Scions of the Dark Knight:

An Expansion of the Wayne Family Tree

by C. Richard Davies.

I: Bruce Wayne, Sr

While chronicles of the adventures of Bruce Wayne (or rather, the Bat-Man) would not be published until 1939, it is clear that he had begun his war some time before that. Even the first story, "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate" opens up in media res where his career is concerned; Commissioner Gordon is shown discussing the activities of the mysterious figure with Wayne, who is affecting the role of an idly rich nincompoop.[1]

So it is not really a question of whether or not the Bat-Man had been active before that point; the only question is how long had he been doing so. One key piece of evidence is a drawing of a man wearing a winged, bat-like costume, apparently inspired by similar drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, and very similar to the costume which the artist, Bob Kane, later created for Detective Comics. But this drawing is dated 1934.

Since we know that Kane and Wayne were distantly related, it's not impossible that Wayne (who was only seventeen years old at that point) let him in on his plans for a war on crime, so that Kane could contribute his artistic talent to the creation of an image to terrify the cowardly and superstitious criminal lot.

We can only wonder about Wayne's adventures in these early years, before he became well-known enough for the police to admit his existence, but they aren't really the focus of this article. Instead, this observation is included to reiterate the following point: events which appeared in the published accounts of this family may have ocurred significantly earlier than their publication.

II: Dick Grayson

The facts of Dick Grayson's parentage have been told elsewhere; this article has nothing to add to it but the author's belief that Wayne was unaware of his relationship to young Dick at the time of the Grayson murders. It is the author's conviction that if Bruce had known that he had a son at that time, nothing would have stopped him from acknowledging Dick as his child and adopting him -- not the shame the revelation of the affair would have brought on his family name, not the legal difficulties, perhaps not even Dicks' wishes.

As this did not happen, it does not seem likely that Bruce realized that Dick was his own son until after younger man was grown, if then. Dick remained a teenager in the comics for nearly thirty years after his introduction; in the real world, however, he grew to manhood and went off to college in 1949, exactly as Superman & Batman: Generations portrayed him.

And it is at that point we will momentarily leave him.

III: Bruce Wayne Jr.

Bruce Wayne Jr. was born in early 1950 to Bruce Wayne Sr. and and his first wife, Kathy Kane. And that fact requires elaboration.

Kathy Kane was a cousin to Bruce Wayne, a somewhat closer cousin -- no pun intended -- than their mutual kinsman, Bob Kane. (She was the granddaughter of Bruce's maternal grandfather's younger brother.) Independently wealthy, she decided to pursue a life of thrills by imitating the Bat-Man as Batwoman. Eventually, the two crimefighters admitted to a mutual attraction for each other and were married.

The adventures of Batwoman (and her protege Betty Kane, aka Batgirl, of whom more later) were not revealed until 1956, and the fact that she married Wayne was not revealed until 1960 -- and then it was only stated in an "imaginary story" alleged to be set in the future. (Shades of May-Day Parker.) The reasons for this obfuscation are fairly obvious. While Bruce Wayne enjoyed the confusion that the comic book accounts of his life provoked in the criminal underworld, he would not for one second have permitted any truths about his home life to be published where someone could deduce his actual existence. He had lost his parents to violent crime; he woud do whatever he had to do to protect his wife and son.

But then why did Kathy Kane appear in the strip at all? The answer is complicated and does not cast a pleasant light on Bruce, but the truth must be told.

Kathy Kane entered the lives of Batman and Robin in 1946, nearly ten years before her first published appearance. And by the time the stories about her were written and drawn, the marriage was over, having ended in divorce. As noted above, Bruce wanted to protect his family from the violence of the world; as noted above that, Kathy wanted a life of thrills and danger. After she recovered from childbirth, it was her intention to return to action as Batwoman, alongside the Bat-Man, but Bruce refused to let her. What from his point of view were perfectly reasonable precautions seemed like shackles to her. Ultimately, he was forced to let her go; she may well have threatened to expose him if he did not grant her a divorce.

