The Return of Bruce Wayne #2 (of 6)
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frazier Irving
Covers: Andy Kubert and Frazier Irving

Is there any reason DC can’t reboot the Dark Knight as a swashbuckling time-traveler with a case of amnesia? In this second installment of Grant Morrison’s series, Bruce Wayne is edgier, sexier and more mysterious in a 17th Century Puritan getup than in his modern-day cowl. The caveman-themed first issue was fine, but all of Morrison’s Weird Epic flourishes are finally in full effect here. Casting Bruce as a detective in witch trials-era Gotham City is a brilliant move, and from the very first panel, Frazier Irving’s gorgeous art gives the whole thing an appropriately cinematic feel. (Spoilers ahead.)

Known to the pre-colonial Gotham dwellers as Brother Mordecai, Bruce rankles the local witch-hunters by using logic to solve crimes instead of superstition. After a widow blames her husband’s demise on the devil, Bruce quickly concludes that the woman dispatched her spouse with a iron soup ladle. He also later blasts the locals for labeling the woman a witch, and using that as an excuse for water torture. It’s a powerful sequence, one that ends with Bruce going off on his chief critic, Brother Malleus: “I save my fire for foes who’ve earned it. Not widow-women who were most likely beaten by their good Christian husbands until they could bear no more.”

This does not go over well. It doesn’t help that Bruce is involved with Annie, a ferret-loving free spirit who is suspected of practicing witchcraft. Meanwhile, Superman, Booster Gold (feat. Skeets), Green Lantern and Rip Hunter are trying to follow Bruce’s trail through time. I’m not going to pretend that I understand anything that happens in this part of the comic, which involves an encounter with a 64th-Century “biorganic archivist” with a heck of a secret identity. He’s all “anti-entropy aegis” this and “cosmic loom” that. Whatever. I love the way Irving illustrates the four heroes, particularly his vaguely emo take on Superman. Thumbs way up, gentlemen.

Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal #3
Writer: J.T. Krul
Pencils: Geraldo Borges, Kevin Sharpe and Sergio Arino
Inks: Mario Alquiza and John Dell
Cover: Greg Horn

So much for the "rise" of Arsenal!

How do you know a book is bad? When your LCS owner — the dude who makes a living selling people comics — says, “After you read this, go ahead and send me an e-mail and tell me you’re canceling it.”

Three issues in, The Rise of Arsenal has gone from being bad in a somewhat amusing way to bad in an “I’m pissed that I spent $3.99 on this shit” way. It has taken a potentially poignant story — hero loses a child, a limb and his purpose — and turned it into a series of mind-numbing cliches. First, we see Red Arrow and Cheshire working through their anger over their daughter’s death by body-slamming each other. Despite being armed with only a stapler(!) and an extension cord, Roy manages to best his former squeeze, who is only a freaking trained assassin. No sooner than you can say, “Surely, this won’t lead to grief sex,” they’re up against a wall. Yes, for real. Only Roy can’t perform because he’s, you know, grieving.

Our hero ends up in rehab after a reunion with heroin, but I defy you to care after the onslaught of nonsense and unappealing art. Greg Horn’s cover sure is nice, but that’s all I’ve got.

Roy, I think we’re done here.

12 thoughts on “Comic Judgment: Highs and Lows

  1. Ok, for some reason I have yet to read ROBW #2,… (Oh, that’s right, I’m busy with my own strip, LBD, that I’m shamelessly self-promoting here)…so, I only read the second half of this review, because, well, I’m not reading this Arsenal storyline. Frankly, anything that has anything to do with storylines spinning out of Cry For Justice has FAIL written all over it, just by association. Also, it should be mentioned that writer J.T. Krul worked on “Seinfeld”, but not as a writer, but in production or something. So, take that however you wish. Really I have nothing here, I just realized I had not left a comment in a bazillion years, so I took the time to do so now. Thank you, and goodnight. P.S. – In no way should J.T. Krul’s association with the legendary sit-com “Seinfeld” in any way sully that show’s reputation. Thought I should clarify. Be well.


  2. ROFLcopter E-Boogs! Do you know I pulled WW, ROBW, GL, GLC, and I read Rise of Arsenal FIRST. I KNEW it was going to be bad, and I just wanted to see how bad it was. That whole Cheshire thing, YOU KNOW I wasn’t happy about that. Completely ridiculous. Just last month in Secret Six, we see her take out like 40 armed men, but Roy can do it with a stapler. What fucking ever. Then it just got stupid. I enjoyed it … in a Troll 2 kinda way.

    Return of Bruce Wayne was good. Really good. I too enjoyed the art. I reread 1 and 2 last night, then I read the annotations.

    And to assist our darling Ramon with the shameless promotion of LBD, check it out here —->>>


  3. I’ve got to agree with you, E. The quantum gibberish rolled out my ears after I read it. Made absolutely no sense whatsoever. And I had to giggle at the way Superman was drawn at the top corner of page five. I thought the caveman issue was the first issue. Lawl. (Sorry.)

    Still, the art was cool and fit the setting perfectly, though I got confused as to which witch hunter was which often enough to take away from the story. I’ve yet to read it again (too busy with BoP: Of Like Minds) but I probably should. My thoughts at the end of it: …ok, just give me Pirate Batman already. If the issue ends with Bruce getting pirate boot to the face, you know the next issue had got to be good.


  4. @Ramon: Welcome back and congrats on LBD!
    @V: A stapler. A STAPLER! I love the “Troll 2” comparison, girl.
    @Jennifer: Oh, how I eagerly await Pirate Batman. And I have to say that the first panel of Shirtless Bruce slaying a sea monster and bellowing, “Run, girl!” was all kinds of awesome. More, please.


  5. After FINALLY reading RoBW #2, and reading several reviews of the book, I’m convinced that I’m the only one on the planet besides Grant himself, and maybe Timothy Callahan and Chad Nevitt, who understand all the time-travel, superstring theory babble. Seriously, it’s brilliant (and I wrote about it, too, to attempt to prove I’m not insane!) Either I’m a genius because I read Omni magazine as a child, or I’ve read far too many Morrison-penned comics. Or both. Or neither. OR…I’m lost on a separating string on the fretboard. Oops, gotta go, the Archivist is on line 2!


  6. I’ve read “Rise of Arsenal” # 1 & #2 (but not #3 yet). I was disappointed to read your review of “Rise of Arsenal” #3. Issues #1 & #2 kept my attention and I was hopeful that #3 would do the same. I don’t think I can say I enjoyed issue #1 & #2 simply because of what Roy is going through. As a father of a young girl myself, I think what kept me attentive in these comics what the grief Roy was going through. I simply couldn’t imagine the horror of loosing my daughter. What happened to Lian in “JLA: Cry for Justice” #7 made me feel sick. Literally I was nauseous when I finished the comic. I’m not sure whether to be impressed by the folks at DC for tackling such a stomach-turning issue, or hate them for callously getting rid of Lian. I’ve been leaning towards being impressed simply because they’ve taken more than a few comics to show the impact the loss of this little girl has had on the cast of the Arrow-verse.

    Thanks for the forewarning about issue #3. I’m going to remain optimistic and hope it strikes me better than it did you.

    … and I like staplers. … and extension cords.

    The Irredeemable Shag


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