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How Bruce Wayne Became BATMAN’s Latest Villain

Warning: There are massive spoilers ahead for this week’s Batman #38. You may want to stay out of the Batcave until you’ve read the issue!

The cover of Batman #38 promised that it would feature “the origin of Bruce Wayne,” and it delivered. But Tom King and artist Travis Moore didn’t simply rehash a story that goes back over seven decades. Instead, they introduced Matthew Warner, a young boy who idolized Bruce Wayne. And the fallout from Matthew’s first appearance may hang over the Dark Knight for years to come.

At the beginning of the issue, Bruce offered his support to Matthew after his parents were brutally killed, just as Bruce’s parents died years ago. Matthew’s father worked with Bruce at Wayne Enterprises, and he obviously felt a kinship to Matthew over their shared trauma. Instead of playing the role of a playboy, Bruce allowed Matthew to see his more vulnerable side as a way to deal with his emotional pain. Along the way, Matthew revealed that he idolizes Bruce Wayne.

The problem is that Matthew didn’t just idolize Bruce Wayne, he wanted to become Bruce Wayne. And he has a twisted way of going about it. First, Matthew convinced his butler, Taylor, to murder his parents and frame two of Batman’s greatest villains for the crime. Then Taylor took the fall to protect Matthew before Bruce realized the truth. But by the time that Batman caught up with Matthew, he had fully retreated into his new identity as “Bruce Wayne” after cutting the names of Bruce’s parents into the flesh of his face.

By the end of the issue, “Bruce” is happily locked away in an asylum while the real Bruce is left shaken to the core. This was a masterfully executed “done-in-one” story that’s rarely seen in modern superhero comics. But King may be far from done with “Bruce Wayne.” After this introduction, we believe that “Master Bruce” has the potential to become one of Batman’s greatest enemies. Think about it: he’s got the wealth he inherited from his parents, the undying loyalty of his butler, and an insane drive to model himself after the real Bruce. Given enough time to study the genuine article, we wouldn’t be shocked if he eventually discovered Bruce’s secret as well.

Because years pass at a crawl within superhero comics, it could be a very long time before the new Bruce comes of age. But we think that it would be fitting if he eventually becomes a Dark Batman. That would probably be one of the worst nightmares for the real Batman. As Bruce Wayne, he wanted to inspire Gotham City’s residents to be better. Now, even his best intentions have come back to haunt him.

What do you think about the introduction of the new Bruce Wayne? Light the Batsignal in the comment section below!

Images: DC Comics

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