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Batman: Martha Wayne's Pearls Actually Have Their Own Secret Origin

This is "Provide Some Answers," which is a feature where long unresolved plot points are eventually resolved. Today, we look into the surprising revelation as to why Martha Wayne's pearls acted the way that they did.

Along with Superman's Kryptonian parents, Martha Wayne is one of the most famous comic book characters of all-time that had been dead for years by the time that she actually appeared in a comic book. The woman who luckily has the same first name as Superman's adopted mother debuted in Detective Comics #33 along with her dearly departed husband, Thomas Wayne. Batman's origin is one of the greatest origins of all-time and the Waynes' iconic demise has locked them into our cultural identity for effectively eternity.

Here is that original origin by Bill Finger and Bob Kane (I like to go with the Batman #1 reprint, since the original version has an unrelated panel on the top that they thankfully replaced with a nice "Legend of Batman" drawing for Batman #1)...

The Waynes death loomed larged over Batman's history, even as it was slowly added to over the years, like the identification of the man who murdered them in Batman #47 (by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Charles Paris - one of the last comics that Batman's co-creators ever worked on together)...

For Batman's 35th anniversary in Detective Comics #457 (by Denny O'Neil and Dick Giordano), we learned the name of the location where the Waynes were killed and we met Dr. Leslie Thompkins, the woman who initially took Bruce in after his parents' death...

Then the big double whammy occurred. In The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson introduced the iconic imagery of Martha Wayne's pearl necklace breaking as she is murdered...

and in Batman: Year One, Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli delivered the iconic version of little Bruce perched over his dead parents...

However, as I wrote in a recent column, there was a noticeable problem with Miller's new version of the Waynes' death, a problem that translated into pretty much every film version of their deaths, namely the broken pearl necklace. You see, actual pearl necklaces are almost always done with each individual pearl knotted, so that if the strand breaks, you would only lose one or two pearls at the most. In addition, knotting them individually prevents them from rubbing up against each other and causing damage to the surface of the pearl.

This clearly was just a mistake that the various writers have overlooked over the years because it just looks so darn cool to watch her pearls explode on to the ground as Bruce is surrounded by his dead parents. It is a truly beautifully tragic use of imagery by Miller. He's a visual genius.

So it's fine, it's really not a big deal. However, years after Miller introduced the idea into the Batman mythos, Grant Morrison decided to come up with an explanation for Martha's pearl necklace.

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