- "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, it's you!"
- —August and Mouse[src]
Dr. August Cartwright (died March 15, 2020) 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".
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.
August was born in Gotham City to Mabel Cartwright and an unnamed father. Growing up he had a mediocre relationship with his mother and his father died. After reaching adulthood he started working as a doctor and became a colleague of Dr. Jonathan Crane.
Later in his life, August moved into a rural area just outside the city with his son, Jonathan, who remained hideously disfigured after an accident, causing people, especially other children, to call him a "monster" and prompting August to vow to find a way to fix his face, thus starting to make experiments with skin grafts obtained from corpses to create fake faces.
Kidnapping of Beth Kane
In January 2003, while he and his son were out fishing, likely with Mabel too, they found Beth Kane, washed up on shore after the car accident that killed her mother, also fishing out the latter's severed head, prompting August's mother to start asking him to transplant her the woman's face so she could regain her beauty.
August and his son took Beth back to their home and when she woke up, Beth was immediately terrified, only wanting to see her father again. August tried to calm her down and explained that he wanted Beth to become friends with his son. She constantly screamed at him to allow her to go home, but he only left to get her a sandwich.
Later, while Beth and Johnny were watching television, a news report of her disappearance came on and she asked August why he hadn't called the police. However, he never answered but instead grabbed her and threw her into a room in his basement, and locked the door. She noticed a sink and when she looked into it, she saw a severed face floating in the water and fell backwards, disgusted. When August came down to take the face out, she asked what he was doing with it and he only said that it was an experiment. He then told her that the only reason she was here was to become friends with his son and that this was her new home. After he left, Beth desperately called out to her own father, wanting him to come and save her.
Beth later managed to open the door, making her way to the kitchen and calling her father. When he picked up, she asked him for help but was cut off by August grabbing the phone and ripping it off the cord. He warned her 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.
Kate even entered the basement and knocked on Beth's cell, however, Beth remembered that August would kill anyone who came for her and was forced to silently cry as her sister walked away. August also managed to make Jacob believe that it was Johnny pulling a prank and the two eventually left.
About an 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 light 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 mean that it will never come true, then he exited the girl's cell together with Johnny.
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. 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.
Housing his sick motherSometime 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. 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. 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. 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.
Few months later, around 2014, Beth finally escaped from him under unknown circumstances in which Jonathan apparently helped her rebel against his father causing an accident and prompting August to be believed dead.
Becoming Ethan Campbell
August Cartwright had actually gone off-radar for unknown reasons and started to work as plastic surgeon in Gotham City under the identity of Ethan Campbell, an extremely well-known and respected doctor and philanthropist, as well as one of the most renowned teachers at Gotham University, whom he probably replaced during an apparent sabbatical year of him. August then divorced from the man's wife and began specialize in facial reconstruction for burned children.
He apparently treated Duela Dent after she slashed her own face, without the patient's consent as she was brought to the surgeon's clinic by her mother. However, since that happened in 2011, prior to him starting to pose as Campbell, it was unknown if it was August, as he claimed, or the real Campbell.
Hosting Gotham's 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 make a speech honoring Catherine Hamilton-Kane with the Humanitarian Award, prior to leaving the stage to her in order listen to her speech, however, as she was poisoned by Alice, the woman confessed to a litany of crimes before collapsing, prompting the ceremony to end despite Campbell's attempts to calm the crowd.
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, only to be restored a month later, after the Paragons and the Spectre created a new universe.
Jacob Kane's trial
After Jacob Kane was arrested for his wife's murder, Dr. Campbell was approached by Mary Hamilton, a former student of him, who asked to testify in his trial that the murderer was actually Jonathan Cartwright posing as her step-father with a mask made of skin grafts. Campbell however dismissed the idea of a man completely resembling another as sci-fi, suggesting that the girl was still traumatized because of the event right before walking away.
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.
Reunited with his son and killing "Beth"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Telling about "Mommy Dearest"
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 promise he wouldn't kill him, the man was unwilling to alert the police after what Forbes did to him and also to accept the fact that Alice was still alive and the woman he recognize as her in the morgue was simply someone who looked like her, however after Kate showed him his wallet and he realized that the man was posing as Campbell hiding right under everyone's eyes, Jacob began questioning him as soon as August awoke.
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 her adrenaline soon her 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.
After the man 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 track his movement and find Alice, menacing he would skinned him alive after having found her. After the man 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.
Realizing he'd rather die than help her, after he woke up Kate accepted to freed August if he revealed where to find Alice, which he did.
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.
Out of herself for anger, Kate began strangling August and, due to his previously damaged neck, this caused him to die, leaving her traumatized.
His body was subsequently buried underneath a freeway by Jacob Kane, although he later moved it to prevent Alice from blackmailing him or Kate.
- "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. 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.
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. 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. Thus fulfilling August's prediction of Alice going "nuclear".
On the exterior, August always appeared to be an extremely good mannered individual and often presented himself as an eerily calm, level-headed and patient individual, speaking with a callous voice and almost never raising his tone. However, he was actually very abusive and manipulative against both his son, Johnny, whom he raised with the belief that his face was too horrible to be ever accepted or loved by other individuals, and his young prisoner, Beth Kane, whom he cruelly threatened on more than one occasion, physically and mentally tortured her to the point that she didn't make any noise when her father and sister come to rescue her fearing that August might have killed them. He even went so far as telling Beth that her family had abandoned her, eventually "breaking" her and permanently damaging her mental sanity, which resulted in the birth of Alice.
August was an extremely intelligent individual with his skills in lying and manipulation bordering a machiavellian personality, as he managed to exploit the tailoring ability of Beth's fingers to give the finishing touch to his skin grafts masks project, 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. 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.
- High-level intellect/Manipulation: 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. 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. He described himself as a "master of games".
- Medical knowledge: As a doctor, August was skilled enough of human anatomy to easily skin a living human being and preserving said skin. His expertise also allowed him to surgically creating a skin graft mask in order for him to impersonate a completely different man.
- Pedagogy: Being a teacher at Gotham University, August, as Ethan Campbell, has a considerable level of teaching abilities.
- Expert marksman: August has proven highly skilled in the use of firearms as he killed Earth-TUD14's Beth with one precision shot.
- Intimidation: August has proven to be a very intimidating individual. Due to the traumas he inflicted to them when they were kids, both Alice and Mouse 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.
- Escape artist: August was also a capable escape artist, able to free himself from various confinements such as zip-cuffs.
- Skin grafts: August uses various skin grafts obtained from corpses to create fake faces in order to impersonate other people.
- Guns: August used a sniper rifle when he killed Earth-TUD14's Beth, believing her to be Earth-Prime's Beth.
- Fear Toxin: August used a canister of fear toxin on his son after abducting him.
- August is an avid pipe smoker, which is why Beth nicknamed him the "Caterpillar".
- 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 intentional kill ever.
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 , as he "created" Alice and led her to go down the path of causing havoc in Gotham.