Batman in Flashpoint!
Examining Dr. Wayne
As promised in my last look at Batman in Flashpoint I would reveal my take on the Thomas Wayne Batman. I characterized the identity of Thomas Wayne as the Batman in this series as a “real forehead slapper”. The reason for my consternation was the idea that Batman should be Thomas Wayne wasn’t exactly new or original. We had just seen a “Thomas Wayne” in the series of Batman and Robin as authored by Grant Morrison. Yes, that Thomas Wayne was shown really to be Dr. Hurt. But doesn’t that undercut the drama or suspense behind the reveal in Flashpoint?
I wonder if there was any squabbling behind the use of Thomas Wayne as Batman behind the scenes at DC Comics. Geoff Johns carries a lot of weight there now but are you going to argue with a legend like Grant Morrison?
The compromise, they both get to use Thomas Wayne. This isn’t just a minor point. Both figures play largely in each series. I still think Mike Marts had to step between the two comic book giants.
The saving grace for Thomas Wayne as Batman in Geoff Johns’ iteration is we get to see a reversal of roles in the Batman origin angst. Instead of Bruce Wayne grieving over the loss of his parents, a privileged but sad orphan turning to a life of crime-fighting, we instead get the grieving parent shattered by the loss of his son.
I would say that is a pretty significant change in perspective. Bruce Wayne had to grow into adulthood which culminated into his accepting the mantle of the Bat, while Thomas is already an adult with no formative process to go through. Each has to process their loss in their own way. But I would argue the years that Bruce had softened the blow somewhat as he grew into adulthood which afforded him the luxury of developing his own personality albeit a damaged one.
This Thomas Wayne Batman is already fully formed adult and he just had his emotional life ripped away from him. I think this is evidenced by the make-up of the respective Batcaves.
We all know that Bruce Wayne’s Batcave is populated with the detritus of his years of crime fighting. It has the latest in high tech gear as afforded by Bruce’s fortune. Plus a collection of vehicles any billionaire would drool over. It also is a museum of memorabilia that amounts to a grand trophy case of his past victories. Trophies or memorabilia are significant to someone who has lost a parent. They are memories encased in amber forever preserved and important to someone who has lost something and is bereft of their emotionality. Like a childhood.
In stark contrast we see the Batcave of Thomas Wayne. It is a cold empty shell symbolic of the man Thomas Wayne has become. No computers, no vehicles, no souvenirs of cherished victories. Just a simple desk, a table for his gear and a glass encased gun.
It is not a souvenir or a piece of memorabilia. It is a blunt reminder of what was and what is to be. A cold unfeeling avatar of what changed Thomas Wayne forever. Behind it, mounted on cold rock, is a Wayne family portrait in better times. The protective glass of which is broken much like the life of Thomas Wayne.
One could also argue that the Wayne mansion that sits atop this crypt like cave is a mausoleum itself as it has fallen into disrepair and no longer provides the solace that once sheltered a happy family. As for the Wayne Hotel and Casinos that dot Gotham City they bear no reflection to a man who would have chosen a life a medicine. Instead they cast the reflection of the man who is willing to gamble everything away.
The Thomas Wayne Batman will be further fleshed out in the pages of “Batman: Knight of Vengeance” written by Brian Azzarello. Azzarello, you may recall, took on Batman in the “First Wave” series and the Batman there was considerably younger and definitely untried (and he used guns!). So it will be interesting to see how he handles a much older Batman weighed down by time and bitterness. I’ll continue to follow the Geoff Johns Batman also and measure the two iterations against each other.
I’m running a little long here and I had said I would cover the artwork of Andy Kubert but I think I will leave that to the next segment of this series.
Next: The Thomas Wayne Batman illustrated by Kubert & Risso
Posted by Dave Healey