Batman: The Return Review
- Published on Tuesday, 23 November 2010 00:00
- Written by Kevin
As much as I disliked Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, Grant Morrison did a good job setting up Batman Incorporated to be an interesting direction for the franchise. How interesting it will truly be will be all up to Morrison and the rest of the Batman writers. Batman: The Return is the one-shot that officially begins this new direction for the Batman franchise. This should be a fun read not only to see what Morrison does to start the direction off but to also see if David Finch can kick things off assignment as interior artist to a whole comic. Now let’s check out Batman: The Return.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: David Finch
Inkers: Batt and Ryan Winn
Colorist: Peter Steigerwald
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: After stopping one of the members of Leviathan from killing a boy, Bruce, in his new Batman costume, calls the whole Batman Family to the Batcave for a meeting. During the meeting Bruce talks about his Batman Incorporated direction and hands each member an envelope entailing what each of their roles in Batman Incorporated.
We only get to know Barbara and Stephanie’s roles as Barbara is to command the new Internet 3.0 and Stephanie is sent to attend school in England.
Damian asks his father about him as Robin but does not get an answer. Instead, Bruce takes Damian to Wayne Industries where Lucius has been developing some Batman looking armored suits. (Similar to the ones in Kingdom Come). Bruce asks to get two painted to look like Batman and Robin and to be ready the next day.
Things shift to the following night at a factory with Bruce and Damian in the new Batman and Robin armor. Once they land on the factory, they encounter someone named Vampire Man. Batman begins fighting him while Robin finds someone in a room. Vampire Man runs away and the man Robin finds says to Robin that he knows him and flies away. Robin gives chase but is kicked to the ground. Batman reprimands Robin for acting stupid.
Back in the Batcave, Bruce tells Damian that they will not work as partners anymore. He then tells Dick that he needs him to remain Batman as their needs to be two Batman around (I’m sure the Revolution’s leader would argue against that.) Damian agrees.
Eight hours later the mysterious figure Robin was fighting before walks in on the Leviathan’s leader meeting. The mysterious figure uses the son of one of the members to kill the father and pledge allegiance to Leviathan. All the while, Bruce has been listening in and says “Game On.” End of issue.
The Good: Batman: The Return was a great start to the new Batman Incorporated direction. Grant Morrison wasted no time in setting up all of the pieces for the new direction he is taking the Batman franchise. This issue has me even more excited to see what Morrison has in store for all of the characters involved.
The biggest reason I liked this comic so much is that Morrison does not waste time with the story he wants to tell. At times, during this past year in Batman and Robin as well as The Return of Bruce Wayne, Morrison has seemed to be killing time for something else to happen. That is not the case here. Morrison started the issue fast with Bruce in his new Batman suit in the middle of some big action and did not slow down from there.
The beginning scene does a nice job setting up Bruce’s idea to take Batman global right away with how he had Batman take on someone in the Middle East. Just seeing Batman in the Middle East has me excited to see how Bruce is able to make Batman into a global concept. Even though everything Bruce has said so far sounds great on paper, there are bound to be plenty of obstacles Bruce will have to overcome to make his Batman Incorporated a reality.
Even though I was hoping for it to be one of Batman’s villains, like the Joker or Two-Face, to build up their own global organization to mirror Bruce’s actions I did find the Leviathan angle interesting. As we saw during The Return of Bruce Wayne, and in Batman Inc. #1, a leviathan continuously appeared to fight Bruce in his travel through time.
With the organization’s name being the same as the creature I am sure Morrison will have some sort of connection between the two. This will give Bruce even more of a sense of urgency to establish Batman Incorporated right away. Bruce definitely seemed ready with how he reacted to the group in the final page.
Another thing I enjoyed is that Bruce is finally letting the whole Batman Family in on his plans. While he is for sure keeping some things secret from everyone, it is nice seeing him interacting with everyone in the Batman Family instead of pushing them away.
Too many times we have seen Bruce be very distant with everyone around him. Seeing Bruce include the rest of the Batman Family helps to show that Bruce is serious about what he is doing and realizes that he cannot do it alone. It is important that Bruce makes sure everyone in the Batman Family knows their roles in order for Batman Incorporated to succeed.
