Warning: contains spoilers to Batman: Urban Legends #8!

A flashback to Batman‘s childhood just revealed that rather than naming himself for the bats that terrified him as a child, Bruce Wayne should have become Wolfman, the predator of Gotham’s underworld. While insight into Bruce’s childhood often focuses on his parents’ murder, Bruce’s pursuit of Professor Pyg triggers a memory of his father reading the fairy tale of the Three Little Pigs. As the modern-day Batman tracks down Pyg, the young Bruce reveals that he not only sympathizes with the Big Bad Wolf, but that he could have been just as terrifying as Wolfman had he adopted that visage instead.

In the story by writer/artist Christian Ward and letterer Steve Wands, Batman learns that a young girl has been kidnapped by Professor Pyg, the deranged psychopath and surgeon whose obsession with perfection sees him kidnap people to transform into “Dollotrons.” While Batman learns of three possible hideouts for Pyg from various individuals in Gotham’s underworld, his journey is narrated by Bruce’s memory of his father Thomas reading him the Three Little Pigs and their issues with the story’s villain, the Big Bad Wolf.

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As Batman leaves behind a trail of injured and unconscious collaborators meant to stall him while Pyg works on his latest victim, young Bruce voices his criticism after hearing how the Big Bad Wolf was defeated by the Three Little Pigs, falling down the chimney of the Third Pig’s house into a boiling pot where he was later eaten as dinner. “That was stupid,” says Bruce, the future master of infiltration. “The wolf should have been better prepared. I’d have been better prepared.”

This alarming identification with the Big Bad Wolf suggests a possible future in which Bruce continued many of the same activities he does as Batman but under a different namesake. Symbolic loners who actually live in packs (much as Bruce has accrued a huge “Bat-Family” around him), wolves prey on vulnerable animals but can also challenge or dominate other predators, similar to Batman’s crusade against the superstitious and cowardly criminals of Gotham while protecting his territory from foes like Joker and Bane. Wolves also enjoy nocturnal activities, chase down prey, and are even associated with the glowing light of the moon, suggesting an even more appropriate form of the Bat Signal as an artificial full moon shining over Gotham.

It’s ironic that Bruce Wayne could have become the Wolfman if he’d allowed himself to be inspired by this positive childhood memory rather than the traumatic experience he had with the colony of bats beneath Wayne Manor, since he’s currently facing off against the literal Big Bad Wolf over in Batman vs. Bigby: A Wolf in Gotham, which stars an alternate-universe Bruce Wayne alongside Fables‘ lupine hero. It seems that wolves stalk Bruce’s life, even providing a link to his father, and yet he was never tempted to declare, “Yes, father, I shall become a wolf.”

Although it would have been interesting seeing the impact Wolfman would have had on Gotham and the DC Universe overall, Bruce found his true inspiration with a bat and the rest is comic book history. As he closes in on Professor Pyg, Ward cleverly shows how the past influences the future, with Batman’s tank-like Batmobile interrupting Pyg’s procedure. As his entrance leaves Professor Pyg babbling, Batman can’t help but show a rare smile as he quotes the Big Bad Wolf, letting the little pig know that some fairy tales don’t have a happy endings, especially those that play out in Gotham.

NEXT: Batman: Detective Comics’ Huge Shadow of the Bat Event Explained

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Author: Drew Mollo