VII. Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne
As the name might suggest The Return of Bruce Wayne sees Bruce making his way back to his own time. Superman says that Batman is a survivor and that is exactly what Bruce does here as he is thrust through time; over six issues he travels to six distinct, if a bit clichéd time periods. Amongst other things Bruce experience life as a native American, cowboy and gangster. Travelling through time is tough and for most of it Bruce isn't Batman he is just a survivor. We also see members of the Justice League, including Superman and Booster Gold, attempting to follow Bruce through time and stop him as if he does come back to his own time it will mean the end of the world.
You can be excused for mistaking the Return of Bruce Wayne for an episode of Doctor who, as it is feels as though it was heavily influenced by the British classic and has a plot steeped in science fiction. If you replaced Batman with the Doctor you would have an equally good story. I understood what happened at the end of The Return of Bruce Wayne, but I still had to read through it a second time to confirm that I had understood it and to pick up on a few of the references that I had missed in my first read-through. The Return of Bruce Wayne relates back a lot to the last arc of Batman and Robin and sets up the next one perfectly.
|Witch hunter, Dark Knight, pirate and Indian Bruce.|
I think that my main problem with The Return of Bruce Wayne is the same problem that I had with The Dark Knight Rises, there is not enough of Batman being awesome in this trade; for the most part the character you follow doesn't even feel like Batman at all, like I said before, this story could easily feature in an episode of Doctor Who. Bruce evolves over the course of the trade becoming more and more like his previous self, but he never felt like Batman to me, and I was disappointed that it doesn't add much to the whole series; it sort of feels like an excuse to get Batman out of the way so that Dick and Damian can be Batman and Robin for a while.
The Return of Bruce Wayne reveals a lot about the past of the Wayne family and reveals the true identity of Dr. Hurt, who has been probably the most prevalent antagonist throughout Morrison's run on Batman. Helping to punctuate Bruce's travel through different times is the artwork of six different artists, most of whom have worked around the series in previous issues. The Return of Bruce Wayne makes an interesting trade, but as it comes nestled between two amazing chapters of Batman and Robin I don't think it shines as bright as it could. Next up is the conclusion to Morrison's run on Batman and Robin, which heavily ties into the ending of this.