SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Detective Comics #996, by Peter J. Tomasi, Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza, Mark Irwin, David Baron and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
In the pages of Detective Comics, things have continued to deteriorate for the Dark Knight of Gotham City. First, he was forced to investigate a double murder in which the victims were augmented to resemble his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne. Then, one of his oldest and dearest allies, Dr. Leslie Thompkins, died before his very eyes when he was unable to counteract the mutated Joker toxin that had infected her. Finally, just moments after her death, a man dressed as Zorro infiltrated Wayne Manor and stabbed Alfred in the chest.
All things considered, Batman could probably use a helping hand, and in Detective Comics #996, he reaches out to perhaps the most unlikely hand of them all – the hand of a character who’s been dead since 1971.
After beating the population of Arkham Asylum into submission and confronting his old mentor of sorts, Henri Ducard, Batman is attacked by the very same shape-shifting beast that assaulted Dr. Thompkins on the roof of the Park Row Clinic. He and Ducard stand their ground, but the latter is seemingly killed in the process, which leads the World’s Greatest Detective to a startling realization.
“And suddenly it all fits together…” his inner monologue reads. “People in my life who made me Batman… are being unmade.”
After heading to Master Sensei Kirigi’s temple in the Paektu-San Mountains to confirm his suspicions, Batman takes yet another trip across the globe; this time to Gila, New Mexico.
“Tried contacting him for hours,” Batman thinks to himself. “Have to find him and confirm—"
Before he can finish his thought, a decrepit old man wearing the familiar red, yellow and green costume of Mister Miracle bursts through the door of a small shed with cuffs and shackles hanging from his wrists and ankles.
“Batman!” he exclaims. “Get out of here – now – it’s a trap!”
“Thaddeus!” Batman says in response, cluing us in on who this mysterious man actually is.
If your only familiarity with Mister Miracle is the Scott Free incarnation of the character, you’d be forgiven. After all, he’s held the mantle for the better part of five decades. However, before Scott adopted the moniker, the original Mister Miracle was a circus escape artist on Earth named Thaddeus Brown.
When Scott first arrived on Earth after escaping Apokolips, he was mentored by Brown, who introduced him to his longtime assistant Oberon. In the pages of Jack Kirby’s Mister Miracle #1 in 1971, Brown was killed by Intergang, and to avenge his death, Scott became the new Mister Miracle in honor of his fallen comrade.
That being said, it’s still unclear how Thaddeus Brown is suddenly alive and well in Detective Comics and -- more importantly -- what his connection to Batman is. However, we should find out soon as we continue to ramp up to Detective Comics #1000.