It's so much better than death. People have killed characters in the past but to me, that kind of ends the story! I like to keep the story twisting and turning. So what I am doing is a fate worse than death. Things that no one would expect to happen to these guys at all. This is the end of Bruce Wayne as Batman.
And there's speculation about whether the cowl will pass to one of the Robins (stalwart Dick Grayson, homicidal Jason Todd, pure-of-heart Tim Drake) or someone else.
One relevant response is from io9's Graeme McMillan.
Well, we've already seen Bruce Wayne giving up the identity because he was crippled (Thankfully, his magic girlfriend fixed his spine), as well as he's gone insane more than a few times in the past... So exactly what fate worse than death are we talking about here? And, more importantly, how quickly will it end up being undone?
I'm not buying the "forever" aspect either. Bruce Wayne is part of the Batman brand. He is the brand. The two have been associated for nearly 70 years. Adam West and Michael Keaton played Bruce Wayne, and Christian Bale still is. Val Kilmer and George Clooney have, too, although those movies add nothing to my argument but quantity.
Hey, did I say "almost 70 years?" It will be exactly 70 in mid-2009. Prime time for a high-profile return, wouldn't you say? So this is likely to be a broad sideways step in the manner of Knightfall, which also involved another dude taking over as Batman. But if nothing else, this storyline involves the writing of Grant Morrison, who has a way of making these spandex soaps freaky and cool.