Tom Taylor has done it again. In this look into the Identity of Earth 2’s new Batman we get the not so surprising reveal that he is in fact Thomas Wayne….Senior to clarify.
In Annual #2, Earth 2’s Batman reveals to Hawkgirl and Red Tornado his true Origins, a hard thing to do in only 40 pages, however Tom Taylor seems to get it done. Since Batman’s appearance everyone has had a different opinion on who the new caped crusader is (Tim Drake, Jason Todd, etc..) but with the very “Flashpoint” like costume the most popular guess was Thomas Wayne himself. I think we can all appreciate the difficult position Tom was in, having to write a big reveal about a character that most people had already guessed the identity of, and yet he did it. The comic starts with the original earth 2 Batman, Bruce Wayne, having a flashback to the night Joe Chill “killed” his parents, ending with his father telling Bruce he’s sorry. After the flashback it shows batman standing over the body of Joe Chill in the morgue with a beaten in skull which batman reveals to be caused by “someone with enhanced strength”. I found the flashback to be a nice nod to the Batman we all grew up with, and the death of Joe Chill to be a much needed sense of closure to the old Batman’s life, much like when the Joker was killed.
After batman gets his detective on he discovers that Joe Chill was in fact a hit man and connects him to Frankie Francavilla the crime boss of the Francavilla crime family. After some pretty easy interrogation Frankie reveals to batman the dramatic truth behind his parents’ murder…. through flashback. We learn that after saving Frankie’s life Thomas Wayne started to work with him. It is also notable to mention that this was how he met Martha making Bruce’s entire conception a product of crime. In the flashback we jump to when Bruce is born a crucial moment in the story as it leads Thomas to end his connection and friendship to Frankie Francavilla which lead to Frankie to hiring Chill.
The impact of the revelations in this issue cannot be overstated. Not only did Bruce discover that he was conceived by his father’s crimes but also that he was molded by them. After the flashback the mansion is attacked by the super powered thug who killed Chill, batman ties Frankie to the heater and goes to deal with the thug peacefully, which shockingly doesn’t go well.
Throughout this issue we see constant reminders that lead us to believe that the new Batman couldn’t be Thomas Wayne, him getting shot in the alley being just one. We also are lead to believe that it is in fact Jarvis Pennyworth, who is both revealed to be alive by Alfred as well as being shown beating some thugs to a pulp in the Flashback. It is at the climax to the story where Batman finds the super strength thug and calls him by the name “Jarvis Pennyworth” this is instantly revealed to be wrong as the thug shoots batman and holds him against the open window, it is then that batman see’s the face of his father, Thomas Wayne.
Though I did enjoy the story I got rather frustrated by the pile up of flashbacks. A majority of this issue takes place within a flashback of a flashback which is just overcomplicated seeing as this is supposed to be Thomas Wayne explaining his origins to Hawkgirl and Red Tornado. Another problem I had with this story is the conflicting angle of which it was written, again this is Thomas Wayne telling a story, yet it is being told from Bruce Wayne’s point of view, how did Thomas know every word that was spoken between Bruce and Frankie, or Bruce and Alfred. I agree with them writing the comic from Bruce Wayne’s point of view, it was good for the mystery and the story, my problem is solely with them having Thomas revealing his past (in the middle of a warzone I would like to add) as opposed it being revealed as an actual origin story were the writer could tell the story as a narrative third party and have no problem telling it from Bruce Wayne’s point of view.
Despite the issues it had Earth 2 Annual #2 was a well written comic with a smooth flow in its storyline and excellent artwork. Though the comic has been successful since it began I can’t help but hope that Tom Taylor stays on Earth 2 for the many years to come.