Re: Clearing up the ending of TDKR (MUST READ)
I must've missed the pearl necklace part I just assumed Alfred was taking his annual trips to Italy and he looked up and happened to notice Bruce at the other table.
As for Blake taking over as Batman I'd like to think that he'll keep the city safe for awhile but Bruce Wayne will always be there whenever Gotham really needs him.
Self-contained stories part of a larger story is where its at. Not this writing for the trade nonsense. If you're going to write for the trade, don't release it in individual issues. Just release the trade.