WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Batman #73. by Tom King, Mikel Janín, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
Bane first launched his intricate and far-reaching plan to break The Bat some time ago, as recounted last issue. His plan included recruiting several of Batman's most notorious villains, and some who are less so. The Flashpoint incarnation of Batman – Bruce Wayne's alternate-reality father Thomas Wayne – has been among those less-prolific foes.
But Thomas Wayne has risen in importance to Bane's plans of late. Thomas' own plans are made clearer in Tom King and Mikel Janín's Batman #73, and they involve another key character from Batman's past. As if the pseudo-return of Bruce's father wasn't enough, Thomas is now looking to resurrect his late wife, and Bruce's mom, Martha Wayne.
Back in the Saddle Again
Thomas summarized every cruel detail of Bane's actions so far in Batman #72, offering the villain his assistance against his own son after doing so. His description didn't sound like the words of a father who had previously claimed he only wanted happiness for his son.
However, Thomas again claims that's exactly what he wants for Bruce, and he believes bringing Martha back to life can accomplish that. Thus, Bruce again finds himself trekking across the desert on horseback, this time in Thomas' tow. Thomas, though, has also brought along some macabre cargo -- specifically, the coffin containing Martha's remains.
Why would Thomas drag the body of his murdered wife to the other side of the world? For the same reason Bruce and Selina Kyle made a similar journey back in Batman #33– to return to Khadym, the home of Ra's al Ghul and, more significantly, his Lazarus Pit.
Thomas isn't looking for just a Lazarus Pit, however. Those are used for rejuvenating the living, or even recently dead; Martha's been gone much longer. No, Thomas is seeking the previously unknown "Nain Pit." Presumably, this Nain Pit has the power to restore life, even to those long dead.
Thomas Wayne Is No Father of the Year
The ghastly deed is all part of his grand plan for Bruce to be happy, causing him to give up being Batman. That would leave Thomas free to claim the Mantle of The Bat as his and his alone.
Thomas previously stated that was his goal all along. His desire for Bruce's happiness is only a means to that end. But that desire reveals some level of fatherly concern for his son. If all Thomas had wanted was to take the role away from Bruce, he could have done so any number of more harmful – or lethal – ways. Instead, he's trying to take it in a way that leaves his son whole rather than broken or dead.
After all, Batman's fight with Bane last issue did leave him broken – again. Bane broke Batman's back at the conclusion to their battle in Wayne Manor, furthering his own endgame by inflicting physical and emotional damage on the hero. Thomas could have simply left his son broken, and assumed the role of the world's one and only Batman, but he didn't.
Instead, as the issue progresses, Thomas reveals he repaired Bruce's spine before heading out to Khadym. He was a doctor, after all, so healing Bruce isn't beyond his capabilities. And he must have been a good one, too, as it took Bruce months to recover the first time Bane broke his back. But the fact he healed his son, and chose not to leave him with a broken back, shows that Thomas does have concern for him, though it's simply secondary to his other plans.
A Happy Family? Probably Not
During their journey, Thomas cites his mission as his "dream." The extent of his efforts, though, indicate that his "dream" might be something more than just carrying on as Batman, sans any familial competition. He certainly doesn't need to resurrect his wife to do that. And there's no guarantee, even if he succeeds in bringing Martha back, Bruce would give up his Batman career.
Thomas, right now, is the closest he's ever come to something far more significant than merely being Batman. He's close to bringing back the family that was lost to him decades ago. In Flashpoint, Thomas was the sole survivor when his family was attacked in Crime Alley. But now, his adult son rides with him, and the means to bring back his wife are within his reach. Thomas is agonizingly close to restoring his family as it would have been – with his wife at his side and his son alive and well.
And perhaps that is Thomas Wayne's endgame: he wants happiness for Bruce, sure – but he wants it for himself, as well. The troubled Thomas is all too willing to let Bane practically destroy his son in the process, though, confident that he can ultimately make him better. His confidence also extends to believing that his dead wife can be made better, too.
Thomas might believe his extreme methods and alliances will make it all worth it in the end. But this potential family reunion would come with a lot of pain handed to Bruce in the process – something he might not be so willing to forgive. And it's hard to imagine how Martha would feel about being resurrected from the grave.
Batman #74, the conclusion of "The Fall and the Fallen," stands to feature another, and perhaps final, confrontation between father and son, to settle who will be Batman. The issue goes on sale July 10.