SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Detective Comics #994, by Peter J. Tomasi, Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza, David Baron and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
Even if you only have a passing interest in comic books, or only watch the big-screen adaptations, chances are you still know the origin story of Batman. Sure, you might not know all the minutiae laid out in such tales as Detective Comics #33, Year One or Zero Year, but the high-level details are practically common knowledge: As a child, Bruce Wayne witnessed his parents being murdered in cold blood, and as such, he swore to dedicate his life to warring on all criminals.
Of course, while a lot has changed in the DC Universe over the past 80 years, no crisis, be it infinite or final, has managed to change this central fixed event in Batman’s life. However, Detective Comics #994 does force the Dark Knight to relive it.
After a brief recap of the night that Thomas and Martha Wayne were murdered, we find the World’s Greatest Detective rendezvousing with Commissioner Gordon at the Gotham City Aquarium to investigate a gruesome double murder. It isn’t just any double murder, though; the two victims are spitting images of Bruce’s parents. Every single detail, from the clothing to the location of the bullet wounds to wedding rings, is “a perfect facsimile,” as Batman puts it.
However, as morbid as this all is, the timing of the tragedy is nothing if not impeccable.
“Why made up to look like the Waynes… Why today?” Gordon asks.
“Because it’s the anniversary of their death outside the Monarch Theater,” Batman replies.
Unfortunately, the investigation is cut short when Batman receives a distress call from Dr. Leslie Thompkins, who’s chased to the roof of the Park Row Clinic by a large, seemingly unstoppable creature. Upon arriving, the Dark Knight asks if it was responsible for what he saw at the aquarium, but with the creature refusing to talk and the issue’s decidedly Joker-esque cliffhanger ending, it remains to be seen if that’s the case.
Nevertheless, with the next chapter of the story arc titled “The Mark of…” (as in The Mark of Zorro), the mystery of the “Wayne” murders is likely far from over.