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|First appearance||(Wrath I) Batman Special #1 (1984)
(Wrath II) Batman Confidential #13 (March 2008)
(Wrath II) Tony Bedard (writer)
Rags Morales (artist)
|Alter ego||(Wrath I) Unknown
(Wrath II) Elliot Caldwell
The Wrath is the name of two fictional comic book supervillains published by DC Comics. The original Wrath debuted in Batman Special #1 (1984), and was created by Mike W. Barr and Michael Golden. The second Wrath debuted in Batman Confidential #13 (March 2008), and was created by Tony Bedard and Rags Morales.
The Wrath's debut story was titled "The Player on the Other Side", published in Batman Special #1 (1984). The title was based on the essay "A Liberal Education and Where to Find It" by Thomas Henry Huxley (Although mistakenly attributed to Aldous Huxley by Bruce Wayne). It is also a reference to the Ellery Queen novel of the same name, as the story's author, Mike W. Barr is a renowned Queen enthusiast.
A Post Infinite Crisis legacy version of The Wrath debuted in the pages of Batman Confidential #13 in a story arc written by Tony Bedard, with Elliott Caldwell, the 'student' of the original Wrath, taking on his mentor's mantle.
The original Wrath
The first Wrath was a member of Batman's rogues gallery, where he served as a sort of anti-Batman. The Wrath's appearance and motivation are reminiscent of Batman's, but with notable differences. The Wrath (like Batman) is distinguished by perfectionism and obsession in what he does. His costume is also very similar to Batman's (though coloured in crimson and purple with a W-insignia on the chest and cowl; the W on his cowl, when seen in the right light and at the right angle, looks like the ears of the Batman's own cowl).
Wrath's parents were a couple of burglars like Joe Chill, the man who shot and killed Batman's own parents. They were shot by a young policeman who mistook them for committing a robbery (in actuality, they were crawling out of a window to "skip out" on paying their rent). Due to this, Wrath dedicated his life to a campaign of revenge against law and law-enforcers. As he had grown up, the burglars' son became a professional assassin. For years, he traveled the world to work as a gun for hire, later falling in love with Gayle Hudson, the daughter of an ex-mafia boss who hired Wrath to kill the people who killed her father after his retirement.
When Wrath finally returns to Gotham City, he comes to kill the man who had shot his parents. Wrath's target turns out to be Commissioner Gordon of the Gotham City Police which leads to Wrath coming into conflict with Batman. In the course of their impersonal battle of wits, Wrath learns Batman's secret identity as Bruce Wayne and proceeds to attack several of his friends; Alfred Pennyworth is hospitalized, and Leslie Thompkins is taken hostage by Wrath.
Wrath dies during his showdown with Batman, having been caught in a fire he himself triggered; one of his explosive capsules went off during a fight, and Batman's attempt to throw Wrath off results in Batman accidentally throwing Wrath into the fire. Wrath falls to his death before Batman could grab him.
In Wrath Child (Batman Confidential #13-16), several details of his origin are retconned. His father is now depicted as a corrupt cop who was robbing a warehouse with his wife and his son acting as a lookout. Gordon confronts them and, in a gunfight, kills the parents in self-defense. Wrath, whether delusional or simply lying to make himself seem like an innocent victim, claims that only his father was armed and Gordon shot to kill first, but in reality his father fired first and then his mother took up his father's gun, with Gordon's shots only being fatal because his aim was off due to his injuries. Abandoned by the cops in an effort to conceal the corruption— Gordon going along with the plan because then-captain Gillian Loeb threatened to kill the boy as the only witness if he talked— he becomes a hitman in hopes of "avenging his parents again and again". While preparing to assassinate Gordon, he studied Batman, initially planning just to dress like him to needle Gordon but coming to conclude that they were kindred spirits inspired by a similar disaster in their lives, duplicating Batman's costume and equipment to the extent that he began training his own "Robin", who went on to become the new Wrath.
It also retconned that the original story took place shortly after Dick Grayson became Robin (the original story was published the same year that Grayson became Nightwing), with Grayson missing the events because he was away at the time on an "educational holiday" (One of the various training missions Batman sent him on).
