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Bruce Wayne continues his return with his Omega bomb intact. After being pulled out of a shallow pond by a woman half his size, Bruce goes to town on a star fish that is not Starro… actually it’s never said one way or the other. Let’s assume that it’s not Starro. Bruce gets his ass handed to him by the star fish forcing Annie, the young woman that found him, to drag him away. Bruce awakens in her hut to hear her speaking in tongues. Above him is a necklace with Superman and Wonder Woman’s logos on it. He reaches out for the necklace, he remembers it but he doesn’t know why.
Superman and the “time bandits” travel to the last minutes of the Universe. There’s literally only ten minutes left before Universal “Heat Death.” The group has followed Omega energy there only to encounter a Bi-organic Archivist from the 64th century. The being explains how time “really” works and wastes two minutes in doing so. Superman’s eyes turn blue and somehow he’s able to see through the time lines of the universe to find Bruce. He just has to find the needle in the haystack.
Meanwhile, Bruce has dressed himself as a pilgrim. He visits the home of Goodwife Tyler after finding a bat nailed to the door of the church. Bruce has been sent to the town to do the church’s work in finding a witch. Even though Bruce speaks as if he was born in that era, he still has a detective’s mind. He concludes from the Bat that Goodwife Tyler has more than likely killed her husband. The rest of the town feels like she may still be a witch and begins dunking her in a pond tied to a chair. Bruce attempts to stop it, but Goodwife Tyler is mentioned in name alone afterward, making it unclear if he stopped it in time.
Annie, Bruce’s rescuer, is a cast-out that lives in the forest just outside of town. She is actually the person they believe to be the witch, after all she does own a ferret. Bruce very transparently feels as if Annie is in danger. He chats with her in the forest after the leader of the town Malleus pays her a visit. Malleus is so afraid of witches that he uses a fake name so that now witch can hold power over him.
Honestly, I was expecting this issue to be better than the first. The problem remains that Grant Morrison is not the right writer for Batman. Grant can be an awesome story teller. A book like All-Star Superman is an amazing piece of work, but his Batman work never gets there. Morrison loves subtext and subtle lead ins to the next sequence in the story. The problem is that it’s not coming across in this title. Perhaps it’s the flat dialog or the fact that both issues artwork seemed to have been neutered. Morrison attempts to have the characters dialog allude to the next scene, something that Watchmen does very well, but not only is does it not work but he gives up on it.
The most ignorant part of the story is when Bruce strolls into town and starts talking like one of the natives. Not only is this inconsistent from the first issue, in which he couldn’t communicate with the cave-men, but laughable due to the believability of it. Even if he had been subjected to the society long enough to pick up the lingo, the person he would have learned it from lives in the woods by herself and doesn’t speak like the rest of the pilgrims.
The story finally made its first connection to the mystery running through Batman & Robin, with the picture of Bruce drawn as a pilgrim. The weird thing about it is that the picture was originally presented as a member of Bruce’s family with a striking similarity to Bruce. What the picture actually ends up being, is Bruce. Which would mean someone in his family claimed the picture as their own. I suppose that it’s not too big of a deal, but if you’re going to make up the family history and have everyone be full of knowledge about the picture you may want to explain where the information got mixed up.
The art is great and actually very fitting for the story. In fact the story fits right in with the world of Klarion the witch boy and Solomon Grundy. Fraser Irving (Seven Soliders: Klarion) is definitely the artist you want to draw pilgrims. Again the art out shines the story and Irving’s water colored style steals the spotlight. The only problem is that it never takes off, it never becomes amazing. The art is very good, consistent and great to look at, but it’s as if it’s shackled by the story and never allowed to reach its potential.
This story should be amazing but it’s not. At face value the book isn’t that bad. It’s a quick read that utilizes three part story-telling making it a consistent product. But therein lies the problem, this is a huge event. Batman was killed in the eyes of the DCU, but the reader knew he was alive. And here he is fumbling through time with no plan, no course of action and no sense of Batman anywhere to be found. This would be a good book if it weren’t meant to be THE defining book in Batman’s history for decades to come. That’s the problem… it’s not a big enough story, but more over it’s not a good enough story for Batman.
Story – 5.0
Plot – 3.0
Art – 7.5
Overall – 5.2