Well, that wasn’t what we expected.
The cover of this week’s BATMAN #38 promises to reveal “the origin of Bruce Wayne,” which we had to admit, had us scratching our heads. We know the origin of Batman, but Bruce Wayne? Were we going to see his birth? We’re not sure that particular story is one that needs to be told.
Well, it turns out the story that Tom King and artist Travis Moore chose to tell was much more shocking and disturbing. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Batman #38 introduces us to Matthew, a wealthy young boy whose parents are murdered, something Bruce Wayne knows a few things about. Matthew’s father was a part of the Wayne Board and knew Bruce personally, and Bruce can’t help but take pity on the boy and try to help him through the tragic ordeal as best he can. But still, what can be done? The boy lost his parents.
Meanwhile, as Batman, Bruce finds himself tracking down a violent killer, who brutally stabs his victims numerous times. Sounds like Victor Zsasz, but Zsasz is in Arkham. Is it really him? Hard to say, but an anonymous letter sent to the residents of the asylum contains an intriguing clue, that leads to a grim discovery…
Those are Victor Zsasz’s parents. But would Zsasz murder his own parents? And how could he get out of Arkham twice? It can’t be Zsasz, but the next murder suggests another familiar culprit.
But it’s not Two-Face. As Bruce reasons, if you add 2-2-2-2 up, it equals eight, which is two to the third power. Two-Face wouldn’t have a three in the equation, meaning that the murderer is someone who’s trying to be Two-Face, much like they were trying to be Zsasz with the earlier murders.
Some more reasoning leads to the address of Matthew’s butler, Taylor, who—after a few frightening rounds of questioning by the Dark Knight—reveals something utterly shocking about the young boy, who has taken his admiration of Bruce Wayne to terrifying depths.
But what else is Bruce Wayne?
In the latest issue of a run that is doing some of the best character examination of Bruce Wayne in quite some time, King has shown how thin a tightrope Bruce walked in his journey from childhood to Batman. We sincerely hope that no one out there has experienced the tragedy that Bruce and Matthew went through at such a young age, but if anyone did, could you really blame them for snapping? Sadness, shock, anger and fear—all emotions bound to be strong and powerful in a child who has just lost their parents—cry out for something to direct them towards. They demand an answer. Why did this happen? What’s the reason? Why didn’t anyone stop it? Why did it happen to me?
But there are no answers. A senseless act of violence has no reason behind it. Certainly not one that’s going to matter to a grieving child. And when there are no answers, you look for someone to blame.
Will we be seeing more of Gotham’s newest Bruce Wayne? Time will tell, but whether he returns or this remains his sole tale, he’s a character we won’t be forgetting any time soon.