Very few people know about the Thomas Wayne Batman.
Many casual Batman fans are aware of Thomas Wayne – the loving father of Bruce Wayne. Most of us consider his death to be a catalyst of Batman’s origins.
But very few people know about Thomas Wayne’s storyline as Batman. And even fewer people know that his storyline is extremely popular among those who do know!
But how could he possibly be Batman?! He died, right?
Well, read on and you will learn that, in the world of comic books, almost anything is possible.
Thomas Wayne Batman’s Story
“I’m a man who has too much blood on his hands to be called good […]
I’m not the hero of this story.”Thomas Wayne Batman’s letter to his son, Bruce Wayne, of the Original Timeline.
Thomas Wayne Batman’s first appearance actually came in a comic centered upon another D.C. Comic favorite, The Flash.
In the comic, titled Flashpoint (2011), Barry Allen (the alter-ego of The Flash) woke up in a universe where the timeline had been altered … and his powers had disappeared.
This timeline is known as the Flashpoint Timeline.
What’s more? This parallel world he found himself in was far more brutal than the universe of his original timeline. It lacked the order that the Justice League (non-existent in the Flashpoint timeline – and there is no Superman, either) previously helped to maintain.
However, much to his delight, Allen learned that there was still a Batman in this timeline – but was surprised to hear that he had thrown a criminal off of the top of a building in Gotham. Killing criminals is unlike Batman, after all.
Nonetheless, he sought out Batman to ask if he could help solve the puzzle and restore the timeline to its equilibrium.
When he arrived at the Batcave, however, he was attacked … by Batman himself. And without his super-speed powers, The Flash was no match for him.
It was only when Allen cried “Bruce!” under the assumption that this Batman was Bruce Wayne that Thomas relented his vicious attack.
Allen then proceeded to explain to Thomas Wayne Batman exactly what he had experienced, and Wayne – unsatisfied with his violent life of murdering criminals – agreed to sacrifice his own life in order to correct the timeline events, and simultaneously save his son, Bruce.
Later in the comic, we learn the origins of this incarnation of Batman…
A Tale of Revenge
While Bruce Wayne’s Batman tamed his desire for revenge – of pursuing ‘An eye for an eye’, so to speak – Thomas Wayne’s Batman was far less moralistic.
Vitally, in the Flashpoint timeline, it was Bruce who was shot dead by Joe Chill; and his death was witnessed by Thomas and Martha Wayne.
Afterward, Thomas hunted down Chill in a rage and beat him to death with his bare hands.
If you think that’s dark, wait ’til you hear what happened next…
Thomas went home to tell his wife, Martha, what he had done. Martha, grieving intensely over the loss of her son, turned around to inform Thomas that she already knew … and the illustrations reveal that she had sliced a smile into the corners of her mouth.
Yep. Martha Wayne – mother of Bruce – was the Flashpoint timeline’s Joker.
And she was the nemesis of Thomas Wayne Batman’s for years, until Barry Allen entered the picture and changed Thomas’ life.
In Flashpoint, Thomas Wayne Batman eventually helps Barry Allen to succeed in his quest to restore the timeline. He aids in the defeat of supervillain ‘Reverse Flash’, sacrificing his own existence.
Before disappearing, he hands Allen a letter addressed to his son, the original timeline’s Bruce Wayne Batman.
In the letter, he explained that he had also become Batman to correct what he perceived as the wrongs of the world. But he wrote that this mission had NOT made him a better person, and certainly hadn’t improved his life.
The letter seems to hint towards urging Bruce to give up the superhero lifestyle.
After reading the letter, Bruce Wayne cries.
As a result of Thomas Wayne Batman’s popularity in the Flashpoint comics, he was brought back for more storylines.
In the Convergence comics crossover, there was an emotional meeting between the Thomas Wayne Batman and the Bruce Wayne Batman. This was followed by Thomas borrowing Bruce’s Batmobile, and dying soon afterward in an explosion that simultaneously killed some enemies.
Thomas Wayne Batman returned, though, thanks to the parallel universes and timelines once again being restored to formulate a new multiverse at the conclusion of Convergence.
His next appearance was in DC Rebirth, in which he met his pre-Flashpoint son, Bruce Wayne Batman. They teamed up to undo another multiverse warp, and restore the original universe to its quasi-untampered state.
Before returning to the Flashpoint universe, Thomas pleads with Bruce to let go of the Batman alias.