Sporting an all-purple costume, this Wrath, who Batman is convinced is a copycat from his first appearance, begins murdering police officers visiting Gotham for a convention and breaks in to Grayle Hudson's apartment. After a fight with Batman, during which he confirms he's not the original Wrath, he tells the Dark Knight to investigate Commissioner Gordon's actions on June 26 twenty five years ago— the same night Bruce Wayne's parents died. Upon another meeting with Batman, the second Wrath tells a distorted versions of the events that happened, saying Gordon killed the original Wrath's parents in cold blood, though Batman saw through this and realized that Gordon shot them in self-defense. His subsequent assessment of the old Wrath helps Batman determine the identity of the new one; as the original Wrath sought to duplicate all of Batman's methods, Batman concludes that the new Wrath must be the original's equivalent of Robin.
Batman and Nightwing, upon confronting the second Wrath for a final time, learned the new Wrath's real name was Elliot Caldwell, an orphan boy whom the Wrath trained to be his answer to Batman's Robin. Elliot was one of five orphans who the original Wrath kidnapped and trained, but Elliot was the only one who survived the training. Despite Caldwell's refusal to believe their claims and his subsequent efforts to continue fighting, he was stopped by Batman and Nightwing, whose teamwork and care for each other forced Caldwell to recognize that he had never had the same relationship with his master, and was sent to Blackgate Penitentiary, although he reflected that he would be ready to face them again in future now that his 'emotional weakness' had been purged.
The New 52
In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Universe following the events of Flashpoint), E.D. Caldwell, CEO of Caldwell Tech, appears as legitimate magnate trying to buy Wayne Enterprises. However when a series of policeman murders strikes Gotham, Batman uncovers him to be sociopath killer using the company to create an army of soldiers called Scorn and adopting the codename "Wrath". Issue 23 ends with Caldwell capturing Alfred Pennyworth and planning to murder him.
Upon rescue Alfred reveals the fruit of this revenge is because Caldwell's father has been murdered during a diamond heist by corrupt officers who then pocketed the diamonds. Helped by Gotham's City Police Department, Batman finally defeats Wrath. While in prison, Wrath meets with Ignatius Ogilvy aka The Emperor Penguin as both begin a partnership.
In other media
- Wrath appears in The Batman episode "The End of the Batman" voiced by Christopher Gorham. William Mallory and his brother Andrew Mallory (voiced by Daryl Sabara) are children of jewel thieves. It's implied that their parents made themselves wealthy this way. However, they were eventually caught and convicted, the same night when Thomas and Martha Wayne were shot. At the time, the Mallory brothers were still only young children. Andy barely remembers them at all due to him being no older than a toddler. It is this event that motivates them to become the Wrath and Scorn and to help criminals in their crimes. The Wrath defended their actions with the bizarre claim that criminals like Joker have the right to make a living their way just as much as innocent people do, demonstrating no interest in his comic counterpart's vendetta against the law that took his parents. Their activities consist of aiding Batman villains such as Joker, Penguin, Killer Croc, and the Ventriloquist & Scarface. At the same time, they also fought Batman and Robin directly. When out of costume, the Mallory brothers pretend to be friends of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson (Andy and Dick, however, do little to hide their disdain for each other). Ultimately, it is this "friendship" that leads Bruce and Will to realize each other is Batman and Wrath. Although the costumed brothers are eventually captured, they plan to reveal the Dynamic Duo's secret identities. Bruce is willing to accept that outcome, but the Joker is not. Having grown tired of the Wrath and Scorn's "interference" and seeing the end of Batman's career as the end of his greatest source of fun, the Joker decides to silence them by posing as a policeman when they plea to him to get them out. Instead of breaking them free, he gases them with Joker Venom. The Joker implies that this will "break [their] minds" and it clearly prevents them from speaking.
- # ^ Tony Bedard (w), Rags Morales (p), Mark Farmer (i). "Wrath Child Part II" Batman Confidential vol. 1, #15 (May 2008) DC Comics
- Tony Bedard (w), Rags Morales (p), Mark Farmer (i). "Wrath Child Part I" Batman Confidential 13 (March 2008), DC Comics
- Tony Bedard (w), Rags Morales (p), Mark Farmer (i). "Wrath Child Part II" Batman Confidential 14 (April 2008), DC Comics
- Detective Comics Vol 2 #22 (September 2013)
- Detective Comics Vol 2 #23 (October 2013)
- Detective Comics Vol 2 #24 (December 2013)