What’s the Secret of Flashpoint Batman? He’s [SPOILER]
At the end of today's Flashpoint #1, Barry Allen comes to a shocking conclusion about the Batman of the world of Flashpoint that certainly changes the nature of the character for the duration of this (likely) temporary detour, providing some interesting storytelling opportunities with a twisted funhouse version of the Legend of the Dark Knight.
So, what is it? Is he a pirate? A caveman? A comics editor? Grant Morrison? Chris Sims? If you want SPOILERS keep on reading.That's right: Flashpoint Batman is Thomas Wayne, Bruce's father. And it kind of makes a lot of sense, thanks to the restoration to continuity of Batman's original, Bill Finger-written origin story. In Detective Comics #235, with art by Sheldon Moldoff and credit theft by Bob Kane, Bruce Wayne discovers the true story around his parents' murder: the robber, Joe Chill, was actually hired by mob boss Lew Moxon, in exchange for Thomas Wayne sending him to jail ten years earlier.
Moxon had crashed a costume party Wayne was attending (in a "Bat-Man" outfit later appropriated by villain Simon Hurt in Grant Morrison's run), hoping to force him to fix him up at gunpoint. After doing so (Thomas Wayne takes his profession seriously), he decks them all and takes them to the police anyways, because being a badass is in the Wayne family tree.
So it makes sense that, if Martha and Bruce were gunned down instead of Thomas and Martha due to the interference of Reverse-Flash that intiated the Flashpoint reality, then Thomas might trace things back to Lew Moxon way sooner than the twenty-something years it took his son. He might even do it in a Batman outfit, and continue doing it afterwards, because he's vowed to keep Gotham City safe of that crap. A Batman with all of the drive and ingenuity, but none of the childlike naivete and code of honor that serves to counterbalance the darkness.
It also means Batman without a Robin, and a pretty fantastic choice of title for Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso, who will be doing the three-issue tie-in miniseries Flashpoint: Batman - Knight of Vengeance. I can't think of two better creators to handle a story about a Batman who didn't have any innocence to shatter -- or shreds of it to hold onto -- in the wake of the Crime Alley murder. The title alone says a lot: This is a Batman about vengeance, not justice, who's turned Gotham City into his own personal criminal-hunting playground, complete with (according to the below-linked interview) a privatized police force and an army of casinos used for intelligence-gathering. Thomas has created his own Sin City to breed crime for him to fight.
I must admit, though, I'm somewhat surprised DC decided to play this as such a surprise - first of all, considering the altered-history nature of the event, shenanigans like unfamiliar faces under familiar masks are par for the course in these kinds of situations. Secondly, Azzarello had already described this Batman as "older" in an interview with Newsarama, so unless Reverse-Flash collected Bruce Wayne after birth and dropped him off further back in the past so he could be older in the present, this was always the most likely explanation for that detail.
That sure is some sweet Andy Kubert art, though.