Overview

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1

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Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1

Credits

  • Words: Grant Morrison
  • Art: Chris Sprouse
  • Inks: Karl Story
  • Colors: Guy Major
  • Story Title: Shadow on Stone
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: May 12, 2010

Released fresh on the heels of the reveal in Batman & Robin #12, Grant Morrison delivers his second major Batman punch this month as he takes readers all the way back to the last sequences in Final Crisis with the release of his long-awaited follow-up series to Batman RIP

Following Bruce as he transitions in and out of the time stream at different stages in Gotham's history—prehistoric, colonial, piracy, nineteenth-century frontier, 1950's crime noir, and lastly the present day—this six-issue mini-series finds the amnesiac hero trapped among the warring Cro-Magnon societies of Anthro's followers and the Blood Mob who worship Vandal Savage.

There are so many gems in this issue that revealing them would rob readers of the pleasure of finding them on their own.  At the core of the story, however, is a tale of survival as it is Bruce, not the Cro-Magnons, who speaks in some unintelligible dialogue as his mind fights to find some recognizable face, image, or other signpost that may trigger a self-recognition of who he truly is.  Falling back on primal instincts, Bruce first recognizes symbols as signs of something familiar—Superman's cape from the spaceship launched in Final Crisis, a crumbling bat-signal, and of course, the paintings on the cave wall.  Yet, perhaps the first real indication that underneath the half-naked exterior lies something resembling the world's greatest detective is his introduction to other members of Anthro's tribe, and the subsequent assault by Savage's Blood Mob.  Seeing Bruce don the head and wings of some deceased giant bat and fight Vandal Savage is worth the price of admission alone. 

Although it is unclear what is triggering Bruce's time jumps, perhaps the arrival of Superman, Green Lantern, Booster Gold, and Rip Hunter are a clue. If his jump into the colonial era is any indication, Bruce's memory and conversational skills seem to improve as he progresses through each temporal phase.  There is far more at stake here than Bruce simply finding his way back to the present and returning to Gotham, and Morrison has established a solid framework for this first issue to investigate what larger threat Bruce's return will have on the DC Universe.

The artistic trio of Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, and Guy Major also deserve praise for the success of this first issue.  While action sequences are interwoven throughout, they do not overshadow the narrative and dramatic sequences.  In the first quarter of the issue alone and then sporadically throughout, very little dialogue is spoken and readers must rely on the art to reinforce the drama, the mystery, and the threat facing Wayne as he fights external foes while simultaneously combating inner demons. 

Their art combined with Morrison's deft storytelling should have readers lament that these issues are one-shot vignettes into the past and not an entire mini-series in each historical era.  Together with Andy Kubert's beautiful cover (one of the most active in recent memory), the art team on issue #1 has set the bar for those who follow.

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Comments

  • Eric Lindberg

    Eric Lindberg May 15, 2010 at 3:21am

    I interpreted Bruce's garbled dialect differently. The Cro-Magnons wouldn't have been speaking English so I assumed Bruce's speech was meant to show what the noises he made sounded like to them. Your version is plausible too though. In any case, pretty awesome first issue. I am looking forward to the rest.

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