Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne by Grant Morrison et al. Review


Bruce Wayne was zapped with Darkseid’s Omega beams at the end of Final Crisis, sending him hurtling back through time while making it seem to others that he died. Now Bruce is travelling forwards, jumping from one era to another, building up omega energy – and if Bruce makes it back to the present, he’s going to destroy the entire world! 

This is the first Batman book in Morrison’s recent run that I wasn’t totally immersed in. Reason being is that it’s mostly an excuse to see Bruce dress as Batman in different times repeatedly before getting to anything resembling a story in the final chapter. So we get to see Batman as a caveman, a Puritan witch-hunter, a pirate, a cowboy, a detective and as some weird futuristic cybernetic thing. Visually it’s interesting but it’s pretty tedious to read – Morrison is essentially just waiting until the end of each chapter when Bruce jumps to the next era. Occasionally the more interesting story makes an appearance as Superman and co. try to locate Bruce somewhere in time and alert him of Darkseid’s plan, but those moments are few and far between. 

The final chapter is really great and lifts the book up at the last minute. Here Morrison revisits his idea of Bruce Wayne as the ultimate survivor, the only man who could be Batman, and the greatest detective of all time who somehow manages to reach back from the end of time, save Superman and the rest of the Justice League, save the world and himself, and defeat Darkseid all at once. It’s a scene that’s a direct slap to the face of Geoff Johns’ dim-witted remarks in his New 52 Justice League books that Batman’s lame because he doesn’t have superpowers. 

Unexpectedly, Red Robin aka Tim Drake plays a central role in this story, knowing the key to reminding Bruce of who he is at the crucial moment – in a book full of god-like beings, two humans play the most important roles. There are lots of moments like this in the book that I loved and made reading it worthwhile, but considering the genius of the previous Morrison Batman books RIP, Son, and Black Glove, The Return of Bruce Wayne feels remarkably superficial and stretched out. Obviously if you’re reading (or re-reading like me) the series, you shouldn’t skip this one but it’s definitely the low point in an otherwise incredible run.

Batman The Return Of Bruce Wayne

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