Funny thing about this story is that this is pretty much in line with what DC was telling everyone a year ago about the new direction this book was going to take. Instead we got a paint-by-the-numbers weak story that was slapped with a trade dress for no discernible reason and a couple of lip service lines of dialogue tying into the event the story was taking place after.
Suffice to say, despite this story taking place in between Final Crisis and Battle For The Cowl, this is not an official tie-in to either story, but it is interesting that a year later, and several months since the “new direction” was abandoned, we finally get a true example of a story “filling in the gaps” and seeing Bruce and/or Clark react to a major event in the DCU.
So, we begin Judd Winick’s tale and Superman is coming to the grips with the realization that Bruce Wayne quite possibly could be dead. Final Crisis has ended a short time earlier and it is now hitting Clark that Bruce is “gone.”
Dick & Tim, as Nightwing and Robin respectively, are in the cave trying to sort out the aftermath in Gotham when Alfred comes down with Superman and Wonder Woman to relay the bad news. Dick reacts badly, as one would expect, demanding to see a body. Marco Rudy does a nice job with a symmetry pattern of Nightwing saying “No” while looking at Superman holding Bruce’s cape & cowl over a pattern looking like the cover of Batman #404.
Doctor Mid-Nite of the JSA performs an autopsy of the body Superman found, and declares that it is Bruce’s. Of course the reader, if the reader has been following the DCU since Final Crisis, knows that this body is not the real Bruce Wayne, but the autopsy is done. They do agree that it was the Omega beams, not knowing that it was the Sanction that sent Bruce into his time traveling adventures.
We then see a private funeral where Clark speaks in front of a small group of the core of the JLA, and Clark reminisces about his first meeting with Bruce and the possibility of a partnership.
We then cut to the aftermath of Battle For The Cowl, and Superman and Wonder Woman see news footage of Dick Grayson fighting the Scarecrow. Clark is upset about it and confronts Dick about it. Dick reassures Clark that keeping the Batman costume alive is the best that he can do to continue to carry out Bruce’s legacy. Clark calms down; he was all set to burn Dick’s head off, realizes that Dick is right, and has a conversation about it, and missing Bruce, with Wonder Woman.
Clark then visits the Bat Bunker to apologize to Dick, realizes that they are on the same page about Bruce and accepts Dick as “Batman.”
Well, that was a good story; however it does seem a bit misplaced in terms of what’s going on currently. Maybe if this story was told back in the spring or summer of 2009, or some time from now with a Final Crisis or Battle For The Cowl trade dress as a “fill in the gap story” it would seem more appropriate, but that does seem to be the trend with this title in recent years; day late, dollar short. So I guess that means two years from now, expect a story in this title to center around Bruce Wayne visiting Clark Kent while Clark is doing his “walkabout” in the current Superman title!
It is because of this, because this is coming after so soon after we’ve seen what happened to several “Bruce Wayne” corpses, and the fact that Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne and Bruce Wayne: The Road Home are in the process of coming out as this book is on the stands, the story loses some of the impact that Winick was hoping to convey. It’s a nice story, and some good art, but that’s all it is, a nice story.
Reviewed by SteveJRogers