Legends of the Dark Knight #16 has Scarecrow helping Bruce Wayne getting over his parents’ murders, but Batman isn’t happy with his treatment.
WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Legends of the Dark Knight #16, available now from DC.
The Wayne Family murders have been the driving force behind Batman for decades. Bruce has used the pain, guilt and injustice to turn himself into the Dark Knight, a raging symbol that won’t ever stop fighting for the downtrodden. However, that trauma has wreaked havoc on his emotions and mind in very unhealthy ways. Still, Bruce needs the angst to keep him in action as the Dark Knight.
However, the Scarecrow wants to change that in Legends of the Dark Knight #16, by Yedoye Travis, Nina Vakueva, Ivan Plascencia and Ariana Maher. In that story, Scarecrow forces Bruce to get over Crime Alley, but Batman is furious and left trying to save the memories of his parents’ deaths.
This story finds the Waynes in Crime Alley but as they’re about to be shot, the Caped Crusader swoops down and stops the murders. He assaults the gunman and protects little Bruce, but as Batman wakes up on a couch in a dilapidated home, he can tell something’s wrong.
The Scarecrow has invaded his mindscape and is manipulating his memories, as he soon learns. The villain enters the room with tea, laughing at Batman’s attempts to use gas grenades on him, as he’s already disarmed him. Instead, Crane hosts a therapy session to discuss Batman in the aftermath of his cure, and how he’s coping getting over the trauma.
Scarecrow used melatonin to create a new toxin that targets traumatic memories, and Batman is his guinea pig, as the drug effectively erases his most traumatic memory. Scarecrow is enjoying the experiment as Bruce can feel the anger fading, which means he’s losing a major part of the motivation to be a vigilante and one of his formative experiences. He needs the weight of the Crime Alley murders to be there as an engine, whilst Crane knows this cure could be what officially takes Batman out of duty.
This all results in Bruce racing home to have Alfred reverse-engineer the toxin in his bloodstream. He has to let the murders play out like always, reliving them, will push him and keep him going.
While he and Alfred are able to partially undo the t0xin’s effects, it ends with Bruce recreating the murders and actually having a sentimental moment with his kid self in his memory. The boy rests his hand on the Bat’s head and consoles him over how sad this all is. As they embrace next to the parents being killed, it’s clear the tragedy is toxic, but essential to Bruce being Batman.
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