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Comics - Story Arcs - Batman - The Three Ghosts of Batman
The Three Ghosts of Batman

Part 1
Batman #655

Part 2
Batman #664

Part 3
Batman #665

Interlude  
Batman #666

Part 4
Batman #672

Part 5
Batman #673

Part 6
Batman #674

Part 7
Batman #675

Batman #655

Batman #664

Batman #665

Batman #666

Batman #672

Batman #673

Batman #674

Batman #675

SUMMARY:
Although never directly identified as an arc, one of the ongoing themes of Grant Morrison's run on Batman has been the appearance of three different versions of Batman. The first Batman, a marksman, appears in the first issue of the Batman & Son arc, shooting the Joker in the face. Later it is revealed that the Batman was an ex-cop who Commissioner Gordon says just "snapped." It isn't until Batman #664 that the second Batman, a Bane-like behemoth shows up and begins killing prostitutes. Once again, Batman runs into the thin blue line. He is met with a wall of silence when he challenges the officers who had been supplying the call girls to the monster.

The story briefly flashes forward into the future to find an older Damian Wayne that has taken up the mantle of the bat and finds himself battling a flame gun wielding third Batman (#666). Damian defeats the third Batman in the future but it wouldn't be long until we saw the same third Batman costume again. This time, in the present day, the third Batman invades Gotham PD and takes Commissioner Gordon hostage, demanding to speak with a Commissioner Vane (#672).

Bruce Wayne is skydiving with new flame Jezebel Jett when he notices the Bat-Signal lighting up the sky. Bruce Wayne lands safely on the ground away from Jezebel and calls Alfred, instructing him to tell Jezebel that he was blown off course and would meet up with her later. Batman arrives on the roof to find Gordon and the Third Batman waiting for him. Gordon is shot and before Batman can step in, he too is shot in the chest causing him to go into cardiac arrest. He is revived by the third Batman and finds himself locked in a chair in an undisclosed location that seems vaguely familiar.

As Batman slips in and out of consciousness he recalls his experience with the Thogal ritual in the caves of Nanda Parbat (52)! He also begins recalling other unsettling memories such as the death of his parents and the hand that Bruce played in the death/suicide of Joe Chill (#673). Meanwhile, Bat-Mite is seen throughout these flashbacks and in the chamber itself. Finally Bruce recalls his experience in the sensory depravation testing he did for the military (Batman #156). He realizes that he is in the same chamber deep in the basement of Gotham PD and suddenly everything clicks into place.

His fears are reaffirmed as the Third Batman begins torturing him and recounting his own experience in the program under the twisted Dr. Simon Hurt. The GCPD, under the command of Commissioner Vane during Gordon's temporary demotion (Detective Comics #121), partners with the government to form an elite squad of back-up Batmen to step up should anything happen to the original. Through the psychological data derived from the experiments, Dr. Hurt determines that the driving force behind Batman is a major loss or tragedy in his life. In order to replicate those conditions, Dr. Hurt sets into action a series of heinous events in order to cause the amount of psychological scarring the police recruits would need to truly become the Bat. Batman deduces that his captor must be a man by the name of "Lane" whose family was believed to have been slaughtered by Satanists. The recruits are all trained and the Bane-Batman (real name: Branca) is given the Venom drug and Hugo Strange's Monster Serum. But the project is eventually disbanded and the officers are all sworn to secrecy. 

All of this exposition gives Batman ample time to dislocate his shoulder and escape from his arm shackle. He takes out Lane but is then attacked by Branca who has been lying in wait the entire time as a back-up. While Batman is reliving his nightmare experiences in the basement of GCPD HQ, Gordon is on the roof demanding the wall of silence be broken and that Officer Farelli tell him what exactly happened during his leave of absence. Farelli initially refuses but eventually caves in and leads Gordon to the basement. Just before Branca can smash Batman's head in, the police burst in and Officer Farelli shoots Branca in the head. Lane escapes leaving Batman wondering if perhaps his years and years of training and planning could yet leave him unprepared for some ultimate evil, should it exist.

As Lane stands on the other side of the fence from a mentally and physically exhausted and defeated Batman he tells him that it is too late - Batman is finished!

Shortly thereafter, Bruce goes out to dinner with Jezebel and the two discuss their feelings for one another. Jezebel feels that Bruce is hiding something from her and tries to pry his secret out of him. When the two are abducted by the Ten-Eyed Man, Bruce (thinking he is in the cover of the shadows) delivers a vicious beating to the Ten-Eyed Man. Seeing Bruce in this state, Jezebel finally figures out that Bruce Wayne is Batman.

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