Batman R.I.P. is a graphic novel containing the story arc originally printed in DC Comic issues #676-683. In 2009 it was reprinted in a deluxe hardcover edition.
This story arc continues the story arc "The Black Glove", which was told in issues #667-669 and #672-675.
Heart of Hush
Having heard that the Black Glove plans to kill Batman, Hush returns to Gotham City to destroy Batman before they can strike. Hush seeks revenge on Bruce Wayne's loved ones, and after targeting Zatanna and Catwoman, he manages to capture the latter and removes her heart from her body. He leaves her hooked to a cardiopulmonary machine, keeping Batman distracted with the help of the Scarecrow. Batman is able to follow the clues leading to Hush's whereabouts, but Elliot, revealing how being discovered was another part of the plan, douses Batman with a muscle relaxant gas while showing him the complex machinery keeping Selina's heart alive and pumping. While Batman is paralyzed, Elliot reveals to have given himself, by plastic surgery, an exact replica of Bruce Wayne's face. He plans to kill and disfigure Bruce, and using his resemblance to him to inflitrate the Batcave, kill Alfred, Dick Grayson and Tim Drake, convince the Justice League about his intention of retiring the Batman identity, resign from the Wayne Enterprise and escape.
However, Batman is able to stave off the effects of the paralysis gas, recover Selina's heart, and warn Alfred Pennyworth of Thomas' deception. Hush manages to get into the Batcave where he nearly kills Batman, but Alfred's continuing interference and the arrival of Nightwing and Robin turn the tide. Hush retreats on the Whirly-Bat (a one man helicopter), but his bandages become tangled in the rotor and it explodes.
Batman, Nightwing, and Robin can find no trace of Hush save some bloody bandages, and count him dead. Catwoman, not taking chances and seeking some form of closure for her predicament and her current condition (Doctor Mid-Nite made clear that it is unlikely she'll be ever able to regain her physical prowess), has Oracle, Holly Robinson, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Slam Bradley track down Hush's secret bank accounts and stashes of cash and cut them off. Hush, wounded but alive, limps off to plot his next move.
Posing as Bruce Wayne, Hush travels to Australia and Vietnam looting Wayne's cash accounts in the companies he owns there. He is captured by Catwoman who knows perfectly well he is not the real Wayne. He's then given in custody to Nightwing and Robin who, rather than bring him into police custody, keep him contained in a secret safehouse. Elliot, still wearing Bruce's appearance, decides to fake his surrender, waiting for the right moment to escape.
Gotham is experiencing a lull in super-crime, and Alfred and Robin are trying to get Batman to take it easy. Bruce Wayne's girlfriend, Jezebel Jet, is also trying to spend more time with Bruce Wayne, but he is becoming more interested in the conspiracy of the Black Glove. This starts to effect his life in earnest when Jezebel Jet reveals that she has received a party invite from a group of the same name. Meanwhile, the Joker has been contacted by the Club of Villains, and offered a place in their scheme to destroy Batman.
The only information the GCPD has on the "Black Glove" relates to an old film of the same name. Returning to the Batcave, Batman notes that Robin has left due to information about Damian being kept from him. Batman's black casebook, in which he stores his most bizarre cases, has gone missing. However, Batman has decided to take advantage of the lull to spend the night with Jezebel Jet. That night, she tells him that she could find nothing about the Black Glove except that they are rich and secretive. Batman believes they mean to kill him and Jezebel, and warns her to stay away. Jezebel worries aloud that, although she first met Bruce Wayne, who was witty and charming, she has fallen in love with Batman, the lunatic vigilante, she has begun to worry about his sanity; for example, she suggests that the only person capable of planning well enough to be the Black Glove is Bruce Wayne himself.
The Club of Villains are met, and begin discussing ways of destroying Batman. However, Doctor Hurt votes them down, saying that he alone knows Batman's one weakness. The next day, the Black Glove strikes, releasing information that suggests that Thomas and Martha Wayne were drug users and alcoholic, that Bruce Wayne suffers schizophrenia and is secretly the son of Alfred, and that Thomas Wayne faked his own death, killed his wife and vanished. Commissioner Gordon leaps to Bruce Wayne's defence, but the rumour escapes.
As Bruce Wayne shows Jezebel Jet the city through the Batcomputer, Le Bossu's henchmen are breaking into the Batcave. Jezebel points out the "Zur En Arrh" graffiti, causing him to break down for some reason - jut as the henchmen break in.
Robin is hiding in a small shack, reading Batman's black casebook and it's bizarre adventures when he is ambushed by members of the Club of Villains but escapes. Robin tries to make contact with Nightwing, but Nightwing has been caught and sent to Arkham Asylum, where the staff have been told that he is the villain known as Pierrot Lunaire.
Waking up in an alley, Bruce Wayne cannot remember who he is. Helped by a homeless man, he fights off some thugs and is directed to Crime Alley, where he is struck with the news that the homeless man does not exist. Deciding to "consider it all a dream", he creates a brightly-coloured Batman costume and declares himself the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh.
In the Batcave, Doctor Hurt arrives with his Black Glove allies in the old bat-costume of Thomas Wayne. Doctor Hurt insists that Batman would be an addition to their number, once he's been turned.
Quickly working his way through the Gotham underworld, Batman gets a solid lead that the Black Glove will be at Arkham Asylum at midnight. However, he realises that his mind is working at an enhanced rate, and this is not sustainable in the long run.
