Batman – The Return , One-Shot
I read Batman R.I.P., and aside from the art it was terrible. It was confusing and disjointed, and that’s not a cop-out way of saying I couldn’t understand it. I’m saying that because that’s what I felt it was. Being clever and being confusing are two separate things. I felt Morrison got to ride on the coattails of who he was, his accolades, and the majority of readers could just say “Yea, it’s Morrison, he’s weird.” Well it wasn’t just weird, it was bad. It just wasn’t compelling to me. For a story which such a daunting title as “R.I.P” I felt that I wasn’t caring, and was going to miss out on the “death” of Batman because I wasn’t drawn into it enough, and didn’t know enough to care. In fact, I think I may hate Grant Morrison; this book, however, is great. So, now that I’ve ranted I’ll get back on topic.
For those of you that don’t know, Bruce Wayne as Batman ‘the symbol’ died, and was taken over quite quickly by Dick Grayson. Then there were the ‘Return of’ and ‘Road Home’ arcs, as well as a heck of a lot of other stuff going on before that in Batman and Red Robin and Streets of Gotham. “The Return” one shot is the sort of ‘jumping-on’ point for readers to see the Return of Bruce Wayne to Gotham city, and most importantly to the role of Batman. But before that we have a few really distracting, terribly written introduction pages involving the far too overused bat-through-the-window scene. Oh well.
Bruce is back and he has grand plans, not just for Gotham City but on a world-scale. Grant does a good job here of keeping Bruce traditionally and darkly composed, (Oracle even draws Bruce’s attention to it) what with his recent silly time-travelling and running the period-gamut. He’s got plans, and is setting them into motion. The real clincher in all of this is that Bruce wants Dick to remain Batman. Bruce will be the worldly Batman, the ‘bigger than an idea’ fighter, whilst Dick remains in and around Gotham, defending the city as Batman with Damien as Robin. This particular change is pretty drastic to both casual and die-hard Batfans alike, and will probably divide opinions; I for one enjoy it. It certainly gives lots of opportunity for new direction and new plotlines for the various Bat-books. That being said, I do not enjoy the idea of the Legion of Batmen, which I’ll mention again later.
Along with this new direction is a new enemy, a criminal organization dubbed “Leviathan” (the name of which some of you may recognize as an enemy from Marvel’s Nick Fury, obviously unrelated), though not much is known or learnt about them in this issue, being a one shot and all.
This issue is great for what it’s purpose is: inviting the reader into the fresh and changing world of Batman, setting up a few new scenarios for the allies (Gotham Batman & Robin, Lucius’ tech, Oracle’s new suit, Batgirl’s new alias), and giving the characters new areas to falter or succeed in their updated roles. I feel that Batman is in a very good place right now. The majority of titles seem very promising, with the exception of Batman Inc., which oddly enough seems to be the one to mostly spin directly out of this one-shot. I love the idea of two Batmen. I am very wary about the idea of many Batmen. This seems like it could very easily transform into one of Morrison’s “grand” ideas, and quickly dilute and sully the great image of Batman: the troubled avenger and Dark Knight, into Batman: the Anti-Crime Camaraderie Corporation.
Definitely grab this issue if you’re a Batfan. Whether you’ve been in or out of the loop over the past year, it will get you back into the fray. If you enjoy it, you’re bound to be in for a treat, ‘cause the Batman department is looking up. If you don’t happen to like the idea of a bunch of Batmen, steer away from Inc. and stick with some other titles: Scott Snyder’s new start on Detective brings the Caped Crusader back to his detective roots with a series of murders; Streets of Gotham continues with the deceptive villain Hush trying to ruin Bruce Wayne at all costs; Finch’s the Dark Knight releases later this month and focuses on the more supernatural encounters that Bruce has to deal with. All in all, it’s a great time to love Batman.