Thomas Wayne is a killer. That is, the version of him that survived Crime Alley, watched his son Bruce die, and fought his child-murdering wife. Readers will remember all of this happening in the 2011 crossover event Flashpoint, which saw Thomas become a twisted version of Batman. Eventually, the events of that universe were unwritten when Thomas helped Barry Allen save the DC timestream.
The Flashpoint Batman has lingered around the fringes of the DC Multiverse since then and recently played a heroic role in the Infinite Frontier (opens in new tab) and Justice League Incarnate (opens in new tab) limited series. But now, the Flashpoint universe is a reality again, and so too is its murderous Knight of Vengeance.
Readers will recall the vicious swath Thomas Wayne cut through his version of Gotham and the many criminals that died at the bloody hands of their Batman. They’ll remember too that Eobard Thawne, AKA the Reverse-Flash, died with Thomas Wayne’s sword in his back. But in Flashpoint Beyond #0 (opens in new tab), which went on sale April 12, Thomas Wayne makes a kill that’s not just memorable for its brutality, but for who the victim is, and how it might just doom his world in the process.
The first issue of DC’s return to the Flashpoint universe is drawn by Eduardo Risso, written by Geoff Johns, colored by Trish Mulvihill, and lettered by Rob Leigh. After a brief intro set in the main DC continuity, the issue begins with Thomas in his version of Gotham. For some reason, everything is the same as it was before the events of Flashpoint, though no one knows except for him. Thomas immediately realizes he needs to reset the world to what it should be, but first, he’s got to escape Harvey Dent.
In the Flashpoint universe, Harvey Dent is a Gotham City judge who blames Thomas for his misfortunes. His daughter is dead by suicide after a traumatic encounter with Thomas and his wife Martha (the Flashpoint universe’s Joker), and his wife Gilda is now in Arkham demanding to talk with Thomas. As if those personal reasons weren’t enough, Harvey also has a professional vendetta against Thomas, as he believes him to be the murderer of one Joe Chill.
Fortunately, Thomas is able to get away from Harvey and seek out the only man who he believes can help him set the universe right: Barry Allen. In this world, Barry is a regular old crime scene analyst with no superpowers, but that doesn’t stop Thomas from showing up at his apartment and explaining the events of Flashpoint to him. Barry of course thinks he’s crazy, but Thomas has no time to convince him he’s not. Using a mild sedative in a syringe, Thomas incapacitates the powerless Barry and kidnaps him.
Cut to Wayne Casino, the tallest building in Gotham. Thomas has created a scenario that Flashpoint fans will no doubt remember by strapping Barry to a device that attracts lighting, which is attached to experimental chemicals, in an attempt to give Barry the powers of the Flash. Unlike last time, however, Barry is an unwilling participant in this experiment, and as electricity crackles across the sky above him, he begs Thomas to let him go. Still, this universe’s Batman has been through this before and knows that this cruel risk is necessary to save the world.
Perhaps it might have.
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Unfortunately, everything goes wrong at the very last second. An unknown assassin working for this universe’s version of Aquaman appears out of nowhere, firing a harpoon at Thomas and hitting the vials of chemicals. Without this key component of the Flash’s origin, Barry is just a man in a modified electric chair. As the man who put him in it looks on, a single bolt of lightning makes contact with the device, turning Barry Allen into a charred, bubbling husk of human tissue.
But Thomas’s troubles don’t end there. Far below on the Gotham streets, this mysterious assassin has completed the second part of his mission; killing Harvey Dent. Though Thomas manages to catch up with and interrogate this Atlantean ally, he learns nothing more than that King Arthur of Atlantis wanted to stop Barry from becoming the Flash. In a blind rage, the murderous Batman beats the assassin to death, but it does no one any good. The chaotic world of Flashpoint is back in full swing, and the only man who might’ve set it right is dead atop Wayne Casino.
In an epilogue, we catch up with Gilda Dent in Arkham. Despite the death of her husband, she still wants to speak with Thomas Wayne. Nearby, another Arkham inmate named ‘R. Hayden’ hears her talking and wonders aloud about the whereabouts of Bruce Wayne. Or, as he remembers him, ‘Batman.’
Fans remember Roger Hayden as Psycho-Pirate, one of the most prominent villains of DC’s Rebirth era, who played a part not only in the events of Doomsday Clock (opens in new tab) but in plucking Thomas Wayne out of Flashpoint continuity in the first place.
The character, who for years uniquely remembered all the Multiverse-altering events since the original Crisis on Infinite Earths (opens in new tab) (DC heroes, villains, and even ordinary citizens are now remembering all the reality-rewriting), has been all over the DCU lately.
He played a prominent role in both the Infinite Frontier (opens in new tab) limited series that is part of the lead-up to this year’s Dark Crisis event as well as the recently-concluded Detective Comics story arc ‘Shadows of the Bat.’
The fact that he’s in Flashpoint’s Arkham now may mean someone wants him off the playing field, but for what reason, we don’t know.
And what does this mean for Thomas Wayne or his main-continuity superhero son? We’ll have to wait until Flashpoint Beyond #1 comes out May 3rd to learn more.
Want to know more about the Flashpoint universe and the storyline that introduced it? We’ve got a handy explainer for you, why don’t you check it out?