As events unfold, Commissioner Gordon goes to Wayne Manor to talk to Bruce Wayne about the newspaper article, only to discover that the whole mansion has been booby-trapped by El Sombrero. However, he is saved by Talia al Ghul, Damian, and the League of Assassins.
The Black Glove is meeting, but things are not going as they expected: the Joker seems determined to wreak chaos, killing El Sombrero, mutilating Le Bossu; Batman arrives, but he is dressed in a brightly-colored costume. However, the rest of the evening goes to plan, with Batman making his way through the ranks of the henchmen to the room which holds Jezebel Jet. He exhausts himself freeing her - only for her to walk free of the restraints, and put on a pair of black gloves, revealing her as a villain.
With Batman trapped, he is buried alive by the Black Glove. However, the Joker points out that Batman has a history of escaping the inescapable, and this "death-trap", however literal, is still in the same bracket as killer quilting machines. He bets his life against those of the Black Glove that Batman will escape. As Batman's allies fight back across the entire city, a buried plan leads to Arkham's security shutting down. The Joker leaves enigmatically, as Batman digs himself out of the grave.
Batman fights his way through the Black Glove to reach Doctor Hurt, who makes Batman an offer: his servitude, and Hurt calls off a set of slanderous articles that will paint Batman's family as drug addicts and abusers. Batman throws the offer back in his face, and in the ensuing struggle, the helicopter carrying the three men crashes.
In the aftermath, the Mayor of Gotham rushes a number of diplomats offsite before the police arrive. The League of Assassins declare a vendetta with the Black Glove. With the full roster of Arkham's inmates released onto the streets at once, with the loss of the Batman, puts Gotham in a bad way. Nightwing wonders what he will next...
Six months later, Gotham is trapped in some kind of perpetual crimewave. The GCPD is beleaguered, and rumors are flying about the underworld that the Batman is dead. But as a Signal splits the sky, a dynamic duo arrive to proclaim that Batman and Robin will never die.
Told from the point of view of Robin, it shows that Batman is missing and rampaging through the city in a delusional state; Nightwing is imprisoned in Arkham Asylum; and Robin, fearing that Batman could have lost his sanity and gone rogue, tasks himself with finding his mentor and stopping him if necessary. He enlists the assistance of the GCPD (without telling Commissioner Gordon fearing he would lack objectivity) and puts a bounty on Batman with the Penguin. Robin asks for Spoiler's assistance, but discovers that she has instead been undermining his efforts under the direct orders of Batman himself.
While his personal life starts to go downhill due to Spoiler's sudden return, the Penguin claims someone dressed as Robin stole back the bounty. Robin brings the matter to Jason Todd, suspecting him to be the culprit due to his short tenure as Red Robin. Jason denies this, instead telling Robin of his plan to take control of the city's gangs and use them as his personal police force to stave off the chaos following Batman's disappearance. He admits shock and surprise at the knowledge of a third individual that has started using the Red Robin costume which he brought back from Earth-51.
The Great Leap
Published under the Batman R.I.P. banner, but set after it, this story deals with Nightwing fighting against Batman's rogues gallery. Two-Face tasks Nightwing to protect an old flame of Harvey Dent's, Carol Bermingham, a witness in a high profile mob trial. While Nightwing manages to save her, escort her to court, and lock her safely in one of Batman's safe houses, he's shot by bullets coated in the Scarecrow's fear toxin. Temporarily incapacitated, Nightwing's unable to save Bermingham from her killer: Two-Face himself, in a completely uncharacteristic portrayal of Harvey Dent and Two-face as two beings inside one body, each unaware of the other's actions. While Nightwing still blames himself for the happening, Two-Face blames the entire Gotham City for being able to act unstopped, and plans vengeance on the whole city. In the end, Nightwing saves the city from Two-Face's plan to attack the city with airship loaded with the acid that scarred Harvey Dent's face.
Outsiders No More
After the events of Batman RIP, the Outsiders have been depleted. Batgirl embarks in an unsuccessful mission to find and retrieve Batman, witnessing how the past events tipped the scales in the Gotham microcosm, as the Penguin no longer controls Gotham Underworld, given to Intergang by Libra, Nightwing is still readjusting after the traumatic ordeal of his imprisonment, and crime runs rampant in the streets. When Batgirl surrenders, a message from Batman arrives to the Outsiders' HQ, asking for his former teammates help. Batgirl, tapping into her ability to read body language, identifies the message as a fake, but the other Outsiders don't believe her, and accordingly to instructions from "Batman", they feed a secret code into ReMAC's cybernetic mind. The code is revealed a creation of Simon Hurt, that makes ReMAC, with Miandad's mind still trapped into, explode. Salah Miandad dies, Metamorpho is discorporated and Thunder falls into a deep coma from which she can never emerge. As the other members blame Batman for having abandoned them in the moment of need, and Batgirl from keeping her loyalty to him intact, the now disgraced Cassandra, after discovering an encrypted message in which Simon Hurt takes credit for the ruse costing her the team, vows to assemble a new team of Outsiders and avenge Batman and her fallen teammates. Doctor Kirk Langstrom leaves her his calling card, promising to help.
As she goes about her plan, she is stopped by Nightwing, still reeling from his own adventures but determined to take control of the Outsiders. As the two heroes fight for Batman's legacy, Intergang moves into Gotham under the control of a capo named Johnny Stitches.