Bruce Wayne Jr. was probably only three or four years old when his parents separated. It's possible that the lack of an abiding love interest in his later life was due to a mild distrust of all women that he developed after his mother essentially abandoned him. But that may be too Freudian an analysis of the dynamics of this most Jungian family.

In any event, by 1956 the publishers of Batman's adventures were informed that it was now acceptible for them to include a Batwoman character in them, and provided with information about her. This permission did not come because Wayne wished his ex-wife injury (at least not consciously) but because he could use the stories to further obscure the truth: that he had married a second time.

IV: Helena Wayne

In 1955, while Bruce Wayne was attending the wedding of a former fiancee (one of several, both fiancees and weddings) he was subjected to a psychoactive gas designed by Johnathan Crane, a criminal who sometimes went by the alias "the Scarecrow". (However, Crane probably did not wear a costume which made him resemble a scarecrow; a descendant of Ichabod Crane, he would probably have been called a scarecrow even if he wasn't obsessed with fear and its effects.)

The attack caused Wayne to begin to have hallucinations in which he was alone in the world; this was perhaps his greatest fear, one which had its roots in early childhood and which had been exacerbated ty the end of his marriage. In his delusional state, he could not perceive his allies; his attempts to contact Grayson, Clark Kent and other members of the Justice Society went unanswered, at least from his perspective. Thus, he was forced to turn to an enemy: Selina Kyle, the Catwoman.

At that point, Ms. Kyle was jailed, but because Wayne regarded her as the most moral of his criminal nemeses (for she had never killed, to his knowledge) he used his connections to secure her early release in exchange for her help in defeating the Scarecrow. And she did help him, not only to face his enemy but to admit the real sources of his fears. There had always been an attraction between the two of them, as well ...

Selina was not driven by the competitive desires which drove Kathy from Wayne; her career and "adventures" had been motivated by the necessity of survival after she fled her abusive first marriage for a life in the underworld of the Middle East.[2] In contrast to that, a secure (if somewhat constrained) life as the wife of a billionaire must have seemed less like the promise of heaven on Earth than its fulfilment. She was a kind and good stepmother to her husband's eldest son, and when her daughter Helena was born in 1957, her happiness seemed complete.

And so it would remain for many years.

V: Rick Grayson

Dick Grayson was not an idle student, but he wasn't an ideal student either. He was compelled to hide his considerable intellectual and physical gifts from the world in order to minimize the possibility that someone might identify him as the fictional character whose name he bore. Furthermore, he was forced to pull many all-nighters during his college years in order to fight crime or weird menaces, instead of using those all-nighters to do homework and write papers.

Thus, it should surprise no one that the four year program on which he embarked (Bachelor of Arts, major in Sociology, minor in Psychology) took him eight years to complete. Thus, he graduated from college in 1956, but we next hear of him when he returned to Stately Wayne Manor in 1959. Three missing years thus ensue. While it is possible that Dick engaged in some post-graduate work, his lack of academic discipline (as his professors would have seen it) may have kept him from such activities.

Instead, what seems to have happened is that, like his father(-figure), Dick Grayson seems to have stumbled into a brief and unhappy marriage with a member of the extended Kane family.

Betty Kane was the daughter of Kathy Kane's younger brother, who had married the grand-daughter of one Aaron Stemple of Seattle, Washington. Betty's older brother William[3] became one of the first agents of the Bureau of Investigation (the predessor of the FBI), but Betty was drawn into crimefighting in a much more direct manner when her aunt drafted her to serve as Batgirl, the "Robin" to her "Batman".

There had been some junior-league romance between Robin and Batgirl, but as Betty had not yet been thirteen years old when she met, nothing actually came of it. However, when as adults they met again, something sparked between them. Perhaps it was nothing more than the inevitable outcome of the repressed, almost monastic life that Dick had led up to this point. Whatever it was, it was enough to get them into bed together, and enough to lead them to the offices of a justice of the peace, and enough to keep them together for nine months ... but not enough to hold them together for much longer than that.

Richard Grayson Jr. (or Rick Grayson, as he was usually called) was largely raised by his mother, with few visits from his father. As Dick knew that he was eventually going to take on the identity of the Batman, and that his life would be dangerous not only for him but for anyone close to him, it seemed like the best thing.