Even though we do not know the entirety of Bruce’s plans for Dick, Damian, and Tim it was very interesting seeing what roles he gave Barbara and Stephanie. Barbara’s role is especially interesting as it seems as though Bruce gave her some plans to create a new Batgirl (Batwoman?) suit/armor that will allow her to walk again. Just seeing that plan makes me want to pick up “The Death of Oracle” to see how this plays into that storyline in Birds of Prey.
While less interesting, I liked Bruce ordering Stephanie to go finish school in England. This helps to establish two things for this new direction: 1) It allows Stephanie to get some independence outside of Gotham City and; 2) Helps establish Bruce’s Batman concept going global by taking an existing Batman Family member to another country. Though I am still sticking to getting the trades for Batgirl, this new direction for the character has me anticipating getting her new adventures in England even more.
I also highly enjoyed the team-up between Bruce and Damian as it was the first time we saw the characters interact with one another alone since Batman and Son. Morrison did a nice job showing Damian as being very brash and having a mind of his own which annoyed Bruce. It will be fun seeing them team-up with one another because, just as Dick pointed out, Damian while being darker than the Robins before him he does not listen to Bruce all the time just like Dick used to do.
I also liked that Bruce recognized that with all the changes going on that he needs Dick to still be Batman while he is going around establishing Batman Incorporated. While some might not like that Dick is staying as Batman I like this move because, at this point, Bruce is past training another Robin. Bruce has already trained two highly capable Robins who can now train their own sidekicks and Dick is a much better role model for Damian. It will be interesting to see, now that Dick has Bruce’s blessing to be Batman, how the relationship between the two changes and what kind of confrontations they have with two Batmen running around.
David Finch did a fantastic job on art. I have been highly anticipating Finch working on a Batman comic and he did not disappoint. Finch is an artist that was born to draw Batman as he does a phenomenal job capturing the iconic nature of Batman and the entire Batman Family. I especially loved his two page spread of the Batcave. That was a poster worthy spread and he did just a good job with all of the action sequences.
As a side note, I also enjoyed that Finch had Dick holding his second Nightwing costume. It was a cool little touch since I have always liked that second Nightwing costume as it was much different from the rest of Batman Family who all wore darker costumes, especially now.
The Bad: One of my problems with Batman: The Return is not anything to do with the story but with the pricing. This is supposed to be the big introductory issue for the new Batman Incorporated direction and it was priced at $4.99. That is just too high of a price as the issue, as good as it was, did not feel it was worth basically $5. The extras just felt like minor things added to up the page count to make the issue look like the price is justified when they are more extras for a trade than a single issue.
My problem with the story was in the interaction between Bruce, Dick and Damian after the mission Bruce and Damian went on. Though Morrison does a great job using this scene to establish why Dick will remain as Batman what I did not like about the scene is that it also seemed to set up a back door for the whole Batman Incorporated to fail. By that I mean that even though Bruce is all gung-ho about starting this new direction he also does not seem up for training anyone with how quickly he dismissed Damian as a partner.
It just felt odd that in a direction where Bruce will have to train many “rookies” in the art of being Batman that he would show such frustration over Damian not listening. Bruce was too easily annoyed by this and makes me wonder if this direction will be a success since the scene made it look like Bruce could become easily frustrated with those he does not know that he trains. While there will be bumps in the road for this direction what Bruce said here felt more like Morrison setting up a backdoor to make the Batman Inc. to fail instead of be a success. Hopefully, I am wrong.
As much as I loved Finch’s art in this issue I did dislike how the inking for the art was all over the place. There were scenes such as Bruce and Damian in their Batman and Robin armor that should have been much more iconic shots but were too heavily inked that it was hard to see how the armor actually looked. It was a good example of why it’s better to have one inker handling things instead of two or more.
Overall: Batman: The Return is a great start to the new Batman Incorporated direction. Outside a few problems Grant Morrison and David Finch combined to tell a great story. A lot of the ground work for the new direction has now been set in place including the villain. I am very excited to see what Morrison and the other Batman writers have in store for this new direction for the franchise. If you are a Batman fan or are looking for a great jumping on point to Batman comics this is the issue you should pick up.