The last time I featured Batman in Secret Origins, I focused more on how Bruce Wayne was the first Robin. Let's face it, everyone knows the Origin of Batman, so if you're gonna tell it, why not have a twist? Today is no exception. Once upon a time, DC Comics toyed with the concept of multiple earths. That's a Secret Origin column I'll get to eventually, but for this tale, just take it as a given that there are multiple earths with slight differences. With that in mind let's get on with the Secret Origin of the Batmen of two worlds!

Our story opens with the all too familiar scene depicted to on the sidebar. Leaving from a movie (this time an unnamed Marlon Brando film), the Waynes are accosted by a mugger. Thomas and Martha are gunned down, while young Bruce screams in agony. The screaming continues as an adult Bruce wakes up from his nightmare. Bruce is unsure why he's reliving this particular nightmare. After all, in this incarnation, Bruce as Batman has already brought his parent's killer to justice. Regardless of why, when Bruce has issues, he goes to relieve his stress on local derelicts. When he finds a duo of thuggish brutes trying to mug a defenseless old woman, he swings into action and takes one goon down. The other however flees the scene. Batman gives chase, and the first in a series of weird events plays out for the Caped Crusader.

[caption id="attachment_1170" align="aligncenter" width="574" caption="Crime Alley: Aside from a few murders, the Happiest Place in Gotham!"][/caption]

Crossing town in a couple of steps isn't the strangest thing to happen to Batman though, as Robin also pops out of nowhere to get the drop on Running Thug #2. In fact, when Batman & Robin exchange pleasantries, they realize that Robin actually left for Europe that morning! Strange happenings indeed. Before the two detective can suss out the situation, it's solved for them by the sudden appearance of the mysterious Phantom Stranger. The stranger starts out with some cryptic-speak that his sort of mystic type loves to spout. After Robin asks him to translate that into something resembling English, the Stranger explains why he has brought the Dynamic Duo to Crime Alley.

[caption id="attachment_1171" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption="You think they might reboot Batman twenty years after this story? Naaaaah."][/caption]

The Stranger explains that he's giving Bruce a chance to redeem the one failure he sees in his life, the inability to save his parents. This raises a few questions, such as does Batman blame himself for the deaths of his parents? and Why didn't the Stranger offer the Golden Age Batman the same chance? I'll leave those questions to an accredited Batman-ologist. Regardless of the reason, Batman agrees to this once in a lifetime opportunity. Robin insists on accompanying him, but Batman says it's something he has to do alone. Robin is all like, "Hey, I got pulled away from a bunch of young European co-eds for this, I'm coming too!" and rushes into the fog after Batman. Before you know it, the duo are at Gotham Harbor, and before they can decide whether or not they're actually on another Earth, the old chums hear the sounds of crime (in this case, an explosion). Duty takes over, and they find themselves on a ship full of modern-day pirates. Batman can't believe how easily their opponents fall...

[caption id="attachment_1172" align="aligncenter" width="641" caption="Dude, you're a 6 ft. tall man in a bat costume. You're lucky fainting is all he did!"][/caption]

As Batman & Robin mop up the scum, sirens finally blare and the Dynamic Duo find themselves face to face with Lieutenant James Gordon, looking a good twenty years younger than he should. Gordon orders the heroes to freeze, but rather than stay and explain the convoluted situation, the Caped Crusaders make a hasty retreat, but not before Gordon issues an APB on the duo. After that debacle, Batman & Robin decide to do some detective work in their civilian guises. Realizing that they can't be sure where the Waynes live on this Earth, they go to the local library to gather intel. While Bruce goes through the social register (after being mistaken for his father), Dick studies the history of this strange new world and makes a series of startling discoveries...

[caption id="attachment_1173" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption=""-- This may end being a nice well-adjusted world! Can't have that!""]Why Dick Grayson has an intimate knowledge of Krypton's solar system is a mystery, however.[/caption]

Dick explains that if they stop the Wayne's murder, they may be denying this Earth it's only hero. Bruce is all like, "That's nice, but I'm still not letting them die... old chum." You can't blame the guy. If someone came up to you and said "Hey man, don't be mad, but we should let your parents die for the greater good!" You'd be a bit dismissive too. Anyway, the two go to spy on the Waynes at.. Wayne Manor of all places! Jeez, you think they would have tried that first instead of doing the detective work. Seeing his parents again strengthens Batman's resolve to keep them from dying again. Robin, on the other hand sees how much of a spoiled child this young Bruce Wayne is and wonders if he'll grow up to me the bored playboy Batman only pretends to be. Regardless, Batman presses on for more info to prevent the tragedy. Knowing the name of the man who murdered his parents, he tries the find the whereabouts of the murderer's counterpart on this Earth. Batman being Batman, he has an ingenious way of getting said information.

