We all know the story of #Batman. It's a tale of tragedy; of a child who watches his parents cut down before his eyes, and who swears vengeance. It's the story of a man who becomes a legend, daring to confront all that is broken and evil in a twisted world. It's a story for generations — but in this week's Batman #22, it's just taken a fantastic twist.
Batman has just met his father.
Entering The World Of 'Flashpoint'
Back in 2011, DC launched an event that shook the entire DC Universe: #Flashpoint. Barry Allen had chosen to step back in time and save his mother's life, but unwittingly created an alternate reality. The idea's recently gotten a lot more attention, with #TheFlash adapting it as a major part of Season 3.
The world of Flashpoint was very different to the one we know and love. One of the most dramatic (and beloved) changes was that, in this world, Bruce wasn't the Batman. His father was, and he'd taken on that identity after his son was murdered on that fateful night years ago. When Barry Allen set reality (mostly) right again, he brought with him a gift for Bruce: a letter from his father. He believed the "Flashpoint" reality was destroyed, but now we know he was wrong.
In what promises to be a crucial chapter in unravelling the ongoing mystery of #DCRebirth, Batman #22 sees Flash return to the Flashpoint reality — with Bruce Wayne at his side. What's more, they emerge in Gotham Manor, and it doesn't take long for Bruce and Thomas Wayne to come face-to-face.
Batman Meets His Father
This is a moment that should transform the Batman mythos forever. Thomas Wayne's absence has been a gaping void in Bruce Wayne's life since he was a child. A face-to-face encounter with a father who even chose a similar path to him is bound to have a profound impact on Bruce. I'm not surprised that Tom King — a writer with a reputation for his love of psychology and philosophy — has chosen to take the Dark Knight in this direction!
The conversation is beautiful. It cuts through all the superheroics, and asks two simple questions: What would a son say to the father he has lost? What would a father say to the son he thought he'd never see again? Leave aside the Batcave, talk of Batmobiles and cosmic triumphs; they'll talk about what matters.
The issue's end is beautiful, and makes this one of the most effective Batman books I've read in a long time. As reality crumbles around them, Bruce is held back by Flash, as his father accepts that his time has come at last. And his father takes this chance to say just what his son needs to hear. I dare any Batman fan to read this issue without a tear in their eye.
Then comes the twist. Thomas Wayne gives a single plea:
This phenomenal issue is part of an ongoing arc entitled "The Button" — and it's far more intriguing than that somewhat-bland title would sound. In fact, it's a bestselling crossover between Batman and The Flash, as the two move ever-closer to uncovering the secret behind DC's entire "Rebirth" narrative.
But the more immediate question, of course, is what this issue will mean for the Batman range. This should be a defining moment in Bruce Wayne's life, and in the hands of a writer of the caliber of Tom King, I'm sure its impact won't be understated. We can say for certain Bruce isn't hanging up his cowl anytime soon — but why not? After the emotional catharsis of this encounter, what force will compel him to carry on as the Bat?
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Right now, DC Comics are going from strength to strength, and a big part of that is having the right creative teams. I've focused on the plot in this discussion, but the truth is that Batman #22 is a classic because the whole creative team is firing on all cylinders. Right now, as DC launches the second year of "Rebirth," they've dared to give Batman an encounter that should transform his life. What's going to happen next?
How Do You Feel About Batman Meeting His Father?
(Poll Image Credit: DC Comics)