Bruce Wayne crying after the terrible event that came to be known as the Park Row tragedy.[1]

The Park Row tragedy refers to the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne in Park Row.

Bruce Wayne witnessed the murder, which was committed by a mugger named Joe Chill.

This presumably happened sometime between 1950-1952.[2] It occurred in Gotham City sometime between June 8-26.[3]


Prior to the tragedy, the Wayne family were walking home from a film based upon the character known as Robin Hood. Young Bruce told his dad that he thought that "Robin Hood was something else." They take a short cut through Park Row, and that is where they are confronted by a mysterious mugger named Joe Chill.

The tragedy

Joe Chill confronts the family and attempts to rob them, trying to take Martha Wayne's purse, but he is met with resistance by Thomas Wayne and so he pulls out a gun and shoots both of them, and Bruce witnesses the murder. They drop to the ground, under a rainy Gotham City sky. Bruce sobs as he watches his parents bleed to death.

Chill, realizing he had killed both of the young boy's parents, panics and runs away. He dropped the purse he had attempted to steal from his victim, instead abandoning it. What this tells us about Joe's character is that he was likely appalled by what he had done, probably not meaning to go that far.

It also could indicate that he was just afraid that someone would see him with a purse that was clearly not a man's handbag, and it could draw attention to him, especially after gunshots were fired. Still, this is likely not the case, as the gunshots were fairly muffled by thunder striking nearby.


The Park Row tragedy was what led Bruce Wayne to choose a career as a crimefighter. He went through a number of different types of training, both physical and mental. With the help of his guardian Alfred Pennyworth, he would develop the Batsuit, and a number of other gadgets and vehicles to help him fight crime as Batman.

As for Park Row, it from then on became known as Crime Alley, because of the terrible tragedy that shattered the Wayne family. Bruce Wayne himself was traumatized by the alley, and he never returned there again, because of his fear of it. He never returned that is, until he was able to conquer his fear. This wasn't until 1985.[4] At that point, every year, on the anniversary of his parent's deaths, Bruce brings roses to this alley and places them in memory of the event and people that made him what he is.[5]


  1. As seen in The Fear.
  2. The Super Friends Wiki assumes that Bruce Wayne was somewhere between eight and ten years of age. Still, he might have been as old as twelve for all we know, so this is nothing more than conjecture.
  3. There are two sources that indicate that it either happened on the eighth or the twenty-sixth. They can't both be right, so we can assume it was probably sometime between those two dates. See: 1976 Super DC Calendar for more details.
  4. As seen in The Fear.
  5. This is just conjecture based upon DC Comics.
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