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"Son, you're better off without her. All she ever did was put your life in danger to advance her own agenda. All I've done... is protect you from the cruelty of the world."
"The only thing cruel in my world is you!"
—August Cartwright and his son, Jonathan[src]

Dr. August Cartwright (died March 15, 2020)[1] was the son of the late Mabel Cartwright, the father of the late Jonathan Cartwright, and the kidnapper of Beth Kane, who referred to him as the "Caterpillar".[2]

Around 2014, August disappeared and took on the identity of Dr. Ethan Campbell, a well-known plastic surgeon and philanthropist in Gotham City, as well as a respected professor at Gotham University.[3]

August's deception was eventually discovered and he was ultimately killed by Kate Kane as revenge for destroying her family after the revelation that he had desecrated her mother's corpse, keeping her severed head.[1]

Biography

Original multiverse

Early life

August Cartwright was born in Gotham City to Mabel Cartwright and an unnamed father. His father died in his youth and growing up, August had a mediocre relationship with his mother despite loving her.[1] In adulthood, he started working as a doctor[4] and became a colleague of Dr. Jonathan Crane.[1]

Later in his life, August had a son, Jonathan, with an unknown woman. His family moved into a rural area just outside the city. After Jonathan's face was permanently disfigured in an accident, causing him to be ostracized by his peers, August vowed to fix his son. He then started to perform experiments with skin grafts obtained from corpses to create fake faces. Despite this, August was very controlling and emotionally abusive to Jonathan.[5]

Kidnapping of Beth Kane

On January 26, 2003 while August and his son were out fishing, likely with Mabel too, they came upon Beth Kane, who washed up on shore after a car accident that killed her mother, Gabi Kane. August also fished out Gabi's severed head, prompting Mabel to ask him to use his abilities to transplant the woman's face onto hers. However, August knew his mother wearing a dead woman's face would bring unwanted attention, so he appeased Mabel by storing Gabi's face in a locked freezer at his home until supposedly the right time.[1]

August greets Beth after she wakes up.

August and his son took Beth to their home, where he decided to make her Johnny's companion. When Beth woke up and started asking for her father, August tried to calm her down and explained that he wanted Beth to become friends with his son. Beth constantly screamed at him to let her go home, but August ignored the girl's pleas and only went to get her a sandwich, leaving Beth to meet Johnny.

August watches Beth and Johnny getting acquainted.

Later, August found Beth and Johnny watching television when a news report on Beth's disappearance came on. She asked August why he hadn't called the police, but he didn't answer and physically restrained her, dragging Beth to a room in the basement and locking her inside. Sometime later, August returned to the basement to retrieve one of his severed faces from the sink, telling Beth it was for an experiment. Before leaving, he declared that the only reason Beth was here was to become friends with Johnny and this was her new home.

August threatens Beth in the basement.

Sometime afterwards, August caught Beth on the phone with her father in the kitchen, having managed to escape the basement. He furiously interrupted the call by grabbing the phone and ripping it off the cord. August warned Beth that if anyone came for her, he would kill them, and proceeded to throw her back into her cell. Jacob and Kate Kane later showed up at the house, demanding to know where Beth was.

August deceives Jacob.

As Kate searched the basement, August followed Jacob upstairs, lying that the call was just a prank and apologizing for the misunderstanding. He introduced Jacob to Johnny and coerced his son to mimic Beth's voice, corroborating his story. Jacob and Kate eventually believed him and left.[5]

Johnny and August visit Beth for her birthday.

About a year later, in occasion of Beth's birthday, August visited the child in her cell right after Johnny did it to secretly bring her a kitten and some waffles. The man said that his son told him about the occasion and lit a candle on the waffles telling her to make a wish. After Beth did it, Johnny asked her what she wished for and the latter replied that she wanted to see her family again, to which August noted that saying the wish out loud meant that it will never come true; then he exited the girl's cell together with Johnny.

August performs his experiments with skin grafts.

