|December 4, 2012|
Wayne of Gotham is a novel by Tracy Hickman and is about the fictional superhero Batman. The book was published on December 4, 2012. A GraphicAudio audiobook was recorded in 2013.
The book is set in two time periods: Batman in the main narrative set in present day, and the story of Thomas Wayne set primarily in 1957-58.
In 1957, Thomas Wayne arrives at the Koffee Klatch coffee house, where he meets Martha Kane at a party. He meets her friends, including Lew Moxon, son of mob boss Julius Moxon. When he takes a passed out Martha home, Thomas wonders why she can't love him like he loves her. Thomas meets with his father, Patrick, at Wayne Tower, where he lays down his disdain over Martha Kane's friends, demanding that he learns to be the predator and not the prey, before kicking him out. Thomas sets up an interview to see Dr. Ernst Richter, as he is very interested with his experiments. Thomas shows Richter their new laboratory inside Arkham Asylum. With everything set, they begin work creating a sociological virus against human desires for crime, corruption and evil.
In 1958: Martha rushes into Wayne Manor and tells Thomas that Denholm Sinclair, a man she was interested in, was arrested but doesn't know why. Thomas doesn't tell her Denholm's crimes of embezzlement, arson, and murder at the Kane Foundation Orphanage, but says he'll try to help him. In actuality, Denholm is taken in as their new test subject. As months pass, Denholm along with 3 others are tested with the virus; as they all start deforming and increasing in strength, becoming monsters, they break out and kill Richter. Thomas finds him and freaks out, calling his butler Jarvis Pennyworth for help, who personally “cleans it up” using his OSS and SOE skills. Throughout the year, the 4 subjects become Gotham's vigilante group, The Apocalypse, consist of Fate, Reaper, Chanteuse, and Disciple. Hunting down criminals, the mob, and anyone in the middle. This leads all of Gotham's gangs to join forces in an attempt to trap and kill the Apocalypse at the amusement park, only to suffer heavy losses, leaving both Julius Moxon and his right hand man Salvatore to escape.
At the manor, Thomas sets up his costume for the party at Martha's house, a "Bat-Man" outfit, when he is confronted by Denholm aka Disciple. He thanks him for fixing him, and reveals Julius is going to Kane Mansion for his help, and plots to kill him. Thomas pleads but Disciple knocks him out. At the Kane Mansion, "Thomas" is greeted by the elegant masquerading wearing Martha when Salvatore and six armed men arrive demanding for Thomas Wayne to fix Julius. The real Thomas enters the ballroom unseen, when Lew tries to calm everything down as "Thomas" attacks him and fights the gang, leaving the party-goers in awe. Thomas helps Julius recover when Disciple appears wanting to kill Thomas, and Thomas leads him to the cave underneath Wayne Manor in hopes of trapping him. He finds Patrick Wayne's old shotgun and Thomas fires at him, emptying the shells and ultimately killing him. But Thomas doesn't realize what just happened as his blood spills into the Gotham River...
In present day, Batman chases down victims controlled by the villainess Spellbinder to commit crimes, one of them being Commissioner Gordon. After subduing them all, he discovers Spellbinder is actually being controlled by forces unknown, and finds the dummy Scarface that gives him an invitation card for a party held at Bristol, where Wayne Manor is, alerting him that someone knows who is behind the mask. Returning to the Batcave in the Batmobile, Bruce Wayne thinks over how things have changed: he's pushing 50, and not longer in his prime; and he has since abandoned his playboy persona to become a Howard Hughes-inspired recluse. By morning, as he thinks about the card, Bruce finds himself in his mother's gardens where he discovers a woman who has somehow trespassed into. Pretending to be the manor's gamekeeper, Gerald, he learns the woman, Amanda Richter, intends is to warn Wayne. He helps her to the front of the grounds where she calls Alfred Pennyworth through the intercom, and Bruce notices how alert Alfred's voice is when she reveals her name, and goes back to the cave. Scanning the card, he discovers it contains data: a missing file related to his parents' deaths. It is a witness report by Marion Richter, Amanda's sister, claiming Thomas and Martha Wayne were killed due to his business with their father, Dr. Ernst Richter; followed by an interview with Alfred knowing the Richters, but denying anything else. Bruce reopens the case of his parents' deaths.
Batman meets up with Gordon, who reveals that Spellbinder's victims each got a card designed for memory tampering, made by deceased cultist Doctor Moon. Batman heads to Dixon College, where Moon's Cultists resided. After fighting the group of sword wielding assassins, Batman finds the body of Moon, with letters in his hand from Thomas Wayne to Ernst Richter about his obsession with Richter's work, but the pages are missing. He meets with Alfred to ask about his knowledge of Richter, but claims to not know anything. Bruce finds Amanda at Curtis Point park. Using his Gerald persona, Amanda reveals her father, Ernst, lived and died at Arkham Asylum; then her story becomes weird when she reveals her name is actually Marion, and screams at Bruce by calling him Thomas, and accusing him of their nightmare before collapsing. He takes her home where he is greeted by her nurse, Ellen Doppel. She reveals Amanda is actually Marion, but with a split personality of Amanda, claiming to be her ghost who wants revenge.
