The return of Bruce Wayne begins this week with the aptly titled The Return of Bruce Wayne #1, by Grant Morrison and Chris Sprouse.
It picks up where Final Crisis #1 left off, with Batman in the time of Anthro (DC’s “first” hero) and it is quite awesome.
First off, wow, what an opening to the issue, as we see the “time-traveling spaceship from Final Crisis #7” as well as get introduced not only to Bruce Wayne, but also to the supporting cast for the issue…
I love the dialogue, as Morrison gives them a distinct dialect while not making it too difficult to understand. When Bruce Wayne tries to talk (modern English), the others can’t understand what he is saying, which is interesting, especially since if you try hard enough you can sort of figure out what he is actually saying.
Chris Sprouse, as you can see, is rocking a Joe Kubert-esque style for this pre-historic tale. Sprouse and inker Karl Story do a tremendous job with the artwork. Characters are all well-defined (while still having that classic “Joe Kubert” feel to them) and the action is well-paced and the designs of the various “costumes” are well done. Kudos to Sprouse!
This being the past, naturally Morrison uses two notable DC pre-historic characters, the immortal Vandal Savage (as the bad guy in the story) and Anthro himself (whose grandson, in a brilliant little scene, sort of becomes a pre-historic Robin).
The great thing about it, though, is that you don’t really need to KNOW that they are established characters for it to work. Hell, you don’t really need to know ANYthing for this story to work – it works quite nicely as a one-shot story about a hero from the future thrown into the midst of a war between pre-historic tribes. Particularly, while Morrison references the opening of Final Crisis #1 (where Metron gave Anthro the sigil needed to win the day, but Anthro’s people felt that they were just being given fire itself), you don’t need to know that scene at all, or that it is, in fact, Anthro who dies at the end of Final Crisis #7 (and whose dead body is discovered this issue).
But while this works as a one-shot it is, of course, also part of a larger story, so we get a quick cameo at the end by a trio of time-traveling heroes who are trying to find Batman, and their quest gives us the underlying drama of the overall series – Bruce Wayne is traveling forward in time, but by doing so, he is endangering the universe itself. So on top of an enjoyable one-off issue, we get an intriguing premise for the rest of the series and a ton of interesting questions – WHY is he traveling forward in time? WHY is this endangering the universe? HOW did Superman, Green Lantern and Booster Gold find out about this? HOW did DC apparently get Morrison to coordinate his story with a Dan Jurgens mini-series? WHAT is that crazy ass Cthulhu-looking monster at the end of the issue?
So many question!! I can’t wait until next issue (Batman in the days of Hester Prine) to find out!
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