This Bat-family betrayal has a deeper purpose.
The latest issue of Batman finally addresses one of the series’ biggest lingering mysteries.
Warning: this article contains spoilers for Batman #73!
Batman #72 tied much of the series together, with the Thomas Wayne of the Flashpoint universe deducing Bane’s master plan to finally break Batman. Thomas figured out how everything – from the emergence of Gotham and Gotham Girl to Booster Gold’s disastrous birthday present to Catwoman abandoning her fiance – has been part of that complex plan. What that issue didn’t reveal is why Thomas would align himself with Bane against his own son.
While Batman #73 still leaves some questions unanswered (including how Thomas managed to escape the death of the Flashpoint universe in the first place), it does make one thing clear. He’s still very much on Bruce’s side. This issue follows both father and son as Thomas leads a comatose Bruce across an endless desert while dragging a coffin behind them.
Bruce eventually wakes, learning his father has used his surgical skills to repair his broken spine. Thomas is quick to remind his son of the lessons he taught him as a boy, encouraging him to push past his fear and use his keen mind to figure out where the two are headed. After Bruce sees his father defeat a group of ninja warriors known as The Death in the Desert, he realizes Thomas is leading them to one of Ra’s al Ghul’s secret Lazarus Pits. What’s more, the body in the coffin belongs to Martha Wayne. Thomas is determined to make the Wayne family whole again – husband, wife and son. Bruce finally dons his Batman mask, suggesting he’s now firmly committed to that same mission.
It makes sense that this would be Thomas’ ultimate goal. The original Flashpoint miniseries revealed that he was driven to become Batman after the murder of his young son, a cruel inversion of the traditional Batman origin story. The tie-in series Flashpoint: Batman – Knight of Vengeance expanded on that back-story, showing how that universe’s Martha Wayne was driven mad and became the Joker. And when Thomas told his estranged wife of another world where their son lived and became Batman instead, a distraught Martha committed suicide.
Those tragedies have been motivating Thomas in his recurring appearances in this series. When he first encountered Bruce in “The Button,” he implored his son to give up being Batman and live a normal, happy life. When that message fell on deaf ears, Thomas joined forces with Bane to force Bruce to see the futility of being Batman. He apparently sees the Lazarus Pit as the key in reversing the tragedies that have consumed him and reclaiming the life that was stolen by Joe Chill’s bullet. Thomas believes Bruce can’t be happy and be Batman, and thus the only way to stop him from being Batman is to make him happy.
Whether Bruce truly intends to help his father is another question. This isn’t the first time the possibility of using the Lazarus Pits to resurrect the Waynes has been dangled in front of Batman. Ra’s al Ghul himself made a similar offer in JLA: Tower of Babel, though Batman dismissed that offer as an insult to his parents’ memory. Will he change his mind? Could the return of Martha Wayne factor into the franchise-altering twist writer Tom King has been teasing?
For more on this new issue, check out our review of Batman #73. Then learn why King is leaving Batman in favor Batman/Catwoman and see which iconic Batman: The Animated Series villain is finally making their comic book debut.
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter, or Kicksplode on MyIGN.