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Off My Mind: Was the Death of Batman's Parents the Result of a Simple Mugging?

Over the years there has long been question over the reason for their death. Is there finally evidence that there was an actual conspiracy over their murder?

Everyone knows the story of how and why Bruce Wayne became Batman. As a child, he and his parents were held up by a mugger, Joe Chill. When trying to claim Martha Wayne's pearl necklace, Thomas stepped forward and was shot and killed. When Martha protested, Chill shot her to shut her up.

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What always struck me as a little odd, and a point of conversation since the origin was revealed, why was young Bruce's life spared? Joe Chill was a cold-hearted killer. He was willing to commit double-homicide over a simple necklace. He shot and killed Martha, in front of her son, just to shut her up. It was usually said that he didn't have it in him to kill a kid. But leaving behind an eye witness doesn't make sense.

With elements of the history of Gotham City and other conspiracies introduced in the pages of Scott Snyder's BATMAN, is it possible that there was more to the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Does the introduction of the Court of Owls finally give us reason to believe this is true and Bruce was spared for a reason? There will be some minor spoilers for BATMAN #4.

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We've seen different stories with Joe Chill in the Silver and Modern Age. With the latest issue of BATMAN, we discovered that, as a child, Bruce couldn't accept it was a simple mugging.

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This thinking goes along with the idea of the Court of Owls. The secret organization dates back to the time of Bruce's great great grandfather, Alan Wayne. We've also seen that Alan was scared for his life in his final days. On the run, he claimed "they" were after him.

Mistaken for being senile and paranoid, his death was thought to have been an accident when he apparently fell in an open manhole.

Batman had Alan Wayne's remains exhumed and did some more investigating. He discovered that there were almost fifty tiny punctures in his bones, most likely made from throwing knives, the weapon of choice by the Court of Owls' killer, Talon. We also know that Talon has targeted Bruce Wayne and has mentioned it was nearly fifty years since he killed a Wayne.

The motives of the Court of Owls has yet to be revealed. For whatever reason, we know that Alan and Bruce Wayne have been targeted. The possibility that Thomas and Martha were also killed because of the Court's wishes now seems more likely. Except for the fact that their death was the result of an apparent mugging rather than being killed by Talon.

Unless they needed to make it look like a mugging. Why Bruce was left alive was so the Court could continue the hunt and killing of Waynes when he was a more worthy target.

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This could be a stretch. But the fact that the Court is making a point of killing Waynes says there could be some connection.

What does BATMAN writer, Scott Snyder, have to say on this possibility? Back in August, Scott mentioned on our podcast that he didn't want to change the killing of Thomas and Martha or Joe Chill's part in it. Does that mean it's the case? Does that mean someone else can't change or adjust the history?

Most likely the Court of Owls weren't a part of the killing. As for why they would overlook Thomas and Martha is unknown. It's possible the Court was waiting to make their move at a later point. Joe Chill could have confronted the Waynes before Talon could go after them.

This also brings up the question of what happened to Joe Chill? Some stories show that Batman later confronted him and revealed his identity to him, followed by other gangsters killing Chill for creating Batman. This 'story' may not be part of Batman's lore these days.

Regardless, the fact that Chill did not kill Bruce will remain an odd move in my book. He was willing to kill a mother in front of her child. He was as cold as his last name implies. Why would a cold killer be okay with killing a mom but not a child. Why would he allow an eye witness to remain. There has been retellings of this incident where young Bruce had a fire in his eyes that scared off Chill but that should have given him more of a reason to kill, out of fear.