Silver Salad Days

Before we start Year One of the Silver Age, here is everything in Earth-1 Bruce Wayne’s life (starting with his birth) that leads up to the moment he decides to don the cape and cowl of the Bat.[1]

 

PRELUDE: (1946-1966)

 

February 1946
Bruce Wayne is born to Dr. Thomas Wayne and Martha Wayne in Gotham City, USA.

Midsummer (August) 1949[2]
Flashback from World’s Finest Comics #146. A three-year-old Bruce summer vacations with his parents a few hours outside of Gotham, next door to their friend, scientist Dr. Thomas Ellison. Using a special telescope, Dr. Ellison had, years prior, discovered the planet Krypton. Using this same telescope, Dr. Ellison had been able to view Krypton at street level for years. This allowed him to learn the Kryptonian language and read lips to see what Kryptonians were talking about. The neglectful Wayne parents allow little to Bruce wander over to the doctor’s house where, over the course of several weeks, Dr. Ellison shows Bruce live feeds of Krypton, creepily dresses him in Kryptonian-styled clothes, and takes pictures of him flying on wires and bending plastic bars. (How Dr. Ellison would have known that a yellow sun would give Kryptonians super-powers is beyond me, but that’s probably my smallest gripe with this bonkers story.) Upon learning of Krypton’s imminent destruction, Dr. Ellison builds a neutralizing ray, which ultimately fails to prevent planetary collapse. Krypton explodes into oblivion and little baby Kal-El is secretly sent rocketing to Earth.

1950
Flashback from The Untold Legend of the Batman #1
—and also referenced in The Untold Legend of the Batman #1. A roughly four-year-old Bruce Wayne is present at a masquerade party held by his parents at their Wayne Manor home. Thomas Wayne wears a bat costume. During the ball, Thomas is kidnapped by injured gangster Lew Moxon, who wants the gifted doctor to perform surgery on him. Rather than operate, Thomas beats up Moxon and delivers him to James Gordon, a new lieutenant with the Gotham City Police Department. Gordon is in his early twenties at this juncture.

1956
Flashback from Detective Comics #370
. Ten-year-old Bruce gets mercilessly beaten-up by an older school bully named Bart Lambert over the course of months. Skinny Bruce is unable to put up a fight or defend himself, so he decides to dedicate his life to exercise, fitness, and bulking up with weight training. Bruce continues taking a wallop from Lambert, but he begins working out. Eventually, Lambert moves to the other side of the country before Bruce is ever strong enough to confront him or get revenge. Bruce will have nightmares about Lambert for years to come.

1956
Flashback from The Untold Legend of the Batman #1,
Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder Sunday News Strip 7/30/1967, Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder Sunday News Strip 8/6/1967, and Batman #200
—and also referenced in The Untold Legend of the Batman #1. Now onto the Wayne tragedy. While walking home from a movie, the Waynes are mugged. Thomas is shot dead and Martha suffers a fatal heart attack during the assault. (In Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder Sunday News Strip 7/30/1967, Robin says that the Waynes were killed when Bruce was twelve-years-old. This is iffy. However, the much more canon-reference-worthy Untold Legend of Batman #1 tells us that Bruce is in pre-adolescence “one year” after the death of his parents. This means that Bruce is likely ten-years-old when they are killed, placing the double-murder on November 25, 1956.)[3] The murders are committed by Joe Chill as a paid revenge hit ordered by Lew Moxon, who has latterly been granted an early release from prison. After a sad funeral, Bruce’s parents’ wills are read—as referenced in Detective Comics #367-368. Bruce is given the entire Wayne family fortune and made heir to its business enterprises. Bruce is also left his father’s prize possessions, the priceless Rajah Ruby and some original Modigliani paintings. (The Modiglianis immediately get hung up in Wayne Manor. The Rajah Ruby goes into a Wayne Manor safe, where it will stay until Bruce’s adulthood.) Bruce stands before the graves of his parents and vows to avenge them. Dr. Leslie Thompkins initially cares for the orphaned Bruce before he goes into legal custody of his Uncle Philip Kane. Ironically, Joe Chill’s mother, Alice Chilton, becomes Bruce’s full-time nanny. She will teach him honesty and integrity, becoming a something of a surrogate mother to him. From this point on, young Bruce will start training non-stop.[4] One more interesting thing to note before continuing. When it comes to Bruce’s non-stop training that begins now, the dedicated soldier won’t just focus on detective studies, noetic matters, and the gym. In fact, the Silver/Bronze Age Bruce Wayne might be the nonpareil iteration of the character because he will be the only version to master the visual arts as well. As gleaned from a reference in Detective Comics #332 and a reference in Detective Comics #344, Bruce will become a professional-grade sketch artist and master wood carver.