Later, he tried to make Johnny a mask of skin grafts, ending up enraged and unpleased at the results as it looks too unreal.

Few days later, August discovered Beth's secret kitten and ruthlessly killed him in front of both Johnny and the girl; then, noticing how well done was the sweater she made for the kitten, he asked the girl about it but, not receiving any answer he destroyed her copy of Alice in Wonderland in a fit of rage.

August tells Beth that her father has forgotten her.

After the girl screamed to him that her father would have killed him, August spitefully told her that he had already forgotten about her showing an article about Jacob's marriage with Catherine Hamilton. He asked again the girl about the sweater and, after she admitted she has done it, the man started to teach her how to create masks of skin grafts, exploiting the ability of her fingers.[2]

Housing his sick mother

Sometime after, due to his mother's health worsened to the point she became bonded to an oxygen tank and couldn't live on her own anymore, Mabel was forced to move in with her son.

August welcomes his mother in his home.

The day the woman arrived, August ordered his son to move all of his things from the attic and "Alice", whose new personality had overwritten the previous to the point she didn't remember her former life to clean the house. When Johnny asked almost scared how long would Mabel have stayed, August told him that she was now too ill to live by herself. The woman then entered and scolded him for smoking his pipe while she had an oxygen tank right before hugging the boy who was then ordered by August to take Mabel luggages. After the boy left the room, his mother complimented August for "fixing" Johnny's face, prior to demanding when he intended to fix hers, causing him to reply he was working on it; although in reality he had no intention of actually carrying out the transplant she had requested for years.[1] Over the following years her mother began demand more and more things to her son, grandson, and especially his newly "adopted" daughter, whom she treat like a servant, savagely beat, tortured and abused. In fall of 2013, August caught a desperate Alice frantically looking for cream close to the fridge in the pantry where he kept Gabi's head, causing him to ask her what she was doing there and explain there was no cream in that fridge after she answered him.

August strikes Alice.

Crying Alice lashed out saying that his mother hated her because she was young and beautiful while she was an old hag, causing August to hit and knocking her out. Few days after this, due to his mother pressures and insistence, August agreed in giving her at least Gabi's earrings, however Alice recognized them and, after finding her mom's severed head in the locked fridge, burned Mabel alive using her oxygen tank as a makeshift flamethrower.[1]

Disappearance

A few months later, around 2014, Beth finally escaped from August under unknown circumstances[6] in which Jonathan apparently helped her rebel against his father, causing an accident and prompting him to be presumed dead.[3]

By 2019, August had mysteriously disappeared, and even the Crows' investigation couldn't find him.[4] Jacob attempted to locate him in upstate Gotham, but was unsuccessful.[7]

Becoming Ethan Campbell

August had actually gone off-radar for unknown reasons and started to work as a plastic surgeon in Gotham City under the identity of Ethan Campbell,[3] an extremely well-known and respected doctor and philanthropist,[6] as well as one of the most renowned professors at Gotham University.[8] August likely replaced Campbell during the man's apparent sabbatical year. He then divorced from Campbell's wife and began specializing in facial reconstruction for burned children.[9]

August apparently treated Duela Dent after she was brought to a surgeon's clinic by her mother after slashing her own face. However, since that happened in 2011, prior to August starting to pose as Campbell, it was unknown if it was August as he claimed or the real Campbell.[10]

Hosting Gotham's Humanitarian Ball

Campbell greets Catherine Hamilton-Kane at Gotham's annual Humanitarian Ball.

In 2019, due to Campbell's reputation, he was offered to host Gotham's annual Humanitarian Ball in Orpheum Theatre. After accepting the offer, Campbell made a speech honoring Catherine Hamilton-Kane with the Humanitarian Award. He then left the stage to her in order listen to her speech. However, as Catherine was poisoned by Alice, she confessed to a litany of crimes before collapsing, prompting the ceremony to end despite Campbell's attempts to calm the crowd.[6]

Anti-Monitor Crisis

During the Anti-Monitor Crisis, August as well as everyone in the multiverse except for the seven Paragons, was killed in an antimatter wave by the Anti-Monitor on December 10, 2019,[11] only to be restored a month later, after the Paragons and the Spectre created a new universe.[12]

New multiverse

Jacob Kane's trial

Mary talks to Dr. Campbell.

