Clip from the trailer for Gotham, premiering on Fox
Again and again and again I've shown you throughout June(s) the murder of the Waynes, which, despite leading to one of the greatest heroes of all literature, reminds us of this universal truth: there is no hope in Crime Alley.
Panels from Detective Comics #574 (May 1987), script by Mike W. Barr, pencils by Alan Davis, inks by Paul Neary, colors by Adrienne Roy, letters by Richard Starkings
One more time for this June, here's the paradigm-setting death sequence this time, from one of my favorite Batman comics. Detective #574.
What's different in this telling from many others, is the appearance of a Batman supporting character. She's on the scene immediately following the murder of the Waynes: Dr. Leslie Thompkins, whose introduction in 'Tec #457 (I spotlighted this ish last year on June 26) established her comforting Bruce. Here she is again, an angel in the night.
The addition of Leslie as being present the night of the shooting is perhaps the last major new addition to the Batman's origin night following the retcon (in Batman: Year One, I think) that Alfred Pennyworth was in the Wayne's employ during that period rather than joining Bruce and Dick after they'd already become the Caped Crusaders. Barr and Davis fill in her background further in this issue. Note the no-longer-Zagat's-rated "Chez Gotham" restaurant in the first panel of this story, above. The building has been renovated and repurposed, thanks to the contributions of billionaire Bruce Wayne, to the Thomas Wayne Memorial Clinic, from which Dr. Leslie Thompkins practices medicine for the lower-class citizens of Gotham's inner city.
A clinic into which Batman bursts, on a cold dark rainy night not unlike the one his parents died, with the near lifeless body of Robin.
Since this Boy Wonder is Robin II aka Jason Todd, modern-day readers encountering this tale for the very first time and out of context might jump to the conclusion that this story is the controversial and infamous Death of Robin. SPOILER ALERT: It isn't. Oh, and also SPOILER ALERT: Jason Todd eventually dies. But not in this issue. The full-page panel in Batman #428 that depicts the actual death is even reminiscent of the cover of 'Tec #574.
Right: page from Batman #428 (Late December 1988); script by Jim Starlin, pencils by Jim Aparo, inks by Mike DeCarlo, colors by Adrienne Roy, letters by John Costanza
(Click picture to Robin-blows-up-real-good-size)
Speaking of dead Robins: 'Tec #574 also fills in an aspect of Leslie's personality that would become vital, if considerably over the top, in the much later saga of the death of Robin IV (Stephanie Brown): her frequent grumpy quarrels with Bruce over his methods...
...as well as her role as Bruce's foster mother during his childhood. I'm not certain whether this relationship has survived Flashpoint into the New 52, but I've always wanted to see more stories of Bruce's childhood with Leslie as his adult figure along with Alfred. At the very least she might teach him that reading Sherlock Holmes is fun, not homework.
It's scenes like this that are why I've chosen to devote the final night of There Is No Hope in Crime Alley once again to Leslie Thompkins.
Thanks to scenes like this, as far as I'm concerned, Leslie Thompkins is as vital and essential a part of the Batman mythology as Robin, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, or Fatman.
Splash panel from "Batman Meets Fatman" in Batman #113 (February 1958), script by Bill Finger, pencils by Sheldon Moldoff, inks by Charles Paris
And she deserves every acclaim she gets. Leslie is the reason that there is...hope in Crime Alley.