VI: Bruce Wayne, Sr. (continued)

By 1959, Wayne had been fighting crime for a quarter of a century. He had long since avenged his parents, through discovering the identity of their killer and accidentally (or perhaps not...) setting in motion events that caused Joe Chill to be killed, and similarly destroying the crime boss who had hired Chill to do the deed. He was in his early forties, and retirement beckoned.

Dick became the second Batman, and Bruce Jr. soon followed his lead as the second Robin. Bruce Sr. watched their activities, either as a team, independently, or as members of the Justice League (in Dick's case) and the original group of Titans (Bruce was a founding member), and felt no regrets.

He had a wife who loved him, and a daughter to raise. He had all that he could ask for of life.

VII: Dick Grayson (continued)

In 1969, according to the second issue of Superman & Batman: Generations, the second Batman and Robin team once again battled the criminal known as Joker Junior. By the end of this adventure, this criminal was revealed to be the original Joker in disguise ... who managed to kill Robin. What had actually happened was that his latest trap claimed the life of Batman II (Dick Grayson), but in order to preserve the myth of the Batman's invincibility, Bruce Wayne Jr. switched costumes with his partner's corpse.

But is this really what happened? John Byrne, writing thirty years after the event, continued to embellish these long-suppressed stories with details from his own imagination, such as his identification of Supergirl as the daughter of Superman and Lois Lane, and the invention of a relationship between her and Bruce Wayne Jr. He may even have been under editorial commands to do so.

Considering parallels between events in the 1949 episode of Byrne's story and a story chronicled in a 1969 issue of Batman, it should surprise no one that a parallel to this story appears nearly twenty years after 1969: the storyline titled "A Death in the Family". The details change, but the essence remains the same -- the Joker kills Robin. But this storyline was unusual in that two versions of it were created. In one Robin died, and in another he lived. The editorial staff then asked their readership to vote to determine Robin's fate, having fixed things by making him into an unpleasant jerk whom the readers were already crying out to have removed.

Overwhelmingly, the readers voted for death.

But ignoring the morbidity of the situation, one fact screams for attention: in one storyline, Robin lived. This leads the author to the conclusion, based on the additional facts that an adult Dick Grayson continued to play a role in accounts of the Batman after the story in which he was supposed to have died, that he was still alive when Bruce Wayne Jr. brought him out of the chamber of death, having switched costumes.

Grayson was critically injured, probably comatose, his life dangling by the proverbial thread. But he also received the best medical care in the world (possibly even exposure to Amazon medical technology) and began a long, slow process of recovery. And Bruce Wayne Jr. had to assume the mantle of the Batman himself, much earlier than anyone had planned. Nor was this the last tragedy which would be visited on him during his career under the hood of the Batman.

By 1975, Dick had almost recovered from his crippling injuries, and it is possible that Bruce Jr. offered to return the Batman identity to him. But if so, Dick declined the offer. His reasons are obvious: while he had acquired a certain additional longevity in the 1940s, along with the most of the Justice Society and certain of their associates, his injuries had taken several years off his lifespan ... and he was already older than Bruce Sr. had been when he retired.

So, wearing a slightly more mature (and not coincidentally armored) costume, Dick became Robin again and served as a member of the Justice Society. He also finally finished his law degree, and served as a United States Ambassador.

VIII: Bruce Wayne, Sr. (continued)

In 1976, Selina Wayne was contacted by a member of her old gang, one "Silky" Cernak, who blackmailed her into returning to crime with photographic evidence that she had murdered a police officer. (This photograph was apparently doctored.) During the robbery which ensued, Selina Wayne was fatally shot and died in her husband's arms.

It was devastating -- not only to Bruce Wayne Sr, but also to his children. Selina had been part of the glue that bound the small family together, and with her absence everything began to fall apart, beginning with Bruce Wayne's complete withdrawal from public life. Comparisons to his distant relative, Charles Foster Kane, abounded.