[caption id="attachment_1174" align="aligncenter" width="466" caption="How did he make a perfect Gordon disguise after only seeing him for a minute? He's BATMAN!"][/caption]

Sadly, information on Joe Chill is as obscure as knowing the lineup of the 1906 Boston Red Stockings. Batman follows another lead though. Chill was hired to kill Tom Wayne by a man named Lew Moxon, and he does have a record. Batman and Robin descend on Moxon's "legitimate business" and cause a major amount of mayhem, including blowing up a truck! After Robin (literally) tackles Moxon, he says he's never even heard of Joe Chill. Batman puts the fear of well, Batman into Moxon, and warns him not to mess with the Waynes. Moxon plays the scared little lamb, but Batman's interference actually causes Moxon to move up his "Kill Wayne" timetable.

By Batman's estimation, he and Robin have five more days to stop the murder. Uh-oh. Batman and Robin spend the next few hours debating on the merits of preventing the murder. Robin is still unsure if they're condemning young Bruce into being a foppish dandy. Batman is still having none of it, though. Batman leaves to follow (or look for) another lead, leaving Robin to shadow the Waynes as they are getting ready to go see a movie. Again, Uh-oh.

Batman is once again in Police Headquarters and hits pay-dirt! Chill isn't from Gotham, so he wasn't in their records, but he does show up on interstate files. He's about to find the info he sorely needs when he's confronted at gunpoint by Lt. Gordon! You may think it'll be a Mexican standoff, but there is something about the way Batman pleads his case that sways the young police lieutenant...

[caption id="attachment_1175" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption=""You've given me no indication that you're NOT an escaped mental patient, but somehow, I trust ya!""][/caption]

Batman is able to track down Chill to a seedy motel, but Chill is dying. It seems since Batman mentioned him to Moxon, Chill was killed as soon as he made himself known! Chill also spills the beans that another gunsel is on the way to the hit! Batman then has a V8 moment, realizing that in the twenty years that have passed, leap years make today the corresponding day, rather than the date he was counting on. That's fine deductive reasoning Batman, but if you hadn't interfered, it wouldn't have happened so quickly anyway, so there's that... Cutting back to Robin and the Waynes, the fated family is walking down an alley, because the movie was sold out. Before you know it, they are accosted by a thug with a gun. Robin agonizes over what to do, finally realizing he just can't let anyone die while he does nothing. It turns out his interference isn't needed however...

[caption id="attachment_1176" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption=""NOOOOOOOOOOO!""][/caption]

Batman seriously beats the punk down, but can you really blame him? Then, the Phantom Stranger returns to take the Caped Crusaders home. Robin asks if they'll ever learn of young Bruce's fate. The Stranger is back to speaking cryptically though, and all he'll tell the Teen Wonder is that they have saved two lives and forever altered a third. Batman says "Amen to that." and they return home.

The story doesn't end there though! While Batman and Robin will never learn the fate of young Bruce, we get to peek in on the lad. It seems his close encounter with tragedy has had a profound effect on the boy. Gone is the spoiled brat, replaced with a more attentive, studious youngster. Reading such books as Sherlock Holmes and various books about criminology. That's great and all, but didn't Robin say earlier there weren't any inspiring literary figures on this Earth? Anyway, as we leave this earth, we find that encountering Batman casts a long shadow indeed...

[caption id="attachment_1177" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption=""it's like an omen! I shall become Bat Batman Man!""][/caption]

See? Robin had nothing to worry about! This world gets a Batman, with no messy murders involved! Think about it, a man devoted to justice, the absolute peak of human achievement, and he doesn't have to have a tortured soul to do it! This my friends, is what I would call the "Ultimate" Batman. It's a shame we never got to see any of his adventures. It'd be very interesting to see if he'd inspire the same rouge's gallery as "our" Batman, or if with a brighter outlook on life, he'd make Gotham a veritable utopia. At any rate, so ends the origin of Batmen of Two Worlds. Until next time, keep your origin a secret!

This story originally appeared in Detective Comics #500, and was reprinted in The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told: Vol. 1.

Previous Post: DRAGON-CON: Temuera Morrison and the Boba Fett Film

Next Post: DRAGON*CON: The Boondock Saints Panel

Tags: Top , DC , Secret Origins , Comics , Batman