"My Brother's Keeper": Having just claimed that he is the long-lost brother that Bruce Wayne never knew he had - Thomas Wayne, Jr. - Lincoln March launches his powerful attack on the Batman, playing on the detective's need to foll
- Because Gotham isn't Batman. Gotham isn't the Owls. Gotham is... Gotham is all of us.
- -- Batman
Appearing in "My Brother's Keeper"
- Jim Gordon (Phone Call Only)
Synopsis for "My Brother's Keeper"
Having just claimed that he is the long-lost brother that Bruce Wayne never knew he had - Thomas Wayne, Jr. - Lincoln March launches his powerful attack on the Batman, playing on the detective's need to follow the clues to their conclusion. Despite the knowledge that March has subjected himself to the same treatment as the Talons, effectively rendering him immortal, Batman returns each of March's punches.
As he charges, smashing Batman through the weak walls of the condemned Willowwood Home for Children, March analyses the story that defines him - that he believes is true. Through time, stories like those of Romulus and Remus - brothers meant to share a fate but torn apart by greed - ended with the the greedier of the two leaving the forgotten brother to rot. This time, March will kill the greedy Batman, who was so proud as to think that Gotham City was his. He thrusts Batman through the outer wall of the building and into a free-fall to the ground below. Batman manages to wrap his grapple around March's neck and yanks him down after.
March's Owl armour is equipped with technology that allows it to fly, and instead of falling, he flies upward, dragging the Batman behind him. He offers a tour of the life that he saw denied to him from the windows of Willowwood. They fly past Crowne Tower, in whose shiny windows March could see the reflection of the imposing Wayne Tower. In the reflection now, they can see the entire city reflected as a reversed and unnatural version of itself. Angrily, March swings Batman into the mirrored walls of the building, shards of glass cutting him. March remarks that this experience would not be entirely unlike what he experienced when the two of them were in the car accident that forced his premature birth - if his claims about their shared parentage are true.
March explains how he grew up as a sickly mute with no inkling of his identity. Martha Wayne had visited the Home often, and from those visits, March had realized that she was his mother. When he saw her on television, he had a revelation that he was the son of the powerful Wayne Family. Meanwhile, the Court of Owls had begun whispering to him in the night, telling him that he was truly Thomas Wayne, Jr., and a son of the city. Even after the Waynes had been killed, March hoped that his elder brother would come and find him. As he waited and hoped, the quality of service at the Willowwood Home declined significantly. All the while that Bruce didn't come for him, the Owls did, and they saved him from the failing home.
March had then convinced himself that his brother had forced the memory of him out of his mind in order to have the whole city to himself. He convinced himself that the reverse city he had seen in Crowne Tower's reflection was his inheritance.
As he says these things, March drags Batman through the city, allowing his hanging body to smash into obstacles as they appear. Finally, he carries him up as high as an ascending passenger jet, dangling him dangerously close to the oncoming jet engine propeller. He intends to end it this way; watching the remains of the man he believes is his brother spray out the other side, and scattering them over the city that he thought he knew so well, but didn't know at all.
The rope looses from Batman's arm, and he grips tightly to the edge of the engine, trying to avoid being sucked in. March urges him to let go, but Bruce grits his teeth and hangs on determinedly. March mocks Bruce's neglect and arrogance in thinking that Gotham was his city, all while March himself had been rising in the ranks of the Court of Owls and preparing to become their king. Batman shouts back through the high winds that March ought to have been watching his back. Too late, March realizes that an explosive device has been planted on his shoulder, and it goes off moments later.
In March's absence, Batman struggles out of the engine and up onto the wing. Unfortunately, his grip slips, and he is sent plummeting down toward Gotham. From up there, he can see it all in relief, and it is beautiful. He recalls how Dick had always loved to travel to and from Gotham by plane, just for that view, and now Bruce can appreciate it as well. With that final image in his mind, Bruce prepares to let go - but he can't. The city calls him, and reminds him that there is still work to do.
Using a high-velocity batrope, Batman grapples onto the roof of one of the two unfinished towers he had planned for Gotham's urban redevelopment. Using his momentum, he swings through a window and onto an upper floor, only to find March there waiting for him. March grabs him up, planning to assure his death. He sets charges all throughout the building, intending to set them all off with both of them inside. March will survive it due to his altered physiology, but Bruce will not.
March recalls how the Court of Owls had planned for him to become the heir to the Wayne fortune after Bruce disappeared in the wake of his parents' death. Just as they were preparing to reveal Thomas Wayne, Jr. to Gotham, Bruce had returned inexplicably, and the Court was forced to reconsider. They invented Lincoln March and positioned him to become a man who could reclaim the city for them in a different way. He wasn't satisfied with being merely the Court's beak; he wanted the entire city in earnest. Now, he can never have it, but he has accepted that if he can't be the city's future, he will be its secret past - a past that will come back to haunt the Batman.
As the explosives go off, March hopes that Bruce will die knowing that he was nothing but a footnote in Gotham's history. And Lincoln March, the King of Owls is that history. Batman reaches up and gouges through the eyes of March's mask, shouting that March is history, as he breaks free and runs for his life. As he succumbs to the explosion, March shouts after him that he will always come back.
The tower is destroyed by the explosion, but after a sweep of the rubble, Bruce determines that there were no casualties. Lincoln March escaped. From the Manor, Bruce reports as much as he can without revealing his identity to Commissioner Gordon over the phone. He is interrupted by Dick, who claims to have come for revenge after being punched in the mouth, days previous.
