A new villain is added to the Batman rogues gallery in this week's issue, but he isn't anywhere near what you're expecting.
Spoilers incoming for Batman #38, so if you haven't read the issue yet you've been warned.
Bruce finds himself in a familiar situation, one in which he is consoling a young boy named Matthew after the death of his parents. Luckily Matthew isn't completely alone and has his butler Taylor to take care of him. Bruce knows the pain of losing loved ones better than anyone, and it turns out Matthew had a joke with his father that involved him referring to Matthew as Master Bruce, something that presents itself in their first conversation.
Batman starts to investigate some other murders, and signs link to Zsasz and then Two-Face, but the patterns are slightly off, and Batman traces the clues back to the butler, Taylor. It seems the case is wrapped up, but Batman eventually deducts that it is young Matthew who is behind the grisly murders. He also finds out that Matthew ordered Taylor to call him Bruce Wayne, and when he tracks Matthew down he is scratching out his parent's names on the tombstones and putting Martha and Thomas Wayne in their place.
He's also scratched Martha and Thomas' names into his cheeks, thanks to an earlier conversation with Bruce. If the obsession wasn't already too much before, it's gone way too far now.
Matthew doesn't just identify with Bruce Wayne, he thinks he is Bruce Wayne and wants to use his pain to be brave and help others. When Batman tries to offer help, Matthew is having none of it, saying "You're sick. The freaks are sick. Gotham is sick. Master Bruce is the cure!"
He keeps rambling about being the light for this city and fighting for his mommy and daddy. Bruce finally says "you're not Bruce Wayne! You're a sick kid with dead parents!"
Matthew has a wallop of a response though, saying "Well, yes...but...but what else is Bruce Wayne?"
You can see the spoiler images above.
Batman #38 is written by Tom King with pencils and inks by Travis Moore and colors by Giulia Brusco. The main cover is provided by Tim Sale and Dave Stewart and the variant cover is by Olivier Coipel.
“The Origin of Bruce Wayne! If Mattie could grow up to be anybody, he’d grow up millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. But what would happen if he was forced to relive the worst tragedy of Bruce’s life and his parents were murdered? Batman’s hunt for the killer puts him face to face with a strange mirror version of his own past."
Batman #38 is in comic shops now.