Batman looks up that Richter was brought in through the OSS, cementing the connection between the Richters and Pennyworths even more. He looks up the file on Denholm Sinclair, learning about the Kane Foundation Orphanage arson, and roars the Batmobile to that destination. Investigating inside, Harley Quinn unexpectedly reveals herself and a chase begins just as the orphanage explodes into flames. Batman grabs Harley through the destruction, and drags her underneath Arkham to meet up with Gordon until she breaks free. Chasing her, she leads him to the laboratory that belonged to Thomas and Richter. Batman finds Richter's diary, and reads about the subjects' escape back in '58. Batman realizes he's being watched, and temporary shuts down the camera to grab evidence before finally taking Harley to Gordon. Batman goes back to the lab and hides. Nurse Doppel arrives for the book and Batman confronts her. She reveals she'd been instructed by Marion/Amanda to come and get the book, and pleads to him that she's been controlled by evil forces. Telling her to follow her instructions like normal, Batman heads back to the Batmobile and looks over the letter he grabbed from the lab, while realizing from these recent events that he never actually knew his parents. Reading the letter written by Thomas, he learns about the Apocalypse group; learning they lasted a full decade, ending a few years before his parents died. Batman realizes Doppel is heading to the home of Lewis Moxon and his daughter, Mallory, his childhood friend.
Bruce meets Mallory inside her home, and wants her help to talk to her father about his father's past and the Apocalypse group. Mallory says the Apocalypse isn't something to speak to her father of, while taking a call that she got the book. Bruce checks who called her and is surprised to hear Alfred's voice. He heads back to the Batmobile, only to see it getting towed by The Joker's gang. Bruce knocks one out to disguise himself as one of them as they reach the Joker at his lair, who stole the Batmobile to lure Batman. Bruce sneaks inside the Batmobile and uses his jet to break free from its binds. Joker and his gang come at him with RPGs while the Joker controls the trains. Bruce defeats the gang and survives Joker's explosive attack, and heads home. Bruce confronts Alfred at the manor, and Alfred reveals that he's known what Thomas and Jarvis had done years back since 1967, around the time his father died and he took over for the Waynes. He also reveals that the Richters have always tried to blackmail them for years, and it is only now that Bruce knows about it. Bruce shows Alfred where tonight's party is located: the condemned Kane Mansion. Alfred pleads for Bruce not to go, and Bruce fires him.
Batman arrives at the Mansion and sees various dancing mannequins in the ballroom. He sees Marion/Amanda dancing until she disappears, then the tape of Thomas Wayne's testimony on the night of the 1958 costume party is played just as Batman is attacked by numerous killers. Batman climbs to the ballroom's dome and detonates it; the debris traps the mannequin assassins while Batman saves Marion/Amanda, grabs Thomas Wayne's testimony tapes, and returns to the Batcave. Bruce finishes the tape where Thomas reveals he killed Disciple, but his blood went into the Gotham river, heightening the chances of infecting many from contact. Bruce answers a call from Nurse Doppel about Marion/Amanda, until he realizes he's not at home at all.... Bruce wakes up alongside Amanda at the Academy Theater, the same one he, Thomas and Martha were the night of the latter two's deaths. Bruce escapes just as footage of the 1958 costume party plays, followed by NEWS ON THE MARCH on Thomas Wayne saving lives from the German Measels, a lie Bruce now knows as his father was trying to cure those from his virus. He heads out to Crime Alley, where Nurse Doppel appears and shoots him. Dying, Droppel reveals to Bruce that she is Marion, and that “Amanda” is the real Nurse Doppel, with the late Amanda's memories implanted. She explains she wants him dead as his family took everything from hers, and she took control of any villain she could catch to show him his family's dark past, as he carries the sins of his father. The real Nurse Doppell arrives, and remembering who she is, kills Marion. Bruce seemingly dies.
Six months later: Alfred and Gordon talk at the Wayne Mausoleum, talking about the funeral held for Bruce and what kind of man he was. Once Gordon leaves, Batman reveals himself to Alfred; deciding to stay dead as he always felt he was when his parents were killed. He asks if they ever truly know their parents, and Alfred believes its best to known them from how we remember them, not for who they truly were.
Eric Garneau wrote that "there are a few nice things to be said about Hickman's writing. The story alternates between the present and the past, and it does so in a way that we see events unfold for Thomas and Bruce in a parallel fashion; one timeline colors the other. It's a common device, but Hickman uses it well."
Robert Silva said that "Wayne of Gotham is not a bad book", he said that the novel was not the story he was expecting. He wrote: "When I buy a book with Batman on the cover I expect to read about Batman for a majority of the book, which was not the case with WOG. Although Thomas is a great character to follow, Batman is why I'm here and I felt that his story fell a bit flat." Finally Silva gave the book six out of 10 points.
USA Today gave a generally favorable review, saying, "Wayne of Gotham might be a Batman story, but by the end of it, the only guy you want to spend extra time with is the Dark Knight's dear old dad." The review praised the novel's insight into Bruce Wayne's thoughts, saying that "Hickman gives him little smirks and shows insight into his problem-solving mind-set," but said that the real strength of the book is fleshing out the character of Bruce's father.
Salt Lake City's Deseret News had a more negative view, criticizing the book for "veering off in a direction that is seemingly completely unsupported by current comic book arcs." The novel is mostly focused on new characters, rather than familiar faces from the comic book: "A risky move, this stands to earn him praise from those who find the new territory refreshing and interesting, but criticism from fans who pick up a Batman book with certain expectations." Ultimately, the review found that "this novel doesn’t satisfy as much as other Batman novels, comics and films and is too distracted by a newly crafted history, slightly cheesy 1950s dialogue and somewhat repetitive exposition."