Grant Morrison’s The Return of Bruce Wayne is one of those dividing books in the DCU. You mostly either hated it or you loved it. I’m pretty much a fence-sitter on this one. I was okay with reading it, but not blown away. It felt too much like an “imaginary” adventure that was prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s.
It was kinda fun watching Batman in action as he tried to recover from Darkseid’s Omega Effect, but since each issue was in a different time period the secondary characters didn’t really get a chance to step up and count.
The Caveman Batman (which was done back in the 1950s first, I believe) was interesting to a degree. I could see the young caveman sticking around and becoming the world’s first “Robin” if Bruce had stayed there. Otherwise the story was too lean, depending too much on action that was too choreographed. The tribe is defeated, Batman goes to save the survivors, etc. The addition of Vandal Savage was cool, but that was a given too.
The Pilgrim Batman didn’t work for me at all. I like that Bruce was displaying deductive reasoning and all, but the storyline just didn’t seem to come together or fit well enough, although another clue to Batman’s overarching mystery was presented there.
The pirate tale was better. I liked the treasure hunting aspect of the story, and the fact that they were ducking into what will eventually become the Batcave. I also liked the reveal of who the real pirate was. I didn’t see that one coming. Edward Teach with fuses lit in his beard was fun.
Pitting Batman against Jonah Hex was pretty cool. After I heard there would be a Wild West Batman, I’d wondered if that was where Morrison would take the story. I didn’t much care for his presentation of Hex, and I didn’t for a minute believe that Batman could “outdraw” multiple gunslingers with his batarangs. Sorry, but bullets travel much faster than batarangs.
The 1930s Bruce Wayne detective story was pretty interesting. Morrison seemed like he was comfortable in that milieu and Bruce Wayne as a tough guy detective is a natural fit. Even down to the femme fatale who betrays him in the end.
The last issue collected in the graphic novel offers a resolution to the whole event and actually comes off pretty weak to me. Batman as a threat just didn’t work for me. I understand it could happen, but I don’t think it was developed enough.
Overall, I’m glad to have Batman back in the DCU, but the trips through time just didn’t offer enough to be really special.