1957
Flashback from The Untold Legend of the Batman #1. One year after his parents’ murder, Bruce wears a proto-Robin costume and spends a summer training with super-detective Harvey Harris.

1961
Flashback from World’s Finest Comics #84
. A roughly fifteen-year-old Bruce vacations near Smallville with his parents—meaning guardians Uncle Philip and Nanny Alice (as retconned and re-shown via flashback from World’s Finest Comics #271). There, young Bruce trails both crook Thad Linnis and the Kryptonian Boy of Steel known as Superboy (Clark Kent/Kal-El). Bruce discovers that Clark is Superboy, while keeping it secret from Linnis.

1962
Flashback from Detective Comics #370
. Teenage Bruce, who has constantly worked out for years, hits a growth spurt and takes notice of how strong he has become. He is reminded of the trauma Bert Lambert caused him and how it convinced him to begin exercising in the first place. Bruce would love to stick it to Lambert, but the old bully is long out of his life, so Bruce does his best to block the memory of the jerk from his mind.

1962
Adventure Comics #253
, Adventure Comics #275, and a flashback from World’s Finest Comics #271. Robin (Dick Grayson), from 1969, goes back in time and meets Superboy.

1962
Adventure Comics #275
and re-shown via flashback from World’s Finest Comics #271. A few weeks have passed since the time-traveling Robin met Superboy. A roughly sixteen-year-old Bruce and his family—Uncle Philip and Nanny Alice—briefly move to Smallville (as told in the apocryphal and error-filled Adventure Comics #275, which was later retconned and re-shown via flashback in World’s Finest Comics #271). In Smallville, Bruce meets Lana Lang and becomes the costumed Flying Fox to fight alongside Superboy. After their team-up, Superman uses his wheel-hypnosis technique to erase Bruce’s knowledge of his secret ID. Superboy also uses the wheel-hypnosis on himself to erase knowledge that Bruce will grow up to become Batman, a fact that he knew both from viewing a device known as the Time Telescope and from recently meeting a time-traveling Robin.

1962
Reference in Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder News Strip 11/1/1968
. Bruce becomes very active in track and field sports, competing and training in all events. Bruce’s hope is to compete in the upcoming Olympics, focusing on hammer throw as his main sport. Bruce will focus in hammer throwing for the next two years straight.

1963
Superboy Spectacular #1
and later retconned and re-shown via flashback from World’s Finest Comics #271. A roughly seventeen-year-old Bruce then meets Pete Ross and helps Superboy solve a case during a baseball tournament in Gotham (as told in the slightly apocryphal Superboy Spectacular #1, which was later retconned and re-shown via flashback in World’s Finest Comics #271).

1963
Reference in Detective Comics #367
. Bruce learns first aid and CPR from the American Red Cross Handbook.

1964
Reference in Detective Comics #359
. Bruce begins collecting rare books, a hobby he will continue long into adulthood. Bruce’s omnium-gatherum of literature will constantly grow, although we won’t see any of the actual collection process on our timeline moving forward.

1964
Reference in Detective Comics #360
. Bruce begins training in escape artistry.

1964
Flashback from Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder Sunday News Strip 8/6/1967
and Batman #200—and also referenced in Batman #133 Part 2, The Brave & The Bold #71, Batman #191 Part 1, Detective Comics #370 and Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder News Strip 11/6/1968. Bruce begins studying multiple sciences, including chemistry, physics, electronics, and explosives engineering. Bruce also begins training in horseback riding, boomerang throwing, Native American wrestling, judo, karate, acrobatics, savate, boxing, and trapeze. Already active in Olympic track and field training, Bruce continues focusing on hammer throwing, but also begins extra work on perfecting his archery and javelin throwing ability. Bruce will continue training in all of these things for the rest of his life.

1964
Reference in Detective Comics #372
. Already world-cultured and highly knowledgable in current affairs, Bruce begins studying world history and global politics in an effort to become an expert in both fields. He will continue to keep abreast of world news, moving forward through his entire career, becoming quite the scholar indeed.

