Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Comic Book Review: Batman - The Return of Bruce Wayne #1

Last January, in the pages of Final Crisis #6, Batman was seemingly killed by Darkseid. The Caped Crusader went down a hero though, weakening the villain with a bullet made of radian, so he could be defeated. Skeptics weren't sure weather Batman actually died though, with him arguable being the most popular character in comics. The skeptics were rewarded, with the last pages of Final Crisis #7, where we see a Bruce Wayne writing on a cave, a cave that is supposedly from the beginning of time. Over the next couple months, DC told us that Bruce would be coming back though, but they didn't tell us how. WIth the current Batman and Robin, Dick and Damian, discovering clues about the whereabouts of Bruce, they realize that he is stuck somewhere in time, and it's up to them to find and rescue him.

Today the first issue of The Return of Bruce Wayne was released, the first of six chronicling the adventures of Bruce as he works his way through time, and supposedly, to the present. But first, he must conquer the past itself, starting with the caveman era. I'm going to attempt to give an accurate summary of the issue, with the plot being mysterious and brilliant, but the caveman talk being hard to follow.

The issue begins with a group of cavemen inspecting a rocket that is jammed in the ground. There are three main cavemen here, who are main characters though out the story. There is one with black hair and a full beard, there is a blond one, and the dark-haired one's son, a red-headed boy. The group walk towards a cave, and when they approach the entrance, a large number of bats fly out. The dark-haired caveman throws a rock inside, and a shirtless Bruce Wayne, holding his utility belt emerges out. He speaks in muddled words, and is not quite sure what is going on. The cavemen explain why they are there: The dark haired man is there to meet his father, who will teach the red-headed boy about being a man. Bruce seems to be able to understand them, but they can't seem to make out his speech, so they begin to make fun of him, and laugh. After a hearty growl from Bruce, they apologize as he works his way to the rocket.

The cavemen walk inside the cave, where they see the wall that Bruce was inscribing symbols of himself and other heroes. The dark haired man finds his father, who is the old man that Bruce laid to rest during the final pages of FInal Crisis. They carry him out, and take off a white necklace his was holding to his chest.

Bruce is opening the rocket, where he finds what looks to be a broken bat spotlight, and Superman's cape. As he walks back towards the cavemen, a rival tribe is preparing to attack from above...

As night comes, a fire is lit, dinner is made, and the cavemen once again discuss where the mysterious Bruce could have come from. They decide that he is from over the ocean, and name him, the Man of Bats. As the cavemen continue their discussion, it is interrupted by an attack from the rival tribe of cavemen. Arrows begin to fly, headed right towards the red-headed boy, but Bruce dives in front, taking the shots upon himself. He drags the boy into the bushes, and they watch as the rival tribe brutally attacks the family, killing the dark-haired man. Bruce jumps out to help in the battle, where he attack the tribal leader, who is revealed to be Vandal Savage. Savage is first baffled by the attacker, deeming him a man-god, but he soon comes to his senses and has his tribe knock Bruce around, rendering him unconscious.

Savage has Bruce on top of a hill, right next to a giant bat that has been skinned and posted in the soil. Vandal addresses his followers as they eat member of the tribe they just murdered, saying that he will fight the man-god tomorrow in the presence of the light, where after defeating them, he will eat Bruce's brain. He has his tribe use stakes to rope Bruce to the ground, where he will await his fight.

After Bruce falls asleep, he begins to have a strange dream, but is soon awoken by the red-headed boy. The boy has made himself a shield with a bat symbol on it, as well as a domino mask of sorts, a prehistoric Robin. He cuts Bruce loose, so they can warn other tribes of Savage's attacks.

Savage wakes up from his tent, where he immediately wants to begin his fight. He goes over to where Bruce was tied down, only to see that he is missing. Savage gets angry, and is quickly startled when Bruce, wearing the large bat skin, jumps out and attacks. Using his array of utility belt tricks, Bruce easily defeats Savage as a solar eclipse occurs. The new/old Robin finds the neckless his father died in, but is terrified, along with all the other cavemen, of the eclipse, thinking that they have angered the sun. The few remaining members of Savage's tribe attack the new Batman and Robin, forcing them to run away, and then jump into a large waterfall. As Bruce and the boy hit the water, the briefly sink, the boy then comes up shortly thereafter. He waits by the water for "the man of bat" but Bruce never emerges, so the boy leaves.

The evil tribe kick Vandal out, having been defeated by the Bat, he is no longer a worthy leader. As soon as he's gone, a bright flash occurs, and Superman, Booster Gold, Hal Jordan, appear along with a time sphere. Superman says that he knows Bruce was there, but he is gone now. He has a ominous warning though: If Bruce makes it back to the 21st century on his own, everyone dies.

Bruce opens his eyes under water, where he is pulled up by a woman wearing old fashioned clothing. He can now speak in phrases, as he asks the woman what is going on, and where the boy is. The woman doesn't know, but she refers to him as "Master Demon" as she asks what kind of horse he rode there. Bruce turns around and grabs a sword, as he sees a large octopus like creature with very sharp teeth behind him.

With one of six chapters in the book, I may have more questions than I did going in. How is Bruce traveling from era to era? Why is Superman and the other looking for him? And how can Bruce returning to the present kill everyone? Only time will tell.

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