Thomas & Martha Wayne; comic-book staples of purity and self-sacrifice. The best of us, and two of the greatest parents a boy could have, died over and over again on the page and screen, as well as in video games, namely because they're good eggs in a town riddled with filth.
Or namely because they are pariahs of all that is good in the universe. And namely because they're pretty f***ing stupid to take a shortcut down an alley literally named Crime Alley and expect to come out unscathed in the end. Smooth, The Waynes. Real smooth. I know it was called Park Row then, I really just wanted to make that joke.
**Warning: As if the headline wasn't enough, there will be spoilers for 'Children of Arkham'**
But in Telltale's shiny, new take on the Bat, the tale of Brucey's parental units' passing takes a much more sinister, incongruous and bold turn.
Thomas Wayne Isn't Who You Think
Come the end of the first episode, Telltale Batman leaves us with a burning doubt regarding just how honest Thomas Wayne's general dealings were, and whether Martha and he had any connections to Carmine Falcone and the other lumps of scum lingering in the gutters of Gotham City.
Would this monumental detour from the lore of old actually come to pass, or was it the result of the mind-bending toxin Bats came across earlier in the ep? Nope. It's totally true, man. Batman's dad is a total criminal in this continuity. It breaks down like this:
Gotham City's media sources had recently began to allege that shady dealings and mob money were behind the family Wayne's extensive fortune. Billions made over legitimizing Falcone and Mayor Hamilton Hill's nefarious deeds, which makes sense in this world for, as Alfred so eloquently put, "you can't amass that sort of wealth without making moral compromises."
So according to Alfred, who manages to break Bruce's heart with a few sentences, the unholy trinity of Hill, Falcone & Wayne coalesced with Hill using his silver tongue to smooth over their antics in politics, Falcone coercing their opponents and competition into disappearing, and moustachioed Thomas Wayne applying his trustworthy face to the operation to make it appear bonafide to the everyday folk.
Thomas Wayne's depraved nature even played a major part in Esther Cobblepot (The Penguin's mother) insane turn. In order to claim land from the Cobblepot estate, Wayne would go on to destroy her mind with, that ol' McGuffin again, psychotropic toxin.
The ramifications of these acts resulted in a major change to Bruce's family's end. Instead of them being the biggest casualty of Gotham's bleeding heart by being murdered with a golden conscience, their death was an assassination. By whom though...?
What Does This Mean For Batman?
Now we all know if you were to cut Bruce Wayne he would bleed Gotham. The city's most famous son has given his all for his hood with next to no thanks in return, but what if this continuity allowed Bruce to turn somewhat? To leave behind his valiant quest to rid the streets of crime and become crime instead!
When the sun is up, Bruce could use his influence to dig out the heads of other criminal organizations and attempt to corral them to his side. If not, however, as the night falls, Batman would take to the rooftops of the city and lay waste to the competition.
The thing with that move is Batman would still appear a hero to the masses. All he would have to do is beat up a few scapegoats and usurpers... maybe frame a few goons for acts committed by Wayne and all would be right in the world again. Well, relatively at least.
So do these events make Telltale's Batman even more damaged goods than prior attempts? I'd bloody well say so! Now not only is the guy dealing with the death of his loving parents right before his eyes, he later learns that they were murdered because of the reason he picked up the cowl in the first place – they were low down, dirty crims! Imagine how terrible that would feel...
All in all this is a pretty astounding and badass move to make on behalf of Telltale. I wonder where they're going to take it from now...
Watch the trailer for Batman: The Telltale Series below: