This week's Return of Bruce Wayne #2 gives us our first taste of Frazer Irving, who is going to be drawing the next arc of Batman and Robin, and it's as impressive artistically as you likely are imagining it (but if you want to see more, there are samples ahead!). This issue is another strong chapter in the journey of Bruce Wayne from the past to the present, as Morrison again shows us just how impressive Bruce Wayne can be without any knowledge of his past as Batman.
In this issue, Bruce shows up in the past of Gotham, during a severe investigation into witchcraft within the town, and he shows up as the same time as the demon that we saw at the end of last issue.
I like the mystery of the demon/dragon/whatever - is it coincidence that Bruce was drawn here at this exact time? Or is it part of the Omega Sanction?
The character of Annie is an intriguing one - I love how practiced at the art of deception she is, to the point where she seems downright genuine - I guess part of it is because she honestly and fervently BELIEVES in what she believes in. It's an interesting contrast with the "villain" of the piece, the Witch Hunter Malleus (real name hidden for dramatic effect) that Bruce is paired up with (as "Mordecai," of course).
Meanwhile, the drama heats up with our time travelers. I really dig the way that Morrison is slowly but surely giving us an info-dump, but doing it in a dramatic fashion. It's quite clever use of exposition.
And, obviously, as you've noticed by far already, I'm sure, Irving's artwork is stunning on the comic. And this is not even his best work of the issue - no, that comes later when "Mordecai" goes to work as a witch hunter and shows that he is more of a detective that he is a witch hunter. Seeing the detective work flow from his mind effortlessly was a real treat to see - and the reaction of the suspect that someone would actually look beyond blaming the devil? Classic.
An intriguing aspect of this series is to show us just how even just how much personality Batman is covering up with his personal issues. It is almost like Morrison is using Bruce's amnesia to bring back the whole "bare-chest O'Neil/Adams Batman" to the forefront - seeing "Mordecai" stand up to the brutes and make out with a witch in the forest - that's just as cool as seeing Bruce dress up in the corpse of a bat and fight cavemen (probably even cooler).
Finally, the reveal that Darkseid sent Bruce to the past knowing that he would find a way to return and thereby rigging it so that when he DID he would destroy the universe? That's awesome. "He turned you into a doomsday device and aimed you at the 21st Century!" That's so Raven. Oh wait, I mean, that is so Darkseid to a tee.
So we're only two issues in, and we know a lot more about what's going on, the action has picked up AND we continue to get strong little "set pieces" in the past? This mini-series is a whole lot of fun!