This year will mark the 100th anniversary of the Dark Knight, and to celebrate the iconic comic book character’s centennial, several publishers have come together to create an anthology of stories set in the Batman universe. Titled Who Killed The Batman? The Great Batman Mystery Hoax, the collection of six stories will be published in June 2019, and while it will no doubt be exciting to celebrate the character’s legacy, it would be a shame if the world is misled about who the real killer is behind the titular crimes.
The Batman universe is an expansive world with a lot of characters and places. From the bustling streets of Gotham City to the cold, corporate halls of LexCorp, there are endless possibilities for stories set in the world of Batman. So who, exactly, is responsible for the heinous crimes that have come to be associated with the Dark Knight? While Batman’s arch-nemesis, the Joker, has always acknowledged that he is responsible for the crimes that the Caped Crusader seeks to punish him for, there are several other characters who have been fingered as being involved in the killings. Here is a list of the most plausible suspects, as well as a brief summary of their roles in the comics:
Although he is Batman’s archenemy, the Joker has never officially been accused of killing anyone. Batman first laid eyes on the clown prince of crime back in 1940, and the two quickly became friends and allies. The Joker quickly learned the value of being charming and intelligent, traits which he uses to his advantage to this day. He also became fascinated with Batman’s mask and developed a scheme to make his own suit of powered armor. The Joker’s fondness for the Batman costume eventually led to him emulating its wearer as he slowly took over the city in A.D. 20XX.
The Joker has been active for several decades, so it is hardly surprising that he has managed to rack up a string of murders to match Batman’s infamous tally. The most recent of which was an attack on the police officers who were investigating him for the murder of Thomas Wayne. He has also been responsible for numerous other unsolved homicides and kidnappings, including that of Harvey Dent, whose subsequent transformation into Two-Face is one of the defining tropes of Batman’s mythology. The Joker is a master of manipulation and tends to inspire terror in those he meets, so it is no secret that he would rather not leave prison, where he tends to bask in the admiration of his fellow inmates.
One of the most interesting aspects of the DC’s “New 52” reboot of their superheroes in 2011 was the introduction of a new Batman. While all the usual suspects were present in the comics, including the Joker, it was an aged and weary Batman who had lost a step and was battling alcoholism. The character was introduced in the pages of “Detective Comics” as the new Gotham City police commissioner, and it was clearly a character evolution for both Batman and Dent. Commissioner Dent was a no-nonsense law enforcer who had a zero-tolerance policy towards violent crime. He was, however, plagued by the Joker, who convinced many of Gotham’s thugs that it was time for a change and led them to invade Dent’s office, stage a coup, and replace him with the Joker. The Joker subsequently terrorized Gotham for years, holding court in the streets while Dent was eventually driven to despair before succumbing to his injuries and apparent poisoning. There are conflicting theories as to whether or not Dent was in fact murdered by the Joker, but it is quite clear that he is among the most hated and feared figures in Gotham City.
Alfred Pennyworth, the boy wonder who became Batman’s trusted confidante and loyal servant, first appeared in Detective Comics #33 (September 1939). He has been with the Batman ever since, serving as the detective’s butler and taking on various aliases to keep his identity secret. Alfred is also a talented hacker, and it was he who discovered the Joker’s true identity. But it was Batman who apprehended the criminal in the end and Alfred simply assisted in the interrogation. The two remain together to this day, with Alfred often acting as a consultant on matters relating to his employer and his many enemies.
Alfred might not look like your average butler, what with his bow tie and penchant for cracking jokes, but he is, in reality, one of the most important characters in the Batman canon. A faithful servant who stood by the hero even when he was at his lowest ebb, Alfred is a living example of humanity’s greatest virtues: loyalty and courage. He is also the guardian of Bruce’s secrets, having looked after him for most of his life. While he does not always get the credit he deserves, many consider Alfred to be the real genius behind the Batman mythology.
Like Alfred, Dick Grayson is one of the few constants in the Batman universe. Originating as Batman’s partner in crime, the younger Grayson served as the Caped Crusader’s sidekick for a while before assuming the role of detective. Like Alfred, he also took on various aliases to keep his true identity secret. While he is certainly not above using his wits to solve crimes and has the skills to match any rogue he tracks down, Grayson is known for his kind heart and loyalty to those he cares about. The most recent of which was demonstrated in 2018, when he went undercover as a prison guard to help save Alfred from captivity at the hands of the psychotic Killer Croc.
Like his father before him, the third Wayne son is now the proud owner of the Batman brand. Bruce Wayne, Jr. is the current caped crusader, having taken up the role following his father’s untimely death in August of 2018. The younger Wayne is an accomplished industrialist who inherited his father’s company, Wayne Enterprises, as well as his fortune and the Batman brand. He is currently in the process of renovating what is rumored to be his gotham mansion and restoring it to its former glory, anticipating his return to the role of Gotham’s dark knight.
Before Thomas Wayne became the Caped Crusader, he was an ordinary Gotham City police detective who made the mistake of getting too close to the truth. In the eyes of the public, Thomas Wayne is the classic picture of the hardworking Gotham City cop, having spent decades putting away the city’s underworld. However, in reality, his life was anything but ordinary and full of adventure. A master of disguise and a talented inventor, he created numerous gadgets and gizmos which he employed to track down criminals. Unfortunately, Wayne could never quite bring himself to accept the fact that he would never be able to solve his city’s crime problems on his own, and it was this tragic flaw which led him to take up the mantle of the Batman.
Wayne’s fateful decision to don the iconic Batman suit was not an easy one, and several of his closest friends and allies warned him that he was making a huge mistake. Even his police commissioner, at first, refused to believe in his self-sacrifice and doubted that Wayne would ever put his own life in jeopardy. In the end, it was Thomas Wayne’s brilliant daughter, Talia, who convinced her father that he was doing the right thing, and together they formed the League of Shadows to carry on the Wayne legacy.
When it comes to the identity of the true killer of the Batman, it is quite clear that there is no single culprit, but rather a host of individuals who have all played some part in the Dark Knight’s murder case. While the Joker’s fingerprints are on almost every one of the crimes, the fact that several other suspects have been mentioned shows that this is, in fact, a collaborative effort. This is not to say that one person is more responsible than another, but it would be a mistake to think that any of the characters listed here are innocent. As gruesome as the crimes committed by the Dark Knight may be, there is always a method to his madness.