In these issues, Batman follows a variation of the Buddhist path to enlightenment known as the Ten Bulls. As a Buddhist myself (but not a Zen one), I found this a particularly interesting arc. The Ten Bulls are a series of illustrations and poems, which proceed sequentially through a goatherder’s journey. The first stage is the search for the bull…
…Morrison inserts Damian’s discovery of the cat he calls Alfie (who appears throughout the 666-timeline), and also has shots of Batcow as well–in case you missed the analogy. The next stages of the path involve finding footprints, seeing the ass of the bull, and catching it. Through the comic, Batman proceeds through the wreckage of a Leviathan headquarters, doing what the goatherder does in the parable. When he finally tames the goat–“a test of touch”–we see Damian doing the same. And there’s another brilliant connection there when Alfred offers to cover for Damian, who has been ordered to stay out of the battle. Alfred offers to lie and say Damian overpowered him to steal the costume–which Damian actually did way back in Batman and Son. Damian has tamed Alfred, or at least wooed him. Or maybe it’s Damian who has become domesticated?
Ultimately, Batman reaches the top of the building, and proceeds to the final frame, in which he is supposed to return to society, Talia’s other, bigger son (known as The Heretic) catches Batman and hurls him off the top of the building. Batman falls, just like Gordon fell in the opening frame of Batman and Son, where all of this began.
But through it all, Batman refused to make the Sophie’s Choice offered by Talia in the beginning: Give up Damian or give up Gotham.
And so the final battle begins, to stop Talia from exploding the Oroboros bomb in Gotham City.