Preview pages and teases from DC itself made it clear that Detective Comics #940 would be a game changer. Now, the issue has finally arrived, and while it does feature the death of a major character, DC was correct in telling fans the issue would change Batman's world "in a way you'd never expect."
Major spoilers for Detective Comics #940 below!
Seriously, turn back now if you don't want to ruin the surprises.
Batwoman's father, Jacob Kane, is determined that the League of Shadows has infiltrated Gotham City and orders a drone strike to kill hundreds of suspected members of the organization.
Batman and his team of Red Robin, Batwoman, Spoiler, Orphan and Clayface seek to stop the attack, but that proves to be more than a little challenging as the drones can't be turned off. Red Robin (Tim Drake), comes up with a way to redirect the drone assault, reprogramming the deadly machines to attack him instead.
If that sounds like a suicide mission, you'd be right. As heavily implied by DC and the cover of the issue itself, Tim nobly sacrifices himself to save citizens of Gotham City from a drone attack by taking them all on single-handedly. Though Batman calls for the rest of the team to back Drake up, they arrive too late. Tim says his goodbyes to his team over the comms and tells Spoiler that he loves her. Then, he says goodbye. When Batman arrives at the scene, nothing appears to be left of the hero aside from his iconic staff, after two waves of assault drones look to have blasted Tim into nothing.
Batman, Spoiler and the rest of the team mourn the loss of their comrade. Batman tries to comfort Spoiler by telling her that Tim chose the life of the hero and knew the consequences of his actions. It's then revealed that Tim had been accepted to Ivy University, and that he was ready to leave his days as a costumed hero behind.
Except ... nothing is quite as it seems. Though Drake certainly seemed dead and Batman and company believe him to be, that's not actually the case. Drake is instead teleported to some unknown location and locked up in a cell. He is then confronted by a hooded man who may be familiar to those who have kept up with DC's Rebirth story. The hooded man appeared in DC's Rebirth one-shot and has also appeared in issues of Action Comics.
When Drake asks how he's alive or why he's being held prisoner, the mysterious stranger offers a cryptic answer.
"You were reconnected threads that could not be reconnected," the man says. "You're so loved, so deeply intertwined. It became crucial that we take you off the field. And that's where you are, Tim. Off the field."
Drake vows that his allies will find him, and at some point, they most likely will. However, it could be a long while. Batman and the rest of Drake's team believe the hero to be dead. It seems clear that Drake will have some role to play in the events to come, but it may be a while before fans find out what exactly that role is.