Bruce updates Dick on his investigation into the Court of Owls. He has been following the money, but the Court's resources have proved to be staggering. He is sure that they are still out there hurting, and he hopes that they'll keep hurting until he comes for them. The captured Talons have been moved to a cryo-prison beneath Blackgate Prison, funded by Wayne Industries. As for March's claims that he is the lost heir to the Wayne Family - there was another Wayne child, but it had died within twelve hours of its premature birth. While it may have been possible that the baby survived and that the Waynes falsified the medical records, Bruce cannot believe that his parents would do such a thing.
There was also a John Doe baby that was admitted to Willowwood about a week after the birth of the Wayne child. Martha Wayne had also visited the home often - as she had with all of her charitable efforts. These things are all evidence that the Court could have used to convince Lincoln March that he was Bruce's brother, but in the end, there can be no surety of Lincoln's claims without a DNA sample. Even Lincoln's claims could have been part of some greater plan by the Court of Owls. It's still a mystery. For now, Bruce will have to let the mystery stand, but he will solve it.
Bruce is sure that his parents would have told him about his brother's survival, if it had happened. Dick will believe whatever Bruce believes, but he points out that the Waynes may have kept Bruce from a painful truth and carrying it as private pain, for his own good. After a pause, Bruce explains that though Dick was intended by the Court to become a Talon, he is sure that the boy never could have become that. As the Court had seen something in Dick back then, so too did Bruce. What Bruce saw then informs the man who Dick became. While Dick may have felt that Bruce saved him from a terrible fate, it was Dick who saved Bruce from his own darkness. Hearing that, Dick can't bring himself to punch Bruce, and will have to let it wait.
Dick asks after the fate of the tower project, and Bruce admits that he will rebuild it taller than before. His brush with the Court of Owls has actually invigorated him. He used to think of Gotham City as his or Batman's. He had initially started the renewal project for himself, and not the city, but now he sees that he was wrong. Gotham isn't Batman or the Owls. Gotham is all of its citizens, and Bruce is grateful to the Court for teaching him as much.
If the Court of Owls ever returns, though, he will be watching. Always.
Appearing in "The Fall of the House of Wayne: Conclusion"
- Jarvis Pennyworth (Dies in flashback)
- Talon (Flashback only)
Synopsis for "The Fall of the House of Wayne: Conclusion"
With his carriage house in flames at the hands of a Talon of the Court of Owls, Jarvis Pennyworth safeguarded the letter he had written for his son Alfred and smashed through an upper window to escape.
He remembered the accident that had occurred at the intersection of Lincoln and March; the accident that had caused the premature birth of Thomas Wayne, Jr. He remembered the screams and the blood the most. Martha had taken the brunt of the impact, shielding her son Bruce from danger. As a result, her unborn child, born early, was lost. From that point, she was consumed by sadness. Jarvis had even caught her speaking to her husband as if the child had survived, but she had covered it up when she realized he had heard.
To bring some closure to the issue, the family had planted a willow tree at the edge of the Wayne Family cemetery. It didn't work, and Thomas and Martha decided to leave the country for the summer, to heal away from the city. Even at that time, it seemed to Jarvis as though young Bruce had forgotten the trauma already. Jarvis himself hoped that he could forget as well, and experience life as joyfully as he once had. But the threats that the Waynes had received on the day of the crash still niggled at the back of his mind.
On the day of the letter's writing, Jarvis received another call. The voice on the other end warned him that his attempts to spare the Waynes resulted in the closure of the school Martha had been planning, not to mention caused the death of her child. Now, they had targeted him and his family. Angrily, Jarvis warned the voice away from harming his son, leaving the phone off its hook as he rushed off to write his letter.
After jumping out of the carriage house window, the Talon caught up with Jarvis. He had warned his son in his letter not to come to Gotham; to think on it with fear. The grounds of Wayne Manor were cursed in his mind, and they should be so for his son. Unfortunately, as the Talon ended Jarvis Pennyworth's life, his letter burned in the flames spreading across the grounds.
In the present day, Alfred lays a bouquet of flowers on his father's grave, remarking to his ward Bruce that his father would have discouraged the love of botany that brought about the flowers' growth. None of his father's preparations could have succeeded in preparing Alfred for the life that he would lead serving Bruce Wayne.
Bruce understands that Alfred's bout of nostalgia is the result of his having found the Pennyworth name in the Court of Owls' labyrinth. He promises that they can learn the truth about Jarvis' death together, but Alfred isn't interested. As big as the mystery surrounding Jarvis' connection to the Court may be, it is enough to know that the Batman has made efforts to bring the Court to justice.
Alfred recalls how he had come to Wayne Manor and found it under a cloud of darkness. The accident loomed heavily over the Wayne family during that first year, but Alfred's own tenuous connections with his father were enough to make him uncomfortable. He had felt as though his father's ghost was haunting him; warning him of something he never could express. Alfred has spent his life trying to gain a sense of who his father was, and he has no desire to actually dig up the man, and find out.
As far as Alfred is concerned - whether Jarvis Pennyworth was murdered by the Court, or whether Lincoln March is Bruce's brother - for the time being, they ought to let their long-lost kin rest undisturbed.
- This book was first published on July 11, 2012.
- Jarvis Pennyworth's remark that he had caught Martha Wayne talking as if the child had survived is yet another hint to the possibility that Lincoln March is Thomas Wayne, Jr.
Lincoln March returns in Batman Eternal #51
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