(Warning, SPOILERS for assorted recent Batman comics, and potentially a whole lot more...)
Now, there are a few essential truths in the DC Universe: There'll always (eventually) be a Robin. Lex Luthor'll always (eventually) try to kill Superman. The Flash is always (eventually) the fastest man alive. And, of course, Batman always wins.
That last one, though, could well be sorely tested in the next few months, as the conclusion of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's epic Batman comic-book arc, Endgame comes to a close in Batman #40...
With the Death of Both The Joker...and Batman Himself
Yup, that's right. It seems that in Endgame's long-awaited final chapter Batman may just have met the one problem he can't solve - being mortally wounded and trapped underground. Y'see, in order to stop The Joker reaching a pit containing a mysterious healing fluid, and to finally take his Nemesis down, Bats was forced to sacrifice himself in the process.
As the comic's writer, Scott Snyder, put it, while speaking to Comic Book Resources:
""Batman knows that he is going to go down fighting. And that's the way that Batman will always end. He's not going to retire, at least our version of him. He's not going to ride off into the sunset. He's going to go down fighting for the city whether old or young. Giving him the chance to fight his greatest enemy, who represents everything that he stands against is the perfect ending for him. The Joker represents meaningless and the idea that everyone is laughing at him and you. Joker doesn't think that your life means anything whereas Batman says, 'Stand up and make your life matter.' Who wouldn't want to go down in a blaze of glory? If you're going to go down some way, what better way than saving the city and making sure that this monster never gets out of the box on your watch. It's almost a happy ending for Batman."
With almost presumably being the key word, there...
Is That Really the End for the Pair, Though?
Well, perhaps in part - Y'see, even though Snyder's comments suggest we may well have seen the last of The Joker (at least for the foreseeable future), artist Greg Capullo had some reassuring words for fans who may be worrying about whether The Dark Knight himself is actually dead:
"Of course not. Like Scott has said before, you don't do a story like this without the backdoor to bring him back. And you have to do a story like this to tell a better story. And we are doing a better story. But come on, of course I don't want Bruce Wayne to never return. [Laughs] No fan would ever want to see that and Scott and I are two of the biggest Batman fans on the planet. Would we want to crush, kill destroy Bruce Wayne so that he's gone forever? Absolutely not because he's as entrenched in our hearts as is he is for every fan that loves him."
Which is...reassuring, at least. Especially since we all already knew that Batman wasn't actually dead dead.
In part because the last time DC killed him off he turned out to just be trapped in the past - so it's nice to see that Snyder and Capullo aren't planning on repeating the same story-line - and partly because...altogether now...Batman always wins.
Even when it comes to death.