Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-5 set the bar pretty high for time-jumping heroes. In it, Billy Pilgrim lives his vaguely sci-fi life as a WW2 vet in non-consecutive chronological order: 80 years, chopped into bits of a few weeks or months, then shuffled like a deck of cards. Since its publication in 1969, tons of tv shows have taken its central premise and run with it (I think the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation did a lot of enjoyable things with their unstuck Picard) – and I love this stuff.
So it’s with a lot of excitement that the different plot threads of the previous 5 books of Batman: The Return on Bruce Wayne finally wrap up with issue 6. We’ve seen Bruce as a caveman, a Puritan and (briefly) a docent at the end of time’s Vanishing Point archives. And now we get to stand back and watch (like the time archivists themselves get to do) all of Bruce’s adventures wrap up at once.
The issue opens with Bruce hitting the Archives, landing on the floor and being helped to his feet by the robots who operate the place. They’re as much bio as machine, though, and spread their wares (a time bubble called the hyper-adapter) over Bruce’s body with their final remaining energy. Remember – this is the end of time, when the tail loops back into the Big Bang. So Bruce is now girded with both the means to return to his native 2010, and a protective shell to keep the Omega energy he’s been collecting from destroying everything he comes into contact with. Returning to the present, he must fight the energy inside of himself, fight the bleeding-through-time Justice League (no incarnation of the JLA has ever had this exact roster) and share a few moments of quality time with the new Red Robin, his former partner Tim Drake. Oh, then he has to die to get the Omega Energy extracted, be shocked back to life and put on the ol’s batsuit again. Kudos to you, Grant Morrison!
This book is waaaaaaay too complex to accurately sum up, but if you’d like a page-by-page breakdown, please check out the Comics Alliance here. It’s been an exhausting few days (lifetimes? infinite universes?) for Bruce, but I’m glad he’s back