When the last issue of Batman ended, I had a thousand knots in my stomach. Ever since the end of issue 50, we knew something big was coming. Not just because of Bane’s plot, but because of who was with him. While a number of villains stood by Bane’s side, there was one person in particular who stood out among the rest: Flashpoint Batman. Was this actually Thomas Wayne, or just someone in his Batsuit? Why would he work with the man trying to destroy his son? At the end of issue 60, the Batcave is attacked. Bruce finds Alfred on the floor, bleeding from the attack. When Bruce asks Alfred what happened, the faithful butler states, “He’s here…Your father.” With chills down my spine, I waited for the next issue. Finally, the two Batmen will clash, and we’ll hopefully get some answers along the way. We got none of it. Instead, we pick up with a story that we thought was resolved in issue 38.
If you recall, in that issue, Batman and Catwoman took on a murder case that was similar to the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. The murder was pinned on the serial killer Zsasz, then on the family’s butler. At the end, it was revealed that the couple’s child, Matthew, was responsible for their murder in an attempt to become Bruce Wayne. After being apprehending by Batman, one would assume Matthew’s story is over. That assumption is wrong.
The issue begins with what looks like the scene of Martha and Thomas Wayne’s death, but it is followed by Batman taking to Jim Gordon about the case. Then we see Batman talking to Bruce Wayne. Yes, you read that right. Batman was talking to a young version of Bruce Wayne. Batman then tracks down the supposed killer and apprehends him. Jim Gordon then gives the message to “Bruce Wayne” that the Batman caught his parent’s killer. Some time passes before this Bruce decides he wants to see the man that ruined his childhood face to face. When this encounter happens, “Bruce” uses a razor to cut the man’s wrist and stab him to death. The issue then cuts to Matthew in prison being berated by one of the prison officials for being out of control. Through context, we can gather that Matthew has killed more than just this inmate. However, when he is called by his real name, the only reply Matthew gives is, “My name is Master Bruce! Son of Thomas and Martha Wayne! Who are dead forever and for whom I shall forever seek vengeance.” It seems that Matthew has become so disillusioned to reality, he’s been killing random inmates in an attempt to save Thomas and Martha Wayne. This delusion is not met with anything other than frustration by the prison official, who declares that there is only one place to send someone so dangerous: Arkham Asylum.
This issue was not a bad one by any stretch of the imagination, if you can piece together exactly what in the world is going on. Making Matthew more than a one-off character has the potential to create another iconic villain. In addition, sending him to Arkham, the exact same place that Bane has been using to plan Batman’s ultimate downfall, cannot be a coincidence. Bane has manipulated everything that has happened since his last encounter with the Dark Knight, so I have no doubt in my mind that this was part of his master plan. However, there is one part of his plan that NEEDS to be addressed sooner rather than later: Flashpoint Batman. I understand using a cliffhanger, but using one so massive with so many implications and then not following up on it seems like a huge mistake. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like we’ll have any answers anytime soon. After looking through the previews for the upcoming Batman issues on DC’s website, it looks like we’re in for a handful of one-shots that connect in the “Knightmares” story arc. In one of the summaries, it says something about Batman living his worst fears. Perhaps this other Batman has something to do with that. Regardless, not following up on a revelation that big feels like a massive missed opportunity. However, as I have stated before, all we can do is try to enjoy the ride as much as possible and hope for the best story we can get. At least with Matthew being moved to Arkham, we can hope that this is just another step in Bane’s grand scheme to end Batman once and for all. If not, then what’s the point?