- I don't deny that I pray for the day when no one will die from crime or injustice... when you and your kind are unnecessary... but until then, there is a need for you -- and I'm glad you're here to fill it.
Appearing in "My Beginning... and My Probable End"
- Alfred Pennyworth (Flashback only)
- Leslie Thompkins
- Martha Wayne (Dies in flashback)
- Thomas Wayne (Dies in flashback)
- Joe Chill (Flashback only)
- Demons (street gang)
- Gotham City Police Department
- Stakowski (Single appearance)
- Mad Hatter II (Mentioned only)
- Gotham City
Synopsis for "My Beginning... and My Probable End"In Crime Alley, two members of a gang called the Demons prepare to rob the Thomas Wayne Memorial Clinic. Batman arrives and scares them off, then kicks in the door. Leslie Thompkins threatens him with a baseball bat, assuming he is an intruder. Batman stands in the rain holding an injured Robin and asks her to help him. He explains that Robin was shot by the Mad Hatter. Leslie tells him there's a chance she can save Robin, but he has to stand back and let her work. Batman sits in the waiting room dwelling on his past.
He remembers the night his parents died. They were walking out of a movie they had seen twice. A man asked if Thomas Wayne had a match, then demanded his wallet. The mugger grabbed Martha Wayne's pearl necklace. Thomas put his hands up and demanded the mugger keep his hands off Martha, so the mugger turned and shot him. The mugger then shot Martha because she was screaming too loudly. Young Bruce tried to hit the mugger, but the mugger heard police sirens and ran away. He tossed his gun and it landed in the nearby bushes. The police arrived, and the Waynes were sent to the morgue. Bruce was taken in by Leslie Thompkins who became his foster mother.
Leslie tells Batman that Robin is stable, but he might not make it through the night. Batman tells her Robin is a fighter, and Leslie yells at him for endangering a child. Batman tells her that he didn't choose Jason for this "work," Jason was chosen by the "work" just as Bruce was chosen many years ago. Leslie says Batman is making his choices sound noble when really they are selfish and childish.
Bruce remembers the night Leslie took him home. She put him to sleep early and he snuck out to visit the cemetery where his parents were buried. He cried over their graves, then returned to the crime scene where they were murdered. Their blood was still on the ground. He found the mugger's gun in the bushes and kept it for himself.
Leslie tells Batman that she's always felt responsible for the way he turned out, even though she tried to shake him off his path. Batman tells her it was beyond her control. He also reminds her that he does a lot of other good besides fighting criminals, like supporting her clinic through the Wayne Foundation. Leslie tells him that Batman isn't the "real" him, and Bruce responds "it's the only me there is." She asks what his father would think, and Bruce tells her if he could know that then neither of them would be standing there. She points out that Bruce's life is empty, and he replies that so is Leslie's -- but they both have their "work."
Leslie recalls Bruce's education. In grade school he was suspended for beating up a bully who was "extorting" lunch money from the other kids. In college he changed completely. Bruce wanted to get the most out of higher education while still appearing to be an airhead playboy. He pretended not to pay attention in his lectures, but studied intensively in secret at night. When he needed to ask the professors a question he would create an elaborate disguise using the theater department and pose as a visiting student. When he needed to learn something too advanced for the professors he would break into the school after hours and do research. This was where he first learned stealthy infiltration. The school tried to expel Bruce Wayne at one point, so he simply donated a library.
Leslie asks him if he was lonely during those times. Bruce replies that he liked those times because he still felt like he could make a difference. Leslie asks him why he still does this if he's no longer sure. Bruce asks her why she runs her clinic patching up gang members and drug addicts. Leslie replies "because I have to" and Bruce explains that he is the same. Leslie asks "but what about you? What about Bruce Wayne?" and Batman replies he's not sure if Bruce Wayne even exists anymore. Bruce Wayne is just another disguise to him. Leslie tells Bruce to think of what he's doing to Jason, and Bruce replies that he's giving Jason an outlet for his rage instead of letting him feel lost like Bruce was at the same age. Despite this, Bruce expresses regret that he might have gotten Jason killed. He always assumed dying like this would be his "probable end" but hoped Jason wouldn't share the same fate. In a moment of weakness, Bruce wonders if there is still a need for Batman. Leslie tells him that she hopes for a day when there are no more deaths because of crime, but until then there is a need for Batman and she's glad that he's there. Robin wakes up. Batman tells him that he no longer has to be Robin after this, and Robin replies "are you kiddin', Bruce? We've got work to do."
- This issue is reprinted in the collected editions Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years and in Batman: The Dark Knight Detective Vol. 1.
- The first six issues of Mike W. Barr's run on Detective Comics (#569–574) have a strange position in continuity. It's clear that they take place in Post-Crisis continuity (following the Crisis on Infinite Earths), because the book switches over at the Legends crossover in #568. However, they were written prior to Frank Miller's reboot of Batman's origins in Year One and Max Allan Collins' reboot of Robin's origins in Batman #408. These stories are technically no longer part of Pre-Crisis continuity, but they're also missing some elements of the Post-Crisis reboots.
- This issue is heavily inspired by the story "There is No Hope in Crime Alley", written by Dennis O'Neil and first published in Detective Comics #457.
- This issue shows Bruce Wayne going back to retrieve Joe Chill's Gun after it bounced into the bushes during his parents' murder. This will become an important plot point in Batman: Year Two.
- This issue mentions that Leslie Thompkins was briefly Bruce Wayne's foster mother. Yet, because of the continuity inconsistencies mentioned above (in Notes), this should not be considered canon.
- Discuss Detective Comics Vol 1 574 on the forums
- Cover gallery for the Detective Comics series
- Images from Detective Comics Vol 1 574
- Batman Recommended Reading
- Batman (Volume 1)
- Batman (Volume 2)
- Batman (Volume 3)
- Batman and Robin (Volume 1)
- Batman and Robin (Volume 2)
- Batman Confidential (Volume 1)
- Batman: Gotham Knights (Volume 1)
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight (Volume 1)
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat (Volume 1)
- Batman: Streets of Gotham (Volume 1)
- Batman Incorporated (Volume 1)
- Batman Incorporated (Volume 2)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 2)
- Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 1)
- Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 2)
- The Brave and the Bold (Volume 1)
- Detective Comics (Volume 1)
- Detective Comics (Volume 2)
- Superman/Batman (Volume 1)
- World's Finest (Volume 1)