Two years later, he sent a terse letter to the editorial staff of D.C. Comics, consisting of three words: "Kill me off." Any amusement he found in the adventures of his fictional counterpart had long since abandoned him. While the "current" adventures of Batman consisted of a mix of stories from the 1950s and more recent exploits of his son, a version which was closer to reality was being printed in All-Star Comics. It was there that the story of the death of his wife had been printed, but in that account Wayne went on to become a Police Commissioner. Perhaps it was all just too painful. Obligingly, a final "Earth-2 Batman" story was crafted, and saw print in Adventure Comics in 1979. Shortly afterwards, Wayne disappeared completely. Ms. Patricia Savage was allegedly one of the last people to see him alive, when he met her at a New York movie theatre where the filmic version of her late husband's career was playing. They had much about which to commisserate.

But after that there was nothing. His friends and relations made attempts to discover his wherabouts and activities, but half-hearted ones at best; they all knew that if a man of Wayne's talents does not desire to be found, he won't be found.

There were speculations that Wayne had begun a new war on crime, beginning with the Si-Fan. (His son had battled a minor agent of the Lord of Strange Deaths, one Ra's al-Ghul, and Wayne could not have been unaware of the career of Shang-Chi around this very time.) Others suggested other situations; he had been captured, and his DNA extracted to provide the basis for genetically enhanced super-soldiers. Some even speculated that he had perished at the hands of some young criminal unaware of who he was killing, even as his parents had died. But this seems unlikely; predators usually have a better sense of their prey than to attack something which preys on them.

This author does not know the truth, and until someone comes forward with better evidence, it will simply be stated that after 1979, the original Bat-Man passed out of history into legend.

IX: Helena Wayne (continued)

Helena's reaction to her mother's death was precisely what one might expect of a scion of the Dark Knight -- she sought to avenge. Yet another part of her motives must have been to justify her mother's criminal past to herself. Why else, one wonders, would she choose the nomme de guerre of the Huntress -- a name used by an earlier costumed figure who had been both crimefighter and criminal at various times?

Alone, she brought "Silky" Cernak to justice. She worked with her older brother on a few cases, even fighting a younger, more violent Catwoman who apparently had no relation to her mother.[4] She also joined the Justice Society, around the same time that Supergirl did.

In an attempt to maintain the fiction that the Justice Society and the Justice League existed on two different, parallel worlds, the authors of the Justice Society stories portrayed Supergirl as "Power Girl" -- using a different outfit and an even more different personality. In fact, the agressive personality which Kara exhibited as Power Girl was probably more due to her anger that she had never been invited to join the Justice League, of which her cousin was a member. Helena and Kara became very close friends during this period. Very close friends. But I digress.

In any event, Helena Wayne served as an honored member of the Justice Society (and also assisted its offshoot, Infinity Incorporated) for the rest of her life.

XI: Rick Grayson (continued)

Rick Grayson became a private investigator. During one of his first cases, around 1980, he was contacted by a mysterious being called Raven who guided him to form a new group of Titans (the original team having disbanded after most of its members grew up.) Despite his insecurities, which at one point led him to become a member of a religious cult known as the Church of Brother Blood, he proved to be a capable leader for this team, which he led under the alias "Nightwing".

It would seem that one of his descendants, Amanda Stemple Grayson, eventually married Ambassador Spock of the planet Vulcan. Ironically, this may not have been the first time that a member of the Grayson clan wed an extraterrestrial, for it has been alleged that Rick Grayson married the Tamaranian princess known as Starfire, and had a child who went by the name Nightstar Grayson. Whether this woman was the ancestor of Amanda Grayson, and indeed much else of Rick Grayson's life and career, remains uncertain at this time.

XII: Dick Grayson and Helena Wayne (continued)

Shortly after his fiftieth birthday, Dick Grayson decided to retire as Robin, and gave his blessing for Bruce Wayne Jr.'s protege Jason Todd to take the role. It was to be one of the last times he spoke civilly with his old friend.

In July of 1984, during the so-called Crisis on Infinite Earths, Dick Grayson and Helena Wayne were killed battling extradimensional invaders. There was not enough left of either of them, nor of Kole, the young member of Rick Grayson's Titans who had come to their assistance, to bury.

