Malone (Matches)

Matches MaloneThe last episode of Gotham introduced quite a fundumental character in the show’s continuity, albeit only in photo (luckily enough, in the promo for the next episode we get a clear look at him). In A Dead Man Feels No Cold, young Bruce Wayne finally gets close to meeting the man who allegedly killed his parents: Patrick “Matches” Malone, portrayed by Michael Bowen. Malone is indeed a character from the comics, but he’s never been identified as the Waynes’ killer; oddly enough, he’s mostly famous for being an identity that Batman “steals” in order to infiltrate in the underworld. As for nearly every other character of the DC Universe, there’s more than one version of him…but everytime, Batman ends up stealing his identity and disguising himself as him for a while. Let’s see together.

The first version of Matches Malone wasn’t exactly a memorable one. He was born and raised in Gotham City, and from a very young age he embraced a life of criminality. With years of experience, Malone managed to earn quite a personal power, and became one of the most influent gangsters in the area, known for his trademark matches which he lit with his thumbnail. Malone took care of many activities in the city, and he took part to robberies, abductions, bribing and even murders. During an investigation on a biophysics convention, the local superhero Batman started hunting “Chimp” Manners, a goon who was at Malone’s service. Knowing that the Dark Knight himself wanted to talk to Chimp, Malone arranged things so that the man couldn’t be found, believing to foil the vigilante’s investigations. Obviously, however, he was wrong, and Batman appeared when he was eating pizza at his favourite restaurant. Batman made short work of the bodyguards at the entrance, and demanded to speak with Malone for informations. Acting tough, Matches didn’t show the slightest sign of fear, and ordered his right-hand man to take care of the “creep” who was disturbing him while he was eating. What two bodyguards couldn’t do, one gangster obviously couldn’t as well, but before even the last one of his men got knocked matchesmalonecomics1out, Malone drew his gun, prompting his man to do the same. A gunfight started, but it didn’t go as planned: the gangsters’ bullets ricocheted on Batman’s bulletproof cape, and one of them hit Matches Malone right into his heart, killing him on the spot. With Malone gone, Batman had lost his most precious source of informations about Chimp Manners, as well as his chances of knowing what the gangsters were planning for the biophysics convention. The dead criminal, however, was pretty similar in physical built and appearance to Batman, so the hero took his black glasses and his clothes, put on a pair of fake mustache and continued his investigation as Matches Malone. He would have used that identity several other times, whenever he needed to infiltrate the underworld of Gotham City.

After the Crisis on Infinite Earth, even Matches Malone was reborn, with a brand new background story. Matches Malone was an orphan, and he grew up in Hoboken with his brother, Carver. The two young men grew up to become arsonists, and when that kind of market became unstable in Hoboken, they moved to a city where they would have always found an engagement: Gotham. In Gotham, however, a new vigilante was patroling the streets: Batman, who arrested both brothers during one of their first jobs. There was no evidence against them, as they only owned the materials for an arson, but weren’t linked in any way to any fire, so they were released soon after. The Malones proceeded to burn the allegedely empty building, but it turned out that there was a homeless man inside, who was killed in the arson. Carver Malone couldn’t bear the guilt, and shot himself in the head, with Matches unable to do anything to stop him. Fearing what his brother’s suicide would have brought to the Malone name, Matches arranged the scene as if it was a homicide, and left his brother’s body to be found by the GCPD. Because of the last trial and the subsequent fire, Matches was the prime suspect, and was arrested, but nor Batman nor D.A. Harvey Dent managed to prove his guilt. Knowing that the Dark Knight would have never let him go, Matches Malone decided to fake his own death and matchesmalonecomics2to leave Gotham City: he took the body of the homeless man, put him inside another empty building and set it on fire, leaving some of his clothes and equipment on the corpse. When Batman found the body, he believed that Matches had been killed in his own arson. Batman, who needed an alias to infiltrate the underworld, decided to take Malone’s identity, and didn’t even investigate his death thoroughly; Matches, in the meanwhile, came back to Hoboken, where he changed name and activity and tried to start a decent life. Years passed, and a decade later a rumor reached Matches Malone’s ears: he learnt that somebody had put a bounty of $10,000 on his head, because of “his” actions in the previous years in Gotham…quite weird, considering that he had “died” in Gotham ten years before. Malone decided to come back to Gotham to understand what was happening, wanting to deal with a past still haunting him after all that time…

Originally, Matches Malone is just another crook, an arrogant and violent gangster who lives on crime and fear. In his new incarnation, despite being an arsonist, he’s a suprisingly decent guy, a man who truly cares for his brother, and who only awaits for a chance to change his life. Despite always carrying a revolver for self-defense, Malone is not a fighter, and he avoids direct confrontations when he can. Matches Malone is what life made him, and despite his best efforts, his past keeps hunting him down like an unescapable destiny…

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