Now where’d I set that fifth issue of Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne? The one where he continues his race through time (and remember folks, time’s arrow only flies in one direction!) Ah yes, right here under this giant pile of ratty moleskines and out-of-package JLU action figures. So, where were we?
Right, Bruce has been sent backwards in time with amnesia (courtesy of Anti-Life enthusiast Darkseid), and doesn’t know that if he makes it back to good ol’ 2010, he’s also been equipped with a Doomsday Device. If he succeeds, everybody else dies. So Superman, GL and a few other Justice Leaguers have been flying around the timesteam trying to find him and stop him, but fat lot of good that’s done them. Bruce has jumped from the Stone Age to the Age of Discovery, the Old West and now to the rain-slicked age of Gotham noir. That’s right, it’s time to hear a hardboiled tale of Bruce Wayne, Amnesiac PI.
Which makes maybe the most amount of sense, really. Bruce is the world’s greatest detective, and is the flagship character (sorry Kal-El!) of Detective Comics. And for good reason – he cleans up into Sam Spade real nice. Awakened in his hospital bed by a femme fatale with a job and line to sell, he soon finds himself investigating his own mother’s murder. Oh, Grant Morrison, you sick bastard. It’s a good thing you gave him amnesia, b/c everybody from Jonathan Crane to Hugo Strange has tried to make him relive and investigate his parent’s murders, and they’ve all gotten their asses kicked. If Bruce knew what was really going on he’d reach out from the pages, grab you by your shirt cuffs and bang your head on the keyboard until the bubbles stopped coming up.
But he doesn’t know what’s going on, so he and we follow the sultry Ms. Lamarr to her dead friend’s mother’s place: The estate of Ms. Betsy Kane, mother of Martha and grandmother of the now-orphaned 8 year old Bruce. (It’s a shame we don’t get any scenes of the sullen kid, as I’m sure there would be some great opportunities in having pre- and post-Batman Bruces engage in some obliviously witty wordplay.) Bruce takes the case, and then slips into some verrrrrry familiar outfits before this issue is over. I won’t even attempt to summarize the plot. If you must have all the goods without bothering to purchase it, feel free to check Comics Alliance’s annotations here. And if you can boil it down to anything smaller than a near line-for-line re-reading, I’ll owe you one no-prize. Otherwise, go buy it!