Overview

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2

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Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2

Credits

  • Words: Grant Morrison
  • Art: Frazer Irving
  • Story Title: Until the End of Time
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: May 26, 2010

If anybody thinks Grant Morrison is letting his creative guard down with his continuation on the various Batman-related projects, think again.  Where Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1 established the time-travelling foundation for Bruce as he awoke in prehistoric times, issue #2 finds him in colonial Gotham fighting what appears to be a hybrid of Starro and Proselyte, the Indigo Tribe's entity, alongside a superstitious, hyper-religious townspeople bent on eradicating all forms of evil that plague their humble colony.

A combination of Seven Soldiers of Victory in terms of its artistic feel and design with the bastard offspring of Final Crisis meets The Invisibles in complex and bizarre storytelling, issue #2 is far more fantastical in its scope than the first installment.  Gone is the unintelligible Bruce, instead replaced by someone who appears to recognize who he truly is.  Unlike issue #1, audiences experience a short passage of time for Bruce as he must establish a name and reputation for himself as some form of colonial investigator.  Dispatched by Boston and called Brother Mordecai by those in Gotham, Wayne puts little faith in religious excuses and witchcraft phobias as the sole source of evil in the town.  In fact, Wayne befriends the town's sole witchcraft outcast, Annie, the girl who saved him at the end of the last issue and is perhaps Morrison's colonial version of Catwoman. 

There are two central conflicts in this story.  One pits Wayne against Brother Malleus, the "Hammer," a religious zealot, while the other finds Superman, Green Lantern, Booster Gold and Skeets, and Rip Hunter facing the "Vanishing Point."  At first, the inclusion of these characters appeared solely as a promotion for DC's companion series, but obviously Morrison has a lot to say with these characters as they engage the archivist.  Readers familiar with Flatland or M-Theory will appreciate Morrison's return to the Hypertime concept he developed along with Mark Waid for the DC Universe.  But, the threat Morrison introduced in issue #1 and the dire consequences Wayne's time travel poses are amplified here as Superman learns Darkseid's sinister machinations in subjecting Bruce to the Omega Beams.  With this reveal, alongside the archivist's identity, the real name of Malleus, and the fact that with each temporal shift Bruce seems to retain more of his memories, Morrison has definitely taken this six-issue mini-series to an entirely new level.

Whether it was Morrison or DC's decision to have different artists on each issue, the inclusion of Frazer Irving on issue #2 really demands attention and praise.  Having cut his colonial artist teeth during his run on Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory: Klarion the Witch Boy, Irving recaptures the emotion and aura of that series beautifully.  Few artists can express the serenity of sunlight breaking through the trees on a fall day in New England and immediately shift into a horrific, shadow-clad cave that lies below the town's outskirts.  Frazer has taken the baton from Chris Sprouse and pushed it in realms few could have imagined.

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