Detective Annual 4 is one of the Armageddon 2001 crossover annuals. Waverider has come back in time 10 years to prevent one of Earth’s heroes from becoming the world dominating tyrant Monarch. He travels from annual to annual using his power to see the future of various heroes on his search. He had already met Batman in his own annual, but figures he is worth a second look, in this story by Louise Simonson, with art by Tom Grindberg.
Waverider is invisible when he wants to be, and so Batman is completely unaware of the future Waverider sees.
The future he sees begins with a climactic battle between Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul.
Both Batman and Ra’s are seriously wounded in the battle, and while Talia takes her father to a Lazarus Pit, Batman flees on his own.
Alfred and Tim Drake get him back to the cave, though they want to take him to a hospital. He is suffering from injuries not completely unlike those he would sustain in Knightfall.
Ra’s last attack left Wayne Manor in ruins, and Batman had spent so much time pursuing Al Ghul that Gotham has fallen apart as well. When Robin comes to answer the Bat-Signal, even Commissioner Gordon believes that Batman is dead.
But Batman returns to patrol Gotham, and tries to fend off an attack by the League of Assassins, but fails. Talia discovers that it is not Bruce beneath the cowl, but Tim Drake, and has him killed.
Bruce is distraught to hear of Tim’s death, and blames Tim and Alfred for operating behind his back, which earns a stern rebuke from Alfred, on how the “world’s greatest detective” isn’t paying attention to what is going on right in front of him.
That shapes him up, and he devises an exo-skeleton to allow him to function, and goes to seek out Ra’s Al Ghul. He finds on a statue, Ra’s had died following their last encounter. It’s been Talia in charge of the Assassins since then.
She has her men defeat Batman, so that she can immerse him in the Lazarus Pit, and make him the new leader of the League. This is really the first story to paint Talia as demented and dangerous as her father.
It turns out Batman had rigged his exo-skeleton with a bomb, which he detonates, killing them all.
Quite the downer. But far closer to what would take place in upcoming Batman stories than the future shown in the Batman annual.