Batman Killed, Long Live Batman

Death of Bruce Wayne - Inside Pages

Death of Bruce Wayne – Inside Pages

Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego since 1939, has been killed.  By Dr. Thomas Wayne, his own father, who was himself “killed” in the origin story.

Bruce Wayne — who by night is Batman — gets murdered by a man claiming to be the father he thought was dead. In a highly controversial new storyline Bruce, who first appeared in 1939, is killed by Simon Hurt — the leader of the shady Black Glove organisation.  Simon claims he is really Dr Thomas Wayne, saying he faked his own passing when Bruce was a child. The superhero dies when he tries to stop his foe escaping by helicopter in the new comic Batman R.I.P.

Writer Grant Morrison said: “This is so much better than death. People have killed characters in the past but to me, that kind of ends the story!  I like to keep the story twisting and turning. So what I am doing is a fate worse than death. Things that no one would expect to happen to these guys at all.  This is the end of Bruce Wayne as Batman.”

Batman will live on though, with another character filling his Batsuit.  Two likely contenders are Dick Grayson – the original Robin – or current Boy Wonder, Tim Drake.

These death stories are getting ridiculously lame. Of course, when a character has been around seven decades, it must be difficult to come up with new ideas several times a month. And these gimmicks seem to work.

Killing off superheroes has become a popular practice among comic book companies. Marvel Comics wrote a storyline in 2007 that ended with Steve Rogers, a.k.a Captain America, being shot and killed by an assassin. Captain America’s sidekick, Bucky, has since taken over as the hero. The storyline involving Rogers’s death saw sales of Captain America-related comics soar.

Indeed, DC killed off multiple universes twenty years ago, along with at least two major characters (the Silver Age Flash and Supergirl) in order to clean up the continuity messes created by half a century of making it up as they went along. As I understand it, DC did another reboot recently and Marvel has also done something similar at least twice.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. And let’s not forget the granddaddy of them all, the Death of Superman storyline.

    My prediction: within a year Bruce Wayne will be alive and well.

    I know it’s the wrong comic universe, but it has to be said…

    “Uncle Ben: Still the only Marvel character to STAY dead.”

  2. DL says:

    My goodness – at a time when bats are dying off everywhere, we finally find out why – they are being murdered! I think it’s just retaliation by the insects who paid for the hit job.

  3. Steve Verdon says:

    Frankly I liked how they handled it in the television series Batman Beyond. Batman develops a more advanced suit, but even that isn’t enough to compensate for decaying health and Batman/Bruce Wayne almost dies during what turns out to be his last “official” outing as Batman. Fast forward a few decades and Gotham is as it usually is, corrupt and filled with thugs. A young man’s father is killed and also meets an octegenarian Bruce Wayne. Eventually this new young man becomes the Dark Knight bringing hope back to Gotham with Wayne as his mentor. The best show in this series is Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. The uncut version is very grim and some of the scenes that didn’t make the movie but can be seen on the DVD as story boards are even more grim.

    This bringing back Bruce’s father is just…well lame. No, sorry make that l33t. I mean really, for decades the man has been dead and has been one of the primary reasons for Bruce Wayne becoming Batman. Just let the guy stay dead for Chrissake.