WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Batman #60
The Batman from the Flashpoint universe, Thomas Wayne, is back - and he's not too happy with his son Bruce. At least that's the way things appear to be following Tom King and Mikel Janin's Batman #60.
An issue that was ostensibly about the continuing alliance between Penguin and Batman against Bane turned out to be much, much more with the final cliffhanger.
Most of Batman #60 sees Batman hunting any leads on Bane's plans to ruin his life. Batman is already unhinged as he now knows that Bane is responsible for the dissolution of his marriage to Catwoman, Nightwing getting shot in the head and an attempt on Alfred's life. But the real threat is closer to home, literally. As Batman is out on the prowl punching criminals in the face, Thomas Wayne sneaks into the Bat Cave... to surprise both Penguin and Alfred. In the process, revealing himself as the most threatening villain Batman has ever faced.
On the surface Thomas Wayne breaking into the Bat Cave and turning against his son seems like it undoes one of the most well-known deaths in the world of superheroes. Everyone who doesn't live under a rock knows that Batman's parents were killed when he was just a young kid, and if they forget that fact, they have every cinematic interpretation of Batman to remind them. Yet Thomas Wayne's arrival in Batman #60 isn't the reversal of one of comics' most infamous deaths, but an equally puzzling return of a relatively recent character.
In 2011 DC Comics held an event called Flashpoint which involved Barry Allen's Flash going back in time to save his mother's life, creating an alternate nightmarish universe in the process. In this upside-world, it was Bruce Wayne who died as a child leaving his father Thomas to become the Batman. Though it was believed this Batman 'disappeared' when Barry reversed time to form the New 52 timeline, the Rebirth crossover seen in Batman and Flash's "The Button" told a different story. By traveling to the Flashpoint timeline, father and son Batmen came face-to-face. Before parting ways, Thomas told the version of his son who was able to grow into a father one simple piece of advice: stop being Batman.
For a while it seemed like "The Button" would be a self-contained story, or only be referenced in the pages of The Flash with Barry Allen trying to figure out the mysteries of the DC multiverse. Batman #60 changes things considerably. Somehow, Thomas Wayne escaped his universe and traveled over to the main existence of DC Comics. Thomas' motives are unclear (for now) but Batman #60 does heavily imply that he's working with Bane, or at the very least Thomas has decided to work against his own son.
This twist, while shocking, doesn't entirely come out of nowhere. In Batman #50, when it was first revealed that Bane was behind Catwoman and Batman's break-up, Thomas Wayne did appear. Wayne didn't say anything and he was only located in the background. However Flashpoint Batman and his very recognizable outfit can be seen huddled together with other various villains when Holly, Catwoman's best friend, informs Bane that Batman's wedding is off.
Regardless of Thomas' motivations, Batman's life just got tremendously more complicated. Even if 'Flashpoint Thomas Wayne' isn't technically Batman's father, he's still the closest thing to him that Bruce Wayne knows. Batman has enough daddy issues with his dead biological father. He's not going to handle being attacked by his father's exact double, even if that double does come from a different universe.
Batman #60 is available now from DC Comics.