After Jacob was arrested for Catherine's murder, Dr. Campbell was approached by Mary Hamilton, a former student of his, who asked to testify in his trial that the murderer was actually Jonathan posing as her step-father with a mask made of skin grafts. Campbell however, dismissed the idea of a man completely resembling another as science-fiction, suggesting that Mary was still traumatized because of her mother's death before walking away.[8]

Campbell visits Jacob in Blackgate.

A few weeks later he apparently changed his mind and accepted to meet Jacob Kane and Sophie Moore at Blackgate Penitentiary, where they show him the skin graft mask of Jacob and explained that they have Mouse in custody so that if he testify that "face exchange" could be possible Jacob could he free. Campbell accepted to doing it but asked as a condition for it to speak with Mouse stating it was due to scientific interest.[3]

Reunited with his son and killing "Beth"

August kidnaps his son.

Later that night, Campbell visited Mouse in ICU at Gotham General Hospital, revealing to be his survived father August. He stated that he would forgive his son for having betrayed him for Alice if he told him where she was so that he could kill her, to which Jonathan replied he would never do that as she was his real family due to August having raised him with the belief that he was a monster while Beth accepted and loved him. Hearing that, August drugged his son, sneaked him out of the Hospital and chained him inside a seemingly abandoned warehouse.

August shoots Earth-TUD14 Beth.

A few hours later, after hearing the radio of a Crows agent he killed that Alice was at the Twin Pines Inn, August went there with a sniper rifle, not knowing the woman was actually Beth's Earth-TUD14 doppelgänger, shot and killed her from a distance.[3]

Dr. Campbell receives Sophie Moore's visit in his office.

When Duela Dent started her rampage cutting the faces of social media influencers who underwent surgery by him, like Mia Cortez and Kimberly Wright, Sophie Moore went to visit "Campbell" in his office and asked him if he ever committed a mistake that could have led a person to wanting revenge from the patient who got their operation right. He firmly declared he most certainly didn't, however he remembered the case of Duela Dent and her psychiatric issues, thus giving her identity to the woman.

August hooks up his son to a canister of Fear Toxin.

Later August went to the place where he held his son prisoner and revealed to him that he killed Beth, also showing him a paper reporting said news. As Mouse began to cry, August told him not to since all she did to him was using and manipulating him while he protected him from the world's cruelty. Angered, Mouse replied that the most cruel thing in his life was his own father, to which August responded that soon he would have been able to see the truth, right before hooking his son up to a canister of fear toxin.

August discovers that Alice is alive.

That evening, while in his office, he received a visit from a woman who resembled Duela Dent, however she revealed to actually be Alice wearing the woman's face as a mask. Shocked, the man was knocked out by his former captive and dragged to the Wonderland gang's hideout, there Alice removed his mask telling him that his face was what she saw every night in her nightmare even after escaping him.

August is captured by Alice.

Unimpressed, August told her that if she wanted to kill him she could go ahead, however the woman asked him to reveal her where he hid Mouse, causing August to burst out laughing, terrifying Alice, he agreed to tell her where Mouse was.[10]

Telling about "Mommy Dearest"

August is found close to the Bat-Signal.

Alice knocked August out and left him close to the Bat-Signal for Kate to find him. The woman immediately brought him to The Hold Up, bound him to a chair, and called her father after making him promise he wouldn't kill him. Jacob began questioning him as soon as August awoke.

August is questioned by Jacob and Kate.

