WARNING - The Following Article Contains SPOILERS Up Through Batman #47
The death of Batman's parents was no accident. At least, not as random an accident as most comic fans have been led to believe, now that DC Comics has confirmed the truth. The conclusion of "The Gift" storyline in the latest issue of Batman answers one of the biggest mysteries regarding the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne, and why they came to find themselves the victims of an armed robbery gone wrong, after taking their son out to a night at the movies.
"The Gift" has so far found Booster Gold attempting to find the ultimate present before Batman's marriage to Catwoman. Taking inspiration from Superman's stories of the Black Mercy - a parasitic plant which treats its host to illusions of a perfect life as it slowly eats them - Booster elected to show Bruce Wayne how horrible the world would be if Batman had never existed. After which point, Bruce could appreciate the meaning his life held in spite of the many tragedies he had endured.
Not a bad idea... but as a result, Booster played a bigger role in Batman's origin story than he expected.
Booster assumed Bruce's character would forge a similar man in adulthood. This ended as badly as one might imagine, with the bumbling Booster trapped in an alternate timeline where Bruce Wayne had grown up rich, spoiled and unsympathetic to the needs of other people. He loved the life he spent with his parents to guide him and did not want to give it up.
Things became even worse when Booster broke this alternate, feral version of Catwoman out of Arkham Asylum, hoping a "meet cute" and seeing the love of his life might restore Bruce Wayne's memories of the original timeline. Or at least snap him out of wanting Booster dead.
When Catwoman went bad, the resulting firefight left everyone except Booster and Bruce dead. This followed Bruce smashing Booster's time-traveling robot Skeets (back in Batman #45) and ended with Wayne putting the time traveler himself into chains. Batman #47 opens with an emaciated Booster still a prisoner of Bruce Wayne, who has spent the last year paying his best employees to repair Skeets.
When Bruce orders Booster to take them back in time so he can prevent the gunfight and go on living his life, Booster sees his opportunity. He takes this Bruce back to "minutes before his parents were murdered" - but in the original DC timeline, not this new one. And when the two men are interrupted by the past Booster - the one now showing up to prevent The Waynes' murder as part of his gift - all Hell really breaks loose.
The noise of the resulting fight between the two Boosters and Bruce Wayne carries into the streets below, prompting Thomas Wayne to pull his family down a dark alley away from the sounds of violence and, ironically, towards his and his wife's violent ends at the hands of Joe Chill. This answers an age-old question that many a Bat-fan has raised, regarding why The Waynes would ever wander down a dark alley and off of a well-lit street as they left the movie theater.
The irony that Booster managed to succeed in his goal while inadvertently being the catalyst that brought Batman into existence isn't lost on him, either. Naturally, he's less than pleased with the revelation and feels the need to unburden himself to both Batman and Catwoman once the timeline is restored.
The story ends before we can hear their thoughts, but it seems everyone involved will side with Skeets's assessment. He really should have just gone with the cheese tray.
Batman #47 is now available from DC Comics.