Thursday, September 22, 2011

Batman: Bruce Wayne- The Road Home by Fabian Nicieza, et al.

Bruce Wayne was thought dead during the Blackest Night event, but in reality, he had somehow been shunted back in time and had to slowly work his way back to modern Gotham City, aided and abetted by the mystical order of the Bat.

But Gotham hasn't been static in his absence. Dick Grayson has stepped into Bruce's shoes and taken over the role of Batman. while Bruce's Son with Talia Al'Ghul, Damien, is still the new Robin. And, as Bruce has planned for this in case he ever disappeared, he is happy, but not content. Instead, he decides to test how effective they are in their new roles, teaming up with Tim Drake, the former Robin, now fighting crime under the name of "The Red Robin".

But along with Bruce come back, someone else is making a comeback in Gotham City- Vicki Vale, Bruce's onetime love interest and reporter. She's been demoted from the television show and the notoriety she used to have, but now she's on the trail of a story- the true identity of Batman. And not just Batman- she's laying bare the entire criminal underworld as well, and that has garnered her attention of the entirely wrong kind. The question is, which of Batman's Rogues Gallery is trying to take her out, and can Bruce Wayne, the former Batman, now using a different suit that gives him powers similar to the Justice League and calling himself "Insider", can he keep Vicki Vale safe and convince the villain who is after her to let her go free? Or will he even be able to keep himself alive as he tangles with his rogues gallery old and new?

I am of two minds about this graphic novel. Yes, Batman is showing us that he's his usual crazy prepared self- to the point of actually having a plan put in place as to what to do if he ever disappears and is presumed dead in Gotham- one which he told Cassandra Cain about, but presumably no one else, since her not being Batgirl any longer was part of this plan.... But he's also kind of being a jerk, not telling Dick Grayson or Damien about him being back while he travels the world, "testing" the various allies and shades of gray villains as to how they are doing without them, even after deciding that Dick and Damien are doing just fine.

I know there is a joke internet site called "Superman is a Dick", but this is the first time I've ever wanted to tag Batman with the same label. Okay, here, the "crazy prepared" drifts over the line into outright "crazy". And the whole idea of testing everyone in his "family" to see how they are doing without him struck me as a bit... well, jerk-y. But at the same time, almost in character. I just found the premise a bit troubling. Batman has never seemed OCD before.

I found this book, as I said, troubling, and the ending left me wondering when exactly he was going to tell Dick and Damien that he was still alive. He puts off telling them for the entire book, while Alfred knows and Tim knows, and by the end of it, Oracle And Selina know. It just seems like he's delivering a massive diss to Dick and his own son, by NOT clueing them in. I've never seen Batman playing such a jerk before. I didn't like that characterization at all. YMMV, but I don't recommend this graphic novel, even if the stories it tells are interesting.

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