In the original story written by Bill Finger. Thomas and Martha Wayne were exiting a theater after seeing the Mask of Zorro. A mugger named Joe Chill stopped them and tried to steal her pearl necklace. Thomas Wayne tried to stop him but he was shot. The shock of seeing him die was too much for her and she died of a heart attack.
Bruce swore vengeance and promised to catch his parents killer someday. He would eventually find out it was Chill and went after him. It was shown that Chill has now become a racketeer 'exporting' wanted criminals along the state lines. After several failed attempts, Batman would confront Chill and reveal his real identity to him. In shock, Chill ran to his garage and asked his men to help him. He frantically tells them that he was responsible for the Batman's creation. In anger, the henchmen shot him dead.
Years later, Catwoman would say that Bruce became Batman because he was hiding from his grief. The two would marry and Selina gives birth to Helena Wayne. Unfortunately, in her adolescence her mother would die and so will her father. Now effectively an orphan like her father.
During the Silver Age, Martha Wayne had little to do in the story besides appearing next to her husband. In this version, she gives birth to two sons, Thomas Jr and a younger Bruce Wayne. Thomas Jr. was more studious while Bruce extroverted easily displaying his emotions. One day, Thomas took his son Bruce and wife Martha to a movie.
While they were returning from a movie a mugger named Joe Chill stopped them. Chill tried to take away Martha's necklace, but Thomas tried to stop him and he was shot. Martha shouted for help but Chill shot her. Bruce shout in anger: "Y-You killed them, you killed my parents.. You!You! Something in Bruce's eye scares Chill and he runs away.
Thomas Jr. would become traumatized when he learned and he was taken to a mental hospital by his uncle Philip Wayne. Years later, Bruce find out it was Chill in a story reminiscent of the Golden Age version. Later, Bruce would learn that his parents murder was actually a hit and it was a gangster named Lew Moxon who arranged it. (a more detailed version is given in the Thomas Wayne article) Batman will go after an amnesiac Moxon in his father's bat suit and he would flee into the street where an oncoming truck will kill him.
In the modern age, Martha Kane was a notorious party girl who enjoys going to country clubs, night clubs and soirees. She also comes from a wealthy family and is also a social activist. She often uses her family money to help others and aims to stop drug abuse and child trafficking. In those days, she had a friend named Celia.
One day, Martha began dating a man named Denholmn.
It was revealed that Denholmn was a gangster and had past shady dealing with Celia. It revealed that Celia had been embezzling money from one of Martha Kane's charity funds and that's how she got to know Denholmn. Celia left for Greece and Martha warned her that if she returned she (Martha) would expose her crimes. Later, Martha met and fell in love with a physician Dr. Thomas Wayne. The two would later marry and give birth to their son Bruce.
Death and Maidens
Batman swallows an elixir given to him by Ras Al Ghul and talks to his parents. In the dream, Bruce attempts to pick Martha's pearls up but she arrives and tells him that "it will never be better, it will never be fixed" She is shown to be somewhat like Batman in her personality. Like when she asks him to stand up for himself and keep up with her. She is shown to be generally unsupportive of Bruce's decision to become Batman. As she believes that he has forgone his chance for happiness. As she and her husband leave, they tell Bruce that even if time had lessened his grief it doesn't mean he isn't caring for them.
As in the Death and Maiden's, Martha is shown to be caring and wants her son to be happy. She is also shown to be a strong and intelligent woman. She also created an organization with the help of Commissioner Gordon and the family butler Alfred. The goal of the organization was to stop child abuse and trafficking around the world. She believed that it would stop them from growing into criminals. Her views had also been an inspiration for Bruce as he tries to continue his mother's work. She has also taught Bruce something else in the Death and Maidens. Bruce is Batman not because he has to be but because he chooses to be.
During Flashpoint: Batman - Knight of Vengance it's revealed that Martha and Thomas Wayne survived the mugging with Bruce becoming the victim. This lead to Thomas turning into Batman and Martha into the Joker. She kidnaps the daughter of Harvey Dent and disguises Jim Gordon's daughter like the Joker. Gordon shoots his daughter thinking it was Joker.