Bruce Wayne is dead. A description of exactly how he died can be found here. I will focus on what happened as a result of the Caped Crusader’s death.
The disappearance of Batman made the criminals of Gotham hungry for what Bruce Wayne had denied them; power. A gang war erupted and engulfed the city. Two-face and Penguin’s gangs fought in the open while Black Mask, another Batman villain, tried to beat them both in the shadows. With the criminals pulling Gotham into hell, all of Batman’s allies come to stop them, with Dick Grayson (the original Robin) leading the charge. Even Bruce’s ten year old son, Damian Wayne, came to try to continue his father’s work.
Dick Grayson came to help Gotham but did so as Nightwing, not as the new Batman. Tim Drake (then current Robin) tried to convince Dick to take Batman’s cowl but Nightwing refused. Someone else, though, was less hesitant to become the new Batman. Jason Todd (the second Robin) starts to “save” the city as the Batman. This new Dark Knight carried the gun and killed criminals with no remorse. Nightwing and Damian worked together to hunt Jason down and stop his murderous vigilantism.
Tim Drake on the other hand, worked alone, even donning one of Batman’s old suits to do so. He was successful at tracking down Todd but Tim was not ready to face him. Their fight ended with Tim stabbed through the chest with a Batarang and Jason walking away to let him die.
Nightwing and Damian eventually found Jason and the bloody cowl that Tim was using. Hoping for a peaceful end, Dick played Bruce’s will for Jason. In it Wayne said that he is sorry for not being able to help Jason in the way he needed. Bruce said that Jason still has a chance. This, instead of calming Jason down, enraged him. He began to blow up his version of the “Batcave” nearly killing everyone in it. Nightwing and Jason escaped along with a bloody Tim Drake, thanks to Damian. Nightwing and Jason’s fight ended up on a moving train. Jason nearly fell off and, when Nightwing reached to help him, he decided to let go. With Jason out of the way, it was time for Dick to decide what to do.
Dick had refused to become Batman because Bruce did not want him to. Bruce thought that Nightwing, Robin, and the rest of the Bat Family would be enough to handle Gotham’s criminals. Bruce was wrong. Dick Grayson realized that Gotham needs a Batman, and he is the person to become the Dark Knight.
The poetry of Batman’s death is that it brought his family together like never before. His four sons; Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne; were brought together because Bruce Wayne was gone. Jason Todd thought he could surpass his father’s legacy. Jason shared his father’s vision for Gotham, but he had perverted and twisted it. Tim Drake has his father’s amazing intellect but fell short when facing his brother in combat. Damian Wayne barley knew his father, he had been raised far away from his influence. But somehow Damian has his father’s honor and knows that he will one day take his place. Dick Grayson, Bruce’s first son, knows that he can not fully replace Bruce. Dick wishes that he did not have to put on Batman’s cowl but knows that he must. The first Robin becomes the second Batman and, while he will never be like Bruce Wayne, he is more than ready to go to war with Gotham’s evil as fiercely as the Dark Knight ever did.