Kate shown him Alice's message she shoved in his mouth reporting to "ask him about Mommy Dearest", to which August answered she won't let Alice win in a game against him and that all he wanted was a fresh start for him and his son after she destroyed their family, so he used fear toxin to convince Mouse that Alice was his worst fear, he also guessed that he would probably hook her up to the canister on which he bounded him after she freed him, saying that if they didn't administered him adrenaline soon his psyche would collapse once and for all. August told them that he would reveal where to find her only in exchange of his freedom and that he believed she was probably hallucinating about his mother.

Kate tried to save August after he stabbed his own throat.

After August told them how Alice was treated by his mother and that she was the one who actually broke her, he wasn't believed neither by Kate nor Jacob who took August's phone to try to track his movement and find Alice, menacing he would skin him alive after having found her. After Jacob exited the bar, August explained he wanted Kate to know the story of his mother so she would have been broken too, hoping she would have killed him; then he asked Kate for a glass of water and, after receiving it, having secretly freed himself from his confinements, broke the glass and stabbed his own throat in a suicidal attempt which was prevented by Kate calling Mary and asking her how to close the wound with a stapler.

Kate makes a deal with August.

Realizing he'd rather die than help her, after he woke up Kate accepted to free August if he revealed where to find Alice, which he did.[1]

Death

Kate strangles August.

Soon afterwards, Kate received a phone call from Luke informing her that August was actually the killer of Earth-TUD14's Beth. When she questioned him about it he reminded her about their deal, then revealed that he couldn't have known she wasn't her as that woman was identical to Alice and even had the same necklace that matched "those earrings". Shocked after hearing this, Kate asked what was he talking about and he replied that he was referring to the earrings his mother wanted so much and caused all those troubles, then revealing Kate about her mother's severed head that he kept in a locked fridge in his cabin.

August Cartwright dies.

Out of herself for anger, Kate began strangling August and, due to his previously damaged neck, this caused him to die, leaving her traumatized.[1]

His body was subsequently buried underneath a freeway by Jacob Kane, although he later moved it to prevent Alice from blackmailing him or Kate.[13]

Legacy

"Alice has until now been focused. Her plans are always calculated, pointed. Collateral damage is minimized, but this type of chemical exposure will undo all of that. Any wisps of sanity Alice is clinging to will dissolve in the wind. If she doesn't jump off the nearest rooftop, well, then... I imagine she'll unravel completely, out herself to Gotham in the process of going nuclear. I would hate to be in the blast radius when that happens."
—August's prediction to Kate and Jacob on Alice's deteriorating psyche [src]

August would be remembered as the one directly responsible for Beth Kane becoming the sociopathic criminal Alice.[2] As well as Kate Kane's first intentional kill ever, as he finally pushed her to finally breaking her code and succumbing to the idea of strangling him to death.[1]

August's prediction of Alice psyche deteriorating even further seems to be coming true, as she began embracing her kidnapper's mother's role as the "Queen of Hearts", after she was betrayed by Kate and left her locked up in Arkham Asylum.[13] Less than a month later, Alice escaped a long with Jonathan, and Tommy Elliot but not before releasing most, if not all of Arkham's inmates to cause upheaval on Gotham.[14] Thus fulfilling August's prediction of Alice going "nuclear".

Safiyah Sohail and Alice discussed how traumatized Alice was after her imprisonment with August and how Safiyah slowly healed Alice.[15]

When Jacob Kane is high from Snakebite, he relives the day he first met August Cartwright.[16]

Alice told Jacob that August did not change her into a ruthless killer; Evelyn Rhyme did by hypnotizing her. Ocean verifies Alice's belief by saying that when Beth arrived in Coryana, she was lovable, causing him to fall for her.[17]

Personality

"Beth was being held by a madman with a medical license."
Jacob Kane to Kate Kane on August[src]

