The culmination of a story that had Batman beaten and broken, then replaced, KnightsEnd sees Bruce Wayne return to reclaim his mantle and his city.
Gotham is a mess. Police Commissioner Gordon no longer trusts the Batman, Robin has been expelled from the Batcave and the man chosen to succeed him as the Batman has tainted the very symbol that had come to represent justice.
Returning to Gotham isn’t enough. Sure, he’s healed, but Bruce doesn’t think he’s ready to handle a fully charged and insane Jean-Paul who, by the by, kicks him out of the Batcave with a death threat should he ever return.
So, Bruce decides he needs to be retrained. He seeks out some help from Lady Shiva. She takes on the task of retraining Bruce to make him an all new kind of badass.
Robin and Nightwing are happy to see Bruce return and, when he’s ready – he puts on a new, even darker Batman costume so he can kick Jean-Paul Valley’s butt.
It’s a family affair as Batman, Robin, Nightwing and even Catwoman are all out to get Jean-Paul and stop his reign of terror. Nightwing gets in some good shots but in the end, and in a nice bit of symmetry, it comes down to Valley and Wayne in the Batcave – where this whole, long storyline began twelve years (or so it felt) earlier when Bane broke Batman’s back.
Bruce defeats Valley but doesn’t kill him or arrest him or nothing (sigh – comics.) – he lets him go (so he can return over and over and cause more trouble).
The whole thing makes Bruce question himself. He needs a break (cause, ya know, months of physical therapy and weird solo missions in wheelchairs aren’t enough of a break) and does WHAT HE SHOULD’VE DONE IN THE FRIGGIN BEGINNING and asks Dick Grayson if he’ll put on the costume and take over for a bit, give Bruce some time to figure things out.
Dick agrees and what can only be called an ‘epilogue’ begins – Prodigal.