Bruce Wayne is known to comic book fans for his dark secrets, the most prominent of which is that he's ... you know, Batman. But this month's issue of Batman revealed another secret, one that even Bruce didn't know about, that could have huge consequences for the Bat-mythos as a whole. SPOILERS AHEAD!
In Batman #10, written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Greg Capullo, the Dark Knight is in the midst of a full-scale war with the Court of Owls, a shadowy organization that's been secretly running Gotham City since time immemorial. The trail leads him to the crumbling Willowwood Asylum, where he runs into Lincoln March, a Gotham mayoral candidate who was thought to be dead by the Court's hand.
Only Lincoln March isn't really Lincoln March. Check out this panel from the issue (click to enlarge):
That's right. Batman's got a brother, a crazy brother institutionalized as a baby, abandoned by the family upon Thomas and Martha Wayne's death and taken in by the Court of Owls, who raised him to be a killer.
As big of a shocker as this might be to modern Bat-fans, it's actually not unprecedented. Thomas Wayne Jr. first popped up in a pair of World's Finest Comics issues back in 1974. In that story he was also institutionalized by his parents after a boyhood car accident left him permanently injured, and he came back as an assassin manipulated by another villain. He eventually died taking a bullet for his long-lost brother, and the story was largely forgotten.
As Peter S. Svensson notes over at Bleeding Cool, the World's Finest appearance of Thomas Jr. came before Alfred became Bruce Wayne's lifelong father figure. In those years, Alfred was just a butler hired by Bruce in adulthood. It wasn't until Frank Miller's Batman: Year One in 1987 that Alfred's status as Bruce's childhood guardian became a firmly established part of Batman's backstory. That means that the first appearance of Thomas as Bruce's secret brother was in a way much more plausible than Snyder's, which requires Alfred either to have withheld the information from Bruce or to have somehow been kept in the dark by the Waynes.
Of course, there's also always the chance that Batman doesn't actually have a brother, and this is all a clever supervillain ploy. But if it is true, what other secrets could Bruce Wayne's parents have been keeping? We'll see where Snyder's story takes us.
(Via Bleeding Cool)