[SPOILER WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR "EARTH 2 ANNUAL" #2]
Since taking the writing reins of "Earth 2" for DC Comics, Tom Taylor has been talking a lot about the world-building involved in a series set on an alternate planet than the rest of the New 52. But in "Earth 2 Annual" #2, Taylor delivered a world-rocking reveal -- the Batman of Earth 2 is Bruce Wayne's long-believed dead father Thomas Wayne.
If you have yet to read the oversized special issue, we will give you a second to clean up the mess resulting from your mind exploding.
Yes, Thomas Wayne, who perished alongside his wife Martha in Crime Alley in front of their young son, is back to take up the mantle left behind when Bruce Wayne of Earth 2 died at the hands of Darkseid and his minions, the parademons.
Operating under the cowl as a 65-year old vigilante, Thomas Wayne may be honoring his son by serving as Batman -- but he is a very different Dark Knight than his son. Fueled by an addictive drug known as Miraclo, Batman of Earth 2 now enjoys one-hour bursts of super-strength, but at what cost?
CBR News spoke with Taylor to discuss the new Batman of "Earth 2" and the Aussie writer shared his thoughts on the super-sized father/son dynamic. He also teased a possible meeting between Thomas Wayne of Earth 2 and Bruce Wayne of the New 52, the possibility of an "Earth 2" spinoff series and how Rex Mason, AKA Metamorpho, may play a role in the secret origin of Thomas Wayne's Batman.
CBR News: First it was Superman and Hal Jordan in "Injustice: Gods Amongst Us" and now you've gone and sullied Thomas Wayne. Was this your evil bidding or did you inherit this plot thread from James Robinson?
Tom Taylor: [Laughs] It was a bit of both really. The only thing that was really decided was who it was under the mask. The only thing that I knew coming in was that it was Thomas Wayne. It was up to me to decide the why and how and to handle it with my usual gentle touch. [Laughs] Mike Cotton, my editor, and I discussed it and at some stage and thought of the idea that maybe he'd been a criminal at some point. That sparked this idea for me, Thomas Wayne having ties to the mob in Gotham, and it led down this path. As soon as I realized this moment why he could have survived, that's was the big a-ha! moment.
In "Earth 2," Batman died at the hands of Darkseid and his parademons but was Bruce Wayne already dead from learning his father was still alive for all of these years?
You're right. He died fighting against Darkseid and the parademons but he knew the story of his father and he didn't want to speak with him. His death was the entire reason he became Batman. He became a freaking bat because he watched his father die in a senseless crime and it didn't happen. He was deceived so that's obviously going to screw with him a bit. [Laughs]
In "Earth 2 Annual" #2, Thomas Wayne tries his best to explain to Bruce why he made the choices he made but Bruce wants nothing to do with it, even calling him a "selfish bastard." And then we flash forward to present day and Thomas tells Lois and Hawkgirl that he has become Batman to honor his son -- an apparent disconnect. The readers, like Bruce, will have their own say, but as the writer, do you feel Thomas was justified in making the choices he made?
I think Thomas Wayne felt justified in what he did. But I think his judgement was completely clouded. You often find in stories that character trope of the figure that goes away and pretends to be dead to protect the people that they leave behind, and so often it's just garbage. I think Bruce calling him out in that moment makes sense. "That's crap. We could have escaped. All of our money... you could have taken me anywhere in the world." It was easier to be the martyr and shirk the responsibility. Thomas Wayne is a flawed individual. He's not always thinking right. He just watched his wife die, as well. He's been through a traumatic experience when he made this decision to disappear.
With news breaking this week about the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman and the actor living a double life as an addict, this story really hits home for parents and children alike and the overwhelming feelings of remorse that must surge when an event like this occurs. Like you said earlier, you don't have Batman without Thomas Wayne faking his death. In a sense, should we be thankful because the end result was the birth of one of world's greatest superheroes?
Yes, and Bruce did seem to be a happier and more well adjusted person on Earth 2 before he died. He had a family. He had a daughter. He had a civilian life. And it's possible that his focus shifted slightly at that stage when he found out that everything that he thought he was fighting for was twisted. He still had that drive and he still had that passion but maybe, it was slightly altered.
There's a classic argument, and I've used it myself, that Batman can't hold a candle to Superman and Wonder Woman and The Flash because he doesn't have superpowers. He's a super rich, Olympic level athlete with a utility belt. While you've also aged him to 65 years-old, you've also given him the power of Miraclo. But for Batman, it's always been about more than possessing super-strength. What drives Thomas Wayne as Batman?
He's not only driven by wanting to repay the son that he can never repay because he can never apologize to him because he is dead. He wants to honor him any way he can. And then he also has Miraclo, which means he essentially has superpowers for an hour at a time. He's unbelievably strong and is able to do things that, generally, 65-year old men can't do. I don't know about all 65 year-old men. I'm not 65 yet. Once I get there, I'm sure I will find myself capable of doing these sorts of things. [Laughs]
Now I have to ask, what really caught me by surprise -- perhaps even more so than the reveal of Thomas Wayne is the Batman of Earth 2 -- is that Rex Mason gave him the Miraclo. And not Rex Tyler. Rex Mason, traditionally, is Metamorpho's alias and Rex Tyler is Hourman. Was that panel an error or is this revisionist theory at its best?
Honestly, I don't know. [Laughs] I keep meaning to talk to my editor about it. I remember talking about it and it was Rex Tyler. And I'm sure that's what it was when we sent it off. It was definitely Rex Tyler. I don't know if a decision has been made to make that change and I don't know why I am telling you this. [Laughs] I should really seek clarification. We'll just have to see.
The introduction of Thomas Wayne as Batman obviously has massive ramifications on Earth 2 but what about when the inevitable crossover between Earth 2 and the New 52 Earth occurs and Bruce Wayne meets Thomas Wayne? Sure, it's not his actual father, but I have to think that will rock Bruce to his core.
I think a lot of people will want to see that father/son reunion, though it's a father and son that have never met each other. [Laughs] I think there are some very rich story possibilities if we go there. Also, I think what could even be bigger is the fact that his granddaughter doesn't know of his existence and I think there is going to be big things to come from that realization too.
Love that Thomas Wayne shared his story with Lois and Hawkgirl. Are we witnessing the formation of a new trinity on Earth 2?
I'm not sure about that because the story we're telling in "Earth 2" is absolutely enormous. As you know, it has a cast of thousands. And there are so many stories and players involved. Another big player moving forward is Val, who you met in the last issue. His story is story is going to become much, much, much bigger.
Finally, we've been hearing rumors of a second Earth 2-based series, possibly even a weekly? Do you need a second series to explore this cast of thousands?
We'll just have to see. I will say that currently we have more characters than pages but we'll just have to see.
"Earth 2 Annual" #2 by Tom Taylor, Robson Rocha and Scott Hanna is on sale now.