On the exterior, August always appeared to be a good-mannered individual and often presented himself as an eerily calm, level-headed and patient man, speaking with a callous voice and almost never raising his tone. However, he actually harbored a budding sociopathic nature and was cruel, abusive, manipulative towards both his son, Johnny, whom August raised with the belief that his face was too horrible to be ever accepted or loved by other individuals,[5][3] and his young prisoner, Beth Kane. August threatened Beth on more than one occasion, physically and mentally torturing her to the point that she didn't make any noise when her family came to rescue her out of fear that August might kill them. He even went so far as to taunt Beth that her family had abandoned her, eventually "breaking" and permanently damaging her mental sanity, which resulted in the birth of Alice.[2]

August was an extremely intelligent individual with his skills in lying and deception, bordering a Machiavellian personality; he managed to exploit the tailoring ability of Beth's fingers to give the finishing touch to his skin grafts masks project,[2] which was eventually revealed to be on his own advantage as he used it to give himself the respected life he believes to deserve as Ethan Campbell.[3] Despite this, he claimed that all of the villainous action he had done was for the sake of his son, to whom he wanted to provide a safe place in the world, yet his own deranged nature often led August to be violent and cruel even towards Johnny.[10]

A very methodical individual, August seemed to despise dirt and germs, having no qualm in ruthlessly killing a kitten in front of both Johnny and Beth, as "animals bring disease".[2]

Abilities

  • High-level intellect/Master of deception/Manipulator: August was a very sharp-witted and methodical man, as well as an expert at deception, he was able to manipulate Jacob Kane in order to make him believe his daughter was never kidnapped by him.[5] He was also capable of making Beth and Jonathan believe he was dead and pose for over six years as the benevolent and respected surgeon Ethan Campbell.[3] He described himself as a "master of games".[1]
    • Medical knowledge: As a doctor, August was skilled enough of human anatomy to easily skin a living human being and preserving said skin.[5] His expertise also allowed him to surgically creating a skin graft mask in order for him to impersonate a completely different man.[3]
    • Pedagogy: Being a professor at Gotham University, August, as Ethan Campbell, has a considerable level of teaching abilities.[8]
  • Expert marksman: August has proven highly skilled in the use of firearms, as he killed Earth-TUD14's Beth with one precision shot.[3]
  • Intimidation: August has proven to be a very intimidating individual.[5] Due to the traumas he inflicted to them when they were kids, both Alice[2] and Mouse[3] seem to dread him even nowadays, despite being recognized as dangerous killers.
  • High tolerance for pain: August managed to stab his own throat with a broken glass, but did not react in pain.[1]
  • Escape artist: August was also a capable escape artist, able to free himself from various confinements such as zip-cuffs.[1]

Equipment

  • Skin grafts: August uses various skin grafts obtained from corpses to create fake faces in order to impersonate other people.[3]
    • Mask of Ethan Campbell's face: Using the skin grafts, August made a replica of Campbell's face to impersonate him.[3]
  • Guns: August used a sniper rifle when he killed Earth-TUD14's Beth, believing her to be Earth-Prime's Beth.[3]
  • Fear Toxin: August used a canister of fear toxin on his son after abducting him.[10]

Appearances

Batwoman

Season 1

Season 2


Trivia

  • August is an avid pipe smoker, which is why Beth Kane nicknamed him the "Caterpillar".[2]
    • This is a reference to the Alice in Wonderland character named the Caterpillar, who is also known as the Hookah Smoking Caterpillar. Similar to Beth's kidnapper, the Caterpillar is mean to Alice in the story and is often very cryptic just like August's reasons for why he is holding her for most of the times seen in the flashbacks.
  • August is similar to Eobard Thawne as they disguised themselves as another individual for several years; Eobard as Harrison Wells and August as Ethan Campbell.
  • August is Kate Kane's first ever intentional kill.

Behind the scenes

  • Mr. Cartwright only appeared in photographs in the Gotham episode "Nothing's Shocking". He was the abusive husband to Victoria Cartwright and father of Jane Cartwright (whom Jonathan Cartwright is based on). Victoria eventually shot her husband in self-defence.
  • August was the overarching antagonist of Season 1 of Batwoman, as he "created" Alice and led her to go down the path of causing havoc in Gotham.

References