Batman’s not so great return

Tyler McGinty

“The Return of Bruce Wayne” is Grant Morrison’s story of a man lost in time, jumping from era to era trying to find his way home. At first, “Return” seems a lot like “Quantum Leap” with special guest star Batman.

“Return” takes place directly after the events of Morrison’s previous DC Comics event, “Final Crisis,” in which Batman and the rest of the Justice League battle against Darkseid. Of course, the Justice League wins, but Batman is lost in the battle. All of the heroes (except for Tim Drake, the former Robin) are convinced that Batman is dead, when in actuality he is only lost in time.

Batman’s journey through time is told in six chapters: pre-history, Colonial Era, the age of pirates, the Wild West, the ’30s, and modern times. Each issue has a different artist, many of which have worked with Morrison before on “Seven Soldiers of Victory.”

The differences in art really help to give each chapter its own distinctive flair. Making every time period have its own look helps the reader empathize with Batman. It takes each jump Bruce makes almost as jarring for the reader, as the book takes an entirely different look.

I just wish that the content of these chapters wasn’t just as jarring from book to book. For example, the chapters involving the pirates and the Wild West could easily have been taken out. I’m not sure if DC wanted a six-issue event or if Morrison did, but it seemed like these were fillers.

Taking them out wouldn’t hurt the story at all, which isn’t to say these chapters were bad. In fact, the Wild West chapter was one of my favorites. Those chapters were entertaining to read, but they didn’t advance the plot that much. Maybe there is something vital I’m not quite catching though, since Morrison loves to put all sorts of subtle detail in his work.

The other four chapters do an amazing job of telling the story that is surprisingly coherent for constantly jumping from era to era, and it could have a lasting impact on Batman even after Morrison stops writing Batman stories.

When taken in the context of Morrison’s other work on Batman, “Return” is definitely a vital read. However, if read by itself or without reading (or at least knowing what happened in) “Final Crisis,” “Return” is likely to leave you confused.

Morrison appears to be the kind of writer that doesn’t seem content with just telling an innovative story with a character. When Morrison works with an established character, it appears he will settle for nothing less than a total re-imagining of that character. It’s what made “Animal Man” famous, it was perfect for “All-Star Superman”, and so far his new Batman series “Batman, Inc.” is off to a great start. Unfortunately, it seems to fall a little flat with “Return.”