XIII: Bruce Wayne Jr. (continued)

In fairly quick succession, his step-mother was murdered, his father vanished, and his brother (in spirit, if not knowingly in blood) and sister were killed. There are also reports which indicated that his biological mother may also have been killed in the mid-seventies. Bruce Wayne Sr. and Dick Grayson were defined by their tragedies, but not over-powered by them. The same could not, unfortunately be said for Bruce Wayne Jr. He did what many people have done after suffering such repeated tragedies, and closed himself off from further relationships, driving away his remaining friends in order to protect them ... and to protect himself from the pain of losing them.

He'd left the Justice League in 1982 because he felt that they weren't doing enough, and formed a team of Outsiders. Shortly after the Crisis, he abandoned them when they chose to go their own way rather than his. Shortly after that, he severed his relationship with Jason Todd during the dark god Darkseid's attempt to destroy Earth's heroes, and bluntly refused any role in the new Justice League formed at that time.[5]

His decline continued through the 80s and into the 90s. At last, early in 1998, he finally recognized that he was on the verge of becoming what he most hated ... and quietly retired to his family manor, just as his father had before him.

XIV: And Beyond

Time passed. Bruce (with his father gone, and surely dead by now, no one called him Junior anymore) let control over his family fortune and the companies it supported pass into more corrupt hands.

Time passed. As cyberpunk authors had warned, governments continued to let the powers entrusted to them by their citizens slip into the control of multinational corporations who owed allegiance to no one.

Time passed. Some heroes rolled with these changes, as shown by Justice Incorporated, the newest incarnation of the Justice Society and League. But Bruce never even answered their call.

Time passed.

And a young man named Terry McGinnis met Bruce Wayne, and another scion of the Dark Knight was born ...


[1] It has been suggested that Gordon had deduced that Wayne was actually the Bat-Man, and that his attempts to capture him early in the series were merely pro forma; I suspect that it is more likely that Gordon knew that Wayne was much more capable than he appeared, not unlike the British Lord Peter Wimsey or the American detective Philo Vance.

[2] Kyle's years in Egypt were at one point of great interest to the adventurer known as Modesty Blaise, as they coincided with the time when the girl who became Modesty Blaise was born. Ultimately Ms. Blaise came to the conclusion that Kyle was almost certainly not her mother.

[3] The adventures of a counterpart of William Kane on a parallel Earth where magic was much more commonplace in the Twentieth Century were recounted by Robert A. Heinlein in Magic Incorporated. This may have been the same world chronicled by Piers Anthony in his Incarnations of Immortality series. Gotcha.

[4] It may have been this Catwoman who encountered Vampirella, many years later.

[5] He somewhat sarcastically suggested that they contact a colleague of his named Masefield who was beginning to return to his career as a crimefighter. They did. He was more than amenable to their offer, and was influential in seeing that the United Nations sponsored them.

Author's Notes

Again, it's all Al Schroeder's fault for slipping Tamaran and Nightstar into his Extraterrestrials article. While I liked the New Teen Titans as much as anyone -- well, maybe not as much as Devin Grayson -- I couldn't see the Robin/Nightwing who appeared there as the anonymous Robin III who featured in Win Eckert's timeline, or Bruce Wayne Jr. (shifting everything back about 10 years), or the original Robin. So I needed something else.

Also, I disliked the idea that Bruce Jr.'s mother was Selina Kyle, since as I point out, when Batman II and Robin II appeared in the original stories, Robin II's mother was Batwoman. So I came up with a workaround that would also let me have Selina Kyle as Bruce's eventual wife.

The "draft" Batman mentioned here was brought to my attention in Bob Kane's obituary.

Justice Incorporated is my own idea, and I may do something with them one of these days. Be patient.

Including Batman Beyond and a sneaky reference to at least one Batman-inspired character is a perk of the job, as is making lewd implications. I heartily recommend taking them where and when you can.

See also Al Schroeder's Wayne's World, or A Blue-Eyed Branch of the Wold Newton Family Tree.

Return to the Wold Newton Superhero Universe.