Batman: The Return #1
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by David Finch
In a word, wow. That’s the short version.
Not because it’s some sort of high concept thematic followup to Morrison’s previous Batman work, or because of David Finch’s art (which is deserving of a wow of its own), but rather because it’s an accessible, and most importantly fun issue. For the past few years, under the pen of Grant Morrison, Batman has been better than it has been in years, but it hasn’t been simple to just pick up and read. The double edged sword of Morrison is that he tends to get lost in his own narrative, and while it makes sense to readers who follow along, it’s not always something that a random person can pick up and read….and Batman had been very guilty of that lately. The Return of Bruce Wayne and the events tieing in from Batman & Robin as well as from R.I.P. were dense and written over the heads of more than a few readers. After all, I had to read the last issue of the Return of Bruce about five times just to know that I wasn’t going to be full of it talking about the story.
Why is this important?
Because Batman: The Return is a fresh start. Bruce Wayne is back, he’s seemingly happy, he’s excited, he’s optimistic. It’s almost out of character, but after everything he’s been through, it does make sense. He’s been from the dawn of man to the end of time, he’s been through the adventure of a lifetime, and now he’s able to just be focused on the mission. This isn’t Bat-Jerk, or Moody Bruce, rather this is a Batman that is ready and waiting for tomorrow, to fix the entire world and not just Gotham. He’s not a brand new character, by any stretch of the imagination, or even out of character, it’s just a nice evolution of Bruce’s character to the point where he would start firing people for backtalk.
I mean, that’s the explanation given for two Batmen. Bruce likes the work Dick and Damian are doing, but for the life of him can not work with Damian. It’s the subtle differences between his way and Dick’s, as Bruce does demand the best, and accepts no less, whereas Dick has already been there and understands that Robin has to disobey Batman. And more so, that Damian not only needs the job, but he deserves the job. I think no one is more surprised than Dick Grayson when Bruce tells him that Gotham City needs him and Damian as Batman and Robin. It’s a great little moment, and at the same time, something I couldn’t have seen happening even a year ago.
Now, this issue isn’t just Bruce proving that he’s a nicer guy, or setting up the tables for who gets what book. There’s also some action! Batman versus terrorists! Bruce’s first mission for Incorporated (I say before reading Batman Inc #1, as I’m writing this entire review before reading that) could very well have to do with this, as we’re shown illegal bio-experiements, funded by terrorists, to create superpowers….and it leads to Batman and Robin against a giant mutated beast of a man. There’s also a masked man, revealed in the script pages to be The Heretic, who looks almost like…well, an Arabic terrorist version of Batman. Why Batman? He’s got the ears. Leviathan looks to be the looming threat, and the Heretic has some connection to it.
So the real question is, how will this new Bruce Wayne handle this new problem?
On the art front it’s safe to say that David Finch was born to draw Batman, and the fact that it’s taken this long is mind blowing. I can’t come up with any sort of issues I have with the art, and, if anything, I just wish the back half of the issue was more story and less script pages. Finch does an amazing job here, and I can’t wait for his new Batman ongoing (I just hope the writing holds up to the high quality he’s setting with the art). The book is perfectly dark and moody, the action is clear, the characters are defined, and everything is just…..perfect.
Batman: The Return is the beginning of tomorrow for the Bat titles as it leads in to the new status quo, with Batman Inc., with two Batmen running around, with the Shadow of the Bat being spread over the globe. If you’re a long time Batman fan, this issue is a great branch from what’s come before into what’s next, that serves as a payoff for those who have been following around. If you’re a new reader looking to jump on board with Batman, then this is the perfect issue for you as it gives you everything you need to know moving forward without bogging you down too much in confusing details and continuity. Definitely one of the best Batman issues I’ve read all year.
Tags: Batman, David Finch, Grant Morrison, Reviews