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Argh! I Am Batman!

July 18, 2010

The latest part of Grant Morrison’s crazy Batman time-traveling epoch, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #3, features Batman in Gotham right alongside Blackbeard, who thinks that Batman is the infamous Black Pirate.  After a quick prologue reminding us of what happened between Darkseid and Batman back in Final Crisis, Blackbeard harasses Bruce Wayne, telling him to admit who he is and to help him get the hidden treasure in the Gotham County Catacombs.  He also has one of the cabin boys from the Black Pirate’s ship hostage, and the cabin boy flatters Blackbeard to stay alive.  Bruce ends up leading Blackbeard and his pirates through the catacombs to save the boy’s life.  He leads them past all sorts of crazy traps using his detective skills.  In the present day, Dick Grayson and Robin (Damian Wayne) examine Command-D, and Red Robin provides information on what he’s found to the superhuman community.  When they get further into the cave, the cabin boy takes Bruce aside and reveals that he is the true Black Pirate, grandson of the original.  He hands Bruce his cowl, and Bruce deliberately falls off a cliff into the water to escape Blackbeard.  He resurfaces shortly later, now wearing the cowl, and he duels Blackbeard on a bridge of bones.  The Black Pirate uses his knowledge of the traps in the catacombs to dispatch the remainder of Blackbeard’s troops.  They toss Blackbeard and his second-in-command, Israel Hands, off the cliffs into the water, and the Black Pirate introduces Bruce to the remnants of the Miagani, the tribe founded by the boy from the first issue in his honor.  They show Bruce his old cowl from all that time ago, and shortly later, after returning the Black Pirate’s cowl to him, Bruce teleports off to another time period.  Blackbeard and Hands escape, though Blackbeard is destined to die about two months later.  The Black Pirate continues his battle against the unjust, and after getting married, he fulfills some last mysterious request that Bruce gave him.  Then, in the new time period, Jonah Hex gets hired to take out some strange new sharpshooter who’s shown up and started taking out some criminals.

Okay, so tying Bruce’s little trip into the story of Blackbeard and into the story of the Black Pirate was an interesting idea.  After all, Blackbeard was a rather larger-than-life character, so it was interesting to see him play off against Bruce.  And the Black Pirate comparison was rather apt, especially with that cowl.  Unfortunately, the main issue of this story is still present.  Bruce Wayne is still traveling through time, ending up in all sorts of silly situations.  The idea that Batman can beat time is particularly silly, since it basically ends up meaning that Batman is truly invincible.  I know comic books are about suspension of belief and all that, but this series is getting a little too comfortable crossing the line.  Despite the silliness of the concept, Grant Morrison writes a solid story.  He’s doing a great job connecting everything that’s happening with Bruce, and he’s thought this epic out very well.  Blackbeard was written very interestingly, and I would say that, writing-wise, this was the best issue of the miniseries.  Morrison occasionally writes characters to sound a tad strange, spouting off oddball ideas without keeping their core personalities, but he doesn’t have that problem in this issue.  And Yanick Paquette does a great job with the art.  When I first saw Paquette’s work, I thought all of his faces were absolutely ugly.  But he’s really improved since them.  His Blackbeard in particular looks great.  He doesn’t do a bad Jonah Hex either.  Almost makes me wish he was doing the whole series, save only for that the two morons who hire Hex are pretty ugly.  Maybe that was on purpose.  However, the ridiculousness of the premise will prevent me from ever considering this one of Morrison’s best works, or even one of the best Batman stories.  Especially when Morrison is writing one of the best Batman stories right now over in Batman and Robin.  I’m just glad Bruce never dressed up in the outfit he’s wearing on the cover.

Plot: 8.4      Art: 9.0      Dialogue: 8.8      Overall: 8.4

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