Bruce tries to create a new sport, the cowl toss.

Batman: Gotham Adventures #33

DC Comics (February, 2001)

“World Without Batman”

WRITER: Ed Brubaker

PENCILER: Brad Brader

INKER: John Lowe

COLORIST: Lee Loughridge

LETTERER: Tim Harkins

ASSISTANT EDITOR: Fran Berrios

EDITOR: Bob Schreck

As Batman stands at his parents’ grave he wonders what his life would have been like had his parents lived. The Phantom Stranger arrives to answer that question. While he can’t alter time he can show Batman a timeline where Bruce Wayne didn’t lose his parents that night, a neighbor warning police about the man in the alley. As Gotham gets worse Thomas worries more about what could happen to Bruce (if only you knew, Tom) and decides to move his family to Europe, just as Selina starts doing a little cat-burglary there. She’s caught by Bruce but the two eventually fall in love and marry, having two sons. Bruce decides to return to Gotham and move Wayne Enterprises back to the city it came from, which doesn’t make his dad happy as he’s still worried about his son, daughter-in-law, and grandsons. Still they have a good life. It didn’t go so well for the rest of the Bat-Family though. Dick is raised by the circus but can’t return to the trapezes and ends up falling in Zucco, Tim ends up working for the Joker after Harvey, not Two-Face but suffering from a split personality, kills his dad, and Barbara is the only cop Gordon can count on. All these events converge one night when Bruce goes to check the build site for the new Wayne Enterprises building and stumble on the aftermath of Joker trying to take down Zucco. Between Dick’s conscience and Tim’s (neither wants to kill anyone) a bomb ends up blowing up Gordon’s car, killing one of the last two good cops in Gotham. Batman decides it’s time to go home and get back to work.

What they got right: A hero is more than the things he or she does. It’s what they bring to other people. We see what Bruce’s life might have been but before further mourning what he’s lost, Batman’s first thought is to how the rest of Gotham City and his friends are. Even in the alternate timeline, Bruce still wants to make Gotham City better even though he hadn’t been there since he was a boy. We also see that fate will always bring him and Selina together (take that, Tom “Batman needs his pain” King!). We also see what Gotham would be like without Batman. Barbara would still become a good cop because of her father’s influence but her father is killed, leaving her the only uncorrupt cop in the city. Dick and Tim also don’t benefit from being raised by Bruce and becoming Robin, thus no Nightwing as well. I could do a full analysis on this comic and I may well come back to this in a Scanning My Collection article in the future. I also like how The Phantom Stranger has trouble not calling Batman “Bruce Wayne” in costume. Sure, nobody can see them as they travel through the alternate Gotham, but it’s weird for Bruce.

What they got wrong: While we shouldn’t know the Joker’s life before that night, his transformation to the Joker is tied to Batman, which may be at least part of why he’s obsessed with Batman. Yet here he’s still the Joker. Penguin is mentioned, maybe have Tim fall in with him. It is also an odd coincidence that Catwoman, who operates in Gotham, just happens to be robbing the Waynes in Paris. But like I said, they’re fated to be together.

Recommendation: Like I said, I need to do a Scanning My Collection article on this book in the future. Even with everything I wrote here there’s more get into. This is easily one of my favorite Batman stories and alternate reality Bat-tales. I very much recommend this to any Batfan, although they may be confused by Tim’s DCAU origin.

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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