories about what might be. And as Damian once said, tomorrow belongs to Batman. All of them.

From Batman (Vol. 1) #700 (2010)

Jeff Reid’s favorite era of Batman remains the 1950s silver age stories. There was a lot of joy there. He wishes more of it would get reprinted. Read him talk even more about comics on Twitter.


  1. I don’t post it every week, because it’d be the same comment over and over, but I’m enjoying these columns Mr. Reid. If ya gotta be a Jeff, at least it is the kind with a “J,” right?

  2. Love these,

    Brane Taylor has gotta be the only blonde dude in the bat-family right? What’s up with the anti-blonde bias? Only recently was Stephanie Brown rehabilitated and taken seriously lol

  3. The big take away for me from this article is that I did not read Batman #700 closely. At all.

    I would like to add that in an episode of JLU, it’s revealed that Terry McGuiness is a clone of Bruce Wayne. I forget the title of the episode, but it’s the one where he talks to a super old Amanda Waller. If I remember correctly, it was her that made the clone and not Bruce.

  4. Great Job JEFF!

    I love Brane Batman (Bruce Wayne…Brayne…BRANE!)

    • Yeah, I think that’s what the original writer of Brane was thinking with that name. It’s a neat little mix. Man, I wish I could get my hands on Batman #26. Here’s hoping it goes digital soon.

  5. Can we toss in a future Robin? I have a soft spot in my heart for the retro-fitted ROBIN 3000 mini (it was originally a futurized version of Tom Swift, but a last minute change had the story converted to Robin!).

  6. GREAT article. The only problem with batman #700 is that placing Damian as Batman Beyond’s trainer kind of messes everything up.
    Because in all of the comics Batman Beyond stories, including today’s Batman Beyond Unlimited, Bruce is still Batman Beyond’s trainer.

    So it raises the question…is Batman Beyond in the DCU continuity? If so, then whats the deal with Damian training him in Batman #700?

    • Honestly, Batman Beyond’s ties to continuity are very, very loose. When it comes right down to it, Terry is in continuity if you want him to be in continuity. If this article proves anything it’s that the next Batman’s identity isn’t something that remains constant because it’s not something we’ll ever really get to.

  7. Thanks for the great article, keep up the good work. Personally I only know the Terry McGinnes character from the Batman Beyond cartoon which is good, follows the same dark pattern as the Batman Animated show does, almost like an extension of that. Thanks for helping to expand my knowledge. Looking forward to your next article ! By the way is the new Batman Beyond book worth picking up?

  8. Terry McGinnis is my favorite future Batman.

  9. makes sense that Damian will train Terry instead of Bruce.

  10. I can’t remember correctly, but I think the Hex future Batman was named LaGrange Cohen