Gotham City is a busy place, with a lot going down each and every week. In this monthly column, Joshua Lapin-Bertone helps you stay on top of it all by letting you know what you should be paying attention to within the Bat-Family…and why.

The Joker is locked up. Criminals are on the run. Batman has never been more effective.

Where did it all go wrong?

At first glance, the current state of Gotham City might seem like a good thing. Batman has upgraded his body, leveling up his war on crime. He no longer needs sleep or food. He can’t feel pain, and he can be in multiple places at once. He has taken over Blackgate, imprisoning his greatest foes in an impenetrable fortress. Like I said, this all feels like a positive.

The only thing missing is Batman’s humanity.

Batman #145 kicks off “Dark Prison,” the next phase of Chip Zdarsky’s Batman run. If you haven’t been reading, then let’s bring you up to speed. It’s a tale of how two of the Dark Knight’s most dangerous contingency plans have combined, fusing into something dangerous. There’s the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, an alternate personality Bruce Wayne created in case his mind ever became compromised. Zur isn’t a disguise like Matches Malone, he’s a split personality that exists in Batman’s mind, independently from Bruce. Batman has no control over what Zur does, which is a bit of a problem since the persona is a loose cannon.

And then there’s Failsafe, a super-powered android that Zur-En-Arrh created. Failsafe was built as a contingency plan to stop Batman in case he ever went rogue. Failsafe was introduced in the first arc of Zdarsky’s run, and like with most of Batman’s contingency plans, things have blown up in his face. (You would think Batman would have learned his lesson with Tower of Babel, or with Brother Eye, or with War Games. Come to think of it, this type of thing happens a lot. Batman, stop doing contingency plans. There’s a 100% chance they’re going to become everyone’s problem.)

Zur-En-Arrh and Failsafe have both agreed that Bruce Wayne is redundant, and as a result, they need to take over the Batman operation. Zur was able to transfer his consciousness into Failsafe’s body, and he’s not alone. Remember that journey through the multiverse that Batman took last year? Along the way Zur picked up multiversal versions of himself from all the Batman variants. Yes, we have a Batman: The Animated Series Zur, an Adam West Zur, a Michael Keaton Zur, and so much more. All of them are inside Failsafe.

This means that Failsafe has all the experiences from every Batman in the multiverse. Your favorite episode of Batman: The Animated Series? That’s in there. That fight scene you loved from The Dark Knight Rises? That’s there too. All of the experiences, but none of Bruce Wayne’s restraint. Zur has essentially locked Bruce up and taken over his life. He’s told everyone that he’s the real Batman, having transferred himself into a robot body after his death. The Bat-Family is naturally skeptical.

Oh, remember when I said Zur had locked Bruce up? Guess who his cellmate is. The Joker! That’s right, Batman and the Joker are roommates, and it’s going about as well as you can imagine. If that doesn’t get you to check out Zdarsky’s run, then I don’t know what will.

Where did this all go wrong? In some ways, the seeds of this problem were planted in Chip Zdarsky’s recent limited series Batman: The Knight. The miniseries focuses on the years Bruce traveled the globe, training to become Batman. In Batman: The Knight #8, Bruce began training under Dr. Daniel Captio, who turned out to be a twisted individual.

Captio taught Bruce how to create split personalities, which resulted in the birth of Zur-En-Arrh. However, Bruce pulled away from Captio when he realized that he was trying to build him into a more cold-blooded person. Years later, Captio would go to Gotham and train the Joker, turning the criminal into Batman’s most formidable foe.

Perhaps Captio is where things went wrong. Maybe Bruce could’ve found a better teacher, someone who could sharpen his mind, but still valued the sanctity of human life. Then again, maybe Bruce needed Captio to become Batman. Without Captio’s training, would Bruce have been able to save the world multiple times over? Remember, Captio did more than help Bruce develop the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, he also helped him sharpen his mind and deal with pain. If that’s the case, then maybe the current Failsafe crisis was unavoidable.

After all, the roots of this go all the way back to 1957’s Batman #113, the comic that introduced the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh. This Silver Age tale found the Caped Crusader journeying to the planet Zur-En-Arrh to fight alongside their planet’s Batman. This version of the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh was a separate character from our Dark Knight, and he was largely forgotten for years until Grant Morrison reinvented the concept for Batman R.I.P., reimagining the character as Batman’s split personality.

Now Zdarsky has built on the idea, building Zur into one of Batman’s deadliest foes. After all, how do you fight an enemy who is inside your head?

DC never could have imagined Zur-En-Arrh’s impact when they published Batman #113, just as Batman never could’ve imagined the consequences of studying under Dr. Captio. And that illustrates the point on why Bruce should stop building these contingency plans—there are things you can’t see coming. You can’t plan for every contingency because we never really know what the future will hold. 

As for Batman’s future, we’ll just have to see what plays out. Batman #146 will be the next chapter of “Dark Prison,” and there’s no telling what direction the story will take. We can try to predict the future, but that just gives us killer androids and psychotic alternative personalities. I think we’ll all be best off just waiting for the next issue instead.

Batman #145 by Chip Zdarsky, Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey is now available in print and as a digital comic book.

Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and do not necessarily reflect those of DC or Warner Bros. Discovery, nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.