Gotham – Who Is M. Malone?


Those watching this past Monday’s episode of Gotham, titled “The Son of Gotham“, saw Bruce get his first direct connection to his parents’ murders — a man named “M. Malone.”  Yep, those were the words uttered by the conniving Silver St. Cloud when she thought she was going to lose her digits.  However, the kidnapping and potential mangling turned out to be all a ruse to get her to talk.  Well played Mr. Wayne … well played.

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Non-Batman fans will probably be okay with the name of “M. Malone.”  In fact, it is probably just a name to regular viewers.  But Batman fans may be raging already.  We all know that the one who killed Bruce’s parents was a common mugger named Joe Chill.  Fans shouldn’t be all that surprised though because Gotham has already diverged from its comic roots, so this little history change is now the norm.

Though the “wrong” name — to us fans — is mentioned, the name “M. Malone” still holds significance.  It is definitely a name that’s rooted in the comics, and actually has some rich history behind it.  So let’s begin on our exploration of who M. Malone is.

A Quick History

M. Malone is most likely referring to Matches Malone.  Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Matches made his first appearance in Batman #242 (June 1972).  The character was never “evil” or “malevolent” per-se.  He was a small-time criminal who started his career as an arsonist and conman.  Matches, with his brother, Carver, were orphaned at a young age and turned to a life of crime as a means of survival.  When they moved their criminal operation to Gotham City, they caught the attention of Batman and the police.

Although every avenue to catch the two failed, Matches would have the biggest suspicion against him when Carver was found dead.  However, Matches escaped the law again and Batman became evermore determined to catch him.  As time went on, Batman would watch Matches, but never intervened.  The reason being is that Batman actually saw Matches as a sort of a “peacemaker” among criminals.  Deadly disputes and rivalries were calmed by the fact that the two arguing parties saw Matches as more of a nuisance than each other.

When Ra’s al Ghul started to gain power, Batman created a ruse that involved the faking of Bruce Wayne’s death.  As Batman started to gather a team for this impending war, one of the first men to be recruited was Matches due to the Dark Knight being impressed by his nature.

The recruitment would prove to be a very short and unsuccessful one.  As Batman approached Matches one night, the startled Matches pulled a gun and accidentally fired it.  As fate may have it, the ricocheting bullet unceremoniously killed Matches.

Batman, proving to be ever-resourceful, used the opportunity to become Matches himself.  Altering his own appearance to resemble Matches and learning everything he could about the petty criminal’s life, Batman infiltrated Gotham’s most notorious gangs.  As the years went on, Batman would occasionally use the identity to his advantage.

Other Incarnations

We have yet to see a live-action incarnation of Matches Malone, but the mention of his name by Silver St. Cloud is the first time it’s been heard in live-action media.  In the past, outside of comics, the character of Matches has appeared in the animated realm.

In Batman Adventures, a comic expansion of the DC Animated Universe, Matches appeared as a mid-level enforcer for mob boss Rupert Thorne.  Matches had a deal with Batman in that the criminal would not be arrested if he became an informant.  However, Matches started to steal from Thorne and when Thorne found out, he had Matches killed.  Batman, discovering that both he and Matches shared similar facial features, assumed the identity of Matches.

In Batman: The Animated Series, Batman uses the identity of Matches Malone to infiltrate Two-Face’s gang.  However, Two-Face is able to figure out the ruse.

In The New Batman Adventures, Batman becomes Matches Malone for the purposes of infiltrating Scarecrow’s lair.  Batman is soon discovered and gassed by Scarecrow, but he makes a successful escape back to the Batcave.

In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Batman becomes Matches Malone for a sting operation.  In the same series, a later episode titled “The Mask of Matches Malone” sees Batman actually believing that he is Matches Malone after getting amnesia, leading him to take over Gotham’s underworld.

Next: Catch up on Gotham with a Recap of 'The Son of Gotham'

If Matches Malone is appearing on Gotham, it would be much too soon.  The allure of the character is that we get to see Batman use his impersonation skills.  It’ll be quite ridiculous if they had Bruce Wayne as a child trying to impersonate an adult.  Then again, Gotham could be rewriting the character as someone who is much more aggressive or malevolent — someone that Bruce wants to take down.

So it seems that the honor of being the Waynes’ murderer has now been transferred from Joe Chill to Matches Malone.  My biggest question is: Why!?

What do you think?  How do you feel about this crucial history being revised?

Fox’s Gotham airs on Mondays at 8:00PM EST.