One night, Bruce Wayne finds himself in a daze. He dresses as Batman and takes off in the Batplane while remaining unclear of his own actions. He soon finds that he has been teleported to another planet, Zur-En-Arrh. There he meets a scientist named Tlano who has been monitoring his activities on Earth, and has decided to become a version of Batman for his own planet. On this planet, the Batman of Earth has enhanced abilities due to the different elements of the alien planet. The two Batmen join forces to defeat giant invading robots piloted by an unidentified alien race. After the robots are destroyed, the alien Batman gives Batman/Bruce Wayne his Bat-Radia device as a keepsake, and returns him to Earth.
In the past, the psychiatrist Simon Hurt was hired by Batman to oversee an isolation experiment. During this process, he gave Bruce Wayne a post-hypnotic trigger connected to the phrase "Zur-En-Arrh", young Bruce Wayne's mishearing of his father's last words ("the sad thing is they'd probably throw someone like Zorro in Arkham"). Many years later, Doctor Hurt was working with the Black Glove when they decided to target Batman and his allies, first spreading information to the effect that Batman's father somehow survived his murder by Joe Chill. Then, using the Zur-En-Arrh trigger, in conjunction with drugs, he sent a dazed and confused Bruce Wayne onto the streets of Gotham with no memory of his life. In Batman #678, "Bat-Mite" appears on the last page, commenting, "uh-oh" to Batman's increasing delusions after Bruce has assembled a makeshift Batman costume of similar style to that worn by the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh. He then, throughout the whole Batman R.I.P. storyline, appears to counsel the Batman of Zur En Arrh, revealed over the course of the story to be a back-up personality created after a hallucination Batman suffered when exposed to Professor Milo's gas, intended to take over for Bruce Wayne if he was ever psychologically attacked in such a manner as to render Batman out of action, describing himself on one occasion as Batman without Bruce Wayne, the colourful costume expressing a greater confidence and demonstrating a greater willingness to torture and possibly kill his opponents. Batman #680 reveals that Bat-Mite is indeed a product of Batman's imagination, being Batman's rationale to prevent the unstable Zur-En-Arrh persona from going too far, although he comments that he is from the 5th dimension because the fifth dimension is imagination.
Zur-En-Arrh was first used as the name of a planet in France Herron's 1958 story Batman - The Superman of Planet-X featured in Batman #113. In the story, a Batman from Zur-En-Arrh brings what would become Earth-One Batman to his planet to help him battle giant robots piloted by an unidentified alien race. While on the planet, Earth's Batman found he developed "Superman-like" powers through similar means of the Superman of his world.
When Grant Morrison took over the Batman series in September 2006, he began referencing classic moments from the character's career, including utilizing a version of Bat-Mite and reusing a costume and dialogue from the then fifty year old Batman.
Among the references was the Zur En Arrh phrase, which appeared very nearly covering an alley and again on a dumpster in Batman #655 and continued to appear, usually as a background element graffiti, until the Batman R.I.P. story arc began, at which point it was brought to the forefront. The persona was re-imagined as a delusional personality manufactured by Bruce himself to keep Batman able to fight in case he was mindwiped, or driven to insanity.
The costumes of the two incarnations of the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh are the same, consisting of gaudy, outlandish colours. In the modern continuity, the crazed Bruce Wayne comments that despite the ostentatiousness of the costume, Robin had dressed this way for years, implying that it reflects the confidence of the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh.
Skills, abilities, and resources
Tlano possessed much high-tech equipment, owing to his residence on a futuristic planet. His version of the Batmobile had an "atomic-powered" motor, and he flew a rocket-shaped Batplane.
His main device was the "Bat-radia", with which he could "jam atmospheric molecules", affecting the equipment of his enemies. At the end of the story, Tlano leaves Bruce with the device.
The Bruce Wayne incarnation also possesses a Bat-radia. This may or may not reflect a continuity between the two stories, as Grant Morrison has made efforts to treat Batman's entire publication history as his backstory. This version of the device scrambled security systems, for instance overriding and confusing Arkham Asylum's, as well as serving as a tracking device to allow Batman's allies to find him. To add a note of humour to the story, the radia is presented as a "cheap-ass radio" instead of the object seen in the imaginary story, and members of the Black Glove dismiss it as such until they discover its true purpose.
In other media
- Batman of Zur-En-Arrh appeared in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Super-Batman of Planet X!" when Batman was sucked into a wormhole and ended up on Tlano's planet.
- Batman or Zur-En-Arrh is a playable skin in the 2015 video game Batman: Arkham Knight