He asserts that Bruce cannot live a happy life while he is Batman, and urges him to move on. When Bruce refuses, Thomas departs – satisfied enough to see his son alive. As he disappears into the light of his own universe, Thomas Wayne Batman utters the words “We Rise.”
Thomas Wayne Batman – The Villain
Written by Tom King, Thomas turns heel.
He appears in the main timeline in alliance with Bane, intending to mentally break Bruce Wayne down until he surrenders his life as The Batman.
He psychically convinces Catwoman to end her relationship with Bruce and – in a plot twist Tom King was heavily criticized for – he kills Alfred Pennyworth!
Thomas Wayne Batman even becomes the main villain ahead of Bane, taking control of Gotham for himself.
The reasoning and logic behind his decision remain the same: a desire to convince Bruce into giving up his life as Batman. He believes that this degree of power increases his chances of influencing Bruce’s decision.
Ultimately, Thomas Wayne Batman is defeated by an alliance of Bruce and Catwoman, ending up in Arkham Asylum with Bane – who proceeds to break his back.
Again, it’s worth remembering that this series of comics has been heavily criticized for its storyline and character development.
Thomas Wayne Batman
Thomas Wayne Batman in Tom King’s storyline is characterized by his over-protectiveness. In fact, King’s Thomas Wayne Batman doesn’t feel like a Batman at all. Therefore your Batman Factor could be best served by being as unlike that version of Thomas Wayne Batman as possible.
It is in the Flashpoint comics where Thomas Wayne Batman performs acts we would normally consider ‘Batman-like’. Sacrificing his own existence (or so he thought!) in order to restore the life of his son is heroic, and worthy of donning the famous cape.
Still, even in those Flashpoint comics, he is basically a villain who goes around shooting and killing people – heck, he almost killed The Flash at the beginning!
Using guns instead of the combat skills we see from Bruce Wayne Batman is clearly not Batman-like, either.
Thomas Wayne Batman is obviously not the best example to follow if you want to improve your Batman factor.
Victim of Circumstance
It’s difficult to look at Thomas Wayne Batman’s story without feeling some sympathy, though.
The road that led him to become Batman was far different from Bruce’s. A parent losing their child somehow feels more heart-wrenching than a child losing their parents (without wanting to take away from the grief felt by people who lose their parents).
Many parents claim that they would rather die themselves than live to see one of their children die. To suffer that – the worst kind of loss – and to then lose his loving wife, who descended into the nihilistic insanity of the Flashpoint Joker? That’s heavy. It doesn’t justify his actions, but it does go some way to explaining them.
If there’s something we can learn from this incarnation of Batman, then, it’s that we must make some peace with our past, and with the reality of our circumstances. If we are going to be level-headed enough to become Batman-like, this is absolutely essential.
Bruce Wayne Batman made his choice to be The Dark Knight; Thomas Wayne said his piece on why he didn’t agree with that choice. At the end of the DC Rebirth version of Thomas Wayne Batman, Thomas accepts Bruce’s decision and leaves.
That is what we should consider Batman-like – acceptance of people’s freedom to choose, even when we disagree with their decisions.
Being Batman shouldn’t be about dictating to people, like the Tom King version of Thomas Wayne Batman. Being Batman should be about preserving people’s freedom and bringing about justice.
Thomas Wayne Batman is a close reflection of Batman’s deepest flaws: he is driven by his anger at the past and unable to let go of his desire for change.
He highlights how Batman is so heavily defined by his past, therefore raising an interesting, existential question: is being Batman a good life choice for Bruce – or for anyone?
In spite of the challenges that he faces and the sacrifices he makes, Bruce’s motivations for being Batman do feel authentic and genuine. He wants to make the world a better place; and although he doesn’t always have success, he seems to take satisfaction from his mission for justice.
Increasing Your Batman Factor
In order to increase your own Batman Factor, then, it is important that you fully consider who you are, what you are doing, and why you are doing it. Are you, like Thomas Wayne Batman, too strongly influenced by the traumas of your past? Or, like Bruce Wayne Batman, have you made some kind of peace with those traumas?
This is a fundamental problem for all of humanity – but it is an even more essential question for someone wanting to be a hero of the people.
Learn from Thomas Wayne Batman’s mistakes as well as his commendable actions.
And, above all, make peace with yourself to increase your Batman Factor.