In the main DCU, Bruce Wayne became Batman when his parents Martha and Thomas were murdered in Crime Alley. But in the DC Omniverse, there's an alternate reality where Bruce was murdered and where his father, Thomas Wayne, became Batman in a 2011 event called Flashpoint.
But that Flashpoint world was seemingly destroyed when DC relaunched its universe with The New 52, although Thomas survived. Now beginning April 12 Thomas Wayne is going back home to find out how his universe survived, and if he can bring back his dead son with it.(opens in new tab)
Picking up the strands from the original event series by writer Geoff Johns is the new seven-issue comic book series Flashpoint Beyond.
The series begins with a Flashpoint Beyond #0 (opens in new tab) special written by Johns and illustrated by artist Eduardo Risso, who drew the 2011 spin-off series Flashpoint: Batman Knight of Vengeance (opens in new tab), and then will be followed monthly beginning in May by six issues through October co-written by Johns along with current Flash scribe Jeremy Adams and Teen Titans Academy (opens in new tab)'s Tim Sheridan, and illustrated by former Justice League artist Xermanico.
While in the original Flashpoint, Barry Allen the Flash was at the center of the story, Flashpoint Beyond stars the elder, darker Batman and other alt-reality versions of DC icons from his world.
Flashpoint Beyond will also bring together other worlds from DC's Omniverse, with characters from another Geoff Johns event series, 2017's Doomsday Clock (opens in new tab) which mashed up the core DC Universe and the world of Watchmen, joining the story.
Doomsday Clock's Mime and Marionette team up with Bruce Wayne Batman in preview pages of Flashpoint Beyond #0, which also show a few small details hint at larger connections to the DC Universe.
For one thing, Batman's chalkboard full of clues mentions "5G averted" - a bit of metatextual reference to DC's scrapped plans to reboot its universe again with younger characters. That plan has come to pass in a different form, with a recent focus on legacy heroes at DC.
Check out those pages here:
"This is for fans of big DC events and the great history of DC when it comes to comic books," Johns says in DC's announcement. "And even though this is an event, it's focused on character over concept – it's the story of Thomas Wayne Batman, a Barry Allen that could've been, the crimes of Bruce Wayne – it's a murder mystery, a secret mission and a look into the past, present, and future of the continuum of DC. And as dark as it can get in this upside-down world of Flashpoint, it's fun."
And on that note, here's a look at interior pages from May 3's Flashpoint Beyond #1 followed by a brief Flashpoint explainer:
What is Flashpoint Beyond?(opens in new tab)
In the 2011 Flashpoint event, Thomas Wayne/Batman helped the Flash figure out where their world went wrong and set right the events that produced this tragic variant timeline. They succeeded and set about the line-wide DC reboot 'New 52' which seemingly erased the Flashpoint reality, and the Thomas Wayne/Batman jumped to the main DCU reality for intermittent appearances in storylines such as the Batman/Flash crossover 'The Button (opens in new tab),' the recent DC event series Infinite Frontier (opens in new tab), and the current Justice League Incarnate (opens in new tab).
But in Flashpoint Beyond, we learn that the Flashpoint reality survived - and Thomas Wayne/Batman is even more shocked than we are. In the seven-issue series, he will return to the streets of his Gotham City to figure out the multiversal mystery of how his universe didn't die - and if there's some way to resurrect his dear, departed son Bruce.
Along the way, he'll find an apparent lead with a new serial killer called the Clockwork Killer, and this alt-Batman's pursuit of the villain will lead him to Aquaman, who in this reality is a domineering tyrant of an Atlantean empire - an empire that has conquered Europe.
And from the looks of the covers, the Flashpoint Wonder Woman will also be returning for Flashpoint Beyond.
"It's been a privilege, and incredible learning experience, to work with these talented writers, artists, inkers, letterers, colorists, and editors for this series," says Adams. "Talking story and character has been eye-opening, and the lessons will undoubtedly color everything I do from now on. I'm beyond excited that DC fans will get to go back to the Flashpoint Universe and experience a grounded mystery that will evoke serious philosophical questions while tugging at your heartstrings."
Also in the preview images is an easter egg appearance of '5G,' which is DC going a bit meta. '5G' is a term coined in 2019 that refers to a planned recalibration of the DC Universe to make all its various continuities, timelines, and universes fit with another that was at the center of months of rumors and speculation. Whatever DC's actual plans were eventually evolved, with DC opting to go with the less-restricting and timeline-specific DC Omniverse which began in Dark Nights: Death Metal #7 (opens in new tab).
Who is the Clockwork Killer?
There's no DC character (yet) named the Clockwork Killer, but given Johns' most recent big series Doomsday Clock (opens in new tab) (and its connection to Watchmen (opens in new tab)), the 'clock' motif connection here is unmistakable. Especially after it was revealed the Watchmen's Doctor Manhattan was behind the multiversal shenanigans that led to Flashpoint, and then the 'New 52.'
But there's also something else from DC's past this could be referring to - something a bit more off the beaten path.
In 2011, the DC series The Spirit featured a storyline called 'Clockwork Killer (opens in new tab)' - the very exact name of this apparent antagonist of Flashpoint Beyond. In the Spirit series by David Hine and Moritat, the 'Clockwork Killer' is a reference to a villain named the Professor who creates automatons with clockwork accuracy to kill his opponents. This shared name could be just insignificant… but can't be discounted just yet.
Flashpoint's connection to DC Comic and DC movies(opens in new tab)
The 2011 Flashpoint comic book event set the stage for the 2011 'New 52' relaunch of the entire DCU, and the Flashpoint series itself was adapted in the 2013 animated film Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (opens in new tab).
The upcoming live-action film The Flash is inspired by the Flashpoint event to some degree, although it remains to be seen how faithful an adaptation of the comic book storyline it will be and how much the multiverse concept will play in its story.
Regardless, the Flashpoint Beyond series is timed to conclude - and possibly released as a collection - just as the Flash movie hits theaters on November 4.
Flashpoint Beyond #0 (of 6) goes on sale on April 12.
Interested in the idea of Batman variants? Here's our list of all the other Batmans running around the DC Omniverse.