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Previously in Batman and Robin: Dick is distraught over his failure to resurrect Bruce with the Lazarus Pits, leaving the question of where his mentor is. Damien has recovered from his injuries from the battle with Flamingo, and now Batman and Robin must start from square one in their search for Bruce.
Damian keeps the Wayne business on track by assuming his father’s position on the board of directors, while Dick meets with Oberon “Gravedigger” Sexton. Gravedigger details several murders spanning the global by the Domino Killer and new evidence the points to Bruce being the next target. Of course the world still believes that Bruce Wayne is alive and in hiding due to his families supposed history with the Black Glove.
Alfred summons the Duo to Wayne Manor for a discovery he’s made while debugging the mansion. Upon hanging the family portraits in the gallery, Wayne’s ancestors leave clues that may point to where and when Bruce is. The pictures in order tell a story that lead Batman and Robin to a sub-cave in the manor. Thanks to the JLA, Dick knows that Bruce is displayed in time due to the Omega Effect and could be leaving clues in the 200-year-old family house. While Dick is left alone in the sub-cave, Damian’s begins feeling the effects of brainwashing as he attempts to kill Dick. He fights it off but now must deal with his Mother taking control of his mind.
Grant Morrison (All-Star Superman) and Andy Clarke (Sinister Dexter), continue their collaboration on the series. The Return of Bruce Wayne begins a new story arc and kicks off the limited series by the same title. There’s a lot of potential for both series to do something new and interesting with Batman. It’s good to see the new Batman and Robin solving a mystery with some real teeth that has actual effects on the DC Universe.
Morrison grows Damian, as a character by forcing him to not only deal with brainwashing but also the realization that he may not be Robin to Dick’s Batman anymore. On the other hand Dick is taken back a step as he quickly recovers for his failure with the Lazarus Pits. Dick is quick to accept the JLA’s explanation about time displacement. Dick is very out of character throughout the entire issue, he makes questionable remarks in front of Gravedigger regarding Bruce. Morrison does shove the detective work and mystery right in front of the readers face and really Alfred seems to be doing all of the work. The real mystery for the issue is how Wayne Manor, having been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times before, managed to have a sub cave no one knew about before?
In an issue with little to no action, Clarke’s art does something that is dire in comics… It remains consistent. Every panel has been stellar since he came to the book. Most importantly he continues aiding Morrison’s story telling.
Grant Morrison seems to be one of DC’s go to guys for big events, though sometimes the results have been arguable at best (Final Crisis, RIP Batman). This seems to be starting off something that could be special. Which could end up being a memorable story leading to the return of Bruce Wayne.
Story – 4.5
Plot – 8.0
Art – 8.0
Overall – 6.8