1964
Reference in World’s Finest Comics #94
, World’s Finest Comics #271, and Batman #191 Part 1. Bruce begins studying acting, the art of makeup, and disguise techniques. He will eventually become a bonafide master of disguise, able to replicate anyone to perfection.

1964
Reference in Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder News Strip 9/15/1968
. Bruce learns Morse code.

1964
Reference in Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder News Strip 12/12/1968
. Bruce becomes interested in opera and begins attending operas semi-regularly, becoming a big fan of Gilbert and Sullivan.

1964-1966 (College Years)
Flashback from Batman #208
and Batman #188 Part 1—and also referenced in Batman #165 Part 1, Batman #178 Part 1, Batman #208, Batman #165 Part 2, Batman #188 Part 1, and Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder News Strip 11/1/1968. At age eighteen, Bruce enters Gotham College as a criminology major. He rooms with Andrew Warner, becoming friends with Warner and sharing a physics class with him (as referenced in Batman #165 Part 1). Bruce also befriends aerospace engineering major Hank Nelson (as referenced in Batman #178 Part 1). In his freshman year, Bruce qualifies for the 1964 Summer Olympics and competes at the October-held games in Tokyo where he wins a gold medal in hammer throw (as referenced in Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder News Strip 11/1/1968)! Also in his freshman year, Bruce begins wearing an aftershave that he will become fond enough of to wear for the rest of his life. Early on, Bruce also has classes with failing student and general weirdo Lenny Fiasco. At a Winter Carnival, Bruce is crowned “Ice King” and rides in a sleigh with “Ice Queen” Celia Smith, whom Fiasco is madly in unrequited love with. (Both the cologne and Fiasco stuff are flashed-back-to from and referenced in Batman #188 Part 1.) Bruce later begins dating theater major Julie Madison (as seen via flashback/reference in Batman #208). He also joins a fraternity (as referenced in Batman #165 Part 2). During his college days, Bruce also befriends high-society gal Linda Page (as mentioned in Batman #208). Being a genius and a hard-worker, and presumably scheduling more-than-full-time classes round-the-clock, Bruce graduates at age twenty, after which time he becomes Batman. For more information about Bruce’s age and college era, see a footnote in Year One of the Silver Age section of this website.

 

<<< Intro to Silver Age Part 2 <<< | >>> Year One >>>

  1. [1]COLLIN COLSHER: Some important rules before we actually get going. I’ve included flashbacks in a specific way. If a flashback is first revealed—let’s say in Year 15, hypothetically—the flashback may or may not be mentioned in Year 15, but the actual events that occur in said flashback will be placed one the timeline exactly when they originally occurred attached to bullets enumerated as “flashback.” Similarly, story references will be listed as bullet “references.” And likewise, important narrative events that don’t include Batman will be listed as “notes.” Therefore, any “references,” “flashbacks,” or “notes” occur chronologically at the spot where they are situated on the timeline. Any character names (or group names) highlighted in red denote the first appearance of a reoccurring character (or group). Some of these red items may appear only once in the Bat-verse, but appear elsewhere throughout the DCU, and thus have been given the crimson treatment as well.
  2. [2]COLLIN COLSHER: Many different countries around the world have different definitions for what “midsummer” means. I’m using it to literally mean somewhere in the middle of summer i.e. August.
  3. [3]COLLIN COLSHER: How do we know the November 25th date of the Wayne murders? As cribbed from comic book scholar Chris J Miller:

    “[June 26 is mentioned in Batman Special #1 (1984). The 1976 DC Calendar says June 8. Superboy #182 (1972) and Detective Comics #500 (1981) both say Autumn, specifically November 25.]”

    I take this information to mean the following: In the Silver Age we have one mention of June 26, one mention of June 8, and two mentions of November 25. Tally it all up and you basically have two June mentions and two Novembers, but only the Novembers are on the same date (the 25th). This leads me to believe that November 25 is the official Silver Age date of the Wayne deaths. Further backing for this is the Golden Age death of the Waynes, which was also November 25, as mentioned in Detective Comics #265 (1959). It’s up to you to decide your own headcanon, but I’m going with November 25.

  4. [4]COLLIN COLSHER: Note that Superboy #182 showed a Superboy/Bruce Wayne team-up, but it was rendered 100% non-canon by World’s Finest Comics #271. In this non-canon story, Bruce became the masked “Executioner” and teamed-up with Superboy two months after his parents’ deaths. Superboy #182 also told us that the Waynes were killed on November 25, but we must take that date with a grain of salt due to the non-canon status of the issue.

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