Review: Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1 (of 6)

Morrison’s sprawling, epic run with Batman has now broken off into two separate branches: the light, pop-savvy action of Batman and Robin and, now, the history-spanning action mystery of Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne.  One follows Dick and Damien as they pick up the pieces of Bruce’s life and live out his legacy; the other follows a confused Bruce Wayne, trapped in the past and unsure of how to get home.  Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1 gets off to a slow start, with a meandering, overconfident beginning, but about halfway through the opening issue, the wit and action that revitalized the Bat-franchise reappears, giving us some fantastic imagery, some compelling new mysteries, and a pretty great fight scene.

Chris Sprouse does some fine work on the art.  His design for Man of Bats was solid, but the image of the temporary new Boy Wonder was nothing short of inspired, and while the fight against Vandal Savage was all too brief, Sprouse nonetheless kept the action flowing smoothly.  And the shadowy appearance of a few heroes from our time is a surprisingly underplayed scene, memorable and extremely well-colored.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1 starts too slow and meanders too much to pack quite the same punch of, say, Batman and Robin #1, but it is nonetheless a memorable, exciting opening issue for the miniseries.  Sprouse proves to be an excellent collaborator, and Morrison makes sure to leave us with the promise for an epic opening battle for next issue.  Solid, if not spectacular.

Grade: B

– Cal Cleary

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11 thoughts on “Review: Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1 (of 6)

  1. We are pretty much in 100% agreement. I wonder how this was received people who didn’t like Final Crisis since its pretty entrenched in its aftermather.

    I know you didn’t mention it but I am super sick of hal jordan. Why did he have to make a cameo?

  2. There are a lot of FC connections that I missed, having lent my FC comics to a friend a few months back, and that might explain some of the slow beginning. I honestly didn’t expect it to be so FC heavy, and as much as I love FC, that does kind of hurt the book a little in my eyes, at least at first blush.

    I’m sick of Hal, too, but he was hardly in it, and the combination of Superman, Booster Gold, and Rip Hunter was a compelling team-up – not to mention the surprisingly dark turn as Superman, all red eyes and shadowed face, proclaims that Batman making it back would destroy everything. Barely even noticed Hal!

      • It is unquestionably interesting, and I find myself on the side of dberes’ side in general: part of the problem with superhero comics and their mainstream acceptance is that there are so few people taking them seriously.

        There are of course plenty of fans who clamor after self-proclaimed ‘serious’ or ‘adult’ comic book, with murder and rape and the like. These fans are, by and large, just immature and wary of looking ‘uncool’ by reading superheroes. So they mask the immaturity by pointing at Geoff Johns latest work and saying, “Look at all that blood – it’s not just for kids now!”

        But that’s not the kind of ‘serious’ I’m talking about. I am talking about genuine criticism applied to comics, or at least a form of it, thought given to influences, to theme, to idea, to execution.

        Of course, it doesn’t quite work. For the same reason people largely ignore Michael Bay films as the garbage they are, the bulk of superhero comics always will be ghettoized – they want to be. Most creators don’t seek to do anything except tell a simple story with a big fight at the end, and while it’s disappointing, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong about that.

        In my opinion, the reformation of comics doesn’t have to start with critics and commentators, but with creators and companies. We only have the power to demand that they do better; whether or not they take our pleas to heart is up to them, and the fact is, it’s HARD to write, and it’s even harder to write something great on a consistent basis.

        Every time a ‘fanboy’ joins the ranks of writers, editors, etc… we lose a little. Yes, you need to be a fan to do this, I think, you need to be passionate about the medium and about the characters and about the genre… but the good of the characters, stories, imagery, medium, and genre has to come before which character you like best, and with many creators, especially today, it never, ever will.

        I think it’s fair to say we’re entering the ‘Black Age’ of comics at DC, as in ‘Black Lanterns’ – everyone is bringing back all these silver age heroes they grew up with, but they lack the creativity, the soul, the HEART that made them great in the first place. The Silver Age wasn’t revered because Barry Allen was such a deep character, it was revered because it introduced a daring, carefree attitude to the writing that suggested that anything could happen.

      • Great comment seventh. Sorry its taken 3 months to respond. In my opinion the reformation of comics has long been happening at the level of creators and company. The only thing its not the big two or even independents. But actually book publishing houses that are now publishing graphic literate. Comic books, graphic literature, sequential narrative, whatever you call it… its long been growing into something more serious, more reflective of itself as a medium and an artform. The question as I understand it is will superhero comics catch up or will it become a relic and ever reducing niche product. I hate those people who talk about superhero comics being a detriment to the art form. Superheros are central to the medium. Its what gave birth to it. I think, hope, it has an important place in its future.

  3. Yeah I agree with your assessment. I am the biggest FC cheerleader but i was hoping this would be largely self contained. However at very least I hope it serves to lend RoBW it epic scale.

    I know hal wasn’t really prevalent. I just don’t see why he has to be there at all. Is this a Justice League thing? If so why only hal and supes? Otherwise I get why Supes is there, superman and batman go together like peanut butter and jelly. Rip and booster’s are the time travelers of the DC universe? Why is hal here? him and bats aren’t especially good friends. Even though its a cameo now, i fear his larger involvement (which by the looks of vanishing point…).

  4. This issue was really good. Slow is probably the opposite of what i thought. Whats slow about very little dialogue and a lot of action?

  5. I think we’re using a different standard of measurement. Slow doesn’t, here denote, a low punching in the face to talking ratio. But rather the overarching story is slow in disclosing itself.

    • Things like that work better as comments, I think, until I have the time to do the research necessary to give the post meat. Right now it’s just the ramblings of an angry fanboy – it will take work, research, etc… to make it anything more.

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