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
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.