Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #6
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Lee Garbett and Pere Perez
Well, it’s over, and Bruce is back, and it does tie in kinda nicely with last weeks Batman and Robin, but is it good? As a mini, the Return of Bruce Wayne has gone between moments of sheer brilliance and moments where you have to wonder if the concept ran away from itself in Morrison’s mind. This issue, while providing a fitting wrap up and explaining more than a few lingering questions, is a little bit of both. It’s the crazy Morrison epic that we all tend to expect when Grant is really on his game, but with that comes the drawbacks, and I can’t fairly judge this issue without relating it back to the rest of this mini, or even Batman and Robin.
The story itself takes us from the end of time, to the beginning of Batman, back to the present, and even to the birth of Dr. Hurt. It explains the purpose behind the Archivist, and explains why Bruce would become one. How the weapon against time was that Bruce, saturated with Omega Radiation, was bait for a hyperfauna, the giant nasty monster Bruce was fighting several issues ago for no apparent reason. It’s a weapon of Apokolips that followed him through time, gaining power the closer it followed Bruce to home. The closer to home he would get, the closer he would be to dieing as death is the only way to escape it. Alright, that’s cool, I can live with that and it sure as hell beats “crazy monster for the sake of crazy monster”.
Probably the coolest part is Morrison finally revealing just what the giant Bat creature that keeps popping up over time is, which led to a fitting little explanation that tied together quite a few things.
I guess the problem I have with the book, with the mini as a whole, is that while there’s some definitely great things going on, there are more than a few times where it feels as if Morrison’s story got away from him. He gives us a cool conclusion that puts us….I’ll get to that in a bit, actually, but he gives us a fun story. The downside is that the story he gives us is also ridiculously over complicated to almost Final Crisis levels. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Final Crisis was pretty good once you got a chance to actually digest it, and I imagine that the Return of Bruce Wayne will read better in a completed volume as well, but as a monthlyish mini series over the course of six months, it was frustrating. While there is most definitely story to be told, and story that was told, there were issues throughout where it felt as if nothing was getting done at all, and yet as everything wraps up the points become obvious. This is cool, I like this.
I don’t like having to double, triple, and quadruple read a book because I just can’t seem to figure it out. I mean, I wrote a Spoiler Warning last week for just what exactly Dr. Hurt was, and even after three read throughs of his origin I still wasn’t sure that I was getting the right stuff out of it.
But this is Grant Morrison, this is what he does, and he is a master at it.
As far as art goes, for those of you that don’t read Batgirl you’re in for a treat, and for those who do read Batgirl….also in for a treat! See, Lee Garbett and Pere Perez trade off art duties in this issue, with Garbett doing most of the issue and Perez handling some of the other pages. Why does this work? Because these guys have been the rotating pencillers on Batgirl doing a bang up job! This isn’t the most dynamic looking issue so far, wrapping up a mini series in which you already had Yanick Paquette doing Pirate Batman, and Frazer Irving doing Pilgrims, but you know what Garbett and Perez did do? They drew the book like a superhero book. Not to say that the other Return of Bruce Wayne artists couldn’t have done that, but these guys handled the issue where Bruce finally comes back, and they made it feel like an issue of Batman. They made for a very inspired choice.
The end quality of this issue really just depends on how much of Morrison’s story you can decipher, as seems to be the story with most of his work. I mean, Final Crisis. If you had asked me right after reading the entire mini for the first time how I felt, I’d probably have socked it with a 4 or a 5. Ask me now? 7 or 8. That’s what happens when you have a writer who lives to do high concept, you either keep up or you just don’t get it. Return of Bruce Wayne is the perfect example of it too.
Tags: Batman, Batman and Robin, DC Comics, Grant Morrison, Lee Garbett, Pere Perez, Reviews, The Return of Bruce Wayne