Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4

B-

Comics Review:
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4

Grant Morrison is a man with a plan, and for DC Comics and Batman he’s been that man for a few years now.

Having recently reread Morrison’s run on Batman since he first introduced Damian Wayne, the current Robin, in the “Batman & Son” storyline, up to his current work on Batman & Robin and now in Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne it’s been interesting to see how each piece fit into the larger whole of Morrison’s masterplan for the Dark Knight. And in this issue we get some more puzzle pieces to his larger scheme.

When I first read of the concept for Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, my mind raced with excitement, but I have to admit now that I’ve been a little disappointed in the execution of this mini-series. Morrison’s other Batman-related series, Batman & Robin, however has yet to disappoint. To me the concept of Bruce Wayne being lost in time brought to mind thoughts of the man we know as Batman living hundreds of lives, and being reincarnated each generation as he came closer to returning home to Gotham in his time. However Morrison has taken a different approach, with Wayne seemingly only living for brief periods—maybe only weeks or months, possibly just days—in each of the time periods shown in this series before shuttling off to the next… to me this hardly seems like the cruel fate that Darkseid had in mind in “Final Crisis.”

But, we know now that Darkseid had much more in mind than punishment for Bruce Wayne. One of the subplots laid out in this series had been Superman and company desperately searching for Wayne in the timestream before he’s able to return home and destroy space-time, a nifty little trick by Darkseid I must say… how Bruce’s return will exactly unravel time has yet to be explained, but, then again, there’s still a few more issues to go.

In issue #4 we catch up with Bruce Wayne as a menacing, avenging cowboy in the 1800′s in a frontier-like iteration of Gotham City. We get none of the Superman subplot in this issue, and Morrison instead chooses to focus more on the antagonists of this issue, a disgruntled Frenchman and his henchman, who have hired bounty-hunter Jonah Hex, seemed like kind of a gimmicky crossover to me folks, to protect them from the seemingly unstoppable cowboy-Batman, who had virtually no dialogue at all in this issue.

I’ll admit it’s been fun to see the different takes on Bruce Wayne through time—caveman, witch-hunter, pirate and cowboy—but this issue was probably the weakest of the series so far. Of the revolving artists on this series I felt Georges Jeanty (filling in for Camerson Stewart who was originally announced as artist on this issue) has been the weakest of the bunch. That’s not to say that the art is bad, or merely servicable, but that it just doesn’t size up to the high standards of the previous three issues.

To me, what was most interesting about episode were the subtle plotpoints that tied into the recent Batman & Robin arc and which will perhaps will go some way into explaining the true nature of Doctor Hurt, the main villain from “Batman: R.I.P.” But, like the artwork, the story in issue #4 doesn’t measure up to the previous issues. However, I’m certainly looking forward to following the rest of Bruce’s journey and, hopefully, learning more about Dr. Hurt and how Bruce’s return will spell doom for the DC Universe.

tags: batman, bruce wayne, grant morrison, jonah hex

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