WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the DC Ink original graphic novel Gotham High by Melissa de la Cruz and Thomas Pitilli, available now.
Over the years, there have been many different versions of Bruce Wayne, whether it’s in comics, video games, television or even on the big screen. From David Mazouz’s young Bruce Wayne on the Fox series Gotham to the recent re-imagining of the Caped Crusader’s origin in the DC Zoom graphic novel Batman: Overdrive, many creators have provided individual takes on the character. Throughout most of these different interpretations, there is one constant: Bruce Wayne is Caucasian. That makes sense, because it’show he was originally introduced in 1939’s Detective Comics #27.
This is perhaps why the new DC Ink original graphic novel Gotham High is such a milestone. Readers are introduced to yet another version of Gotham and the characters that inhabit the city — and it changes things in a big way. In fact, in Melissa de la Cruz and Thomas Pitilli’s graphic novel, we are introduced to an Asian-American Bruce Wayne.
There are multiple changes to the Batman mythology in Gotham High, which positions Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle, Joker and some other characters as students in the same high school. After being expelled from a prestigious school for the wealthy, Bruce arrives at Gotham High, where he reunites with his childhood friend Selina Kyle and becomes best friends with Jack Napier. Already, it’s clear this is a complete re-imagining of the Batman universe, as de la Cruz and Pitilli use what readers know to create something familiar but entirely new.
Nowhere is this more clear than in Bruce Wayne himself, a rich and brooding orphan who is resourceful, smart and still reeling from the loss of his parents. The biggest difference here is that Bruce is the son of the American Thomas Wayne and a Chinese woman from Hong Kong. Although she was already rich and powerful in Hong Kong, Ma-sha Dean changed her name to Martha Wayne after marrying Thomas. Together, they had a son but, unfortunately, they were tragically murdered after a night at the theater, leaving their son Bruce an orphan.
It’s a big change for the character’s backstory and it makes the usually white Bruce Wayne suddenly more accessible and identifiable to a whole new generation of fans. This is a re-imagining that was long overdue — one that may open the door to even more different interpretations, whether in other comics or in live-action.
Yet, while this change is undoubtedly a big, significant one, it’s important to realize it doesn’t alter who Bruce Wayne is, as a person. Although he’s young in the book, he’s already proven he is a capable fighter, a budding detective and as suspicious and smart as he’s always been. This is still the Bruce Wayne we know. But he’s also different.
In Melissa de la Cruz and Thomas Pitilli's original graphic novel Gotham High, readers are introduced to an Asian-American version of Bruce Wayne.